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No-Budget, $600 Camera, 3 Lights & Still Sold Worldwide with Elliot and Zander Weaver
Today on the show we have two filmmakers that shot a sci-fi feature film with a $600 camera, three lights, no-budget, no stars and a dream. Amazingly they were still able to get worldwide distribution. The film is called COSMOS and the filmmakers are brothers Elliot Weaver & Zander Weaver.
COSMOS is a no-budget sci-fi feature film directed and self-produced by brothers Elliot Weaver & Zander Weaver, taking on all key crew roles throughout production, with the exception of writing the score.
The film is a contemporary sci-fi mystery following three amateur astronomers who accidentally intercept what they believe is a signal from an alien civilization. Realising they may have just stumbled across Mankind’s greatest discovery, they must race to document their finding, prove its authenticity and share it with the world before it is lost forever. But the truth they uncover is even more incredible than any of them could have imagined.
Inspired by Amblin-era adventure, set over one night and against the backdrop of a World changing discovery, COSMOS offers spectacle and thrills but reminds us success is nothing without people to share it with.
You can see the insanity that they went through to make this film. They started pre-production in 2013 and production in 2015. They shot it on my favorite camera the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 1080p, the same camera I shot my indie feature On the Corner of Ego and Desire with. Their soundstage was built in their garage where they would build up and breakdown the set every night. The film took 5 years to complete.
The pure insanity of these filmmakers is awe inspiring. The brothers and I discuss what it took to make COSMOS, the tech they used, how they keep the actors for years and so much more.
Enjoy my inspiring conversation with Elliot and Zander Weaver.
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Alex Ferrari 0:02
Now today on the show, guys, we have really inspiring and unique filmmaking story. Today's guests are Zander and Elliot Weaver, the mastermind independent filmmakers behind the feature film cosmos. Now on a daily basis, I get pitched just tons and tons of filmmakers wanting to get on the show. And as much as I want to help everybody out, I gotta, you know, I got to make sure that the stories that I put on the show are really good and really inspiring to the tribe. And I heard about Zander and Elliott's film Cosmos just by running around the internet. And what made their films so unique is that they shot their feature film, just like I did on a Blackmagic Pocket camera 1080 P. and that alone is not enough for it to really grab people's attention. Because like I've said before, no one cares about what you shoot it on, as long as it's a good story. And these guys were able to shoot a sci fi adventure film, Allah Spielberg's a mecca style about three amateur astronomers who intercept a faint signal from an alien race, and stumble upon something potentially world changing. Now they shot this entire film for about 7000 bucks. And I was so blown away with how good it looks.
And what's even more impressive is they got distribution, and they're selling their movie around the world, and making apparently good money with it. So the film was shot with three people in a friend's garage on a $600 camera, three LED lights and a decade old software post production software package, they shot with two lenses, one old and one cheap. One was a Tamron 18 to a 200 zoom, which they bought for about 100 bucks, and some vintage glass from the 60s from a brand I'd never even heard of. This is the kind of story we as filmmakers need to hear. We don't hear these stories very often. But I want to highlight these guys so much and I can't wait for you to hear their inspirational story. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Zander and Elliot Weaver.
I like to welcome Elliot and Zander Weaver, man How you guys doing? Very well. Thank you, Alex, thank you very much for having us on the show. Oh man. Thank you for being on the show man. You know, it's, I get I get I get bombarded with requests to be on the show all the time. And they're like, Hey, I made this really low budget movie and, and I, you know, and that was cool, like five years ago, like I made a movie for five grand like, that's, that's cool, but I get 30 of those a week. So it's not I need something a little extra. And I actually you guys came up on my radar with your film Cosmos a little while ago, we've been trying to do this for a while now. So everyone listening, the reason why it's taking so long as schedules, technology, all sorts of things to finally get to where we're at. But I saw what you're doing. And I was pretty blown away by not just the efficiency and the cost and all that stuff that you did, you did a movie for about 7000 bucks, as you told me, but the camera you used and we'll talk about that, and five years. And I say that with like, oh, God help you. You know, all that stuff. I feel it, brother, I feel it's, but I just love what you're doing and the quality and everything looks so great. So we're gonna get deep into Cosmos today. But before we do that, how did you get into this ridiculous business?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 6:14
Well, we ever since I think this is a story of many people who make movies and love movies, we've been doing it since we were kids. You know, since we were the first film we actually made, Elliott was five years old. And I was three. And we got the home video camera. And we made a film called when the toys came, came to life when the toys come live. And I've toys in our bedroom came to life. And after that we were just we were hooked and all through high school, we were making shorts with our with our mates and making music videos for them and stuff. And we decided to just go straight from high school and jump in, you know, we didn't go to a film school, we didn't go to a university. There aren't really the same kind of level of establishment like there are over in the US for film school options. So we were just we just thought we'd jump straight in get some experience and start trying to you know, find our feet in the industry really. But yeah, passionate since since very small, very, you know.
Alex Ferrari 7:11
So the question is, did you sue Pixar for stealing Toy Story from you guys is the question. Oh, yeah.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 7:18
But you know, we're working on it.
Alex Ferrari 7:21
Because obviously, I mean, I broke the story here that Pixar stole they saw your short stole your idea and has made billions of dollars
Elliot and Zander Weaver 7:31
that were like seven or six and we were fuming in the cinema. We were like ready to walk out. This is our first taste of you know, the sippy cups flying everywhere. It was just it was just rough back then I'm saying filming out of his birthday party.
Alex Ferrari 7:51
Can you imagineit to be fair, I'll give them that? They did was the production a little bit better than yours just slightly.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 7:59
Slightly. Alright, so
Alex Ferrari 8:01
let's um, let's talk about cosmos. How did Cosmos come to be?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 8:08
Cosmos came about because we were actually trying to set up another project. As Anna said, when we left school we tried to set Well, when we left school, we both tried to jump into it and sour hearts on directing a feature film, you know, finally getting around to this thing that we wait to get out of high school to do. And we set this project up, we started writing a script. And we we kind of faced that challenge that all indie filmmakers face, which is do we write a script we know we can achieve? Or do we write the script we'd love to see and look to me, I love to make but and we'll cross that bridge later. And of course being like 19 and 21 years old, we wrote the script we wanted to see, obviously, you know, we'll cross that bridge. And then we had to cross that bridge. So we were talking to finance and we were talking to investors and we got a crew together. And it was all looking really good. But understandably we were we were young guys, and we were asking for something like 5 million quid for a budget or something because they all snowboard for the people. We got involved, it was going really well. And all the investment people kept going. This is fine. Your story sounds great, fantastic. Crew look good. But you know, you haven't done this before. And you're young, and it's a lot of money.
I mean, a reasonable.
Alex Ferrari 9:18
I'm just I'm just saying it's like the equivalent of saying, hey, I need 5 million to build a house. I've never built a house before. I've seen it. I've seen it on TV, it seems fairly easy. So and by the way, by the way, at the end of a $5 million house, you have a house at the end of a $5 million movie. Maybe you make money, maybe you won't.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 9:41
So we were like, okay, you know, reasonable reasonable concerns. They kept saying go away and make a film and prove that you can make a movie and we were frustrated because we were like this is what we're trying to do. Anyway. We put that initial film on the shelf which was called encounter, went back to the drawing board and went okay, let's, let's probably do what we should have always done. Look at what we've got available. You know, we've got lots of computer screens, we've got a station wagon, you know, that's kind of Volvo car. We love astronomy and all this sort of thing. What can we do? Robert Rodriguez filmmaking? What can we make a movie out of that we've already got. And that's how Cosmos was born. And our initial concept was to make it in about 12 to 18 months, and then go back to those investors and go, Hey, there you go. Like there's a blu ray told you, we could do it. Let's get back to business. But because we wanted to do it the way we wanted to do it, where we could prove we had, or hopefully prove that we knew what we were talking about, and we can take a script and deliver it, we wanted to basically do as much of it as we could ourselves. And that meant it took a lot longer. But we fell in love with the project. And we just ran with it. And it took five years in the end. But we're thrilled with with the journey.
Alex Ferrari 10:49
So you so you, I mean, I'm assuming you made this on the weekends, and whenever you had spare time and stuff like that.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 10:57
Yeah, well, initially, we did. So the first, basically the first year and a half of work on the film, the casting, finding locations, costume, making the props and everything. And yeah, the first year and a half of the movie was was done in our spare time while we were freelancing, and we run a production company as well independent production company that makes TV documentaries, then from the end of 2015 onwards, we were like, if we're going to make this happen, we've got to commit to it. So we went full time on it. And we, it sounds a bit rock and roll. It's not rock and roll. But we we lived off the royalties from our documentary production, which is something that we talk about, to filmmakers a lot. We say, you know, if you're looking for that liberation, to be able to spend the time making your feature, film, your narrative feature, consider making some TV documentaries and getting them out on the market and letting them do some work for you. So those documentaries gave us that freedom. And for the next three years, or two and a half years, we work full time on the movie.
Alex Ferrari 12:01
Now what was the crew situation like?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 12:06
The situation was limited, right? So we had on the production crew, there was three of us. And that was our set myself, Zander and our mom. And we did. Right, we did everything. So we we rigged all the gear, we lit the sets, we rigged the mics we shot we did all the props, we did a lot basically we directed as well,
Alex Ferrari 12:32
there's that there's that.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 12:35
And with a shoot the shoot was 55 days spread over a year. Basically, we shot in blocks. And that was dictated because the actors, you know, were busy, and they had other commitments, and we tried to work around their commitments. And then in post production, it was just, it was predominantly the two of us, Sandra and I. And then we worked with a composer over about three months to do the soundtrack. So again, it was just xandra night for, like 28 months of just post production just staring at computer screens and just chugging away through, it seems like a really, it's a it's a mad way to make a film. But again, from the very beginning, our objective was we want something that we can show people, and that they can look at, basically, they can't take anything away from us. They can't sit there and go, Well, you know, it was well edited. But that was because you hired a professional editor wasn't it, or it's well graded. But that's because you hired a professional calibrator we wanted to for better or worse, whether it ended up being a good film or a bad film, we wanted to have something that we could show these investors and they could go. So apart from acting in it, and writing the soundtrack, everything else is you and we can go Yeah, now, on our next movie, we don't want to do that we want to work with people who have honed their craft and their masters of their skill and they can bring so much to it, but at least hopefully demonstrates that, you know, we have an understanding of visual effects. And we have an understanding of editing and we have an understanding of Foley and all this sort of stuff. We don't want to do it professionally. But at least we can be part of those conversations as directors. That was the end anyways. So
Alex Ferrari 14:16
I mean, cuz I mean, I've heard of these stories of projects going on for five years, and it generally never ends. Well. It generally doesn't end well when you hear like yeah, been making this movie for five years and like oh, okay, and if it's something I've worked I've worked on features that took that long to make and it just never got released just they paid it they did it and they just couldn't get it sold because it was either too bad or for whatever reason, so that you guys actually got it to the finish line. And and it looks as good as it did and it made as much noise as it did. Is is a feat in itself. Man. It really really I mean you are guy you guys are definitely the indie film hustle. personification? There's no no question about it, because to stay on a project for five years, man, you got to be committed. And that also says a lot about you as filmmakers. You know, if I'm an investor, I'm like, these guys are serious, man, they stuck on this thing for five years better or worse. And there's a reason why it took them this long. It's not because they were crazy, because it didn't have any money. And if they would have had a decent budget, this could have been done within a year all in. Yeah. So now you chose the Blackmagic Pocket camera, which has just a dear place in my heart because I shot my last film on the black bag. It's a pocket camera as well. I've been saying this for a while. It's a stunning image. It's gorgeous. It's tennety p i don't care. It's gorgeous.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 15:44
I yeah, we totally agree. We think it's this unsung hero of the film world and it's completely it's quite overlooked actually. Yeah, we saw when when we shot the film in 2015 we started shooting the film in 2015 and the pocket camera the original pocket camera I think was it did it come out in 2013
Unknown Speaker 16:05
something like that. Yeah, something like that.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 16:07
Yeah. And we we we saw the footage coming through online or people doing camera tests and we were just absolutely blown away by it. We just thought it just has such this filmic quality to it just looks absolutely lovely. So as soon as we could we could we were freelance cameraman at the time and we we bought a camera to use for work and then we were like this is it we've got to use this for Cosmos so it served us incredibly well there are there are you know bumps in the road with the camera battery life for example is no good the screens a bit iffy and all that kind of stuff but once you've got those things in place Yeah, what you've effectively when you buy the camera is this beautiful sensor really and we were we were very happy with the results of the film so much so actually afterwards we approached after the film was released we approached Blackmagic sure they gave it to give away to the filmmaking community which was wonderful like to have that association and that affiliation with them was a real moment of pride.
Alex Ferrari 17:06
Yeah, what I love about what I love about the camera yes the battery power I use the juice box so I just like used to have that. I just I put it in with the juice box at last I we shoot we shoot six hours.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 17:16
Oh yeah, it
Alex Ferrari 17:16
keeps going. It just goes and goes and goes with the juice box. It was solid that part and then I got the was it did you guys get the speed booster?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 17:26
We did we did get a speed boost. Yeah, meta bones. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 17:28
the meta bone speed booster just automatic gives you another step and a half. It's wonderful. And yes, the monitor in the back can have issues can have issues but you could plug it in if you're if you're so inclined, a little little monitor, pop it out or something like that if you want to. But the speed that you the the speed, you can move the size of it. I mean, and now that I mean now they have the 4k pocket camera or actually the six k pocket 4k is old school now that the six k pocket cameras well, so they have these other versions are a little bit more beefy. But this has this super 16 dial it's a super 16 image. It's a sensor it's a super 16 sensor. So for me like with my film, I wanted that like 1990s Sundance indie vibe with a little bit of green I actually added it was too clean I added grain to the image and post but it's such a beautiful camera now what lenses did you use?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 18:24
We shot most of the movie actually on a single stills lens that we had a 28 mil 1960 stills lens that we just talked. Yeah, and it just like you said it, I don't know what it is about that sensor. But the way sort of the light blooms it does have like a grainy, although it's obviously digital noise it does have a grainy look to it. It looks like film grain.
Alex Ferrari 18:50
Yeah. But it's what it is. But it's pretty clean. But it's pretty easy. If you shoot it right, it's clean. And but the aesthetic of the image has that super 16 clean look. And you and if you just add just a little bit of digital grain to it which a little film grain onto it on top of it, it could just take it to that
Elliot and Zander Weaver 19:12
that other beautiful it worked it was perfect for our needs. You know, cosmos is a film set predominantly in in this car you know in the station wagon so we had to get a camera and all the you know a slider and stuff inside this car and shoot in the confines of the vehicle and to have this small camera was just absolutely you wouldn't have been able to do it otherwise,
Alex Ferrari 19:36
you would have to like cut the car in half and fly you know fly in and out and all this kind of stuff. Like I actually Yeah, like I own the Blackmagic 4.6 K camera, but I chose to shoot with a little camera because of the ease. Even if you would have had a red or an Alexa you couldn't have shot this film.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 19:56
We couldn't we say that to people sometimes and they kind of look at us and they go What do you mean and you Go. Well, I mean, it's tough to get a camera in a car. Like it's not it's actually our car. It's not a set. Car chop the roof off, we've got to drive home. So, yeah. And also up and again, some filmmakers look at you like, you know, you've landed from Mars, because Yes, he does. But he doesn't he doesn't matter to me and it doesn't matter in general. But be there is something beautiful about like film is high resolution but it's soft. It's a delicate image. It's not pin sharp, crystal clear high fidelity. And I think the 1080 p Blackmagic. It has the same texture The film has it's a bit a pinch sharp image if you want it and it's clean, like you said, but
Alex Ferrari 20:48
it's soft, it's it just softens the edges in a way that film does. I mean, they I've talked to Blackmagic a lot about this when I work with them. And I've told them that camera is just like an all of their actually all of their images, they always have this, this kind of like beautiful like it's like red is frickin just scalpel esque. In their image. It's so crystal clear. It's a bit it's a bit much where Alexa is also a soft image, but the Alexa costs 80 to 100,000 as opposed to the black magic and and all of that Now, one thing I found interesting about your story is that you guys, you had a soundstage obviously they don't tell you don't tell don't say this publicly, but you had a soundstage It was your garage, you actually built a garage soundstage where you shot a lot of the filming. Can you explain that processor? service?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 21:44
Yeah, yeah, well, we did the Garrett's actually a friend of ours. So we have one of the challenges that we faced is that the actual set of the movie is the is this car. The vehicle that we would use to get from the garage every single day. So you know, at the end of filming, we would end beginning of the day, we'd get there and we get all the gear out and we set the props up in the vehicle we shoot. And then by the end of the day, we had to direct everything, put it all back in the car and drive up, we could leave it all set up. That would have been but but the film takes place across one night effectively. And instead of having the car out in the middle of a field and shooting actually in the middle of the night. For the interiors. We just drove it into this garish, we put up a black psych and we shot during the day and faked it as if it was at nighttime and it worked superbly well. But we all we did all start going a bit early by the end of it because we weren't seeing any daylight it was middle of the winter here in the UK and we drive it in the dark shoot in the dark all day and drive out in the dark. So yeah, we craved the lunchtime daylight that we got every day.
Alex Ferrari 22:53
Now, I want to go back real quick. The whole 1080 p aspect Did you shooting untended p affect your D your distribution deal? Your sales? digit they go oh, no, we can't take your film because we need four k? Can I just want because this is a myth. People think you have to master in 4k, you have to shoot in six or now 12 K or something like that. I want you to I want you please tell the people please tell the people the truth didn't matter.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 23:24
No, it doesn't matter. Well, it didn't matter to us. We spoke to a handful of distributors, we spoke to a handful of sales agents. We even got two distributors bidding against each other for the film. And even when we settled on one and assigning all the deals up, not once in the sort of six months that we were doing distribution. And since have we been asked about what resolution The film was shot on not once did they ask us during the negotiation process? What what resolution is that? You know, what did you shoot on? It didn't matter. And in fact, when we got the deliverable, the tech specs in the tech specs for our distributor it actually said if you have shot your film in 4k, can you please let us know because we will have to set up a special pipeline for you. Basically, not many people do that. You know, in other words, not many people do that. And we'll have to go a special route for you. So yeah, not once were we asked Is it into k four k six K, they just they watched the screener. And that's all they really want it to talk about. So we often get asked to we get emailed by people going oh, you shot on the six k i read you shot on the Blackmagic six K and we're like no, no, we shot on the television. And they're like no, no, the
Alex Ferrari 24:44
Elliot and Zander Weaver 24:47
will happen right now get in touch and they'll say we watched the movie you know really impressed with what you achieved with the limited resources and UI Oh, that's amazing. Thank you. And they say well what do you what what camera Did you see on you tell them and like Elliott said They assume success. Okay, 4k, you know, it's the 10 ACP one and they go really I'm shocked and say, well, you you watched it. So like, do you like did it work for you? Did it distracts from the story for you? Or did you just watch it and enjoy it and not really worry? So yeah, I think it's very easy to get lost in the kind of K war with all the modern technology. But ultimately, I think as storytellers I focus should be more on the script and the acting and the soundtrack. Stop it on how many cakes stop
Alex Ferrari 25:29
it stop it, sir. You're talking crazy talk, sir. Crazy Talk. It's all about the cameras. It's all about the gear. If you've got a 12 K camera. If you have an Alexa with $100,000 lens on it. That's all you need. You don't need a story or acting that said that automatically makes your movie good isn't that that's what I've been sold. That's what I've been doing. Am I wrong?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 25:55
asked you know what codec we shot? We shot people go shot raw then right. And we we asked we shot pro res Lt.
Alex Ferrari 26:03
Well, that's not that's not honestly. Okay. Now I'm gonna have to say that is kind of crazy talk. Why didn't you shoot it? Come on, guys. You could have shot raw, well, wait a minute, but you edited and Final Cut, which we'll get to in a minute. So raw would have been a big pain in the butt for you.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 26:15
It would have been it would have been I mean, we just we did our own little camera tests. We put our nose to the screen and we were like
Alex Ferrari 26:20
LTE, you should have LTE not even pro res just to tell the difference. Lt. Yeah,
Elliot and Zander Weaver 26:26
we did HQ pro res and not an Lt. He tests and we were like, looking at our monitor, you know, our Mac monitor going up? Which one is this? I can't tell.
So we also like wanted to just like we wanted to, we're big fans of like committing on basically what it looks like and how it is lit and the color and you know, and so because that's those are the directions that we look up to from our childhood. You know, they didn't have that kind of flexibility that is now available to filmmakers. And I think it can hone your abilities in your craft. So to some degree, we wanted to test ourselves and go look, we're gonna bake this and we're gonna just shoot, and what we get is what we get, and we're gonna live with it. And that's, that, to us is part of the thrill and excitement of filmmaking. It's crazy man.
Alex Ferrari 27:13
Crazy talking guys crazy talk. And but you also have a limited theatrical right? We didn't Yeah, how could you How could you do that with a 1080? p? That's not possible, sir. How could you do that?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 27:25
Wow, great question. Yeah. held up beautifully on screen. We did actually do an upper as two cameras. Yeah, for the DCP using DaVinci. resolves upscale, which is nuts. In fact, I've heard that many people are selling the Blackmagic, six Ks and four KS, going back to the originals and just raising them because they prefer the image, how it looks on the original. But yeah, we had a limited theatrical release, the movie was in nine cities across the states, which was just mad for us, right? We are not anticipating that like two kids from Birmingham, UK, making a movie of its gonna be shown in cinemas in America. That was that was a dream come true. And we've seen it, we saw it twice on the big screen. We had a premiere here in the UK premiere out in Los Angeles as well. And it just really holds up incredibly well considering and I just, I just wish that filmmakers could, you know, stop worrying so much about it because of the kit that we've got available at our fingertips now. It's just so incredibly powerful. And there is just no excuse, I think
Alex Ferrari 28:34
no one and that's why that's another reason why I wanted you guys on the show because you shot with this camera because I shot with the camera as well. And everyone says what, all the same things you would get I've gotten with my film. And and I did the same thing like cuz on my monitor here where I calibrated it looked great, but when I was I premiered at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood with my father and I was like, this is amazing and but to understand I was terrified I just upwards I did a dp a DCP up to two k I'm like, Is it gonna work? And it's I don't know what it's gonna look like I'd like it's gonna be super grainy and like, Okay, well, it's supposed to be kind of grainy because I wanted it. And when I saw projected in the Chinese and I just sat there before the audience came out that we did a little Tex Tex scout on it. I was like, oh, Mike, it looks amazing. It's gorgeous. It was so and we did the DCP to the to the Vinci and I was just blown away. It's honestly I've shot with all the cameras known to man 3560 and I've tried everything. It's probably one of the most beautiful things I've ever shot that film. It's such a great camera and that's why I wanted I want people listening to understand. You can buy that little camera right now on eBay for six to $800 maybe less, maybe less. You can find you can buy the full like a full kit for like 1000 1200 bucks and that comes with like, a lot. I mean I bought my I bought mine off of ebay I bought it like it for I think 1000 bucks, but it was like a full kit case, batteries, all of that stuff and then to rig it out. It doesn't cost that much like you. Yeah, if you need if you need a matte box, I got my matte box for like 150 bucks. Yeah, it's it's you can really you can pimp it out, man, you can pimp it out. Really? Really?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 30:25
We made our camera rig. Oh,
Alex Ferrari 30:28
yeah, I heard about that. Yeah, yes. So please tell it tell us about your your rig sir. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Yeah,
Elliot and Zander Weaver 30:47
we actually put up a video on our Facebook page a few months back just to show people because they kept we've spoken about the fact that I've made this rig. And I don't think some people believe that it was actually true. But yeah, it's one of those very kind of Heath Robinson held together with gaffa tape kind of affairs, really. But just you know, when I was looking online, we didn't have a budget for this movie. I was looking online, and there's some wonderful rigs out there. But I think there's like two kinds, right? There's, there's these lovely machine milled beautiful things, right, that are quite expensive. 1000 bucks. Yeah, but cheap, plastic ones, and you think they're gonna snap when I first use them. So I just thought, because we had some very specific requirements with Cosmos getting in the car and being able to adjust the rig setup and what we wanted to do with it. I was like, why don't I just make a custom one. So went to the hardware store, got some word, got some copper pipe, got some nails, and just put it all together early. And you can see the behind the scenes. It's not pretty, right? It's not but
it's as part of the fun of this film. You know, we are very proud and very like, humbled by how well it's done. But we're also really excited because we've done it in sort of the most kitbashed ad hoc way, you know, we've got a cardboard matte box, and we've got ankle weights on the back of our rig. And we're using a wheelchair for a dolly and it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter to us. And it was film about it wasn't about standing behind a camera with a cap on and posing and looking cool. It was about making a film no matter what. And it wasn't about being cool and being seen with a red epic or Alex Yeah, we'd love love to work with that, you know, it would be a dream, but we fought we fought went that. That's sort of the image of feeling good about ourselves in exchange for actually being able to get a film made.
Alex Ferrari 32:44
Yeah, no, it's in that when I saw when I saw the behind the scenes and I saw you guys in a wheelchair. I was like, oh, Robert, Mr. Rodriguez has helped us out so much. Because he's, I mean, I'm a bit older than you guys. So I came up around the same time Robert did I speak of him? Like I'm my friend. I'm not but but Robert. Bobby, Bobby. Bobby, no. Robert, he did the wheelchair thing with his with El Mariachi and I did a wheelchair thing every everybody of my generation did the wheelchair like we and to be honest with you this is what how I got because wheelchairs are expensive. They're not cheap. So what we did this is back in 1994 I think we went to the mall where you could rent a wheelchair for the day for $1 25
Elliot and Zander Weaver 33:32
Alex Ferrari 33:34
But we just took it home
Elliot and Zander Weaver 33:37
Wow. morally questionable.
Alex Ferrari 33:39
No, wait, wait, wait used it, returned it afterwards got my dollar I got a quarterback because I returned it. So the essential rental would be it was just a because no one does that like and there's also the 90s and they didn't you know and it's a different world way less less cameras let's cameras in the you know, security cameras less security. It was it was the Wild Wild West. But yes, that's that was what I do.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 34:08
Right. That's the indie film hustle.
Alex Ferrari 34:09
No, man. I since I've been I've been I've been living the brand since 92. Sir. What is the biggest mistake you made making this film? I'm sure there's a list. But what's the one that you like? Oh, um,
Elliot and Zander Weaver 34:27
I think I think the biggest well, so this is this is an interesting question. The thing that we often say we would do differently is we would just get some help, right? We would raise a bit of money, right? very obvious, like two people, three people. But the challenge that the reason it's not that simple, actually for us is because part of part of the marketing for Cosmos has been leveraging this kind of indie film spirit. It's been Connecting with the filmmaking community by saying, look, we're just doing this with nothing follow us along, be part of it. And, and so if we'd have done it, how most of the people do it, when they put a band together and they kickstart and they raise $1,000, then you're just the same as everybody else, right? So to some degree, this nuts stupid way of doing a movie was took ages, but it paid off because it's allowed us to open up conversation, we're talking to you now because of it, we wouldn't be otherwise. So I would say if I wanted to get it done quicker, with less stress, just collaborate with more people get it done sooner. But you know, I'm very proud of like, the way we've done it and and the experience that we've obtained from it, it's just like, God, it's a measurable way to just have a bit of a glimpse in and understanding about all these elements and aspects or it's like the ultimate film school. So it I, you know, it's a really interesting question.
Alex Ferrari 35:59
What did what did mom do, she was a third crewman who woman
Elliot and Zander Weaver 36:05
was essential so our mom professionally Not anymore. But before we were born, and while we were kids, she was a professional TV makeup artist. So we the one of the main disciplines that she had on the film where she was hair and makeup, and that obviously, you know, sort of rolled over into continuity so she was keeping track of all the beard length and the hair length and the colors and all that sort of thing. And then we did also just like rope in and pull it a good use doing the clapperboard every now and then sometimes holding the boom and sometimes running the smoke machine man. She was sort of almost like the third director really we were we were all in it together but she was also we often say she was the onset mom and every set needs a mom you know and all the older guys they kind of she mother them and they adopted her so we all we had this sort of family family unit on the film. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 37:05
Now what did you guys use for smoke machine? Did you actually like buy one of those like party smoke machines? or?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 37:10
Yeah, we had we already had like a Mr. Like a disco smoke machine type thing. But we tested outside we're like, this is just not not gonna happen. Like in the windy British winters like okay, it's
just lit a cigarette. That's not gonna work.
So actually, the single biggest expense on the movie, we bought a gas powered our temp smoke machine. Yeah. The propane ones. Yeah, the proper drums, you know, and, and, but for us, we, we could justify it in our heads because we were just like, this is gonna give us a production value. We're going to be out in a forest and it's going to give us the depth and allow us to kind of make it look like we have more likes than we do. And we're big fans of like having that smoke medium to light in and all that stuff. So for us
it was it was about it was over 10% of the budget. Yeah, on this moment.
Alex Ferrari 38:03
But I want to get it I want to ask you something because I've shot with a ton of haze machines and smoke machines in my career. And you guys didn't shoot RAW. So I know from shooting with smoke machines that smoke doesn't take direction quite well. How? How Tony Scott shot every scene of every movie that he ever did with a smoke machine or a haze machine and it looked perfect every time how he did it? I don't know. I could only imagine I've had struggle with full crews. How the hell did you wrangle smoke or haze in a shot? And how did it not how did you match it in post? And how did you deal with it in color? Because sometimes if it's one shots hazy and then the coverage is not hazy. How do you like how did you do it?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 38:54
Well, it's difficult
Alex Ferrari 38:56
it was hard to sell Alex I have to tell you it was ridiculously hard.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 39:00
It was impossible. We almost Set everything on fire and third degree burns and the whole lot really no yes so we did get quite good at like timing the smoke machine so you can we could sort of like leave it off on its own and it would just trickle out and it's very against the rules of owning a propane gas. smoke machine is never leave it unattended but you know, we were all grown ups we were only a few feet away.
We all think we do like a blast right? We do. We'd like one of us would run around with a smoke machine blast into the grass and all that kind of stuff. And then you sit back and it should be this enormous fog cloud right here behind the camera ready actors are we ready? wait for it Wait for the moment wait
for the video. And then just when it was right we went for it.
Alex Ferrari 39:50
I have to I just have to point something out that you were judging me morally about my my wheelchair scam, sir, you left row pain machine unattended, sir Which actually could have killed people. My little scam did not kill anybody. And it was returned sir. So I both of you, I just I just wanted to point that out.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 40:10
I take everything back I'm sorry.
Alex Ferrari 40:13
So yeah, so that even even in post though, like, matching, matching that haze
Elliot and Zander Weaver 40:21
did it for the most part we it was okay. For one reason or another, we didn't have too much problems, but we did this there is always that you know, there's always that balance isn't there when you come to your color grade and you
think you did a bit of smoke stuff in it. Yeah. pasting backgrounds and paste that can you just take the smoke from behind this guy's head in this shot? Yeah. And put it in this guy and he would just be like,
Alex Ferrari 40:47
okay, yeah. I mean, it's, it's, I just want people that hearing this understand shooting with a smoke machine or haze machine is not easy, and it's time consuming. It is. You shoot it up. Settle. Wait, wait, shoot. Oh, cut. Do it again. And then like, Oh, you I've only done an insight. I've never done it outside. So I can only imagine shooting it outside where you guys had
Unknown Speaker 41:16
action as well. Like you'll be for 10 minutes. And then suddenly, you put the smoke machine over there. You know, it's it's you chasing your tail all night long.
Alex Ferrari 41:27
Now, can you talk everybody because you guys did purchase a very high expensive wind machine. So can you tell people what that wood machine was?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 41:36
Yes, yes, absolutely. Well, you know, in the, in the spirit of all high end special effects that you see in all the blockbusters. We we went into our garden shed and we were digging around and we were aware that you know once upon a time we were the proud owners of a leaf blower. So we got that Dyson leaf blower out gave it a bit of a blast and thought okay, well we can't record any dialogue while using this but we can have winds so yeah, that was one of one of our jobs. In fact, my job on the end of the shoot I was directing and blowing hot dusty air into the faces of the actors so you were just directing right yeah.
Alex Ferrari 42:16
Smith and it was Yeah. You want him to cry so you just show just slammed dirt into their eyes basically at high speed.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 42:29
Yeah, teary, glassy eyed look. That's great. Oh, sorry. No, you've just got your face amazing.
Alex Ferrari 42:38
Now what I want to talk about post because what I read what you guys didn't post again made my heart just just warmed my heart because you were using two pieces of software that I use on I look I'm a recent convert from Final Cut seven when I say recent was probably like four or five years like four four years ago maybe I think four or four years ago I think I switched over to editing four or five years ago I switched to editing to in resolve strictly but I had seven solid and with 10 ATP when you guys were shooting a pro res so I actually I mean with my first film I had to actually go to resolve because I was shooting RAW on the sim the old Cinema Camera the original the original 2.5 k Cinema Camera so I had to go rock because I'm like I finally have to leave poor Final Cut seven so you edit it in Final Cut seven and then you colored in color to Apple color if I'm not mistaken right
Elliot and Zander Weaver 43:41
sound design in Final Cut seven as well.
Alex Ferrari 43:44
oh yeah oh yeah
Elliot and Zander Weaver 43:45
Alex Ferrari 43:45
so you guys are doing and what year was this?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 43:49
This was yeah started a
Alex Ferrari 43:53
truly truly no excuse so as I'm saying cuz I I did all this in like 2006 so there is there's no excuse no base you have what you had and that's again that's another great lesson here. You have it you own it use what you got
Elliot and Zander Weaver 44:09
that's it that's what it's all about and for us we we we produce all of our documentaries using Final Cut seven this system and again our philosophy is just like look there's been Oscar Oscar winning movies that have been edited on Final Cut seven we have no requirement to push to a new piece of software we're not shooting in 4k or 8k or something crazy. Shooting 10 Hp if it's good enough,
or parasite when the best time Yeah, john. Seven.
Alex Ferrari 44:38
Yeah, no parasite was edited.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 44:43
Yeah, it was so
Alex Ferrari 44:46
easy. I didn't know that.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 44:48
Yeah, it's still strong is a
small band of FCP seven users and
Alex Ferrari 44:53
like come on, keep it alive.
Software is a great piece of software, though. I do like music. Have a little bit better than color, I have to say,
Elliot and Zander Weaver 45:03
yeah, we're in the process of kind of switching over to resolve for all things, all things generally really, you know, cutting and grading as well. So, I mean, just black magic all the way.
Alex Ferrari 45:15
And that's another thing that people want people to understand is like, if you if you stay within the Blackmagic ecosystem, man, it works beautifully, like you, you shoot RAW, bring it into resolve, and you can do everything in resolve and then you don't have to actually even go out to online anywhere. it all stays in visual effects are connected sound is connected. It's it's a pretty amazing piece of software.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 45:39
You're talking some kind of unknown future world to us, Alex, we're still dealing, Final Cut seven and kind of
get a floppy disk. Floppy? No, no,
Alex Ferrari 45:51
get the zip, get the zip disks or get the zip disk. The zip disk in the jazz? Do you know even know what a jazz drive is?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 45:58
Alex Ferrari 45:59
Do you know what a zipped is? Do you know what a zip disk is? You guys are so young. You're so young.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 46:07
Copy this right?
Alex Ferrari 46:08
No floppy disk was a 1.2 meg, if I'm not mistaken, disk that are held like 1.2 make the zip disk held 100 Meg's plastic disk. And then the jazz was the big brother of the zip. It was all by iomega it was a company this now I'm just I'm dating myself. And only like 5% of my audience is going. Oh, I remember that. No, I'm much, apparently much older than you guys extremely much, much older than you go. We
Elliot and Zander Weaver 46:39
used floppies at school putting our coursework on floppy disk. The USB flash drive thing was like, wow.
Alex Ferrari 46:48
Science Fiction, isn't it?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 46:50
Yeah. Now it's like, oh, he's
on USB stick. We were talking to someone not long ago. And they were talking about mp3 players when they listen and what was it and they said, Oh, you say they were saying something like, Oh, yeah. parently there was a time when mp3 players couldn't do this. And we were just like, oh my god. Like, there wasn't a time when mp3 plays existed. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 47:12
yeah. Yeah, there was this thing called tapes. CDs, records, eight track. I yeah, a track vaguely in a car in a car. When I was a kid. I remember. Ah, anyway, I'm so I'm so I'm so effing old. I appreciate you. You reminded me. Thank you.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 47:31
I said so children have a tape. Recording you you mixtapes on?
Alex Ferrari 47:36
radio and waiting? Yeah, waiting for the radio, just like I hoping the DJ does not say a damn word over the song.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 47:45
The song in your life? This isn't right. Where's that?
Alex Ferrari 47:50
Because you hear that said 1000 times and you're like, Hey, welcome back. Like he's just waiting for that.
Oh my god, I used to do that all the time. So weird, because you guys, you guys were the DPS in this as well. And it looks By the way, fantastic. It looks gorgeous. So that's extremely impressive. You got what I love about the film is that you you really made it used so much production value, but yet in a very condensed very small space. Really, it was a small group of characters. And a lot of people think that you have to make a very contained movie like yours, which is contained but it wasn't contained. There's like big outside scenes, and there's excitement and things like that. But it doesn't have to be in a room. I mean, you you can think outside the box a little bit. And it's still you did a car. But it was a car with outside and you know the sky and there was a lot of production value and all this stuff that you did with it. But we did look at the film is really great. When you got into color, though. How much did you do? it? Was it like you guys were close to where you want it to be. And that's scary, man. I'm like, I'm just I'm letting you know, I've been a colorist for 1012 years. I have to shoot RAW because I need that. The freedom to like save me. For me. thing to do. Yeah,
it is the correct sensible thing to do is what you're saying?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 49:18
I mean, why not? Is the real answer to that question. Why would you not use those tools that are available? But ya know, we shot as we previously mentioned, we lit with the colors. We wanted it. You know how we wanted it to be lit with big fans of splashing color in their sky? Yeah, Tony. I mean,
you know, and we're not likening ourselves to No,
Alex Ferrari 49:41
no, no, no, it's just like Tony Scott. This is what I do. No, no, we understand. Yeah, we understand Tony. Rest in peace, Tony. But I mean, Tony and Ridley both. Yes, yes.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 49:54
So yeah, we our goal was to just capture that as much as possible on location and then When we got to, to the color grade, for the most part, it was a few kind of vignette power windows here and there. We pushed we did a thing. We did some tests early on, when we were comparing the Blackmagic footage to film footage. And we noticed that film had like a kind of slight greeny yellowy tint in the highlights, that's something we just saw. And so we just pushed a bit of that in the saturation of the contrast ever so slightly, it was a very time consuming process, because it always isn't it with the with the color matching and everything. But in terms of how, how much we push the image, we didn't do a huge amount to it. We were quite delicate with it.
Alex Ferrari 50:42
And how about visual effects? Because there's a couple of visual effects in the movie. There is
Elliot and Zander Weaver 50:46
70 visual effects of the film, how many? 170? Yeah, nice. Most of them are not visible there. We call them invis effects, because they're just not even supposed to be noticed. They're like set extensions, and skylines, and stars in the sky, and all that kind of stuff. But yeah, I handled the visual effects. While Elliot was doing all the sound design and the Foley for the film. I did the visual effects on blender, which is fantastic open source. VFX software is just getting stronger and stronger. And man, it's exciting to see what they're doing with it. pioneering stuff. And, yeah, and After Effects as well. But for the most part, like I said, it was some stuff extensions and skylines. But there were more involved things. For example, the front of the telescope, we replaced the front end of the telescope in the movie, because it looked pretty awful. Actually, it was a it was a visually a tripod carry tube. And we created a prop for the front to make it look like a telescope. And then we got into the Edit. And we were like dad just does not sell
rubbish, absolute trash. And so he turned to me and he said, Can we do something about that? So I had to figure that out. It was very much a learning process as we went. But yeah, I always say that like, when it came to the visual effects, it was something I was doing for fun before Cosmos was even a consideration. So if you ever get that kind of tinge of excitement about anything, just just explore it a bit because filmmaking is such a diverse discipline there's so many different elements to it, chances are it'll come back and help you at some point
Alex Ferrari 52:27
and you get so you can't then after effects you become a competent After Effects visual effects. 3d in Blender 3d, Final Cut, edit, and color and then you also mastered sound and final couple, which I know is ridiculous. Because I've done it myself. It's not really built not built as audio. Not at all. Not even a little bit, not even a little bit. And then you guys also did Foley as well.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 52:52
We did a lot yeah, we did the Foley and I did that. So it was it was doing the visual effects like I was stomping around and rustling and breathing into microphones and all that sort of thing and
Alex Ferrari 53:03
Elliot and Zander Weaver 53:03
sound effects were put in onto 100 audio tracks.
Alex Ferrari 53:08
So what what machine were you running because I know Final Cut seven fairly well that's going to tax the that's going to tax the software, sir. Yeah,
Elliot and Zander Weaver 53:19
I don't I just an iMac and iMac.
Alex Ferrari 53:23
That's an iMac with a with an operating system that still runs Final Cut seven because now officially, it's dead. Yeah, you can't upgrade. Yeah.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 53:33
We have to IMAX right. This one today and the one we made Cosmos on which we cannot change.
Also, the Mac is like dead now you turn it on and you just try and open up chrome or something. You just think we kill this computer trying to make that film? Yeah. It just wants to retire. It wants to graze.
Alex Ferrari 53:55
Is it something about Baxter? Or is it something to say I still have three towers of old max that I just I can't get rid of them. I just there's there's just something like I can't there's no I can't get rid of my Mac I don't like just just in case you need that CD ROM for some reason. You know,
Elliot and Zander Weaver 54:17
See the floppy disk drive on it. So you gotta keep gotta keep the options open.
Alex Ferrari 54:26
Just in case, everything goes to goes to hell. You got Final Cut seven. Let's rock and roll. Now, and so you finish this whole movie, you're ready. It's been five years. And you're like, Okay, let's get this out to the world. Tell me your adventures in distribution. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 55:01
Okay, yes, so we finished the film. And we then set about putting together the marketing materials that we thought we would need in order to get a distributor. So we did our own poster, and we cut our own trailer. And we put a screener together and all that sort of thing. And then we decided to, in the spirit of the film, continue to do everything ourselves. So,
Alex Ferrari 55:25
of course, why wouldn't you? Why wouldn't you?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 55:28
Why wouldn't we have learned our lesson after five years? So we started, we actually tried to submit or we did submit the film to probably a dozen film festivals in sort of the tear of film festival that you hope your film might
Alex Ferrari 55:44
sell Sundance, Sundance, Sundance, or South by Southwest, you don't you donate it to Robert Redford's retirement, understand, as
Elliot and Zander Weaver 55:51
I'm sure he appreciated that, we obviously got flat out rejected from from every festival we submitted to. And then we decided to just sort of, we were going well, we're gonna go to we try to get into festivals, so we can connect with distributors. But I wonder if we can just connect with those distributors directly. And we spoke to a few filmmakers, that we knew we've done that route. And that's what we pursued. So with our marketing material, and a screener of our film, we set about reaching out directly, and sent out some introductory email, sent out some screeners and just started talking to people really, and we spoke to sales agents as well and try to suss out whether that was the right route for us. And in the end, we, we we got we actually got two distributors competing in a bidding for the film and push that up the or, you know, yeah, push the bid up and make it more favorable for us. And then ended up going with one that we felt offered something that was worth, you know, the deal worth signing up to. And, and that's what we did, that process took about six months from, from the day of finishing the fill to, but that's
Alex Ferrari 57:01
nothing. But that's nothing for guys like you you've already taken. He's taking you four and a half, five years to make a movie six months of distribution. That's nothing.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 57:09
I sense of time. It's like, we were like six months. Yeah, it was an interesting process for sure. But we used IMDb pros free trial to create a list of distributors that you know, in the in the kind of realm that we were looking for, and we just, we just went down that list. And ultimately, it worked out and we found a home for Cosmos that is done for the most part what we wanted it to do, although no distribution stories, plain sailing, for sure.
Alex Ferrari 57:44
Yeah, I haven't heard of one of those. yet. That ever it's like, yes, it was fantastic. They only gave me money. I actually didn't know what to do with all the money and attention I was getting was generally not not not something you hear. But but generally speaking, though, you're happy with where you went with the distribution company and how things have been how it's been put out into the world and everything like that, because I look, I've seen it everywhere. And I've seen it pop up a bunch of different places. So I'm assuming that you guys as far as marketing is concerned,
Elliot and Zander Weaver 58:14
yeah. It is. It is for sure. Yeah, we will. We will. We we've got us ventures. And I think their model is very much given to the producers, they know their movie, they can market it, you know, we'll put it on the platforms. And so as far as we're aware, most of the marketing of the movie is our work really, you know, we put the post in the trailer together, we did an ad spend on some social media to try and get it out there. And we're just trying to engage with the filmmaking community and share the process read as much as we possibly can. But you know, we are, we're certainly happy with the reach of the movie. It's available on you know, many platforms. In the US. It's on like Hulu, TV, it's on prime streaming and Vimeo. It's a all the all the all the S VOD, and VOD options that you could hope for, to be quite honest. But there's also certainly a strong argument for that kind of independent distribution route where you handle yourself if you do all the marketing anyway, right? Like, why not? Why not made that final step for us. We our goal was very much to be able to finish the movie, give it to somebody else have control over the marketing, because we didn't want it to be in someone else's hands were worried that it could be marketed incorrectly. But but to not, to not have all that time spent on getting that movie out there. So it made sense to hand it to somebody else because we wanted to start writing a new project to start moving forwards and not get kind of like bogged down in the in the personal distribution of the main thing
Alex Ferrari 59:50
now but the other thing is to you guys have a very different endgame for this film. And that's something that's really important for filmmakers to understand listening is that your goals with the film We're not to make a million dollars, or you know, or be, you know, rich or anything like that off the film, money's nice. We would like to have money if we can't keep going without it. But because I'm assuming you don't want to do another five years like this, I'm assuming this is it, you're not doing any more. No more of these movies, you have to promise me no more. But um, but you but your goal was to get it out there and and get your name out there for people to see you to have conversations about other projects to talk to other investors. That was the end game for this film, correct?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:00:38
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, the film has, the film has been out six months now. And we are starting to move into a phase where the film is making us money, which is great. Because that's a real uptick. But you You're right, our goal was, we have the philosophy that like, we couldn't buy our way into the movie industry, even if we had loads of money. So we've got to find something of value, beyond the finances that would allow us to progress as film directors. So if we could trade, the financial reward for the exposure, and hopefully people are liking the movie and the word getting around, and maybe people in industry hearing about it and going Oh, yeah, I've heard about this film, actually, that was more valuable to us as filmmakers. And and we do try and stress that to people we talk to and, you know, on things like this, that we're not at all sort of suggesting, but this is a business model for
Alex Ferrari 1:01:37
the $77,000 five year model than No, not so much.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:01:42
We were you know, we run a production company. Aside from this, we got other projects and other fingers and other pies. The reason we wanted to make this movie initially was as a bargaining chip to get that initial film off the ground. In the end, it was just supposed to be something that we could barter with. But now you know, it ended up becoming something bigger. And it's actually acting in a way as like a crowbar. So open industry doors, and since the film has been released, we've had people from, you know, Hollywood, email us and you know, we've been talking to managers and we're potentially talking to people and it has, it has given us that sort of springboard. So yeah, we we traded the finances for potential, you know, to be able to help a career move further on.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:31
But the other thing is that you also didn't make a $200,000 movie and had that goal, then you made a $7,000 movie. Yes. You know, very, very Robert Rodriguez esque. A nice round seventh house.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:02:46
Alex Ferrari 1:02:49
Exactly. No, that's, that's amazing, guys, you guys are definitely an inspiration, an indie film inspiration. And in, you know, it's, it's an you did it in today's world, but get a little bit in the past, because it took me five years to do. But but all the things that you did travel to this point right now. And the, the basic spirit of what you do is, is getting out there and doing it. And not everyone needs five years. Some my son might need seven. But um, but you did it and you did it on your own terms. And you told the story you wanted to tell, and it's doing exactly what you want for it. And you can't really ask for. I mean, you could ask for a bunch more. But generally speaking, you got what you aim for.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:03:34
Yeah, we absolutely, we actually got a lot more than we aim for. I mean, we've walked away with a movie that people are watching, and they're enjoying it. And we have people contacting us every single day to say, you know, I checked out your movie. We're in lockdown. And it's brought me hope and it's brought, you know, and it sounds corny, right. But like, ultimately, as filmmakers, our goal is to, like tell a story that people connect with and to hear that people are enjoying the film, and wanting to kind of connect with the community and be part of it. It's just, it's an absolute dream. And on top of that, the actors that are in the movie, they're like family to us, you know, like, we've been to weddings, and we've moved houses and we you know, we're all part of it together now. And it's been a testing experience, but it's just an incredible one as well. Very, very lucky.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:24
Now, I'm gonna ask you a couple questions as my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:04:32
Alex Ferrari 1:04:37
Take five years, take five years and
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:04:39
go to take me nuts. I would say be be passionate. Because I think there are a lot of people, you know that and I talk to a lot of people we've crossed paths with filmmakers. And I think you can and also young crew, you can sort of sniff out the ones You kind of want to be in it because they think it's cool. And I'd love to walk the red carpet. And I'd love to be it's a glitzy glamour industry. And then you can also immediately tell the people that don't care about that at all. They're just, they have to do this because they love it so much. And I think, I think that people who are in positions of power can tell why, why you're sitting in front of them. And if you're passionate, and you love it so much, I think that that you're gonna win them over. So I'd say be passionate about what you do,
I say, really identify what it is about making movies that it's gonna make you happy, though, why do you want to do it, because if you're doing it for the end goal, if you're doing it, because it's going to get you somewhere, someday, that's just not really going to get you through those challenging nights where you're, you know, you can finally get seventh crashed on you for the 100th time and you're in the middle of a render, and you just lost your head. You know, it's to me, a big thing that I've learned through the making of Cosmos has been about just enjoying the process. Don't forget that it's filmmaking that you love. Not the next movie, not the movie you're making 10 years, not where you'll be or what you could be doing some day. It's right now. And if you're on set with a camera, and you're making a movie with actors, you're doing it, you're just doing it. So just enjoy that and try to hold on to that through the whole process.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:25
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:06:31
things take time? Yeah, I'm gonna say exactly that. Patience. Yeah. God. Yeah.
Patience, persistence. things take time, things take longer than you ever thought they could just accept it. And don't face it. You know, you're doing the best you can.
I remember hearing, there's a phrase that I we our dad used to tell us, he heard and he told us, and he said that people overestimate what they can achieve in a year. But underestimate what they can achieve in a decade. Yeah. And it's like, that's, that's great. I remember leaving school 18 and be like, this is it. You know, by the time we're 22 should be
Alex Ferrari 1:07:08
any time now Oscars, should I should I get the tux now? What should I do? Now? I'm
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:07:13
32. It's been 14 years since I left school. And I've just, you know, it's been six months, we've released our first film, it took a lot longer than we thought it would, but we didn't give up and we all now hear. So patience. Don't give up. Keep working hard. love what you do. And it will come
Alex Ferrari 1:07:30
and three of your favorite films of all time.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:07:34
Alex Ferrari 1:07:35
Yeah, I figured, man, I don't know. I feel when I saw cosmos. I'm like, Oh boy. These guys love that Spielberg boy, they just love it.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:07:47
Steven Spielberg. Yeah, I mean, it's good. It could easily be three Spielberg films be top three. But I tell you what, we watched the other day again. The first time in a while Meet Joe black.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:59
Of course. Yes. Cool. Yeah, love. I love your black
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:08:02
love me. 201 movie. Wow, incredible. Um, but yeah, you go and pick some pick one.
It's hard to pick a favorite man. I tell you what, not picking a favorite movie. But another good Martin breast movie Scent of a Woman. Oh, yeah. And seen anything Spielberg jaws close encounters are classified as so good, man.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:30
I mean, you can watch jaws right now. And it is perfection. It's just the shark. I don't care. It's just perfect. It's exactly what it needs to be. I don't want to see g shark. I want I want I want that shark. It's It's so so perfect. And did you know I'll give you a little bit just trivia. The scene in the boat where they're drunk. It's the night before the big thing and what's his name? Oh, the old Robert. Robert Shaw is doing that whole, like, long diatribe about like the dialogue. He's like talking about that. That was actually written by john Milius. Ray Spielberg called them like the night before and said, Hey, john, man, we got to shoot the scene tomorrow and we need a scene and john is not sure and he wrote the scene out for him.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:09:23
Just tie this up for it.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:25
Yeah. What's like it's like you calling one of your mates and going Hey, dude, can you can you help me out with this shot but that's who they were they like the yes young filmmakers
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:09:33
That's amazing. I mean, it's funny because we will have this we'll talk to the film, you know, Trump's gonna make yourself and you'll have this phrase like, what's a perfect film and people say jaws and suddenly everyone goes up jaws jaws.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:46
Mommy jaws is a perfect is it? Yeah, there's, I mean, Spielberg has a few perfect films. I mean, there's he's, he's got a couple in his you know, and, I mean, I could go into the Kubrick I can go into Fincher and I can go into Nolan. I can go tomorrow I can go into Marty. I mean, Coppola, I mean godfather obviously.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:10:09
We love Gladiator as well.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:10
Like Blade Runner. Blade Runner. Alien aliens if you want to go down.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:10:19
overlooked isn't a camera camera.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:21
So this is the funny thing of okay. And now there's just two. This is from geek stalker guy, so just bear with us. Cameron, I went Titanic came out. I people were like, you know, I don't know how old you guys when Titanic came out?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:10:36
Yeah, okay. Have you seen it?
Alex Ferrari 1:10:39
Yeah. So, so Okay, so nine, so I was a bit older than you 97. But when when to everyone, it was a big hoopla $200 million is gonna bomb who's gonna want to watch Titanic? I mean, we all know how it ends. Like, why would you do that? And I just kept saying to everybody who was saying that anyone I talk to him, like in Cameron I trust.
Yeah, I love it. Cameron I trust because he has yet to make a bad movie. And if you look at his filmography, from the abyss, aliens Terminator, Terminator two True Lies. Amazing. He just always delivered it just always. So then, when fast forward a decade, and then avatars they're saying the same thing about avatar. I'm like, Hey, can I trust Cameron? Cameron, we trust. He's one of the most underrated filmmakers. I think in history, he's the most one of the most successful filmmakers in history. And the funny thing is that and I always tell people this like, do you understand that nobody else can make avatar? Like there is no Spielberg Spielberg is not getting half a million half a billion dollars to go develop a new IP new technology about blue people with arguably no major bankable stars like major stars involved no other like you said born with nothing that could support a half a billion dollars that today Yeah, today stars, you know, yeah, so nobody, not Peter Jackson. Definitely not Fincher, definitely not Nolan. like nobody else to do it. Other than someone like James Cameron, and there is nobody else. And when you when you realize, and I've heard these interviews, like when you're the only person on the planet that could do something like there's no there's not an argument here. Could Spielberg make a movie like avatar? Yes. But not by himself. He doesn't have the skill set. camera isn't like a whole other level, like with the technology and and you know, and Nolan and all that, you know, there's just nobody else that could do that film. No one else would write and get a check for half a billion dollars.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:12:52
Now you're right, actually, that's something you quite easily overlook because you just go
Alex Ferrari 1:12:57
Yeah. You take it for granted. You just take it like Oh yes, James Cameron, but there's nobody else.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:13:04
I love watching behind the scenes footage of especially on an interview series in the water camera on his shoulders. His waders just did you did you?
Alex Ferrari 1:13:13
Did you guys listen to my interview with Russell carpenter, the DP from Titanic. So you have to have to listen to about to quit Cameron's story. And every one again we are now you guys can leave. It's now just between us. We're just we're just talking now because we're geeks. Russell Carpenter gets called in to his Malibu house. And it's like, we're gonna do True Lies. It was about True Lies, because he didn't realize that he did Titanic and now he's doing all the avatars. And he calls them up and James Cameron just brings them into his mansion in Malibu, and they're walking around and he's just talking to Russell like, he got the job. Like, there's no offer. There's no nothing. He's just talking to him. Like he's been hired. So we get out he leaves. He's like, I think I was hired. And and. and Cameron during that time, even during the Titanic time, his his reputation is he's rough. Let's just call his rough. He's a little bit of a taskmaster. Let's call it Cameron's legendary for being that dude on set. And so then his students realize and everyone's like, how's it working with James Cameron? He's like, it's great. I have no problem. I don't understand what everyone's having such an issue with James like, we've been shooting for a couple days. It's been peaches. It's been great. So they're in his Malibu house again, his screening room in Malibu, and there's in there seeing dailies and he's shot comes up from Arnold and then I'm gonna guys everyone Prepare yourselves I'm gonna curse I don't care. So I'm just quoting Mr. Cameron at this point. And he goes, What the fuck is that? And Russell's a he starts like big and the production designers. They And the first ad is there and a couple of their keys are there. And he goes, Hey, Russell, I just spent $20 million in the biggest movie star on Earth. It'd be nice if I could see his fucking face. Oh, wow. And then all of a sudden the next shot comes up and he just goes to town at every single shot and Russell's just like, okay, okay, so he leaves. He's out in the parking in the parking area. And he's like, he's calling his wife's like, I've been fired. I've been fired. I've been fired. I've just been fired. There's no way I can go back. I mean, obviously, James Cameron wants to get rid of me. Then the production design in the first day they come out and it goes, Russell Russell, he does that to everybody. Because none of us he didn't call all the other DPS has worked with he does it to everybody. He calls up the DP from the from like the Abyss and he goes, does he goes, did he try the whole? I want to see the face guy. Yeah, he does. He does it to everybody. It's not you. You're fine. Just keep going. And that is James Cameron.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:16:00
We saw recently, we saw the some of the behind the scenes from the Abyss as
Alex Ferrari 1:16:05
I was about to say that. Did you see that documentary? Did you see the set up? Or did you see the documentary? Did you see? Yeah, you've seen the whole documentary, right? The whole like,
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:16:15
why am I looking? I mean, all the way from the beginning, right, Cameron? You go Oh, yeah, the guy that made avatar you go No, no, no, no, no See? This? Like, Oh, yes, a nuclear silo? Let's fill it with water and build a set. Why are you talking about
Alex Ferrari 1:16:28
he's been, and I'll give you one more camera story. And then we will end this interview. Because we could just keep talking for an hour. Can I read it? I read one of Cameron's biographies on the Abyss if you saw the behind the scenes of this, and by the way, anyone listening here should go watch the Abyss if you haven't seen it, and get the DVD and or Blu Ray, and watch. arguably one of the best filmmaking documentaries I've ever seen up there with hearts of darkness for Apocalypse Now. It is amazing to watch. You just sit there with your mouth on the floor the entire time they're doing it. And the suits at 20th Century Fox, it was way over budget, it was like a 50 million at that time was like 50 million bucks $60 million to make the movie. And it was just going up and up. And like, you know, the tarp broke and the filtration system broke. So people, and they had to buy these really expensive, like design these really expensive suits so people can not only see, and we can see their faces. So he has like he's so on the line item. It's wardrobe. It's wardrobe, but it costs like $10,000. And everyone like no one knows what's going on at the studio in the studio and like they're somewhere in North Carolina. And so a suit flies in. And if you saw that the behind the scenes cameras, you know, you're underwater for 10 hours. So you have to decompress for two or three hours underwater, so you can come up without getting the bends. And Cameron was doing this all day every day. He was he was in the water more than anybody else. So he was a taskmaster. But he was proving he's walking the walk. So this he he's just getting out of this decompose the composition and he takes off that that that you know that that element that he that they built right. And this guy comes up who's obviously a suit an executive, he comes up and goes, Hey, James, I'm here from the end before he could finish the sentence, James took the helmet and slammed it on the guy's head. So now the guy can't breathe. Because it's without oxygen. That thing is airtight. So now he can't breathe. He grabs him by the by his tie, and Dre and lifts them over like he's dangling from the edge. And if he falls into water, the dude is gonna die. If he falls into water, unless someone gets to him, he's gonna die. And he dangles them there while the guy's like barely breathing for like 10 seconds. Then he pulls them back in, rips the thing off he goes, if I ever see you on my fucking sin again, I'll kill you. And
now you see, this is the 90s. Guys, this is early 90s. This is a whole other world. I don't suggest you do something like this. But these are the legendary stories of James Cameron. This is one of a billion of them. But I have heard or read about over the years. And I know a lot of people who've worked with him. And every single time I I meet with somebody like I had another guy. Okay, one more story. And that'll be the last James Cameron story. A buddy of mine. He was at the DGA. And he's a DJ director, and he's, you know, he's a good director in his own right and has a couple films under his belt and he's big and music videos at the time. And I think it was Spielberg and Cameron. I think in Jackson or something like that, where they're giving a talk to the other day. And they're like, yeah, you need to do this and we're doing this is the new way and do this. And my buddy comes up he stands up he goes, Hey James, that's really nice because you're James Cameron. I don't have access to that kind of stuff. Like in front of everybody called out James Cameron in front of all these other directors. James goes, Well, what are you doing tomorrow? Do you want to come set? That? No, this is this is avatar before anybody knew what the hell avatar was. Before anyone knew what the technology all you heard was rumors about what the technology was that was being built. And I even heard I was here at that time I was here in LA. So I heard like through the grapevine, like James Cameron's doing something like this now. So he shows up, shows up onto set, which is the what is that the volume, the volume, right? And he's the volume. And there's this and they're basically developing technology. This is all brand new technology they're developing. So behind them in the soundstage is like three rows up with just computers, it must have been 40 people with wires and computer gears and just servers and shit just because you know, and you see James Cameron with this monitor in front of them. And in the monitor wherever he moves the camera. You see, avatar, you see, whatever that I forgot the name of the planet, Pandora, you see Pandora, right? So you see Pandora in real time. In real time, you're seeing everything in real time. So he sees everything, but it's all virtual. So then, my buddy standing behind him because he's shadowing them. He stands behind and he's watching. And he goes all right action. And it's the scene where they like they arrived the first time the helicopter and they jump out that thing, right? So he does and he goes in the take action and they he jumps off like a stool. He jumps off the camera, and he runs and he runs into a digital tree. Like he runs into a digital tree. And it goes, Hey, Jimmy, can you move this thing? About 20 feet that way? And he goes, sure, James. And all of a sudden, like from God, a mouse from God comes into the screen, clicks on this tree in real time, lifts it up roots and all moves it over 30 feet and plants it over there. Let's go again. These like and then they do it. So then my buddy comes up to him after like a few hours of this and they're like prepping something and he goes James man, this is. This is pretty cool technology man. And this is where you understand where James Cameron is in a completely different playing field than any of us are. He goes, you know, it'd be really fucking cool. If I didn't have a cable to this damn thing. This cable has been driving me nuts. I wish we could figure out a way to do this without a cable. It's the most cutting edge technology in film history at the moment. And he's like, but the cable is buggy.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:22:32
not perfect yet. And that's
Alex Ferrari 1:22:36
and that is and that is James Cameron. I'm sorry, everyone for listening if you're still with us, and we turned this into a James Cameron love fest. I apologize for that. But, guys, guys, where can people find you? What you doing your film all that good stuff?
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:22:52
Well, we have a website Cosmos movie official.com, where you can find out where you can check out the film and follow us on social media and even buy some merchandise. If you fancy
Alex Ferrari 1:23:01
works. Are you selling
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:23:02
merch? We're selling caps, and they're they're flying off the shelf. But yeah, we're on all social media and we make we make it our personal quest to reply to every single piece of correspondence we get. So if you have any questions about the process, or about your own movie, and how distribution might work, or this or the other, just get in touch, we're always happy to talk genuinely,
Alex Ferrari 1:23:26
thank you guys for being an inspiration to the to the film tribe and to filmmakers everywhere. We need stories like this, to keep us going. Because it is a fairly depressing time that we're in currently. And, and before before, you know the situation that we're all in. It was still depressing. 29 eight it was still fairly depressing for filmmakers, especially independent filmmakers and making money and making your movies and all this kind of stuff. So these are the kind of stories I like to promote and and really give people inspiration to go out there and make their movies. And you guys are the personification of indie film hustle. So thank you guys so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it.
Elliot and Zander Weaver 1:24:07
Well, thank you very much for having us. It's honestly it's awesome to be on the show. Thank you.
Alex Ferrari 1:24:15
I want to thank Zander and Elliot so much for coming on the show and inspiring the indie film hustle tribe, with their misadventures in making cosmos. Thank you so, so much, guys. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, please head over to the show notes at indie film, hustle calm for slash for 39. And if you haven't seen cosmos, I highly recommend you check it out. links in the show notes. And of course, if you want to check out another film shot on the Blackmagic Pocket camera, of course, you could check out my film on the corner of ego and desire shot at the Sundance Film Festival. And you can check that out at ego and desire film.com thank you so much for listening, guys. As always keep that also going, keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.
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