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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebel Rodriguez 18:33
Little light, just like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 27:13
And I'll tell you

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 29:50
Oh, that's

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racer Max 36:23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 41:53
Oh my god.

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 44:14
Shark point. Get out

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

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

Racer Max 44:41
Absolutely true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racer Max 54:10
So I like for me,

Rebel Rodriguez 54:12
But yeah.

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

Alex Ferrari 55:30
Like racing?

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

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

Racer Max 55:43
Here's the jetpack.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racer Max 58:21
Back on your bed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racer Max 1:30:02

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:38:37

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racer Max 1:43:14
Pretty incredible.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Racer Max 2:00:49
Ferrari has to be

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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IFH 716: How Master Storytellers Keep the Audience Engaged with Richard Walter

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Alex Ferrari 1:34
Enjoy today's episode with guest host Dave Bullis.

Richard Walter 1:39
This concluding academic year July 1 is the new academic year of course, is the this is the concluding 38th year. So I've seen a lot. But I'm recalling years and years ago and one of the things I've seen is all about 25 years ago, actually probably a little longer than that. The Arts at UCLA all across the campus were reconfigured. And the film school, which was part of the theater arts department was turned into a long I was turned into a separate two separate departments. Film TV, digital media on one hand, that's my department, and our sister department, the theatre department and we are together in the School of theater, film and television. And years ago, when we were still a theater department, there was a retreat up to Lake Arrowhead. There's a very beautiful upscale and gorgeous conference center up in the mountains, just about an hour, hour and a half on the campus. And the whole subject that was discussed up there for the weekend was the spelling of the word theater. There were some people who wanted to change it from the ER to the ar e. It's terribly unimportant, but I am on the side of the ER people. Well, there was this right after two days of robust and vigorous and eager discussion. It was decided without any equivocation without any hesitancy to discuss this further at another retreat. Yeah, I mean, it's like it's been said of the universities, that universities is like a corporation, except if there's no bottom line, and there's no calendar. Now both of those things are completely untrue. Today, you know, there are universities, especially here in California, but all across the country are very much in touch with the notion of the bottom line as we really you know, support for public education retreats and not only university level, but much more grievously, I think at the K through 12 lead level, and calendar is very much attached to budget issues and so on. So fascinating place to spend a life that said there's no escaping the you know, these bureaucratic issues, they're not your may unique to public universities or private it's the universities but all institutions, corporations, nonprofits, governmental agencies, you know, nothing ever runs real smoothly and people should stop expecting it to you know, and, and kind of make do because what else can you do? So, in any event there I am very sympathetic with the organizing principle of my life has always been no meetings. I don't do lunch as much as I can avoid it. For example, yesterday I was at an awards luncheon, how to be there. I am also the Associate Dean now of the School of theater, film and television and I have to be there for the awards ceremony, you know, to give out scholarships and stuff like that and celebrate the students But I'm reminded of a line and one of my favorite lines in all of movies. And Oliver Stone's Wall Street, there's a line. There's a moment where Gekko, you know, Michael Douglas, I'm sure you've seen the I expect you've seen the movie. He's on, he's feeling like 11 phone calls at the same time. At one point. He says lunch, you know, clearly, somebody's invited him to lunch, in his lunch. And he's got his his lunches for wimps. And he hangs up, you know, and I say lunches for wimps, I believe, you know, my first obligation to the university as a professor in a research institution like the University of California. The first the second obligation is teaching, the first obligation is what they call in the traditional disciplines, research. And in the arts, they call it creative activity. But that's the first obligation that I have. And I can't do that and that all the faculty have. But we can't do that if we don't have the time to do that. So you One doesn't need to be a warrior for one's writing time. If you follow what I'm saying. I'm just responding to your meetings. Our previous chair, she had a sign I loved it, because because she had a sign on her desk on a little table at her in her office that said, this meeting is costing and then there was a blank, you know, filling, filling the number up next to $1 sign. So I'm very sympathetic with what you're talking about.

Dave Bullis 6:33
You know, there was a book I was just reading Richard, it was called The Power of No. And basically, it's that one word you could use to just sort of the crux of the book is if you say the word yes. You inherit all that person's problems. So like, if I asked you, Richard, what would you like to go to lunch? And you say yes, well?

Richard Walter 6:51
Well, you know, it's funny because the there's a self help guru who died I think last year as a very well known Stephen Covey wrote a book that is translated into like 167 languages, you know, several of which are not even identifiable. I mean, he sold millions and millions of copies of this book, and it's called something like the seven habits of highly effective people or something like that. And in that book, he says, at one point, he has a he has something called six words, for serenity. And he they are on less, do less, saying no. And that's what you're talking about. I have had to learn how to say no. You know, it's a necessary condition. When I'm asked to do things that I just can't do, rather than sort of play along, go along, and so on, you know, there's all kinds of ways to say it to a student, I just got a request, for example, for the summer student, and you know, the rifle. I love the greatest thing about UCLA, and the greatest thing about teaching is the students. And I love I love our students, but there is among young people and, and maybe college students in particular, maybe especially prestige students in glamour programs like UCLA, I mean, it is the, you know, those major film schools, like my own alma mater, USC, like NYU, like, like, certainly, like UCLA, we are the glamour corner of higher learning. So the people who do get in, it's very competitive. They, you know, they they're very gifted, and they used to get getting their own way. And I think maybe they're uniquely entitled, you know, they have a sense of unique entitlement. So somebody just announced to me, and this is somebody I really rather fond of in a very fine writer student in a program that he's decided to take an independent study with me this summer. I don't get paid for that, by the way. He will. And of course, I have to consent to it. He can't just announce it, although he thought that he could, that he's just entitled to it. And he's going to, if he has his way, you know, meet with me this summer and discuss his outline for a screenplay after I look it over and then we'll meet several times, I'll review the pages and give them notes and, and so on. I do that, you know, for eight writers every quarter. We're on the quarter system at UCLA routinely. But I'm not gonna do that this summer. You know, I'm working on my own stuff. I have all kinds of things planned, rather than just saying no, what I told them was that I wished I could do that, which is only partly true. And however, that I would not be able to give him and his screenplay, the time and the attention to the consideration, that they both merit so that's a polite way to say no, you

Alex Ferrari 10:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Richard Walter 10:09
But you do need to learn how to say, No. And I've also said in Hollywood, dealing in the movie business, you're a hard No, no, this is not for us. As painful as that is, it's not as painful as one usually here is when one submits a project, either to potential representatives or to a production company, one usually hears is this. Know what I mean?

Dave Bullis 10:40
The silence is deafening,

Richard Walter 10:42
Very shrill, very shrill silence. So I'm sympathetic with what you're talking about. You do need to I mean, I consider it actually part of my life, my pedagogy, if I could call it that my teaching philosophy is to teach students. We are a professional program or graduate program, we offer the Master of Fine Arts. I tried to teach them by example, how they need to be warriors for their own writing time. I once had a definition, I used to clown around about a definition of a writer. A writer is somebody who's always available to pick up relatives at the airport. And I preach to writers that if they when they complain, you know, like, I can't get anything done into the family, he wants me to, you know, they think I'm available because people say, Well, you are available. I mean, you did you pick them up, I didn't do so why, you know, if you don't get it, you're gonna get it, you know, you why it's one of my principles in which is if you want to be treated as a professional writer, you have to treat yourself as a professional. And the fact is people who are going to pick up relevance at the airport, what they don't realize is they actually glad to do that. Because it allows them to avoid doing what every writer wants to avoid doing. And that is writing. And not only that they get to do to feel virtuous about it. And to get the gripe and catch and carp and complain about everybody impinging on their time when in fact, they're terrified to sit alone in front of that word processor, you know, and their relatives coming in from out of town has given them the excuse not to do that, if you follow me.

Dave Bullis 12:24
Yeah, I absolutely follow you. Because there's a book that I read the The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Richard Walter 12:32
He's a genius. Pressfield he's just I love that book.

Dave Bullis 12:37
Absolutely. And, you know, I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with him briefly. And I told him, you know, reading that book was an epiphany for me,

Richard Walter 12:44
Oh, absolutely. I just love the book. In fact, I was just quoting and somebody, I do a lot of consulting off campus, I give notes to writers who have deals at studios, you know, it's becoming more and more routine in Hollywood. Now, even when you have a deal. You know, typical writing assignment is what they call and it's whatever is negotiable, you know, as long as the guild minimums are being observed, the typical assignment is what they call a draft and a set a draft is a draft of a screenplay. And a set usually consists of what somebody will call a rewrite and somebody else and then we will be haunted by what somebody calls a Polish, but of course, the guy doing the polish and the guy doing the rewrite have different views of you know, what, what it should be, let it be called, but often between such such stages, smart writers will go to somebody like me, a script doctor, a script consultant, and say, listen, they owe me You know, I owe I owe them this draft beforehand and and asked me, you know, I want you to ask me the hard questions because the studio asks them and, and so on. So I was talking to and but I also work with writers who, you know, who are independent and who can afford my very, very high fees to give those kinds of notes. You know, it's easier for a writer who's getting a quarter of a million dollar fee from Paramount Pictures, that didn't happen, then somebody's out of out of their own pocket. But I do work with writers off campus, as I say, who can get in if I'm attracted to the script? I think it's something that I want to you know, if you feel merits encouragement and then of course, it costs a lot of money so I was working with somebody I'm working with with a particular writer was in the Midwest and she I just sent her back a second raft of notes. Oh, it's about a 15 page document going through her her script and talking about it in general but also going through the pages note, you know, page by page and and indicating we have certain issues that are arise some of them as trivial as typos and some of them you know, fundamental issues about kind I returned story structure and whatever. And she she complained to me that she was really disappointed that there's more work to do that she thought she had the whole thing set up. And that she's kind of sorry that things aren't proceeding according to schedule, you know, in the way that she predicted, and I immediately thought of Pressfield, who I know what he would say Stephen would say that her only amateurs and dilettantes think that it goes, you know, in a steady, predictable, reliable way that it's not Herky jerky and frustrating, every inch of the way, you know, Pressfield would say stop trying to feel good about it, you know, feel good about having done it. But don't feel good about doing it. Nobody does. No writer does it. One of my first principles is all writers hate to write. We love having written, but actually sitting down and addressing the pages. That's what Pressfield calls resistance, there's always resistance sitting there. And I have a lot of experience as a writer. Over my my years, I've been writing professionally for more than 40 years. But my own experience is leveraged by the experience I've had with other writers working very, very closely very intimately with writers on campus and off campus. And so my, you know, I have the experience also of of all of those writers. And that's the way it is for everybody, for everybody, including the highest handed, you know, highest minded, most successful, richest practitioners. It's always that way. And people have to, you know, stop trying to feel good about it.

Dave Bullis 16:45
You know, it's like Stephen said one time, he said, you know, if you can beat resistance, inch by inch, and you can actually get something made. And you can actually, you know, you sit there and there's a polished manuscript, and he says, Congratulations. Now move on to the next one.

Richard Walter 16:59
Exactly. I quote a student of mine, he wrote two scripts in class that became gigantically successful films. They became franchises. One is Highlander. Maybe they called it the Highlander, and the other one is Backdraft. I mean, Backdraft became a meant amusement park ride. I mean, it's gigantic success. And so here was this 26 year old rider, multimillionaire already. I was reading an interview with him in the press, this is some years ago. And he was again, just like writers complaining and you think you'd be jumping for joy and you know, whistling a happy tune. Now, he was talking about how they had betrayed him at Fox, how they had discovered NBC and burned him at Warner Brothers and lied to him with Paramount and on and on, you know, all of these dramas and you know, lakhs of these crimes that have been visited upon him, this poor poor guy, this poor multimillionaire 26 year old screenwriter. And then he pauses in the interview, and I swear, if you held the interview, this was a press print piece. If you held the news page close to your face, you could have felt the waft of his thigh if you felt the breeze on his cheek. It was at that level in the context and what he was saying, was quoting me he was in awe, but I can just hear after he's griping and complaining he says, ah, but I can just hear my professor Richard wolf of UCLA saying that Greg don't even know it's a privilege in Hollywood even merely to be mistreated this way. Again, what Hollywood will do do the worst thing Hollywood will do is not mistreat you but ignore you. I had an experience I met with Restless oil, Julius Epstein. He's he and his brother. And another writer wrote Casablanca and among many other things, that the Julius was involved in he lived he was working well into his 80s the past a few years ago now rest his soul he when I first time I met him I said, Oh, Mr. Epstein. I'm so excited immediately only you know all I hope all of all I or any my film phony pounds, when we hope for it is once in our lives, we should touch something as you did with Casablanca that's timeless that's eternal. That is going to, you know, touch the hearts and minds of generations. Something like that. Yeah. I wouldn't be nice if I could report to you that he said, all thanks very much kind of you to say so. I mean, courtesy 101 You know, he's a writer. You're gonna understand he grew up in Brooklyn, but he spent 70 years in LA, but he never lost his the Brooklyn drawl that he had

Alex Ferrari 20:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Richard Walter 20:09
And his reply to me was at Casablanca schmetzer Blanca they flipped that up. You know what apart with fluid rain says such and such a day to day, but oh no, they weren't with my brother Philip me we had a thing with and here he is complaining, you know, more than a half century later, like 6070 later about how they messed up his movie what movie Casablanca and all I could think is my God, I wish somebody would mess up my movie like they mess up Casablanca. So, you know, again, only amateurs in dilettantes Thank you just settled in eagerly in front of the word processor. And, you know, you take a deep breath, and you kind of just get into your creative zone, and it just kind of flows out of you magically, you know, just think that way. Think that way. And the other thing is, people are never you can't get no satisfaction, if a MakerBot the Rolling Stones, it's never as good as people think that it should, as the writer, herself or himself thinks it ought to be. It's always better in the mind. You know, when it's not an actual tangible thing, holding your hand, it's always more perfect than when it's a real thing. And so there is a quality of frustration and disappointment that walks hand in hand with creativity. And professionals know that they accept that they tolerate that they endure it, they don't like it. And amateurs deny it.

Dave Bullis 21:41
You know, it's amazing that the scream out of Casablanca, actually, at a Feb problems with it. Because, you know, that's the movie, that's the go to movie that, you know, almost every screenwriting professor I've ever had, or, you know, book I've ever read. That's one of the go to movies that they use as a paradigm for listeners that this is what a great movie or I'm sorry, this is what an excellent movie is, you know?

Richard Walter 22:05
Yes. Well, it's what a great screenplay is. And it is a great movie. And it's beautifully acted and beautifully directed. I quite agree with you. And yet the actual writer of that is, you know, think fast. So, so, but then there is also a trend that kind of, that I've detected among writers where if you talk to a really successful writer, and you have to go, what's the favorite thing that you've read, they're gonna pick their most obscure, least successful project, you know, while most to make up for the disappointment that they experienced, when it was, was released, as I say, one prays for disappointment when well, because you'll never be disappointed if something isn't released, you know what I mean? So, again, I tell my writers, and I tell my colleagues around the table from time to time at UCLA, on the faculty, that fantasy is for your screenplay, for your life. Reality.

Dave Bullis 23:04
So, you know, as we we talked about, you know, just about writing and, you know, some disappointments, you know, in your classes, what I wanted to ask, you know, was, whenever a student comes to you, you know, how do you know, what's a good concept and what's not?

Richard Walter 23:20
Well, you're not you don't you never know, what's a good concept? You never know, I'm going to tell you two concepts right now. That are the stupidest concepts for movies, you will never hear a stupid or common concept for movie than, than either these ready? I mean, let me let me let me before I say that when he let me mention, Blake Snyder and save the cat, he argues that if you're a writer, and you have a concept, you should run that concept past some, some other people, he actually says you should stop people in the streets, and especially young people, and tell them, Hey, can I talk to you for a minute, I'm a writer, and I have a notion for an eye, you know, for a screenplay of a concept. And I'm wondering, I'd love to, you know, talk you through it for a minute or two and, and see what you think of it. Wherever, wherever you think I'm like, you know, the mistake to move forward? Or is this a worthy thing? Imagine you're walking down the street and somebody comes up to you, and wants to run a concept fast you and you and you're generous enough? Most people probably would say, all right, all right. You know, let's see where it goes. And you did that. And the guy gave you the following concept. You're ready. I'm ready. A man stutters, but he has to give a speech. So he hires a speech therapist, and they work on the speech and then he gives the speech. What if somebody, what have you said to the guy well, I gotta tell you, honestly, you know, you seem like a really good guy. And, you know, that's just, I mean, who could possibly care about what you just described? What if he then said He will Oh, well, you know, thanks just the same but respectfully, let me tell you that I happen to think this this when it's all done, it's going to win the screenplay, you know, Best Screenplay Oscar, and Best Movie. You'd figure crank up the lithium on this guy's drip. It's madness, you know. And yet, I don't have to tell you what movie that is, I'm sure. I'll tell about this. Somebody comes up and says, I want to do I have an idea for a cable series, I think it's going to be 62 hours, it's going to run for, you know, five seasons or six seasons gonna be 62 hours of programming. And here's the idea. A here's the concept. A high school chemistry teacher gets a cancer diagnosis. And he, he decides in order to provide for his family to partner with a former incorrigible students go into the meth trade to manufacture and sell methamphetamine. One of these will have certainly much of a concept that would wear one of these they live and it's going to turn into 62 hours of unparalleled genius. I don't mind telling you, I am one of those people who regards Breaking Bad as one of the greatest achievements in the history of civilization. In fact, last Saturday, I was at just a week ago, today, I was at the pitch Fest in Burbank biggest screenwriting festival they have every year, and I'm actually met. Tom's now is Peter Gould, who are the forces behind Better Call Saul, which of course grew out of Breaking Bad. And I just trembled to meet them, you know, as I have to have to shake the hand that wrote those one of those beautiful Breaking Bad episodes, they were prominent writers, producers, and I occasionally I think directed some of the Breaking Bad episodes. So it's not about ideas. It's not about concepts, it's about story. Story is all it's about stories, everything. And that's what we preach at UCLA. And, you know, the proof is in the tasting. We've we've, you know, there's a lot of evidence that we were wrong about that.

Dave Bullis 27:14
Yeah, I, you know, I saw the some of the accomplishments, you know, they, some of your students have done, and that is just phenomenal. And, you know, that's why, you know, you were the guy that I wanted to talk to you or, you know, when I was, in the early stage of this podcast, you were one of the people that I actually marked down to talk to, and I'm so happy that we actually got to talk now.

Richard Walter 27:35
And I'm flattered by what you're saying. And I thank you kindly.

Dave Bullis 27:39
Oh, completely. My pleasure. And, you know, just to continue talking about your class, you know, you mentioned before an outline. So do you have your students actually, you know, sort of, flush it out, flush out their stories to an outline or, and how, if so, how detailed? Do they have to go with that outline?

Richard Walter 27:57
Well, the first answer is, yes, I do have them do an outline. But I also tell them to throw away the outline, once I get started writing. It's not terribly detailed. When we have our each quarter, we have 310 week quarters at UCLA, where most institutions have two semesters, you know, 15 week semesters. And at the big I work each quarter, I've taught the course now over 100 times, with students, eight students around the table writing a feature length screenplay. And each one has to, we meet once a week for three hours, the whole group, but while I do meet with them, multiple times during the quarter independently, individually, and auditorially, one on one where we review the pages together, you know, I read their pages, having read the pages I meet and give them my notes. We I have everybody has to bring the second week of that class, they have to bring in a maximum two page, kind of a beat sheet, sort of a scene list. It's not really an outline, but it's sort of document that that helps the writer have a general direction that the script is going but then I tell everybody to stay open to the surprises. The last thing you want to do is drag something back to you know, an earlier notion that you had if it's working better in a new fashion, you know, I never knew a writer who wasn't surprised by lines of dialogue that our characters spoke. You don't seem to invent by themselves, you know, by twists and turns in the story that they didn't they weren't even aware of even though they are creating the whole thing. There is a kind of a magic to it. I had Neil Simon come to class to talk about comedy.

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

Richard Walter 30:05
Imagine being in a writing class and having you know, Neil's comedy, it's like being in seminary. And you know, there's an answer. And at two o'clock in room nine, the Lord will be doing a q&a, you know. And I asked Mr. Simon, I said, Do you laugh at your own jokes? And he said, sure I do the first time I hear them. And I think that's a great line. It's as if his jokes are not made up by him, but but told to him by the characters that he creates. I don't know any writer who hasn't had that experience. So, yes, I do think you have to have an outline. But I think you have to then sort of throw away the outline and expect the script to unfold in a way that will surprise not only people who read it, but the person who wrote it.

Dave Bullis 30:55
Very true. And there was a book and I can't remember the name of it off top my head, I think maybe in the artists way. But the the author of that book, Julia Cameron, yes, I Yes. And one of the methods that she described in that book was basically, you know, just sort of starting and just going and don't worry about the, you know, having a plan, you know, meaning like, you know, what a detailed outline mean?

Richard Walter 31:18
Well, there's something there's something to be said for that the El Dr. Rao, who's not a screenwriter, to my knowledge, but a very, very successful novelist who some substantial number of his novels have been made into movies. He's probably best known for Ragtime. He, he says driving, he compares riding to driving at night. You can only see as far as the headlights reveal. But that's long enough. That's far enough to drive. You know, the whole journey. He also describes Ragtime how he came up with Ragtime. Which is that he was in his he lived in New Rochelle. I think he still does number show, which is in Westchester County. It's a suburb of New York City. And he lives in a home with kind of a early 2020 century home. And he was just stuck. He was in his writing room. And he just didn't know what to write about. And he was in deep, deep dark depression and despair, the way writers get. And he finally just wandered around his study, and could think of nothing to write about. So he put his head against the wall, he started to like bang his head, literally bang his head against the wall. And finally he decided, Well, hell with it. He's just going to write about the wall. And he thought about the wall that he was, you know, pushing his forehead up against. And when it went up when the house was built, and that happened to be around, you know, in the period that Ragtime is built what was going on in New Rochelle at that time, and there was a parade, and this one Fraternal Order of something and rather and, and suddenly out of out of banging his head against one random ebook comes Ragtime, which is a gigantic number one New York Times bestseller. And it's insanely successful film directed by Milosz foreman. And one of this came about by you know, banging his head against the wall. So, so, again, the you were asking about, Oh, yes. But getting started. There's a writer. Do you know the name? Anne Lamott? Yeah, and Annie Lamott, she's best known. She's a wonderful novelist, but she she's probably best known for the books she's written about writing. The best known is called Bird by Bird. And she Annie preaches that every writer should allow themselves what she calls a shitty first draft. You got to get it down on the page and stop. You know, being disappointed that it's not genius yet. There's another book I think is very interesting. It wasn't written about writing. About 30 years ago, there was a best seller by a writer named Mark McCormack Mark McCormack actually was a sports. He invented modern day sports management. He really started in golf, and he's the guy who, you know, got multimillion dollar contracts for ballplayers and really went a long way towards getting rights for ballplayers that they, you know, used to not have. I remember, almost a half a century ago, I was working on a Jerry Lewis picture. I was the dialogue director on a journalist picture of Warner Brothers and on the Hill Jerry likes to slum with ballplayers. And so he had the star of the Dodgers at that time Willie Davis on the movie. And Willie was a holdout that went there. You know, it was pretty free agency. And all you could do is refuse to play so he had held out for this country and finally he is driving over to the studio one day. We were shooting in December in January, you know, offseason for baseball. I heard on the radio that Willie had he signed his contract. So I asked him when I got to the studio, I had no right to ask them how much What the What do you think he got for the 1970 season? He was 29 years old, he had hit almost 400. The previous season. He was in his prime. He's one of the best players in baseball, what do you think was his salary? For the 1970? Season? Take a guess.

Dave Bullis 35:23
I'm gonna take a guess at 30,000 for the year,

Richard Walter 35:27
That's a really good guess that was not as bad as that it was actually 50,000 Well, people will guess oh, you know, quarter million, half a million, you know, million dollars, and so on. When I mentioned this, it had to do with Oh, yeah, Mark McCormack writing about sports management. He wrote a book called, he went to Harvard Business School. And he wrote a book called, what they don't teach you in the Harvard Business School and was kind of street savvy, you know, wisdom for MBAs, and CEOs, you know, and CFOs, and CEOs, and CEOs and whatever, you know, major executives. And we were saying at one of his rules, is, it's quite wonderful. I believe that and works very well for people in the arts, including writers and here it is, don't let excellent stand in the way of good. You got something that sort of works, go with it, you know, at least for the time being. And then you come back and rewrite. But I think that's what slows people down. Sometimes they and stops them cold, you know, is it's not excellent, every inch of the way as they go, it's merely good. And I'm saying if you can be merely good. Give thanks to God and move on.

Dave Bullis 36:50
You mentioned Bird by Bird, though it's funny you mention that because I was actually talking to people about, you know, books on writing. And you know, and I and you know, usually the book, if we just talked about writing as a whole the number one book I always hear about Stephen King's on writing.

Richard Walter 37:04
That is my favorite book by Stephen. It's a brilliant book. And by the way, you'll recall what he has to say about ideas he launched his whole career with carry that was his big success. His breakthrough and by the way, you may remember from the book that he'd gotten some distance into it, many despaired of it, he threw it away, and Tabitha, his wife, Tabitha King, found it in the garbage and took it out and read it. What's this? And she said, What's this? That's one of the garbage she said, that's just not we're gonna have them the band name she's wanting to get it was great. You should keep going. That's how carry came about. But do you remember how it started? Stephen was living in Maine where he still lives. And it was a high school teacher and he always wondered what the he knew what the boys room and the boys lockers looked like. But he was curious what the girls bathrooms in the girls lockers looked like so one day when the after school hours when school was closed, but some of the teachers were still there. And the lockers in the bathrooms were were deserted. He went into the women's you know, the girls bathroom and the girls lockers. And he discovered guess what they're just exactly like the boys lockers except for two differences. One is that in the showers, the boys lockers had gang showers. You know, just a great big room of novels, you know, on the wall. And the girls had curtains they had you know, modesty curtains, they were they would tracks on the on the ceiling of the shower room. And that provided for curtains so that they had, you know, more modest experience when they showered. The other difference was that was that in the girls? locker rooms and bathrooms there were these little vending machines. You know what I mean? And look at Carrie it's all about this girl who comes into menstruation and doesn't know what it is. Is mocked and ridiculed by the other girls who see her in the shower and they can see blood running under the curtain if you saw the movie for remembered or if you read the book, just looking at the locker room leads to a thing which he sold back then 40 years ago for $400,000 adjusted for inflation to be about $3 million today. And it all came down from curtains and tampons gazing amazing.

Dave Bullis 39:41
Yeah, I remember the opening to that movie and it did heavily involve that and I you know and you know even the remake, which I remember pieces I don't remember as much as the original but you know that had I think that it's a similar similar beginning.

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Richard Walter 40:07
So open Yeah, well, I don't see the remake. But I remember since he's basic in the beginning as she's very beautiful now she's, you know, the movie, she's in the shower, at school. And there were other girls on the showers and suddenly blood is running. And she clearly does not know what this is about. He's never been taught by her parents or anybody else about menstruation. And she thinks there's something horribly wrong with her that, you know, she's evil and, and, and then the other girls see the blood and they see that she's upset about it. And you know, there's this terrible bullying attitude that emerges among adolescents, men and women, and they start to attack her and so on. I mean, that's what drives the whole movie. Anyway, this movie about revenge isn't dead. And she ultimately, you know, Avengers them at the end of the the movie, but it all derives from from that very, very simple premise. And if you describe that to somebody, superficially, they would think it's pretty helpless. So again, I think that the one of the biggest mistakes that writers make is to assign too much value. Too much credit to the idea. I like to tell writers, when you have a great idea, if you have a really great idea for a movie, that's all you got. I mean, what remains after that. The, you know, the incidents, the anecdotes, the events, the characters, the dialogues, a disgrace, I mean, everything remains after that. The idea is really rather useless, what what has value is the story and think about it, you can tell the idea for a movie in a in a, you know, a minute is about 40 seconds more than you need to tell an idea. But to tell the story takes you you know, as long as the moving. For example, I was talking I was saying to somebody the other day, what I had just said to you a little while ago about talking about The King's Speech, I was describing to you a man, a man stutters. He has given speech, he hires a speech therapist and gives a speech. So somebody's like, Yeah, well, you left out that the man who stutters is the king of England. And man, it's the 1930s and war clouds are gathering in, you know, on the continent, and that he's having a romance with Wallace Simpson, a, you know, an American commoner, and so on until that well, that's the story that isn't that the story, that's not the idea any longer. It's the story. And that's where the value is.

Dave Bullis 42:40
You know, somebody wants to told me that ideas are a dime a dozen. But at that, at that point, you're overpaying for the idea.

Richard Walter 42:49
Yeah. Well, I'll tell you something, I have a sideline I have, you know, well, I am. If you ask me what I do, I would say I'm a writer, if I if, if I were in the elevator, what's your response respond, you know, but the truth is, I also am a an educator, pretty well known educator. But that's not the end of it. That's just the beginning. But I'm also a consultant. And I consult in, you know, I'm a public speaker. And I'm a media commentator, I do a lot of appearances on talk shows, television, radio. And as a consultant, I do two kinds of consulting. One is, I've already told you about where I work with writers. I consult with writers as a script doctor, I give them support in working out their, their scripts. And the other kind of consulting that I do is in the courts. I am a court authorized expert in intellectual property law, particularly copyright infringement and plagiarism, who wrote the movie. And I have testified and I've been an expert witness in all between 30 and 40. court cases over the years, where there's litigation over, you know, who wrote the movie, somebody thinks the movie was stolen from them. And over my over the years I've on occasion been retained as a witness by plaintiffs but also by defendants. I was a witness, for example, in the very legendary case at Paramount, involving Art Buchwald, the famous humorist, and the Paramount the producer of the movie coming to America and any movie Eddie Murphy movie, and any movie Murphy were Buchwald sued claiming they'd stolen it from him and so on. I testified that you know, they didn't steal it from him that it was a different movie, but I only mentioned it because it is the MIS appropriation of value regarding ideas that has if I could put it this way put orthodontia on my children's teeth and paid for their fancy ass nosebleed costly private school education. My wife and I looked like it's a grown up now God bless him. But we used to joke that we saved up enough money to send their kids to college, but we spent it all on high school, you know. And what I mean by that is people attach too much value to the idea, they had an idea for a movie, they see another movie that has a similar idea, and they think it must have been stolen from them. When they don't get that it's just an idea. Ideas are not protectable it's the expression of the idea over the length and breadth of a narrative. where the value is, you know, you have to show what the courts call substantial and ideally, strikingly similar examples from one to the other, you know, not just that the boy and a girl fall in love, they break up and then they get back together again, you know, so So this misunderstanding of ideas has put a lot of money in my pocket.

Dave Bullis 46:03
You know, it's, it's funny, you mentioned that, because about, maybe two summers ago, I actually met a professor who teaches at Yale, and he actually also does, you know, does copyright and things like that. And he was actually involved in the avatar case, because some some writers came and said, James Cameron stole their idea for Avatar. And they wanted, you know, they wanted a couple million actually, you know, more than a couple of million dollars, but, and he was involved in that whole litigation.

Richard Walter 46:33
Interesting. I don't mind bragging that it's just a student of ours, named Lita, Kellogg Ritas. Very successful writer, she wrote much of Avatar, Jim gives her credit not as writer but she does have a producer credit and it's her own card, her name, stands all alone on the screen. But the fact of the matter is, she really wrote a lot of that mo she's not suing a complaining, you understand she idolizes Jim Cameron, and I think he's great. I know him too. He's been very good to us and our students in a program and, you know, Lita was paid millions and millions of dollars for her work on Avatar and she's she's not not complaining. But yeah, I believe that any any big movie? You know, a lot of people know about the the Buchwald case it was covered. You know, the coming to America case that I mentioned earlier. It was covered gavel to gavel It was held live gavel to gavel on the trial on on CNN, I remember. And a lot of people don't know that. That particular litigation was one among seven or eight cases where people had claimed, you know, other people that claimed they'd written the movie, you know, independently. There's an expression that every success has many parents, but failure is an orphan. In other words, if a movie makes no money and nobody hears about it, no one will sue. But if you have a great big hit like Avatar, there's going to be bunches of lawsuits. I know that my old classmate, George Lucas, from USC film school, we were Film School students together all those years ago. There have been multiple suits and Star Wars was stolen from him, you know, from them, I I remember that he went up to Canada to it would have been easier for him to just settle, which is what they usually do. But he's a very funky, feisty guy, George. And nobody's going to say that, you know, he's not going to going to consent to anybody. You know, he's never going to agree with me that he ever ripped anybody off. And so he actually went to the trial, and somebody had come claim that he the plaintiff had had invented the Wookiee, and George has stolen that from him, you know? So it's like when my son was little If he couldn't find his baseball, maybe they stole my glove. You know, it couldn't be that he misplaced it, you know? So people always think that there's something similar it must have been stolen from them. Occasionally it happens but it's most exceptional. And when you mistake the exception for the rule, you fall on your face every time

Dave Bullis 49:22
Very true. You know, and the more I hear about you know, cases like that, you know, Richard the more I hear that it is either you know, a hey, you know what, two people you know, great minds think alike as they say so, you know, it is possible if you know, two people that live in you know, maybe the opposite ends of the earth came up with a similar idea, you know, I mean, I mean, you know, you and I could go to the video store with their video stores are still around, you're not gonna go to Netflix, and we could see there are there's, there's a plethora of movies that maybe share maybe the same scene or maybe share like the same plot points or maybe share the same, you know, character characteristics. Beautiful!

Alex Ferrari 50:01
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Dave Bullis 50:11
Along those lines

Richard Walter 50:13
Again the only thing I totally I totally agree theme many movies have the same theme Jaws I happen to know now one blank record about lead who who wrote yours Of course he was adapting to Peter Benchley book was was telling me that the conversations with Bentley Joe Jaws is based on a play by the great Norwegian playwright Enric Gibson. And the play is called an enemy of the people. It's a very well known, you know, sort of a classic play I guess it's 150 years old or something. And it's set in a health resort health spa that's famous for its waters, that there are healing waters people come from, you know, 1000 miles you know, to have their their maladies healed in the waters, the magical waters of this particular health spa. And the protagonist in the movie is dr. Stockman, he's the Medical Director of the baths. Now this doesn't sound at all like Jaws. But consider this, at the beginning of the movie, he discovers the doctor does that the waters are actually polluted. And that making people ill. And this is a really important discovery, when he announces that he thinks people will honor him, because he's saving a lot of people a lot of illness and even death, you know, because they'll stay out of that bad water. And it'll also get the resort to do whatever it needs to do. If it can be done to you know, repair that right. So that doesn't sound terribly like us. And yet it is because we the reaction of the health spa and the community around it that lives off the income brought in from tourists coming in to be guests at the spa. They instead of honoring Him, they they, you know, degrade and they deride him and they declare him an enemy of the people. And that's exactly the deal with Richard Dreyfus. And as the sheriff in Jaws, and John's, if you remember that, that he realizes it's the start of the season, it's a beach town, and suddenly, there's a dangerous shock. And if word gets out that there's all of that danger, and people aren't supposed to use the beach, well, they're not gonna do a beach vacation, at least not there, you know. So instead of honoring him for making this really important, lifesaving discovery, they, they degrade him, they humiliate him, they scorned him, they mock Him, they love him. And so the theme is, history hates a truth teller, something like that. And that's the same theme for JAWS and for the enemy of the people, even though they are. So what's the difference between them, the difference is the story. Totally different story, the setting, the dialogue, the characters, everything's different, though they have the same theme. Quite, quite true. So you're going to see movies that have similar themes, but you can't protect a theme, all you can protect is a story and has to be substantive. This happens, that happens, this happens, that happens, the same stuff happens in both and then you're starting to get onto a you know, an enterprise that is protectable. It just a very yet very crazy arena. The truth of the matter is, studios, producers, production companies, networks, cable companies, they have no selfish interest in stealing material. They don't want to risk the 10s of millions of dollars that it takes to put together a series or a movie. Indeed that a billion dollars the nobody's gonna make that kind of investment and try to cut somebody out of 1/10 of 1% of that, which would be you know, hundreds and hundreds of 1000s of dollars or even millions of dollars for the script and put the whole rest of the project into jeopardy just trying to shave off a point or even two from the budget by stealing the script. You follow what I'm saying? Oh, yeah. You know, there's a not a lawyer, that I've spent a lot of time around lawyers doing this kind of kind of work and there's a there's a Latin phrase, I forget what it is or something like Cui bono. You know, who benefits from this? If you're you're looking at a legal case and you want to people Who's in? You suddenly discovering somebody dies, and you suddenly discover that they had a huge insurance policy. And it all goes to this particular beneficiary? Well, that beneficiary had a substantial stake and a great reward and this person dying, maybe, maybe she or he killed him, right. So, movie companies have a stake in not stealing material. Nobody benefits by that. And, indeed, they suffer greatly. So I think it does happen, but I believe it's vastly, vastly exaggerated.

Dave Bullis 55:37
You know, you mentioned you know, your classmate was George Lucas, do you have any other you know, interesting stories or any other funny stories about you and George?

Richard Walter 55:47
Well, you know, I am the uncredited writer of the first two drafts of American Graffiti. This there's no controversy about it. GEORGE doesn't tell it any differently. The there's nothing unusual in Hollywood about a substantial number of writers being paid for the services on a particular picture. And not all of them getting credit credit as a judgment that is rendered by the Writers Guild. So I yeah, I worked fine to George pretty well, we weren't very close friends in film school. But we knew each other and we were at parties together, we were in classes together, I was in awe of his achievements as a film student, as we all were back then at USC, his legendary student film Thx 11384 Ed, which became a feature length film ultimately not as good as the shorter version. But it was his first movie was done at Warner Brothers with Francis Ford Coppola producing I was, you know, in awe of his talent as a graphic artist as a filmmaker when I was in film school. When we work together on graffiti, I didn't really work closely with him. He had he was out of the country actually had the the long version of FX we called the FX Thx. He was bringing back to Cam, the festival he was traveling with his then wife, Marcia, they were backpacking around Europe, and they were going to end up at Cannes, and they needed a draft of graffiti in a hurry, and I was asked to write it in a couple of weeks, which I did on that first draft. And it did not he was not pleased with it, for he complimented it for me, he has over the years, complimented for its professionalism and all of that. But he was bothered by two aspects of it. One was the sex in it, you know, I saw it as a, a tale of, you know, adolescence, coming of age and all of that. And that's a time of sexual awakening. And, you know, if you look at George's films that kind of like clinical saran wrap, as far as sexuality is concerned, that sort of isn't any, you know, the sexual pervert, not really as kidding. But, but I think that you know, in my own but I've written at length about adolescence, my first novel was a coming of age, in New York City, and there's a lot of sexuality in it. Young people, flirting and more, and George didn't like that he's kind of uptight about those sorts of things. And the other thing he didn't like was that it wasn't close enough his own experience, you know, growing up in Modesto, Hey, um, you know, I'm a New York kid, I grew up in Queens and went to school, with high school in Manhattan, you know, and I didn't know anything about cars and, and stuff like that. So we never really worked together on it, except after the first draft, it was a two draft deal. We did, we did meet at my house. And then we met I remember, we had another meeting at a restaurant in Hollywood. And we spoke at length on the phone, after the, you know, during the process of writing the second draft and, and so on, I was well paid for the work that I did, and I'm not complaining. You know, again, the the credit decision is something that is rendered by the Writers Guild. And the, so it's really their judgment, not the studio's judgment, not George's judgment, and so on and so on. He's a powerhouse, you know, he's a kind of a gruff, nerdy, scratchy voice little guy, but I mean, he's, he's just the greatest genius I've ever known. I mean, the impact of that his work has had across I mean, who on the world who around the world doesn't know some aspect of the front of the Star Wars franchise hasn't been touched by some aspect of it, right. I mean, you know, don't you think it's realistic to suggest that millions of people have Who doesn't at least

Alex Ferrari 1:00:02
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Richard Walter 1:00:11
Who do you know in all of human history who touched so many people have run into the consciousness and the awareness of so many people all around across the globe in so little time? As George did, I also believe that the influence that he's had the influence of Star Wars, I'm not really crazy about the movies. John Neely is our film, school alumni, you know, a fellow alumni, alumnus, you know, call them pap. I watch all of them. I've seen the first one, which is, I guess, the fourth one, by a certain measure and part of the second one and so on. But the the lesson that they put out there, I think, is a really, really affirmative feeling. positive message across the world. A very Judeo Christian message, which is that the power of love is greater than the power of hate the power of God is stronger than the power of Satan, the power of, of construction is bigger than the power of destruction. I mean, you know, you have a fairy tale. And so again, again, going back to the idea as we were talking before, what's the idea behind Star Wars? I'll tell you what it is. And you already know what it is. It's a fairy tale and space. The bad guys have ducked the princess and you know, the good guys rescue her. That Star Wars, isn't it? Yeah. What makes those two special in the answer is the frame by frame, moment by moment, scene by scene, action in it and the dialogue that the characters speak and so on. So, you know, George is a very, you know, he's not a very available kind of a guy. I don't think a lot of it, people would describe him as warm and cuddly. But when I worked with him, both on campus and off campus, that was certainly a professional arrangement and agreement and, you know, whatever disagreements that that were had were, you know, our experience, we're not unusual among artists working on a movie together.

Dave Bullis 1:02:31
Yeah, very, very understandable.

Richard Walter 1:02:33
And I was actually I, his house guest, I remember my wife and I, in August of 1969, he had already left LA, he was living up in Marin. And I love to say that my class at USC, we were the first to move on. When we came to film school, there was no tradition of moving from film school into the professional community. It's like I have an article right now. It's just come out, like, yesterday or the day before in the current issue, the most recent issue, which is just come out, excuse me, I've written by, which is the Writers Guild, monthly journal. And it's called Film School Haven or hoax. And I'm arguing that, you know, in and I'm arguing, because I have a vested interest in it. But I still believe it's observably, verifiably, empirically true that film school is not a hoax. You know, but very, very helpful in in getting, you know, people into the movie business. I stated in the article 1111 titles of movies, written I'm sorry, directed or Purdue and or produced by Steven Spielberg, that were written by, at least in part, by UCLA, trained writers who have on screen credits for those movies. 11 of them. Jurassic Park 123, Indiana Jones, two and three. That's five right there. The terminal Munich, Lincoln, one of the world's EagleEye EagleEye was produced by Steven Travis Wright was the writer our student a few years ago, what am I leaving out the Oh, the TV series amazing stories. Our students in the last six or seven years of a five, just in the last six or seven years five Academy Award, Best Screenplay nominations and have won three Oscars for Best Screenplay in the last five years. So scrape between now and then now being today and then being the time now almost half a century ago that I was going to film school in classes with George Lucas. The big difference is that film school has gone from being a dead end professionally to being the single most advantageous way to enter the film industry. So I like to say that our class at USC we were the first one As to go on to own Hollywood, except for Georgia loans Marin County. So, in any event, my wife and I in 1969 in August we took a motor trip just to vacation holiday up the west coast and we drove all the way up ultimately to the Oregon border. California Oregon border of the quad dunes. There are some beautiful sand dunes along the northern California Southern Oregon coast. Just exquisite. We camped along there and so but on the way we stopped the San Francisco and I remember I had we had brunch one Sunday morning in Sausalito with some old film close pals including Georgia and Marcia. Also John nearly as if you know that name. I referred to him earlier. John, you know, invented Schwarzenegger, you know, he did call Conan and bunches of other movies, he wrote John Salley, best known for his script of Apocalypse Apocalypse Now. There was my wife and I and George and Marcia and Amelia is also Caleb Deschanel who's probably famous, being the father of very famous actors, daughters. But Caleb is of course himself a multi nominated cinematographer. He is one of the most respected the most successful cameramen in the history of the industry. And they were so other people there was Walter Murcia is very famous, Walter actually won two Oscars for sound design and something else in the same year and money gotta come twice, to the stage to pick up his Oscars. He was there with his wife, Aggie, a British woman. And then there's also Caleb, as I mentioned, and a producer, and now a well known producer, David Lester, who produced all of Ron Shelton's film, you know, Bull Durham, and on and on and on. And I remember Marcia invited us to, to be their their house guests. We said, well, we're, we're moving on up the coast tonight, you know, I mean, right after this meal, we're driving north. She said, but on the way down if you want to stay with us, feel free. So we did, we were actually the house guests overnight, when he was living in Mill Valley, in Marina was before his gigantic success with live graffiti, graffiti wouldn't come out yet for about three years. I think it was in 72 71, or 72 73. It came out it was released in 73. So we were alone, you know, when a film school pals when I look back. At the time, we weren't really aware of it. You kind of look back to see it, but talk about Right Place Right Time, you know, I had come out to California for three weeks from New York. And at the last moment, I just fell into film school that I see on kind of a whim. And, you know, somebody turned around it was 10 years later, you know, had never really planned to settle in California, much less to become a screenwriter and much, much, much less to be a tenured professor, you know, and legal experts and so on. He has a great example of staying open to the surprises in a life narrative. I think, you know, I'm always telling writers in your dramatic narrative in your life narrative. Stay open to the surprises that all of the people I know who were enjoying what they're doing, are also surprised by what they're doing. They're not doing what they planned to do. People who do what they plan to do, are people I know a lot of such people and they offer the most what doctors I grew up in New York City and the big thing to be was a doctor. So I know a lot of medical professionals and they're very successful. They're very, you know, they're well paid and so on, but not a lot. Some of them are very happy, but not all of them, many of them are unhappy. This one wishes he was an oceanographer that one wishes he was a anthropologist, and all of them seem to wish they were also screenwriters. Sometimes it seems like the point is that, you know, there's a Chinese person or your dreams come true. It's a little scary when when you accomplish what you set out to accomplish an ended doesn't really feel right. I have a friend who just retired from medicine. He's done very, very well. He's respected. He's made a good living, but he's always been lukewarm at best about about his career. Never really enjoyed it. On the other hand, I know another doctor, a friend of mine who went to film went to medical school.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:53
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Richard Walter 1:10:02
But just didn't like practicing medicine when he liked was computers. And very early in the computer revolution, he got into the the writing of software for computerizing pathology labs, he was a pathologist, his specialty was pathology. And that branched on out to general medical, medical record keeping in general, they were computerizing all of that, you know, previously, a doctor would see a symptom and sort of think about it. Now, you can, you know, really search the databases. And this has resulted not just in convenience, but in the savings of countless lives, if you think about it. So my friend is we were visiting with him, he lives in Seattle, we, we were visiting with him and his wife, oh, dear old pounds of lawn some months ago. And his house is on Lake Washington, there's a dock behind it. And on one side is his power boat. And on the other side is his sailboat across the lake. And a little to the south is the Bill Gates compound. I mean, this guy has done really well my friend and he loves his work, and he didn't jettison his medical education. He very much exploited it. And that's not a dirty word. It just means make the most of it. He integrated it into his career, his very successful career, a career that he loves, that he just enjoys enormously. My point is, he's not doing what he expected to do. And he's loving it. And what I'm, what the point that I'm making is, it's possible to over plan, kind of outsmart yourself in life.

Dave Bullis 1:11:52
And also, you mentioned, Richard, you know, sometimes wants to be a screenwriter, you know, it's kind of like everyone, I think it was Joe Esther house, the the screenwriter of Basic Instinct, one said, you know, it used to be everyone wants to write the great American novel. Now, what's the great American screenplay?

Richard Walter 1:12:09
Yeah, no, Joe is a friend of mine. I know him well over a number of number of years. And I'm aware, aware that he said that and it seems to be true. It seems to be true people people want to, you know, there are more people who years ago would have been writing novels than writing screenplays. I do both. I've just finished a novel. And I've had modest success in both areas, and it's interesting, the guy was just lecturing on this. This is my subject. We could go at the pitch fest. We were talking about how it's funny. Let me put it this way. There's a there's a political figure. You've heard of Governor Christie from New Jersey. He's running for president. And he was I saw him sometime last week. Early in the week he was bitterly denying that he was what somebody had accused him of somebody could accuse him called him and characterize him as a particular word. Very, very evil word, the most evil word that you can use to characterize a political figure that these days in this country, can you guess what the word was? I'll tell you. Somebody called him a moderate. They said that he was moderate. That used to be like a compliment. You know? He was denying these the moderate and Why do I bother you about that? Because there's a word in Hollywood that Hollywood seems to have come to hate. Are you ready? Original. They don't want to do anything original. In fact, it's the disappointing release of Tomorrowland. Is that what it's called? Yeah, tomorrow. Yeah, with Clooney. That kind of disappointed. They say that they're not gonna do any more original movies. You know, because of Tomorrowland is originally there only want to do 10 photos, remakes, reboots, prequels and sequels, adaptations of material from other media. They don't want to do original screenplays. I think that's a real pity because what they're trying to do is play it safe. And playing it safe is the most hazardous course you can follow in an arc. You have to take the risks you have to embrace the risks invites the listening courage, the risks, it seems to me And nevertheless, it if you're a writer, and you have an original screenplay, what are you gonna do with that nobody's making original screenplays or certainly the studios are not. They're not buying spec scripts and turning them into movies. They're developing projects inside I had a writer who wants to. He's a huge fan of Batman and he wants to Does the Batman franchise and he wanted to pay me a substantial sum? To give him notes on that manuscript that he ran, I said that you, you can't do anything with Warner Brothers on the right. You know, Batman. So he said, well after what the Warner Brothers, but Warner Brothers isn't going to look at the Batman script, they're not going to buy it speculated that manuscript, they're gonna develop it with writers, they know who worked with producers, they know, those writers may very well be former students of mine, mind you, and I'm happy to brag about that. But they're not going to do this guy script, not only are they going to make it, they're not even going to read it, they're going to make a point not to read it. For reasons that go back to what we were talking about earlier having to do with litigation, if it's Batman, it's certainly going to be similar. It's going to have certain similarities to that doesn't happen to have franchise, don't you think? And then there'll be there'll be their lawyers at Warner Brothers will be telling you, you mustn't look at this. And you must notify him or send this back to him and tell him we haven't looked at it. We don't accept that until this material and so on, because he's gonna claim when the new Batman came up that we that we really used it. And we didn't, you know, that we just stole it from. So, we talked about originality. So how do you get around that as a writer? And the answer is, and I've had modest success with this repeatedly in my career. I don't consider myself to be any kind of superstar. But the The Wall Street Journal calls me they What did they say about me, they said, I am a writer of substantial, professional experience, you know, there's no literary laundry I haven't taken and I've written feature assignments, feature length, movie assignments, were all of the studios, almost every studio. And I've sold material to all three major broadcast networks. And I have had almost half a dozen books published by by all of them by major New York publishers, I've had bestsellers in nonfiction, my screenwriting books in print, you know, what, for 30 years, my last novel, read made the Times list. Best Seller was only for a week and only at number 13. But the you know, the Times list, it's not a not a small thing. And the reason I mentioned it to you is that my very first novel I had written as a screenplay, and I just couldn't. It's been said Hollywood is the one place on earth where you could die of encouragement. I had so much encouragement over that scribble of when he didn't have was a nickel for it. And finally, there was a strike and you couldn't market the Hollywood anyway. And so naively, I turned it into I use it as an outline for a novel and wrote a novel, I was naive about how cruel the fiction market is, especially the first fiction market. And that naivete served me very well, because I sold the thing right away. And, you know, had I been more savvy about the business, maybe I wouldn't have, you know, invested the time and effort it would take to turn that into a novel, knowing how grim the chances were, so you understand how ignorance is your friend. Now you say, is your pal. Now as soon as it was sold as a novel, it was sold as a movie. Warner Brothers, or somebody that had turned it down when it was a screenplay, bought the same screenplay, as soon as it had been published as a novel because was no longer original. It was now an adaptation. It had been tested in another market, the executives have every every day in Hollywood that an executive doesn't have to make a decision about anything is a victory for her. She hasn't put her neck out. She hasn't risked anything, you know, if you don't do anything, you'll never do anything wrong, right? So, and every movie that does get made starts with the anticipation by the executives who are responsible for spending the money to produce it. It starts with their expectation that it will fail. And they're trying to figure out how to explain away the anticipated failure of the movie. I don't see how that can do anything other than to suppress creativity and imagination and so on. But you understand how somebody could say if if, if the movie comes out, and it bombs, for example, Bonfire of the Vanities, which is reduced by a friend of mine and a colleague of mine, he's also a professor at UCLA Peter Guber, very successful producer. He was the head of Warner Brothers. He was at Columbia he's produced a lot of major major movies. Well, one of the movies that he produced it was a terrible mom. There's even a book written about about it was Bonfire of the Vanities. And when people said in theater, how could you invest so much money in this turkey?

Alex Ferrari 1:20:01
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Richard Walter 1:20:10
He can, I mean, you must be some lousy executive, we should get rid of you. He has a defense and the defense is Wait a minute. This was a best selling novel by Tom Wolfe. I also had Bruce Willis and Tom Hanks in the movie. The screenplay was adapted by Michael Cristofer, a very, very distinguished, respected writer, the director was Brian De Palma. It's not my fault. It's not my fault. You understand what I'm saying? So suddenly, because the with my own novel when it was sold as a movie, the producer who bought it could say if anybody asked him how to get to get by this, because they want any more books published this, you know, major publisher in New York published this. So I'm not the only one crazy enough to think that there's merit in this. So I've been recommending to writers. That's a contemplate. Write a Screenplay, but instead of showing the screenplay, writing original screenplay, certainly you don't want to do an adaptation of material that you don't own. I mean, they're like dragons. What are you going to do with something if you don't have the underlying rights? So so what I'm recommending is they write an original screenplay, but then instead of mocking the screenplay, at first, they use it as an elaborate outline for their novel, and write it as a novel, and then try to sell the work as a novel. And once it's sold as a novel, they can get action as a screenplay. I've done that multiple times now. And right now I'm working on just finished a novel that's based on a screenplay. I wrote the screenplay last summer. And now I'm finished a draft of the novel, it's just the draft, I still have to do a bunch of work on it. But once you've got the screenplay, most of the heavy list lifting has been done I regard just like we were talking earlier about the the most valuable part of the equation is the story. Once you've got the story or work down, you've got the characters, the dialogue, I mean, most of that's there in the screenplay, isn't it? The turn that into a novel is relatively easy underscore relative. There's, you know, relatively there's not a you know, no, no, writing is easy. But for me, the hardest part of writing is the heavy lifting is in devising, creating the plot because the Plot The story really involves everybody else. Story is character. Story is dialogue. Story is description. It's everything. I mean, it was the richest character. I mean, imagine somebody say, Well, wait a minute, Richie, what about character? isn't that important? Well, who's the greatest character? In all of English language Romantic literature is a hamlet. Certainly, Hamlet would be a good candidate, don't you think? So? What's the description? Have you ever read Hamlet? Do you remember the playwrights description of Hamlet? Here it is. It's three words Prince of Denmark. That's it. There's nothing about melancholy. So where does this hamlet come from? And the answer is from the story, the stuff he does, and the stuff he says inside the context of the story. So it's really, really all about the love of that story. So once the story is worth down, you have the opportunity to retell that story is a novel and it's just easier to write a novel it's easier because you're not stuck with just sight and sound like you are in a movie. You're not. You know, we mentioned George Clooney a moment ago. I read a screenplay called the American I didn't see the movie, the dreadful screenplay. Clooney was in it. I think the only reason George was in it because it was shot near his where he lives in Northern Italy and I lived in Lake Como at the edge of the Swiss border up there and he was shot it up there. That's the only reason I can imagine that. George would have been you know, had anything to do with this movie would be because it was convenient was in the neighborhood. So it's an area that there's a scene in the movie where the main character is sitting is at a cafe, ordering a bottle of wine, he's with a girl, and the waiter comes up and offers a taste of the wine and he samples the wine and it actually says in the script and he takes a sip of the wine. It takes slightly flinty with notes of chestnuts and cinnamon. Wait a minute. It's kind of new. I haven't anybody knows sitting in a movie theater watching them on screen with what something tastes like. You follow what I'm saying?

Dave Bullis 1:24:54
Yeah, I knew exactly what you mean.

Speaker 2 1:24:56
This guy this writer doesn't understand the most fundamental aspects of screenwriting, which is you stuck with sight and sound, it's just sight and sound. It's easier to write another because you're not stuck with you can say what somebody remembers what they think how they feel, you know, the greatest compliment that's ever been paid me is that final draft the software I'm sure you know of it. The screenwriting software has actually created, I don't know if it's available yet. We are creating, they are creating for me in consultation with me the Richard Walter templates, you know, like if you want to write a if you want to write a Simpsons script, for example, you can you can punch up symptoms, you know, there's a pulldown window in final draft, and you can go to Simpsons, and you click that and it'll immediately give you the formatting that that the you know, The Simpsons likes that the Simpsons uses. And I don't mind telling you that colleague of mine has won several Emmys for The Simpsons and a bunch of our students have written for The Simpsons and one of them this makes me sad because he died young in his 40s, a wonderful writer, wonderful guy very successful. In not just in TV, but also in features he wrote Thor, he wrote Supergirl, very, very fine writer. He he was a the the old producer, one of the colleagues, a producer of The Simpsons and a writer for The Simpsons. So final draft has a Simpsons template, they now have a Richard Walter templates. If you if you punch up me, you'll get format that conforms to my particular desires. For example, I don't, when if you write x e x, t, for exterior, you know, it's like x or int, I was taught that you don't put and I, I preach it, you should not put a period after that. And in Final Draft, if you go to the rich Walter template, it'll get rid of the theory that comes after exp. Now somebody might say, Gee, that seems like a pretty petty point. But actually, I think it's the most important the most profound point in almost creative expression. And the point is simply this there shouldn't be anything in the script that doesn't serve this script. That is to say, it doesn't move the story forward. And if you learn if you get into the kind of mindset that leaves out even the period after exterior, then you'll leave out lines of dialogue that you don't need, you leave that whole characters you they don't leave, you leave that whole scenes that you don't need. If you follow what I'm what I'm saying. So in any way, the only reason I'm telling about this is that in the Richard Walter template for final draft, they are now having, we're tweaking it and in the wide margin description of a word like realizes feels, remembers, thinks, appears it's gonna get highlighted. A little zigzaggy line underneath is some attention will be called to it. To ask the writer Do you really want to say this? Is this something that the audience can see or hear? Because if it's an internal, interior mental thing, it has no place in the movie. But in a novel, I mean, everything in it, that's interior, a mental movie has to come out of sight and sound. You know, the Maryland's eyes widen in what can only be the realization that Harry left the gun in the nightstand at the motel, you understand what I'm saying? It's gonna be told from a visual standpoint, answering the question, nevermind the reader of this ink on the page, I want to know how the viewer in the movie theater watching it on the screen is going to know this information. And but in a novel, you can just spill it out. And you can also write in the past tense, or in the future tense, I wrote a novel. Instead in the past, in the present in the future, and in the past, I tell it in the past. And in the future, I tell him in the future tense and in the present, I tell it in the in the present tense, she goes to the door, she opens if he stands, you know what I'm saying. So you don't have to worry about that in a novel you can get you can do anything you want. Also, novels are longer, and it's easier to write longer than shorter. Not everybody gets that. There's a it's like it's easier to ride a bike fast and slow. You know what I'm saying?

Dave Bullis 1:29:39
It's very true. You're absolutely right.

Speaker 2 1:29:41
The the there's a letter from Hemingway, there's a very famous letter from Ernest Hemingway. He was in Cuba. I think he was working on the old man in the sea. And he wrote a letter to his legendary editor Maxwell Bergens.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:59
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Richard Walter 1:30:09
It was nine pages long on and on and on, and on and on about this and that the other thing of aspects of the script of the manuscript attack script for old men to see and this and then finally, halfway down the middle of page nine, he says, Well, that's about it for now, Max. He says, Please forgive me for writing such a long letter, I didn't have the time to read a short one. It takes longer to be quick and to the point and to call and select and do the things that artists have to do. So I think it's really something to be said for writers taking another tack, trying their script out as a novel, trying to get some traction there. And if they do, suddenly, it becomes viable as a movie project, because it's no longer original, they've taken the quotes, curse, bones, quote, off of it, by removing its originality and making it an adaptation. So just some thoughts. Since once, you know,

Speaker 3 1:31:11
It's funny, you mentioned Richard, because I'm actually a final draft, not only affiliate, but I also am part of their, their program where we like beta testing. So whose program I missed? Oh, I'm sorry. I'm actually a part of final drafts. Final Draft? Yeah, not only their affiliate program, but also their Beta testing. So like, I get the new stuff before anybody else, you know, and give feedback. I haven't had a chance to actually check that template out. But went, but I'm going to keep my eye out. Because

Speaker 2 1:31:39
Yeah, you know, I've been working with all 100 series, who was one of their guys a great guy. And I don't know if it's available or not yet, I think it's an a, you know, like, you can sort of upload it if, depending what, you know, what version you have, and so on.

Speaker 3 1:31:55
Yeah, and because right now, the latest thing that I've been beta testing is, they have a new app out for the iPhone. And that's what I've been beta testing a lot of just, you know, giving them feedback. And, you know, Hey, I like to see this feature, I wouldn't like to see this feature, you know, stuff like that. And I'm gonna keep an eye out for that template. I'm going to execute, because if it's available, I will definitely upload that as well.

Speaker 2 1:32:20
Thank you. I'm honored that you would, it's not radically different. But I am a big believer in lessons more, no continued. Absolutely nothing. I've argued for years and years and years, that if you can embrace this very, very fundamental precept, which is what we were just saying earlier, that it's just sight and sound. And if you can add to that, just one thing, and that is that every sight, every sound must move the story forward, some palpable way, some identifiable way. It doesn't matter what you write, that doesn't matter what the so called genre is, it doesn't matter what happens, people will be drawn to you can even have nothing happened. And if somehow nothing happening, can move the story forward. People will pay very, very rapt attention to nothing happening. And I'll give you an example of that in a student of mine. God bless him he blurbs my book, very prominently Alexander Payne in one of his best movies, I think about Schmidt, starring Jack Nicholson, I think it's Nicholson's best work. The movie opens with Jack just sitting alone. He's an insurance salesman, it's it's clearly his last moment, literally his last minute on the job before he retires. And he just sits at the desk, and absolutely nothing happens. But the camera kind of wanders around the room. And you can see the only motion in the room is the the sweep second hand of the wall clock, and it's ticking off the seconds, it's like 40 seconds before five o'clock. And when it hits five, he gets up and he leaves, you know, that's the scene. But it tells you so much about that man, and how punctual he is and how afraid he is and how this he is and how bad he is and so on that you get it, you get really, really drawn in into that. So that's why my template if you can get into it, if you can find it, you'll see that it's it really preaches minimalism, that you should keep everything off the page that you can keep off the page. You know, if you look at my books, you see the front page of a screenplay, I have a model of a front plate of strings, and then I have a model of what not to do. And the model of the what you should do is just the title of the script. The name of the writer, it shouldn't say written by, or even the lead by much less than original screenplay written by in case you think you're worried somebody might think it's a chicken sandwich sandwich or a bowling ball or something. Well, what if it just says by a written, written by, what does that tell you, it tells you nothing. It simply says, bottom dollar. You know, Sam Smith, we're gonna show you this script is called Buck bound dollar. And this guy, Sam Smith probably wrote it, you know, and then on, the only other thing you should have on that page is a phone number and an email address, your contact info, now if you have an agent, she's going to be sending out on her own, you know, she's not going to want potential buyers to contact the client, she's going to want them to contact her. And by the way, they also should not want to be contacted directly be suspicious of anybody contacted directly, whoever representative, if they're legitimate. If the producer was legitimate, they should be willing to and eager to call the producer, you know what I'm saying? So, so it's different if the thing is so that if it's a speculative script, it you just have the name of the script, the title of the script and the name of the writer. And as I say, a phone number one phone number, only one phone number, I have a bunch of phone numbers, I have my UCLA number, I have my home number, I have a cell number, I have a special number, my home office, they don't want all of that they don't want my mother's number, they don't want to my lawyers, I'm going to just one number, and one email address so that you can be found if people people are interested. And as I say, if it even simply says by somebody who puts that on the script on the front page doesn't get it that right on the cover of the script, there's information that serves no purpose at all, what is the likelihood that somebody's going to miss that, but get character and story and dialogue and all of the sophisticated and heady and provocative precepts and principles that apply to the autograph in the business of screenwriting? You know, it's, you know, not encouraging. So, again, that's what you'll see is very, very minimal. Anything that that can be lost, you should lose. And if you're in doubt about something, you sort of feel well, maybe you need this, but maybe then you lose it. If you're in doubt, throw it out. Just have stuff that absolutely must be there. And it's so easy to figure out what must be there. You just ask yourself, What if it was there? Does it still make sense? If it makes sense. Without it being given wasn't needed? If the whole thing falls apart? Without, you know, when it's not there, then it was needed? You follow what I'm saying? It's like there's a there's a joke. guy goes into a library. And he steps up to the desk and he says to the librarian, I'll have a hotdog and a coke. And french fries, please. And the librarian system, sir. This is a library. It's just Oh, I'm sorry. I have a ham. I have a hot dog. whispers it. You get the joke. It's like you're not supposed to talk loud in the library. He thinks that she's reprimanding him for talking too loudly rather than for ordering food at a library desk. You follow the joke? Yeah, absolutely. So the reason I tell you that joke is you can imagine if that were a screenplay, unfortunately, screenplay. You absolutely have to have the parenthetical direction whispers sure this is a library carry. whispering and then the line again, you with me? If if, if you don't have it, the person who's going isn't going to whisper and the whole joke is lost. So you needed the parenthetical. But that's the exception. One of my great battles is against parents medicals. It's a sure sign of amateurism when there are a lot of parents medicals. Riley drolly angrily smiling. You know, sadly, Shakespeare got through 36 or 37 plays. Not a single parenthetical, you know, Hamlet, melancholic, never. So you want the least. And you can figure out what the least is by asking yourself, What if this word here? Does it still make sense, then we didn't need it. So that answers the question that every artist is confronted with, which is what needs to be in the work and what doesn't. And why doesn't everybody do that? And the answer is it takes time to do that. And that's what people won't give it. They just won't give it the time that it takes.

Speaker 3 1:39:52
You know, one of my, one of my mentors, Bill Boyle, he actually wrote a book called The visual MindScape of the screenplay,

Alex Ferrari 1:40:01
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Dave Bullis 1:40:11
Many and he goes into that in depth that you have to take out anything that is not, you know, it's always about what's on the screen all. And it always and he's in that way. Because he says he always would see people hand in screenplays and they would say things that, like, you know what someone is thinking in a screenplay and he's like, show that stuff.

Richard Walter 1:40:35
Exactly. Exactly. You know, Evelyn remembers that the she left the car idling. Well, what does that look like on the screen? Somebody's remembering something, you know? And how are you going to know? Let's say the actor looks up remembering enacting for Dummies if there is such a thing, and is able to put on the remembering face if there is such a thing. Then how do we know what they remember it? Again, it's so simple. It's it's really very simple. Very simple to know what to do to succeed. Why doesn't everybody see because it's hard to do it. It's even though I get to it, but I know exactly what to do to hit a home run. I'm sitting here about two miles from Dodger Stadium. And I know exactly what you have to do. You have to get to bat around in the right place at the right time. The difference between me and you know, Babe Ruth is that he could do it. He didn't merely know how to do but actually could do it. I know how to do it, but I can't do it. I don't have the equipment to do it. So it's really you know, that's really all there is to it. And again, the reason people don't do it is they get in too much of a hurry. I had a writer just tell me it's already. This is already a third draft. Well, come on David cap. I bet you know the name K Oh, EPP, a former student of mine, a writer director he wrote, you know, Mission Impossible. Jurassic Park one and two. He right now he's a writing of the second chapter of the Ron Howard of the Davinci Code. I mean, he's a gigantic successful writer, also a very, very sweet man. He says the secret of his success is 17 drafts, he knows he can get through 17 drafts, he says it takes 17 drafts, to hear somebody complaining to me about their third draft, you know, they don't like hearing me telling them, you're just getting started, you're gonna if you could get one more draft out of this. And you'll only need about 30 more after that, you know, and that stops a lot of people. They just don't have the what some people call the zits flesh, you know, the ability to sit there. The flesh, tolerate just sitting there, reworking it, reworking it, reworking it,

Speaker 3 1:43:11
You know, in my own experience, you know, Richard, I wrote a, it was a comedy horror movie. And it was at a at a summer camp, and summer camp. It's a made up summer camp that I had. And the the, I'm about seven or eight drifts in now. And some people feel that the stress, some people have said, who read it, they said this in these drafts are better. Some are saying, you're starting to get maybe a little too far away from the original concept. And you know, and now, you know, I sort of judge for myself, I sort of have to say, you know, what, who's right in this situation? Well, you know, and I sort of go back and, and there was a one point I'm going to be honest with you, I was so burned out for rewriting this thing. I was like, I was fearing opening up final draft and looking at this thing again.

Speaker 2 1:44:02
Well, that's every runner has that experience, it's actually a good sign, but do go on.

Speaker 3 1:44:09
And at that point, I actually, you know, I printed it out. And then my favorite thing to do was actually just print it out. And I make marks with just a pen, you know, sort of I cut myself off from all technology. Just me and you know, 90 are

Speaker 2 1:44:23
Excellent, excellent thing to do. I also think it really makes a lot of sense to write something else, put it aside, work on something else, and then you'll be able to come back to to it with fresh eyes. You know, over the last number of years, I've become a fanatic crossword puzzle guy. I do the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, every Sunday. And one thing that I learned doing crossword puzzles is you know, you go through, you get what you can get and then there's stuff you just can't get. And finally just reading all the clues and you fill them maybe a little Less than half the thing and you're just stuck, you can't get another freaking thing. You just can't. And you feel defeated and stupid and so on, you put it aside, just go and do something else come back to it later you sit down and suddenly, wham, wham, wham, wham, wham, this thing, guy thing, this thing. It all leaps, you know, into relief that you can write in and almost run your hand over and feel it like a freeze on a temple, you know, a carved marble freeze. And it teaches me that just like the body gets tired, the muscles get tired, the mind gets tired. And when you rest the muscles and they recover. So also can you rest the mind and it recovers and you look away from something. You look at something too careful, you really can't see it. You kind of look away. And then you look back there. It's suddenly as I'm reminded of when I was a undergraduate student in Binghamton, New York. As a you know, history major in college. Binghamton is in Broome County, New York. And I remember going through some original letters that had to do with Broome County history. And they had been written in like the early 1800s. And there was a, you know, they were concluded in some state archives and kind of the archive or something like that they were contained there. They were housed there. And they're written in this ancient kind of script, you know, handwriting. And sometimes I just can't read what it says, I remember my teacher telling me you're looking at it through hard look away from it, then kind of sneak up on it. And, and suddenly, suddenly, in context, it all leaps out, you know. So if you take time away from you, you really stuck with your script. You don't let your eighth draft and when I say you, I mean any writer. What about putting it aside for a while and work on something else, and then come back to it. And as far as you're getting too far away from your original concept, maybe there's something better than your original concept, maybe you've taken it to a place. That's even better for it to be one more thing on this on this subject. And it goes back to David kept in the 17 draft. He says very often, the latest drafts mimic the earliest drafts, you sort of get back to the beginning of it. And you get back to that context. That original love concept that you had. And that might seem like a ferocious waste of time. But it wasn't you needed to go through all of that to see that this is the way it really ought to be. I was talking to writer only the other week, a few weeks ago who was I ran advanced seen him in a long time a guy I know pretty well. But I'm seeing a long time. And he says well, much better now. What do you mean? He said, Well, I was stuck. For 10 months, this year, I was struggling with this script. And I just felt pressured and hesitated and stumbled and just couldn't make any progress with it at all. And it haunted me and tortured me. And then finally, two weeks ago, I just settled in and said, Screw this, I'm gonna do this. And I went right through it. And I got it, you know, and nailed it. And it's just great. You know, and that's why I'm upset. I don't understand why. Why is that upsetting? It sounds like, like a nice thing. He said, Well, I struggled with this thing for nine or 10 months. Why don't I just do this 10 months ago, you know, and I wouldn't have had all of the darkness and all of the pain that I had. And I said to him, you couldn't have done this 10 months ago, you need it to struggle and suffer, and have all of this pain and live all of this life of the last nine to 10 months to become the person that you are that could you know who's also the person that could finish the script to write the script. So that's the way it goes, you know, nothing new about writers beating up on themselves.

Dave Bullis 1:48:50
So what I ended up doing was I ended up actually, I did work on something else. I just at that point, I said, You know what, I think I should just take a break from this. And, and I'm thinking about coming back to it very soon. And cuz it's been about probably a month or more for him. And I think now it's probably better if you can come around full circle now. And I just again, start draft nine see where that takes me.

Richard Walter 1:49:14
Look, my first novel was, I told you about it earlier, I had written it as a screenplay and couldn't get any action on the road as a novel and then sold it as a screenplay. years later. I, by the way, taught me a lot of work, you know, it was an adolescent coming of age story. And given that in my drafts of American Graffiti, which is, you know, an adolescent loss of innocence rite of passage.

Alex Ferrari 1:49:50
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now, back to the show.

Richard Walter 1:49:59
Coming your way extraor I was able to get a lot of work I was kind of the go to guy for adolescent coming of age stories, loss of innocence stories in Hollywood. That novel after I saw and it's a kind of a, I grew up in New York City and I sang do up in the streets with friends of mine. And so it's just about the screw up group that never really succeeds. But they learned that if you sing in harmony, you live in harmony, you know. And after I saw it, I started thinking about it as a stage play. You know, some musical, but I, I needed a songwriter. And then after I saw Jersey Boys, I've seen it several times on Broadway. I realized no, it could be a jukebox musical. And so I, I rewrote it as I adapted it for the musical theater using existing tunes, you know, just like the Carole King Show and the Motown music musical. And Jersey Boys, you know, are just examples. There are a lot of them now that are not using original music. But that's why they call jukebox musical because they use existing tunes. I suddenly realized I could do it as a jukebox musical. So I rewrote it as a jukebox musical. Two years ago, it was a workshop at UCLA. There was a humble read through sing through, directed by one of the professors in the musical theater program in our sister department theater was the most satisfying, fulfilling creative experience I've ever had in my career. This humble little read through. Now there's a there's somebody eagerly showing the play around trying to get a production for it. Probably nothing will come of it. But but it might, you know, the crazier things have happened. But the point is, and the reason I bother you with it, telling you about it is Look how long I've been in business with this thing. It goes back over 40 years. Between the time that I first started outlining what became the screenplay, which ultimately became the novel and so on my most recent novel, which which I brag to you made the Times list. I also wrote originally as a screenplay. i And I'm talking about over 30 years ago, probably 31 or 32 years ago, I wrote it as a screenplay. It was optioned and dropped an option and dropped I made some money on it. It was optioned by, you know, an Oscar winning multi Oscar winning independent company, very prestigious companies. I made some money on it, but I never got anywhere with it and never got produced. So eventually a student of mine at UCLA, I was talking about the project, he said, he'd love to read it. So I convinced me to let him read it. And he came to me and he said, You should use this as an outline for a novel, A comic novel. So I did. And when that was done, I showed it around to the publishing business, and I couldn't get any interest in it at all. All I had with it was frustration and heartache. And they say disappointment, then, I mean, I'd made some money on it, you know, in the early days when it was a film script, and I got those options, but generally, it had been a pretty big disappointment. Then I met an editor in I'm sorry, I met a very powerful agent. I have been so privileged in my life. To do the things that I've done. One of them is, for five summers, I would take the whole family to Maui for the Writers Conference late in the summer. And if it had been in a Motel Six, that'd be okay. It's Maui, but it wasn't in the Motel Six it was in the Grand Wailea, five diamond luxury spa, hotel resort, you know, just an incredible place where I would meet all of these heavyweights from both literature and film. We mentioned Stephen King earlier, Stephen was there. And I mean, they had world class writers both in the movie business and in the literature business. And I remember I met an agent there and she said to me, I very powerful New York agent. And she agreed to I pitched the project to her and she agreed to read it on the mainland when she got back to the mainland. So I sent it to her in New York. And she called me up and she said, and this is like 20 this is 20 years after I had first written in and about 15 years ago, if you with me. She said, I have to tell you, I read your your TypeScript. And I think it's great. And I want to represent it and I'll represent it exactly as it is if you want me to. I'll send it out exactly as you've written it. However, I have an editor here in the office that I work with And I think you should get notes from Miriam. And if you don't like the notes you know, then how would that, you know, Rama lay off and I feel the book as is. But I have to tell you, Richard, she said to me that when my office work with Miriam, I sell this stuff right away. Now I charge 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of dollars for notes, and they're not charging me a nickel for this, you understand? Now, I want you to say to them, please, I'm not interested in rewrite had nothing but grief from this project. And I'm depressed and lost. At the moment, this moment in my life, and I hardly feel like going into some old you know, thing that's been nothing but disappointment all the way. And you've already said you'd show it as this or just show it as it is. I didn't say this mind you, David, I just was this was my thinking you understand? So I said to myself, don't tell her how much you hate the notes until you see the notes. In other words, wait for the notes. And then tell them that yeah, you know, you really appreciate Miriam doing what she did. But no, you want to stick with what you have and the hell with it. So you don't have to do any more work, right? And by the way, who the fuck is this Miriam, some 23 year old who just got out of you know, creative writing major from Swarthmore, or Bryn Mawr one of them Moore's, you know, don't they know who I am, and on and on, you know, that kind of insulated view of self that a writer can get become his own worst enemy. Of course, I said, none of that was that was my thinking. So finally, the notes come from Miriam. By the way, it's Marian go to rich, she's now a partner in the agency. It's good. This'll go to rich now. And I read Miriam's notes. And you know what, David, the notes, my heart sinks like a stone when I read these notes, because they have such good notes. And I know I'm looking at my worst enemy. And when I brush my teeth, and then I shave, if you follow me, if I don't get my butt in the chair, my hands on the keys and find the old files and get get back into it, right. So I certainly didn't want to do that. But I did. And by the way, the moment I started, I've written two three sentences, I suddenly was born again, the fog lifted, the depression was gone, I was healed by the wonderful nurturing juices that flowed through the system when you when you, you know, get involved in creative expression. And it took me a couple of months, you know, to get the, the the script attended to in the way that had been recommended. And then I got it back to the agency. And bingo, they sold it right away. As I told you, it's made the Times list. bestseller, you know, it's a Times bestseller. And there was a lot of movie action around it. But nothing ever came of it as a movie. Now, if all that ever comes of it as it was a best selling novel. That's such a bad thing, isn't it? But guess what? I'm going to London, I'm going to be at the London screenwriters festival in October. And a British producer called me. He said that he's he's actually American producer, but he's British based. He's London base. And he said he has. This was a few years ago, this was three or four years ago, he come upon the novel, and he thought it make a great movie. And he wanted to option the rights to it. Well, nothing ever came of that more frustration and disappointment. Now suddenly, he calls me, just coincidentally, I'm going to be in London in the fall. And he says Guess what he made a movie. With a he produced a movie that was directed by a new director, a short film. And on the strength of that short film, that director has been signed by a very, very prominent agency. And they have asked him to bring projects to them that he would like to do. So he asked this producer and producer called me and said, Is your novel still available? And it is. So right now, as we're talking, it's being shown not by me, but by a an artist who has been signed by a major agency who have asked him to show them stuff that he wants to do. Do you understand how much better that is for the material to be exposed to them that way then for me, the author to call their attention to it. You follow what I'm saying? Yeah. Oh, yeah, absolutely. And on top of that, it's, it's conceivable that they will be showing it to producers and production companies. I would rather be represented if anything comes of it by a lawyer, rather than an agent, but if they want to go out with this thing, and they approached me, they want to want me to let them represent them on and I'll do that enough in a heartbeat.

Alex Ferrari 1:59:58
We'll be right back after a word from Our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Richard Walter 2:00:07
It's better for me to have them motivated, you know, extra motivated, you follow my reasoning there. If they can represent me, as well as the director, they're going to be that much more motivated to sell the thing. So the likelihood is nothing will come of it. But here we are. We're talking in 2015. midway through the year, just about, and I'm still in business on this thing that I started writing in, like 1980. So you see what a mistake it is for writers to do what they often do, which is a write a script that doesn't sell, that's the end of it, they think it was a fair, mistake, mistake, mistake, mistake mistake.

Speaker 3 2:00:44
Yeah, and you know, that that's very true. I have a friend of mine, also who he's in his 40s or 50s, but he wrote a screenplay, you know, in his 20s. And then suddenly, you know, that's becoming a light again, and you know, you know, again, like you were saying, you know, it's, it's amazing how these things, get new life, you know, you're good

Speaker 2 2:01:07
With people's, you know, he won the Oscar for unforgiven. It was the best, best movie that year, Clint hung onto that script for 20 years. And Clint made another movie that was very successful, didn't win the Oscar, but it was very successful about the, the Secret Service guy takes the bullet for the President and in the line of fire. And that's another script that was hanging around for 1516 years, the writer of that script was packing his the trunk of his car and getting ready to go back into feet with his tail between his legs. Back to New Hampshire, when the phone rings, it's not possible oaklins company. And, you know, they want to know that they want him to know that they wanted to come in for some meetings about brushing up the script there, they now have a schedule, they're gonna go ahead and you know, produce it for 88 million hours, or something like that. You just never know, people don't understand that when a script doesn't sell, it's not the end, it's just the beginning, that script might sell eventually. But even if it doesn't, it's a sample of your craft, it could lead to representation, it could lead to a development deal on another notion that you have in mind, it could lead to a rewrite assignment. I've seen all of these things happen. They've happened to me they've happened to writers that I know. And that is why it is a terrible, self defeating mistake. To imagine that a script that doesn't sell that's the end of it. It's a failure. The very first script I ever wrote, I wrote in a class at USC, it was in the legendary. The instructor was the legendary Erwin on blacker was George's the teacher and John mulia is his teacher and on and on. The that script never sold. But I got top flight representation as a result of it, I got a onto staff that universal here I was a young kid, I wasn't. I was in my 20s. And I had an office at Universal with my name on the door to a parking place next to Paul Newman's parking place, I noticed a ridiculously generous salary, at least it seemed that way at the time actually adjusted for inflation was pretty generous. And it all came about from a script that has been sold, you know, to this day. So to consider that script to be a failure is noticing. Yeah, and very, very much business. The business is hard enough on writers writers don't need to be hard on themselves, is the point that I'm making?

Dave Bullis 2:03:49
Yeah. And that's that's an excellent point. And that sort of leads me into my last questions. I know, we've been talking about two hours, I haven't taken up a lot.

Speaker 2 2:03:58
Yet. We want to make sure we do cover we I do. Talk a little bit about the summer session that we offer. So go ahead and ask me a question. And then I'll talk a little bit about that.

Speaker 3 2:04:07
That's actually the question I was gonna ask you was, you know, I know you have an upcoming summer session. And this is the only time of the year where non UCLA students can sign up. And I wondered if you could just, you know, talk a little bit about the class and and you know, for anyone listening who's interested in signing up?

Richard Walter 2:04:23
Well, the first thing I'll say is just the housekeeping. If you want to find out official information about it. You can do that by simply going to my website, Richard walker.com. There is no asset at the end of my name, Richard walter.com. And I think the very first thing on the site is a link that will take you to the UCLA site that describes enrollment procedures and tells you a little bit of class it also tells you something wrong about this class, which is that there are certain prerequisites for the summer session, all prerequisites are waived. And the class is open to other classes is spent actually designed for the summer session, I've taught it for 30, over 30 years now. It meets starting on June 22, Monday, June 22. Monday afternoon for the and for the next five, that is a total of six, Monday afternoon sessions. It's not electrical, it's it's hands on writing course, where you get the main activity of the classes, the in class examination of in progress scripts being written by students in the class. So you get not only the support of the teacher, and the teaching assistants, but also your fellow writers around the table. And one thing that has touched me very deeply all these years easily is how generous everyone is all the writers are with everybody else, how much support that the writers give each other. I feel like I've learned much more than I've ever taught, you know, being at UCLA, and my students or my teachers. So you get all of that alive, it's not online, it's alive in a classroom. And it is a rare course in that. It's very difficult to get into it. Even if you're a registered matriculated UCLA student is very hard to get into an advanced film class, with senior faculty like me. So this is an opportunity to do that not only for UCLA students, but even for students who are not enrolled at UCLA. And by the way, everybody gets eight credits for it. Those credits are useful at anybody, for anybody at any university of California campus, but also that transferrable depending upon the attitude of the institution that transferable to other institutions. Though, I would say most people taking the class really aren't interested in the credits, they're interested in getting the attention and consideration that, you know, our regular students get when they write their screenplays. So it's a really upbeat, six weeks together, and it's limited enrollment, it's almost sold out. But there is still some room for some people I want, you know that I don't get paid per student, I don't get paid on a per student fee. I rather I get a flat fee. And the only thing I tell you that is that I'm not trying to self aggrandize. Here, I'm not against self promotion. And I'm not against making money. But I'm not I don't get any extra money if, you know, extra students enroll or anything like I just want anything like that. I just want your readers and listeners, the people that you reach, I want them to know that this is a rare opportunity. It's not that widely known, it is available to them. And we we crank up two weeks from Monday. It's not too late to register. people commute by the way. It's obviously most convenient for people in Southern California region, but they want people who commute from all across the country. I had somebody last summer commuting from Illinois, the previous summer, I had a couple of labor, a doctor and his wife coming commuting every Monday, they would fly in to LA from El Paso and take the plants and then fly back, you know, either late that night or the following morning. That's how motivated people want to take the class and I would commend it to you know, one of the people that you reach.

Dave Bullis 2:08:25
And, you know, I've actually I've known people who have actually taken the course. And you know, I'll probably I'll mention the names when we get off Richard Cooper, I know you probably remember a few of them. And they spoke very, very highly of the course. Oh, thank you. And, you know, and again, I mean, to work with someone who has actually been in the field has been in the trenches, it's just, you know, it's unbelievable. And, you know, I again, I will link to your your upcoming class in the show notes, you know, and everyone else who were coming to check out Richards book, essentials of screenwriting. I have a copy behind me, I swear, Richard, you can't see it. But it's on the the massive bookshelf behind me. But I've taken up so much of your time today, I want to say thank you very much.

Richard Walter 2:09:10
I enjoyed chatting with you. I really, truly did. David, I would love to have you back on if you ever wanted to. Absolutely. You know how to reach Kathy, she kind of handles my calendar. And I'd love to come back. It'd be a pleasure to do that.

Dave Bullis 2:09:23
Excellent. Because there's a ton of questions that we never got a chance to. I never got a chance to ask you because I mean, there's so many and there's so many things we could talk about.

Richard Walter 2:09:31
Well, one thing I've learned about the questions and answers, and that is really good answers just leave lead to more questions, you know, so and there's nothing wrong with that. That is the nature of learning.

Dave Bullis 2:09:40
Absolutely. You know, everyone you could check with Richard at Richard walter.com. And Rich exactly right. And I wish I want to say one more time. Thank you again for coming on. And I will thanks for having me, David. Thank you. Oh, it's my pleasure. I still look forward to chatting with you again.

Richard Walter 2:09:56
We will do it for sure.

Speaker 3 2:09:58
Amazing. Everyone, thanks again for listening. And Richard, I wish you have a great day. And, you know best of luck with all your projects.

Richard Walter 2:10:06
Back to you. And thank you so kindly Thanks. Take care now. Bye bye bye.



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IFH 715: How To Become A Professional Screenwriter w/ Brooks Elms

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Alex Ferrari 0:11
I like to welcome the show Brooks alums How you doin Brooks?

Brooks Elms 0:14
I'm great. I'm excited to be here.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thank you so much for being on the show, man. I truly appreciate it. You reached out to me a little while ago. I think you heard me that I was gonna write a screenplay. And you're like hey if you need any help man, I'll coach you through it I'll do that honestly and I appreciate that by the way thank you so much. I don't even know when I'm going to start writing this thing but but I'll I'll let you know

Brooks Elms 0:39
One of the many things that interests me about you because I you got on my radar like like maybe 10 years ago through a mutual friend Scott who did this podcast film trooper

Alex Ferrari 0:51
Of course and Scott yeah a friend of the show yeah

Brooks Elms 0:55
yeah he's awesome and it was funny because he kept going oh yeah there's this guy Alex Ferrari like who is this guy was like all jealous like who is this guy? Who is this man this guy's bringing it you know and so I I've watched how like you always help an indie filmmakers and then it's just kind of snowballs on now you're like the Amazon of helping indie filmmakers. It's amazing. That's

Alex Ferrari 1:16
awesome. I might steal that the Amazon of helping filmmakers.

Brooks Elms 1:21
You're welcome you're welcome to it I actually you can you can use that when I came up with the the tagline for the blacklist calm. Where Where? screenwriters meet filmmakers. There's something like that. They sent out their beta. And it had some terrible you know, line. I was like, This is awful here. You should do something like this. Blah, blah, blah. And they go Oh, that's great. We're awesome. I do marketing stuff too. So it comes comes naturally.

Alex Ferrari 1:47
So how did you start in the businessman?

Brooks Elms 1:50
Oh, man, I started making movies my friends back in high school. And it was just so much fun. I I got started. I was 15 years old. And my friends came up and said, Hey, we're making a kung fu movie you want it you want to do and I was like, Oh, hell yeah, that sounds great. So we made that movie and and then we have another one another we showed our friends. They were laughing their asses off. And I was like, Oh, my guy was so completely and utterly hooked and bite. And that was in high school. And I probably made 50 short film experiments before I even got to NYU film school. Because it was just it was intoxicating. And I loved it. You know, you know how that is? So

Alex Ferrari 2:27
the disease the diseases, I call it the disease? Yes. You get bitten by the bug and you can't get rid of it. It's it's with you for life. It

Brooks Elms 2:35
is it is yeah, consumers are recovering independent filmmaker.

Alex Ferrari 2:40
I'm a recovering independent filmmaker. is always Yeah, we're always constantly recovering. And then and then we and then of course, of course we fall off the wagon. Because we because we go and see you know we watch a Kubrick film or we watch a Nolan film you're like oh my god I gotta go back into God I got it I gotta make another movie. It's it's the we're we're very weird creatures. filmmakers and screenwriters. There's very strange in the world of all creatives, because it's just such a I don't think there's many other forms screenwriters are different but filmmakers need a team need to gather the troops need to get the parties together to put the tent up the pit put on the show. It is unlike any other art form not a writer not a painter even a musician could do something alone if they want to they could be a singer songwriter and do their own thing for us it's it's just weird we got to convince other people to jump on Crazy Train with us as an independent

Brooks Elms 3:42
there there was a moment So after I graduated NYU film school that summer I made my first feature and I was it was was about this based loosely on on the I play them mlu soccer team and the movie was about how our team was like perfectly average they were a great team there were a terrible team we were really good at drinking after games right? So I made this movie that was okay about about the soccer team and I was a four or five days into the shoot and we were doing the soccer sequences so there was like 3040 people on set. I'm 22 years old don't really know what the hell I'm doing but it went around I looked around I was like, oh my god this is the best thing ever. But it was it just and that's that it's just I guess it's like you know that love for movies. And then the love for creation kind of come together when you're directing.

Alex Ferrari 4:32
Yeah, when you're on set I love being on set set is one of the favorite places to be and we get to do it so rarely. You know unless you're Ridley Scott who's working 24 seven every day and he's on set every week. It's it's a tough it's it's tough because as an artist, you only get to actually do your art handful of times really unless you're doing commercials or, or doing something else but like as a feature director. If you're lucky once a year, and In a retina insanity if not you're working every couple years if you're lucky as getting a project off the ground getting the financing it's a weird art form and then you're depressed every the rest of the time. And is it like you when when we when you go off set, and it's the last day of shoot, I'm like depressed? Like I go into the post so it gives me something to look forward to. But when on on the day of like this family, these carnies are my family I've been with for a few weeks now. And it's like this whole, it's just, it's such weird creatures.

Brooks Elms 5:34
It's intense. It's absolutely intense, because it's just it's such a hurricane of intention, and hope and dedication and awesomeness. And then it just goes, Oh, there's a void when it's done.

Alex Ferrari 5:46
Oh, and it's and then and then after post, it's worse. Yeah, now you're just like, Oh, I got I got nothing to do now except, like hope the distributor is gonna send me a check.

Brooks Elms 5:59
I actually love the marketing. So I even saw that film that I made when I was 22. When we finally finished it, I took it on like a college tour on the east coast. So much fun. I did that I like we showed it cuz it was a college movie. But we showed it. I showed a bunch of different colleges on the east coast. And we did like a month long screening event in in an off off Broadway space in New York that I called the New York City gorilla cinema. So I'm from the jump I've always loved the marketing promotion side as much as I love the the creation side

Alex Ferrari 6:29
as I do, as you know, as I love, I love the marketing promotion side it gets me jazzed up big time. Now you work with a lot of screenwriters. And you know you consult and you coach and you help screenwriters break through their own crap. As we all have our own walls we have to grow through Why do you think screen Why do most screenplays fail? In your opinion?

Brooks Elms 6:53
Because they Well, a we have to define how they fail right there's there's failing for story my own Yeah, story well, ultimately like if I mean it, because it's part let's take off the subjectivity right? Because what might be a failure for me might be my favorite or vice versa right so let's take that apart so let's say it's not even by the by the writers own standards it actually didn't hit the mark generally you're talking about its hero goal conflict the the hero probably wasn't as defined as it could be the goal probably wasn't as compelling as it could be. In the stakes, the conflict was it wasn't quite right.

Alex Ferrari 7:31
Now do you when you start writing do you write with starting with character with plot?

Brooks Elms 7:39
Neither I start with concept basically,

Alex Ferrari 7:43
concept. So concept would be more plot esque, I guess, kind of,

Brooks Elms 7:48
if I had a theme. If I had to squeeze one, I don't know I think concept kind of bridges them both right as a great concept, we'll have people kind of you can say in a sentence, and it'll sort of crack open people's mind, they'll go Oh, hey, that sounds like I get I get a lot of the stuff that's happening there. And it's really compelling. Oftentimes, there's a bit of an irony in there that helps you sort of unlock that sort of magic and you can do great work especially if you're a good director or you have a good director do your stuff with a sort of not a great concept right? But like when you start with a great concept everything else gets easier because of that quality of the foundation

Alex Ferrari 8:28
So talk to me about theme because I think that's also another where another place where a lot of screenplays and stories fail if they have no no no compass and the theme is that compass and they just they you see it all the time you watch some of these movies and you're just like there's no theme here there's there's just like Oh look there's a bunch of people fighting or there's a bunch of action or scares but like when you look when you study like a horror movie specifically, you study a Halloween you study you know Exorcist the storytelling is so solid that the scares are just bonus as opposed to films that just focus on the scares and not the thing and there's that theme underneath it that really is the backbone What can you tell me about that?

Brooks Elms 9:14
Yeah, that's it's interesting question so theme is tricky because it's it's a gravitational center point. And yet it's kind of ephemeral. If we kind of hold it too hard it kind of slips through our fingers and it's fine it gets more confusing right? One helpful way that feels kind of concrete with you because you can be theme is like, you know, crime pays or crime doesn't pay or or love conquers all, or we will talk about Shawshank at some sometime we hope versus despair, right? So, but like, a very sort of grounded concrete way of thinking about it is really sort of your character's misbehavior. And then their behavior. So they start out here with some sort of obstacle and problem and they're doing it the wrong way, right. And this is an expression have our own life like we've had, we all have life challenges. And when we're in no more human side of ourselves, we're not meeting our challenge and well, we're running away from something we're cowardly. We're, we're gluttonous, or we're doing something some sort of misbehavior. And, and our screenplays are a metaphor for this real thing going on in us if they're really great. It's some sort of metaphor for something we did. And we did it kind of the wrong way. And the script is about how we learn to do it the right way through painful trial and error. Your theme is a is a word that kind of speaks to that transformation. So in particular, with your idea of shooting for the mob, right? We were talking, I was watching your awesome Episode 501. RV, and I was, and I was listening to it, it was like I was interesting. So if, cuz my understanding of where you're at is, it's like you've written the book, and you know, and at some point, you want to do it, and maybe you have some great tours and might be helpful, but you're kind of like, I'm not sure kind of where to start my, to my mind, cuz that's sort of like my specialties I help I take, I take a writer, and I clarify their superpower. And I walk with them step by step on how to completely powerfully realize it. And what's exciting to me about, at least where you are with your stories, your theme is always is already so light and clear. It's like it's about uh, you know, and I haven't read the book, I'm just basically on the concept. It's about an independent filmmaker that that is so you know, urgent to make his movie that he ends up doing it the wrong way getting that with the wrong people and then realizing he can't do that, right. So that it to me thematically, you're in a really good place. And a lot of times, especially independent filmmakers, they don't have a theme that's so clean and simple. So to my mind, structuring your story, even again, having read the book, I'm sure it's probably pretty good cuz I know you and I, you know, I know what you're doing. But like, just based on a conceptual thing, what's going to make a good film, I can already see potential for how you could structure that thematically and really powerfully, just because your theme is so good.

Alex Ferrari 12:01
Well, I appreciate that. That for me is a tough conversation, just because it's, it's such a, it took me so long to get the courage to just even write the book, and the emotions that were attached to that story. And you know, it was real life. And I literally, you know, was crying through some chapters as I wrote it, because I was like, going back to the darkest times of my life. But I felt that I needed to get out there to help other filmmakers and other not only filmmakers, anybody in a tough situation that they can't they think they can't get out of, but they can. But for me, it's just tough to even think about starting to write it again, going back to that place mentally. Going back to that, that world, I don't mind directing it. And that's actually what I had to prove. It's a precondition of anybody who wants to make the movie with me, is that I have to have, I have to direct and my dp has to be the DP because he was Boris in the movie. And that was in the book. And that's it. Those are the only two. That's it, that's all I need. But I don't know, I think I might be too close to it. But I will I have to, I'll figure that out. Next year, when I begin that process,

Brooks Elms 13:05
I can help you out offline this really quickly in terms of how to, because this is the stuff I started doing. First I like I want a screenplay award at NYU doing this very personal senior thesis film, right. And it was about how I, the previous summer, I brought my girlfriend home to my hometown, and like she and my best friend didn't get along. So it was a very personal film about my best friend, I had to choose between my best friend or my girlfriend, right. And it was very wrong, because it just happened. And then and then the first feature I made was about my friends on the soccer team and how I was frustrated with the coach and blah, blah, blah, so and then when I broke through to the next level and started really selling scripts, I was able to take my superpower as a guy that could write grounded characters and tension, and then put it into a genre that was just more accessible. Because again, I wrote this alien invasion movie that was very gritty and grounded, and it felt like felt like a shooter event or a terrorist attack. But it just kept unfolding from there into being this alien invasion. And it did it did really well. So anyway, so and I work with writers who are working with all sorts of deep personal issues. So one of my specialties is figuring out how to because we have to come in from the personal places exactly what's going to make that movie really great, Alex, and yet you're right, if you're too close to it, it just triggers too much stuff because you lived it. And you wrote about it already. And it's

Alex Ferrari 14:23
and it's tough to make a move because a book is one thing but to make a movie, it has to change, his characters are going to be added storylines, and plots are going to be added that that have to be there to make it into a movie or else and that's the thing that it's hard for me to even comprehend. I'm like, well, that's not the way it happened. And even even if I even if I don't, even if on a conscious level, I say no, no, I'm gonna let that go. On a subconscious level. It's going to it's going to read or it's going to rear its ugly head. So it's your stuff,

Brooks Elms 14:53
and he will hear it and here's how I would advise you or somebody in that situation, right? Because it happens a lot. The key is that unlocking is thinking of it as the same but different of something else. So for example, the last script that I sold, it's a father and son story and I basically ripped off the the form of Kramer versus Kramer right. So Kramer vs. Kramer Dustin Hoffman in 1980 is a workaholic, add man, last guy that is actually a good father, Meryl Streep, having a nervous breakdown takes off and goes, you gotta you got to watch our kid. He's like, what? He has to learn painfully how to be a dad. And then at midpoint, she's like, okay, I've had my breakdown, I want to come back and take custody goes, whoa, whoa, whoa. Now I like being a dad. So then it's them fighting, right? So I took that basic pattern, right? And I swapped out everything, all the characters all the same. And I wrote this script, called the art of the knockout that's going into production next year. And it's about this Bare Knuckle brawler that travels around the circus in the 1920s. he fathered this kid eight years ago that didn't even know about that kid's mom dies, and they stick him into the last guy that should be a dad, his bare knuckle brawler is stuck watching this kid, he hates it and tries to get rid of the kid is awful. And then slowly learns to actually really love being a father. And that has to fight to keep them at the end, right? So it's the same but different. And when that got set up, and I was getting notes, nother notes on the structure, structured, perfect, the only notes were they had a couple ideas on how to raise the stakes and this and that. So my invitation to you, or anybody like you that has something based on personal experience, see if it helps, it'll help you to vote and to sort of differentiate it from what actually happened and thinking that as a movie. And if once you think of it as a movie, oh, it doesn't have to be the same genre, oh, it's kind of like such and such, or this or that. And then what you think of as that, and then you use what actually happened in the book about as a buffet of elements to serve the vehicle of the story. Now you're just making it more accessible, that you might not want to do all that stuff, is independent filmmaking, we can do whatever the hell we want, right? So. So you got to do it the way you want. Most importantly, and if you want to lean into what Hollywood does best in terms of concept and structure, that would be my invitation, find a form of a story that you can kind of use you because you don't, because here's the other thing that happens, Alex, I kind of I liken it to people that put like a triangle wheel on a car, right? really creative, but that car's not going to go anywhere, because it's not gonna run. So what I say is, don't be creative, round wheels, big wheels, small wheels, fine, but round wheels. And then once we know it goes, then get creative. And so for me, for you, I think the most accessible and powerful version of what actually happened and sort of vision would probably be something like that, pick up a movie that you love, and then has an it around wheels from that, and then swap it out and make it completely personal to you. And to me, that's a way of being completely 100% authentic to the to that theme and the feelings because that's what we really care about. But the actual move that story that comes out, you know, is some things exactly what happened and some things that are just there to serve the new truth of your metaphor. That makes sense.

Alex Ferrari 18:15
Yeah, it makes it it makes all the sense in the world. I just had something that was really interesting. And I think it's a lesson that we can can we pass on to the listeners is the Utah Kramer vs. Kramer structure and swapped it out. There's so many screenwriters, working screenwriters, who do that all the time, that they'll take a movie their favorite movie, and they'll swap out the theme, they'll struggle, they'll swap out the conference, they swap out everything characters, it's not like they're stealing anything. Sometimes, sometimes it isn't, I'm going to give you an example of what it was. But, but but, but you can use that structure because the hard work has been laid out. It's kind of like already having a blueprint, and you're putting up new walls, you're dressing it differently, you putting new finishes on, but it's the structure that's been sound and it works already. And it's been proven to work. And that's something that a lot of lot of stress if you especially and again, it's also a good starting point to if you start looking at a movie and you break down there scenes, and you're like okay, I'm gonna replace this scene with this scene and this scene with this scene and I'm just gonna literally copy the the blueprint of that, that's a good starting point to get the juices flowing. And it could shift a bit as you go, it's not going to be exact, but the basic foundation is is is the is the same. And I found that to be really, really valuable. I always look at movies like What movie do I want this to be like it doesn't have to be same genre could be completely different. Perfect example of a movie that we all know that started one of the biggest franchises in the world. Point Break, Point Break. Wonderful film. Love it. One of the best action movies of the 90s Keanu Reeves and all of his glory pastor Patrick Swayze and all of his glory. It is Basically it was stolen. 100% is fast and furious. The first Fast and Furious is Point Break. Look at nice if you look at it and analyze it. Fast and Furious one is the it's actually the they just switched out surfers for cars. That was the only difference.

Brooks Elms 20:16
That's the only difference in the movies same but different.

Alex Ferrari 20:20
It's the exact same movie. It's like it's not surfers. And it's the same thing. And

Brooks Elms 20:27
another interesting example of that I in the script that I just finished now I was using the model of Dead Poets Society, a mentor comes in, gets really overly influenced that goes to a tragic place, but then they still celebrate the mentor at the end, right? And I was telling people when I was getting notes, I go Yeah, this is kind of like Dead Poets as it were, and people would read it and go, there's nothing like that posts it without you talking. So I had been so creative with around and I knew the screamer No, it was exactly exactly that pattern. Those were the exact same round wheels, but they couldn't tell because I made it 100% authentic to me and my characters, despite the fact that I had a rock solid foundation. So that's I think the key for you is that if you find a way of telling an aspect of what happened that feels like really beautifully in harmony with one of your favorite movies sort of patterns, dude, that that to me, I could see you just amazingly telling that story in a really powerful way.

Alex Ferrari 21:24
I appreciate that. Well, we'll see. We'll see I got a couple things I got to do this year.

Brooks Elms 21:30
And the broader thing for everybody is like anybody anybody who's doing memoir write something that's that's starting from a really personal place. It's tricky if we're too close to it, right? So this is a game of getting a real healthy distance. It's great that you're writing what you know, because it's going to resonate with authenticity, the game is to put it in a in a package that's more accessible to more people. depending on whatever audience size you want to serve. It's fine to do something obscure if that's really where your heart is. But if you want to do something that's really bigger and breaks through with a bigger audience, they're looking for a cleaner foundational package. And you can do that just by sort of, you know, understanding how the same but different works in terms of concept.

Alex Ferrari 22:09
Now, you mentioned Shawshank which everyone listened to the show knows my my love for Shawshank. And anytime we get to talk about Shawshank and analyzing and breaking it down, I think it's a benefit to every listener. I love to hear your thoughts on Shawshank and what Shawshank can teach us as writers as storytellers and the brilliance of what Frank Darabont did with a short a short story from Stephen King. Arguably still the worst title in movie history Shawshank Redemption it's absolutely horrendous title for marketing i'd love the title and it makes all the sense in the world but try to market that movie and they couldn't

Brooks Elms 22:53
terrible marketing decision

Alex Ferrari 22:56
but what do you call it though? But let me ask what do you call it if you can't call it a redemption will be but what do you call it?

Brooks Elms 23:01
No you it's about hope you basically not and obviously not like hope this or hope that but like something that evokes hope I would love to bring some really good title for that because I guarantee you won't look you can't do worse than that title right?

Alex Ferrari 23:15
Yeah it's pretty bad but it's like one of the worst titles that I still remember it was nominated for it was nominated for Best Picture didn't win anything down. I think it was not my first screening for I think it had to be nominated for Best screenwriting might have been might have been he got like it got like three or four Oscar nominations like some acting

Brooks Elms 23:32
i think i think its initial release I don't think it did very well i think it didn't buy but it kind of just limped along and then it got some awards and it got another bump but then it really picked up I think in in video dealing afterwards Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 23:45
yeah home video and then it then became number one on IMDB it beat the Godfather as the best movie of emotion love the movie of all time.

Brooks Elms 23:52
That's right That's right so um okay so here's here's here's my thoughts on the number one takeaway for anybody listening because I know these were all star fellow storytellers is to if you happen to like the movie, or especially if you love it, the best takeaway is really theme because the way they talk about hope versus despair is so beautiful and so powerful, and so clean and simple. But again, a lot of times with theme, it gets heavy, it's really hard to kind of track but with Shawshank it's so damn clear and compelling, but not like beating you over the head of head with it. But, but really easy to track. So and what you have is a really interesting dynamic of the way it's structured. So you have read play by Morgan Freeman, who I would characterize as actually the protagonist, even though Tim Robbins in 82 frame is driving the narrative so it's unusual usually are almost always our protagonist drives the narrative. But in this case, I would call read the protagonist because he changes in the end he goes from despair. Look, you can't use hope in this place. Hope will get you killed. You have to disappear. You have to be cynical about life. And then slowly he sees Andy like an effin freight train getting beat up and raped and all these terrible things happen over and over again. And he's afraid chain of hope and hope and hope and hope and hope and digs himself out and breaks out of with a break out of prison with like under a rock hammer for 10 years. I mean, that's the most magnificent expression of hope you could possibly believe. And he finally makes it out. And I think it's such a triumphant expression of hope over despair, and we all feel both of them. But to me, thematically, it's so powerfully laid out, and I think that's why it resonates so deeply. Plus there's some charm in those characters a warmth between that friendship between those two guys, but thematically it's a great model to study if you're confused about theme, or this or that. The thing

Alex Ferrari 25:50
that's so fascinating about about Shawshank for me, is that it on paper, it's it's a horrible pitch. It's a horrible, you know, you see the trailers like it's about a prison. It's a prison movie. It's like it doesn't hide that. Only once you experience it, do you understand the depth of it. And I remember seeing that it was what 94 so I think it was came out in 94. So I had just gotten out of high school a few years. And I was with a bunch of knucklehead friends of mine who were not movie goers, and they were touched. And when those guys were touched, I was like, wow, this is this hit this cut through everything. At that time, I even felt it. When I saw it into theater, I was just like, wow, this is this is a different kind of film. And Hollywood. Yeah. It was a very different kind of film. And I always my analysis of the film has always been like what I always ask the same question, why does it connect? Because we could all just pray for a connection with an audience like Shawshank, Kaz and in work What is it about that film because it's not obvious. It's not like rocky we get why people connect with rocky we connect with what people connect with. With Indiana Jones or or sort of Star Wars. We get it but Shawshank is so under the radar on the surface, you can't What do you think? here's

Brooks Elms 27:14
here's, you're gonna love this answer, because it's clear as day to me why it connects. And you can use that for your own story. It's because we feel despair. And the despair that I feel in my life as you know coddle white male and you know, in the richest country ever, is still hurts, it's scary to me. And when I see a depiction of it like that, like you know, the guys in prison and people are coming after him and he's his physical safety's his, and he was wrongly imprisoned and all these things, all these terrible things. And if that guy can have hope, in that place, holy crap, and then have it pay off by him actually getting out because that hope paid off after like, 1520 years, and it wasn't like, like a week. And to me, that speaks so deeply to all of us, because we all face oftentimes in a daily basis, an aspect sort of much lesser aspect, but an aspect of hope versus despair. Should I even got a bed you know, you feel despair. You don't want to get a bed and but you have hope and you climb out or whatever. So but it's that to me, it's so universal in our own way, that sense of Do we have hope? Do we have enough? Is there an opportunity for something to happen? And so like for your you know, your story about this guy who has this urgent hope that this movie is going to get made and he wants? He's got this beautiful dream? And then he's in this despairing place where he's getting involved with these people that are that are difficult so it's to me what you love about Shawshank? I you can bring out cinematically and what you love about your movie. In fact, when I work with people, that's exactly where I go to so I have the list of favorite movies. And we get into why they love them why Shawshank speaks so deeply to you? What does that hope versus despair really feel like in your real life? And I? Again, I haven't read the book, but I promise you, there are written there are things that went on in your real life that you sort of associate with this idea of hope versus despair that you also connect to Shawshank. And then what I do is I connect those things out so that when people write a movie that feel that has the same sort of pattern as Hollywood but it's authentic in a way that's really deep and personal. That's when it crackles with authenticity. And so that makes sense

Alex Ferrari 29:26
that may it makes it makes perfect sense. I mean I've always come I've always had a I've said this on the show before but I think the analogy of Shawshank and Andy the friends journey is what connects with people because you feel you are Andy defraying and in many ways, many of us in the world depending on where you live in the world. At one point or another feel imprisoned. Feel like the that the universe is doing is wrongly beating you attacking you. Bad things are happening to you, and you're innocent. And you're innocent of these bad things. And then that not only does he have hope to fight through all of that, but he literally crawls through a mile of shed. Then he literally gets out of that his cleanse from the gods of the shit, literally, this shit is coming off of him. He's taking the old clothes off of him, putting on a new suit, living the life that he has been dreaming about, for 15 years. And then on top of it all, he gets revenge the sweetest revenge on his jailers. And he literally lives on a frickin paradise. And that's, but that's why I think it feels so for me, for me, I mean, let's not get into the psychoanalysis of Alex Ferrari for a second, if anybody cares. For me, when I saw that movie, I didn't feel it as much as I felt it years later, where I hadn't been beat up by the business yet, as much. I had been beaten. I had I think when I saw Shawshank I hadn't The thing with the mob had happened to me yet. It was years away. So years later, that movie took another meaning for me, because of all the abuse that the business has given me. And failures that I've had that I'm like, why is this happened to me? Why can't I get the opportunity? Why can't someone open the door for me? Why can't I have my pickaxe, and to knock into some doors, and I felt imprisoned in miles. So there was a lot of that going on. And I think that's one of those things that when people watch it, they identify with,

Brooks Elms 31:47
so and that's exactly it, right? So the metaphor of being in prison, and even getting in and crawling through the shed. And all that stuff is, is a really good metaphor for how so many people feel about their life, how we psychologically process our life. And so when you do that, your own version of that, which is really great, because like most people don't experience prison, most people don't experience a run in with a mob. So it's a really beautiful, exaggerated metaphor for most people. Plus, you've got this hero with this beautiful, innocent Sweet dream. He wants to be a filmmaker, right? So it's, the key is in sort of, the takeaway I would invite for you to take it is just look at how much every scene there's conflict and conflict and conflict and conflict. So that allows us to feel like it's earned so much when it comes a lot of scripts you talked about what are some main things that sort of trip people up in terms of a great screenplay, a lot of times the conflict isn't strong enough. They, they take a little too easy, especially an Act to be when things that's when like Blake Snyder would say things are, because when bad guys close in, things can get much harder. A lot of screenwriters take their foot off the gas, we feel bad, because we love our hero, and it's hard for them. But now we need to burn their house down we need to because the more we torture them in act to be, the more powerfully they can rise from the act from the ashes in Act Three and be the hero they are meant to be.

Alex Ferrari 33:08
Without a good villain, you don't have conflict without a good villain, you can't have a hero be a hero. And that is as simple as that. And the balance is not to make the villain too powerful that the hero has no chance.

Brooks Elms 33:23
Well, well, I would I would do I would say it is, um, make the guy as absolute powerful as you can without losing plausibility. Right, that's Godzilla. I'm not going to win. It's stupid. Right? Right. And that's Godzilla then it's a decent fight.

Alex Ferrari 33:39
Right? Exactly. I know you want to make you know, Darth Vader's Darth Vader, you know, and you want that you want Hannibal Lecter to be Hannibal Lecter. But there's a chance like Apollo versus Rocky, which is I mean that there's not many movies from the 70s that still resonate To this day, in the way that they do, you know, like I could, I could show that to a 20 year old now. And they'll be like, Yeah, it looks a little dated, but I get it, and the music and all that stuff. But the Apollo and Apollo and the thing that was so brilliant about Rocky, in the first Rocky is that rocky didn't have any aspirations to beat Apollo. That was the brilliant move, and Stallone script. He didn't want to beat him. He just wanted to stay with

Brooks Elms 34:25
him was to let me jump in to things that I love about that as an example. So two things. One is one of my favorites is the double refusal of the call. He gets the opportunity to fight the champ and he goes, No, no, I'm just a bomb. I can't do it. Right. And then MIT comes so he basically says no, at first, right? And then Mick comes over and goes, dude, I can train champions, I can train you, you know, and he goes, No, No, I don't. So the double work because a refusal of a call is always a wonderful moment in Act One and they do it twice powerfully, then to your point at the end of Act Two I To my mind, I remember correctly he Oh, he once you committed to answer the call and commit, then he's like, Okay, I'm gonna take on it'd be the champ and at the end of Act Two, he's studying the tape over and over again and goes, I can't beat him. He's not darknight insulting. I can't beat that guy. But to your point, if I can go the distance, if I can hold my own, then I have the real win, which is my redemption and my dignity. That gives me chills just speaking. That's what we all want.

Alex Ferrari 35:29
I mean, it's it's fun when eight movies now it's more still, every time we're like, Okay, I'm gonna watch another one. I'm gonna watch it again. I could watch rocky 134 bolt six

Brooks Elms 35:44
and all the non renewals not a fan of Rocky two

Alex Ferrari 35:46
I don't mind rocky two as much I don't mind rocky two, but five is we should not discuss Five. Five is not to be discussed. It just goes right from four to Rocky Balboa. That's the way and that's actually the way he did it. I think. I think even still, I was like, Yeah, I don't know what I was doing back then. But the thing that was in it for everyone listening if you if you analyze Rocky, there literally could not be a villain like Apollo. There is absolutely no credible chance that Rocky Balboa should even be in the same room with him let alone in the ring with him. And as the movie goes on, you start seeing well wait a minute, he's cracking ribs of of cows. You're giving he's got a shot now is Kenny can he possibly beat the Titan? It's like the it's the mortal going after the Titan it's insane it's a wonderful thing.

Brooks Elms 36:38
It really is wonderful and I hadn't thought about it to to to just the way you said it there but but what's lovely about that construction is at the beginning Rocky's such a low point in his life he's so severely feeling self doubt and just hates himself and it just is and what is the opposite of that Apollo Creed perfect everything just content everything's the rich yeah with a beautiful mirror of each other which is a metaphor for us and part of us always feels that despair part of us feels that that power right and the movie really beautifully. You earn step by step to the point where the part of us that feels despair finds redemption in actually not even beating that beating the world champion just holding his own against the champ

Alex Ferrari 37:25
it's beautiful and the way and I love the way you were saying the the analysis of like he's the mirror image so he's the champ he's perfect he's got everything rock he's got nothing he's got self doubt so they're opposite they're mirror opposites of each other which is exactly what a villain and a hero should be his mirror opposites but as the movie continues and this is the brilliance of what Stallone did the the characters start getting closer together thematically, he starts to lose his confidence a bit he starts to gain it a bit till at the end of the movie they're even there even rocky has gone the distance with the champ the champ has now had a lost the fight or honestly lost the fight to rocky because he allowed a bomb to quote unquote bomb to hold them off and survive against the champ so when rocky two starts they're starting on even keel yeah that's the brilliant and it's just such a brilliant way of looking at it and you look at that now it's it's just it's been stolen a million times I mean how many times we've seen rocky it's like Star Wars

Brooks Elms 38:28
That's right. That's right well yeah and and if they steal it in the right way like we've been talking about the right amount of the same but different it's amazing and that's the tricky thing like when I do my own stuff and I work with other people it's really about dialing in the same amount of the same but different or the right amount because if it's too familiar then it's like boring. And if it's too different than it's like weird right? So you want familiar enough and fresh enough? You know the same but different.

Alex Ferrari 38:54
Did you see the movie warrior?

Brooks Elms 38:57
I did yeah. The MMA

Alex Ferrari 38:58
MMA fight. I absolutely love war. I think it's a master masterwork. It's easily the best MMA movie and there had been a few other MMA movies but then nothing that nothing that hooked it. But the thing that was so brilliant about warrior and because it's a rocky it's kind of a rocky ask there's an A you can mention rocky in the movie which is great. A Rocco you can bring Mickey that but the the emotion I remember seeing that in the theater I was bawling at the end I was bawling. My wife and I were sitting there and I was absolutely just like sniffles boogers coming out. I was on the ball and I connected so well. It because of the the emotional connection with the brothers. And the end of that, but it was just such a brilliantly constructed story. And then Tom Hardy was you know fabula it was it was amazing. It was amazing. Sorry, went off on a tangent there. But no, this is

Brooks Elms 39:55
great. My next project is like it's a fight film. So I love like a raging bull is my favorite fight. So

Alex Ferrari 40:00
I mean in Raging Bull, but like, you look at something like Raging Bull, and you just go, Well, why do I even bother? Sometimes, sometimes you make it. It's like watching you, you walk in and you see the Sistine Chapel. You're like, well, I just dropped the brush right now. It's, it's been done. But the thing is, it's not it's never been done to your, what you can bring to the table, and never underestimate that power. Not that you're going to be better. But there's something inside you that Martin Scorsese doesn't have. And vice versa.

Brooks Elms 40:31
Yeah, no, that's exactly right. Exactly. Right. One of my favorite stories about Raging Bull is, is that I heard that when they went to get this thing set up at a studio, you know, dinero is in there with with Marty, and they're talking in the studio execs like, this thing. This guy's character is kind of like a cockroach. And dinero goes, No, he's not that it was just like, it was that conviction. And that non judgement of this is a human being. And I'm called the plan and that he was, he was a force of an actor, playing a force of a man. And it was to me that was like, yeah, that's why that movie is so good. The guy is really in a lot of ways. He's a terrible husband, a terrible brother, a terrible, he's what makes him amazing in the ring makes them terrible in his personal relationships, which you know, is this is a metaphor that lots of people can do. But like Scorsese, and Schrader and dinero all, we're so devoted to the authenticity of that character and those relationships, that they didn't judge them. And that made it so compelling because we all have those parts of ourselves that go too far in this way

Alex Ferrari 41:40
or that way. Yeah, there's no no question. And sometimes you you like to wallow in the dark areas of your life and you rarely wallow in the good I mean, sometimes you do, but it's it you have to learn, I know you have to learn it's a skill,

Brooks Elms 41:57
it for sure. So that's actually one of the other things I do in my own life. And when I help writers, we practice wallowing in the good stuff, because it makes it more you know, it's a marathon right? And it's easier it's less challenging to run the marathon when we have more good good feelings more often. So this this flow state I'm an absolute champion of getting people into the flow state staying in the flow state as long as possible when they get bumped out getting them back in because it feels better and be you get better results because it's more sustainable than then sort of cynicism.

Alex Ferrari 42:37
Yeah. Can you talk a little bit about that flow state for a minute because it's an interesting thing I've brought this up on on a multiple shows that I host because his I always find it fascinating when I when I talk to you know, some of these you know, Oscar winning or legendary writers or something like that, and I go, how how do you tap into that? Because you know, like when you're writing Forrest Gump, there's something going on, like you're, you're tapping into something else. And then and it's always there's the one offs that do that want a great script, and they never they never can reach that height again. That's one thing and they were just able to get in there for a second and then they left but then there's the people that just hold that career. And they just hit boom and boom and boom and boom, and you're just like, how do you continuously connect to that that state and what is that state and Where Where is that coming from? is always a bigger like Who's the man behind the Who's the man or the woman behind the curtain sending you this this information? I always feel that we're as writers we're just conduits we're conduits of something coming in. I think Spielberg said this, that his like ideas float around the universe and they pop into your head and if you don't do something about it, someone else will pick it up. And you might get the first crack at it and that's why he's always so like it was it was it him know as Prince Prince, I was talking to somebody who worked with Prince and Prince would call three o'clock in the morning to is like a singer. And like a musician like hey, when you're done like I don't know Prince's three o'clock in the morning. What do you what do you need? Ah, do you want to do want to come in and record like it's it's three o'clock in the morning? Can Can I wait four or five hours? He's like, no, if I don't get this Michael Jackson's gonna get it and I want to record it first. It's great. It's this great story but that's a true story.

Brooks Elms 44:33
It's fascinating that you went to a musician because the the the examples that popped into my mind right away are from a few different musicians because they just hear it. So one of them was Chris Martin in an interview and there was just and you just see it, he goes, it was like he was in a listening state. He just said it just I was listening and it came through it came to me, Paul McCartney was like, one of his best songs. He woke up in the morning. He heard The song in his head he was like, Oh, yeah. Who Yeah, who sings this one? Who's this? And he kind of is, like, I'm not I've never heard that one. You know this one? Oh, he realized, Oh, no, but it was me. So it's this thing. It's a state of listening as opposed to like leaning forward. I'm writing my story. It's I'm listening to the universe in this flow state. And that's when we get to the height of our creativity. Same thing with Bob Dylan. I listened to an interview with him a couple days ago. And there it was, like in the interview was a 60 Minutes interview. He's like, he said, You were blown in the wind in 10 minutes. And he goes, yeah. And it was like, and I was looking at him. And it was the same energy. I saw around the other two, same thing with Prince he. And he was like, Well, how did you do it? And you just see him. It's almost like he's radio tuning. You just see him going here. And he was like, yeah, it just, it just came to me, he opened up in a way, and it came through. And then he also didn't, he also said, the same thing is like, I haven't been able to get to that quite flow state

Alex Ferrari 45:54
channel, that channel again, I can't I can't tune into that channel, again,

Brooks Elms 45:57
that that's what he said, but but to the people that are musicians or filmmakers, or whatever, that are able to sort of sustain optimal creative flow over decades, they have a repeatable process of getting into that listening mode, a way of sort of opening up and being soft, and you, you know, you'd have you spoken to all these amazing people, and I'm sure you see, there's almost a lightness of energy, when you talk to those people that are really hitting on that level, at least when they're doing their thing, it'll open and it'll flow and then you don't know where to hide, you're almost like a stenographer. It's like Oh, I didn't write this there's it's coming through me through me in service to the audience. And so that's one of my as a coach is one of my favorite things to do is make choices in my relationship when I'm listening to somebody to induce that flow state really deeply and as often as possible, and then when they show up on a call in and they're, they're having a tough day or whatever, I make choices that kind of just nudge them slightly up or give them really hold space I listen to them and let them unfold into that flow state so that they optimize their creativity. I love it.

Alex Ferrari 47:03
It's no it's amazing. I've actually felt that in an editing I've done that a lot like you feel the flow of the cuts and you just and then all of a sudden you're like I've been sitting here for six hours that's the state

Brooks Elms 47:16
that's all you know. Yeah. But with my

Alex Ferrari 47:19
books my two books that I've written both of them I'll go back to and I'm like who wrote this because it's just channeled through me it really I mean yes I obviously shooting for the mob is my story but the words of putting the story together I would just write and then I would go back and read it I'm like who wrote this like I see Same thing with Rise of the entrepreneur which is a it's a more of a nonfiction it's actually a nonfiction book, instructional book. Even then I'm like the concepts and stuff I know all of them but like who put I don't remember writing that. I don't remember writing this like how who wrote the book? This is good.

Brooks Elms 47:57
So so here's here's an interesting thing. So um, one of the reasons I love one of the things I did about Shawshank I Shawshank Redemption, I made this video about how you can read Shawshank Redemption as a law of attraction story, right? So law of attraction is this idea that you basically, however you show up, you will attract the energy of how you show up. So if you show up feeling successful, you attract success in general, right? That's a lot of other parts to it. But I did a video where I was showing you sort of walking through Shawshank with that lens of law of attraction. So instead of hope versus despair, it was sort of attracting versus sort of repelling. But it's significant in this context. Because when we, because some of those law of attraction people that when they're talking, they actually say they're channeling and they're saying it's coming from some people say aliens, or some people say spirits, right? And look, they might be I don't have that personal experience. But from my perspective, exactly what you said, it's like you felt like it almost wasn't coming from you. And so when some of those law of attraction, people talk about it, they believe literally, it's not coming from them. And who cares, because it puts them in a state of them being able to say, I'm spreading more joy. I'm helping people better on coming up with really deep, powerful ideas more often more consistently. So to my mind, I don't give a crap where how you're talking about it, whether it's aliens or spirits, or just like you or I see it as a sort of the Muse or creativity that comes through. If you're getting to those really beautiful, powerful ideas in a flow state. Great. That's what matters. Yeah. And

Alex Ferrari 49:32
I'm always fascinated about where creativity comes from. You know, I've been fascinated by this. Why always, I'd love asking some of these heavy hitters that come on the show of like, how do you do it? Like, how, where does it come from? And I was I was interviewing on another show, Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of Iron Maiden. Wow, cool. And what a great conversation that was. And when I was talking to him, I was I asked him I'm like, Man What does it feel like? Being in Wembley Stadium? With 90,000? People? Like what it like, I'm never gonna get that i don't i don't i don't i don't think anytime soon 90,000 people gonna show up to hear me talk. So maybe one day, I don't know, but that's not happening right now. So, not many of us are ever going to feel that. But what does that feel like? And then when you're singing? Where does that come from? Because it's it's one thing to sing. And then there's another thing to perform at a level like that. Regardless if you'd like his music or not, is irrelevant. irrelevant. And he's like, he goes, Oh, it's not me. It just comes through me. Um, am I gonna complete I don't even I don't even know where I'm at when I'm on stage, almost. So it's flying through me. And then I go, Well, how do you get off that train? Like when you're on it? He's like, Oh, I have I have a whole routine after the show. Because like how the high of 90,000 Pete that energy coming towards you. Like as read as screenwriters and filmmakers. We don't get that the closest we get to that is that audience in a movie theater, or at a festival? That's the that's the closest we get to it. And that's really intense. It's Oh, God, if you have I've had been that I've been in that room when that standing ovations and people asking you questions, and all that attention and all that stuff.

Brooks Elms 51:28
And that's hot, explosive energy.

Alex Ferrari 51:31
It is someone like but can you imagine 90,000? like Paul McCartney, like, if I ever got a chance to talk to him, I'm like, How? Like, how is it? How do you live as you know, being the most, most famous human being on the planet?

Brooks Elms 51:48
Here's a great little poll. If you look at the clip of when he was doing a carpool karaoke with

Alex Ferrari 51:56
who's that guy does. James James Gordon James.

Brooks Elms 51:58
There's a really beautiful exchange. And it speaks to this idea that lightness of energy, where they're, they're talking, and, and he's going a while, you know, this is amazing, my dad who died if he knew that I was talking to you right now. And then Paul McCartney goes, he is he's listening. And there was again, there was this this lightness and other worldliness of how he's able to open to something. And, and Dave coordinates are crying. And that's it. And we our job as storytellers are, is to elicit emotion really deeply. And when we can get into sort of this open sort of flowing, ephemeral, sort of spiritual state, those ideas flow, and we're able to elicit motion much more deeply. And so there's a craft to sort of inducing it more often. And if you sort of make those choices, and there's things like meditation, or all sorts of different things, but like, whatever your sort of process is to find your own way. And to make that really the priority, like my priority is I get up and I find that flow state and from that flow state, all these other good things happen, as opposed to my job is to write a screenplay or to cross this next milestone or whatever those are to concrete and they put you down to sort of earthy, what you really want if you're being in the creative, professional creative, to find a way into that floaty, daydreaming state as consistently as deeply as possible because that's where your best ideas are gonna come.

Alex Ferrari 53:25
You know what's funny, I talking about light energy. You know, when I talk to some of these, some of these amazing creatives, the ones that are like that are at the top of their game. Almost all of them had an extremely light energy. They weren't heavy, they weren't heavy. Then there's very accomplished writers and filmmakers who I've talked to who who it seems like they almost grind it out they almost like by pure force are grabbing and creating amazing things. But it's their own physic almost their own will that's pushing them where someone like a Paul McCartney could just go Hey, dude. Hey, dude, okay,

Brooks Elms 54:14
here's my theory on that I love you brought it up. My theory is the grinders are succeeding despite the grind, correct that it's the flow is what works for everybody. Some people are able to more easily flow. Other people have to grind it out and haven't learned to sort of soften the grind part. And they're so good and so talented. There's, they're succeeding despite that sort of effort, grinding, hard work, kind of constipated energy. You want to let that thing flow.

Alex Ferrari 54:41
And that's the thing and that's constipated. Energy is a great word to use. Because, you know, and we talked a little bit about this before we started recording, but like someone like Spielberg, he has a very light energy to him, and everybody and I've talked to a ton of people who worked with him, you know, and I've hear stories on air and OFF AIR about Miss Spielberg and you just go I understand I get I get I get why he Steven Spielberg

Brooks Elms 55:07
I've heard that same exact thing that it's not that you talk to him and there's a there's at once a normalcy. He's totally normal and totally infatuated with the process at the same time. And that's that and that's that sort of light light balances, it's Yeah, it's amazing, it's and, and he makes it sustainable. That's why he's able to hit in multiple decades, because he's able to put himself in that flow state so deeply, so consistently in so many different variables and variations, cuz you're, it is a shark infested business, right? So can I It's one thing for you and I to kind of have a cool conversation about flow here. But can I keep that flow going, a when I'm writing and be when I'm on meetings, and see when I'm in all the more places in your life, you can up that volume of that flow state and be in there, the more success you have in to me somebody like Spielberg is master

Alex Ferrari 55:56
and you but you, but I think also the thing that stops us from doing that is just the the, for lack of a better term, the crap that is surrounding us in living life, the the crap that then in the the frames goes through, like literally, it's this heavy shit that's been thrown on to us. And that could be childhood stuff that could be anger, that can be, you know, envy, that could be ego, all of that is, is holding us down. But if you can shed it, shut it, shut it off. That's when you can become lighter and open up to these other areas.

Brooks Elms 56:35
And here's here's how to how to help you shift that, who put that shit on me. A lot of people say, Oh, it was my parents. No, no, I put it on myself, maybe because my parents were modeling it or whatever happened to my thing. But here's the powerful thing is, I created that reality as a kid, I created how I respond to that. I'm creating my reality now. So if I have if I have a shitty reality, I have the power to create a little less shitty reality, less shitty, less shitty, and eventually really magical, amazing reality. It's us owning our own perceptual system. I mean, it's got to be based on on objective reality, right? There's a there's definitely a consistent reality outside of our subjectivity. But we have a tremendous ability to choose how we respond to objective reality. And that's where that real power comes in our life.

Alex Ferrari 57:34
I'll tell you from my point of view, you know, coming up, I was an angry and bitter guy, because I felt that it was just I wasn't getting that. First of all in my 20s I'm like, why hasn't anyone recognize my genius? I mean, obviously, why don't they don't they understand? Don't they understand who I am? I mean, come on. So when that didn't so you when you didn't become Steven Spielberg or my our generation Robert Rodriguez, because he was the one that kind of like that was the that was the lottery ticket for our generation, no question. So like, if we're not Tarantino or Robert or Linkletter or Smith or any of the guys that came up in the 90s, we have failed. So when I couldn't get to that place, or for whatever reason the universe didn't open up that that those opportunities I became extremely angry, extremely bitter, and that completely stifles any sort of creativity. It stifles everything the moment I launched indie film hustle and let go of Allah all that anger and started to give and started to be of service and start writing my energy became lighter. Don't get me wrong I am perfect I'm definitely not Gandhi. But but I noticed it and this is something only us old farts can talk about. As you get older you start seeing these things some people never learn in a lifetime yeah but I started seeing that entered in then that's when things start then I made my first feature that I made my second feature that I wrote my books then doors that were shut to me all my life doors that would i would kill to talk get into are wide open now. So it was it's really interesting and if you look at some of the I don't want to get religious if you look at some of the spiritual leaders even some spiritual like a Gandhi, sure, sure. There they are not a heavy energy. There they there's a very light lightness to it and I don't want to get Fufu about it. But when we say light energy is kind of like this. You feel it when you meet somebody. People feel like when you meet somebody you just like, I gotta take a shower or Oh my God, I want to be around them. Like I don't know if you've ever been in a room with a movie star. Before I you know, when you when you meet a movie star, who is a real, real movie star, not a fallen star, not a star up and coming movie star. And when you're in the room with them, you'll go Oh, I get it. Don't say Word, and you just get that energy from them, you're like, Oh,

Brooks Elms 1:00:03
this is that's it's that it factor that they talk about. And it absolutely is an energetic thing. They're one way or another able to sort of, sort of show up with a certain type of energy that just is different than the way most people can do it. And part of its, there's an authenticity to it, and a sort of probably a lack of attachment to it. I mean, there's a qualities of how you sort of, sort of facilitate that in yourself. But you're right, they have a politician, I had a friend that met Bill Clinton, he was at some show, like at the Met. And he said, Man, after he walked on stage, and he said, he'd literally never seen somebody that like, literally looked like a million bucks. It was just an aura of energy. And he's not like an energy guy. But he was like that dude had this. And that's the thing. It's like he just, and obviously the President is there's a lot of stuff going on, right. But in terms of like, I mean, that's a need, but like, but movie stars have. And what's great about everybody that's listening, it's not anybody can do it every all of us can be we all are limited by what our own sort of biology believes. But we can be at the max of our own ability. By looking into these in your own way. What sort of spiritual shifts are energetic shifts, there's things you, I promise you, you can do in the return on that investment. It's so phenomenally better for your joy. And as you do that inside job and make those shifts, everything else is better. You write better stories, you have better relationships, it all happens, but it's got to start inside first. Like Like, if you don't do that, and you win the Oscar or whatever, you still feel miserable. And sometimes you feel even more of a fraud because you haven't got the inside job worked out.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:42
Oh, yeah, I've seen I've spoken to people like that, that have won an Oscar and I'm like, so what's it like afterwards? You're like, I feel worse sometimes. You know, it was cool that night, but then afterwards, then what? Then at last for a little bit, and then it's heartbreaking. It's you got a gotta get back up there again, like and then just like, this is like one of the Super Bowl like, Yeah,

Brooks Elms 1:02:05
well, that was where I was going. My one of my favorite stories around this is Phil Jackson's is he, before he like after the bowls, I think when he started coaching the Lakers, he wrote this book called sacred hoops. And he talked about when he as a player won the NBA championships for the Knicks. And they went to like Tavern them green and Robert Redford was there and Dustin Hoffman was there. And he was like, Oh, my whole life was like man to win an NBA championship. And I'm here, and he felt empty, F and felt empty. And he was like, What the hell. And it was because he was, which most people do, he was saying, the outcome defines who I am, as opposed to, I'm just, I'm just a soul that's expressing myself and my, my, my, my sort of purpose on life is to be happy is to be in this flow state. And then from there, I'm a great athlete, or great this or great, whatever. And he and for him, it was a real threshold moment that he was supposed to be the happiest point in his life. And he wasn't, it was a big part of the spiritual journey. So no, it's every day I show up every day, I chop wood and carry water. I can't go up and find my state of happiness in service to people. I love that story for you is that you found that that that place from I'm kind of a victim, things are happening to me to No, no, I'm going to take ownership in my life, you knew so much about independent film, and you started helping people this way and that way the other way. And that spiraled you up and up and up and up, and you can see it your your energy really shines in a way that's different now than it was 10 years ago. It's really awesome.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:36
I appreciate that. I truly appreciate that. And one other area that we all go through we talked we've talked about a little bit is failure. And we all had those those those blocks those things, you know, things not working out the way you go through how do you approach failure in the business in you know, because that script didn't get picked up, that didn't sell that script, I couldn't get the money for the movie. Oh, that's that that actor dropped out or a million things that could have happened. me with my shooting for the mob, I literally got as closest to hanging out with Batman at his house. And I mean, that's as close as you're going to get literally other than being on set, and then getting yanked from you. And that threw me in a two year depression and all of that kind of stuff. So how do you break through these because we all go through it. And it doesn't matter what level you're at. I mean, Spielberg still goes through it, you know, all of them do. Yeah, they go through their own versions of failure, obviously. But how do you get through it?

Brooks Elms 1:04:31
It's exactly what I just said it's it's prioritizing flow state and joy and service above all, right, because when we can be you know, and it's and it's a practice, right, and I'm really, really good at it, and I still stumble with it, right? But when my priority is I'm going to show up, and I'm going to find, you know, authentically, you can't just be like DS, you know, head in the clouds, whatever. You have to sort of be in your body and be of spirit right is the balance of those things. And when you can do that legitimately with authenticity, differentiated from outcome, that's when you know you're nailing it. And so the outcome could be deal goes through good or deal goes through bad you can be gotta be differentiated from either one could be a health crisis, relationship, crisis, business, it's all the same thing, all those things, you will be happy to the extent those things are secondary to your number one priority is I show up, and I'm an open human being. And I'm existing, and I'm trying to help other people. And that's, again, it takes practice, but anybody listening to this, if this sounds like Oh, you know what, there's some truth in it, find your way to practice, because you can do and I promise you, the more you practice this in your own way, in own style, the dividends are amazing. And what happens is you get the end, once you get the inside job shifted, that everything else out in your life, your relationships are gonna get better businesses getting better, you're just not because you know how it works in Hollywood. So you can't be desperate, and you can't be boring, right? You're not boring, you're authentic, and you're not going to be desperate. If you differentiate from outcomes, then you become that cool kid in high school. It's like, Okay, all right, everything's fine. Everything's great. And so wherever you are in your journey, if you have this energy of it's perfect the way it is. Now, it's effin awesome. More good. Things are coming and I'm already here. Everybody wants to work with that guy. If you're the crankier one, then it's it gets sketchy.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:26
Yeah, and the that energy of death I I always joke about the desperation as a cologne. We all can smell it in the business. It's it's called desperation by Calvin Klein. And we can and we can smell it, Amelie, and I know it because I used to wear a desperation quite often, especially when I first got to LA. And you would meet one producer somewhere in a set and you'd be on them like white on rice. And you were just like, what can you do for me? How can you help me How about Baba Baba? And is the wrong way of approaching it. And it's only afterwards where you just go when you sit back and you're like, hey, that works out great. If it doesn't, it's all good. You got that kind of energy to it. People want to work with that energy is much more so than somebody like me. Maybe I can help Canada desperation. It's horrible. And I don't know about you. I've only met a couple of desperate screenwriters in life. Not many. Not many. Never just as rare to meet filmmakers or screenwriters who are desperate. No, I'm joking. I kid who I love. Because we all have been there we've all been that desperate person and if you can break through that, that's where that's why you see some people make it

Brooks Elms 1:07:40
and what's so interesting is screenwriters. What do you Who is the screenwriter, you imagine stuff you imagine worlds you imagine things so screenwriters imagine this beautiful life for yourself. And again, an authentic way, not in a BS way. But like, look at the abundance in your life, the abundance of air, the abundance of like you're going to eat today problem, you're going to have all these few friends, there's so much you can frame legitimately, again, not be asked but like, authentically frame your life in abundance, no matter what's happening. And when you do that, in using the same muscles that you write screenplays in use, imagine this grounded, beautiful, blissful life for yourself and frame it that way. There was a way it struck me. A couple months ago, I was walking to Trader Joe's with my, my, you know, 14 year old son, we're going in there to you know, run an errand. And I had this really beautiful moment of going, Oh, if I was like 10 years, or 20 years in the future, thinking back to this moment, it would be so sort of romanticized and lovely. And then I was like, oh, but I can do that now. And so in that moment, totally mundane error. Aaron with my son, I romanticize that and it was so beautiful, just to be there as a as a dad with his son did nothing. We picked up some lettuce for lunch or whatever, you know, but it was so beautiful. And that ability for me to go, Oh, I can frame my existence in a way that's really beautiful the way we might frame a shot as a director, whereas the way we frame a scene as a screenwriter, you can frame your own existence. And I'm telling you guys, the more you do that, everything slowly up levels.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:15
And I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I ask all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Brooks Elms 1:09:25
Um, the longest to learn? Yeah, was was that the nowness you know, that I that I have the power to celebrate, right now.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:38
What did you learn from your biggest failure?

Brooks Elms 1:09:43
Um, that it was not the failure. It was my response to the failure and how I what I was talking to myself about what I said, you know, because I failed, that I'm not good enough for this enough or whatever. And as I got more familiar with that voice, And kind of befriended that inner voice then the failure became a really beautiful lesson but in the moment that it happened it didn't feel that way.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:09
And what are three screenplays every screenwriter should read

Brooks Elms 1:10:13
Oh, your favorite three Oh really? yeah yeah no I hate and one of the things at NYU film school I had this one instructor that was like oh you have to watch this Lester's movie and I was like you know what if you I'm never watching them and it was a movie I would have liked but I just I resented that he was telling me I should so I'm very much the mindset that whatever you personally want to read or watch and just the amount that you want to watch it or read it is the ideal amount so five minutes in a Netflix you don't like it, turn it off, five minutes into my screenplay. If you're reading it five pages you don't like it put it down I want you to put it down I want you guys focus on what you love most by your personal perspective because to me that is the most powerful thing you can do for yourself

Alex Ferrari 1:11:03
and where can people get a hold of you and find out what you're doing?

Brooks Elms 1:11:08
Brooks alums coaching comm is my website for if you if you want to sort of explore working with me and there's two main programs that I that I do one is helping people develop a script one is helping people get it sold and and if not me I mentors that I that I because I don't I don't do hourlies sometimes people want our leads and I have other people that that I basically refer them to Although you are the guy to hire if for any sort of independent films guy's telling you because here's the here's the thing let me let me plug you for a second because he's got the Amazon of of internet information for for independent filmmakers you got right and you got everything a lot of it's free. You got premium, you got the whole damn thing. But I'm telling you guys, you don't know what you don't know. And so hire Alex for a couple hours and tell them I think I know this about making my next film or I think I know this or that. And he will go Yeah, you're right here, you're This is correct. But this, you're totally off. And you'd rather get that in one hour from a master like Alex and grow for years to figure it out for yourself and go god dammit, Alex could have told me that last year, but I didn't figure it out. So hire somebody that knows at whatever budget you can, and I'm telling you that's going to speed up your game so much,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:22
I I appreciate that wholeheartedly for that plugs. Or I can tell you from my experience, coaching could save you I've literally sometimes I've had someone give me an hour of their time. And they hire me for an hour and I save them. He's like you just saved me 50,000 bucks. I'm like, because you didn't know I mean, I know I've walked this path man, hire someone who's walked the path. It doesn't have to be me, it could be anybody that you feel comfortable with. But if they can give you an hour to talk into someone coaching that could be Oh my god, it's it's seen what you can learn in in an hour and 16 minutes on your story. It could save you six months, it could save you $60,000 it could save you so much time talking to someone who's just walked and they don't have to particularly be a master, they just have to be ahead of where you're at.

Brooks Elms 1:13:15
Right? Exactly right. It doesn't exam because some people will talk themselves out of getting that help because oh, I haven't heard of anything they've done or this or that or blah blah blah. But it doesn't matter if the guy at Trader Joe's has a good idea to help you with your script or whatever hire him do whoever can help you move one step forward is great. And you don't we don't know what we don't know. So even if here's what happens, this is never gonna happen. But if you guys hire Alex, and he goes, do you got it? Awesome. Yeah, I'm not worried about this, your ideas great, this is great. And he gives you no other tips other than to you are in great shape. That's like the best money ever spent, you're gonna have so much more confidence. It's so great. And of course, that's not going to happen. He's got all sorts of good ideas. But like that feedback loop is really where we make the most progress as quickly as possible. So find some sort of mentor in some sort of way. And that's the fastest way for us.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:06
Brooks. It has been a pleasure talking to you, my friend. I'm sure we'll have you back on the show in the future day. But thank you so much for all you do for screenwriters and filmmakers and thanks for being on the show brother. I appreciate it.

Brooks Elms 1:14:17
Completely, my honor. And my pleasure.



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IFH 714: Zero Draft Thiry – Inside Writing for Hollywood with Scott Myers

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Alex Ferrari 0:06
Enjoy today's episode with guest host Dave Bullis.

The founder of zero drift 30 is actually the guest on this week's podcast, who is a screenwriter and founder of one of the most popular screenwriting blogs go on his story, which is also the official blog of the blacklist. He also runs. He also runs a screenwriting masterclass, and he's also an instructor, which we're going to get into as well. And then without further ado, with guest, Scott Myers,

Scott Myers 2:05
You know, my guiding light through most of my life has been Joseph Campbell. And that simple little phrase, follow your bliss, find that thing that you are passionate about that you that energizes you that you feel you have a talent for. And creatively, I've just always done that. And one of the things along the way was I discovered teaching while I was writing, I go and do these presentations, be invited. And people say hey, man, you're really good at this, maybe you should teach. So that started with teaching online through UCLA Extension. And then when we moved to North Carolina, where I was a television producer for a production company there called Trailblazer studios for eight years, I started teaching one class a semester at UNC Chapel Hill, in the writing for screening stage program, which was great. And then the DePaul University School of Cinematic Arts here in Chicago, came to know me, one of my colleagues now here, Brad Rendell, who's a working screenwriter, and has had four movies made. He's now an associate professor here at the program and Chair of our program, screenwriting program, and he got in touch with me because he knew about my blog. He was a huge fan of the blog. So we started talking, and it's very, very exciting things going on at DePaul. It's a fast growing school with incredible facilities, the school has three soundstages that it rents for the students at the largest studio system studio facility outside of Los Angeles in North America. This is the same facility where all the Chicago Fire Chicago hope all those shows are filmed Empire was filmed there. Lots of movies are filmed there. So the students not only get a chance to actually get hands on experience making movies like right away, very dry spirit are at the school. They have incredible gear, and the soundstages and a three time grip truck. They are also segue into working for these productions for NBC and whatnot. So that combined with the fact that the faculty here is tremendous. The support from the administration is outstanding. The school is extremely diverse. A lot of schools talk about, well, we want to you know, we're going into inclusion we want to diverse student bodies. Well DePaul actually has that. I mean, my current MFA cohort, the group that's going to be graduating in 2019, that MFA group is 50% non white and over 50% women, and it's really exciting to work with people who have diverse backgrounds and to be able to help them find their voice that facilitate their writing process. So circling back to how I got here, it was just one of those things you put yourself out there you do something that you are passionate about and as Campbell says the universe will open doors where there used to be walls. And the Paul invited me to come here and apply for the position. And I got it. And I moved here two years ago, and I love it. It's just a tremendous place to be and very exciting working with these students.

Dave Bullis 5:17
You know, during the, the application process that the, you know, they ask any sort of like questions about production or anything like that, like how you would handle something? I mean, I imagine you, you were kind of, I mean, not just about screenwriting. So I imagine you you kind of have your hands. You were a lot of hats, as I'm trying to say,

Scott Myers 5:35
Oh, yeah, there were a lot of hats. And the great thing about the Paul School of Cinematic Arts is that we've got eight area of eight areas of concentration. So there's screenwriting, there's directing, there's creative producing, there's all sorts of post, there's an animation group, that's terrific. So we, we don't have a silo system, we work together students, again, the students are, I had a freshman last year, he was like, three, three weeks. And I mean, all my students, one on one of all my classes, just like that's important to do. And I was saying, Well, I hope you take advantage of your time here. Because it's, it's really amazing that you have all these facilities and resources to go out and make these short films. He said, I'm already making what three weeks said he's already making one. So there's a lot of communication between the directors and the writers. We have meetings every quarter, whereby students get together in this big group, and they pitch these projects to each other. And it's incredibly collaborative thing. So yes, I'm involved with helping them with the scripting thing, helping them with their edits, helping them with some of the directing choices they making as I oversee some of their thesis projects and whatnot. You know, I should note that just recently, the DePaul The Hollywood Reporter came out with their top 25 film schools and the Paul's 13 in that list, and rising, clearly the number one film school in the Midwest, we aspire to be more than that. Variety, we made that list of the top film schools, so it's a, it's a really exciting place to be and we're having students go to LA now and shoot some success. So yeah, I one of the reasons I enjoyed being here is that I get a chance to wear a lot of hats and work with students in a lot of different ways.

Dave Bullis 7:28
So, you know, Scott, you mentioned that the student that that, you know, three weeks, and he was already shooting something or planning to shoot something? Do you ever have the opposite? I mean, is there ever a student who shows up and, and just says, you know, you know, maybe they start dragging their feet, or they you have to kind of like say, how are you? Hey, are you gonna make something? Do you ever had that?

Scott Myers 7:48
Yeah, there are students who, you know, and I don't, you know, I don't denigrate them at all. If they come here, and they just want to be writers, you know, or perhaps they just want to work in post, you know, in visual effects. They don't want to go out and, and do production. You know, having done some of that. I think I agree pretty much with what William Goldman said when he said, paraphrasing here, he said, the first day, the most exciting day of the screenwriters life as a first day on a set on a movie set, the most boring day in the screenwriters life as a second day in the movies. Because it's a lot of setup, but just waiting around for things, you know. So I found that when I was doing TV producing out in the field and whatnot, it was okay, I didn't really enjoy it that much. I really enjoy more working. So there are students who I respect that, but then there are other students who have to be encouraged who they have a creative idea and they've got a good visual sense of acuity and say, okay, come on. Yes, get out there. Try it. There's no There's no downside here. It's not like, if you make a short film, and it stinks, well, you've learned a lot. There's things that you can only learn but being out in the field and making movies you just can't learn it all by sitting in a room writing. And so I encourage people to, you know, all my writers that I work with, whether it's through DePaul, or through a screenwriting masterclass or interfacing with my blog, or going out to these conferences and festivals I've been going to more frequently now, I encourage them to go make stuff. This is a time right now. Where with everything going on the second golden age of TV or peak TV, digital filmmaking, where content is king, queen, Prince, Duke, whatever, and who is responsible for creating that content for coming up with that stuff. And at the inception stage, it's writers and so this is a fantastic opportunity for people who are creative and have a good way with words and know how to write and craft stories.

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

Scott Myers 10:08
To do that, and then see if they have a directorial shops that way you can control your material a lot more. So, yeah, I have students who run the gamut. You know, I have students that come in and, you know, many of them have, they can name for you every single shot and a Martin Scorsese movie. And I mean, I've had those kinds of students and I have students who come in who, their parents, you know, have them majoring in economics or business or whatnot, but they're creative. And so they come in here and they can take a double major in screenwriting, a BFA or ba, or, or even a minor, you know, and to see them light up and see them really grow creatively. And it may be it's only an avocation for them moving forward and not a vocation. Well, that's great, at least they've discovered something that they're passionate about, and they have a talent for and they can do that and, and have a richer and fuller life.

Dave Bullis 11:03
You know, I thought you were gonna say the William Goldman, quote, Nobody knows anything. So yeah.

Scott Myers 11:09
Well, that's true. I mean, always we're seeing this right now, aren't we? Dave? Like, you know, up until about a year ago, it was like Oh, rom coms are dead. Nobody wants to see romantic comedies. Rich, Crazy Rich Asians comes out, boom. Three of them greenlit one week, you know, a spec scripts Singles Day, the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians and a kpop projects in Korea. So you know, now we're seeing articles about how Crazy Rich Asians is resurrected the rom com. So people when they say these things, you know, they don't understand the cyclical nature of the business. And and yeah, so I think that's probably true what Goldman says, nobody knows anything.

Dave Bullis 11:57
It's kind of like how zombies were always, you know, considered played out or what have you. And then the Walking Dead came around, and now suddenly, they're, you know, they're cool again, and then bed, then you know, now now it's all over again.

Scott Myers 12:09
Well, I'll tell you another thing, because you know, you know, me, I track the spec script mark. And I've been tracking it since, well, I broken in 1987 by selling a spec canine and then really started in earnest to track it and 8990. So my blog, going to the story, you can go and see they've got over 2000 spec script deals annotated there dating back to 1991. And up through 2014, not one time, in the entire period of tracking spec script mark, during the 20 some odd years of doing that was drama. In the top three, in terms of genre sales, it was always Comedy, Action or thriller, always. And then for the last three years, the number one genre in the spec script market is been dramas. Again, nobody knows anything. So we're in a new cycle here. And I tried to interpret that as quite interesting. I think part of it is that people have grown up with reality TV, a whole generation. And so they're used to and interested in, quote unquote, real people. And so in the case of historical dramas, they actually are like real people, I think part of it is nostalgia, we're a wash in the salsa right now. And so when they see a picture, you know, like a script that was on the top of the blacklist a few years back about Madonna, or the before that about Michael Jackson told from the perspective of his pet monkey bubbles, you know, those type of historical dramas, they hit their, they hit on, you know, the where the reader or the viewer knows them. It's like, nostalgic. And I think the final thing really going on there is just the studio's are way into pre branded content, you know, they want content that the people will know about. And so historical figures, you know, is a way of doing that, because people will know about a figure in the past, you know, so So yeah, it's a it's a fascinating time. We really is just an interesting time right now. And it's great to be a creator, in that type of environment.

Dave Bullis 14:23
So Scott, like what if you read any, like unpublished or? I'm sorry, unpublished. Have you read any unproduced screenplays recently that have just like floored you?

Scott Myers 14:35
Yes. I just got done. Doing my 12th blacklist feature writers lab in LA got back about two weeks ago. And there were six projects. And all of them were really good. And a couple of them were just would, you know, one of them was like, almost ready to go. I mean, there's some rewriting they could do on it, but But you could totally see it. It's a genre piece, elevated genre piece. And so yes, you know, there's there's great material out there. Now, the spec script market is down this year, and it's compared to last year and last year was down, compared to the previous year. And I think in large part that's to the studios. You know, again, you're just relying on pre branded content, franchise material and whatnot. But I still believe this to be true, that if you write a great script, it'll find its way. Someone's gonna respond to that. And so yeah, there's great material out there, you know, I've got students here, written written scripts that they'll need to rewrite them. But they got strong concepts, great character execution. So yeah, there's still some really good content being made. That's the key is just to write a great script.

Dave Bullis 15:59
So let's talk about that, you know, when you're working with, with students, you know, what are some of the advice that you that you give to these college students?

Scott Myers 16:08
Well, the first thing is to remind them constantly that movies are primarily a visual medium, there are some who will tend to rely too much on dialogue to drive the action, not to say the dialogue is bad. It isn't. But for certain genres, Action, Comedy, depending upon the type of comedy, it is thriller, science, fiction, fantasy, those type of movies really lend themselves to visual storytelling. And that's the type of thing that Hollywood does better than anybody else in the world, you know, visual storytelling. And so I remind them that look, for the first three decades of movies existence, there was no dialogue. It was silent films. Yeah, we had those little intertitles. But largely, it was just visuals. And in some ways, we're circling back to that kind of paradigm, I think, because now with the box office receipts, revenues 70 to 75% of those generated by the international markets. Whereas a joke, a line of dialogue, the exchange of dialogue may not translate that well from, say, the United States to China or Brazil, or Germany or whatnot. Someone slipping on a banana peel and falling on their ass is universally funny. So that's the first thing I hammer with them. Like every quarter is, you know, it's a visual medium, you got to think visually, you know, whenever you start to construct a scene, that's your starting point, is have a visual storytelling. I'd also say this, because, you know, I stay on top of the business, it's weird that I'm in, you know, I'm more connected now and in Hollywood than I ever was, when I live two and a half miles east of 20th Century Fox, because of my blog, you know, is is there several things going on, relative to cultural trends and technological developments? The generation right now, the young Jenner, young people, you know, up through the millennials, but these 18 year olds up to that they have seen heard or read exponentially more stories than previous generations, if you consider stories to be Snapchat conversations, and text conversations, and YouTube videos, that sort of thing. And those are stories, you know, the beginning middle in many of them, and so they just intuitively know, story on a level that I think previous generations don't. So for example, they don't need as much exposition now, as he used to be, which is why I think you've seen this shift. Back in the 80s, when I broke in, what is now what used to be the end of Act One, then, is now the middle of Act One. You just don't need all that setup, get into the story and get going. And that's another thing, because young people nowadays are so used to getting their content when they want it how they want it. Now. Now, now, that another thing I try to teach my students is get into the story, drop them in, there's a Latin phrase in media res, drop them into the middle, just put them in there. They want that type of thing. They want to get into the story, they may not even need to know that much about the characters. You think about movies like x Makena, or Lucy, those couple of movies that come to mind, you know, barely anything about the protagonist within two to three minutes, boom, they're into the plot. And so I think young audiences kind of like that.

Alex Ferrari 20:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Scott Myers 20:08
Like, okay, as long as they're not confused, say, I'm here with this character, then we're into the action, I'm going to find out all that exposition along the way that sort of lay it out upfront like we would traditionally used to do. So there are definitely some things going on in terms of technology and cultural mindset, that, you know, we need to be cognizant of as screenwriters, and I try to pass that along to my students.

Dave Bullis 20:35
So when you mentioned that, you know, the the, it used to be in the 80s, the end of Act One is now the middle of Act One. Do you sort of? So let me ask you this. Let me kind of rephrase that. My question. Do you kind of think like, you know, usually in the hero's journey with Joseph Campbell, you know, there's, there's the call to action, and then there's the refusal of the call? Don't you think that the refusal of that call sometimes can be a little too, is is maybe not needed? And here's what I mean by that, you know, if you go to see like a road trip movie nowadays, you already know that going on the road trip? So is it really any need to have a refusal of the call? Because I mean, hell, then being on the road, is the whole reason that brought you into the theater. And you know what I mean?

Scott Myers 21:17
Well, that's you're raising an interesting point they have, which is that the awareness level of people going into movies is such based on trailers, and the inundation of marketing. And I think that does have an impact. So if you know that this is a road picture, do you really need to spend 25 pages, setting it up? No, you don't. You know, you're just you're just gonna bore the the younger generation, they just, they just want things, I think, in their storytelling to move much more quickly. So in terms of the refusal to call, well, this gets into a bigger area. And this is another thing that I hammer my students on, which is that you've got to ground your story crafting process in the characters. And so, in particular, the protagonist. And so if your question for you know, if you were like a student that came in and said, I don't know whether I should have a refusal of the call to adventure with this character or not, you know, I would say, Well, don't look at it from outside the story universe go inside the story universe and get to know that character? Are they the type of individual that would refuse? Or are they the type of individual who would leap at the opportunity, you really need to ground the storytelling, and what I call the protagonist, its journey. In fact, I'm working on a book proposal right now. I was approached by a publishing company to write a potential textbook, in which we invert the way we look at, I think, typically, or at least the way that kind of floats around in the screenplay universe, about how to approach story structure. So much of the emphasis is on plot, and on these page, counsel, whatnot, which I think is a rather wrongheaded way of approaching it. Much better to go at it. by immersing yourself and engaged in the story universe and engaging yourself with all the characters in particular, the protagonist. The protagonist's goal the protagonists want and need, all that stuff, basically, sets the spine of the story. And so how much better to come to the plot by working with the character and determine it's their story? You know, it's their fate. I call it the narrative imperative. That story that happens to the protagonist. If it happened two weeks ago in their life, or a month from now, it would be a different story. It's happening right now, there's a reason why you type fate in at this moment with that story. And there's a reason why that character intersects with other characters, the specific set of characters as they go along. There's a reason why those events happen. And x one, two, and three, because it's facilitating the protagonist, transformation, that journey. Again, this is inverting the, the the idea, as opposed to looking at the plot, first look at the plot as a way of facilitating servicing and supporting the protagonist transformation. Joseph Campbell said, the whole point of the hero's journey is transformation. And so that's another big area that I focus on with my students, we do a ton of work on character development. In fact, I created a class here called story development, and we spend an entire quarter working with characters and out of that working up an outline. So then you move into writing a first draft. So back to your question. I mean, the thing about whether there's a refusal, a call or any of that stuff, you have to be mindful of cultural trends and, you know, audiences in terms of their interests and predilections And, but everything needs to be grounded in working with the characters as far as I'm concerned. I mean, character equals plot. And so let's put some flesh on the bones there and actually make that come to fruition

Dave Bullis 25:12
Is it when you see the students come in, or even when you're working online with with different people, do you see a tendency to do that formulaic sort of plot points?

Scott Myers 25:22
Well, there are some books and you know them, I won't name them that are the, you know, that that have very specific paradigms. And, you know, I just I have, I have concerns about that I have concerns about that multiple levels. If you reduce screenplays to you know, the specific sort of page count, this needs to happen here, and this needs to happen there. You're, it's problematic on several fronts, one, it demeans the craft. It makes it look like we're dealing with widgets, as opposed to the creative effort, and the creative skill and talent that's required to write a rich story with multi dimensional characters, surprising twists and turns. And all the rest, you know, that requires creativity. If you're out there espousing something, then you have a software system that you can plug things into, and come out with a you know, paradigm or whatever, then that demeans the craft. And that extends to the experience of professional screenwriters working in Hollywood right now. If your studio executive who maybe got an MBA from Stanford or Harvard, you meet with them. And you know, they're giving you script notes. And they say, Well, I'm sorry, but your act one is too late. You know, it needs to break into Act Two and 25. Well, if that's all they know, about story, is that sort of formulaic approach to screenwriting, then why do we end up with so many formulaic script movies? It's because of that type of thinking. So I think that any attempt to codify some sort of so called rules, or these kind of formulas, is really working at counter purposes to what it should be, which is a true creative effort. And that, again, leaning into the characters see where they take you. You know, it's exciting to see scripts like a quiet place. Did you read the script a quiet place? Are you seeing the movie? Right? Probably David.

Dave Bullis 27:43
Yeah, I've seen the movie. I didn't read the screenplay.

Scott Myers 27:46
Well, you know, it breaks like, so many of the so called rules, I think it's like 68 pages long. They include photographs and images. They mess around with fonts. I've actually interviewed those guys, and they're actually coming to Chicago and the end of September for our career, 12 conference, and gonna be panelists here, Scott, and Brian. And so you read these scripts, and see that there are these creative choices being made. And the stories work. You know, they don't fit the they don't fit the sort of formulaic paradigm. So yeah, I'm fortunately for me, most of the students I deal with, except for the graduate students who may have had more experience in, you know, immersing themselves in screenwriting, the world of screenwriting and whatnot. Most of my students are undergraduate, and they haven't been tainted by that, you know, which is great, because then I can just deal with them, like, you've seen them, you know, 1000s of movies and TV series and whatnot. Great. You've got an innate understanding of this. And so let's build on that. But let's start with characters. Okay, let's start with your characters and see where they take you.

Dave Bullis 29:08
Yeah, so it's, it's kind of like you're letting the characters kind of lead the plot, rather than having, you know, this sort of template that comes in, I always say those templates like, like training wheels, you know, it's fine to use it if you're doing like your, your first, you know, screenplay or whatever. But if you sort of keep doing that, you kind of end up with those formulaic movies that we that, you know, you and I always talk about,

Scott Myers 29:28
Well, some of those formulas were created back in the 90s. You know, are they relevant 20 years later? You know, apart from 3x structure, and perhaps the idea of sequences, you know, is there anything really that is kind of sacrosanct in terms of the craft visa vie this screenplay structure?

Alex Ferrari 29:55
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Scott Myers 30:04
I don't think so, you know, I think that, again, yes, have follow the characters, it's their story they exist, they know it better than you do, they're inviting you to tell the story, they want you to tell the story. So it's much better to have, you know, we go through these brainstorming exercises like I, I take my students through, we do six sets of brainstorming exercises, we spend an entire couple of weeks just doing brainstorming, you know, forget any of the construct construction of the story of the first we're just get to know the characters. And so they'll do the traditional indirect engagement exercises like questionnaires and biographies. And I'll have them, you know, read a scene just to kind of with the characters and just get them loosened up. But then we move into these direct engagement exercises, which are great. It's like, all right, imagine you're a psychiatrist, and you're going to have this patient is one of your characters. And they've been court appointed, they have to see you, and they have to answer questions. They cannot get out of this unless they answer your questions. And so now you move from dealing with the characters and I it relationship, like they're over there, you're dealing with them directly as an IU. And so I'll have them do these exercises where they interview the characters, then, then they'll even get a little bit more into that kind of California New Age thing, which is a lot of fun when I'm dealing with some students who are a little bit more left brain oriented. Okay, so we're gonna have you go into a room, close the door, turn off the phone, get a piece of paper, and a pad of paper and a pen, or get in your computer. And I want you to do some deep breathing. It's like meditation, I want you to deep breathe in and up for about a minute or so. And I want you to thinking of that character and get into their headspace. And for the next 10 or 15 minutes, set a timer. I want you to blind type, what are they thinking? What are they feeling? And yes, your mind will go, Well, I have to do this. And I've got to go wash the dog and whatever. That's just chatter, let it go. Come back to that character and keep reaching out to them, and try and get into their headspace. You can do that as like stream of consciousness. You can also do that as like monologues like, what are they going to say? And so you just blind type. You do that for 10 to 15 minutes. Now, what you end up with, maybe 80% of it is nonsensical, but 20% of it, whatever percentage 1020 1520 25 40% can be gold, you've like access that character. Moreover, if it is like a monologue, or even just articulating what they're thinking or feeling, you're starting to get a sense of their voice. And so it is that weird thing I call writing wrangling magic. You know where you're, you're, you're believing this magical thing where the characters exist in this weird way. And so if you really believe that, then you'll start to see and hear them. It's like the inverse of that Seeing is believing what believing is seeing and hearing you reach out to them, they wouldn't have appeared to you. And they wouldn't want you to write their story if they hadn't shown up. But they did show up somehow in your conscious subconscious or conscious life. So reach out to them. And so we do all this brainstorming. It's great. It's really great. And I have to say, I've done it and I teach it to Paul in screenwriting masterclass, I have that prep class I started eight years ago, I've done that, like 30 times. That's the thing that I mean, apart from everything else they enjoy, the writers enjoy about that process. We get through that brainstorming, they create this master brainstorming list and they got all this content that they've surface 1020 pages of stuff, before they even move toward plotting. I get I get compliments about that all the time. Like oh my god, that was such a mind blowing experience. I can't believe how great that was much more in touch I am with the story, you know, an added benefit when you're in touch with the characters and they're alive. And they're speaking to you and you're seeing them and you're hearing them and you can't get them out of your mind. How much more motivated are you to write the story? Because you connected with them. So yeah, you know, I preach character a lot. I'm sorry, I get off on my soapbox on that. But I just it's a counteractive to formulaic writing, it's just working with characters and moreover, it's just, I think the the right handed way to do it.

Dave Bullis 34:32
I think it's kind of like it gives you like that North Star, that North Star that's kind of like this is where you're going with your story. Rather than kind of making the writing of itself as a stream of consciousness, you know what I mean? So it kind of it allows them to have a lot more or even just you know, anyone doing this in general and as you'd have a lot more of not where to go but also you kind of know okay, well these are some different scenarios or situations or what have you that I've covered that I've already kind of thought of out. But before I get to the outlining phase,

Scott Myers 35:02
Oh, yeah. And the brainstorming, I tell them don't pre edit. I mean, you may be sitting there typing right here, this stream of consciousness, and all of a sudden chocolate milkshake pops to mind. You may think, Oh, well, that's just dumb. No, put it down. Imagine what Orson Welles if he'd been brainstorming and said, snowglobe What's that? Throw it away? You know, no, became an essential part of Citizen Kane. So you'll have scenes appear, you'll have lines of dialogue appear, you'll have moments appear, you'll have characters pop up, you may be working on the protagonist character, and all of a sudden, the Nemesis pops up. Okay, go off and work with the Nemesis. They evidently want to talk to you right now. Now, that said, you can if you're working with the protagonist, I think he's talking about a North Star, the protagonist is your North Star. In most stories. The protagonist journey is what dictates like, virtually everything. It's why those care of the characters exist. If you think about, for example, Ron, Ron bass, Robert Towne had that great question. He said, one of the best ways to understand a character is to ask, what are they most afraid of? Okay. Well, let's run with that. So what if you work with a protagonist? And you come up with an answer to that? What are they most afraid of? Right. Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, most afraid of confessing that horrible experience she had in the Montana farm, where she saw that witnessed the spring slaughter of the Lambs, she grabbed a lamb and ran off with it. She was trying to save that lamb, but it was so heavy, it was so heavy. She says, Well, if you really drill down into the psychology of that story, she is that lamb represents her father, she's trying to save her father father was slain when she was like 10 years old. And so what she's most afraid of is the boogey man who killed her dad, the random chance he opens a door, these guys are stealing a TV boom, boom, they shoot him, and he dies. So, so if she's afraid of facing those, the the associations that she has with her father's death, and those bad guys, you know, with that experience in the Montana farm, well, so what better way to create drama than to have her face a boogeyman at the end? Who was Buffalo Bill? So now all of a sudden, you've got a specific psychological connection between your protagonist and your nemesis? It's not just generic, that that Nemesis is a projection or physical realization of the of the protagonist shadow using your own language. And so Okay, that's cool. Well, then you think all right, well, so what about allies along the way? Well, you'll meet like a mentor figure or to, you know, well, in case of Clarice Starling, that's just a great you know, it's just that that movie is like the perfect thing for me to teach because it's like, fits everything that hits everything that I kind of believe about storytelling, mentor characters, Hannibal Lecter, perfect guy for her, not only because he's tied to the Buffalo Bill case, but also because he's a strength. And so he's II can absolutely guide her into herself, which is what she needs to do. If you look at the story of The Silence of the Lambs from a meta standpoint, you know, what is the narrative imperative? Why does Clarice get called into the story? It's yeah, it's the solve the case of the safe Catherine Martin, but on a personal level, and it's like her psychological journey. It's the intersect with Hannibal Lecter, and they do that quid pro quo. You tell me, I'll tell you things. You tell me things Clarice, but not the personal things, right? So you know, she preferences, don't let him inside your head, boom, she lets her head. And so the mentor helps her go all the way down and tell that thing that she doesn't want to confess, which is the story of the Montana farm. So the if you work with the protagonist, and you start thinking in terms of their journey, you can even by asking the question, my language system, what's their opening state of disunity? What what are they disconnected from? in their, in their psyche? Their stuff their repressing their, their core of being? Their, their need? There's when we talked about need not need to obtain something but need to emerge? What needs to emerge from inside? Right. Glinda the Good Witch says to Dorothy, Dorothy, you've had the power to go home all along. It's already there. Ovid says the seeds of change lie within. And so the character of the protagonist has that stuff inside and it needs to emerge. So they're in a state of disunity. They're disconnected from that, but if you can identify what it is that needs to come out, that suggests the endpoint unity.

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

Scott Myers 40:07
Positive transformation. Obviously, there are stories where the protagonist doesn't have a positive transformation. So just by working with the protagonist character and looking at their, their psychological state to depth, you can surface all sorts of things. And of course, brainstorming will help surface the subconscious stuff that, you know, can really enrich a story again, getting off on a soapbox that day, but I'm passionate about this stuff. You know, I want people to write stories that are vibrant and alive in, you know, not formulaic. The plot emerges from working with the characters. You know, that's my true passion.

Dave Bullis 40:46
Yeah, and it's just like this interview. Like, I'm Chris, Clarice and you're, you're kind of like Hannibal Lecter. I've come to ask you for help. And

Scott Myers 40:55
I, yeah, well, I I thought I did the London screenwriting Festival last year, screenwriters Festival, and they invited me back. I'm going again in a week. And I'll be doing a masterclass and four presentations. But I talked about one of the presentations I did last year, and they asked me to reprise it this year, is writing a worthy nemesis. And my, my thesis there is that the best way to come up with a worthy Nemesis is to start with the protagonist. Again, what? What is inside them? If you ask the question, what do they fear the most, and then put the protagonist in the situation where they have to confront that fear. That's just great drama. So, but yeah, I think the point is that I do a little Hannibal Lecter impersonation, but I do that. And some people really liked that last year. So I guess I'll try and try and do that again this year. So

Dave Bullis 41:49
It's something that somebody was pointed out to me and I can't unhear it. It was I ate his liver with Farber Farber beans. Key Yeah. Yeah. And somebody said it's actually KI KI aunty or something like apparently he mispronounced it in the movie, and I didn't even notice it. And I'm like, now now whenever I hear I'm like, oh, you know,

Scott Myers 42:09
He says it but I think he's being ironic. I mean, I think he purposefully Miss mispronounced that because he will listen to the tang there he goes. With some fava beans and a nice Canty, like he's from New York. Yeah, I think he does kind of mispronounce it or whatever.

Dave Bullis 42:27
But, but you know, I'm gonna have to watch we watch the movie and and pay attention to that part again. But but, you know, I wanted to know, Scott, I know, we're kind of pushed on time. But I wanted to talk about zero drift. 30. i It's, you know, it's, you know, I wanted to interview you again, before it started. And it's actually starting in what two days prefers? Yeah, yeah. So two days. So, you know, could you just, you know, take us through, you know, the the impetus for you to start zero draft 30 And what it is for those who don't know,

Scott Myers 42:54
Sure, well, back in October of 2015, I've been working on a script project and developing it, and it started writing it when something happened in the news that basically blew up the story. And so you know, I've had situations where projects gotten kind of pulled out from underneath me, but this was particularly vaccine because I put a lot of time into it. And so I was very frustrated while I had this comedy that I'd been sitting in my back burner for some time. So I just said on my blog, alright. I haven't even worked the story out. I don't know the characters. I know kind of where I want to go. But starting November 1 through November 30. I'm just gonna write the script. And it's like, NaNoWriMo. I mean, it's not like an original idea. They used to do a thing called script frenzy, but they stopped doing it, I think in 2013. So I just invited people to do it with me. Well, it got picked up by indie wire, it was translated into like Spanish and other languages. And I think we had over 1000 As far as I could tell, sort of guesstimate people doing that. And we had dozens and dozens and dozens of people who finished the script, somebody came up with this idea of, I call it zero draft. So then they came up with the idea of zero draft 30, like Zero Dark 30, only zero draft 30. And so that became the the moniker for it. The basic idea of zero draft is it's like a pre first draft. So if you have problems with perfectionism, and you have problems with procrastination, and procrastination, largely is about, well, I'm afraid that what I'm going to produce is not going to be any good. So that's perfectionism. Well, this is a great way. It's like a blast at that. Because it's all about productivity, rather than, you know, the crunch quality. It's about quantity pages, not quality pages, obviously, right as best you can. But the point is to get from fade into fade out with the belief that by having done that, you will have learned a lot more about your story than when you began, even if you've outlined your story. And you will have crossed that psychological barrier which you've gotten to the first draft. And so now you can have something to work with As opposed to just staring at a blank page. So what happened was, we did that. And then my theory is, and I always tell people that if you're outside the business and you want to break in, you need to be, obviously, watching movies and reading scripts, but also writing pages. And so write two specs a year, even if you did one page a day, you spent a month prepping a story, you wrote for four months, a page a day, that's 120 pages, and then you spent a month rewriting it? Well, you could do two spec scripts a year just by writing one page a day. So I what I did was on the blog, we decided to do two zero draft 30 challenges a year, one in September, and one in March, March is actually 31 day, so you get a bonus bonus day. And so they're basically, you know, spaced six months apart. And there's a Facebook group zero draft 30 Facebook group, which is a public group, but it's private in the sense that you have to join it, we now have 3100 members, that's an ongoing thing. You know, it's a terrific group, it's very much like going into the story. It's everybody in there, you know, understands that it's a real hard road to hoe the competition is fierce success is hard to come by. But we're also optimistic, or also we lift each other up. You know, I kind of wish this point to myself that look, I was completely outside of the business. I knew one person and I wrote my third spec script and sold. So you know, I can't deny that reality. It does happen even though the odds are one. So the zero draft 30 Challenge starts in September 1. And so on September 30, I do a blog post every day with some inspirational stuff. We I look, you know, there's the hashtags, Ed 30 script. I look there, I look at the Facebook group, I look at my blog, I see what people are posting every day, I'll select somebody and give them an award. It'll vary. Sometimes it's the Anita loose award, who was one of the first great screenwriters in Hollywood a woman and sometimes it's adult and Trumbo award and so they just get a little picture with their name, you know, on it, and just a little something to motivate people, but it's great. And we also this year, have Harmonic Convergence. I for reasons which I can't get into, it's just too long, but the spirit animal for the zero draft 30 Group is a hamster, called scamper. We don't go riding sprints we do writing scampers against like have some fun with this, right? So we do this thing, we now have done it, I think like 30 times every first Friday night or Saturday, you know, 12:01am, Sunday 24 hour period, we do what we call a writing scamper a THON. So there are 24 hosts around the world each hour of the day. So that you know, you just pick a day, pick up, pick a time slot, you're going to know that somebody is going to be there to usher you into your hour and congratulate you on spending that hour writing. The point of it is to get people to write on weekends. And the point of that is to get people to write every day. If you get writing every day, that becomes a habit and you're more productive. So it just so happens that this September challenge starting September 1, at 12:01am. I'm going to launch the next 24 hour scamper a THON. So people are interested, they can go to the zero draft 30 Facebook group, just look that up against tremendous group of people there, we got some wonderful moderators who oversee things and there's no we don't allow anybody to promote any consulting services or any contests or any of that stuff. That's like a completely ad free pressure free zone. It's just people who, you know, want to support each other and help each other and, and, you know, writers groups form off that, you know, private writers groups, or people will say, I have some pages and I will read pages in exchange for you reading pages, you can do that offline. So But now, let's see what draft 30 It's the zero draft approach. There are there are professional writers who do this. There's a Scott Fraser five or six years ago, got on Twitter one day and said I'm gonna write a draft in 24 hours. And he he commented along the way in, in on Twitter. And he did he wrote that draft in 24 hours, it was a real rough draft like 60 pages. But that became a movie. He wrote the script and sold it and it became a movie. So there's real value in the zero draft approach. And particularly if you're a perfectionist, and you tend to procrastinate.

Dave Bullis 49:34
Do you know what that movie was called? That he

Scott Myers 49:39
I could look it up. He's been off Twitter for quite some time, but I'll have to look it up. I can email it to you.

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

Dave Bullis 49:58
Okay, yeah. I just did it. That's actually pretty interesting, Scott. But why, you know, I'm actually going to compete in will compete. I'm actually gonna participate. Yeah, and zero draft 30 Because you really don't compete against yourself. But but but, you know, yeah, I want to participate this year, I tried to do it last year and I just kind of fell off the wagon. I guess I don't, I just gotta it kind of fell off the rails. And so I'm gonna participate this year, I got that handy dandy calendar out, right? And I was like, oh, yeah, that thing's awesome. So whoever made that the, you know, great ads. Great work.

Scott Myers 50:32
Stephen Dudley did that he's one of the zero draft 30 members. And so if you go to my blog, I have blog posts all this week, prepping people for the challenge. And you can see, there's a doubt you can download this, this wonderful calendar, where you can just fill in every day. There's a little motivational things in there and whatnot. So

Dave Bullis 50:51
Yeah, and I'm gonna link to all that in the show notes. Scott, just, you know, all the things that we've talked about. So, you know, just to sort of, you know, put a period at the end of this whole conversation. Scott, is there anything you wanted to sort of add in conclusion?

Scott Myers 51:04
Well, just that, again, reinforcing the point that the odds are long, you know, astronomically long to be able to make a living as a writer. And yet people do. You know, there, there's nice to see that the the number of people in the feature film side of things, in Hollywood in 2017, there was an uptick in the number of people, pretty substantial one, so that you know, that it is possible to work as a writer in the business. But beyond that, just if you pursue your passion, you know, if you're creative, and you don't give voice to that, and you don't pursue that, that's such a loss for you, and perhaps the universe. But if you do pursue it, you know, then you're putting yourself in alignment with some authentic part of yourself. And, you know, again, follow your bliss. It's just, it's more than just three words, it's like a fundamental thing. Can you imagine this world with 8 billion people who are each of them, able to pursue the thing about which they were the most passionate, the thing that enliven them, you know, what a place this would be. So I just encourage people to, don't think about the odds. Don't think about anything other than just what it is that excites you, if you're a creative person and pursue it, whether it's an avocation, whatever it is, you know, woodworking, painting, poetry, kite flying, do that, because it's just going to have an incredible benefit for you. And you'll know, at the end of your life, you know, you will say, I regret not doing that, you will have done it. And so follow your bliss, as I always, always say, that's, it's profoundly important insight into life.

Dave Bullis 53:08
Yeah, it's, you don't want to live life with regret, or, you know, we kind of look back and say, Why didn't I do that? Or what went wrong? You know, why didn't I Why wasn't I able to do that? Then, you know, and, you know, I agree completely Scott. And I think that's a great way to sort of put history at the end of all this. We're going to find out on line, Scott.

Scott Myers 53:28
Well, there's my blog, go into the story. You know, that's based on a little anecdote I have with my youngest son, he was about three at the time, and I was joking with him while I was overseeing his bath. I said, Well, you know, my dad, your dad's going to write us store tomorrow new script, and you have any advice for me. And he looked up at me without hesitation said go into the story, and find the animals, which I just thought was great. And so that's my blog, go into the story. It's not 10 years old, launched in May 16 2008. It's the official screenwriting blog of the blacklist, there are 24,000 posts there. It's covers basically, everything you could possibly imagine. You can follow me on Twitter, go into the story and go into the story. I think I've 51,000 followers at this point, but the very active feed, they're all screenwriting and writing and creative, you know, oriented. Also, there's the zero draft 30 Facebook group, which I started back in November of 2015. And terrific community of people there. And then the DePaul University School of Cinematic Arts if you know anybody. Oh, I should I have to say this day. I got to tell you this. We just recently starting classes there in September 6 will be the first BFA and MFA a set of students for comedy, writing and film writing in conjunction with this Second City, we partnered with the second city, which is the premier improv group. You know, it's been around for 50 years. And so DePaul University has partnered with the Second City and we're now offering the world's only to my knowledge, BFA and MFA programs in comedy writing and filmmaking. So the students get to actually go to the second city site there and work with those incredible faculty that they have, who are just phenomenal teachers when it comes to comedy and an improv. They actually work with them at the Linkin Park facility over there. I live five blocks from there. And then they also work here at our DePaul University taking classes. So they're getting they're getting an education, but they're getting an education in which they're going to end up with a portfolio of content and an incredible experience. developing their comedy chops from just like top to your faculty in both worlds, the improv and sketch world and then the screenwriting and writing world so so DePaul University School of Cinematic Arts is where I am. And I think that's probably pretty much about it in terms of how you get in touch with me. Oh, I can I want to mention one other thing. If you're in the UK, and you're listening to this, I'm going to be at the London screenwriters festival from September 7 through the 10th I believe it is, or seventh through the ninth, sixth to the ninth, then I'm going to be in Cologne, the first week of October Cologne, Germany for a two day masterclass. And then I'm doing a keynote address for their film festival. And then I'll be at the Austin Film Festival at the end of October. And then if you're in France, I'm going to be in Paris in March of 2019 for a three day workshop there too, so do a lot more of this type of thing.

Dave Bullis 56:49
So I will definitely link to in the show notes. And because Scott, I think I think the UK is like the third biggest listener base this podcast, so Alright, so Whoa, I think that's a good sign. So, but I was gonna link to everything you said in the show notes,

Scott Myers 57:06
Great to have a conversation with you again, Dave.



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IFH 713: Save the Cat! How to Write an Indie Screenplay with Salva Rubio

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Alex Ferrari 0:49
I'd like to welcome the show Salva Rubio how you doing Salva?

Salva Rubio 2:32
Hi, Hi, Alex and Hi to all your viewers and listeners. We're doing fine here in Barcelona.

Alex Ferrari 2:40
Very cool. And I just I always love technology. I mean we're literally across the world from each other. And we're still able to do this it's still I don't take it for granted I'm old enough to know when this was not a thing

Salva Rubio 2:53
You know this is this an apocalypse going on outside? So let's just hope that there is not a solar storm or something like that. Why everything by 2020 has been crazy so far. So why not alien invasion and zombies

Alex Ferrari 3:08
Alien zombies alien invasion more people more people haven't risen up from the bottom yet from the core of the of the planet to take over. Atlantis hasn't risen. I mean, there's there's a few things that are yet to be done. But we still have two months.

Salva Rubio 3:23
We have a couple of months and 2020 so far has been exciting. But maybe it needs to go with a bank. No, no, no,

Alex Ferrari 3:31
No, no excitement, no police. We've had enough excitement this year to last us a decade, if not to. But we're here to talk about about save the cat in your book, save the cat goes goes indie. And I wanted to bring on the show because we've had we've had people on the show before to talk about Blake's Blake's world with save the cat his groundbreaking work. But I wanted to I wanted to bring you on because of the indie aspect of because a lot of my listeners are indie filmmakers. So before we get going on that, how did you get involved with save the cat?

Salva Rubio 4:03
Sure. Well, I mean, it all starts like in 2004. So I finished my university degree with theory's licenciatura. And then I decided that I wanted to work to work in films on how and I found a job in a production company which also has, well it was a half production. Also distribution also exhibition. It was like the most important in the production company, distribution company and so on in Spain. So I started reading scripts, just like so many people. Well, the lucky thing about my job is that I could read a lot of big names, scrape scripts, I mean, it wasn't just like spec scripts, you know, like people trying to get into the industry. We have show that but all of a sudden I had a David Cronenberg screenplay, or maybe Michael hanukkiah screenplay, or maybe you know, Danny Boyle screenplay, because they were, Europe is very common to show your screenplay around before the film is done so that you can start getting money, you know, as a foreign production company, you can get European money, but it has to be done in advance. And it was a funny thing, because I was reading these screenplays and wondering how the resulting feel, could be. But then a couple of years later, I would see that film, on the cinemas in the theaters. And I would be, you know, like, wow, from that screenplay to that movie. There's such a big distance, but in visual terms, the screenplay was there. And they've got me thinking, you know, like, what, so the screenplay can be a classic thing. And then the film can be avant garde thing. I think it was in 2000, maybe seven was I have a very bad memory. Blake Snyder came to Spain, actually, he had a gig in in London, I think he went through Barcelona. And I was lucky, lucky enough to be there with him to meet him and to take his seminar. That changed my whole view. Because I realized that there was, I was an aspiring writer, and I realized there was a method, there was a guideline, there was something that could help me in my learning.

Alex Ferrari 6:44
Very cool. And then can you go over a little bit about what save the cat is for people who are not familiar with it the cat?

Salva Rubio 6:52
Yeah, sure. Save the cat is one of them. Most, one of the best selling screenwriting books in history, I couldn't say is the best selling one or another, but is one of the most important. And he came and took the world by surprise in the mid 2000s. Because they were very good, nice, stylish books. They were all a bit serious, a bit academic. And Blake, he was a comedy writer, he viewed quite a funny book, about screenplay, and screenwriting is structure full of interesting, funny, even childish terms. But the result was that it was a very easy to follow method, based on 12 steps, the breaks neither be cheap. And well, it became a bestseller. Because for students and also for executives, it became like a pattern of how a film should feel.

Alex Ferrari 7:52
And can you go over those those 12 beats the Blake's beats and kind of talk about them a little bit?

Salva Rubio 7:57
Yeah, well, I can try by memory. But first of all, you have the opening image, the opening image is the view of the world before the adventure happens, you know, there's a world with a systemic problem, we still don't know how to fix it, but it's there somewhere. Then we have the setup, which is the moment in which we come to meet our main character is usually two or three scenes, watching him or her in his everyday life is to get to know him or her. This point is another bit called the themes theater, in which another character secondary character, maybe a mentor, tells the main character, the protagonist, the theme, so you should learn is, and we have the catalyst, which is like the inciting incident, you know, halfway through the first actual thing happens that pushes the story forward. And then we have something called the debate, which is a few scenes still in the first act, in which the main character tries to avoid that adventure, and thinks of ways to avoid that. But obviously, that's not going to happen, he has to go this is so we have played called the break into act two, which is the first choice and we enter act two, we have a very long act as everyone who's trying to write the Scooby knows. But Blake called the first part of this second. He called it the fun and games. And that is certainly a very important concept because the fun and games section is where the writer has fun and games no fatalities is telling a horror story to tell and is not going to have any fun. But this is that where the poster moments are where the trailer moments are. This is where you show what the people came to see is what Blake called the problem. of the premise, then we have the mid point, which is a very important bit like a kind of tempo holds the picture together. And we have victory, which the character feels Oh, so this adventure is easier than I thought, I don't have to change at all. But then we have default defeat, which are these the evil characters take notice of the hero and start attacking him or her. So we entered the second part of act two. And we are in what Blake called the bad guys close scene. As the name is surface, planing, as the name says is where the main character has to become a warrior, he has to become someone to defend, depending on which hand gener we can be in a horror film, and he has to fight the monster, he can be in a film about grieving, and he has to confront his feelings, then come three, so important bits to finish the second part of the second act, like he used to call them, they are called or is lost. She's like this belly of the whale moment that writers know very well. But then he had something called the dark night of the soul, which is a time for sadness, a time for regret, because the main character couldn't change, or didn't know how to change. And then we have what Blake called a break into Act Three, which is a moment of illumination, a moment of precision, the main character wants to change, but still doesn't know how to change. So we have the x three, and the x three, here's something cool. In his third book, like revise five beats more, which I can say, so they're not actually, we can say they're actually 17. So in our three, had the preparation where people, main characters are heroes prepare for the duel, then the duel start, then at the middle of the duel, there's going to be a reversal, something that I like to call the it's a trap moment. And then we have the duel per se, and 70s and 80s. They fight each other. The protagonists have some sort of final illumination like Luke Skywalker theory and Obi Wan, say use the Force. And then well, usually the bad guy is defeated. And then we have the final image in which we use as a mirror, we have the opening image and the closest image. Those should be different. We should see that song has changed in that universe.

Alex Ferrari 12:47
Whoa, that was amazing. Is that about? They think you think it is? That off the top of your head? I don't know what you're talking about. You don't have good memory.

Salva Rubio 12:59
So I guess it's kind of my head that I wasn't sure if I could pull it off. But it happened.

Alex Ferrari 13:05
It's hard to it's hard wired. It's hard wired. And now you've seen a lot of I'm assuming from from writing your book, you did a tremendous amount of research watching a ton of independent films. What is the biggest mistake you see in independent film?

Salva Rubio 13:19
Hmm, that's an interesting question. I mean, independent film, as you know, is a universe a different universe, per se. And okay, my biggest insight is this. People usually say that there are two kinds of screenplays First, the literary screenplays, so to speak, and then the technical screenplay. Some one is more like, you know, for the screenwriter, and the other one is for the director, and I believe that I think you need a sales a screenplay, and a shooting script. Right. And also different because many people try to write the film of their dreams. But it's sometimes so different. So we are so intense are so on a moroto

Alex Ferrari 14:13
On marketable.

Salva Rubio 14:15
Marketable. Yeah, that's the word. So investors and all kinds of people who must like it, they they become scared. So I would say, give us a good screenplay clear that I can visualize that feels classy. That doesn't feel like too novelty. That doesn't feel like too strange or weird. And then at some point, during the development process, speaking with people with the money in your pocket, then you can realize your vision.

Alex Ferrari 14:49
Okay. Now, can we go over I want to go over a couple of the genres that you that you kind of spoke about in your book, which I thought I loved the names of these. So Did the how to save a cat approaches the specific genres. So monster in the house?

Salva Rubio 15:06
Yeah, well, let me start by saying that the generators are really useful. I mean, these are an individual like in sort of invented them is what we could call universally storylines. And every story fits one of them. So there's like a kind of short talk to understand each other. I mean, normal gingers are like westerns, which are movies with Cowboys, usually, or horror movies, movies with a monster so but sometimes you have a Western, there's a guy with a heart, but can be a horror story can be a comedy. It can be, you know, it's a problem because traditional gingers don't tell you the story. They just speak about the aesthetics. And that is Berlin. When do you need someone to picture in their mind your screenplay? So the Blake Snyder generous, they tell the story. So monster in the house, for example, is usually horror look always horrible is usually horror. And what is cool about the generous is that Blake, yeah. Is that for this generous to work? You need a few elements. And if those elements are not there, well, it's going to feel incomplete. You know? So for example, monster in the house, as the name says, have a monster with a supernatural creature. Do you need a house? Do you need people locked inside a place to neither maybe a mansion? Maybe a hospital? Or maybe a country? Like in 20 days later?

Alex Ferrari 16:48
In the 2020? Or 20 days later? Yeah.

Salva Rubio 16:51
London 20 days later. Yeah. So then you need a couple things more like for example, you need a sin. People need to be served, what the what is happening to them. And then you see to have enough elements for a page to come before refer to her as a woman Jenner that can help people understand your film, but it's things you can do, you can throw in the elements that are going to make that story original, like you're writing a slasher film. Well, we know they're all the same, but you can say so this is a slasher, with this new Monster of inventing or in this new setting. There's no one no one has ever done. And I think it's a way to focus really soon in those original points your needs your script needs to have.

Alex Ferrari 17:45
So kind of like alien was obviously a monster in the house. But it was the first time that anyone had done it in a spaceship before. That's it. Yeah. Now, the Golden Fleece. How does? What does that genre?

Salva Rubio 18:01
Well, the Golden Fleece are basically wrote movies. They basically wrote movies and Golden Fleece is an element in Greek mythology. The whole Golden Fleece was something like a lamp. I'm not sure

Alex Ferrari 18:16
if it was a lamb. It was a lamb like, thing.

Salva Rubio 18:20
Yeah, skin, lambskin skin. skin was magical. And it could turn anyone into a powerful person. But it was guarded by a dragon in a very distant part of the Mediterranean. And you have to physically go there. So these are the most basic stories like in Joseph Campbell's hero's journey, which hero has to go somewhere and get something to be happier to be healthier for his for his community. But this can be for example, this great film by David Lynch. This straight story. You know, it was about an old man going in a tractor. Yeah, America. But that's it. It's a movie after all. So we also need a few elements. We need a road network sampaoli in in The Wizard of Oz, the road is what the yellow brick road. But in this film I just mentioned, alleys are a little missing. Chinese away from Albuquerque to Los Angeles. Do you need a team, the team is the people that are going with you or that you are going to find in the way for example, in Little Miss Sunshine is the family but it's important to see that the family of Little Miss Sunshine and the companions of Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, they're kind of similar. One of them is a heart or one is the brain, blue is the wheel and so on. And the funny thing about These Jenner is that Junaid wells Blake code wrote apple at the end. Do you need some sort of disillusionment or deception at the end? Every character that arrives to the end of the physical journey will find news. We'll find that that which they were looking for, like for example, the Wizard of Oz, I want to go home when you realize that the Wizard of Oz is a fraud. Fake and well, you cannot go home using his power. You need to go home by your own means. That's what this this is sorry. Sorry about now,

Alex Ferrari 20:39
Dude with a problem. So another cool one.

Salva Rubio 20:43
Yeah, well do with a problem is basically thrillers, and action films, do a problem. As you can see, all of these have like mythological origin. In fact, in the city catalog, we have been publishing a few articles about how these generals have their origin in mythological tales. And in truth, a problem. It could be the Hercules story. He was a normal guy. He wouldn't have been he was special, but all of a sudden, he was tested by the gods. So dude, we are rolling out those stories. Like for example, guy, Hart, McLean, and Hercules they're the same guy. They are. Ordinary guys pursues extraordinary art. And well, they need to find their own strength and their own power they need to believe in themselves to to defeat the gods themselves. So Well, that's a really intense gener

Alex Ferrari 21:53
So it's onra like that a lot of the examples you just gave are very big movies. big big movie. So in the indie world Are there examples? Because dude with a problem like diehard for indies is a little rough, though it can't be done. I guess if you're like in a school somewhere. The school is taken over by terrorists. You're the kid. So I'm just writing a story right now. And you're you're the kid is john McClane. It's basically home alone. But but on an indie budget. Are there any examples of like specifically, like due to the the problem? Or the Golden Fleece or monster in the house? Obviously, most horror films are monsters, low budget, but like low budget, more indie stuff?

Salva Rubio 22:33
Yeah, sure. In in, in the book in civic art goes to the Indies. There's 50 films that we go, we analyzed. And there's 10 genders, five films for each gender, and all of them are independent. Like, for example, let me just tell you the five we have a monster in the house. We have 28 days later, we have the lives of others, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. We have the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Yeah, we have the Yeah. And The Blair Witch Project. Of course, what's so cheap, you know, a couple of cameras and, and then we have funny games, which again, is only one location and Golden Fleece, we have a Little Miss Sunshine. We have old brother reservoir rocks, the strange story which is mentioned and the full moon, people may see for Monty Lesnar, a rogue film in this category, you also have the role to perfection films in which people get better doing something you know.

Alex Ferrari 23:44
So no, so like so another genre that that I saw in the book was the superhero genre. Now a lot of people think when they think superhero, they think Marvel they think DC they think Superman or Spider Man or x men are one of these big budget things. How can you apply the superhero genre in the indie world?

Salva Rubio 24:05
Well, the funny thing is that superheroes existed before they kept superheroes, you know, as a superhero in musical terms. It was a different person with special abilities. It could be physical abilities, like for example, Achilles, he was invulnerable, you know, no one could bullets or arrows couldn't hurt him. That's a superhero in my book, you know, he had his own kryptonite, which was the Achilles heel. So this kind of characters have been around, they're always in. This can be normal people so to speak, their powers may not be evident. their powers may not be like flying or having x rays in their eyes. But charisma can be a superpower. Like any politician can tell you, or the ability to inspire others, right in our list. We have for example, Erin Brockovich. As you remember, it was an indie. And it was a film by Steven Soderbergh. And it was a woman that was she defeated a big company out of her willpower, not of her love for other people. That is also a superhero. The others we have is fantastic, Mr. Fox, you know how you remember how he became the leader of his pack. We also have a rubber seal, I turn yellow, and also the Elephant Man, because the super hero Jenner, my favorite thing about it is that people with, you know, underdogs, and people which are ignored by society, they are really powerful because they know how to survive in very harsh environments, like the normal world for you and me, is not really dangerous. But for many people with disabilities, for example, there are my world is a challenge, go wave. That's why they are so brave. And so that's why we have the Elephant Man. And we have a proper comic book superhero in this list, which also was an indie. I'm sure you remember it. We made it was the crow. Sure.

Alex Ferrari 26:25
Yeah. And the Crow was wasn't in the in the production. Yeah, and I'm going to be having the director of that. That film on the show very, very soon. Alex Ferrari is Yeah, he's I'm super excited to have him on the on the indie film hustle podcast, because I love the crow. I thought the Crow was it's a masterpiece. I mean, obviously, it was tragic. What happened with Brandon Lee in this and all of that, but the movie itself is it's almost an anti superhero film, you

Salva Rubio 26:57
know what I mean? But the comic book was great. I mean, if you can read it, it's great. But also the people kept their hearing you they will realize that the people that are watching this they will realize I'm I'm I know him. So the Chroma middle has failed the 90s Oh, sure.

Alex Ferrari 27:20
Oh, yeah, that soundtrack Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails. Oh, good.

Salva Rubio 27:24

Alex Ferrari 27:25
Good stuff. Good. I think Smashing Pumpkins was on there as well. I think there was a song by Smashing Pumpkins. It was amazing. It was a great, great soundtrack. It was just at the same time I was in college. So I was watching. I was watching that movie and listen to that soundtrack constantly in the 90s. But yeah, and then I'd like to thinking about superhero as well. Like someone like Sherlock Holmes. He has a superhero power, which is his intellect. So a lot of times the superhero genre, even in the indie world can be someone who's just smarter than everybody else, or has this like he's excellent at a specific thing that nobody else is they are a high achievers are, are their abilities in a one area is so far beyond everybody else that that is considered a superhero. Correct?

Salva Rubio 28:09
Correct. Also, because most superheroes at some point, are rejected by society. I mean, the lesson in the classic superhero, and I'm talking about made, especially the lesson is that many of them will be rejected because they are too powerful or because people are envious of their power or because they inspire people. So they are dangerous. I mean, like, for example, a film like Malcolm X for candy, or films about Che Guevara, those are films about political leaders, but they can be told as a superhero story because they have power, which is inspiring people and leaving them to freedom and that is dangerous for the bad guys

Alex Ferrari 28:55
Or the establishment if, if it goes against the establishment, that's a great I never thought about Gandhi and Michael max as a superheroes, but I guess that is a broad definition of what a superhero is, which is anybody who has an ability that nobody else has, and makes them special. Hence, superhero superhero. Yeah. Not another genre loved. And I'd love to hear your take on it is when the full triumphs, which is a great indie. It could be a great indie genre.

Salva Rubio 29:32
Yeah, he's really into material. I mean, the full childfund is another story that has its roots in the mythical past. But it's it's good material, especially for comedy because the fall triumphant is basically the story of the the village for I think that's the also the name in English and is about their character, that underdog which everyone just ignores because Okay, he's a silly or hero See the world as the rest of the people, or? Well, I mean Helios looks or feels like, full. But I love these general because, you know, once you start with that word, mostly stories, you start with a character, which needs to change the neither a transformation. So some of them start being like a bit, let's say wrong or bad, a bit stupid, a bit evil, whatever, they have a flaw, and they need to work on that flaw. But fools in firms full are mostly well meant they are mostly good people. So they cannot just have a normal arc, like our characters could imply for them to become worse. So, in this in this dinner, the kind of change we're aiming for is adaptation, the need to adapt to the world without losing their inner light, you know, without losing that which makes them nice and special.

Alex Ferrari 31:06
So like Forrest Gump is a good example of of that, like he Forrest Gump doesn't change. But he had gaps from when he's a boy all the way to the end, being a multi millionaire, ex Vietnam vet Medal of Honor winner, and all the other amazing things that happens to that guy, but he does adapt to the world. But he never changes he, he doesn't get harsher. He doesn't change his inner light. Can you give us a couple of examples of indies in that genre? Sure.

Salva Rubio 31:38
I need to say also that the book is called civico goes to the Indies. And it also includes European fields, which are technically indies and Altera films in general. So that's why in this category we have for example, the King's speech,

Alex Ferrari 31:54
Which was appealing was it was a it was a Europe was a minute, it was a European that wasn't a European movie, was it?

Salva Rubio 31:59
Yeah. Yeah. It was very interesting.

Alex Ferrari 32:02
Yeah. But it was independent is a loose term with that, because it won the Oscar looked fantastic.

Salva Rubio 32:09
Do you mean that it was Yeah, it was crazy. But I think production wise, I mean, we were very careful. I don't remember the details. But I think we were very careful to select fields that would fit in the band. Okay. Otherwise, what

Alex Ferrari 32:23
Considering can it's not a studio project, to say the least, and is definitely an indie story, to say the least. Because that's not something the studio would pick up. They might pick it up for distribution after it's made. I think that's what happened with King's speech. Do you have some other examples?

Salva Rubio 32:39
Yes, sure. For example, life is beautiful. We also won an Academy Award. Sure. It's an Italian film. And also, there was a film that made huge waves in the past, but is it's been like sort of forgotten, but it's a great film is called the artist.

Alex Ferrari 32:57
Oh, yeah. The one that was the one that won the Oscar?

Salva Rubio 33:01
Yeah. Yeah, yes, it was the black and white film about sound film and siren film, and how our character had to adapt. And we have a couple more we have Boogie Nights, which is these Well, before in the in the poor industry in the 70s. They also must understand us a terrific film. And we have a special category for Rs film, which is the dark for his people which are playing for, but they want to take advantage of others. And that is much point. Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 33:44
Yeah. And that's Yeah, that's the the dark fool is interesting, a concept as well. There's so many different and in the book, you go through all these different movie examples, which are great. So you really can kind of connect the genre with actual films that you can kind of start applying to in your scripts. Which brings me to my next question. When a screenwriter is working on a screenplay, specifically aiming it at an independent film market? Should they be thinking about budget? Should they be thinking about how it's going to get produced? Or should they just kind of go wild?

Salva Rubio 34:19
I think if it's if it's your first film, you should have the budget into consideration, obviously, because they will trust you if you can make a cheap film. And it works and it looks great. It says that you're a good general in this fight in this battle. It says that with very few elements, you can make a worthy thing. You're not afraid one of the very good film in this regard, is let me check because sometimes I forget the names. I'm sure your listeners remember pie. Yeah, first of all, Darren Aronofsky Which was grainy and dark. And it was so cheap. But that made it so special. There's no film alike. So I think if you aim for, what can I do with a little money? How can I make this look special, not maybe great because some people put all their money in trying to make the film look professional. With that same make look special. It could look different as a director, and show your identity and show us what you can do with what you have.

Alex Ferrari 35:37
But also, I think that takes a level of, of not only bravery, but also of someone who's extremely comfortable in their own skin. Because I know as when I was coming up, you try to emulate other directors, you try to emulate other storytellers, other screenwriters, because you're afraid of your own voice, you maybe haven't found it yet. You haven't developed it yet. And you're afraid to put yourself out there completely, wholly. But these examples of you that you've talked about many of those screenwriters and directors, like pi is a fantastic example. He was a young director and just came out and did exactly what he wanted in a very, like there's still no film look that looks like pie. Pie was this grainy black and white 16 millimeter, high kinetic energy, wonderful story myth mysticism in it. It was an amazing introductory film, and but it's, you could just see the bravery in it. I mean, Reservoir Dogs, obviously, it's a great example of that as well. I mean, look at you know, and, and his writing and how he shot it and what he did. It's, it's remarkable, but I think you you do need to have a sense of comfortability as an artist, I think that goes for any artist, right? In any genre. And any, any, any any craft, whether it's musician, whether it's art, painting, writing,

Salva Rubio 37:02
Yeah, I mean, sometimes you should temptation to say, well, maybe if I don't do what I like, and I do what they like, maybe I can have a shot at the rate. But, you know, I think life's very short. And sometimes you don't get many chances. So I would be happier with with shooting the film I like, and I can be proud of when I can show my family. And I can say to my friends, this is what this is sorry, I've been meaning to sell for all this time. And if that is the last thing, and the last film, I should, okay, so be it. But I'm proud, you know. But if I just go with what they want, I am going to be restless. And I'm going to be you know, sort of unhappy maybe. So, some people don't have the choice. And some people do go and you know, they they shoot something they are hired to shoot and then they go on to make their own stuff. And that is great also. But if I had to choose, I would always choose. I'll do what I want, and then see what they want.

Alex Ferrari 38:12
Exactly. And it's it's a difficult path regardless, as a as a screenwriter, as a director, especially in the indie space. Do you have any advice on getting your screenplay, your independent film, screenplay produced, anything that you can kind of put in there, or present ation, or whatever? Anything that you could do as a writer to help you have a better shot of actually getting produced?

Salva Rubio 38:36
Well, I mean, the world right now, as we were seeing the world is crazy. It's crazy, in a good sense. I grew up I mean, I grew up professionally reading all these screenwriting books from the 70s, and the 80s, and the 90s. And they all said the same thing. Right, the script in this way, and then you print it and then there's a three punch thing. And then you send me with an introduction. And that is out. I mean, that is God and not valid anymore. So we're writing history, we are finding new ways to do it. So I always say if you have a mobile phone in your pocket, should the film shoot the damn film tomorrow, get your friends and do it and then show it in YouTube or whatever. Because for me right now the difference is not making that big film that will put you on the map is making a ton of films, short films, episodes, art, whatever, get you to get into the industry, have friends that will help you with your films do will help them with their friends and then this guy knows one guy and then he puts you in touch and things happen outside your room and things happiness I home and you need to meet as many people as you can help them as much as you can. I think that the gears start moving. And then at some point, you have a chance. But if you try to do everything by yourself, what does it mean to be difficult?

Alex Ferrari 40:12
Very, very, very much. Trust me, I've done it myself. So it's not that easy to do. Now, what's up? What's up? What's next for you? What are you working on?

Salva Rubio 40:23
Right now, I just finished a new draft of an animation film and doing for it's a co production is a production company, New York and in Spain. So they are trying to build you know, this project, animation or young our thing plus, we could say that, and also I'm doing a lot of graphic novel stuff, which, in in the US is mostly superheroes in the comic books and graphic novels. But here, we have many more Jenner's if I may say, so I just have a graphic novel released in the US by the US Naval Institute, and its concentration camps story is a real story about the Spaniards that were in Nazi concentration camps, which is something that not many people know. And it's about the Gracie plan. Some of them of them have to steal pictures of all what was happening in the camp and take them out for the world to know. They do. It is not really a woman's story. Well, it's fascinating. So I invite you to read the photographer of my 1000 is called Ivan, US Naval Institute. And that's the last thing I released in America. Very cool.

Alex Ferrari 41:47
Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What are three screenplays every screenwriter should read?

Salva Rubio 41:54
Oh my god. You know first name pops in my head always is John Cameron.

Alex Ferrari 41:59
James Cameron redacted said Yeah.

Salva Rubio 42:02
James James Cameron. He writes so well. So I would say anything by James Cameron. Like for example, aliens. Could be great. Little Miss Sunshine. It's hidden hidden piece.

Alex Ferrari 42:14
He didn't do that one. Oh, you do? James Cameron didn't do aliens. But little Mr. Johnson. Other one?

Salva Rubio 42:19
Yeah, that's another one.

Alex Ferrari 42:21
I was gonna say I don't remember James Cameron. Because that would I would actually watch James Cameron's A Little Miss Sunshine. That would be amazing.

Salva Rubio 42:28
It would be a different phone as he called. Little, big dark night.

Alex Ferrari 42:35
And there'll be some sort of 3d animal or creature?

Salva Rubio 42:39
No, I didn't watch another one. Yeah. Broly. You know, I've been the first Indiana Jones are some films like Gauss, because they are straight to the point funny scenes quick to read. Okay, Yes, they are. Hollywood script, but why not? Anyway, you know, each year we have, we're lucky because the academy publishes only screenplays. And there's a few indies in there. So that's also to take into consideration. And just let me say, one, one more. It's a more love by Michael haymaking. Because it will break any expectation is of 67 page script that results in a film of 127 minutes. So you know people that say no, it's one page one minute. Well, not always.

Alex Ferrari 43:40
Not always. That's not a that's not a script to look at proper formatting. But it does the job, but it does the job.

Salva Rubio 43:50
Because what Yeah, good.

Alex Ferrari 43:51
So what advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Salva Rubio 43:57
Let's say write a ton of stuff. Let's say don't write 123 screenplays out thing you're down and your talent is there? No, right one every two months, or every three months or every four months but right one finish another? Keep making friends. And somehow if you have 10 screenplays is easier to make you that if you have to.

Alex Ferrari 44:24
And where can people find out more about save the cat and your book?

Salva Rubio 44:28
Well, this blog is save the cat.com weekly there's articles and new beat sheets. So if you're interested, there's a ton of research material there. And my own website is sour Rubio dot info. Just like my name. Well, there's this stuff I've been polishing lately.

Alex Ferrari 44:50
Very cool Salva man, thank you so much for coming on the show. It's been It was a wonderful talking indie save the cat. I'm a fan of save the cat. I love it. I talked to everybody and I talked to all the different kinds of story systems and I just find that they all are going to the same place. We're all trying to tell good stories at the end of the day, so I do appreciate you coming on man and sharing sharing your knowledge with us.

Salva Rubio 45:16
Thank you so much, Alex. I'm thanks for everyone for listening. And you know, don't give up. Keep writing keep shooting to make it.



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IFH 712: Directing Al Pacino in an Indie Film with Johnny Martin

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Alex Ferrari 1:51
Enjoy today's episode with guest host Dave Bullis.

Dave Bullis 1:56
My next guest is a filmmaker and stop man. He began his career in 2014 just directing with his debut of the horror film delirium, which is actually coming out the beginning of next year, by the way, which was January 2018. He went on to direct to other films vengeance, A Love Story starring Nicolas Cage and Don Johnson and Hackman, which is the film want to talk about today. A lot about today, starring Al Pacino, Karl Urban and Brittany snow. We also talk a lot about doing stunts because he was in a really cool movie called killer clowns from outer space with guest Johnny Martin and I really appreciate that too. You know, we have a mutual friend and and Mr. Keough. And, you know, is it just me Johnny? Or does Michael Keough know everybody?

Johnny Martin 2:40
Michael Keough not only knows or he knows people he doesn't even know yet.

Dave Bullis 2:47
Yeah, it's always seems like Mike is always knows somebody else. He's always, you know, I see him talking to somebody else, or just, you know, mentioning somebody else. I'm like, Oh, my God, this man must not sleep. He must just, you must just either either call or go to networking parties are just, you know, he has his finger on the button like he has it all working together.

Johnny Martin 3:06
Oh, well, I've known him for a long, long time, probably over 1820 years. And back then, you know, he always talked about directing and doing all these movies. And I just thought, well, he's craft service, really. And I was always told today's craft service is tomorrow's director. And sure enough, this man pulled it off. He's amazing.

Dave Bullis 3:23
Yeah, I mean, he definitely did. And, you know, and speaking about, you know, today's craft services, tomorrow's director, you know, there's a lot of ways to get into the film industry. I mean, you know, everyone I've had on here as unique story. So I wanted to ask Johnny, how did you break into the film industry?

Johnny Martin 3:38
Well, it's such a great story. And I'm very proud of it. And basically, when I was seven years old, I used to go to car washes all the time, because when I grew up, it was like the 70s. And they always had the hot rods coming into the carwash and as a huge cost. And so one day also in his car pulls up with a trailer behind it with a smashed up car. And this guy steps out. I mean, she looked like Burt Reynolds coming out his car. He just was an amazing man. I had to ride ride my bike up to him and ask him, you know what have you know, when I'm in your car and he goes, this is a car. Her name is Eleanor. He goes, Eleanor meet and he asked me my name. And I told him he goes, Yeah, Eleanor's, a star. My movie called gone in 60 seconds. And I'm the director, producer, stuntman, actor, writer. And I'm out there delivering my movies, all the theaters and self distribute this film. And I said, I don't understand it. So he so we sat for like two hours and he explained everything to me. At the end of the conversation. I said, I want to do what you do. And he says, Well, look, if you go home and study and train, you can come see me when you're 18 and I will help you out. So sure enough, that day I went home and I started training, I started learning how to be a stuntman and an act I took acting classes and when I turned 18 And sure enough, I got in that car went to LA call my mom and tell her I was I was there and she said Honey I got bad news for you he colicky he died today doing movie Gone in 60 seconds part too. And so I went there, I was left alone, not knowing what to do. So I worked my butt off. And 10 years later, I got asked to suck, coordinate, and design all the actions for an upcoming Jerry Bruckheimer movie, we're starting to get out of that part of it my life and started only direct and produced. And I said, Well, what's the name of the movie? And they said, was gone in 60 seconds. And so it was just this amazing turnaround was like he was still taking care of me. And I ended up winning the award for Best coordination of the year. So it was really a thrill.

Dave Bullis 5:31
Yeah, that's absolutely amazing. It's absolutely amazing Johnny, where you got to actually be part of the movie that you started with? And yeah, that's amazing. And so, I mean, you did a lot of different stunts. And I looked at your IMDB. And I there's one movie Johnny, I have to ask about and you did stunts for killer clowns from outer space. Oh, my

Johnny Martin 5:52
God. You don't understand. I did a Titanic. I've done the matrices. I've done the terminators. I've done tons of YouTube. But the number one question everyone asked me. You were in killer clowns. It's so funny. That little cult movie was one of my first films that I acted. And it's done. And I played three of the clowns. And I did everything on that show. And it ended up becoming my most memorable movie. You know, I keep getting gifts from all over and autograph signings for that movie, too. It's just crazy.

Dave Bullis 6:22
You know, one day I was I was at like a big loss. I don't know if big loss is kind of like this big box discount store. And I was there, they had this big these have a movie section. And I found killer clowns there one day, and I said, you know, I remember this movie as a kid. So I take it up to the register, right? And I'm checking out and the girl scanning was, you know, scanning the DVDs and buying and she stops on killer clowns. And she goes, Oh, my God. She was I remember this movie. And she goes, she's telling everyone around us because have you ever seen this movie? She goes, it is freaking awesome. She goes, it's about these clowns are coming from outer space. And they're turning people into these cotton candy cocoons. And everyone now is like getting around her looking at this DVD case of killer clowns. And they're like, Oh my God, dude, is there more copies back there? Oh, my God, there's listening to awesome and it's just, it's just one movie that just came out of nowhere. And I remember seeing as like as a kid growing up. And now I have another copy. You can't see it. Because on a podcast, but I have a copy on my bookshelf.

Johnny Martin 7:24
That's great. Well, I'm in talks with the Chiodo brothers to see if I could produce the part the part two of that. So it's kind of interesting.

Dave Bullis 7:32
And I think like part two would be absolutely awesome. I think movies, especially movies like that, I think now are more prevalent than ever. Because I mean, I know, you know, I'm starting to get the superhero fatigue. And I'm starting to you know what I mean? I and I know, people who work on those movies, and I want to support them. But at the same time, like you know, I am way more interested in seeing like a Coen Brothers movie. You know what I mean? Or something like that, where it's like this, this fun movie, you know, or something even something like you know, something else has come out recently. That just blew me away was three billboards. Have you seen that yet? No, I Oh, yeah. It's fantastic. But I'm sure I'm getting off track. Okay, I love it. But But yeah, it's, you know, that's why I think movies like that, you know, it just it stays in that Zeitgeist because it's such a fun movie. And you mentioned doing stunts for Titanic too. I promised Johnny I was gonna mention that too. Because I saw you did you know I saw Titanic on your IMDB and I I said you know, I'll ask about you know Titanic than that then killer clowns but I so so just uh, you know, as we talked about stunts and everything, you know, there's been like, guys like Jason Statham Hoover has mentioned that you know, stunt guys should get their own category at the Academy Awards because you know, they do a lot of dangerous work they do a lot of different you know, the car flips they break jumping through the glass all that all that stuff you know, all that all that dangerous work, you know, so you know, as a stunt guy yourself, you know, what are your What are your thoughts about stunt stunt guys getting their own category in the Academy Awards?

Johnny Martin 9:08
Well, I agree and disagree with it and the part I agree with is it Yeah, you know, the the number one genre that makes the most money in the film industry is actual movies. So it is it is all of us out there. That least what I was and But the other point of it too is that you know, you have to declare who is a filmmaker and to me to be nominated for Academy Award, you have to be a true filmmaker. And there are a lot of some people that are are not filmmakers. They are just guys it like get hit by cars and like to crash up and wreck things and all that but then there's those great second directors and stuck quarters out there that know how to design amazing action that helps drive not only the story, but the characters as well. I mean, there's nothing better than seeing a great a great action.

Alex Ferrari 9:56
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Johnny Martin 10:05
That helps tell you who this character truly is, and what he's feeling without having to say it. And that's, to me a very rare to see, like The Bourne Identity movies. To me, I'm very impressed by because they, you know, the action is really only 20%. The rest is all the acting of Matt Damon and, and you see what he's reacting to and so believable, where then you jump into Fast and Furious, which I think is, you know, amazing stunt work and all that. But it's and designed very great. But my issue is that it does it. Is there a character in that car? Or is it the car, that's been the hero? And that's, to me the point that if they do do this, they have to make it clear that it should go to a filmmaker, not because someone made 500 million in the box office on a great action.

Dave Bullis 10:51
Yeah, I see what you mean. And go because, you know, sometimes in the in movies like Fast and Furious, you know, the sort of the, the car itself, the muscle cars, the the exotics, they're like the sort of center of attention and a lot of those action set pieces.

Johnny Martin 11:07
Yeah, and that's not what the story is about, not about the car, it's about who's driving the car and where and where they're going.

Dave Bullis 11:13
Yeah, and you know, that'd be funny to actually like, turn into something like Transformers was kind of like the same thing, you know. So as you as you did your career, Johnny, you know, as you got, you know, to do more and more stunts, you started producing. And, you know, again, as we were talking, you know, it's always interesting to see the trajectory of careers. So as you go from stunts to producing, how did you make that, that sort of transition from one to the other?

Johnny Martin 11:39
Well, I mean, the whole reason why I got into science, I happen to be really good at it. So I was fortunate to stay in it for as long as I did, probably longer than I wanted to stay but but I wanted to learn from some of the top directors look better way of getting behind Tony Scott and James Cameron than to get on the set of the statement and stay on for a few weeks and say, just try and sneak on. So that was mainly my main main idea. Then when I started to watch it, I realized how much money is being overspent when people are just trying to spend money. When you look at Studio movies, you look at it, where they're spending $100 million, well, really only 50 million got put in the movie. The rest are executive charges, studio charges, and all that. So movies aren't really 100 million. I'm like, Well, why can't you make? You know, and I started seeing the decline of video, and blockbusters and all that. And I'm like, Well, where is the recoupment gonna come from. But we have to start making movies for less. And sure enough that started happening. And so when I started studying that I wanted to produce, I knew that I knew how to shoot action. I knew how to do it quickly. And that was the most expensive part of making action movies is the action. So I went to Millennium Films, Avi Lerner and I told him, Well, how much do you do your sci fi movies for? And he says 1.8 million. I said, and you shoot it where he goes in Bulgaria. I said, Well, what if I tell you I could choose one of your sci fi movies and same style, same way for 300,000. And I'll shoot it in LA, so it's impossible. And so I had my actors Casper Van Dien and Michael Rooker Kala, Bobby and say, I think he could do it, I really believe in Him. And sure enough, we pulled it off for 310,000. And movies became sci fi film of the year. And then I did another one. And I said, Can I have the 1.5? And he said, No, I'll give you 700 Because he wanted to test me. And sure enough, I did that one for seminar, and that became sci fi movie there the following year. And then it started giving me more and more films to produce after that. So it's more or less knowing. And I through my career, I've always wanted to learn every department, I thought, learning from this man, HBO Lickey that I met, when I was seven years old. The key to becoming a great filmmaker is to learn everyone's job, I learned how to do special effects, I learned how to do visual effects. I learned every single career when I when I had a day off, I'd go spend it with some some of my buddies that did another career than I did. And I try to learn it's like some ultimate filmmaker. And that's where I thought producing would be very, very good for me. And it's paid off very well for me. As far as my career, I got to be the first company to travel to China, and to CO CO produce a movie with China Film Group about five years ago in 2013, called Urban games. And I got to show them how you could pull off a movie where they thought they need 18 million. I did it for seven and a half one. So it worked out really well. They wanted me to stay there and I just couldn't stay in China. I want to come back home and do some real movies.

Dave Bullis 14:26
If you did stay in China just just sort of play like a what if game Johnny, if you did stay in China, do you think that they would have just been coming up to you with like, you know, project after project and just saying Hey, Johnny, could you you know, produce this film and produce this film in Beijing and then go to, to to like, you know, to such want to do this film?

Johnny Martin 14:45
Yeah, I was asked to go to Canada. You know, in my movie, we went to Seoul, Korea and debate Beijing and the problem I had with it. It's similar to TV in China, where the producer isn't the film Aker, it's really the director. And in TV, it's the the writer who is the producer. And so it became something where I'm a creative producer. And I'm not the kind of producer that just needs to push up numbers around and get things done at certain price, I want to be a part of the filmmaking experience and to help scenes get better. And when I went to China, it was more that I had these ideas, but the director got to override me were in my films here as a producer, I got to say what I wanted and felt that you needed to shoot this no matter what, and I got it done. And so that's why I really didn't want to stay in China for very much longer. Because I didn't want to just be a guy that did the numbers. I wasn't that I was built to make movies not to just help create movies by money.

Dave Bullis 15:41
Yeah, and I think that's very virtuous of you, Johnny, because you realize wanna stay true to yourself, you know, you don't want to just sit there and, you know, you want to make your own movies, you want to make other people's movies. Exactly. So, by the way, you know, I don't know if you do you know, Peter Marshall?

Johnny Martin 16:02
Name sounds familiar.

Dave Bullis 16:03
He's like a, he does a lot of first ad work. He's worked a lot with John Woo. But he actually was in China for a while doing different movies and stuff like that. But yeah, I just I just wanted to ask if you knew him and just in case you to ever cross cross paths.

Johnny Martin 16:19
It very well might be that do know, because I've done a few job where movies, so

Dave Bullis 16:23
Yeah, he and he's a real good guy, too. And so, but yeah, if you if you don't, though, if you don't know him, though, Johnny, let me know. And I'll introduce you to.

Johnny Martin 16:30
You got it sounds great.

Dave Bullis 16:32
So so so as you sort of, you know, gotten better at producing, you know, you're able to sort of, you know, do different things with money. You know, was your was your budget sort of rising incrementally? Or did you ever find yourself Johnny? Like, somebody would say, oh, no, Johnny, we're only gonna give you, you know, 500,000 or a million. And then when you make the and when you went to make that your second, third and fourth, they were they, you know, they just kept it at that same point, where was like Johnny willing gonna give you 50 million or 500,000? Or a million? Or do they allow you to? Or did you were able to get it to go up incrementally?

Johnny Martin 17:05
Well, I after I do those two, two sci fi movies, that's when an obvious way to do it third, and I said, No, I want to step up to a budget where I could actually make a film that I believe in not just having to put it together and do whatever I could for the money. So immediately there, I jumped up to the five to $7 million range. And I did three or four, Cuba Gooding Jr, movies that he started, it was just right when Wesley Snipes went to jail, and Cuba was right there to fill in for the next grade action hero where I was hoping to try to get these dramas and rewrite them into, you know, action pieces, but not action movies where, you know, it helps to book so I'm a real big fan of Cuba Gooding, and I just wanted to see him just raise his career up by not being sold out as an action stock, but being an action quality actor. And so that's what I started doing. I found a niche in that spot. And that's where I realized that if you have like to point one to 2.5 below line, that's where most movies today are being made. Everyone gets caught up in numbers. And they think that you know, I got $11 million budget, I guarantee that $11 million budget still has a below the line to make the movie around 2.1 to 2.9. You know, just because it fluctuates. I've done movies for seven millions and 9 million to 12 to 13 million. And yet the below the line is still around 3 million or less. That doesn't change because you know, you know, today's movies, because there is no payoff in in VOD as blockbuster I mean, excuse me, Netflix isn't buying as much as, as we thought they would. And China stopped buying all together. You know, it really makes it hard for anyone to recoup. So I was lucky that I found that niche because right when I started really getting further and further into it, that's when I realized that all the movies have to make that unless they're sequels, or they're a Marvel comic, you know, all the rest of the movies are still being done at this level. And the problem is a lot of the studio guys don't know how to do movies at this price. You know, they don't know about sales. That's what Avi learned taught me. You know, what each country buys films for what every actor is worth and how much you have to make movie his goal all along was always make a movie. For what you can pre sell this movie lower by a million dollars. And then you can make that movie for that and know that you always have a million dollars. And no matter what the movie is, you have as a great producer yet to figure out how to do that movie for the money that's going to make the company money. So that's what I learned. And so now basically, I'm still doing the same I mean, my movies 11 million, but yet still below the lines are still under three.

Dave Bullis 19:38
And that's a great bit of voice. By the way, Johnny, I really liked that. That advice because, you know, just how it ties in, as well. You know, just with with just this podcast, you know, I've had filmmakers on who've done their first movie their second movies or third movies, and some of them have made a comedy as their first movie.

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Dave Bullis 20:06
And one of the things that we talked about on here, they said, David, when wherever we go to like foreign sales agents, or we go to do VOD, or to any of these, like aggregators, like, you know, you know, there's, there's tons of them out there, but they got any of them. They always say, well, who's in it? And they go, Well, you know, it's nobody, when they say, we can't really saw a comedy as your first movie with a lot of unknown actors, and expect it to get a wide release. So they always said, you know, go out and make a horror movie instead. What do you think about that advice? So just to make a horror movie as your first movie?

Johnny Martin 20:42
Well, I think the advice that that person said is even worse than what we all thought today. And then nowadays, you know, 80% of movies that are being made are being made by independent not studio studios, just by our movies, throw their name on it. And now everyone thinks I gotta Lionsgate movies like no, I did it through Patriot pitchers. And then they just bought it at the end for 2.7 or 2.8. But now it looks like it was a Lionsgate movie. So knowing that, yeah, I mean, we can't even sell movies. And since we're in the independent world, we're not fortunate to do movies. Without cast, I mean, that we can't even sell it and get our domestic out of it. So we have to have a cast. So if you try to make a movie without an actor, and you think you got gold, well guess what's probably gonna end up sitting on a shelf, or it's gonna be sold to a distributor that that will prove that you never made a dime when he made all the money. So you should never ever try to get horror movies. It's very tricky. It's like a good example is what happened to me is that I need to show everyone I could direct everyone knew I could produce everything. I could do action, direct action, but they didn't know if I could direct a film with actors. So I went ahead and wrote a movie about my friends that I grew up with that we used to go to the scary house when we were kids. And we had this, you know, hell gang. And we I created the story around it. And I shot at the original house that we used to sneak in at night. And I made it sound foolish because down footage was dead while I started getting the news from everyone, that sound footage was going to die sooner or later. So I had to rush and get this movie into editing and, and post and clean it up and get it ready. And by time that I was ready to sell it. I missed the window by about a month. Everyone said, bounce, which is too many people did it because it's cheap to do. So you know what we're done with it. So now they're done with it. So what am I going to do with this movie now? Well, I went back, I rewrote it, and I borrowed it another 50,000. And I changed it into a mix of sound footage and real footage of a real film. And now that movies done very well for me, as very, like I did it with kid actors from Disney Channel, and all that where, you know, you could get them at scale. And at least they're there. They're not known names, but at least they have a resume that you can at least put on a poster. And that's what I suggest you doing, you know, if worst comes to worse, and you can't afford an actor or can't get an actor, you know, always turn to a TV star, because at least they got some kind of clout to them.

Dave Bullis 22:59
Yeah, and with with TV being so prevalent nowadays, you know, there's a lot more to TV stars out there. Because, you know, on Netflix alone, there's like, what 300 shows? The episodic shows now? What, you know, yeah, there's, there's a lot of, you know, Amazon, and you have your cable package, and then you have Netflix and and all the other channels. You know, there's a lot of episodic content up there now.

Johnny Martin 23:19
Yet well, and the problem with all this is 10 years ago, Blockbuster would hold on to your movie forever. I mean, you you could go in there and get a movie from 20 years ago, nowadays, where do you go other than the number one distributor in the world and that's Walmart, Walmart, believe it or not, is the number one destroyer because they hold on your movies for years and years, they put in that $5 bucket. And if you can be thrown in that $5 bucket, you're the luckiest producer in the world, because that's where the money is to be added. Because they can keep it in that book bucket for three years where Netflix is lucky, the whole lot. If you get into Netflix could hold on your movie for only three months. Redbox, you're lucky to be in it for months. So there's nowhere that has a lasting way of selling your movie other than Walmart right now.

Dave Bullis 24:05
And that's a very good point, Johnny, you know, I was uh, one time I was actually at a film producer sort of seminar and they also talked about you know, what the cost of shelf space is. So if you walked into a target at Best Buy a Walmart and you start looking around the movie section, you know, each time the cover is horizontally versus vertically you know what I mean that the cover is facing out towards you and you can see it versus if you just see the spine you know, there's a huge cost difference between those two because it's about shelf space and you know they have that we have what I level of one goes to first they have hey we're talking about all that stuff. And you know you now you know with with blockbuster gone and you know now it's just you know Netflix and you know like you said Walmart you giving him that bin now that bins a whole nother you know, almost like another revenue cycle or another opportunity. You know what I mean? And that's sort of, I know what you mean too, but going into that bin, I've seen tons and tons of movies that I Some friends of mine has made movies and I've seen them in there. And they said, you know, that was actually good because people do actually buy from those from those big barrels of of movies.

Johnny Martin 25:09
Oh, yeah, it really is. I mean, that's, that's really that's the only place that people, you know, our film watchers, the real filmmakers go to that buggy because they want to watch something new and they want something that they can buy three of them instead of going to the theater and having to pay for one movie.

Dave Bullis 25:26
Yeah, and, and yeah, then Joseph died just to sort of just to sort of reminisce, you know, we talked about blockbuster, I remember going there to a lot and I wanted to ask, you know, do you think that the blockbuster in any way, shape or form is going to come back? Like where you could actually just go to a store with with your friends and actually just, you know, actually rent physical movies?

Johnny Martin 25:48
You know, what, I wanted to open up one so bad, but every time I do I do the research. And you know, the problem is, you know, like, my daughter's right now, even though I'm in the business, I'll catch him watching a movie that's in theaters here right now. Because everything's being pirated. Everything's online, everything's free now. I mean, you could really watch anything, you want it anytime for free. So why would you need to go out when you could just download it, or get it online. And that's the problem is, is that, you know, I used to love going to the blockbuster with my kids. And that's going through every movie. And that was fun. And now it's that here, that time is gone. And it's really hurting families. And that's what movies are all about. Movies are all about bringing families together and enjoy an experience a dream, you know, and now it's just a matter of do they have time to watch one and that's where it's, I really miss blockbuster. And I think the film industry is really hurting because it's gone.

Dave Bullis 26:45
Yeah, it's, I know, there's a lot of piracy out there. And I also wonder, too, as we talk about net neutrality, you know, how much that will play into it. Because if you're paying more for your internet, if you're paying more for certain features and packages, you know, going to those those torrent sites is not going to be as readily accessible as it is now as if net neutrality goes away.

Johnny Martin 27:10
Yeah, yep. Well, on the other thing, gotta remember is that you own a block, Buster, you got to buy how many DVDs? Were online, you just need a copy of the movie, and you don't have to make anything anymore. Yeah.

Dave Bullis 27:24
Yeah, but it would be fun, though. It just in a best case scenario, to just own a blockbuster or something. Almost like what Tarantino used to work at, you know, what, it was a video archive?

Johnny Martin 27:36
I totally agree. I think it can still work in certain cities. I really do. Because a lot of people don't want to go on the internet, you know, just finding the right the right town like LA is not the right town. But maybe somewhere in in Spokane, Washington, or Boise, Idaho, Idaho, maybe the perfect spot for that.

Dave Bullis 27:55
You know, there's still a few blockbusters left, and they're all in Alaska.

Johnny Martin 28:01
Really, I believe that See, there you go. People don't want to be hibernating in their house, they want to get out. That's great. Love hearing that.

Dave Bullis 28:09
Yeah. And also, because, you know, the, the internet, they're slow as well, but do it? Yeah. And you know, you're right. I do want to get out. But that, you know, they were able to go out and then you know, go to the blockbuster. And you know, they don't have to stream it or anything, they can just, you know, play away from the blu ray or the DVD. And when I when I did read that, you know, I started saying, You know what it makes sense, you know, show your, you know, I don't know how populated Alaska is and you know, but I know it's it's not that populated. You know what I mean? It's you know, when you think of Alaska, you think of igloos and polar bears.

Johnny Martin 28:41
Yeah, absolutely.

Dave Bullis 28:44
So your journey, as we talked about, you know, getting back to this, I'm sorry, now, I started get off topic again. But as we, as we go back to talking about, you know, your career and you and producing and everything, and you said you had to prove that you had direct. And I think that's very, very critical. Because I think that's, that happens to a lot of people. You know, I think that's, that's one of those, you know, it's unique to everybody, but it's also universal at the same time, because people want to see what you're capable of, they want to see what you can do. So So you made the horror movie delirium. And, you know, what, what was your experience, you know, just just getting that made, in terms of, hey, this is the movie where I'm going to show everybody what I can do.

Johnny Martin 29:23
Well, the thing is that, you know, going back to old subject is that, you know, people don't want to be your first try. They just won't do it. And no matter what script you have, you know, that's their career on the line. So that's why you have to be able to show and prove yourself. And that's what's tricky is it you know, unless you have you know, everyone doesn't look at your movie, as $100,000 movie or $200 movie, they look at it as as a movie. So you can't tell someone Well, this was only this. That's why I did this. They don't care. They only care. Did you make a quality movie, not caring about your budget or anything else? So now you're competing against that.

Alex Ferrari 29:59
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Johnny Martin 30:08
Which really makes it hard. So when I did my movie, the background that I had was the most important learning every one's job. Because once I did that, that allowed me to have a six man crew. That's all I shot my movie with. I didn't have any more than that I knew what I needed to do. I prepped it, PrEP is the most important thing where today's movies, they don't give you prepping where they give you four weeks to do a great movie, it needs to be prepped so great. And having every backstop every way I have a problem happens and ready to make change anytime. I don't think I've ever shot a script that we shot to the script itself. There's always a moment where you think, oh my god, what if I did this, and you have to be prepared for that. And you have to have a great team behind you. Remember, when you're directing your number one thing that you should be doing at that moment is finding the right DP for you. Because you're not just making the movie his eyes behind that thing. And he needs to move that camera. No director ever says okay, no, move that camera here there. And that's great. But you got to find moments through the dialogue that gets you to that other character to not cause this delay of a cameras before a hard cut. And that's why it's so important to hire as a finding that perfect soulmate that you could find in a DP that you guys think like imagine to like, and you guys could pick the shot perfectly. And know that he you have, he has free range to do whatever he wants to do to find that as well. It's a partnership. And that's what everyone wants to say, Well, I did this movie with I mean, every movie I've done, I've done with my DPS. I have to DPS I trust wholeheartedly. And I don't want to do a movie without them. Because we'd know each other we know what we both like. And so I would suggest that to everyone and product, know what your product is, I mean know what is going to sell for the next four years don't don't like sound foolish for me when I made the film, which I did the worst mistake because I created something that was hot at the moment. I didn't look into the future. And that's what you need to do. If I could do a found footage, imagine how many other films are gonna be sound footage. So what can I do? What can I do to be different because that $200,000, the only thing is going to make you stand out is if you have something that's different and new and fresh. And so that's what you really have to consider just don't go out shooting mood to show that you have you know how to direct because no one's going to the only time someone's gonna tell you that you're a great director is when they love your movie. Not love your shots. Love your movie.

Dave Bullis 32:32
Yeah, and that's a good point, Johnny, you know, and it's always about that, the whole experience, right? And you mentioned building a team. So you know, just about finding the right director cinematography, so you know how to work together, I couldn't agree more. I've been a part of film sets like that. I've seen film sets like that, where, you know, they want to hire somebody because they got a nice camera, or they want to hire somebody because they can talk the talk. But you know, when it comes time to when it becomes crunch time. It all sort of falls away. Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, and you know, and also, we talked about just standing out from the pack, I think that is, you know, obviously it's more important than ever, you know, because right now, it's a war of eyeballs and ears, right? You know, it's a war of, you know, how can I get my movie seen and by making it you know, as unique as possible, not sounding like something is someone's already has already seen with you, as we talked about found footage. That's why I think proud of my activity really found that niche, even like The Blair Witch Project, as well, The Blair Witch Project, they really were able to capitalize on the fact that the internet was so new, it was in an infancy stages. And, you know, everyone really believed in it. And the marketing was brilliant behind that, because it made it seem like it was a real mystery that and this movie was going to be you know, you're watching a documentary, you know, and then with paranormal activity, it was a, you know, I think they did something similar, but they were able to just capitalize on this, and he made it free, even cheaper than the boiler, which was we, I think, or made it for what 13,000. So it's like, you know, standing out, you know, just finding that niche and standing out is sort of key. And I think, you know, to do that, rather than just, you know, reverse engineer it, I think that the way to do that is, you know, find what movies you like, and write a script that you'd like to see and go from there. And then sort of use your what resources you have, and then see how you can get it to sort of fit in that context. So you're not looking going out and going well, I need to you know, go out and rent a yacht to blow up or something like that, you know, it's stuff you have you it's stuff that you have access to, that you can use to make your movie.

Johnny Martin 34:34
Well, and the most important thing is like when I say find find something new and fresh. You have to be willing to get ready to change your whole thought pattern of that because it could fall on you could fall on your face by but by doing that just as fast as you get successful. And by what I mean by that is that when I made my movie, I knew I had to be different so I wanted to make standby me meats a horror movie. I wanted five characters now made These guys hang out with each other for for three months, I filmed them for three months, just hanging out until I knew they were best friends and wanting to hang out with each other. That's when I made the movie. And that's how I knew it was gonna get that stand by me moment, it was more about character. And so I made this movie, it was head scares in it and had these great moments. And when I made it, I turned around and people you know what, when they got that title horror on there, and you're not delivering, or my idea was great, and it looked great, it won some some festivals. But at the end of the day, when people buy it, they said, Johnny, we don't know how to categorize this movie, we don't really know how to sell it, because it's not really a horror, and it is. So we don't know what to do with it. So that's when I had to go back not only to change it out of sound footage, but I had to put more scares in it and cut out a lot of the dramatic parts, where I built these characters. So a lot of stuff I truly believed in, I had to change because at the end of the day, it's not about what I think is perfect. It's what you know, the audience and what the buyers and distribution companies thinks it's good.

Dave Bullis 35:58
Yeah. And and, you know, again, as we talked about sort of selling, it's sort of like, you know, exactly what is everyone looking for? What is everyone buying? How do I get people to buy this movie? And, you know, as we, as we talked about your your second film that, you know, in the past couple of months, because again, in the pre interview, we were talking about how the past couple of months have been actually, you know, really good for you. You know, not now delirium is coming out soon, which is the movie we're just talking about. And now you have a second film that's coming out Avengers a love story with Nicolas Cage. So how did you go about, you know, getting that film? Johnny, did you put that together? Or was that something that was sort of pitched to you?

Johnny Martin 36:34
Well, no, it was a great movie, they, Patric pitchers asked me to produce it with Nick Cage, who I've been friends with for 20 years. And I met him during God and 16. We did a lot of movies after that together. And so I was producing it, the director, I didn't believe and I didn't think he could pull it off for what I had. So I basically had to fire him. And Nick wanted to direct the movie himself. And I said, Great. So since medium had this great collaboration together, you know, he was so busy with his schedule, and I would, you know, he called me up, he goes, Hey, can you start the shot list? A, you know, show me the locations I'll pick, and all this stuff. So we're working hand in hand, and then, you know, when when when the budgets start getting tighter and tighter and tighter, you know, I had to cut days out of movie and I told him I, you know, you have just moving 21 days. And he said, that's gonna be very hard for me to do plus my schedule. Johnny, I don't know if I could pull it off. Why don't Why don't you do it? And so everyone agree. There's the producers. And everyone said, Yeah, John, Donnie should do it. He knows the movie The best. Then DGA stepped in and said, Nope, Johnny can't do it. Because he's a producer on the film. And by Directors Guild rules. You can't take over a movie for a director if you're the producer. So we didn't have a director. We were supposed to start shooting in 48 hours and eight hours before we started shooting the DJ, my producer, my financier, God, his attorneys after the DGA. And they finally agreed that I could direct the movie. So I didn't have that much warning that this was my movies. And it was about rape. And it was a sensitive story. And it was very hard. So I just worked every every night. And every day I was off to prep this movie, you know, for every day. And it was a really hard, hard movie. But I'm very proud of it. And Nick is very, very proud of it. And I think we pulled off something special.

Dave Bullis 38:20
So when you mentioned prepping even on your days off, Johnny, was that more like you were in your producers hat like you're thinking to yourself, Okay, well, is this location really locked? You know, what could go wrong? What else am I going to need? Was it stuff like that?

Johnny Martin 38:33
No, I already you know, I do that. I mean, like when I direct like when I grew up, my last week hanging out, everyone else might hear my deal in my head is I'll go produce it for the first two weeks, and I'll get everything handled with unions everything else. And and didn't make all the deals, but then I shut off from my producer at take that off, and I go dry it into direct. And when I did this on vengeance, it was about seeing seeing the scenes, I usually have this weird thing that people make fun of me for but I could see things I could see scenes. In my head go around me I could see cars pass by my body when I'm just standing there looking. So I like to close down a street and fit in the middle of the street and and look at it and find the scene. And when I see that then I could really picture where all my cameras could go and all that. And that's why again saying a great DP can visualize your story because as I talk out loud, he's seeing what I'm seeing now too. So I had to make this movie it was next movie and I had tried to find out how to make it mine where I could believe it. You know, shooting a rape scene is very sensitive, and it's very hard to shoot rape scene because people get so disturbed by it that that your movie could be ruined by a bad rape scene by making it too much. And so my rape scene this movie a little girls watching her mom getting raped and I thought the way I could do this and make it violent, that need to be violent because we needed to know why these guys should get what they get by the end of this movie.

Alex Ferrari 40:01
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Johnny Martin 40:10
That I said, what better than to show a rape scene through the eyes of this girl and what her visual is and what her pain is that she's feeling, and very show very little of the rape itself. And that's was different than next version of it. And that's where I brought mine. So that's what I do during prep, to try to prepare what I feel the movie should look like.

Dave Bullis 40:32
Yeah, and I think that's a good point, too. Because, you know, there are movies that have very violent, very violent rape scenes, you know, like I spent on your grave, irreversible Straw Dogs, just to name a few. And you know, and again, you were mentioning, you know, doing things a little bit differently. And I think the way the you did it, it definitely sounds like, you know, obviously, you're taking a very touchy subject very, you know, hard subject. But it's a different way to sort of show this narrative rather than obviously, that the graphic rape like I was just in three movies I just mentioned.

Johnny Martin 41:06
Right! Absolutely. You're right.

Dave Bullis 41:08
So so as you know, and you mentioned, your your third movie, by the way, and I, this is actually the movie that got us talking to Mr. Keigh was, is hanging man. Again, I saw the poster and I said, Wow, that looks awesome. And again, Michael, you know, just introduced us out of sheer luck or law of attraction, whatever you want to call it. But, you know, as we talked about hanging man, I wanted to ask you, what is it like? Well, I wanted to actually, I want to ask what it was like working with Al Pacino. But I also want to ask you, though, to Johnny, you know, how did you go about with this movie and getting this made? With hanging man? Did you know Was this another project that you were able to get made by yourself? Or was this pitch to you?

Johnny Martin 41:50
Well, after I did the vengeance, a love story, hanging man was in the company, a patriot. And so they had a director already attached to it. And when Michael of the financier saw the movie vengeance, he said, I want you to do hanged man. And so I had to talk my way into RL Rifkin, who was the other producer, and he didn't really want me because he already had his director. So it was a struggle. And Michael said, Well, I'm not going to finance it unless Johnny directs it. And he goes, well, well, well, it's not our decision. It's a it's out. It's Alba chinos. So out here Alba Chino, you know, didn't want to set the meeting. He said, Well, let me see what he did before. And he watched my the Benyus, the love story. He stopped after the rape scene and called and said, I'd like to meet him, because he was blown away by how I treated the rape scene. And he didn't watch the rest of the movie, which was funny, he just wanted to see something that really caught his eye. And so the scariest day of my life is knowing I'm gonna go meet the number one filmmaker of all time and the iconic Alba Chino, you know, how can I top this? And how am I going to talk this man who's worked with Scorsese, and Salman and Coppola, and let him think that I'm as good as them, you know. And there's one thing I have, and that's passion. I don't care about the money, I don't care about anything else, but to try to make a film that is emotionally that gets people emotionally involved. And that's what I am almost here. My favorite movies are like miracle and rocky and all those movies, not, you know, great action movies. And so going in there, I guess I gave out a pitch that he just said, Your energy is so big and you believe in it's so much your words. And before we knew it, we were doing lines opposite of each other. And and he would do he was when I say this, and I come back with a line right after that. And, and he would come back to me and we started an improv thing. And before I know it has gone there every day, and we were doing improv and finally he'd call me at two in the morning, go, okay, this person with two lines, Johnny, the carpets in the police actually caught number two, and he was yeah, he was where were they born? I go Minnesota. He was from a single families and know their family is still married, but they're having problems, as it was what we thought of what the characters would be. So when we got to the set, he was able to focus differently on each character, knowing what they went through in their lives, even if it was a one line character. And that's what really made this movie so amazing is because it just became so real. And to work with Al Pacino. Probably any drug any director in the world should be as lucky to have the moment that I had with this man who's probably the most incredible actor and human being I've ever met.

Dave Bullis 44:38
Yeah, I mean, I just want to get that's one of the questions I want to ask about working with Al Pacino was, you know, I mean, obviously there had to be some kind of almost like intimidation because you know, Al Pacino has been in so many freaking movies that have just, you know, skyrocketed like, you know, Serpico and and, you know, which where he played a detective also. And I mean, that's what I was going to ask is, you know, if ever if he ever or just, you know, not not like coming with an ego, but just the fact that, you know, hey, look, it's Al Pacino. I mean, this man has just made so many awesome movies. And it's like, you know, how do you direct somebody like that has worked for Scorsese and stuff like that, you know, it's just like, well, you know, you know what I mean? So, so that's good, Johnny, I'm glad that, you know, you were able to sort of find that, that core and again, you know, you're passionate, you know, what you're doing? And, you know, so I want to ask you to, as you're sort of going back and forth, forth with him. And he asked you to where was this character born? You know, that's just you add, let me I mean, what would have happened just as a whatever, if you would have said, our I don't know.

Johnny Martin 45:40
Well, the thing is that I prepared myself so well, that I, I knew everything that I need, I read that script 18 times before I met without, and I was involved with everyone I knew where they were in the scene. I already picture the set every pitcher, who they were, how they carry their shoulders, how they walked, and everything else. So I mean, great part about hanging man is that every role drove the story. So it was easy to know, what emotions these people felt. It's like the in my opening scene when we find the first thing. You know, everyone say, well, Johnny, this girl's so weak, you know, why isn't she supposed to be a cop? I said, yeah, she's a beat cop work and two in the morning shift. And, and you know, and she works a schoolyard. And so, to me that that character needed to be a little bit weaker. So my lead character, Rooney could come into this movie, and be strong and not be compared to another cop. And so it was stuff like that, that made me realize that when I met out that I really thought this stuff out. And I already pretty much knew I didn't know the backstory so much, which I learned a lot. But I pictured this girl was wounded somehow, and she was weak. And so what would that lead to? And that led to what her family likes would be. And so al brought it more out in me as well. You know, but we did a lot of rewrites from it from from the prep, it was an everyday meeting everyday talk by prep the movie, so it was really quite interesting. And he wouldn't allow stuff that he felt that the audience would stop it, it's very bad. He said in the editing room with me price seven days, didn't say a word just hung out with me to watch see how we were doing this. And you know, at the end of the movie, I told him out, I know, you thought we made seven. But it's a character piece about for for people struggling with their lives to find out how they can help each other. And that's what the movie kind of is, again, I'm all about relationships and movies, and I know that everyone's gonna go see it probably is gonna go into Oh, my God, this is another seven because that's what the trailer looks like. And it is it's like a seven. But it's more about having a relationship with with these actors. More than the normal seven kind of movie.

Dave Bullis 47:43
Yeah, and, you know, I have the I haven't seen the movie yet. But I actually, I actually ordered it on Vudu. And it's out early on night right now. So I'm actually gonna watch it Not tonight. But tomorrow. So I can't wait. And I saw it was up there. And I said, Oh, I said, I actually ordered it. I was like, You know what, I'm gonna have Johnny on the podcast. And I thought it was gonna watch it, but I didn't. But I made sure to order it. And by the way, everyone, I'm going to link to that in the show notes hanging man on Vudu, it's actually out before it's in theaters are the same time it's in theaters yet? And which I think by the way, Johnny, I think that's a really good idea for a lot of films in general. Because it sort of gives you, you know, so a different form of access, you know, in case you know, the movie isn't playing around you, or if you know, there's not a theory like around you. I've always said this is a really good idea that I you know, I mean, as we talked again, about VOD, and everything else, I always think it's a good idea for a lot of films to do that. Is it to come out either at the same time. It's in theaters, or even surely then after you know what I mean.

Johnny Martin 48:49
Right, exactly. I totally agree with you.

Dave Bullis 48:53
And so Johnny, you know, as we, as we sort of, you know, have been talking for about 45 minutes, you know, is there anything in closing that you want to talk about Johnny or anything that we get a chance to discuss?

Johnny Martin 49:05
You know, half the reason why I do these, these interviews at all as because, again, I cared about movies. And the worst thing about this, this business is failure, and how low it can really bring you and how easy it is to quit this business. And there's so many people that are more passionate about films than probably anything in this world. And I just have to tell everyone is that you know, knowledge is everything. And the key thing you got to be as the smartest guy in the room learn more than the guy that you're meeting and learn everything you can about him him as well. I mean, no have the knowledge of knowing his work and how it compares to your work. But people you know, the ego gets really big in this industry, and that is what destroys people unfortunately.

Alex Ferrari 49:52
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Johnny Martin 50:01
So I just sent say, knowledge is everything and learn as much as you can before you are ready to go out there, you get one chance at this. Don't Don't blow it just because you get that opportunity to be ready for your opportunity.

Dave Bullis 50:14
You know, Johnny, that is that is absolutely great advice. You know, always be ready and always learn as much as you possibly can. And Johnny, we will find you out online.

Johnny Martin 50:25
Well, themartinifilm.net themartinifilms.net that is, I have a website that explains my story and my whole career from stunts to acting to producing. I'm going to start the opening up seminars of how to raise money in and help people in Georgia, all my crew members and all that they want to become better filmmakers and even more filmmakers. So I'm going to start putting on seminars, how to go about putting together films and all that hopefully, I'll have that recorded. And I do have an upcoming movie with our friend Michael Key Hill, which I gotta tell you I'm very very proud of and I cannot wait to get started on this thing in the movies called judge not I think that is more like the seven that that everyone wants to see. It's really dark and gritty. And that's kind of like my genre that I want to go with like David David flinch. pincher did.

Dave Bullis 51:17
That's really, really cool. And you're Mr. Keyhole together. That's, that's gonna be interesting. Because, you know, again, because Kiko knows everybody and, you know, yeah. I'm very excited. Yeah. And you're genuinely when you are doing those seminars, let me know. And I will add them to the show notes as well update them. You know, everybody, everything that Johnny and I talked about on the show, in this episode will be on the show notes at Dave bullas.com. Twitter, it's at Dave underscore Bullis. Johnny Martin, I want to say thank you so much for coming on.

Johnny Martin 51:52
Thank you very much, Dave. Very nice meeting you all!


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IFH 711: The Movie Script Selling Game with Kathie Fong Yoneda

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Alex Ferrari 0:48
I'd like to welcome the show Kathie Fong Yoneda How are you Kathie?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 3:00
I'm fine. Thank you, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 3:01
I'm doing good as good as we can be in this crazy upside down world that we live in. But thank you for being on the show. I wanted to bring you on because I loved your book, the script selling game. And it is I think a part of the screenwriting conversation with screenwriters, it's not talked about enough, I try to yell about it, at the top of my lungs, from the from the mountain to you. And just you need to understand the business side you have to understand how the game is played. You need to it's not all about plot and characters. And that it is all about that. But it also is about the Business Like Show Business. There's two of them. You have to connect. So I wanted to bring you on the show and kind of dig into that. But before we get started, how did you get into the business?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 3:48
Um, it's the only thing I owe to my ex husband. My ex husband worked for famous director Stanley Kramer, and I was just doing secretarial work. And he was telling me Well, if you can do secretarial work, work at the studios, they at least have a union you get paid a little bit more. So I applied at Universal Studios. And surprisingly, I got in. And it's kind of an interesting fact is that this is many, many years ago. I mean, we're talking about the 1960s. I've been in the industry for a long time. And what happened is that about I got put into the what they call the secretarial pool. And I was I was just doing my work and one of the gals in the secretarial pool came up to me and she said, You know, my friend was supposed to get that job. And I said, What What do you mean? She said, the only reason you got it is because you're Asian. And I thought well that's that's kind of a crazy thing for her to say but I just looked at her and I just said Well, I don't know. All I know is I got the job. I went down to The, you know, to do the personnel office and I asked the gal I said, Well, you know, what is this all about? You know, and she said, Well, it's true, we were looking for it, specifically, somebody who was of another ethnicity, because the industry is liable to get sued by the motion by the, by the United States government, because we had less than one 10th of 1% of our workforce is, is, you know, minority. So everything else is white. And so it was a big wake up call for that industry. And she said, but, you know, you still, we didn't hire you just because of that, we hired you, because you were the best candidate, you actually typed faster, you gave a great, you know, little, you know, talk about who you are, and, and, and sort of what you what you were interested in, and that's why we hired you. And so I kind of just worked my way up the ranks in the secretarial pool, and eventually started working in the industrial, excuse me, the Executive Office over at Warner Brothers. And that's where I met the man who became my mentor. His name was Richard Shepard. And I don't know, I don't know if a lot of people might not know him. But they, he was a producer. He was a top studio exec, he helped to form, I believe it was creative management associates, which used to be a very famous agency. He went off on, on location for one of his films, and I was lifting them at the office. And so all these scripts kept coming in. And I was getting bored. So I started reading them. And when it came back, he, you know, started to read picked up one of the scripts started to read it and said, Oh, you don't need to read that one. Because, well, why not? And I said, it's not very good. And so he picked up another one, I said, you know, that one's even worse. You don't need to read it. And they looked at me and he said, how many of these Did you read? And I said, all of them, there were probably about 40 scripts. It was pretty boring when he was. So he said, Do me a favor. He said, Could you just do a, you know, a few lines telling me what it's about. And, and then do a paragraph on why you liked or didn't like it. So I started doing that. And I found that it was just like, doing book reports in a way remotely, they had two scripts. So that's how I got started. And he, he said, you know, you are really good at this, you're very, you're able to sort of get the essence of the story. And you must watch a lot of movies because you're able to determine whether or not works. And so if he was my mentor, and what he started to do was involve me in some of his productions. So I became a production secretary. And I actually was the first Asian female, not only at Universal, but at Fox now. I was the first what they call production secretary to ever get a credit. And it was the credit was on Robin. Han. Wow. And then then my boss moved over to become president over at MGM before it eventually disintegrated. But while I was while I was going over there, he said, Well, you know, the good thing is, guess what? You get to have your own secretary, you'll be the number one secretary. I said, Well, I'm not so sure about that. And he said, What do you mean? And so I did my first deal. I wanted to do as I said, Well, I'm happy to to go over to MGM with you. And and I'll be, I'll set up the office, and I'll hire somebody to do you know, to be the secretary. But after a couple of months after she's gotten used to everything, I would like to have the opportunity to spend 30 days in the story department as a story analyst. Because in those days, in order to become a member of that Guild, you had to work for 30 straight days. And then you had to go through I guess it's sort of I don't know

Alex Ferrari 9:31
a qualifications or something like that.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 9:34
Yes, series of qualification, things you had to do. And so I did it and I was one of the few that actually got it got in right away. On the on the first thing I didn't have to take it, take it over and over again. So I became a member of the story analysts guild and that's how I moved around from studio to.

Alex Ferrari 9:53
So let me ask you, how many scripts Have you read in your career?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 10:01
You know, I really should have counted a month when I started. I didn't, I didn't really think about counting them, but

Alex Ferrari 10:07
10s of 1000s? Yeah.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 10:11
I would say cut, you know, because Listen, I've been reading scripts since about 1973.

Alex Ferrari 10:20
So, and I,

Kathie Fong Yoneda 10:21
yeah, so and I still was reading them. But when I became an executive over at Disney, and so and i was i was a VP over at Island pictures, and I was still writing scripts and as part of my job. And I still reading scripts now, because I'm helping a lot of the new writers out there to sort of get started. So I'm a consultant.

Alex Ferrari 10:43
So what should writers do in the development process that can give their story a fighting chance?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 10:51
Well, I think I should say something like, you could read my book, that would be

Alex Ferrari 10:57
what we're always gonna say, we're gonna begin every answer to every question, you should read my book. That being said, What else? Could you say?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 11:07
Oh, you know, it. First of all, if there, if you are a writer yourself, think about the scripts, the movies that really touched you that are in that genre that you're doing. And get a hold of that script, you can usually go the scripts.com and a couple of other places that you can get, you know, get a piece of scripts, and look at more movies in that arena, and see what were the scenes the key scenes that were able to give you a good sense of the characters, their motivation? What is it that made that movie, work? All those other things that you need to work on to make sure that your movie in that particular genre has all of those different qualities to it? I really, I mean, I love working with writers, especially the newbie writers, because they have a there's still something about them where there's that originality. Mm hmm. And I think they haven't been beaten up exposed, too much been exposed too much to some of the realities that we face in, in the industry, it does become rather tough. I mean, though, when you when you become a paid screenwriter, yes, you you will do a lot of writing and everything. But you also have a lot of other disappointments. And there's always knowing that there are other writers out there that are before you and behind you. It's just, it's one of those things, and moods change and genres change and what's popular, you've got to kind of keep up with that. But what's nice now is that they're streaming. And there's web series. And there's a lots of other ways that I think writers can actually express themselves. I used to be on the board of the LA web this many years ago, I think it was starting back in 2009 or so. And it was just amazing, because the idea of taking something and winnowing it down to just watching three or four minutes of it. And having people come back the next week to watch the next chapter, the next chapter, the next chapter. It just, it gave me such a wonderful way of saying of being able to tell other writers start off small, if you're unsure, start off small and and go big. Probably one of the best success stories is, you know, there were there were a couple of people who had wonderful web series, which eventually, you know, turned into while people started looking at those web series and realize that these people had a lot of talent and they were hired. So that that's one of the things that happened. And I think web series is another way of doing it is especially if you want to break into television, and get used to being able to tell things succinctly. And you really have to develop those characters right away. And so I always tell people, when you if you have a television series idea, start off small start by by doing something like a web series.

Alex Ferrari 14:26
And I mean, the world is changing so rapidly. And I mean, just for me, I could only imagine since 1973 how the world has changed in the film industry, how movies have changed, everything is changed so dramatically. There is more than ever need for content because there's so many outlets out right now. And there's so many streaming services and and features in a lot of ways are not leading the pack anymore. It's more scripted television. And and that's where a lot of these these initial invoices are going and that's, to be honest, was where a lot of the money's made. I mean, unless you're at the upper echelon in the studio system, you're doing Marvel movies or tentpole movies, and that's a different conversation. But generally speaking television is where a writer can actually start making a living, even even even a low budget streaming series, you'll be able to make some money as a writer, which, if you're making any money as a writer, you're winning.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 15:28
Oh, yes.

Alex Ferrari 15:31
But the one thing I, again, when I said at the beginning of the show is a lot of screenwriters just don't even think about the politics. The the business side, what can screenwriters do to prepare themselves better? For the business of screenwriting, we know that it's kind of like film, school, film school beat you up about the process of making a movie, but they don't teach you how to sell the movie, they don't teach you how to get a job in the industry. They don't teach you how to make any money. All they do is teach you the art. And the same thing goes with screenwriting A lot of times, you know, there's 1000 books out there about and 1000 courses about how to write a screenplay, very few about the business side of like how to actually make a living, how to sell your script, what can they do to better prepare themselves for the business side?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 16:19
Well, I think that what's difficult for a lot of writers is they would rather just have the words on paper, do the talking for them. Learning how to pitch is really one of the more difficult things to get people to do. And it's being able to sort of boil down the the heart of your story, to let people know what what your project is all about. And sometimes, you know, people are so used to being able to say, well, and this this scene, this happens, and then this is sort of like, they start telling you the whole story, but they're not selling it, it's just it's just like to, to whoever's listening to it, it's just a lot of words, you need to be able to very succinctly tell your story. And so pitching is one of those things that I found, it just is one of those things, you got to develop that as one of your talents, it can't be just handing somebody, your script or your book, you have to be able to pitch it. And in doing that, you can put in your own personality. And I think that's important. Because a lot of it is when you're talking with somebody, they may have a wonderful story that they're pitching to you. But if they don't have the same kind of if they don't have a kind of personality that you feel you can work with, that can sometimes blow the deal. Mm hmm. So this is where it's also this is, um, you have to pitch to everybody. You know that it, whether it's a studio exec, somebody in production, even if it's somebody you happen to meet at a party, who works in the industry, and they ask you, what do you do? Oh, well, I wrote a screenplay. Oh, tell me what it's about. Now, the other thing that's helpful is if you belong to a writers group, and there's so many online writers groups nowadays, and they're places like stage 32, and a couple of other places that a lot of people are very much aware of those kinds of groups are very, very helpful, you can find people who are going through the same thing you're doing. And that's what I like about this business now, before it used to be so competitive that nobody would tell anybody anything, because they were afraid somebody else would get ahead. Nowadays, people seem to be willing to help one another. And in doing so, I've noticed that this I do a lot of retreats. So I have to work with a lot of writers in large group and the idea of working that way working together or working side by side with somebody and seeing what they're doing, how they're developing your their material and they can see how you're developing your material. And you guys are able to exchange ideas and give some advice to one another. It builds up a friendship Not only that, but if one person makes it they're gonna you know if they hear about Oh, there's another job up and we need somebody else on staff they're gonna they're their friends are gonna probably be the next one they're going to be getting that phone call or email saying hey, guess what, we need somebody else on staff so those kinds of things that you know i mean, i i they used to have more conferences now. There's a lot more online ones now. And I think that helps the small group online once it kind of what's going on now because they used to have the ones where you would go to a hotel instead or something and you would have And I used to be a member of a lot of those, I taught a lot of them but it. And it was great because you know, you were able to sometimes meet agents and producers and all that. But you were doing it with hundreds of other people this way, at least online, you could start making your own contacts more directly. So I do think that, you know, joining some of those groups is really a step forward.

Alex Ferrari 20:32
Can you can you please tell the audience how important it is to build relationships in this business that this business is so relationship based, I've said it on the show a bunch of times, and I will continue to say it, because I want to hammer it into them that if you don't like you could be the next Sorkin mixed with Tarantino's love child, I mean, you can be next best writer ever. And if you don't understand how to get to somebody, or at least build relationships to get to open those doors, you're going to be standing on the sidelines because I've even read. I mean, I haven't read nearly as many scripts as you but even I've read scripts that I'm like, how is this not produced? This is an Oscar winning story. This is well written by a really big writer, and it's not getting produced. So these guys who have credits who have relationships, who have amazing content, can't get their stuff done. What is the chance of a newbie writer having it so that at least back the chips, relationships different? You agree?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 21:38
Well, I actually think now is actually a very good time for those of us who maybe don't have as many credits, or who are just getting into the business. Because there are a lot of companies that will no longer exist after this COVID experience. Oh, yeah. And so there's a lot of people then who are now branching off with people they've worked with, to form smaller production companies or smaller entities. And, you know, that includes even agencies, there's still a lot, there's a lot of stuff going on, you know, with there is the Writers Guild, but then remember, they, they did try to get rid of the Writers Guild. And that didn't work. And I think that people are realizing who your real friends are, and who you can really work with and talk to, during this pandemic. And I think that's what's going to help people to form some of the relationships that they need. It's interesting, and you know, a lot of the people form things through film school. And I can't stress enough that even if you are not in college, or a film program, at a university or something, talk to some of your friends, do you know, do you have a friend that knows someone who's, who does camera work, or somebody else who don't look at other people outside of writers, because the more information that you have, about the process of getting a movie or a television series made, really can help you with your writing. And with your relationship building, I

Alex Ferrari 23:27
do recommend that writers team up with directors and producers at a small level to create a web series, let's say that's low budgets, so they can have something produced that they can have actors acting their lines, and, and it kind of might set them apart a little bit, when going into one of these pitch meetings are like, Oh, yeah, I've produced, my scripts have been produced four or five times on the series, you could just go to Amazon, or you can watch it again, better yet on Netflix, if you can get it to that point. But even on Amazon or some other place, they it kind of sets you apart a little bit and kind of puts the power a little bit more in the writers hands, as opposed to just always looking for someone to give them the opportunity to open that door for them.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 24:10
Well, I you know, to me, it shows, it also shows that you as an individual, are not afraid to get out there, that you're so passionate about your work that you're willing to put yourself on the line. We cannot work. I don't think any of us can. If we just stand there and hold our hands out and expect somebody to shake it and say yes, we are I'm you. You've got to prove that. And when they know that you've done this, if you've you've paired up with some other people that that you are familiar with, and that you guys get along and you do things well together, like in a web series. It really I think gives whoever you're talking to a better stronger sense of who you are and that you have the passion to move ahead. And that it does, you're not going to let anything stop you, you certainly don't mind, you know, working with other people. And that's, that's the main thing is, you know, a lot of people have have made the mistake of thinking that okay, you know, I've got this job. And that's it. And I and I now have, you know, I've got something on my resume here. And they don't fail to keep up with their relationships with some of the people that they may have been working with. This happens a lot with movies and television. The important thing is, if you are in a writers room, like you are on most television series, you you form relationships very quickly, you're in that room, sometimes for 12 to 15 hours a day, for five, six days in a row. Oh, yeah. And you have, you have to prove that you're a team player. And you're, you know, personalities always have to come out because you can't always hold back on something. If you believe in something, I mean, your personality comes through. And if you work with people who have similar personalities, or similar points of view, when they move that they get in, you know, say one of their scripts is bought for a television series, you better believe they're going to think about Oh, yeah, all these writers that I've worked with, that I got along with, they're going to hire those people. So having building those kind of relationships are very, you know, key. And starting off on a smaller level with web series is a perfect way to go.

Alex Ferrari 26:35
Now, when you get into a room, let's say you finally get into this room that we keep hearing about, and you're in the you're in the room with this mogul, producer, Agent manager, what do you do in a pitch meeting? What are some pieces, some tips that you can give a writer to be in a pitch meeting?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 26:54
First of all, do your homework. So in other words, whoever you're meeting, find out a little bit more about them. You don't have to do a whole bio or something on it. But you know, just see if there's something you know, find out what their what they've done in the past, what helped them to get where they are now. Maybe maybe, you know, a producer might have might have been a creative exec at an agency or you know, at a studio, or maybe someone might have even been reader or story analyst somewhere, usually can find out, you know, you go online, and if you Google that person's name, their stuff bound to come up about what their background is like? Not, you know, plus, you can go to, you know, what is it? Some of the other websites, there's so many of them now, you know, out there, but go to some of those websites and check them out and see what was their background? You could have something in common like that you could have gone to the same college, even though it was 10 years apart when they graduated. Or it could be that, that maybe they have sometimes you find out things like oh, yeah, and so and so is in this club, you know, so maybe it's a literary club, or maybe it's flying airplanes club or whatever. I mean, they have funny things that people will put in there about who who people are and what do they do. And if you know someone else in the industry, who happens to know them a little bit more or have worked with them before, it doesn't hurt to just say Oh, so and so. told me to say hi to you, I told them I kind of immediately they told me to say hi, that goes a long way. For know, who's my someone, so don't be afraid to just talk to your writers group, which is something you know, to whoever it is that you kind of hang out with. And you say, you know, I've got a meeting with Mr. X. And do you know anybody who knows them or whatever. And just to find out if they know a little bit more about it? There's, there's, you have to have a certain amount of sincerity about things so to authenticity, right? Yes. I've been in meetings where people have, you can tell when they're trying too hard. And they're not being well, they're not really kind of sincere

Alex Ferrari 29:17
about what there's, there's I like to call it the stench of desperation. It's like a it's a perfume that, that that you wear. I wore it for many years, where if anybody that came on set that even had a remote amount of power, you would just rush over to the mango. You'd be you'd be like that grip on set with the screenplay in his back pocket like hey, you know when you get a chance to do you mind reading, like it was just this kind of like, energy sucking thing like what can you do for me? What can How can you help me as opposed to the opposite, which was what I discovered later in my career is how can I be of service to you How can I help you and and that's a much more authentic way to become to get a really build a relationship. And then you start working together. But you got to start by offering what you can do as opposed to sucking. Would you agree?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 30:08
I'll agree, very much agree. The other thing too, is, you know, nowadays, a lot of colleges now do have film school as part of their curriculum. And that's, that's one of the things that if you can, even if it's just taking two or three classes, and maybe not doing it, exactly a major in it, but if you can, if you can, that's great. But if you're, you know, if your dad's paying for your college degree, and he wants you to get it in something like Applied Science or

Alex Ferrari 30:40
accounting. Sure,

Kathie Fong Yoneda 30:42
yeah, you could still you could still take a few screenwriting classes, because if you graduated from that particular school, and had taken some of those things, it's very easy to sort of find out a lot about the other people out there, whether they're agents, execs, producers, actors even. And by the way, actors nowadays, they're getting a lot smarter. They're forming their own production company

Alex Ferrari 31:11
as they should, as they as they should they should develop projects themselves. Oh, yeah, absolutely. This whole concept of and I think writers are start are going to start getting to that place. I don't know if they're there yet. But there are some that are doing it, where you as the creator, in today's world, the old studio system, where the there's a gate and there's gatekeepers, if you want to play at the very high end, again, tentpoles, Marvel studio, Disney, these big giant corporations, you got to play that game. But you can still build something outside where those people or those outlets or many other outlets like Netflix, for God's sakes, or Hulu, or these other companies will come looking for you if you build something out. So that's why actors, and I think with writers can team up with production people and team up with actors. That's when it starts getting really interesting, as opposed to always waiting for the gatekeeper to open the gate and give you, you know, crumbs to get in there something like that. It's just a lot of people trying to get in. And that's what I my personal journey was, I was trying to get into the party for the longest time. I snuck in a couple times. But the bouncers took me out later on. So I always tried to get into that hollywood party till I finally decided to make my own party and started creating my own company and started developing my own projects. And then magically, they start knocking on my door and asking me what I'm doing. And I was like, Oh, so this is how you do it. Okay, I get it. And then that the stench, that desperation stench started to go away?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 32:49
Well, I mean, you're self reliant,

Alex Ferrari 32:51
you have to be

Kathie Fong Yoneda 32:52
like to invest, people are self reliant.

Alex Ferrari 32:56
And that's something they don't teach you in school, they don't under that's like something that one little comment is so powerful, because you're saying, if you are self reliant, if you show that you can do it on your own, if you show that you can build even at a small level, a web series, that you were able to produce a web series that has a good story, decent production value, which in today's world, you could absolutely get for 10s of 1000s of dollars, because I've done it, and I've seen other filmmakers do it. That shows a lot as opposed to one of the 10th How many times did you walk in a room during your career and just saw piles of scripts from the floor to the ceiling, just sitting there that either you had to read or someone else was reading? And you guys were just going through it? And am I exaggerating? Or is it I've seen the pictures?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 33:43
Its course nowadays it's it's digital, you know, they get online, which is just as bad because I actually think, and I've actually talked to a lot of people who are in the industry and they say they actually kind of prefer having something you can put in your hand. Yeah. Oh, instead of reading it off the computer, which you know, after about two hours of that it kind of gets them gets weary on the eyes and sometimes you kind of forget everything. But you know so much of this industry is I understand it's about who you know, but it's also who you can be and who you are. You've got to have some I mean I always tell this funny story you know the guy who was who's on that television show which always which is escaping my mind right now but Randall the one that the one that does the thing about the Asians brand Oh,

Alex Ferrari 34:42
I'm Fresh Off the Boat.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 34:45
Yeah, Fresh Off the Boat. Yeah, okay, cuz it's been off the air now for what two seasons but yeah, what he did. You probably have heard the story too, is that he was actually with a bunch of others friends. They wanted to kind of, you know, get into the industry as writers, directors and actors in office. So they started a web series. And you probably already know

Alex Ferrari 35:12
this story will ever be, but a lot of people don't know. So please go ahead.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 35:17
So, IKEA is this Swedish company that has furniture, and they've got all those different floors of furniture and everything in it. And Randall and his friends wanted to do a little short film, which back in those days, it would just call a short film what isn't called a web series, but that's what it was, it ended up being that they would have to shoot certain scenes here, there. But they would usually webseries usually only have one or two scenes in them anyway, for each episode, because it's hard to find scenery that you can actually use. So if they didn't, they all were kind of like a couple of them, in fact, I think were roommates. And so they were sharing a single apartment. And so they didn't have much to work with. So they lived in Burbank, some of them lived in Burbank, and they went over to the IKEA and started filming some things at the IKEA store. First it would be in the kitchen, then it would be in the living room area. Area. And finally, the Night Manager actually the one who the one who was there from about three o'clock in the afternoon until close to 10 kind of noticed all of this thing, what's going on, they are just taking pictures of the furniture, these guys are actually getting to know taking movies. So we asked them what they were doing. And they explained, look, we're really sorry about this. It's just that we, you know, he explained, we're trying to do a series so we can show people and he says, you're going to do a TV series here. And he goes, Well, no, we're putting it on the internet. And the guy was actually kind of intrigued, interested. He just thought, oh, oh, okay, that's well, he says, you know, well, actually, you know what the best time to come there after 730 because most people's gone home, they either passed by year on the way to work or during lunch, but after about 730 or so it thins out so come on over. He actually let them do it. Now he he's no longer working there. So don't think you could still do this because I don't want people I don't want the IKEA manager to calling me and saying what the heck did you What did you What did you tell people

Alex Ferrari 37:22
this there's there's there's filmmakers everywhere trying to shoot now and I can't Well, not right now anyway because of COVID. But when it does come back out?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 37:30
Well, Brenda Randall was an unknown at the time. And Randy

Alex Ferrari 37:34
Randall Park Fifth Amendment, Randall park the actor Yeah, right. Yeah. And he's gone on to be big. He's huge.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 37:42
And it's one of those stories. And it's the same thing. There's that that gal Jane, who the, the Hispanic gal, who in her first series, she she started off doing three web series. And one of the casting people was hooked on web series and noticed her and that's what he did is he called her in. And she you know, she was she's very famous and got her own. She not only had her own television series, but she now then ended up I think she's now producing a film.

Alex Ferrari 38:21
Yeah, you're talking about Gina Rodriguez from Jane The Virgin. Well, funny enough. I actually funny enough, I actually worked on I think her first feature as a, I was I was the post production guy, editor, colorist person on her first film, and she was a supporting cast member. And she was she stole the show. And I was like, wow, this girl's got something. And then like, you know, a year or two later, she's like, Oh, look, she's got her own TV show now. Okay, she's exploded. Okay. That's how it works here in Hollywood. Yeah, oh, she's an Emmy winner. Yeah. Okay, so this is this is how that works. Okay, great. It's, it's funny, you know, being here in LA, is

Kathie Fong Yoneda 39:02
this group of friends saying, you know what, we got to do some to show that we are serious about being in this industry.

Alex Ferrari 39:10
Yeah, and and it's so important. You're absolutely right, it's so important to just kind of go out there and do it. And, you know, like, like the IKEA story. Sometimes you gotta not break the rules, but just you live in the gray area, you live in the gray area a bit and you got to do what you got to do. And as long as you're not doing anything illegal, just go for it and try to make it happen for yourself. But that says a lot more to me as a producer, as a filmmaker, about somebody that they've actually gone on produce something on their own that has some quality to it, then 1000 scripts, you know, you know, in a lot of times, I don't know if you agree with this or not, but a lot of times, it's the best stuff doesn't always get produced. It's not always the the cream rises to the top. I'm sure you've read a ton of scripts that never have been produced, that were Oscar worthy, or should have me worthy series that just didn't get produced for whatever politics, you know, money falling apart all that kind of stuff. It's a lot of times who hustles the hardest, and who gets, who proves it to the right people and the politics involved Is that a fair statement?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 40:20
It's it's not a good statement, but it is a first agree with you.

Alex Ferrari 40:24
It's not a good statement, but it's a fair statement.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 40:28
But it's but you know, what it's sort of like that no matter what industry you go in, you have people that, that know other people, and they get up there right away. And then you have people who who are struggling, and even though they may be very talented, they just haven't, they just haven't found their voice and, and, and their community to be able to help move them ahead. And I think what's great is now with the internet, we're finding a lot more of these people. I do know that that one of those things about the internet is people are very easy to talk to over on online, much more so than if you meet somebody in person for some reason. Maybe it's because they think that people judge you, you know, by how you look or, or what your first appearances or something. But once you start talking to people online, you get a real sense of someone's personality. And I just I have so many of my writers who have told me that they have met the most interesting people who are now people they are working with, on projects, whether it's a director, an actor or whatever, they are actually starting to work together and move ahead on on projects, because they found people that they can work with. And sometimes, you know, back in the olden days, you had to work with whoever was shoved your way, whether that person was someone that had a good personality, or had a good sense of humor, or whatever, something you know, you just had to work with whoever they told you to work with. It's still a little true today. But I find that I see groups of people, especially behind the scenes, people that like to move together to another project.

Alex Ferrari 42:18
Oh, God, yeah, I mean, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, they've been working with the same team for decades. Because once you get people you can work with, you want to stay with them. Because and

Kathie Fong Yoneda 42:29
all those people started off together.

Alex Ferrari 42:32
And it's and the funny thing is, too, one thing that just people don't understand, especially when they're coming in the industry is it is difficult to find people you can work with, like, really connect with really have a second hand with. And when you find these people, you don't want to let them go, you want to want to hold on to them. And if you have the power to do so. Especially like those guys, you can bring them along and build out like I mean, I know I think Ron Howard won't do a movie without his first ad. Like he just waits until he's available. And then he does a movie with him. He just won't do it without one without him. And same thing for DPS and art directors and production designers and all that kind of stuff. It's, it's something that screenwriters need to understand this, well, if you can build that group together. Like you said earlier, if they get a job, and they need to fill another seat or two in that, in that writers room, you're getting the first call, it's about that relationship much more so than Oh, at least I know I can hang with this person. He's talented talent is like that. That's the that's the bare minimum. Like, we understand you're talented, you have to be talented, then there's a lot of talented people. Now the next criteria is, Can I sit in a room with you for 12 hours and not kill you? That's so much more valuable than having a super talented person, I would rather have someone who's a little less talented. And I can actually work with then a super talented person who is impossible to work with.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 43:57
Now I have a very dear friend who who's a writer and has been a writer for a long time. And, and she's told me she said, You know you She said she would she would rather rely on somebody on her writings on a writing staff. Because they, they know so much more about who she is and how she can react at any given time to any different situation. I mean, sometimes you're you're asked, okay, guess what, we're not going to do that that script that you guys put together, we're gonna instead you got to come up with a new one in the next 24 hours. I mean, when you can work with a group of people who are willing to step up to the plate and in and, you know, get things done. That means so much more. It's it's kind of people that really, you know, make her feel that she's got her worth and that she's got their back. You know, if you can do that, it really helps.

Alex Ferrari 44:56
Now, what are some of the common reasons scripts are rejected? In Hollywood, I'm sure there's 1000 reasons, but what are some of the common ones that you're just like, oh, cheese, please Why?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 45:10
Um, it usually has to do with the characters. More of I mean, it's, you know, story too, but you can see, some of the some stories are actually, you know, sort of things that we have seen before. But it's the characters that make it, set it apart a little bit. And I think that's what people you know, sometimes they say, Oh, I wrote this, I wrote this romantic comedy. And I'll ask, well, what's it like, and they'll say, Oh, it's like, you know, I don't know, whatever, you know, any Audrey Hepburn or something like that. And then I'll look at it and oh, my God, it's almost like they're copying scene for scene, except that it's not set in Rome, it's set in someplace else, you've got to be still have that spark of creativity, to set it apart from everything else that we are reading of the average executive, and the average agent probably reads, Oh, I'd say 2030 scripts a week minimum. If they fit, if they finish, all of it

Alex Ferrari 46:13
generally isn't a true list, like you got five, five pages, five to 10 pages tops,

Kathie Fong Yoneda 46:19
you're lucky if you have an agent that actually will read 10 or 20 pages, occasionally, they you know, they will do that. It's just, it's really a hard business. And there is just so much coming in the doors. I've been in this industry for so long. And I just remembered I was talking to somebody who just retired as an agent. And he basically said that, you know, on an average day, at our agency, we would probably get something like 70 scripts. Some of them were well, and a lot of them came from friends of friends. And some of them came from from, you know, clients they already have, or from clients that are looking have that have had an agent that are looking for a new agent. Yeah, that's that's how many every single week and they all have to read it and everything. It's just,

Alex Ferrari 47:09
and the funny thing is that what you just said, though, they're all referred scripts, these aren't cold scripts that just come in from, you know, Joe Blow in the middle of the street somewhere. These are just these are, these are actual things that they have to read, because they're either coming in, they're referred for a friend of a friend or something like that, then add that the 1000s a day, from unknown screenwriters who are trying to break in, if they even could get through the door.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 47:37
Yeah, it's, you know, it's, it's a difficult thing, this industry, you know, but the relationships that if you, especially if he's gone to film school, or at least taken three or four film classes, those relationships are what I think really can help you because you guys have that common sense, you have that common background and fun Foundation, and you guys know each other, you know, whether you can work together or not. And that's just so vitally important. You know, there are a lot of agents out there who told me, you know, when I asked, oh, how'd you get into this and get into this agency? Oh, well, so and so. And I used to, I used to go to USC together or something like that. And so it was sort of like it was it was more like, because there was somebody they already knew. And, or they're doing favors for somebody. That's the other thing. And it's not, it's fine, if you want to do favorites. I mean, I've actually had one writer that that told me that she was a nanny for an Actor for his kids. And he actually gave it to his his agent to read he did read part of any read the first 25 pages or so. And then he, he said, Well, I don't have time to read the whole thing. But I do think it's a good start, you know, I don't mind I'll just give it to my agents. So he did. And that's glad to have her script. Read and they did like it enough that they kept her on for a little while, but she now has kids of her own and she's not in the industry.

Alex Ferrari 49:15
So what you're saying is we should become nannies is that's the way in is the nannies. Is that is that what I'm getting from that stores.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 49:22
For her at least that it worked for that I mean, you know, she she actually realized after after a while she was on staff on a television show for a while. And it was it was fine. But then she met her has been and, you know, he just said, You know, I have the kind of job that I have to be on call because he's a doctor. And so he said, You know, we're either going to have to hire a nanny or you're going to have to take care of the kids or whatever. And she was fine. She was at that point. felt comfortable enough that okay, you know, but she is now starting now that her kids are older. She's now thinking about getting back into the business of writing. But then COVID hits so

Alex Ferrari 50:07
slow that that slows down things a little bit. Now I wanted to ask you, because this is a myth that is talked about so often is that and a lot of newbie screenwriters think this, all I need as an agent, all I need is an agent or a manager, and all my dreams are gonna come true, they're going to put me out onto the street. And I'm going to get million dollar offers and things like that. Can you please debunk the whole All I need is an agent thing. And when a writer actually needs an agent, can you answer that for us?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 50:42
There are about 10, or 20, really good screenwriting competitions, where they actually have agents or studio execs or production executives, who are the judges of the finals. And sometimes I've seen that whoever sometimes the person who wins the competition doesn't end up with the agent, it's somebody who was like, maybe in third place, gets the agent. But there, there are at least 10 to 20 really, really good screenwriting competitions out there, that I think people should think about. I think that's one way to kind of also get started. I it really, in fact, I would say, I know that the one that I really liked a lot is the final draft, one, their final draft has their competition. And of course, you know, most people are using Final Draft so that that's a good thing. Because what I like is the people who are the finalists, and they do it for television, and they do it for features, which is nice. They not only get to have a trip to visit as an agency or to visit, you know, introduced to some agents, they also have an opportunity to meet a lot of people in the industry, because they have a big party, where they they're giving out awards and everything for the final draft awards. And I was surprised it's held on the Paramount lot, and I've gone a couple of times. And there were actually actors and production to people, producers, from who work on the lot, who go over there, and there's a big cocktail hour and they you can meet these people. I mean, that to me is you know, it's almost like if you get in, and you're one of the 20 people or so that that become you know, viable for all those awards. They actually you can meet all those people and they will, they're very little talk to you. They're there, their apparel mountain and it's promoted there where Oh, here's so and so you got to meet this person. They have people who are actually moving around their their their creative execs who were helping to get those riders at the competition to meet all of these different people and I have seen I've heard about all these people getting actual agents, or actually getting their script to a production company for a TV show. So things like that can happen. So the competitions are a good way of getting started.

Alex Ferrari 53:19
Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What are three screenplays every screenwriter should read

Kathie Fong Yoneda 53:38
my absolute absolute favorite screenplay ever where I read it? And I didn't want to change one word on it. So Day Afternoon,

Alex Ferrari 53:50
yes. Amazing script. It's amazing script.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 53:55
Yeah. Most designs, unfortunately, most of them are dramas.

Alex Ferrari 54:04
It's okay. It doesn't matter like

Kathie Fong Yoneda 54:06
well, another one to that that I absolutely love is network. Yeah, that's

Alex Ferrari 54:11
that's an answer on the show many times.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 54:15
Yeah, no, no, what just it's it really. I think what it is it's because what that guy says screaming is how we've we've all of us have felt like that at some point. We

Alex Ferrari 54:28
I hate to tell you we all feel like that right now. We're going through some stuff right now. It's it's amazing how how accurate that is even to

Kathie Fong Yoneda 54:44
see um, Musical comedies.

Alex Ferrari 55:00
Sure, sure, go ahead.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 55:02
I love I love musicals, too. So I love Grease.

Alex Ferrari 55:09
Grease is fantastic. Even though there are there's their teen hit their high school students who who are 35 years old. Other than that, other than the 35 I mean, literally Stockard Channing is I think 32 in Greece's. So it's, it's pretty, it's, but it's a, it's an amazing film. It's an amazing film. Now, what advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into business today? Well, I

Kathie Fong Yoneda 55:42
think it's important if you can to try and figure out who do I know somebody from college? Or who's in the same neighborhood or something that you live in? Are they writers, you know, where can you find another writer. And if you, you know, you can actually even go online, there's a lot, that's what's nice about the internet, there are so many now online writing groups. In fact, I think in another week or two, I'm supposed to be doing a little q&a for this writing group. And it's just, you know, if you can get together with other writers, it gives you a sense of community. And I think when you have a sense of community, you will then realize you are not alone. And back in the 80s, and 90s, and a little bit from the beginning of the 2000s. people tended not to want to do that, because they looked at each other as competitors, right? Instead of instead of as, as people that they can share things with. I think it's gotten a lot better, of course, in the last 1015 years. And so I you know, I would strongly suggest that if you can find a group, even if it's an online one, talk with people there, they oftentimes will have people that are in the industry who, you know, are willing to come in, you know, do a one hour talk on on different aspects of writing. No, I think joining. And the other thing, too, is I would also like to let people know that it's not just for people who are writing screenplays, if you have a novel, because if you have noticed, around Academy Award time, most of the movies, especially for dramas, usually came from a book. Correct. So if you, you know, if you have a literary group, that's also something you know, that you might want to get into, especially if you don't start off with that. A lot of the love of the famous writers, that's what they did, they started off with a book and then they suddenly realized, Okay, wait a minute, here, I can turn this and some of the other books I have into movies. And there's a lot I love it nowadays, because with the internet, they have more places now because everything is streaming.

Alex Ferrari 58:11
Yeah, absolutely. And now and where can people find you, your work and your book?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 58:18
Okay. Here's my book, the scripts, thinking, you can go to M WP Calm, calm. And that's my publishers website. And I believe, I think they're still doing it. They were giving a 25% discount if you bought their books through their website. So you know, you want to check that out of it. See

Alex Ferrari 58:46
what anybody looking for your consulting services?

Kathie Fong Yoneda 58:50
Well, I do consulting, I also I also do some workshops overseas, and I don't know how far your audience goes around the world around the world.

Alex Ferrari 59:06

Kathie Fong Yoneda 59:08
Now with a COVID thing, of course, all my everything in this year is the kind of cuckoo but I already have next year lined up I will be in Ischia island of Italy, which is off the coast of Naples.

Alex Ferrari 59:22
Very difficult. tough, tough job. tough job. It's a very tough job. Kathie, very tough.

Kathie Fong Yoneda 59:26
I'll be teaching at a Swedish film school teaching at a school in Estonia, another one in Cologne and another one in Warsaw and another one in Budapest. But also I teach on Roca Bertie, for the recovery retreat, virtual. They have a regular Real Property retreat in France. But there's also a virtual one they have. I will be they usually have it like once a month that I don't know if they're doing it in August or not. But I'm going to be teaching a segment of it in September and just go to birdie retreat calm and click on Roca birdie virtual. It's like a five hour mini retreat. There's four mentors more in different areas. One might be somebody who's a manager, somebody else might be a writer, someone else might be a production person. And someone else might might specialize in books or something. I mean, they have four different people who are the mentors. And it's a limited, I think it's a limited enrollment, I think this may be 30 people on online thing. And there each of us mentors have to give a 20 minute lecture. And then we also have to read a two page synopsis of a fair number of the writers who

Alex Ferrari 1:00:56
I will put, I will put that all in the show, I will put that all in the show notes. Kathy, thank you so much for taking the time out for coming on the show and dropping the knowledge bombs on the tribe today. So I appreciate that so much. Stay safe out there.



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IFH 710: Creating the Cult Classic Sharknado with Thunder Levin

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 1:33
Enjoy today's episode with guest host, Jason Buff.

Jason Buff 1:37
Do you like sharks? Do you like NATO's? Well, my friend, you are in luck today, because today we are talking with thunder Levin, screenwriter of Sharknado and Sharknado. Two, I was wondering if you could talk for just a second about your experience when you first got into Los Angeles and what your expectation was versus what you actually found?

Thunder Levin 2:00
Sure. I got to tell I in late 1986, with my student film in hand, and I was quite prepared to send it to Steven Spielberg and say, Where have you been?

Jason Buff 2:14
We've been waiting for you. Right. That's what usually happens.

Thunder Levin 2:17
And that that did not happen to my great surprise. Although I did get a very nice letter back from his director of development at the time saying we thought it was a very well done student film. And so then I said about the hard slog of trying to make connections. And I guess it took about three or four years of just sort of knocking on doors before I got my first directing job. And then that didn't go very well. I was sort of outmaneuvered politically, I went into it being I guess, very naive and thinking everybody was there to help me realize all this nonsense, and no, everybody was there for for their own causes, or at least especially the producers. And so that did not go very well. And so then it was sort of a case of regrouping, and I started writing more. And it was a long time before, before other things started happening. And I started doing corporate promotional videos for a living, which actually is a fairly good living, if you can make it work. But it wasn't what I wanted to do. And so years went by, and I finally I was in my mid 30s, when I thought, you know, this is ridiculous, we got to make something happen. If nobody's going to hire me to do it, I ought to make my own film, which had always been the plan. It's just, you know, that was a Sunday kind of thing. Someday, if things don't work out, I'll just make my own film, and I'll show them. And then finally, I realize, you know, someday is, was a couple of years ago, I gotta get going, and tried to raise money to make an indie film and did not raise enough. And so that project collapsed. But some of the investors that I'd contacted, you know, who had, who had pledged funds, remembered me a year or so later, when I had another project. And now I seemed like, oh, well, he's done this before, even though we hadn't actually gotten the first film made. So there was there was some recognition factor when I went back to them a year or two later and said, Hey, let's, let's make this film. We can do it for less money than that other one. And, and it's going to be more commercial and all these things. It was just the funding, um, it was it was more of a niche, a niche film, but I don't think that's why it fell apart is a little science fiction film. But I think it fell apart because we were trying to raise close to a million dollars. And I just didn't have the connections to raise that much money. But then the next one we tried to raise money for which was a zombie film was much, much more modestly budgeted. We went in saying we were going to make it for 100 Round, but we would have the option of raising 150. And so we we eventually got to 100 grand. And we said, Okay, we're invoking our option to raise 150. Because we think it'll be a better film that way. And, and we raised 150. So it was much more doable and seemed like it'd be much easier for it to make a profit.

Jason Buff 5:20
So you worked as a producer on, you're talking about mutant vampire zombies from the hood?

Thunder Levin 5:26
And yeah, and so I was one of the I was, I guess, credit was, I'm the executive producer on that. George Saunders was my partner, he was the producer. But I ended up raising about 95% of the money. And so really, it was, it was a nuts and bolts from the beginning to the end, kind of production for me, and I learned a lot doing it. I don't ever want to do it again. I know there are people out there who enjoy putting the deal together and working all that stuff out. That's that's not really the part of the business that intrigues me I like, I like making movies, I like the creative part. I like coming up with a story and figuring out characters and casting and working with crew and cinematographers and sound people and artists, actors, and, you know, seeing it all come to life. Putting together the deal doesn't really doesn't really excite me that way.

Jason Buff 6:22
Can you talk for just a second about how you were able to put together that kind of funding. And I mean, I know it's not the really fun part of filmmaking. But one of the things that I've been trying to focus more on is talking about the non creative aspects and the more business aspects of putting together a film. So can you can you discuss just a little bit about the process of actually putting the film together and raising the funds? And what kind of, you know, things like, did you have to make it an LLC and the legal aspects of it?

Thunder Levin 6:51
Sure. I mean, I guess the first thing for anyone to remember who's going into this is it's a film business, not to film art, not to film craft to business, first and foremost, at least to people who are going to be investing and people are going to be buying films. So you've got to put together a package that makes sense from a business standpoint. So it's not about gee, this is and this be a really cool story, because investors probably aren't going to care about that. Some of them might, but most of them are, most people who are investing money in a project want to make money. So they need to see that, that you have some grasp of the business side of it. So the first thing is to do your research and figure out what movies are selling. What movies are getting made on the low end, and what are selling in the marketplace. And of course, the marketplace is changing in the midst of changing drastically, you know, 10 years ago, 15 years ago, it was all about what can you get on the shelf at Blockbuster? And of course, that's not the case anymore. It's about how do you get attention for a movie that's, that's on VOD, or on iTunes or Amazon or what have you. And the business really is sort of reinventing itself right now. And even the studios are, are scrambling to figure out how all that is going to work and how to make money from it. So it's a it's a weird time to be making an indie film right now. But what we did was to research to put together basically, we put together a business plan. And the things we had to include in that were, how's this film going to make money? What you know, what's the physical process, we're going to form an LLC, a limited liability company, the investors are going to be the limited members. And the producer and I were the general members, which meant that we, the the investors would only have their investment at stake. They couldn't be touched for any losses beyond the money they put in. But they would have no particular say, in running the company. And George and I would run the company. And we our investment would be sweat equity, the effort we put into making the film. And so then we put together this business plan that would that listed movies that we thought were similar to our film, and we did research on okay, what is the low end that these investors can expect to make? So we did some research on similar movies that hadn't done so well, and how much money did they make? How much money did they spend? What's the high end? You know, and of course, at that point, what we were all pointing to as a high end was The Blair Witch Project, been made for like, you know, 60 grand and made $100 million, you know, and of course, you you fill it with caveats, like it's unlikely that the film will will achieve that kind of success and your money is at risk and you could lose everything and you keep saying that over and over again.

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

Thunder Levin 10:09
To protect yourself legally, but at the same time you have to paint a rosy picture or else why would anybody invest in your movie? And what is it about our film, what elements of our film make it likely to succeed? So okay, zombies were hot. So it was a zombie film, we would, we would guarantee that we would get at least one name star in the film, it would be shot in 12 days on $150,000. So the the financial risks are very low compared to the potential rewards, things like that. And basically, we we did some research online, and we talked to other people who had done this before. And there are, you know, business plans out there that you can get a look at. And we synthesized the best elements from a bunch of different business plans that we looked at. And we, we got distribution charts from the Hollywood Reporter, and from one of the Box Office Mojo and a bunch of these other things to show how similar films had performed. We put together a budget, we put together a cast list of the kinds of actors we thought we would be able to get for the money we had, we put together a schedule of how the investors could expect to see things proceed. So okay, once all the money is in, it'll take this long to prepare and cast the film, and this long to shoot it and this long to do post. And from the time it's finished in post until the time it's out on DVD will take about this long. And once it's out on DVD, how long do we expect it to take to recoup its money. And then of course, there was the business side of all the way we structured it was that all funds that came in from sales of the film would go to the investors first. We wouldn't get anything until the investors had recouped 110% of their investment. So that was sort of their protection that we weren't sort of, you know, going to run off with the money or anything. Investors had the rights to, to audit the books, things like that. So we set it up to protect the investors it as much as possible to give them first position. Oh, actually, it was second position after any debts that the film might have incurred?

Jason Buff 12:28
Did you have a distribution model in place at that point?

Thunder Levin 12:30
We did not have a distributor signed, we had a couple of distributors at that point that we had individually worked with before I had experience with before. And so we mentioned them and said that the film will be taken to these distributors and to others. At the time, we felt like we could probably get a better deal on the distribution. And if we didn't pre sign with an investor in retrospect, that was probably a mistake. But we felt that any investor looking at just our script, and our little package with with, you know, filmmakers who were essentially unknown, would not give us a very good deal. But that if we went out and made a really good movie, then we could command a higher price. In retrospect, it probably would have been safer, probably would have been better to take the safer deal and make a deal upfront we we did have a couple of distributors who expressed some interest upfront. And that would have at least guarantee at a certain a certain minimum income.

Jason Buff 13:34
Now, can you talk about what what it feels like as a director to walk onto the set for the first time? I mean, I know you had directed other things, but this was this was probably the biggest thing you would direct it at that point, right?

Thunder Levin 13:46
I'm not sure it was necessarily the biggest. It was the first film where I essentially had creative control. And so that was a big deal for me. And it was certainly the first film that I was solely responsible for from beginning to end. And it was interesting, because in my position, I had been telling people for years and years that I was a great film director, but really had no way to prove it. You know, it was just, you got to take my word for this. I can see it in my head. I know what you know, I know what it's gonna be like, it'll be great. You'll see. And so in a way when things didn't go terribly wrong in the first our shooting, it was it was just sort of a great vindication for me that that shoot actually ended up being probably to this day, the best film set I've ever been on. I spent a lot of time putting the crew together and interviewing people and people were getting paid, you know, crap. I think most people were making 100 bucks a day. But I spent a lot of time interviewing people and making sure we had people who were going to be really excited about doing it. Everybody was essentially moving up a step. or getting their, their, their break, getting into the business at the entry level or, you know, like the cinematographers or people who had not shot features before, but had shot really good shorts, or really good music videos. That was, that was the kind of people we were looking at costume designer had only been an assistant costume designer, things like that. So everybody was looking at this film as a really good opportunity for them, even though they weren't making much money. So we had we had really good spirit on the set, everybody got along really well. There was a great sense of community. And we were all just really working hard to make this thing the best it could be. And so my experience on the set as a director, there's an hour of sheer terror at the beginning of the shoot, where oh, God, do I know what I'm doing is everything going to fall apart have are all the pieces in place versus going to be an utter disaster. And once you get past that, and for me, actually, that that's kind of a daily thing. I mean, I've directed several features now. And every morning, I feel the same way until the first shot is in the cache. And then everything is fine. But that that shoot that it was just a wonderful sense of vindication. It's like finally, I was doing what I was supposed to be, you know, this, this proved not, it was less about proving to other people. And it became a confirmation to me that what I've been saying all these years, was actually right. And that this was what I was meant to do. And that here was a place where I was at home. And I didn't have to kowtow to people who didn't know what the hell they were talking about. And I didn't have to support somebody else's vision. I was doing what I was supposed to do. And it was working. And so that was a that was a very powerful, sort of reaffirmation for me. And then when the shoot went so well, and everybody got along so well. And despite doing it on an utterly insane schedule, everything worked out. It was it was just the most wonderful, wonderful thing. And to this day, I'm very proud of that film. I mean, you know, it's a low budget, zombie horror comedy. And it's, it's silly, and it's, you know, it doesn't look like a million bucks. But I'm really proud of it for for what it was, I think it was a great film. And I will put that up against Shaun of the Dead or zombie land any day. It doesn't it doesn't have it doesn't have quite the production value of zombie land. But I think the characters are just as engaging, if not more. So. I think the story carries you along. Very few people have really seen it. But the comments that we see on on the various internet forums when people actually do watch it, I'd say 95% of them really, really get into it. All the comments, we've had been very positive. So it was a it was a great experience from beginning to end. Except for the fact that it hasn't turned a profit yet.

Jason Buff 18:07
Now as a Spielberg fan, I was it was kind of cool working with see Thomas, how did you ever like talk to him about what it was like working on et or anything like that?

Thunder Levin 18:16
Yeah, yeah, we, we had a few conversations about that he had. Tommy has stories about everything, because he's not only has he been in the business since he was a kid. But his, his father and even his grandfather, I think we're both in the business of stuntman. So he grew up in Hollywood. And, and he has a lot of great stories. And I remember one that he was talking about was that Spielberg had a trailer on the set that was filled with pinball machines and video games. And so So, you know, in between shots, the kids were all in there. And it was basically like their own portable arcade and they just had a blast playing games while the crew was you know, setting up the next shot.

Jason Buff 18:59
Now when you get on a set, who are the people that you're really relying on that you kind of lean on throughout the day?

Thunder Levin 19:06
Right! Well, for me, the main collaborator on a film is the is the cinematographer. To me that's that's the most important working relationship on a film for a director. The other one, of course, is the first the first ad cuz he's the one who really runs the show. A lot of young directors from films coming out of film school or just you know, people who want to want to make movies. They don't realize just the extent to which they are not in charge. The director is especially a good director, if he knows what he's doing. He will allow the first ad to do his job and his job is running the set. And you know, you need to have your vision you need to know what what you're doing and what's coming next.

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

Thunder Levin 20:06
And be able to express that clearly. But the first ad is the one who's really sort of directing the troops. And And if he's good at his job if he or she is good, if the first idea is good at his or her job, it frees up the director to not have to worry about a lot of that stuff. And to focus on working with the cinematographer. And working with the with the actors. And those are the, for me, those are the key relationships, the cinematographer is going to be translating your vision onto the screen. So you have to have a good relationship with your DP. For me the key I've always started working with my DP at the very earliest stage that I can I'd like to have my DP in the room when we're doing storyboards if I'm doing storyboards, in fact, for me, the best situation is if my DP is also an artist, and can do the storyboards himself. So we'll sit in a room and we'll go through the script, and I'll walk out my vision and what I think the shots will be. And I'll describe them to them. And maybe I'll draw stick figures. And then, if the DP can draw, he will do storyboards because I can't draw to save my life. So I'll draw a stick figure of what the shot should be. And then he'll look at her and go, Oh, fuck is that? And I will explain it to him. And he said, Oh, yeah, it'll look like this. And he'll draw it out. Or we'll have a storyboard artist in the room with us, who will draw it out. And then maybe the DP will make a suggestion, well, what if we did it from this slightly different angle, or what if we move the camera here, I like to collaborate with my DP as much as I can. So that, really the way the film looks becomes kind of a shared vision. And that way, when we get on the set, I don't need to explain anything, he knows exactly what it's supposed to look like exactly where the cameras supposed to go exactly where he wants the lights to go. So I don't need to worry about explaining that to him, all we'll need to do is adjust for, you know, those situations where the location, or the set requires that something be changed from what our original plan was, and then we'll figure that out together. And then he can worry about all that. And I can go work with the actors, on their performance and their blocking, and so forth. So for me, the most important relationship is between the director and the DP, then between the director and the ad, that's got to be a working relationship, you're not you're not too concerned about a creative relationship there. But you've got to be able to get along. And he's got to be able to, to understand the way you work. If there's friction between the director and the first ad, things tend not to work very well. And I've experienced both of those where I've had really great relationships with my ad, and not so great relationships. And life is a whole lot better when the director they get along. And then the other kid, the other key relationship on a set. And this was something that maybe surprised me a bit in the early days was the relationship between the director and the star, especially in these low budget films, where you have just one name actor, and that actor has a lot more, a lot more clout on set than then some directors might like, because probably, he's the reason your film got funded. And he's the reason your film is going to get distributed. And he knows that. So having a good relationship with your star, where you're both working towards the same vision is really crucial. Because if you get on if you come in to it with different visions, and he's pushing to get it his way, and you're pushing to get yours, and he has a certain level of control, because you know, you can't physically make him do something, he doesn't want to do that that can become an awkward situation, too. So making sure that you and your star are are on the same wavelength. And that you both see at least his character, the same way can be very helpful. And the star can become a great ally, too. Because on a low budget indie film where you're trying to shoot the film in 10, or 12, or 15, or even 20 days, you really don't have time to do the kind of dramatic work with the actors that you'd like to do. And so your star, if he really understands his role, and you guys are on the same page with it, he can then become a very helpful force for working with the other actors as well. Because what one would expect in an indie film, especially in a B movie, where you tend to be casting someone in the lead, who has probably already had a career and has been doing it for a while, because those are the people who who will sell a low budget movie.

Jason Buff 25:07
Did you ever find yourself maybe over directing or doing things that they didn't really need you to do? Or did you learn?

Thunder Levin 25:13
No, just the opposite or, in fact, is that you can actually do less, because they know what they're doing. And they can also pass along their experience and their their years of wisdom to the less experienced members of the cast, because on a, on a low budget indie film, you're probably going to have a lot of actors who haven't done this as much. And so having a good relationship with your star, he can sort of carry some of that burden for you. And he can, he can talk to some of the actors about what they're doing, and the little, the little techniques of acting that he's picked up in his years of experience that will help them do what you need them to do. You know, and you've, you've got to, you've got to balance that by making sure that everybody in stands that understands that you're in charge, and a good star gets that. And he won't question you publicly, you know, I had a moment, a moment on one of my films, where, you know, now I don't even remember what it was, but it was it was a case of the star sort of questioned something, you know, and I took him aside, and he was a guy who, who, you know, made dozens of films and and had a very successful TV series. And I had to take him aside and say, Look, you know, we can, we can talk about this as much as you want. If you don't like what I'm doing, we can we can work it out together. But you can't question me in front of the rest of the cast and crew. And here's like, you're absolutely right, I apologize for that. And then you were showing me and we had a very good. And here he was, we were literally out in the middle of the jungle, and we did not have a stunt coordinator on that film. And so Adrian Paul kind of took over that role for us. And he would help the other actors with with the physical stuff that they needed to do, thanks to all his experience, you know, on Highlander, mainly, because, you know, he spent several years doing endless fight scenes and stuff. So he was, he was really good at that. And he was able to help the other actors in ways that I probably would not have been able to. And even if I had been able to, I certainly wouldn't have had the time because there's so many things. I've often said that directing a feature film is probably the most all encompassing intense experience that a human being can have short of going to war, there's so many things that you have to keep in your head, so many things going on at any one moment aren't doing what I needed. And I would have had to go back and talk to them. And there would would have cost more time. But actually, my star was was talking to him and was bringing them along. And especially if you're working with if you're doing an action movie, as most of mine have been, and your star is someone who's done a lot of action work before, then he can also be very helpful with the physical stuff. Both see Thomas how on mute and vampire zombies. And also Adrian Paul, who was my star in a Ye, you know, they both had a lot of action experience. And so they would they would help the other actors. Okay, here's how you, here's how you might want to run through the scene. Yeah, we're running through the jungle. Well, how are we going to make sure we don't trip and fall over this, you know, Vine here, there's a lot going on. And it's a funny thing to think about how much time it takes to simply be able to run through a patch of jungle, this is something you don't think about when you're watching an action film. But simply being able to run through the jungle for 100 feet without tripping on something is, it's harder than you might think. And so having somebody with a certain level of experience at that kind of thing, how do I slide down this hillside without falling over and breaking my ankle? That neck can be very helpful, especially when you don't have a huge stunt team. You know, working with everybody on on one of these films, you're you're lucky if you have a stunt coordinator at all, much less a whole stunt team to work with each of your 10 different actors in a scene that are you are responsible for that it can really get overwhelming and you tend to develop tunnel vision to to a certain extent. And I know it happens for me that I am totally focused on the moment we're putting in front of the camera. And if somebody asked me about another moment in the film, I'm like what? Ah, there's there's another moment.

Alex Ferrari 29:55
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Thunder Levin 30:04
And I'll have to, like make a physical conscious effort to to change my focus and think about this other thing that needs to be addressed. Yeah. So on a, we were out in the middle of the jungle in Costa Rica, there's very little film infrastructure that I want there is is based in the capital of San Jose. So the people there San Jose, it's just a city like LA, people there have no more experience working in the jungle than anybody here would. So even our quote unquote local crew was still out of their element. So yeah, Adrian was very, very helpful on that production. And it was it was great working with it.

Jason Buff 30:45
Now, why was the decision made to shoot in Costa Rica? Is that just because the screenplay or was there some sort of financial incentive for for shooting there?

Thunder Levin 30:54
That was actually a weird, a weird situation. That decision was made by the partners at the asylum. And that was an asylum film. And they had shot several films in Belize, which, honestly, is where I expected to shoot the film. But they wanted a different look, because most of their jungle films have been shot in Belize. And so they, they started looking around at different places where we could shoot a jungle film. And we were talking about the Dominican Republic to and we were talking about Puerto Rico. And I was kind of interested in Puerto Rico. Because I had another project and indie project that I'd been developing that I thought we would probably shoot in Puerto Rico, because it needed both jungle and a Spanish colonial city. And so you got both of those in Puerto Rico, plus, they speak English. Plus, it's close to us. Now, there are no import restrictions or anything, because it's part of the US. And it's so close by plan that you could fly equipment and stuff. So Puerto Rico was interesting to me. But it made decided that Puerto Rico was probably going to be too expensive. And I think there were union issues there, too. So they were looking at Dominican Republic, and then Panama got into the mix. And then finally, the decision to shoot in Costa Rica, oddly enough, was made for two reasons. One, was that one of the partners at the asylum, his father, I think, owns a house in Costa Rica. And so somehow that made it better. I guess they just had a connection there. And then they got in touch with a local production company in Costa Rica, who kind of sold them on shooting there. And as it turns out, it might have been a mistake, because it turns out that Costa Rica is not an inexpensive place. And we were there during Prime tourist season. And there was no local crew in the jungle. So even the local the quote, unquote, local crew, we were hiring all had to be transported from San Jose, they all had to be put up in hotels, you know, normally think, well, we're going to hire a local crew, they'll just be living at home, and they'll come to the set every day. But it wasn't like that. So so the expensive shooting in Costa Rica, and everything's very expensive there. It's not, it's not this third world country where you can hire labor for 10 cents an hour or something. What little film production there is there was mostly TV commercials, and an actual Costa Rican television programs. So they were all used to work in sort of a normal day in a studio setting and getting paid decent rates. And we were coming in with this, this crazy low budget film that was going to be shot out in the middle of the jungle, and we wanted people to work for what to them was very little. And so it was it. Costa Rica actually was a wonderful place. But from a production standpoint, it actually kind of worked against us. And it ended up costing a lot more than anybody expected. But it was beautiful.

Jason Buff 34:03
When you're shooting in the jungle, how do you scout out locations? Do you just kind of say, Okay, well, here's a river. And we can shoot it like this. I mean, is there are you shooting it kind of in the same area? Or do you? Do you have like a location manager there that it's dealing with that sort of thing?

Thunder Levin 34:19
Yeah. It's funny. We didn't have an actual location scout, we hired a tour guide, who basically took people just tourists on tours. And we hired him to show us all these places, you know, and so during pre production, he took us around, we needed a waterfall. We needed a river. We needed a dense jungle. We needed an open clearing. So he took us around to a bunch of waterfalls and rivers and things like that, that he knew about. But yeah, we all we had to get it all in one basic area because we couldn't afford time wise or money wise to be traveling all around the country. And we were fortunate we found this A, I guess was a plantation I guess it was a sure it was a coconut plantation, I forget what they were growing there. But it was there was this plantation where part of it was cultivated. And then part of it was just wild jungle. And they happen to have a cave, which we needed, and there was a river on their property. And so we talked to the owners of this, this land. And we were able to end up shooting about 80% of the film on this one plot of land, where we had most of the things we needed. And then that really saved us because before we found that we were going to be moving around constantly. And that would have just cost way too much time getting to new locations each day and setting up all over again. And you know, the producers kept saying, Well, it's a jungle country, just pull over to the side of the road and shoot. And it's like, no, you can't do that. For one thing. At the side of the road, the jungle was so dense that you literally couldn't get into it, you would have had to hack your way in with a machete, you know, you want you want the actors to appear to be running through dense jungle, but it's virtually impossible to get your equipment in and shoot that way. So you need a place with paths and roads, and, and dirt trails and stuff where you can get to places that look like they're in the middle of the jungle, but are actually easily accessible. You know, we're where are 50 people going to sit down and have lunch on their break? And how are you going to run electricity in? And where are you going to lay dolly track and all this stuff. So shooting in dense jungle is pretty tricky. But we were lucky in that we found a lot of beautiful locations very close to each other. But the days where we had to move and go to a different location, like we did for the waterfall. It was it was pretty hairy. And finding all these things because they were they were widely spaced was was tricky too. But it all worked out. Was your

Jason Buff 36:57
DP working with like, big 5k lights and things like that outside? Or did you try to use mostly natural light when you could?

Thunder Levin 37:04
No, it was mostly it was mostly natural light. In fact, one of the interesting things was we have this scene inside the cave that was supposed to be lit by glow stick. Now these chemical light sticks. And at a certain point, we decided to just light it with glow sticks. And we bought the brightest glow sticks you could find and we wrapped a bunch of them together. And we actually shot one scene where they're walking through this dark cave lit entirely by glow sticks with people holding them near their face and stuff. So that was kind of cool. You know, I know we had we had a very minimal lighting kit. And we were really only using it. I mean, you know he'd set up a backlight occasionally. But we were in the jet. And when we were outside in the jungle, we were mostly using available lighting. Because it was a matter of Well, where are you going to run power from? Can we get a generator into this place we were there were there were days were you know, the only way to reach where we were shooting was in a four wheel drive pickup truck, there was no way to get a grip truck there. So transporting a lot of equipment just wouldn't have been practical. So a lot of that film, the vast majority of that film was shot with available light and reflectors. And every once in a while we'd set up a couple of couple of lights here and there. And then inside the cave, where we needed actual light. That was that was one day where we we brought in a generator, and we had to do a real lighting setup. And then there was some stuff that we actually shot in the city. You know, there were there were sets and, and buildings and so forth. And those we had lighting, but that, you know, we weren't in the jungle there. And we were in a controllable situation.

Jason Buff 38:48
Now, can you talk for a second about how you developed a relationship with the asylum and how you first met David lat. And those guys,

Thunder Levin 38:56
That was a very slow process, and it wasn't intentional. I met David lap before the asylum existed basically, I had had a day job that I won't even mention what I was doing. So embarrassing. But while I was there, I made friends with this woman who was a talent manager. And she knew David, I don't really know how she knew David. But she knew David lat they were friends. And so eventually she introduced me to him and we started talking. And nothing came of that this is actually I think one of the most important lessons for somebody coming out to Hollywood to try and get into the business is to just meet as many people as you can, because you never know what's going to turn into a great connection. So I met David lat and and I just knew him he was just somebody I knew and we would talk every once in a while when we were visiting with our mutual friend. I didn't really time with him on my own per se i mean i My girlfriend and I were invited to his wedding

Alex Ferrari 40:00
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Thunder Levin 40:10
You know, and on, audit off over the years we'd be in contact. Maybe we'd go to parties, the same party as occasionally because we had mutual friends. I ended up the friend who introduced us ran a coed softball team, and David's wife played on the team. And I played on the team. So so we were just in contact, on and off for years. And and when the asylum started, I think it was called something else. They were actually doing arthouse films, you know, and I talked to him on occasion about trying to get something going. And and it never really amounted to much. And I guess I was just, oh, that that friend of Donna's, who wants to be a director. Right. And so I don't think he really took me terribly seriously. But then once I made the zombie film, and I could actually show him something, I could say, Here, look at this, I can do what I've been saying I could do. And he looked at it. And there was a movie proving that I could do what I said I could do. And he couldn't sort of ignore that anymore. And by then the asylum had sort of become this low budget film factory where they were churning movies out in large numbers, and they had plans to expand and make even more films. And they had just hired a new director of development to guide that process. When I made the zombie film, and he said, Okay, it's pretty good, I will put you in touch with my director of development. And, you know, when he puts out a call to writers for script ideas, you'll be on the list. And so we went through a few different scenarios where I got an email from the Director of Development saying, hey, we need to, we need some ideas based on this, this concept, you know, and there were a few where I pitched ideas, and nothing ever came of that. And then finally, there was they were going to do a knock off of Fast and Furious Five, I guess. And I was into cars, and street racing, and so forth. And so I pitched them my idea, and they went with it. And it just sort of we develop the relationship from there. And I wrote that first script for them. I wrote that in, in 10 days, because we spent a while talking about the story. And by the time they finally approved what the story was going to be, they called me into the office as they said, Okay, we want you to write this for us. But we need the script in in 12 days. And I was like, I've never written a script in less than two months before. But okay. And what's worse is that it was right before Christmas, for some reason, I always seem to be writing scripts for the asylum right before Christmas. And I had a Christmas party planned. And so I lost a day and a half, two days, chopping and getting ready for this party. So I really had to write that script for 200 miles per hour, in in 10 days. But I did it. And I got it to them. And it was what they needed. And that led to another and another, and eventually to this sort of insane moment where they said, Okay, we want you to write a movie called Sharknado.

Jason Buff 43:29
What's your process? When you begin writing? Do you try to outline everything before you ever start writing? Or do you? I mean, what do you do before you actually start working on the screenplay?

Thunder Levin 43:40
It depends on the situation. Because if I'm writing on assignment for somebody, then I'm going to be having to fulfill their needs. The Asylum has a very specific process, they start with a one sentence logline that they will provide usually, and they'll ask for a one variety of one paragraph pitches that would fulfill this, this concept. And then they'll pick one of those one paragraphs, and I'll say, Okay, now write a one page story with a clear eight act structure. So write a one page story, and then they'll give you notes on that. And once they're happy with the way the one page goes, they'll say, Okay, now write us a three page outline with more detail and break it up into the the 8x. For for TV movie, because most of their stuff, you know, they're hoping they can sell it to sci fi or whatever. So it needs the TV movie structure of 8x. And so then you do this three page outline for them, and then when there'll be notes on that, and then they'll finally approve that, and then you go to script. So that's the way I have to work for that. When I'm doing a spec project. I prefer not to do that. What I generally do On a spec project, is I'll have a basic idea of what the story is going to be. So I'll probably have that one paragraph idea. And then I'll go to, to an outline format, where what I do is I make up a sheet with lines labeled one through 90. And each one of those lines should correspond to a scene on the general assumption that it'll be about one scene per page. So I've got 9090 scenes. And usually, the opening of the film will just be in my head. Because that's the the impetus for the story. And so I'll fill out, you know, the first 12345 10 lines with a one sentence description of what is that scene. And then usually, if you know what your story is, you know what your beginning is, you probably have an idea how you want it to end. So I'll go in and I'll plug in, okay, what's the climax of the film? And that'll be like number 8586 87. And then, okay, what's the turnaround in the middle, and so somewhere in the middle, and this will be less precise where it goes, I'll say, Okay, now this happens, you know, and maybe there'll be a couple of intermediary moments. And so I'll have this one sheet of 90 lines, where there's a bunch filled out at the top, and then a few interspersed in the middle, okay, I know this kind of thing has to happen somewhere in here. And then there'll be more detail towards the end. And on a spec script, I'll just start writing the script then. And usually, as I start writing, more ideas will come to me to fill in those blank lines in the middle. So probably by the time I've finished the script, I've also finished the outline. And I'll be able to move things around. I don't do the index cards, like, like a lot of film schools teach you and I know a lot of writers do.

Jason Buff 46:56
You just let the structure come out.

Thunder Levin 46:58
I liked it. I liked this outline. Because I want the structure in front of me, I want to physically see it all in sort of one gaze one glance. So it's having it fit on one sheet of paper, or sometimes two sheets of paper taped together. I like to be able to see the structure of the film in front of me.

Jason Buff 47:18
Do you have any basis? Did you just kind of feel out the structure? Or do you have like beats that you'd like to hit by specific point? I mean, I hate to say something like save the cat or whatever. But you know, anything like that, that you ever use? If you're in a bind, and you can't really figure out what's going to go somewhere? No,

Thunder Levin 47:37
I've never read says the cat I've never read truly, I've never read any of these screenwriting guys. In fact, it's funny because I've been talking to a film school about possibly teaching a class for them. And I want to teach a directing class, but because of Sharknado, of course, it's to their advantage to have me teach a screenwriting class and, and I keep telling him, I don't know anything about spring, I just sort of do this instinctively. So no, I don't, I don't really do that. I just get an idea. And then I'll get an idea of who the characters are, at least who the main characters are. And then I just sort of watch what they do. And I write it down.

Jason Buff 48:18
Any tricks for characters are like, how do you keep characters consistent and really develop your characters?

Thunder Levin 48:24
I really don't know how to articulate how I do that. It's just, I mean, I just put myself maybe I'll put myself in the head of the lead character, and try and put myself in that place and say, Okay, what would I do if I were this person in this situation? And then for the bad guy, I'll think, Okay, what wouldn't I do? I don't know, I really have never analyzed that. It's, it's a much more organic process for me. I mean, I could tell you how I direct a film. But how I actually write one of these scripts. It's it's just sort of a thing that happens, you know, and there are certain rules. I mean, obviously, you know that you have to establish all your characters and the the impetus for the story all has to happen within the first 20 pages and preferably within the first 10 There needs to be some action in the opening. At some point in those first 20 pages, the hero makes a decision that propels you into the story, or propels the hero into the story. The dilemma has to be presented to the hero and then he has to make a decision as to what to do and that changes his world somewhere in the middle. There has to be a turnaround where suddenly things aren't going to go the way the hero had hoped they were going to go and then as you get towards the three quarter point in the story, you know that there generally needs to be an all is lost moment where it looks like everybody's gonna die.

Alex Ferrari 50:00
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Thunder Levin 50:09
And then that propels you into your action finale where the hero does something and saves the day. That's about as close to a formal structure as I really get. And, and then it's just a matter of what happens. And now again, when I'm writing for the asylum, and they have this very strict eight act structure, that's a bit different, because I know that each act is going to be about 12 minutes long, the first act will be a bit longer, and the last act will be a bit shorter. And in each of those acts, there has to be an action beat. So that needs to be fulfilled in the outline stage.

Jason Buff 50:48
So you're writing for commercials? Or is it like, is that the breakup?

Thunder Levin 50:53
Well, they don't want you to write for hard commercial breaks. Although on on Sharknado, two, I started doing that. Because sci fi, when they air, these movies will often put the brakes someplace other than where you thought they were gonna go. But they still want it structured so that every 12 minutes, there's a there's an action beat, and sort of a mini climax. And then each one would get progressively bigger until you reach the app. So you do, especially for the ones that they know are going to sci fi, you do have to delineate your acts. And they all need to be about the right length, you know, so maybe one act could be a bit shorter, maybe you could have a 10 minute act. If you have somewhere else and act that's 14 or 15 minutes, but that's about as structured as I get.

Jason Buff 51:44
Now, when you wrote Apocalypse Earth. Did you read that? Right that at about the same time as Sharknado?

Thunder Levin 51:49
Yes. And it should, it should be noted that it was not called Apocalypse earth when I wrote it, it was just called a ye. And there were a variety of things that he was going to stand for. And basically, when people asked me what did it stand for, I said, almost everything. Apocalypse Earth was actually a tag that was added on during post production by the assailant. And at first they were going to call it alpha Earth. And I was like, No, we can't call it alpha her if that gives away the twist at the end. So apocalypse, or at somehow I thought, well, there's this big Apocalypse In the opening scene. So if we call it Apocalypse Earth, and people see that maybe they won't be looking for the twist later on. But yes, I was. Let's see, how did that how did that go? They came to me, I was talking. It was after American warships. And we were talking about what my next project for them was going to be. And we were talking about a giant monster movie that they wanted. And so at first, I agreed to do this giant monster movie. Now, that's not how it worked. We were talking about what we were going to do. And we were still tossing around ideas. And they came to me and they said, We want you to write a movie called Shark storm. And that just didn't sound very appealing. It seemed like Shark storm. Okay, well, there, there have been a lot of movies about sharks and storms. And just like what why would we need this? It didn't appeal. So I said no. And we kept talking about, about other projects. And, and we started talking about this giant monster movie that they wanted to do, which I guess was gonna be a mock Buster of Pacific Rim. And so I started working on that, and sort of a vague concept form. And then they came back to me. And they said, Okay, what we really want you to do is Sharknado. And I said, what the sharks have to do with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization? And they said, no, no, no, not Sharknado Sharknado tornado full of sharks. And I said, That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

Jason Buff 53:58
And that makes a lot more sense.

Thunder Levin 54:00
And if I can write it that way, then sure, I'd love to do that. Because the asylum tends to play all their movies completely straight. They don't like they don't like to stray into into farce or comedy, unless it's a comedy, which personally I have always taken issue with, because I think if you're going to make a low budget movie, and you know, it's going to be low budget, and it's going to look kind of cheap, then it's better to get the audience laughing with you than achoo. That was certainly the approach I took with mutant vampire zombies from the hood. And so when they said Sharknado, I was a little concerned that they would want to play it completely straight. And I just didn't see how you could take a movie called Sharknado and play it completely straight. And they said now we understand it's called Sharknado. And there's going to be a certain tongue in cheek element to it. And so with that comforting thought, I agreed to do it and originally I was supposed to direct it So I guess this was, this would have been the summer of 2012. And so the outlining process went pretty smoothly. And then the script writing, the first draft went very smoothly. And it was done in in a relatively quick period of time. And there weren't a lot of notes. And it was just done. And I was going to direct it, except that I felt a little burned on American warships, because I thought I, what we had done on set was really was really a good movie. And then I thought, the visual effects, which we'd really been depending on, kind of let us down. And if I'd known their process a bit better. That was that was the first film I directed for the assignment, I've had really sort of known a bit better, what we were going to be dealing with, maybe I wouldn't have left the film, so dependent on the visual effects. And so I was looking at the script I'd written for Sharknado. And thinking, there's just no way, there's just no way that this can be done on the kind of budget they're talking about, at least I don't see how to do it, I could do it for 20 million, maybe I could do it for 10 million. It's really $100 million film. And, and so I I sort of shied away from directing it because I didn't want to be in that position again. Because even though the script had this tongue in cheek element to it, I still, I didn't want to be unintentionally bad, you know, the stuff that was going to be cheesy, had to be where I intended it to be cheesy, I didn't want to be in a position where I just didn't have what I needed to make it the way I wanted it to look. And at the same time, I had been getting utterly enthralled with Game of Thrones. And I had this this sort of craving to create a whole world. And I've always been a science fiction guy. So I went into the director of development. And I said, Look, you know, we've got this Sharknado, and I'm supposed to direct it. But truth is, what I really want to do is make a movie where I can create a whole world and have a society in it, and just sort of build something from the ground up, call alternate reality. And he said, Well, we've got this project, that it's the one sentence description, is a group of refugees from Earth have to survive on a hostile alien planet? And that just sounded perfect to me. But I said, Yes, I'll do that. And so I started writing that, and that would have been, I guess, September of 2012. And so I wrote a UI. And as that writing process was going along, they scheduled the shoots of a UI, and Sharknado for exactly the same time, they were both going to shoot in January. And so I was forced to choose. And at that point, I decided to do a EA and I wanted to do this science fiction film in the jungle. And so I said, you know, I, I respectfully withdraw from Sharknado. I hope somebody else makes it work. And I'm gonna go off to Costa Rica, and shoot my science fiction movie. And in retrospect, I don't know if that was the stupidest thing I've ever done or not. You know, because if if I had written and directed Sharknado, then I would be the one getting all the attention for it. And maybe I'd be hailed as this, this great genius. Whereas now Anthony and I are splitting the attention for, but at the same time, you know, you wonder maybe things went the way they were supposed to go. And maybe it wouldn't have worked if I directed it. Who knows if if something Anthony did you know and dealing with not having the resources he needed to properly create this, this insane situation that I had written? You know, that it could well be that that is what endeared it to people. So maybe things worked out for the best, and I'm getting the attention from Sharknado. But I also have this serious science fiction film that I can point to and say, See, I can do that too.

Jason Buff 59:30
Now when you saw Sharknado, was it pretty much kind of how you would envision it or is it very different from your your idea?

Thunder Levin 59:37
Well, Anthony didn't want me to see it until it was done. It was funny because we met for the first time in the editing room. We were sharing an editing suite. I was cutting a at the same time he was cutting Sharknado and I was in there working with my editor and this guy walks in and he walks up to me and he says I want to punch you

Alex Ferrari 1:00:01
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Thunder Levin 1:00:10
And I didn't know who he was. And I said, Oh, okay, why? And he said, I directed Sharknado. I said, Oh, well, then you are very right.

Jason Buff 1:00:21
That makes sense.

Thunder Levin 1:00:24
So that was the beginning of what has become a great friendship. But he didn't want me to see it until it was done. So I didn't actually see. I mean, while we were editing, you know, I would look over my shoulder because we were sharing this editing suite. And so I would occasionally look over my shoulder to see what had become of my words. And some of it looked right. And some of it was like, What the hell is that? You know, because there was there was a car chase, and I didn't write a car chase. What was that about? You know, and obviously, they didn't have the wherewithal for it to be raining constantly in every shot, and for Los Angeles to be filling up with water, which was this giant disaster that I'd written. So when I finally saw it, I saw it with the public along with everybody else, I was just at home watching it on TV,

Jason Buff 1:01:12
There wasn't a premiere or anything at the at the asylum or anything was done.

Thunder Levin 1:01:16
There wasn't what what happens out here is we get the East Coast sci fi feed. And then there's the RE airing for the West Coast. So the plan was that people were just going to watch the East Coast feed, you know, wherever they were, then we were all going to get together to watch the West Coast feed at a party. But then the, you know, during the initial broadcast, this whole thing started happening on Twitter. And it just sort of became insane. And so I was on the computer and I was corresponding with people and tweeting, and getting phone calls for people saying, Can you believe what's happening and all this stuff. And so then I had to run out at the last minute to go to the party for the second airing. And I got, I guess it was going to start at nine o'clock here. And I got in the car and I got on the freeway. And for some reason, I guess there'd been an accident or something. But the flu was at a dead standstill. And after about 20 minutes of this and realizing I'd already missed the beginning. I just gave up and went home and got back on Twitter and get back on Facebook and email where the world was still blowing up. And very strange things were happening. And I was corresponding with Damon Lindelof. And I was starting to get requests for interviews, and it was just sort of the most surreal night I can imagine. But yeah, for the so for the first 20 to 30 minutes of Sharknado. I was sitting there going, what? That's not. That's not what I know, wait, what, but after that, after about the first 30 minutes, it settles down to be basically the way I wrote it. I mean, it doesn't look like what I saw in my head because I still had this huge disaster movie, Los Angeles is filling up with water kind of thing. You know, as the background I, to me, it was a it was a two layer thing, there was this realistic disaster movie going on, where Los Angeles is flooding. And then on top of that there was this ridiculous element of sharks falling from the sky. And so obviously, the realism of the of the disaster scenario was not achievable on the budget they had. And so I can't say that it looked the way I saw it in my head when I wrote it. Except for certain moments where we're really did. But on the whole, you know, I was, I was a little frustrated that they couldn't really achieve that kind of level of destruction and disaster. But still that they kept to my script from from about the 20 or 30 minute going on. And I was no longer going. Wait, I didn't write that. Anthony changed a fair amount in the in the opening.

Jason Buff 1:04:13
Do you think they carried off the tone that you had the kind of comic tone but not like the actors took it seriously, but they were within a world that was kind of, you know, chaotic, or, or absurd, in a way? Yeah,

Thunder Levin 1:04:26
I mean that the tone was what what I intended. The production value was where I wasn't what I had envisioned. But one of the reasons that I ended up not directing it was because I knew there was no way to achieve what I had in my head. So I think it all worked out for the best.

Jason Buff 1:04:43
Now you guys went back and making Sharknado two was the process completely different now that you had had all this success with the first one?

Thunder Levin 1:04:52
Yes. It was. It was interesting because the first One, nobody paid any attention. To me, the outlining story outlining process, you know, there were there were a few notes. And then it was like, Okay, go ahead and write. And then the first draft of the script, the asylum had a few notes, which I addressed, then sci fi had a few notes. And then it was done. And you know, nobody thought anything of it, it was just this ridiculous little moving. By the second one, of course, it'd become this phenomena. And so everybody had their eyes on it. And every little thing that I did, was being examined by, you know, half a dozen different people who all had to have input on it. So it was, it was a much more political process, getting the second script done. And of course, there was a lot more riding on it, because the first one, nobody thought anything of it. And the second one, suddenly, suddenly, it was going to become this franchise, if we didn't screw it up. So so there was there was a lot more pressure, there was a lot more eyes on the whole process took a lot longer getting the getting the script done. Now, what

Jason Buff 1:06:06
Well, does it feel like when all of a sudden people are, you know, noticing you and wanting to interview you, and you get all this recognition? How does that feel? Is it a good feeling? Or is it kind of? Does it give you anxiety? Or no?

Thunder Levin 1:06:20
The only anxiety has actually has happened in the last couple of months, where somehow my home address got out on the internet, I guess. And so I've been getting fan mail at home. And that's a little disturbing. Fortunately, it's all been good. There haven't been any death threats. But the fact that somehow my address got out there, that makes me a little bit anxious. Other than that, it's just been wonderful. You know, I mean, I came out to Hollywood expecting to be the next Steven Spielberg and imagining something like this, but imagining it happening 20 years ago. And so after years of struggling in anonymity, while I still hope, for a level of success and public appreciation, I'm not sure I necessarily expected it anymore. So when it when it finally started happening, it's just been wonderful. But I had been, you know, sort of preparing myself for this kind of career, you know, for 20 odd years. So I think if it had actually happened, when I was young, when I first came out here probably would have messed with my hand, I think the years of, of struggling, have allowed me to stay a lot more grounded during this whole process. And just sort of take it for what it is and enjoy it. And not let myself get too carried away with it all. But you know, it's a wonderful thing. You go to these conventions and lining up to get your autograph. And telling you how much they love the movie and what fun they had with it. And little kids do they remember, at Comic Con, not this last summer, but the year before, after the first movie had just come out. I walked on to walked onto the floor at Comic Con The first night I got there. And it was about the clothes, I'd gotten there really late because there was traffic or I don't remember what it was, but I got there late. So I just figured I'd take a quick walk around the convention floor. And I'm walking through these tables of displays and stuff. And the very first little snippet of a conversation I hear as I'm walking past somebody is this guy say, yeah, and then he dives into the shark. And then he cuts his way out. And that was literally the first thing I heard as I walked through the congenic convention floor Comicon. And now it's just surreal. And then the next day we were doing this poster signing. And you know, we'd been signing pretty consistently for like half an hour. And I was kind of surprised that people were still coming. And so I took a break and I went out to look for the line to see where all these people were coming from. And I couldn't find the line. All I saw was the big crowd of people filling the hall. And then I realized that was our line and they were actually lined up out the door to get these posters. And mind you I and and Tara weren't even there. It was me and Anthony, and Jason Simmons. And, and one other cast member, I think. So the big stars weren't even there. And we have a line out the door of people to get their Sharknado poster. So I was just like, What is going on here? This is amazing. And then this, this mother came up with a little girl who must have been about, I don't know, six or seven. And she was dancing around going Sharknado who's Jack Daedalus, running around in circles. And it's just been a remarkable experience.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:59
Well be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Thunder Levin 1:10:08
And it's just so it's just really wonderful to see that people have gotten into it like this and have embraced it in the spirit that we intended. Just a wonderful feeling.

Jason Buff 1:10:20
Well, it's funny because my, my son's completely obsessed with tornadoes right now. And his favorite movie is Twister. He's six years old. Okay. And last night, I had Sharknado on, you know, doing a little bit of research. And I was like, son, this is a tornado, but to tornado with sharks in it, and he just about lost his mind. That was the first thing he said this morning. He's like, Dad, can we watch Sharknado. And I was like, after school, maybe it's, you know, a good time. I'm sorry. So I had one more thing that you had mentioned something in an interview before, that's kind of a different topic. And I just wanted to ask you this real quick, and then let you go. You had said that, if you could do things all over again, you would have made a feature film a lot earlier in your career. And I was wondering if you could just talk a little bit about that?

Thunder Levin 1:11:10
Well, like I said, there, it had always been in the back of my mind that if I didn't succeed, if I didn't get where I wanted to go, following the traditional route of trying to get a film, getting somebody to make a film, getting a production company or a studio to hire me to make a film, that eventually I was just going to have to raise the money and make my own. But I guess I kept putting off that moment. Because that reaching that decision sort of implied that I had failed up to them that nobody was going to hire me to make a movie. And so, so coming to accept that and saying, Okay, I'm gonna have to take matters into my own hands, took longer than it probably should have, if I had made that zombie movie five or 10 years earlier, then the things that came as a result of it would have happened five or 10 years earlier. And, you know, hopefully, I would be five or 10 years further along in my career than I am now. Because because everything that's happened, from making movies to the asylum to the success of Sharknado, all of that can be traced back to the to that zombie film, where I proved that, yes, I can actually make a movie. So if I, if I had done that sooner, then maybe I'd be further along now. And maybe I'd be making big studio films now. Or at least maybe I would have spent an extra 10 years doing what I wanted to do rather than just struggling to make a living. So I do sort of regret not having made that film earlier. The question arises, you know, would I have wouldn't have been as successful if I'd done it when I was younger and had less experience and less maturity? I don't know. There's no way to know, of course, I think it would have.

Jason Buff 1:13:07
Don't you think technology also kinds of play plays a role to a certain extent, I mean, that that it's so much cheaper to?

Thunder Levin 1:13:14
Yeah, we were, we were able to make that film cheaper than if we'd shot it 10 years earlier, and had the shoot on film, actually, even five years earlier, because we were, we were sort of, you know, we weren't the first indie film to shoot on HD, but it was still a relatively new thing. And so the technology was still actually sort of a question mark. At that point. I remember we, we built a computer to edit it. It was like, Okay, what what does this computer need to be able to do, and I ended up spending like five grand to build a computer. And now you could do it for, you know, 800 on a laptop. So yeah, I probably would have been more expensive, if we'd done it sooner. But at the same time, there was more money available, because films were more expensive than and part of the so called democratization of film that's come with the digital revolution. I think there's a little less respect for what it takes to make a movie. Now people think, Oh, well, anybody with a video camera can make a movie. And that's not true. And unfortunately, I think people think, oh, it's really cheap to make a movie now. And that's not true either. Certain elements have become less expensive. You don't have to process film stock. You don't have to buy film stock. You don't need to print your movie at the end. Renting a high end HD camera costs as much as renting you know, a pan of flexio stew. So that hasn't changed too much. If you're really trying to do it at a professional level. Yes, you can go out and buy a cheap HD camera now. I mean, you know there there are phones that will shoot 4k video. But but they still have crappy little plastic lens It's not like you're really going to be able to make a movie that looks like a movie, on your camera phone. So yes, certain elements have gotten cheaper, you know, you don't need to rent an avid anymore, you can do it on, on any home computer, you can edit a film. Now, digital effects can be done on less sophisticated computers. But you still need the really good software, and you still need people who know how to use it. And, and so the craft hasn't changed, it hasn't gotten any cheaper. But unfortunately, people seem to think it has. And so, you know, it used to be the people in the film industry got paid pretty well. And part of that was the assumption that they had a craft that they had learned over many years, that was a was a rare skill. And part of it was the fact that you're not going to be working 50 weeks a year. So you need to be paid enough when you are working to live, you know, in between projects. And one of the unfortunate things that's happened in recent years is people seem to have forgotten that these are still hard won hard fought skills that take a lot of time to perfect. And not just anybody with a computer, and an iPhone can do it. You need to know what you're doing. But because of the technological advances, there's a there's a change perception, I think, of what's involved here. And so people think that they shouldn't have to pay for all this stuff. So you see all these visual effects companies, you know, winning Oscars, and then going out of business, because they're forced to do things so cheaply. And you see people making films on their iPhone, and then they get surprised when they can't sell the movie to a distributor. So it's been a double edged sword, I think. And yes, certain aspects of it are a bit cheaper than it used to be, but cost like sets and feeding your crew, and hiring actors and hiring crew and putting them up if you're in a different location or building sets, or finding locations and paying for none of the costs of this stuff have changed. Movies are expensive, it's very hard to make a good movie cheap. You know, every once in a while it can be done if you have a concept that lends itself to that like you know, The Blair Witch Project then, or if you're making a movie about two people sitting at a table talking. But but to make to make a popcorn movie still costs money just just because the cameras in the editing equipment are a bit cheaper now doesn't really change that.



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IFH 709: The Virgin’s Journey & Sexual Awakening with Kim Hudson

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Kim Hudson 0:00
I can conquer it and I can go out and be active in the world. So that's my relationship to self in a masculine way. And then in a feminine way is I learned how to turn the camera inwards and how to bring something authentic about myself into a physical form almost like alchemy.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
This episode is brought to you by Bulletproof Script Coverage, where screenwriters go to get their scripts read by Top Hollywood Professionals. Learn more at covermyscreenplay.com I'd like to welcome to the show, Kim Hudson. How you doin Kim?

Kim Hudson 0:32
I'm good. Thank you for having me.

Alex Ferrari 0:34
Thank you so much for coming on the show. Like I was telling you earlier. I really love your your book because and please remind me the name I don't have it with me.

Kim Hudson 0:45
The virgins promise the virgins price of feminine spiritual and creative awakening, sexual awakening,

Alex Ferrari 0:52
Obviously, we have to, we have to throw in the sexual awakening it because it's interesting, you really kind of take the hero's journey, which is something that every screenwriter should know. Even if they don't use it, they should know. But you turn it on its head a little bit and look at it from a feminine perspective. And I'm dying to kind of get into the weeds with you for but first, how did you get involved? And how did you get interested in writing a book like this? Because there really hasn't, if Am I mistaken? There's no other book like this right?

Kim Hudson 1:25
Now there isn't, which really surprises me. The biggest thing is that that phrase all story from all the time it's a hero's journey has just embedded itself in people's psyche. So they're not really looking, they'll say, Oh, well, there's the hero line. But no, that's that's the energy of a hero a fear based journey to conquer something, including your own fear. And, and when the day is a very externally focused story. And heroine is just a woman doing that job. Whereas this one, this one is the exact opposite. This is about turning inward, and awakening to your true potential, your, your sense of connection to who you are, what your talent is, what your sexual orientation is, something that's authentic about you. And then how do we go about first discovering that, growing it, and then bringing it to life? Now, what I was gonna say actually didn't answer your question. How did I actually get there? How did I, I think, you know, I grew up I grew up in a in a family that highly valued the masculine. And so I just tried to do everything I could, I played ice hockey, I became a geologist, I jumped over helicopters and grizzly bear country, you know, like I was really given her and even then, I started to recognize that when I was alone, after the helicopter left, I did things in my way. And I was actually good at finding patterns of mineralization all those kinds of things because I was trusting my intuition I was going inward and and discovering where that would take me a trusted walking into the unknown. And all of these things are parts of a virgin journey. And virgin, I always have to say this, if I had $1 for every time, Virgin is what I mean is the original meaning of it, which means to be of value to seen for your value just for being yourself, like a virgin forest. It's commonly used in Union thought.

Alex Ferrari 3:36
So not not as virgin as as in the 1980s comedies.

Kim Hudson 3:41
Yeah, yeah. Not as like men can count on you haven't been taken before, you know,

Alex Ferrari 3:48
Virgin scenario.

Kim Hudson 3:49
Yeah, but it does actually mean I mean, going from Virgin to inactive person and knowing sort of what you like and don't like it's actually is that it's awakening to your sexual orientation. That's one of the most fundamental ways of finding your authentic self.

Alex Ferrari 4:06
It's really interesting, it seems to me from just from the short conversation so far that it is an inward journey more than an outward journey. Yeah, because the hero's journey is all about conquering the the the dragon that is in the cave that is guarding the treasure where this one is about conquering the dragon inside of you and discovering who you really are, which is man it's literally the flip side of the of the coin of the hero's journey literally,

Kim Hudson 4:33
As a matter of fact, as a hero you're conquering you're controlling you're taking control over something outside of you, but actually the dragon inside you you're welcoming. You're you're exploring what does it want me to know what's the you know? It's the opposite in every fundamental way.

Alex Ferrari 4:51
I've said on the show many times I've surrounded by feminine energy constantly. I have no testosterone anywhere near me at anytime I have women I've been around women my entire her life single mother, the whole ball of wax. So I understand more than most about feminine energy not anywhere near as much as obviously you. But I do, I do have a better take on it than most men do. And as I've grown older, what you're talking about is really interesting, because I think at the beginning of a man's career, or man's life, a boy's life, we are about conquering, we are about showing physicality, we are about going in and grabbing the the gold or the treasure and bringing it back. Yeah, all of that kind of, you know, macho testosterone thing. But as you get older, you know, even the toughest guys that I know, you know, Navy Seals and other people like that, they start to when that's done, they start to look inward. And then the beginning of that journey starts at a later time in a man's life. Again, very broad, broad spectrum I'm talking about here, not everybody, but most. And it seems to me that a woman's journey, and please, please correct me, it seems to be more an inward journey at the beginning of her her life trying to figure herself out in the world, is that a fair statement?

Kim Hudson 6:18
I would say there's definitely and particularly today that we're on this place where there's room for women to be themselves, and yet there's still vestiges of like a dependent world, I think we get messages that, you know, either that you might hate what you have to be pleasing, or that it's a male dominated world, and you have to sort of emulate men to get ahead in the world, but there's still those messages out there. So there is this, this starting out where you feel that you're meant for something, and it's in contrast to the environment that you're in, and you have to figure out a way to, to go inward, be strong enough in who you know, you are. And I call it a secret world, like, it's part of the story where you have to find a place where you, you feel like you're, you're surrounded by friends, and then people want you to do well. And then you can play, you can make mistakes, you can laugh, you can step into the unknown and, and then figure out what it what it needs from you or what it has to offer. So we still we have that when we're young. But I would actually say at the time when like it's a circle. So you, your children leave and suddenly all your roles have drifted away. And you need to go back again, you need to circle back and find out who am I now I'm not the same person that I was when I first discovered myself. And you're sort of born again, your third learning again to find out who this authentic person is today and then see that person in the world.

Alex Ferrari 7:50
So let's talk about the actual journey of the Virgin our archetypal journey, which, in the hero's journey, we all, you know, call to adventure and, you know, you know, the point of no return and all these kinds of terms that Joseph Campbell, so beautifully built out. And then Chris Vogler, talked about it so beautifully for the film industry. What is what are those key points in, in the Virgin journey?

Kim Hudson 8:17
Okay, I'll do my little party trick. I think that in five minutes, I can tell you a virgin story. And it can, if you'll hold in your mind, even something like Joker, or Billy Elliot, or coda, Black Swan, all of these are really great examples of virgin story. So I'm going to tell them in a certain order, but one thing I've discovered is it's nonlinear. So you actually could tell these beats in any order, but those beats will fundamentally be part of the journey. Okay? So the Virgin starts out in a dependent world, where messages around her Tell her how she should behave. But there's a price that she's paying, either she's aware of it, and she's hiding it, or she's even asleep to her own potential, but she's paying a price for conformity. Until one day, she gets this opportunity to shine a little taste of what it would be like to be herself. And she takes it, she likes it. And it's usually almost the moment of alchemy, where the dancer gets the shoes and just the putting them on seems to activate something or sexual orientation becomes clearer because they take off their clothes, and suddenly they know what they want. So now that they know, a little taste of it, they want more. So they create a secret well, because they're not ready to blow up their dependent world. These are actually their, their family, their home life. So what they do is they create a secret world so they can go back and forth between the two. And then the secret world as I mentioned, they're learning to become more connected and playing with what it might look like and they've got friends, they can make mistakes. But that going back and forth is crucial. They they're learning the contrast between what they think they want their life to be and what their life is and why Those differences have to exist. And they're kind of building a bridge until one day, they start to expand to the point where they just can't stay contained. And the two collide their two worlds, their dependent world and their sicuro collide and form one. And the kingdom goes into chaos. A lot of pent up energy, there's synchronicities that have been held together, suddenly, there's permission and things start blowing up. But there's this moment where she recognizes because of all that back and forth, that she can give up the belief that she had to behave that way she did in her dependent world, she gives up the belief that was keeping her stuck. But that's not the same as going forward in a new life. So now she's wandering in the wilderness, she's trying to figure out, well, I could go back and take everybody out of their pain, all this chaos, with the full knowledge of that I actually have more potential than this. Or she could go forward, but there's no tangible proof that she can make a life. But she chooses her life, because it's not really living unless she chooses to be herself in that in the world. But when she makes herself visible, someone and even could be herself decides, that is worth protecting, valuing. And I call it the reorder or the rescue. And so the world reorder so that there's a place for her to be in her natural shining form. And amazing things is the kingdom discovers that it needed what the Virgin had to bring, either there's no unconditional love in the world, or there is a new talent that she brought that that has offered something new to the world. And it's better off to do a montage here. And that's the Virgin story.

Alex Ferrari 11:41
So that's interesting. It's a fascinating way of looking at it. Because as you were talking about it, I'm trying to go through movies in my head. I'm like, where is like, you know, my computer's like, like trying to figure out where you can place these. Because the hero's journey, there's 1000 of them. But, but this is interesting, but you said the word Joker, so this doesn't particularly have to be a feminine heroine. It could be male, because it seems like it's an again, an internal journey, it seems as you were explaining it, almost almost spiritual in nature, in the in the way that it, you're trying to find the authentic voice in you. So like, if you really, if you're Billy Elliot, all I want to do is dance. But the world around me doesn't allow me to do that. So then, so it sounds like okay, Billy Elliot, I get the Joker's have really dark version of that. So can we break that? Because Joker is a very popular movie, it was, I loved one of the best movies of that year. And arguably this last decade. Can we kind of break down Joker and it's kind of like go beat by beat a little bit with that. Is that are you? Are you able to do that? Do you remember Joker?

Kim Hudson 12:47
Well, God, I think I've written a blog on that. But you know, I was really hesitant to watch Joker, I can't watch horror it like gets into me, and I never can forget it. Never be alone again, kind of thing. But once I watched it, that is such a spectacularly well written, movie. Everything that's in the background is telling you that dependent world, you'd listen to what's happening on the radio and the interviews and they're all saying the dependent world is that if you do well, then you get your just reward. And therefore, people who are not doing well don't deserve to do well. Either. They didn't work hard enough, or they like so. Doing well means you deserve well, not doing well means you need to suffer. And that's, you know, so there's this guy, and he's trying really hard to smile for his mother. And that's his dependent world, right? He's trying to like, but it's, it's forced, because the world is not accepting Him. And so he goes inward, and he has this fantasy world. And he where this woman loves him. And that's a secret world, right? And it actually starts the two worlds collide, where he actually starts being a joker in his real world. And that's when everything starts to blow up. And the thing about Joker is that the secret world is not always as harmonious as I made it describe. It's his best way to make sense of the world he has around him. You know, it's his mind trying to help him to to navigate this world. Yeah, but it's um, it's harsh. But do you remember when he was sitting there talking with the counselor? And and Yeah, after when he's saying you know, they you're like he's being told you not getting meds anymore? And this and that. And he goes, do you notice you don't listen to me? And do you notice that you know, you're not doing any better off than I'm doing? Like the system is not helping either of us? Well, that's his gives up what kept him stuck moment. He's like, we don't have to conform and play our role in something that's actually not working for us. And so what would be other beats? Because they're not in the in the order. That's A great example of how things don't have to be

Alex Ferrari 15:02
Well, I'm in order. And then I think when I think if I remember correctly when he was on the subway for the first time, and he he, I think he shot those guys or something. He there's a point where he crosses the line, where that kind of point no return, but it's like, the flip side of that, like there's a thing that he does the now he has to you can't go back to where it was he can't there's no way he has to move forward on this journey.

Kim Hudson 15:30
Yeah, yeah. And when he chooses his light, it's kind of at our for a moment where he, he's with the measured and the other guy, and just beat the other guy to oblivion. And he's just like, You know what, I don't deserve this. And then he does. And that's another thing about these stories is that they circle back again. So it happens again, when they mock him on television, basically choose his light. He's like, you know, I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore. It's like, I deserve respect this whole model, where just because I have a learning disability, or I'm on a secret because my father is an important man. And he does and and I'm embarrassment, that does not make me deserve this kind of negative treatment. And he chooses his light, because I will not accept that. And even though at first he was actually just going to go out in a big bang, and make everybody sorry, he ends up choosing his own life over somebody.

Alex Ferrari 16:28
And isn't it interesting that his choice, and this is when you say the world reconfirms around him. And spoiler alert, please, everyone stop listening, or fast forward a few minutes, because I'm gonna talk a little bit about the ending. But when he does all the things he does on the Robert De Niro Tonight Show thing. Yeah. And he basically causes a riot. And the entire world is also like, yeah, we feel like you too. And all of a sudden, it all just literally the world reforms around him. And he becomes this reader icon of this movement, where he was truly just trying to do it for himself. But he realizes that, oh, I'm not alone. There's a lot of more messages in the bottle, if you will, out there.

Kim Hudson 17:18
Right, which is his first moment of having a secret world where he's actually among friends. But it's like the big world. Right? And he even says in his interview, that I wasn't trying to save the world. I don't have some big mission here. I do. I look like a guy who's got a plan. I'm just actually being myself, right? I'm just trying to be real here. And that turned out to be a guy in a joker costume. I'm gonna take control of this.

Alex Ferrari 17:47
And it's so interesting, because talking about you know, feminine energy and spirituality and sexual awakening, you don't think Joker, but because which is a fairly testosterone. I mean, there's a lot of testosterone in that movie, but he has a he has a feminine energy to him. He's he's really struggling. He's, he's really just trying to figure things out emotional Areum when Jesus is the Joker, I mean, very emotional. Like he is. So it's a fascinating study of story structure. Looking at that, because we'll talk about some other examples. But Joker is a fascinating one. Because it is you know, it's something you can think about.

Kim Hudson 18:29
Yeah, one day, I was listening to the whole story of frozen, talking about same storyline, but very different feel to it. Where the Woman Yeah, but you think about it, what is it Elsa? That she has a power, and she's told that it's evil, and she has to keep it in. And then she decides, you know what, I'm gonna let it go. If you listen to the song, let it go. And sort of play the soundtrack or the track for children in your mind.

Alex Ferrari 19:00
I have children.

Kim Hudson 19:03
Yeah, million times. But think about Joker, the movie Joker, and then let it go the song. You put those two together and it's quite phenomenal. It the words speak to what he's trying to say in that movie. Wow. It's really fun.

Alex Ferrari 19:18
That's pretty trippy. i Everyone, please let us know what you think if you could try to listen to let it let it go. While you're watching Joker and see how it connects. It's like was it watching Led Zeppelin with the Wizard of Oz and everything clicks on? Yeah, exactly. It's like the Dark Side of the Moon. That's hilarious. Now um, can you can you talk about because on the hero's journey, there are the archetypes the wizard the trickster? What are those in this journey?

Kim Hudson 19:52
So I have this theory that there's basically three big archetypal journeys that we all have the potential to Go on in our life, I'm, I think in my life a well lived journey, if my life will be a will, well, a journey, I'll go through all three of them. And we actually can do them in a masculine and a feminine way. So the first is your relationship to self. And the hero is I, I, in relation to my fear of life, I can conquer it, and I can go out and be active in the world. So that's my relationship to self in a masculine way. And then in a feminine way is I learned how to turn the camera inwards, and how to bring something authentic about myself into a physical form, almost like alchemy. So those are both a relationship to self. The next is, how do I cross the distance? The distance between me and somebody who is not me? And that's that relationship to another person? And how do I maintain myself and still respect somebody who's different from me, and that would be the warrior king in the mother goddess. And then the last one is this ultimate recognition that we are a part of a cosmos of a bigger picture. And for the masculine that would be the mentor, you know, the philanthropist, this idea that I know, I'm going to die, and I'm going to pass on my knowledge so that there's a benefit from generation to generation. So it's, it's this very concrete recognition that life is finite. And then the feminine side, it's the Crone, it's the sense that, that life is all about connection. And we're about to make a connection into the whole cosmos. So while you're still on the planet, you start to recognize that you can see the connections that other people might be missing and throw like a trickster, you go in there, and you mess with their lives a little bit, just to get them on the track. Because you know, that everything's connected. And their connection to themselves is fundamental to everything else, unfolding the way it's meant to.

Alex Ferrari 21:59
I'm gonna get a little deep here for a second, because as you were talking about that was very interesting, because at the beginning of my career, I went out to conquer, and I went out to go direct, and I make movies and work hard and, and I worked my ass off for 20 odd years in the film industry, working in post production and directing movies and commercials and music videos and things like that. And it was very outward hero's journey was very out must conquer, conquer, conquer, conquer. But then, which is was interesting, I looked inward. When I was unhappy, I was lost for a little while, I opened up an olive oil company, a lot of people who listen to the show understand, that's a whole other story. So I got a little lost. And then I looked inward. And when I looked inward, I said, Hmm, I need to bring up my authentic self, and help the world. And that's when I launched the show. The indie film, hustle shows first and then the bulletproof screenwriting afterwards. But I launched that show. And by being my authentic self, very much like the Joker, not trying to do anything other than just try to help, whoever listened, it grew into where we are today. And is where I found my true happiness, even though I still enjoy going out and directing and the external. My true happiness is here, talking to you sharing information. That's a completely inward spiritual, almost look inside of what I'm doing. Does that make sense in the journey for you?

Kim Hudson 23:28
Absolutely. Yeah. And, and I find that there's two fundamentally different understandings of power. And you you touched on them there. When you're in the Hero mode, it's to assert your will even against resistance. That means hard work long hours, overcoming obstacles, but in a virtual world. Power comes from knowing yourself, and then bringing that self into life, and then supporting others in doing the same. And it's, it's extremely powerful.

Alex Ferrari 23:58
Oh, my God, it's been I mean, it's so powerful, in fact, that in the in the time period where I was doing the external hero's journey, let's say, I would have killed to have access to the people that I get access to now who reach out to me now. It's fascinating. I have Oscar winners, and I have legends and people in the film industry who want to be on my show. And I'm like, and I sit back sometimes, like, isn't this interesting? How this is, this whole story is turned its head, if you would have told me 1015 years ago, this wouldn't be the way you know, it I would be able to do things in is the key is not out. It's in and again, when I was saying earlier, the out is a very young man's energy. It's the warrior in us we need to go out and conquer. And I forgot there's four stages of development. The Warrior the teacher, forgot the four but there's, there's these four archetypes that someone's someone much more intelligent than that. coming out, says MATT Yeah, sent said these four things. And I was like, Oh, that's so true. Because when you're young, you're a warrior, you go out to try to conquer to, to show off physicality. But as the years go on, the physicality starts to go and you start to go inward and you want to become the teacher or the mentor. In other things, there's a couple other the other two stages. But it's so true. But it's so powerful that now by going inward coming out, being authentic and trying to help others, is when all of the things that I was kind of looking for in the warrior journey is now literally handed to me on a plate where I can make relations. It's interesting. It's just fascinating. Hopefully, people listening, this is a little bit more of a philosophical, spiritual, and screenwriting conversation. But it's so true. Any good reason why the hero's journey connects with so many people. It is a metaphor for life, we all go through hero's journey at one point or another.

Kim Hudson 25:55
Absolutely, we need to do both. Like I am never going to say that the virgins promises a better story than the hero's journey. It's, you know, in life, we need to do both. Like there are things to be afraid of, we do need to like set a goal plan to not fall into every pitfall that you know, life is offering. And you have to like you have to save for a rainy day all these things that that give us comfort and safety.

Alex Ferrari 26:23
And not everything. No, it's not everything. You're right. And again, as you get older, you realize that that the hero's journey is not everything in this inward journey is the journey that is much more powerful, much more powerful, because it's tapping in

Kim Hudson 26:39
And yet, yeah. And yet, so underrecognized people often think, Oh, I have to have a plan, I have to like I'll never have any power. And because this is such a, almost a power of humility. In other words, by the more you're, you're doing an offering what you truly love, it's contagious. And it draws people into you that want similar things or that can feel inspired by you. And then you get inspired back, it always gives these unexpected gifts.

Alex Ferrari 27:12
It's so interesting, because I a lot of screenwriters asked me, you know, what do I do to to make it into business? What do I like? What's the secret sauce, and I go, you are, if you can tap into your authentic self, and speak authentically through your writing, there is nobody in the world that could compete with you, because no one can be you. And if you study, and I've had the pleasure of talking to many of these, these really great writers, they're all authentic to who they are Tarantino is authentic to himself, Nolan is authentic to himself. Edgar Wright is authentic to himself, Eric Roth is they're very authentic to their, where it's coming from. And that's something so hard to grasp when you're younger, when you're starting out. They're like, No, no, I have to try to be someone else. That's successful. Michael, No, the thing that makes you successful is being you. And it's scary and terrifying to be you in the in the world as the Joker, as the Joker showed us.

Kim Hudson 28:15
Yeah, yeah. You know, one of the things the screenwriting advice that it really bothers me is that you need to have constant crisis that you have to have ever bigger obstacles to overcome. And people think that it's not an interesting story, if you're not constantly showing this, this fear. And really, this inward story is the quest for love. And love is not always you euphoria you like there's heartbreak, and there's all these things, but you fall in deeper into them. These are not obstacles to overcome, except for things that you need to explore. You know, like, you don't fight back and push away, you actually go, Okay, I'm curious about that. And, and the screen should spend time looking at a person's face and figuring out, you know, are they are they wandering in the wilderness? Are they giving up the old belief making room for something new, you know, like, these things are the challenge and we want to see people feeling joy and and finding their moment. And, you know, it's like about a boy when he stands on the stage and, you know, Little Miss Sunshine when the whole family gets up there because Gladys, I think yesterday, she wants to do a strip song. There's, you know, it's so good. It's and it has nothing to do with conquering some sort of, you know, or achieving a goal. It's about being in the moment and feeling passion and standing up for something.

Alex Ferrari 29:48
Well, it's a story is about conflict, but it doesn't have to be external conflict, it could be internal conflict, internal journey that has to go through and there is, I mean, so if we analyze Is it I know what you were saying like you have to have conflict all the time. Well, interesting situations happen when there is a barrier to break through. So if you don't have a barrier to break through, and that could be an internal barrier, it absolutely could be an internal barrier, we look at Little Miss Sunshine. As such a great movie I have to watch that, again, is actually I might, I talked about, I was talking about my first kind of watch live as such, I don't remember it as well as I remember the ending. Oh, good. But yeah, but that was there was some external conflict there, if I remember correctly, but it was truly about her and her journey to, to express who she truly was as insane as that.

Kim Hudson 30:40
And also, it was about the dad, who had this belief that he had to be conquering the outside world. And when he was finally authentic, in his love for his daughter, he was humanized, he brought his whole family together. And that turned out to be way more important than anything else he was trying to do.

Alex Ferrari 31:00
Which is the moral of that story is, is that when you are able to touch the inner world, and be authentic to yourself, I mean, it's funny, because I always tell this joke is like, as you get older, you give less of a crap about what other people think, like, when you're younger, you were like, Oh, my God, what is? What is anyone gonna think? Like, my daughters are terrified of what I do in public. And I'm like, Oh, that's so much fun. So I try to embarrass them as much as possible. But as you get older, you know, when you get to the 70s 80s, and you see the old man without a shirt on, in his flip flops, and his long and his underwear going out to get the get the mail, and he doesn't care at all. That's the other extreme of that scenario. He is arguably very authentic to who he is. Yes, right.

Kim Hudson 31:48
Wrong. And he's really what really matters.

Alex Ferrari 31:52
In his world, he his mask is gone. He I mean, this is an extreme version, but his mask is gone. And, and you know, all the stuff that we put on like the suits or the armor, if you will, to go out He is literally out there.

Kim Hudson 32:10
Yeah, there's no and why world? He's, yeah, in my role, he's a chrome. He's the one that's like showing us that really, does that matter. And, you know, like, really, you know, think about what you're thinking matters so much. And know that you could just be free and everything is connected.

Alex Ferrari 32:28
So there's, there's certain characters like I know you mentioned in your book like The whore and the verb, like the app, the virgin virgin and the femme fatale How can you like when I was thinking of like Pretty Woman is pretty woman an example this? Is their versions of that in Pretty Woman? Or is it very similar to just a hero's journey?

Kim Hudson 32:50
Oh, I think pretty woman is is a very much a virgin story. Okay. She she believes she's only worthy of bones. And then through this sexual experience, she discovers that she has a talent for business. And, and she's interested in something and she wants more for herself butterfly. So it's, to me it's absolutely a virgin story. And really, the only the shadow side of the Virgin is when she herself becomes disconnected from her value. That's, that's what the horror is basically, where she has lost her sense that she is intrinsically worthy of love. And so then she doesn't take care of herself in the world. And it's, it's, again, it's an internal mentality that that reflects, in the way she's presenting herself. And sometimes, it's because the environment has so consistently shown she's of no value that it sinks in. And that disconnection needs to be reversed and turned into reconnection. Well, I was just gonna say it's the same for the femme Patel, in that, if that's the, that's the second journey of the feminine, where she needs to cross the distance between herself and another person. And she's lost herself. She's manipulating another person in order to have power in the world. Whereas she hasn't recognized that she has her own type of power, and that she needs to bring that into your consciousness. And then she can exist in the world.

Alex Ferrari 34:31
So like a fatal attraction. So like a fatal attraction, let's say, or basic instinct. Those two characters don't realize that there used femininity, or Double Indemnity or duress to kill or any of these, these kinds of these kinds of characters who are using manipulation, using their sexuality using other things to manipulate people because they have not again gone inward, to understand and something happened to them and try elderhood something happened to them in the world, that that that story, that's the narrative that they've built up to, like, I've got to be this way to survive in the world is that a kind of

Kim Hudson 35:09
And it's, and what it's done is that it's caused them to disconnect from the fact that they actually are powerful, that they have their own, you know, their own sense of love for themselves. And that could be enough. And that's what the story has to do is not get them to, like, get some survival power, it's more like, they need some love power, like they need to bring that back to themselves. And then they actually can cross from being the shadow side of the feminine to the light side of the feminine.

Alex Ferrari 35:41
It's really It's, I mean, I feel like this conversation is a therapy session for everyone listening because it's like, really, you started to like, you're like, we're doing inner work today, guys. We're doing some inner work. People are gonna walk out of this listening to this, Jesus, man, I gotta, I gotta touch my authentic self, I gotta go inward. I gotta, I gotta go into that cave inside of me and fight the dragon to get through to get to the treasure to get it out into the world.

Kim Hudson 36:09
Yes, you know, my workshops people write to me, and they say later, like, you know, I, they don't have, they say they don't have writer's block anymore. Because between the hero and the journey, there's always some structure to help them move forward. But the biggest thing is, they recognize it in their life. They'll suddenly go, Oh, my God, I'm wandering in the wilderness. I have people really change their lives. Like, and write to me. I was like, Okay, well, that's on you.

Alex Ferrari 36:36
I'm not just talking about movies here. I'm just about movies and stories. That's it, if you I'm not a therapist, but you know, a lot of the things that we're talking about is, I mean, a good story is an analogy for life. And, and this inner story, which is why I so find this this concept, so fascinating. I mean, I've done 800 episodes, on both of my shows over 800 episodes. And I've never had this conversation with every single great story guru screenwriter, you can imagine. No one's ever had never come up, never approached story in this way before. And it's that's what's so fascinating about this conversation for me, because it is something that's just not talked about, it is not talked about it is not it is not put out into the screenwriting universe. It is it's, you know, the hero's journey. We're good. Chris and Joseph Campbell have done a fantastic job. Right, we are between Star Wars and with Joseph Campbell what Chris Vogler did. I mean, the hero's journey is everywhere. And I saved the cat and all this stuff, but this inner journey is interesting. What other movies that can you come up with? That are great examples, because I want the audience to really kind of have reference points.

Kim Hudson 37:53
Okay, so JoJo rabbit that's got the obvious secret world in it, and he's fighting. He's trying to conform to the Nazi ideal and it's just eventually not working for him, he changes his clothing we can we can see that stress is the part where he gets back to his mother and family. So that's one coda, you know, I that was just fabulous. Her dependent world is like, her non hearing family needs her. And yet it's contrary to what she needs to do for herself. So that was a great one. Oh, good luck to you, Leo grants. Did you see that one? I did not see that one. on Netflix. It's it's new. And it's Emma Thompson, who hires a male prostitute to help her however, you know, with an awakening, it's really good. And it does follow the beats their secret world is in that hotel room. The wife where she her secret world is that she's a ghost writer for her husband. And the coming the clashing of the two worlds is at the very beginning where she has to be the dutiful wife when she her work is actually getting the Nobel Prize. And that causes this. You know, it's a fabulous, fabulous story. There's so many Brittany runs a marathon ladybirds and education.

Alex Ferrari 39:15
Just want you said black swan as well.

Kim Hudson 39:18
Black Swan definitely carry. There's one called love, honor and obey which I there's another one that I never watched Elliott group at brain dead said watch this. And I was like, okay, and I watched like button. It's about it's about a home invasion. And, and this couple that gets brutalized. But anyway, I've watched it for five minutes, and I turned it off. And then I was like, I am a professional. So I turned it back on

Alex Ferrari 39:44
There's a story. As a director, there's lights that come on.

Kim Hudson 39:48
Yeah. Yes. And I tell you, it's a black. It's sort of a black comedy and, and it's about a woman who is forced to recognize what she's accepting from her husband. I don't want give away too much, but it is a fantastic movie.

Alex Ferrari 40:03
Sleeping with the Enemy remember the sleeping with the enemy?

Kim Hudson 40:07
Which was a long time ago. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 40:11
It just came to my head is like maybe that's one as well.

Kim Hudson 40:15
Yeah. Well, I mean, it doesn't make sense that there's a lot of inner work beliefs that need to be let go to get away. Right, that kind of thing. Virgin Suicides that's another one where the the mother has been so oppressive that they can't move forward. The shape of water is a great one. Yeah, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 40:39
Fascinating that there's so many. There's so many examples. Like you're saying that's lala land. Oh, god. Yeah. Lala Land as well. Yeah.

Kim Hudson 40:49
Trying to get her inner talent into the world.

Alex Ferrari 40:51
It's so. So there's been so many examples that have been under our nose, but no one's really ever called it out. Before like, Yeah, this is yeah, this is the story, guys.

Kim Hudson 41:01
Yes, yeah, the pattern hasn't been described. But people, you see the theory of archetypes is that it's in our unconscious, that it's there for us to help navigate through life. And Joseph Campbell made one visible. So it's a lot more you can get to it. And I made another one visible. So you know, and there's in my mind, there's four more. So I'm working on those.

Alex Ferrari 41:23
Or you're working on the other? You're working on the other ones? Yeah, yeah.

Kim Hudson 41:27
My next one will be the how to cross the distance between you and somebody who has taught you. The archetypes of marriage really?

Alex Ferrari 41:37
Oh, yeah. I have been married for a long time I understand. There's, there's something that the title of your book mentioned sexual awakenings. And this is something I just wanted to kind of touch on. Because those films, sometimes they're done perfectly and really well. But sometimes they're not. They're approached at, you know, there's a male energy or, or, you know, it's, it's not done correctly. So can you give me an example of a good one, and a bad one, and the reason why it's good, and the reason why it's bad if you can?

Kim Hudson 42:14
Well, the 40 year old virgin, actually is a great example of delayed and yeah, and then that final moment of awakening, it's and it's it actually follows all the beads. Another one that I've always loved as new Waterford girl, it's a Canadian film. And, yeah, she lives in a small town in Nova Scotia where you're very limited, and you should always stay on the island and she wants to be an artist. So She fakes a pregnancy, she notices that pregnant girls get sent away. And so she fakes a pregnancy. And it's about her sexual awakening and her talent awakening and the whole community going crazy. It's a really funny, really good movie. Yeah, so once we're Brokeback Mountain, another one where it's, you know, secret world and their clash and what society expects from you and, and never being able to overcome it. It's a very beautifully done sexual awakening. You know, I don't really pay attention to the ones that are done really badly. It's like porn to me.

Alex Ferrari 43:30
So porn, not a good example.

Kim Hudson 43:32
You know what I would actually say there's, there's female porn and there's male porn, apparently. And male porn is just really about how can I get some excitement? Like it's just goal oriented? Sure. Which is, is not the same as a sexual awakening to me and sexual awakening is this recognition that we have the power within us for great joy?

Alex Ferrari 43:54
That's the Yeah, we'll leave it there. But I'm just trying to think of in my head of like, bad ones, and I'm like, if they're bad, they're generally sophomore. Sophomore. If it's done incorrectly, that's basically so if you see softcore porn, that's probably not the

Kim Hudson 44:15
Right it's not a virgins journey. But I but I liked they probably been male gaze do.

Alex Ferrari 44:19
Exactly. But I'd like I like that you use a 40 year old virgin because that's a great example of a sexual awakening in a very obviously comedic way. But it was, it was a 40 year old virgin and all that stuff. That's to happen. And Judd Apatow does have has he touches on it even in his comedies. He touches on inner stuff funny people and a couple of his other films. Touch on the inner Yeah, in this and his work I've noticed even while they're being silly. Yeah, yeah. So you choosing her light I I saw that term in the book, what does that mean? Choosing the light choosing her light.

Kim Hudson 45:06
You know, this is saying that it doesn't really matter until it changes within her own heart. So a person like Janis Joplin, you can have all of the glory. But until you actually decide that you are intrinsically valuable, and that you have the right to take up some space in the world and shine your light, you know, the, it doesn't really affect your happiness. And it's, it's starts with the individual person, you need to find your happiness and find your connection. And then like a drop of water, it starts to spread out to other people. So that beak chooses her light shows that it's, it's not about other people saying, Oh, wow, you're amazing. It's about you deciding that you are in value, and really getting that sense of self esteem.

Alex Ferrari 45:56
So that's interesting, because in, in Hollywood, you're surrounded by people going, you're great. You're beautiful, you're great. And yet, we've all seen examples of people who were giant stars, who either sabotage themselves or god forbid, you know, took their life and they just couldn't choose their light that couldn't allow it to for whatever reason, it's some pre built glass ceiling that they put in their heads. Like, I'm not worth this. You know, I mean, John Belushi comes to mind, you know, who number one album, number one show, number one movie in the world? And he was depressed, his auto.

Kim Hudson 46:40
Right! Right. And the guy that was in Mork and Mindy,

Alex Ferrari 46:43
Oh, well, Robin Williams, Robert Robin Williams. I mean, he, he had an illness. So there was a mental, there was a degenerative degenerative thing that happened to his brain that caused him to do that. But But yeah, but many of these, you know, and we've seen it, I mean, people.

Kim Hudson 47:00
So you know, what you were saying there is actually why that beat gives up what kept her stuck, is so important. Because if you don't give up the old belief that told you, you had to conform to that dependent world, then you have this constant dissidents that you're behaving in a way that's not in alignment with one of your, your beliefs. And that will always throw you off track, you'll always try and go back to be in alignment with that. So the Virgin's journey notes that you have to have a moment where you consciously reflect and say, you know, what, I don't actually still have to believe that in might have served me in the past. But now's the time to cue the music, let it go.

Alex Ferrari 47:45
I think, for us it's so true, because there are those limiting beliefs that we all live in now we're getting into the psychology and the youngin aspect of this, of this, of this journey. But if you are told You're not worth it, you're not that you could be the most beautiful human being on the planet. gorgeous, talented. And we've seen these people, we've seen these people self destruct in front of our eyes. And in Nicole Smith, I remember I mean, she had everything. And she, she did not feel worthy of this fame and accurate at that. She just couldn't deal with it. And I mean, whatever happened happened to her, of course. And Marilyn and woman rose a little different. Yeah. But, but there's just like, there's,

Kim Hudson 48:35
There was an element

Alex Ferrari 48:37
She was Norma Jean. She was still she in her head. She was Norma Jean. She wasn't Marilyn Monroe. And to live up I can't even imagine trying to live up to being Marilyn Monroe when she was. I mean, she was she was put up there as the perfection of the female species, I mean, at the time, right? Right, right, who can live who can live with that kind of pressure. So it too, you can break through those own limiting beliefs, or stories that you're telling yourself, you doesn't matter what kind of success you have. If you can't find that light within you, you can't go forward.

Kim Hudson 49:17
Exactly. And you know, people try and tell the story about becoming your authentic self. And they just present obstacles. And then a light went on, and suddenly they were themselves right and it doesn't read through on the screen. We'd never really break it down and understand that there's a lot of steps. You know, like that you're facing the unknown, you have to cocoon for that. You can't it's too vulnerable to face criticism and you and you have to recognize what your your old belief was so that you can let it go. You have to consciously choose for yourself, that you're choosing your light. It doesn't matter if the rest of the world sees you as bright. You know, like there's all these steps to writing that inner journey that would tend to kind of without a structure, just gloss over it. And then suddenly, she got better.

Alex Ferrari 50:08
She's like, boom, one day, she just found her light. And it's done. And so it's all Yeah, it's there has to be scenes that they are consciously figuring that out in one way, shape, or form. And that's interesting. It's an interesting way to write it is make it interesting when you see that, because it's inner work. So it's hard to put that on the screen. So there has to be yes. How would you? How would you so give me an example?

Kim Hudson 50:31
I don't know if you've ever did you receive ever after? Of course. Yeah. Have you got kids? Yeah. So there's this moment where she's been to the ball, and everything's blown up. And she's just like, okay, it is what it is. I'm just going to work hard again. And she's talking to her stepmother. And she says, was there ever a moment that you felt love for me because you're the only mother I've ever known. And her stepmother says, hook it up, I feel love for a pebble in my shoe. And then see, Drew Barrymore's just okay. I accept that. I've been trying to find love from somebody who will never love me. And, and just in a look, she gives up what was keeping her stuck. She's She boldly asked the question, she got the answer, and she accepts it. And so a whole beat done in just a look.

Alex Ferrari 51:24
That's really interesting. That's really you're absolutely right. How many times have you gone to your parents looking for something or gone to a spouse or, or a girlfriend or boyfriend looking for something that they're just not going to give you ever? Yeah. And, and then you go, Oh, okay. I get it. Now. I need to move on. It's okay. Now. Thank you for letting me off the hook.

Kim Hudson 51:48

Alex Ferrari 51:49
Another movie came to mind and chanted. Oh, yeah, that one is that that's a if you start looking at that journey, it's very inward, like at first she's a cartoon princess, and has to stick with in the world of being a princess. And slowly, she starts to realize no, I'm, I'm worth it. I'm not just I'm, I'm a human being and I want to go do this. And I want to go to that. And she comes, she awakens within herself.

Kim Hudson 52:16
I have a full range of feelings. And I want all of that authenticity to be in the world. Yeah. And boy, the aim. Yeah. She just plays it so deeply. You know, somebody could have played that very sufficiently superficially. But she got the whole version, you know. And if the actor gets it in their heart, it just flashes onto the screen. It's really quite something.

Alex Ferrari 52:41
She should have gotten an Oscar for that performance. She was so good. And that she's, she's amazing actress, but that she is. She's perfect. Now tell me about your where can people find your book and the work that you're doing?

Kim Hudson 52:57
It's on Amazon, Amazon, both all kinds. It just recently got released? I think so. That's nice. Yeah, that's true. Michael, we see productions, and

Alex Ferrari 53:12
Your website and find you and your story

Kim Hudson 53:15
Storyarchetypes.com is where my website is.

Alex Ferrari 53:20
Good URL. That's a good URL to have. And I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Kim Hudson 53:29
We've been talking about be authentic.

Alex Ferrari 53:36
Yeah. Be authentic. Embrace your light, is what you're saying. Now what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Kim Hudson 53:52
Let it go. Have a friend who's a psychic who says she has never met somebody who hangs on to their pain so long? afraid this is my life lesson. Fair enough, gives up what kept her stuck.

Alex Ferrari 54:08
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Kim Hudson 54:11
Oh, okay. shockula, enchanted. And I'm gonna have to say Joker, whoa, parasite. They're both amazing. They're all virgin stories.

Alex Ferrari 54:24
What an amazing collection of films. Great, great collection. It has been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for putting this out in the world. And I'm gonna do my darndest to get this information out to the screenwriting public because it's something that's just not talked about enough. And I think it's a new way to approach story. And one last question. Can you have the hero journey and the virgins journey overlap each other in the same story?

Kim Hudson 54:55
Yes. As a matter of fact, it's not a person It's an energy and that energy they can, the hero or the Virgin energy can pass through the same person. But if you want an example, just if you were trying to like screenwriting figure out, how do I put the two together and have the stories work, frozen, the two characters Anna and Elsa, and as a hero, Alice's a virgin, and they just you've watched them connect with each other, though, there are stages there, the rescue greet order. That's a place where the hero crosses over with the Virgin story.

Alex Ferrari 55:34
So is does it have to be two characters? Or can this be in the one can this be in one character? And the two both?

Kim Hudson 55:41
It can be both. Yeah. So there's tons where, where the well, ever after she saves herself, the original writing of the pretty woman apparently she saved yourself in the end. And then he came back. They rewrote that. But there's lots. Yeah. So you definitely in and we'll know this in our own lives, that you can be the hero in your own life. And you definitely need to be in charge of your own versions journey.

Alex Ferrari 56:13
We will leave it at that. Kim, thank you so much for being on the show. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you and thank you again for the work that you're doing. Appreciate you.

Kim Hudson 56:21
You're welcome. Thanks for having me. This is lovely.



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IFH 708: Writing the INSANE World of Machette with Alvaro Rodriguez

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Enjoy today's episode with guest host Dave Bullis.

Dave Bullis 0:56
Joining me tonight is Alvaro Rodriguez. Alvaro is a screenwriter who is currently working on season two of from dusk till dawn the series. His career in film actually began when he began riffing on a Spanish guitar for the heroes musical theme and his cousin Robert Rodriguez debut film airmail Yachi, which began a collaboration that has lasted over two decades. Alvaro, how are you sir?

Alvaro Rodriguez 2:01
I'm doing great. How are you?

Dave Bullis 2:04
Pretty good. So the weather in PA has gotten a lot better over the past few days.

Alvaro Rodriguez 2:08
That's good st here in Austin.

Dave Bullis 2:10
Oh, nice. You know, I actually want to talk to you about Austin, before I get to that. So could you give us a little more detail about your background? You know, and how, you know, every how you got started in the film business?

Alvaro Rodriguez 2:23
Sure. Well, you know, I grew up with a love for movies. And I grew up with a love for reading, writing, and always wanted to be a novelist. And would, you know, say, Well, I know, it's a hard road to try to to do. And, you know, I probably end up being a teacher, which I was for a time. But I want to, you know, keep writing. But I had this cousin Robert, who, you know, when I first remember spending any time with him, we were kids at my grandmother's house and in South Texas sitting in the back of a truck. And he was talking about this new movie that had just come out, which she hadn't seen yet, but seemed to know everything about how the director had done this shot and how this was done, and all that stuff. And my job was just on the floor, but out of the truck, because I realized I finally found someone who loved movies, baby boy. And that movie was called The Escape from New York, John Carpenter's. The early 80s. And, and it was just like, you know, a lighted off in my head, I was probably in the fifth grade or so. And I started to write my first little scripts, and written a parody of the TV show Dallas. And just thought, you know, this is great, I'm gonna write scripts, Robert will direct them and the Sister Angela, his older sister, my older cousin, she'll start and then she wanted to be an actress. And it actually did happen. And she, she became an actor, she was in several movies, and including a movie that really well called shorts. So it was it was amazing. It was amazing to see that all finally kind of come come through. But and then, you know, later on, I didn't use it for his first show or anything, like you mentioned. And but after that, we started collaborating on a script together, which never got made cultural death was part which we wrote for an actress that Robert had met, and thought was going to be the next big thing. And she was Salma Hayek and ever since then, I just, you know, was writing on different projects with him, you know, reading themes or dialogue or, or ideas for the movies, like for rooms and road racers, and then later plants, and then the roof shorts and machete together.

Dave Bullis 4:38
So and, you know, where did it you know, well, actually, you know, I'll get to that later from Gustl. Don, because I don't want to get too far ahead. But I mean, that's absolutely amazing, you know, no, you know that you're able to collaborate with a family member. And it was so amazing. He's able to open all these doors for you. And you know, that that mean, you know, and that's, you know, a couple of things I want to touch on. So there's just Really quickly, are you at the South by Southwest festival right now?

Alvaro Rodriguez 5:03
I am did yeah, we're shooting shooting my episode protested on second season second episode right now. And this happened to coincide with Southwest festival. So then able to go and do some screenings and and, you know, networking and stuff like that it's been fantastic.

Dave Bullis 5:25
So are you filming this series in Austin?

Alvaro Rodriguez 5:28
Yeah, the entire show shoots in and around Austin. Robert has his own studio troublemaking Studios, where he shot many of the films. And here in Austin, which is right next to Austin Studios, where we also have set and we're shooting in and around town and different locations. Machete was shot entirely here in Austin to on those on those stages, and then around town. So it's amazing. It's amazing to be able to have that kind of those kind of facilities and just a great crew, break people that that, you know, Robert uses, again, and again, on all these different projects. So it makes our TV show look like a like a big feature project.

Dave Bullis 6:19
That's amazing. We would work with the same crew and everything over and over. You know, that is a great benefit. And also, it's great that, you know, he has a studio right there in Austin. You know, the reason I asked where you're shooting was because, you know, with all these film tax credits, and that there's, you know, the debate about you know, do they work? Do they not work? You know, I know, sometimes you get thrown through a loop, you know, we know, like Season One of Banshee was filmed in North South or North Carolina. And season two was actually filming here in Pennsylvania.

Alvaro Rodriguez 6:46
Yeah, probably Austin is Austin has really become over the last couple of decades. Quite a film and television production. You know, this new series on ABC American crime takes place in the best of California that was shot entirely in Austin. Hopefully, they'll be back for season two. And, you know, it's it's really amazing that they're in Austin, you know, it just has developed a really strong reputation for film and television. A lot of people want to be here. We have guys in our, in our cast that are, you know, bought license here. And you know, are and I've heard same stories from other other crew members on other projects that they've worked on. And from other people that, you know, awesome is a place where, you know, actors want to come work there. And because they have such a good time in the city and city is very open to, to all those kinds of things to great creative, creative Nexus here in Austin.

Dave Bullis 7:49
Yeah, I've always heard that. And I've always heard that slogan, Keep Austin weird.

Alvaro Rodriguez 7:53
Yeah. So we're doing our part, we're doing our part to keep it weird.

Dave Bullis 8:01
So what's one of the coolest things that you have seen thus far at the South by Southwest festival?

Alvaro Rodriguez 8:07
Well, last night, I went to a screening that was touted as a 30th I think the 31st anniversary screening, the road warrior with George Miller, director in attendance. And we got to see kind of a sneak after the film of the new Fury Road, the new Mad Max film, we got to see about seven or eight minutes of that. And then a special trailer that was just cut for South by Southwest and Warner Brothers spec a brand new prints of the film. So it just looks absolutely amazing. And of course road warriors such a huge influence on both Robert and myself. And Robert actually got to, to do a, an episode of his series on the overlay called the director's chair for his interviews, different directors. He just aired the latest one a week or so ago with Francis Ford Coppola. And he got to film an episode with George Miller. And, you know, it's just it's just amazing to see, to see something like that in 35 millimeter, I think they said is the only film at South by Southwest that was reading the 35 millimeter on the big screen in in a beautiful theater downtown Austin, the Paramount which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. So it's just like, you know, that's, it's a really amazing account of priceless experience to see something like that.

Dave Bullis 9:37
I mean, I know you can't go into detail, but you know, um, you know, what did you think of a couple of minutes of the new, the new Mad Max, you're allowed to say?

Alvaro Rodriguez 9:46
It was amazing. It was really amazing. I mean, it was such a, it was it was such a tease. It was it was like please give us more please give us more.

Alex Ferrari 9:59
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Alvaro Rodriguez 10:09
You know, because it just, it looks beautiful. And I'm Hardy, Tom Hardy, who plays Mad Max with tastic show he's thrown the entire cast. It just has. It looks like a road warrior, you know, turn it up to 11. And you know Thunderdome everything and blast, that's just, I can't wait to see it opens may 15. And it just looks absolutely amazing for fans of that, that kind of film. I can't imagine that anybody's really going to be disappointed. It just didn't look. Looks stellar. I couldn't wait to see it after that case of it last night.

Dave Bullis 10:48
And that's good to hear coming from Nashville fan of the original as well. You know, because, you know, what the, you know, the sort of the trends you see now in film is, you know, there's a lot of remakes. There's a lot of you know, old properties established properties that are getting, you know, made updated, like, you know, a minute where even TV shows, but you know, it's good that there are, you know, personally like 21 Jump Street, I thought that was hilarious. Like, you know what, I mean, I went in there with almost no expectations. And I came out and I said, Wow, that was actually pretty damn good.

Alvaro Rodriguez 11:21
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that's the thing, you know, the remakes and reboots, and reimagining is often get, you know, short shrift, and people say, you know, there's been more well, you know, just because of con voters may True Grit doesn't erase the first film, you know, doesn't erase the original. And a lot of things, you know, writing and entertainment and stories are, it's such a, it's already inherently a system of recycling, you know, that this system of, of taking something old, and giving it a new spin and sunlight. And obviously, you can fall on that as a crutch, but I think we need to have talent. And, and this will sort of, like, make something better, or make something with your own touch. And you have someone like George Miller, who's, you know, at the helm of, of taking Mad Max and doing the reimagining or reboot, or whatever you want to call it. That, you know, you're in the hands of a master. And, and there are so many, you know, it's a whole new generation who weren't able to experience vote order, the first time it came out, and the context in which it came out, you know, in the context in which it came out, it was like this, you know, this post apocalyptic future that we seem to be so close to now. And that's one of the things that, that makes, I think, the movie resonant, and the original again, and giving, giving new ideas for, for what the reboot is going to be, you know, so I have, you know, I don't have the same sort of negative outlook on those kinds of things, I guess, you know, some, some people call things complete che and I say, No, it's not a cliche, it's a universal truth. Just go with that.

Dave Bullis 13:16
Yeah, you know, and I agree with you, bro. You know, sometimes what I seem to see from even my friends is, there's two kinds of attitudes they have, either they go like, they either say, like, we see something like, you know, like a big budget blockbuster, whether it's a superhero movie, or you know, transformers, what have you. They'll say like, you know, if they didn't like it, they'll say, Oh, well, you know, what, what did you expect? They know that blah, blah, blah, you know, or the other one is, it's overrated, or, you know, it's this or that. I mean, it just seems to be like, if they like when someone does try something new. They're sort of like, you know, you do something new. It's almost like there's a trend, you know, in movie reviewers have been like, Oh, my God, why were they doing this? And then, you know, that's where you can say, like, hey, we tried to do something new, and nobody wants to go see it.

Alvaro Rodriguez 14:02
That's true. And there's this thing, you know, and Dessel Don is reimagining as a television series, the reimagining of the movie, and taking that world further, you know, so, in so many ways, you know, we're guilty of it too, but we're trying to do something else with it, you know, we're trying to take it further and, and develop characters bring in new characters that just utilize that world and we have to get the other thing to remember is exactly what you said, this is a this is in so many ways that business, and sometimes it's easier, it's a different, it's an easier sell to sell someone something that they think they already know. And but it's just the now it's it's the same, but it's different. And it's it's that kind of ability to take take something that some people already are familiar with, and give it back to them in a new way. And I think that when when you do that, well, people respond to it. Well, and that was one of the great things about working on the show is that You know, it was very apparent very early on, that everybody involved in the cast and writers and the directors that were brought on board to direct episode, they were all coming to this as a, as a bit of a passion project. Nobody was really there, in my opinion, just kind of picking up the check and you know, walking away from it. Everybody was really invested in, in, in the project. I think he just you get it, you get a sense of that when you watch the stuff. And so, you know, I think that's, that's the best you can hope for this finance for.

Dave Bullis 15:36
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And you I've watched the whole the whole first season. And I can definitely tell you know, you have both of the main of the gecko brothers. They both were one looks like Clooney, one looks like Tarantino, I thought I mean, that was excellent casting, by the way. I was like, Well, I mean, I could see, you know, the, the, you know, finding someone looks like Tarantino, he has a unique look. So I was like, Man, that was it must have been either the easiest casting session ever, were the hardest casting session ever. Because, you know, I mean, either you have to look through a ton of headshots or like, only to get, you know, to closely resemble, you know, actors who submitted. And you know, and when I watched them, I watched it, you know, especially the first couple episodes, it takes place, you know, that same little convenience store with the sheriff. And, you know, and, you know, it was, you know, very well done. And, and then there's also, you know, for those who haven't seen it, there's also a whole layer that you've added to the TV show as well.

Alvaro Rodriguez 16:33
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, an eye opening in that opening episode, which is very based on the first five or 10 minutes of the film. In the film, a character from Texas Ranger Oh, McGraw's play by Michael Parkes, and he gets killed off in that first 10 minutes of come. And we had, you know, Don Johnson playing the character on our show, you know, he's a tremendous actor in it to begin with, but we were going to extend his role so that even though his character died in the first episode, he was in flashbacks for the next few episodes. And you got to see more of that character. And that's a lot of the fun of the project like this, too, is that it exists in this special, you know, world called the Tarantino universe, you know, they guarantee universe you know, or McGraw shows up and planet chair or McGraw shows up in, in other other Tarantino things. So you've got this kind of continuity of story and things like that these characters just kind of show up in these different Tarantino kind of related things. And so, it's, it's amazing to, to have a small part in that, in that world.

Dave Bullis 17:46
Yeah, and I think you've done a phenomenal job. You know, I, you know, I, when I first heard about, you know, this was on series, I, I was like, it was just gonna be a continuation, you know, this is gonna be a prequel. And then I watched it, I was like, Oh, wow, it's really interesting what they've done here. And they sort of

Alvaro Rodriguez 18:05
I was just gonna say, back in the day, you know, back in the late 90s, I actually had Robert was out out in Japan promoting a film he did call the faculty and we were messaging each other online. And he said, you know, dimension there, Max, we're interested in doing a couple of sequels decimal dot, probably will be straight to video and shot back to back and asked me if I had any ideas. And so I pitched an idea for basically it's sort of spaghetti western prequel to decimal gone, which we ended up making as decimals on three, the hangman's daughter, with Michael parks playing a real real life character named Ambrose Bierce, who disappeared in Mexico around the time of the Mexican Revolution. And so, it was great to have already kind of had the background of doing research the story also sort of the genesis of some tiny Danica pandamonium character played by Salma Hayek and original film, and cat came up with this different backstory for her and researching all the sorts of Mesoamerican mythologies of an aspect in mind things and special ideas about what these these creatures were, that inhabit the bordello south of the border. And so coming to the show, again, it was like taking some of the some of those same ideas going so much further with Herman and creating, you know, more backstory and more more, sort of lines of story and plot and character arcs and all that kind of stuff. That really was respond to work with, and coming up with ideas for for for the season, especially since you know, after the first season, the movie is over. We kind of took that movie and turned it into 10 cups of television. Obviously with a lot of new material. A lot of new characters added the character that will move all around the place

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

Alvaro Rodriguez 20:09
Just one to three characters that Cheech Bernie plays in the film, Carlos, in the movie is new, there's so much of a character in our show cause to become a main, a huge part of the show, a big anchor for the show. And now it's easy to like, you know, the world is open again. And so to be able to create the season March, you know, that takes us completely out of the movie. Now, the following these characters and allowing the stories and storylines and arcs to grow from characters, instead of just following what we had already seen, was a great challenge. And also just a great opportunity to try to do something interesting and

Dave Bullis 20:53
Just allow for a win when you're, you know, working together, imagine, you know, before each season, you know, you and all the other writers are in the room together, you know, how much how much outline do you do before you actually all get started writing your own episodes,

Alvaro Rodriguez 20:53
It was it was really kind of an amazing process, we had had kind of an eight week, stretch last summer, to just talk out where we were going. And one of the one of the I think really invaluable things that we did was, we brought in each of the main therapists, each of the main actors in one at a time to come into the room and talk about their character. Tell me and tell me what you thought about season one? How do you feel your character feels at the end of season one? How does your character feel about other characters on the show? What did you like about season one? What did you not like about season? Two differently? What kinds of things you know, would you like to see your character doing and stuff like that, and that really kind of gave us a lot of ideas. And we started out with with, with some ideas about where we thought we would go in season. But, you know, it was a it was a really evolutionary process and a really collaborative process. I think that was that was amazing. And, and then as far as outlining, now, there's so much of, you know, like, they say, so much of writing is rewriting so much for writing, it's also a prewriting process, before the scripts of, you know, writing outlines, having them, you know, brought to the table having them torn apart and rebuilt, you know, ideas that we had for a big finale that that might get just pushed, you know, further or closer to, you know, before the end of the season. So we can even go further from the big idea that we had, and all those kinds of things, you know, it's a, it really is sort of, you know, nothing is written in stone sort of thing as we're in that process. And things are very fluid and flexible, with the, with the idea of being open to open to trying to collaboratively and individually, Bring, bring your A game and keep constantly trying to challenge ourselves to make things better. One of the things our share winner has kind of instilled in all of us, this idea of, you know, our shareholders, depending FroKnowsPhoto has worked on several shows most of us, you know, great record and television. And one of the things, you know, he would say is if someone brought an idea that everybody thought, hey, that's a really good, that's a really good idea of characters, you know, do that, let's you look and earn it, you know, let's not try to put a pin over here and say, by this time this has to happen. But let's really see if we can get our characters to that point, organically through the characters themselves. Getting to that, to that good idea, you know, so it's a, it's a, it's a, it's a real challenge. And, and but, you know, it feels like, you know, we're all working together to do to try to do that.

Dave Bullis 23:57
And, you know, it's really great to have a showrunner, you know, with a lot of experience, you know, to actually sort of guide it along. I mean, you know, I've actually talked to other writers or other shows, and they've mentioned how important that person can be because, you know, like, you just said, you know, people have to earn it. And you can't sort of force it just because, hey, it's a cool idea.

Alvaro Rodriguez 24:18
Right! Yeah, no, absolutely. And that, and that, I think that spirit really continues on you. And as we're shooting an episode, you know, we come up with an idea, even as we're shooting and say, you know, maybe this needs to happen. Well, it's, you know, that's not trying to force it, let's, let's really try to find a way to make it to make it seem like a natural organic part of the story. And so, you know, there's that and we're just really, really fortunate and, you know, to creative these populations are great, great crew, great actors, great directors, photography and great directors on our episodes, to really kind of I try to, you know, to do the best that we can with, with, with ideas and with the scripts and, and, you know, try to put out something that people will will be intrigued by and want to keep watching.

Dave Bullis 25:14
So, you know, allroad now that you have, you know, you you, have you episode everything from the writers meeting, you know, how do you personally sit down to write? I mean, do you? So, I mean, I know, you've probably have a couple of points, and a couple of things that you have to incorporate in the episode. But do you? Do you sort of break it out into the eight parts, like the age structure theory? Or do you just do the traditional three act, or do you not do any of that and just go go for it in,

Alvaro Rodriguez 25:43
Oh, you know, we definitely stick to a structure, you know, on our show, we kind of go with what we, you know, presented a five act structure. And, and the outline will reflect the ACT breaks, and, you know, sometimes there's a fluid and those change, always try to have a really good strong act out. And then a strong Act in, you know, in between the breaks and stuff like that. So, you know, the outline process is fairly rigorous, and, and it's really as detailed as we can possibly make it. And then other things, there's leftist, you know, with our terminology and the writers opportunity to, you know, kind of, when you're writing the script, to actually find something that, you know, will, will not maybe not have been in the outline, or not as clear in the outline, that suddenly, in the writing of the of the script itself, you know, but, as far as the writing process, you know, it's, it's a lot of crying a lot of procrastination, a lot of, you know, suicidal thoughts, and then somehow putting together something that, that, that, you know, it's going to be challenged again, you know, and I think that's, in a lot of ways, that's a, that's a liberating part of the thing too, you know, realizing that, that, you know, it's our duty to try to give the best that we can, but realize that, you know, it's always going to be improved upon, it's really always going to, it's still a valuable thing, and up to the moment, that's the issue. Because there are things that happen. And new ideas that come in one of the one of the great things about this particular season is that we were able to have, you know, all of our scripts written before we actually started shooting. And so that allowed, you know, for a certain amount of, you know, being able to go over the entirety of the season, and the scripts, and really try to, you know, make sure all the setups were set up, and all the payoffs are paid off, you know, and, and everything got hit. So it, it you know, it sets the bar pretty high. So hopefully, we can, we can, we can make that jump.

Dave Bullis 28:06
So, you know, as your writing style sort of changed over the years, you know, from, you know, obviously was within your IMDB and your your first actual writing credit is, you know, from dusk till dawn three Hangman's daughter. So when you move back to where you are now, has your wedding sort of process changed a lot.

Alvaro Rodriguez 28:28
I think the process has probably changed a bit. And I think that the style has probably changed. And I remember back to that time, you know, one of the executives who was at the mansion at the time, said, you know, your script is great, and it reads almost like a novel. And I realized that I was, you know, I really wasn't trained as a screenwriter, a lot of this was, you know, kind of learning by doing. I didn't, I never had taken any kind of screenwriting classes or anything like that, and didn't go to school. I was an English major. But I had a lot of background and both, I had three semesters of creative writing as an undergraduate in poetry of all things. And then I was also an entertainment journalist for the student newspaper, it was just an entertainment editor. And, you know, and had done some new stuff, too. I was working in newspaper while I was writing vessel, Dawn three. And it felt like, you know, those things, which I thought of this happen, were actually strong primers for screenwriting. Because in screenwriting, it's so much about the essence of things, and such a skeletal structure that the poetry lent lends itself to that because in poetry so many times you're trying to break, you know, sensations and images and emotions in a reader in a few words as possible, creating these images in as few words as possible. And in journalism, you know, it's kind of this this just the facts, ma'am, kind of reporting, you know, which also lends itself to screenwriting. So those were those were, those were actually powerful, you know, sort of setup tools for me

Alex Ferrari 29:59
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Alvaro Rodriguez 30:09
But, you know, even then I feel like, like I learned to kind of find my voice, I think my voice was, was there in that in the first strip in payments, or wasn't the first group that written this first group that got made, and to kind of hone that down and keep trying to, you know, to, to convey as much information as possible in the most economical way possible. And, and try to really find the power of the language, in order to convey in the readers minds, that might be a reader picking up the script, and is the one who's going to pass it on to the next guy are not, or to actually have a shooting script and have, you know, the director read this and say, you know, this is how we're going to do this, or the director, photography resistance, they just have, it's going to be shot without using, you know, without telling them exactly what they're going to do, but just to be able to sort of suss that out for themselves in the script that you've written. So yeah, I think it's definitely evolved to use that word and as part of the process, and, you know, I hope that I can keep, you know, keep evolving, keep getting better at what I'm doing.

Dave Bullis 31:29
And, you know, I mean, it's, it's amazing that, you know, you always, you know, finding new ways to improve. You know, I've noticed that too, you know, you touched on something about, you know, you said the script read read like a novel. You know, as I as I do more screenwriting as well. And even read scripts, I've realized, I've finally realized now that actually reading screenplays that have either been produced or not produced, but have been like, you know, either bought or optioned, really gives you gives you a view into that world that, you know, any screenwriting guru or whatever can't give you if you know what I mean?

Alvaro Rodriguez 32:06
Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think that's the thing too, I spent, I spent a long time once I started really writing and you know, hanging his daughter, and after that, of amassing a library of anything I thought was useful. But among those, you know, practically every book on screenwriting ever written, and I was always trying to find, you know, I was always trying to find shortcuts, maybe not the right word, but but sort of techniques or ideas of things that could help me, you know, in the process, and the problem with that sometimes, and it was for me was that, you know, it can become a crutch, it can actually become kind of a stifling, habit stifling. And when I was writing, and I would be like, you know, I don't know what I'm gonna do next. But I know the answer is probably on the shelf over here somewhere or these shelves, or this whole, you know, this room of books. And, and I think that the more that the more more that you actually do in the process, the more that you're actually involved in the writing process, the less that you feel like you need those kinds of things, because you've already sort of, you've made them a part of yourself, their inherent in your own sensibilities, because you've been a reader your whole life, you've read, you read scripts, or you've read novels, you've seen movies, you understand the language of film, you understand the language of screenwriting. And, and I think you're sort of getting to that point where I was kind of using the example of when I was an undergraduate, when I first got to the University of Texas, I tested out of 16 hours of Spanish, you know, and I never had to take like, I never had to take Spanish at the college level. And I felt like I never really got as intensive training in Spanish as I could have. And it wasn't until years and years later, I was finally like reading books in Spanish and realizing I wasn't translating into English in my head, as I was reading, I was just understanding. And I think it's the same thing with with the writing, it's like I, I already had the language of screenwriting, and the language of cinema in my brain, and I just needed to kind of tap into it and realize that all of these things are many of them. Were already inherently a part of my, my own sensibility.

Dave Bullis 34:24
Yeah, and, you know, I realized it too, is that when you, you know, sort of, when you start doing it, and you know, doing it as the most important part when you start getting in there and actually writing and, you know, being resistance and, and, and, you know, you start to realize you don't need those signposts as much, you know what I mean? So, you know, you I'm sure you've heard of, like, you know, there's certain rules like, Oh, by page 17, this has to happen. And, you know, and you realize that, you know, those guideposts aren't like definitive rules. They're just, you know, either, I guess you could say principles or you know, someone was just like, hey, Look, I noticed that on page 17 of these scripts this happened. So therefore, here's the rule.

Alvaro Rodriguez 35:04
Right! Well, I mean, that's the thing. I mean, I did, I did take workshops later on, especially like, I didn't save the cat workshop here in Austin with Luke Snyder when he was when he was still alive. And, and it was, it was, it was the first screenwriting workshop I'd ever done. And it was so amazing to me, because what Blake had done in his broken in the workshop was to take, you know, the sort of the sort of 15 beach, and how to show you how, you know, if you could look at drawers, and you could look at, you know, a comedy, and you could look at a horror film, you could look at it, whatever genre it was, you could always sort of find these sort of 15 things in it. And the way that he described them, this is, you know, it's like the casual Fridays version of the, you know, story or blue hunter or whatever, that, that it was, it was so accessible, you know, and, but I think, think about those things you choose that you really kind of have to take them as, as a descriptive and not prescriptive, you know, it's describing a thing that already exists. And when you, you can definitely apply them, and they can help you in structure. But, but don't be so confined to, to a page number or anything like that, just like, just know that this is sort of the way stories have been told throughout time. That's why I feel like so much of it is inherent, it's not telling you stuff that you already know, but putting it in the language that makes it sort of accessible and easy to understand, you know, so I think, I think all those things are valuable, I don't discount them in any way, shape, or form. But I think that you realize that, you know, it's kind of telling you things that you sort of already intrinsically know, and maybe have just not thought of in those terms before gives you gives you a terminology, it gives you a way to name the parts of the body of your story. And, and realize, hey, you know, the knee bones connected to the shin bone, and that, that's that that's the way that the body works. That's the way story word. And if you you know, if you put these pieces together, and realize that there's a framework, then you can kind of, you know, mess around with that and switch things around and, and surprise yourself, even with the hopes that that that's going to surprise the reader and surprise your audience. And I think the other thing is to not discount at all the value of actually working with actors, and actually being involved in the process. So that, you know, only for me, I was always kind of describing myself as a guy chained to the laptop in the dungeon. And these are all just the voices in my head I was writing out. But when you actually, you know, onset. We're out actors like Don Johnson, or Robert De Niro and machete, you know, is doing lines to route and bringing in his own sensibilities to them and stuff like that. It's like, it opens up, you know, it's like, we're on the chakra level. He was just like, shut up, your mind explodes, you reached the crown, and you've reached Nirvana when someone like Robert De Niro is doing your dialogue, and bringing this whole other sensibility to it, but you didn't see, even as you were writing it, that can influence the way that you approach writing, in poetry and dollar approach writing scene or whatever it happens to be, you know what I mean?

Dave Bullis 38:22
Oh, yeah, it's a very good point. Um, you know, sometimes, I'll sit in with script readings. So, you know, I, I actually, I co founded a writers group two years ago, and we still meet, you know, we meet twice a month. And, you know, when everyone's done, we actually staged readings, especially with good actors, and have just ever, you know, reading in a conference room altogether. And, you know, and it's, you know, the writers who, actually, who wrote that particular script, you know, they're always frantically taking notes, because you actually hearing now, you know, different voice added to that, you know, because again, like you said, they come to, you know, putting their inflection on on the character,

Alvaro Rodriguez 39:00
Right! Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And just, you know, even things that you thought work on the page that don't work, in the reality of situation, or, or, and that's another thing, too, is like, just an example of last season. Working on an episode that I've written with Robert Patrick, and we were rehearsing the scene sitting around the table without Patrick and NASM, done for Brandon Sue, who would play Kate and Scott for this is children on show. And there was a moment I was just kind of kind of glanced over Robert, and he just had this look on his face. And I just told him, I said, you know, I can't even look at you because you're so you're so intense right now. I mean, you can do more with one look than than if I gave you a page of dialogue and realize that the physicality of the actor is something that never could sort of under underestimate in, in in the writing process.

Alex Ferrari 39:59
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Alvaro Rodriguez 40:08
And realize that you have to, you have to leave something for the actor, be simple for the actor to do. Recently in Los Angeles, I went to some screenings of films that John Borman made strikingly, Marvin, particularly point blank, and a movie called Helen Pacific. And Glenn Epstein, I think his name is had written a biography of Lee Marvin told the story about a senior blank blank in which we Marvins character, Jesus comes back to the his wife, who basically set him up or watched as he was allegedly killed and left for dead. And he comes back just to see her and realizing, or thinking that he's going to kill the guy who tried to kill him that he's been now shacked up with his wife, and had this scene where we had all this dialogue, me Marvin had all this dialogue with his wife, and he just asked if he could not say any of it, and just have the conversation beyond from the wife side. And, you know, it's just his wife kind of talking to him, as if they're having a conversation, but it's only her lines, and he's just giving her the CSIS look at and he's just, he's just acting without dialogue. And you see how much how smart that is, first of all, and how brave it is, for an actor to say, I can do this without words, I can do this with my own physicality with my own presence. Without, you know, without having to just say everything that I feel, I can show you that. And to think about that, as a writer is, you know, it's, it's an amazing sort of lesson and realizing that, that this, this really is a skeleton. And it's the actors, and it's the directors of photography, and directors in the lighting firms, everybody else puts the flesh on those bones. And, and, you know, it's something I think about, you know, in the process of writing fine to kind of leave that leave that space. You know, that's what the whitespace is, I think, you know, on the page, but whitespace is, is the place where the actor shines light spaces where it's not, you know, sort of snapping isn't the dialogue for how well you wrote this action line. The actors themselves, characters that are that are breathing between this in between. And I, I talked about Jonathan Wichman, song about the Velvet Underground, he has a line in there, where he says, they played less notes and less more state. And that sort of thing I tried to do in screenwriting, kind of pointless notes and leave more space, that space there for, for the actors to inhabit. And I think when you really have a strong theme, like that, the theme, I think, it's my favorite scene in that episode, where these characters are sitting together, realizing that they're, they're kind of stuck in this place, and, and stuff, Gecko is kind of forcing them to confront their own demons. And there's only one one thing that that the valley This is good, but it's, it's, it's really what the actors bring to it, it's really so much of what they're what they're showcasing their own panel capabilities. You know, provides a lesson to me as a writer,

Dave Bullis 43:29
It's sort of like adding that layer of subtext, you know, and it's sort of, you know, finding a way to actually say things that actually coming out and saying them and all the things below the surface. And, you know, I've never actually seen that movie, but I will make sure to actually check that out. Because that would, you know, that's a way to, you know, to tell a story.

Alvaro Rodriguez 43:49
Yeah, point let me and I think he also gives another example another movie that we Marvin did with the director Richard Brooks called the professional which is a Western it's also I'm sure it's a big influence on on planning Tarantino and things like that too. But point blank to the professionals and talents Pacific which is basically in a lot of ways a silent film, to actually live in and to share the filming the Japanese actor are stranded on an island in World War Two. And you know, one of the speaking with women speak Japanese for this remade in a way as enter the mind and 80s Bible from theaters. With Denis play the new Boston is a sci fi movie, we're human and alien or crash landed on this planet. And, you know, you just, you're just such strong lessons for a writer, to look at structure to look at how stories are told, and to look at the, you know, to be reminded of, of how much can be done with silence or how much can be done with with work with with with the telling story, or Robert told the story. I'm not yours actually in the director's chair or not, that's something that Francis Coppola had told him and he was doing the interview about, you know, something that he liked to do with the actors is shooting an entire scene without dialogue, just as a, just as a rehearsal as a practice. And laboratory, he never, he never actually done that before. But he was really intrigued to try it. You know. And, and I think that those, you know, there's something, there's something that can be gained by that. There's, there's definitely a lesson to be learned. From the writer standpoint, and from the directing standpoint, to you know, that you're not dependent, what was coming out of the actors. Now, as much as you are, you know, remembering that this is cinema, you know, this is a visual medium. People remember shots, people remember quotes from movies all the time. But, you know, when you have a scene, and you let the actors sort of really inhabit that thing, and you don't not in a hurry, I'll cut. You know, you can find some impressive moments, and hopefully, remember them in a way that will illuminate your own writing. At least I did.

Dave Bullis 46:11
And that is a very interesting technique as well, you know, what I want? And one of these, you know, film books I have? No, you can't see it right now. There's a whole shelf of screaming in books behind me of films and everything else. Once again, I'm sure I'm sure we have probably have almost the entire same library. But but, you know, there was a technique where the guy actually says, watch your favorite film without sound. And, and, you know, and yes, just see how every scene plays out?

Alvaro Rodriguez 46:39
Absolutely, absolutely. You know, one piece of advice that I've often given people, you know, either in a workshop that I've taught or, or LED, or, you know, people have asked me about, you know, writing something, and I said, Well, you know, like, you've seen lots of movies. So what's your, you know, think of a movie that has a great scene and that you really love, and then try to find the screenplay for that movie, and read the scene, read and read. What does that look like on paper? You know, you have this favorite scene from, you know, I don't know, The Exorcist or to live and die in LA or freakin examples. But, you know, what does that look like on paper? Well, it was just an action scene, one of the action laundry lines, and then what how does what does that look like? And just to see the thing that you've always seen, completely visual, visually? And what's that look like? When it's words on paper? You know, and, and to see how that was translated to become the scene that you loved in the movie? I think that's a that's a really strong lesson for kind of just just to experience that in a different way. And that's,

Dave Bullis 47:52
Yeah, and I agree that something I've done too, is actually go out and find the screenplays of things. Like I Speaking of which, you know, you know, the Oscars weren't too long ago. As soon as I watched Birdman and the Grand Budapest Hotel, I was like, I gotta see these screenplays. Right. I think those two and whiplash are definitely the best written movies in the Oscar race. And those are three screenplays. I was like, I just want to see how they did this. And, you know, it's phenomenal. And actually, I had one of the writers of Birdman, Alex and Dan Alerus, on here, about 15 episodes ago, and he was, you know, as awesome be able to pick his brain, but it is yours. Because, you know, you're the guy who actually wrote You know, you know, you know, these films that you know, we're talking about, so you can actually tell us? No, this is what I did, you know, and speaking of which, you know, I want to ask you, you know, about machete, and, you know, I wanted to ask you, you know, did you come up with this, you know the inception of this idea, or was it was it, Robert or was it was it your brainstorming

Alvaro Rodriguez 48:55
It was always Robert, it was always Robert and Danny. I mean, I think you know, when Robert first met Danny pareho when you can so edition for Desperado. And you know, the storytellers with Robert took one look at Danny's you're the guy. Rob. Danny was auditioning for a character called the boss which means knives. And he's a nicer and Desperado. And then talking to Derek. Oh, hi. And, you know, Danny had been packing for many years already. Usually playing you know, bug number three, or you know, the bad guy. It's fall apart. And you know, Robert, just like you said, became fast friends with Danny and said, you know, it'd be great to make a movie in which you're the you're the hero. You're the guy. And I think that was sort of the inception of machete and Robert had written kind of a long treatment script and that kind of thing for for a machete character. And then when it came time to make the Grindhouse Rubbermaid plant chair punter gene and a deaf person is releasing several feature.

Alex Ferrari 49:56
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Alvaro Rodriguez 50:05
Then came up with this idea of really kind of going with the whole double feature drive in concept and doing fake trailers for movies that didn't exist. And so machete became one of those things. And it was like, well, great, we can just make the big trailer, we got to have to make the movie. But then, you know, even though Brian house, you know, sort of underperformed with the box office, the trailer from the shed, he sort of took on a life of its own on YouTube and things like that. And people really responded to it, it became a thing where it's not low, we're actually going to do and I started writing around the time of Grindhouse, I was there and wrote a little bit of dialogue is actually in the trailer with GH as the priest. And then you know, later on, just started working from the trailer, basically, and creating a new story, a fuller story out of it, and having creating more characters, the just all the character, the show boundaries character, that that Don Johnson character, all those kinds of things that just really evolved over time until we actually knew the phone. And, and you see, you know, you see how it turned out.

Dave Bullis 51:24
Yeah, I thought it was phenomenal. And I ain't you know, it, you know, it was the Grindhouse theme, you have the cuts and scratches. And you know, and you know, and it's just you know, Danny is the perfect guy to play a guy. I mean, he looks at a guy named machete.

Alvaro Rodriguez 51:39
Yeah. Oh, absolutely. I just did a panel with him the Comic Con in Fort Lauderdale two weeks ago, you know, and someone from the audience asked, you know, what's your favorite character, and said, you know, machete, and Marcia Brady. asked him how that happened. And he said, Yeah, you know, my manager says, you know, I think we got a Superbowl commercial. And he was like, You're kidding, you know, what, what do I have to do? You have to be Marcia Brady, you're not gonna do it. You know, even that is just like, so amazing. It was so amazing. It's terrific. Glasses, should be a small part of the sort of persona that Danny has been able to inhabit as that character.

Dave Bullis 52:41
So when you know when they were filming with Chet de we you on set every day, or were you orgies a few days, or

Alvaro Rodriguez 52:47
A few days, I was on, off and on? It was you know, it was amazing. It was amazing. I got to be upset when Robert De Niro was there and talked to him a bit. And, you know, you're so you're so generous. And so, so commented. And I think the thing about, you know, the thing about him, too, was that, you know, he was feeling he had expressed interest in becoming involved in the project early on, to play the plays this genogram. And in the original draft of the script, the senator was just the guy to get shot, it was not really a character in the, in the script. So it really started having to try to build a character out of this guy. And so you know, that the thing that, you know, we understood from from Robert Janiero was that he wasn't interested in, you know, doing it unless there was really something there to do. And it didn't want people to fail. He was just, you know, picking up a check. And so, you know, started coming up with ideas and sending in dialogue and concepts and stuff like that. And we get responses, like, that's good, that's good, Keep coming, keep coming. And, you know, finally hit on sort of the finale of his character, and, you know, the speeches that I'd written for his character, you know, when you signed on, and one of the funny things in the, in the finale of the film after he's been shot, he's dying on the floor, on the ground, with Lindsay Lohan dressed as a nun hovering over him with a gun. He's sort of kind of blanking out, you start in my script, at least one draft of it. He starts reciting the act of contrition and the Catholic act of contrition in Latin, like he's reverting back to his actual, you know, he's not really a Texan and all this stuff. And Robert read the thing and he's like, Well, what the hell is this? It's like, you know, he's not really fixing he's he's reverting back to this, you know, New York childhood or whatever. It is all deploying either saying that contrition forgiveness before he dies. And it's like, that doesn't make you never going to do that. And then that one day and I got a call from Elizabeth Ramadan, those spirits are on the phone. But she's like, I want to read the need the Latin correctly talking about, like the Latin thing that the Nero says he's working with a priest, he wants to get it right. But that was the thing he was. So he became just completely prepared into every line of dialogue. And he did, you know, it was never a thing where, you know, I don't know, my line or whatever like that, please, you know, he was she was totally into it. And I think he had a really good time doing it, and certainly had, you know, it was definitely a highlight of my professional career to say, Well, I didn't really Robert De Niro, and Lohan and everybody else, but you know, he was definitely an actor. I grown up, you know, just loving every film that was done. And I was so impressed with with him and his presence. But had backstories I guess for a lot of the actors that I've worked with, have just been really fortunate to have people that just always think to bring their A game

Dave Bullis 54:04
And asked me such a high as a writer to to say, you know, hey, Alfa, who's your movie? Oh, we had, you know, Robert De Niro. And so and you you also you touched on your your Lindsay Lohan. And I'll see you at Steven Seagal movie as well.

Alvaro Rodriguez 56:32
Steven Seagal was great. We had you know, Don Johnson written some things, you know, Robert has spent a lot of time with Don Johnson before and, and so you know, we use some of the like little phrases that Don Johnson says in the sprint. And I was sitting with him one day on set, and he was like, Oh, I love this is great. You know, I say stuff like this, like, how does that blow your spirit up? And I said, I know. That's why we put it in to be very natural. It was, you know, just amazing. Really, I mean, even during the editing process I was sitting with, with my cousin, Rebecca Roberts, younger sister who was working on the film as well. We were watching the dinner scene. And I said, just stop for a minute. And she said, What's matter? That's Robert De Niro. Thing lines I wrote, you know, in my room, and now it's just like, I didn't need a minute.

But you know, it's great. And whenever stuff like that happened, it's important to just say thank you, I'd be amazed by it all.

Dave Bullis 57:44
You know, and that is that is absolutely amazing. And, and, you know, like you said, it's also as I've been finding it to, to have gratitude as well and always miss and live in the moment and not, you know, just sort of when you see Robert De Niro and just want to stop it there. That's, you know, that's amazing. Albro

Alvaro Rodriguez 58:02
I was just Yeah, I still get goosebumps. Thinking about it. You know? And it was, it was a great experience. And, you know, the movie did well. And, you know, I was just really proud of the way it turned out and realized that, you know, the last draft is the final edit of the movie. You know, there's so much of that movie that some so many ways that movie was improved by by the editor, and really making me come together. And, you know, it's far from a perfect movie, but it's definitely something I'm proud of. And, and, you know, it was a great experience.

Dave Bullis 58:44
And, you know, I particularly like the the the final battle between Seagal and Trejo because if you ask me in a million years, I never would have guessed that, you know, those two ever would have crossed paths and you know, in any movie because they sort of do different movies, you know, but they were able to come together for machete machete. And it's just, you know, I thought it was very well done. So and Scott was still doing his Akito and, you know, Trejo still swinging the mushroom in the mid shut days. He's so confused. I thought it was very well choreographed as well, I thought was phenomenal.

Alvaro Rodriguez 59:17
Yeah, well, thanks, Jamie. And, you know, that's again, it's like, you know, part of that part of the whole process of machete to is realizing for fairly early on, this was going to be in so many ways to kind of kitchen sink, rewriting. It's like, nothing is off by and nothing is out of bounds. Everything Is Everything is possible. You know, you could have a scene where a guy would close down a building with someone's intestines. Or, you know, Michelle establish those cops you know, or the fake cop through to the back of the seat and in the backseat of the car and then steers the car by turning is the surely through the guy, you know, and stuff like that. And it's and

Alex Ferrari 59:59
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Alvaro Rodriguez 1:00:08
You know, so it was, it was, it was pretty liberating in that way to them realizing that you're gonna have this, this pretty the final showdown were going on. anything was possible, you could have, you know, sword fight with machete and, you know, and the integral in his story, you know, it was just turning everything up to around him, I hope.

Dave Bullis 1:00:34
So, you know, when you were actually writing it, did you actually know Scott was gonna be cast in that part? Where did you actually, you know, sort of, you know, a follow up that part later on, when Scott was cast

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:00:44
A little bit of both, a little bit of both, I mean, the character was starting to be there before it was the goal. And then knowing it was the goal, things were, you know, were enhanced in attitude, it was, it was really fun that was part of the process with, with the movie itself. And even from Lindsay Lohan's character to I mean, Robert, told me if I can get Lindsay Lohan to play this part, but it's not even a part. You know, we got it, we got to try to, you know, give her some stuff and, and just sort of, you know, hit on these different little ideas that this kind of gave her gave her her own heart. And, and, and told a little story, you know, so it was great. It was, it was it was, it was so much fun to be a part of that, that process.

Dave Bullis 1:01:32
And, you know, that's great that everything was able to come together, you know, very, very, you know, it's something that, you know, you've been involved in moviemaking for, you know, doing with two decades now. And you know, you know, whatever can go wrong will go wrong in a film set. And, you know, or even even beyond that, you know, even when things are in development, it's so good. You were able to put it together. But I mean, again, if you have any listener out there has not seen that yet. I urge you to go out there and check it out. It's phenomenal. You know, we've been talking for about an hour now. Would you mind just taking a few quick questions that got sent in? Sure. I'm sorry. That was an hour flew by? Yeah, it always seems to work out that way. Which I don't know, if I just asked the right question. Or, you know, I just sort of I don't know. So, but you know, I'm glad it flew by? Because I mean, it was one of

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:02:25
The conversation. Yeah, it's the conversation, you know, when you when you talk and you have your conversation, you you're not looking at your watch. So that's what, that's good.

Dave Bullis 1:02:35
So our first question is alvaro, would you ever consider directing your own film?

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:02:41
Absolutely. Absolutely. I definitely am interested in doing that. Years and years and years ago, I had written was actually my first screenplay. And I was hoping to directly it was going to be very low budget, very independent Texas based project, it never really got off the ground, but sort of as, as training for that I went and made a short film on video that no one has ever seen, no one will ever see. But you know, and it happened so quickly. It was not much of a lesson to me, except to realize that I needed a lot more experience. You know, and that for a long time, I just, you know, whenever I was asked that question, I would say, you know, you know, I just right now I'm just really trying to focus on being a better writer, that's still my answer, I'm still trying to focus on being a better writer, but I'm definitely interested in doing that. Down the road behind the camera. And, you know, I think that's part of the new part of the great opportunity of working on decimal, Dawn is that, as a writer of the episode, we're sort of writer producer, you're they're upset, you're, you're working with the actors as much as you want to be. And so I've had very hands on experience in terms of working with the actors, or rehearsing with the actors, you know, even helping block scenes, and things like that, that. That, to me is like, again, sort of more fuel for the fire really wanting to take the opportunity to try to do to derive as well, I mean, I guess it's, it's the thing to have that less than that, I feel like I have learned or am learning about the sort of the sort of things that are sort of that I have the language or cinema in some way already in my brain. And I can, I can approach these things in that way. You know, we're still with a, with a very open, very open heart and mind thing and I'm always going to try to be learning. I'm the director and training or writer and training or whatever, you know, but I'm learning by doing and trying to be as involved in the process as possible.

Dave Bullis 1:05:07
And that's also you going to actually you're actually going by, you know, writing era directing your own film. Yeah. Because honestly, because then you could VOB like, you know, your, your cousin or Tarantino was, you know, write and direct and, you know, really put your stamp on the film, kind of like, you know, the tour theory of filmmaking, but this time, you know, you know, you can say that, because, you know, you have the writer director, you know, and you, you know, you

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:05:31
Yeah, well, you know, the theory is that wonderful, is a wonderful concept. And I certainly think that it holds true, you know, in a lot of ways, directors, especially those directors, you know, they definitely have a stance, but I think that the thing that maybe I realized, coming out of from the, from the perspective of the writer, and just sort of being a fly on the wall, sometimes in an onset, or whatever, in any kind of environment, when you see the process, you know, it's so filmmaking and television is the most collaborative, creative form that there is my mind, it is, through their collaboration, nothing is possible without, you know, everybody input everybody's efforts to make this thing happen. You know, if you really want to be an authority, you know, write poetry, because no one is ever going to say, you know, I'd really love to write a poem with you, you know. And, and I think that's, I mean, to me, that, that's, that's, that's, I think, that's a lot of ways why, you know, Robert, as, as really dependent on and creating relationships with people with whom you can work again, and again, actors and, and people behind camera, because there's a sort of shorthand language that the defense developed. And there's a, there's a sort of unwritten expectations on what people are bringing to the table. And, and doesn't mean that he doesn't direct, the RSC does, but but he is able to, to, to get what he wants, by, by virtue of having a really strong cast and crew. And, and be the first person to acknowledge that it may not have been that way, in the early days, because he was so he was so hands on. And so, you know, with El Mariachi and the short films that he made the for them, it was always a thing of, he was really trying to become a master of all trades, not just a jack of all trades, but a master of all of them, because he never knew what was going to be the thing that was going to get him a job. You know, maybe people will hate my movie, but they'll love the way it was shot. And I'll get a job as a DP. And they knew they'll hate, you know, they'll hate the way it looks, but they love the spirit and the dialogue, and I'll get hired as a writer. So he was always, you know, really trying to find the best in himself, to fill all those roles, to see which one was going to be the one thing that people responded, and they happen to respond to all of it, you know, in so many ways. And, but, you know, now in the, on the big scale, it's really impossible to do that so much anymore. And, you know, I think that, you know, whenever you see these speeches, when people are kept awards, and they, you know, they think, you know, the writers or they think the producers, and they, they thank the people who put this thing together, and it's, there's so much community experience. I think Orson Welles that every movie is a miracle. And the miracle is that you get all these different people who may have all kinds of different opinions to work together out upon. And that's really, I think, what sort of unites them and get everybody working for the good of the, of the project and doing their best.

Dave Bullis 1:09:07
And just add on you said, you know, the director is a guy that sort of leads a team and builds a team. That's so true. And, you know, one thing that I, you know, I've always heard is the idea of genius surround, which means, you know, always hire people that are smarter than you are. And, you know, that and that way, you know, you know, and they said, you know, we part of the director, directors job, it can be taken care of, just by hiring good, you know, having a great script, have a great cinematographer, and then having great actors and then you know, you pretty much you know, it's only yours to mess up from there.

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:09:46
If I were to go direct the film right now, I would have no idea you know, what kind of lighting am I going to use? Or what's the right terminology for this piece of lighting or that piece of lighting or this this lens or that lens? I would have no idea at all.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:10:10
You know, I might have, you know, a very, very, very basic idea. But I mean, again, that's the thing I, you know, it would be a matter of really kind of surrounding yourself with people who know what their, what their tasks are, that's great. And they know their strengths. So you're trying to put together a team that not everybody has the same strengths, but because you put together a team, now you're, you're pretty badass. And it's just your job to make sure that, that it all comes together in the way that you want it. And you keep pushing until you get what you want.

Dave Bullis 1:10:48
Yeah, very well said. And, and our next question is, Alberto, what advice could you give for someone trying to break into Hollywood?

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:11:00
You know, I always felt guilty about that question, because, you know, I didn't, you know, in a lot of ways, I'm broken into Hollywood. And what I have done is, you know, been able to do the work with Robert on many, many projects, I'm now working with other with other people on other projects, and doing other things off the ground features and stuff like that. But, you know, obviously, I feel like, I had a, you know, a huge door opened up for me that I scrambled through. But, I, at the same time, you know, you mentioned 20 years of experience, but a lot of those years, I wasn't making fun of those years, I was not, I was not as involved as I as I could have been, I never really kind of took the bull by the horns and said, You know, I'm going to go to LA and I'm going to try to, you know, work my way into the system, and everything has a time in place. But I would say that, you know, to kind of follow up with Virginia surrounds, like is this Detroit, you know, it's there's so much in this, in my experience that, I don't know if I can speak to the business, but I'll definitely say in my experience, that you cannot undervalue the power of relationships. And every, every time that that I have had any kind of success, any kind of forward movement, it's always been built upon relationships and meeting, putting yourself in a space where you can meet people, and, and, and, and find common interests and things that you can do. And then one of the huge things for me was, when machete came out, in 2010, I was invited to be a panelist at the Austin Film Festival. And I really literally was the guy changer, the laptop in the basement for such a long time. Even though I've already done that for about three years earlier. I was suddenly, you know, up on stage, you know, doing panels with real working professional screenwriters that I somehow tricked into thinking I was one of them. And, you know, it really opened a lot of doors for me, because I became instant friends with a lot of people I'm still friends with today that have helped me in so many ways. In the sciences, you know, that I used to go to California, and, you know, and try to set up meetings, you know, from the point the plane landed, so I have coffee with one guy says, Oh, you need to go talk to this guy, that you should meet this person. And then coffee and breakfast and lunch and drinks and dinners and after things and just like really networking, putting your best foot forward, you know, and thing of being a bridge builder, and, and trying to, you know, define those things, you know, find the ways that, that, that that will help you get where you want to be, you know, and I found that, you know, having boots on the ground in California and Los Angeles, especially, there's always has been over the last couple of years, but actually, it's been huge for me. It's almost like uncanny sort of chain of chain with things that someone I didn't know, you know, last week, two weeks later was saying, you know, I'd like to work on a project with you, or would you like to be involved in this? Or would you would you give me some ideas about this, and then something happened. It's just, it's pretty amazing. But I think that's the thing is, you've got to put yourself in a position to create that kind of environment. So, you know, it means starting joining small in the main starting in a local writers group and do that and find it find the people in the writers that you really complement with that. And I know that that are, you know, bring something to the table, you don't maybe even work with them, or maybe even work with you. And, and just start, you know, really start building, building your relationships as you're building their own talent and building your skills. And then just push. And that's I think that's the thing, it's pushed as much as as much as you can. I don't know, I don't know what else to say about it. And for sure, I wish everybody good luck. And we're living in an age right now with the demand for content, I don't think there's ever been as high as that. The opportunities have never been as plentiful as they are, right. I mean, in a lot of ways, and I think that, that just sort of the willingness to, to say, I'm ready, I'm ready for work I'm ready for for, you know, I'm ready to take this to the next step. And join yourself in the next is good advice, as I think I think

Dave Bullis 1:16:10
And, you know, again, you know, Cisco Networking meetings, and you know, just finding out what you can do for people and being a bridge builder. And, you know, again, I think that's key, not sort of so much asking why other people can do for you what you can do for other people. You know, people don't want to, you know, be sold to constantly it's like, you know, like, when I talk to people on social media to Alvarez, a, they I always tell people do don't constantly promote yourself, you know, don't constantly talk about this, you know? Because that's just the turnoff. No, no one's gonna follow you just to hear all about you constantly.

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:16:44
Right! Right. That's true. I mean, I think that's the thing that, you know, social media is still in its infancy in a lot of ways. And, and that's that, that is a lesson that people are learning, I'm learning it through. And I think that there's this thing about social media, if you really kind of, I think, try to use it in your, in your best interest is not always to be self promoting, but to be sharing, you know, to share other people's successes, you know, and promoting other people's other people's projects and stuff like that. So when someone you know, friend of mine post, you know, my friends, were trying to have a Kickstarter, really trying to get this project off the ground, you know, if I have 20 bucks, I'll throw it into the alternative, I've never met these other guys, or friends, or my friends, you know, I'll throw in the money, and I'll promote it on my Facebook page, or whatever. But you know, if I can do that, you know, I just, you know, I want to share, you know, whenever I do social media stuff, whether it's like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever, you know, they're, you know, you could be able days, or you can just be all about me, me, me. And I definitely do some of that and say, Oh, look, you know, here I am in the writing room, and on some semi exotic locations, and Angeles or whatever. And, or I'm saying, you know, you need to be watching this show American crime, it's a British show on television right now, and people are really going to dig it. Because I have friends that are active on the show versus guys made show. And that's just like, you know, that's the kind of thing that I'd like to do, and just try to, you know, try to, you know, kind of spread the goodwill. Yeah. And then, you know, you're just like, there's so many people in so many connections that you can make, I mean, I've never met you in person, I only know you from from Twitter and things like that. And I wouldn't be doing this podcast with you. Otherwise, you know, so on. And it's an amazing tool. And it can it can build relationships, and connect people together in ways that, you know, would have been impossible 10 years ago. So I think it's great.

Dave Bullis 1:19:10
Yeah, and I find a lot of guests through Twitter, too, because that's how I think we initially met. And then And then now, yeah, you're right. It's you know, and using Twitter as a networking tool has been awesome for me. Just meeting people and just seeing what they're working on and stuff like that. I've actually tinkered around about actually writing a book about how, how I use Twitter as a networking tool.

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:19:33
Great. I do. Oh, thanks. Definitely tweet about it.

Dave Bullis 1:19:38
Well, thank you. It's all it's all my pile outro of like, you know, the 8 million. It's like, okay, that's a good idea. Maybe I should do that. It's, it's one of those things, you know, I'm gonna get around to Sunday right now, you know, I'm just focusing on some other actual writing things. But we've been talking for about an hour and 80 minutes or so,

Alex Ferrari 1:20:02
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Dave Bullis 1:20:11
So, you know, and I know, you know, you're busy. And you, you know, I don't want to keep you too much longer. So, you know, in closing, is there anything that we didn't discuss that, you know, you wanted to mention or talk about?

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:20:23
I think we covered it, I just, you know, I would just say that, you know, it's, it's, like I say, I'm, I feel like, I'm not, maybe not, I'm the last person to give advice. But you know, because I still feel like I'm, I'm trying to be learning every day, I'm trying to keep that, that, that perspective on everything. But I know that there's things that I picked up that if I can impart to someone else, and they can get something out of it, you know, I think that's great. I mean, it's like, you're gonna use what you can use and, you know, which get us to throw it away, you know. And I think that's the same thing. There's so many, so many things that are out there for aspiring writers, or writers that are trying to break into the business. You know, but, you know, just because, you know, you've read it in a bookstore, it's, you know, you've got to make the experience will be valuable for yourself. You know, I did teach for a short while I taught a course, at Texas a&m Galveston study, still sports of all things. And I had the students read this book from a Herman Melville novel that nobody reads anymore called Redburn. But a boy's first journey to see. And he's taking his, he's going to Liverpool, and he's taking his father's guidebook to Liverpool. And when he gets to the city, and he opens up the guidebook, he realizes the city has changed. And that, you know, as far as guidebook really wasn't much helpful to him anymore, and he had to find his own way, in the city, there were some things that were some sort of landmark, but the city changed. And I think that, you know, the lesson I was trying to impart that time, it's like, I'm giving you a lot of ideas about how to kind of manage your time how to study how to kind of working through how to do all these things, you know, you might find that some of them are most useful for you, you got to find what works and not be afraid of trying new things, and being open to experiences and, and really trying to build on the one on on your base, and never sit back and say, you know, I know it all. And people would just have to recognize my genius. It's a constant. It's a constant learning process. And I'm still doing it. I wish everybody social media and trying to do those things, the best of the best of luck and doing

Dave Bullis 1:22:59
Very cool. And you know, that's a very, very awesome positive message. Albro very positive. That's good. It's gonna be about the positive. Because, you know, there's far too many negative people in this world. So, you know, I want to say thank you, thank you very much, again, for coming on. Thank you. Appreciate it. Oh, you know, my pleasure is all mine. So, you know, where can people find you out online?

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:23:25
I'm on Twitter and I was busy. I'm on Facebook, I think the same thing, and I was funny around, I don't have a site or anything like that. But, you know, I'm often doing different events and not really doing anything at Southside. But every year I'm pretty active with the Austin Film Festival, doing panels and roundtables and, and you know, every October you can definitely find me around there. But, you know, look, look me up and keep an eye out on the race network for Destiel dog Season Two later this year. Hopefully, we've got some good stuff in store for fans of the show. And you know, the original the first season is already on Netflix in its entirety. Or if you're like, you know, really angelegt you can you can get the blu ray or DVD set with all the extras and commentaries and fun stuff like that.

Dave Bullis 1:24:33
You know, and also I'll make sure to link to everything in the show notes as well so you know, everyone if you you know, if you don't ever have been to El Rey network or you've never actually you know, seen an average Twitter, just look click on the show, just click on the links in the show notes and you'll be taken right there. And also most of the link to desolder on Season One. So again, if you haven't checked that out yet, please do because it's very cool, especially if you have enjoyed the the Each movie it's based off of. And it like everyone I've said it just expands upon that. So, in closing, everyone, thanks again for listening, you can find me at Dave bulls.com and Twitter. It's at Dave Bullis should be at Dave underscore bulls. And you know, there's you know, tons of show note links that if you want to stalk me on any other social media sites, they're there as well. And so cool outro thanks again, buddy. And, you know, I wish you the best of luck with you know, season two of Gustl dawn. And you know, if you ever want to come back, man, please let me know that was always wide open.

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:25:37
Thanks a lot, Dave. I really appreciate it. Talking to you.

Dave Bullis 1:25:39
Yeah. Good talking to bud.

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:25:41
All right. Take care.

Dave Bullis 1:25:42
Have a good night, buddy.

Alvaro Rodriguez 1:25:45
Thank you.



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