IFH 268: Leaving the Money to Chase that Filmmaking Dream with Drew Waters

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Have you ever been in a job you hate? Would you leave a stable job to follow your dream? Meet producer, director and actor Drew Waters. He did just that. Drew became an entrepreneur with three retail businesses and a commercial/residential construction company with partners. One day he woke up at the age of 30 and realized I wasn’t fulfilled with what he was doing, so he thought back to the moment he was the happiest.

That moment turned out to be a time, nearly ten years earlier when he was in Japan and was shooting a commercial. That realization led him to the decision to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.

The next week he sold the companies to his partner and started acting/directing /producing. His first film was a D horror movie made for $3,500 That sold and was followed up by another D horror film that was made for $1,500.

From there he made a 30k film in 10 days that sold to a distributor for a 50k MG.  Now after 14 years, 60+ acting credits, 7 produced films later and working with some of the best people in the business, he opened his own production company Argentum Entertainment. Together with his producing partner, he created, directed, produced his first $2m film called New Life. Following a limited theatrical release, it now has a worldwide distribution and is selling well.

I wanted to have Drew on to tell his story of how to follow your dream no matter what. He took a gambled and it paid off.

Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Drew Waters.

Alex Ferrari 2:07
So guys, today on the show, we have Drew Waters now I want to Drew to come on the show. He is a writer director, as well as an actor now wanted you to come on the show, because he has a unique story. And this is something I really wanted to get out there to the tribe. Now Drew started out his life in another career altogether. He was making a lot of money doing a bunch of different retail businesses as well as commercial and residential construction companies, with partners and all sorts of stuff. One day at the age of 30, he woke up and realized he was extremely unhappy. And then he thought back to the moment when he was the happiest. And that turned out to be the time nearly 10 years earlier when he was acting in a commercial in Japan because he did some modeling early on in his career. And from that moment on, he said screw it, I'm going to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. In the next week, he sold all of his companies to his partners, and started acting, directing and producing. His first film was a de horror movie for 30 $500 that's sold. And then it was followed up by another D horror movie that was made for 15 $100. And that was sold and made money and then his next movie made for 30k and sold it for $50,000. And now 14 years later, he's had over 60 plus acting credits have produced seven feature films, and is working with some of the best people in the business. And along with his producing partner, he's been able to produce and direct his first $2 million film called New Life. Now I wanted to bring him on the show to not only talk shop, but just tell his story and to be this inspirational story of changing horses midstream, as I say, never changed your horses midstream. But this man was making a lot of money doing what he didn't really love to do. He felt very empty in his life. And he decided to go after his dream. And anytime I could bring anybody on the show that decides to quit and leave everything they know, in a reckless abandon meant to chase their dreams is somebody I want on the show. It's someone I want to promote. And I want to get their message out there because I feel so many people listening to this podcast right now are in a job that they hate, or doing something that they don't like, or they're just chasing money because they think that's the way to survive in this life. Now, I know we all have to pay bills, I get it. But when you start chasing your dream and finding out ways to make money with your dream, then everything else happens and I falls into place. And drew is a perfect example of that. So please, without any further ado, please enjoy my inspirational talk with Drew Waters. I'd like to welcome to the show Drew Waters man thank you so much for for coming on the show, man!

Drew Waters 5:01
Yeah, thanks for having me. I've been listening to you for a while now. I love it.

Alex Ferrari 5:04
I appreciate it. You told me that I'm helping you lose a little weight. I just, I gotta, I gotta, I gotta fall into that same pattern myself.

Drew Waters 5:13
Well, I gotta tell you that I was getting fitted for a suit and I couldn't fit in. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, let myself go. So I started listening to you and motivates me.

Alex Ferrari 5:21
Oh, good. I gotta motivate myself.

Drew Waters 5:25
It's never too late.

Alex Ferrari 5:26
So to you, you, you, you reached out to me, and I was really taken by your store. Because I think it's a story that's so important for the tribe to listen to, is that you were and I'll tell you a little I'll kind of give a lead in and then I'll let you take over. But basically, what you told me was, you were unhappy, where you were in life, and you were not following your passion. And you decided to just follow your passion, which was filmmaking, acting, producing, directing, and and get the ball rolling. Is that basically a kind of quick summary of it?

Drew Waters 5:59
Yeah, yeah, that's a real quick summary of it took me till age of 30 to figure that out. But...

Alex Ferrari 6:05
So then what what points what point did you realize you were not happy and you said something's got to change.

Drew Waters 6:11
I found myself chasing money. And that was being successful doing it, but I wasn't happy doing it. So I thought if I wrapped myself around more people that would want to chase money with me and build a business I would find the happiness in it and I wasn't and in the process of all that, I was in Tokyo, Japan. Will backtrack real quick, I'll give you the short cliff notes of it. I get out of the I get out of high school I joined the military with F 14 squatter and I do for for reserve. While I was in reserve, a friend of mine introduced me to the modeling world and I'm thinking No, no way. Right I'm I'm a Texas boy ain't care about that stuff. And I'm not wearing makeup. Let my brother find out about it. So and this is the honest guy. Truth. We're in the galley is sitting there eating where the you know, eat military's breakfast. And my buddy goes, Hey, I got a part time job. I go all right. Would you get? Because I'm modeling scout. I go You're what? scout? He go. What do you do? Cuz I don't know. I look for pretty people. I bring him in and make money. I go, Well, good luck. He's gonna bring you in. I'm like, no. And I ended up. I ended up going to the offered me to take me out and getting drunk. And

Alex Ferrari 7:25
Cheap day I got you.

Drew Waters 7:27
Well, we're broke back then remember, we're in the military. We're making money, sir. And he took me I ended up signing with this agent. She took me down this big convention, I won the dadgum thing. I come back to my CEO, my chief and officer I said, I may or may not have done something that may or may not get me in trouble. He was what do you do? And I showed him this contract that I had, and these awards that I won, he was legit. I have no idea. So he found out and it was legit. And I opted into staying in the military. I finished my tour. And then after that, got a phone call, start traveling the world as a model. It's amazing. I still laugh about it is the funniest thing.

Alex Ferrari 8:12
So so so that. So the modeling world when you were into the modeling world, will you How old were you at this point?

Drew Waters 8:20
Like 22-23

Alex Ferrari 8:22
Oh, so you were so you're still you were still down another path at this point. So you started modeling. And then you start chasing money with modeling with something or with other companies or other things you were doing?

Drew Waters 8:33
No, I mean, the modeling business was I was making a great living out. But I was shy. I wasn't really walking around the runways and underwear in Europe. And you know, just it was crazy. And like, I come from a small town, southern town. 3500 people to the runways of Europe. Sure. So, you know, it's a shocking, it's a shocking thing. Yes. I'm shocked. Well, there's a whole lot of stories.

Alex Ferrari 9:02
Oh, there's, there's at least two or three books and at least three or four movies. I gotcha.

Drew Waters 9:07
Well, but I so during the process, I'd come back and I was like, man, I want to open up something and I had a cup of Men's Fitness covers out and I was like, that'd be a good idea. Let's open a gym. And in my situation at time I was looking at it. Well, let's take it a different direction. Let's open up a spa and open up a spa. And doing well one day a guy walks in and goes Hey, man, like who built out your spot here. He's who did it. I'm gonna build one across town. I'd like to maybe talk to him. I go, I did. And he goes, Oh, really? You want to build mine? I go. Yeah, sure. So then I you know, went from owning a spa to construction company. And then I went, I got flown back to Japan. And while I was in Japan, I was on a contract for a couple months in Japan while I was in Japan. I did a commercial for Dale's computer. And I never been on a commercial set. Never been on any kind of move. Have you set or television set? When I'm on this set? And I fell in love with the cameras, the old Neverland 35 back then, yeah, these monsters and so in between takes me and my translator would walk over there and I'd ask a bunch of questions. Yeah. They would translate in some kind of Southern accent and I just fell in love with it. I came back prior to going I did a I did a campaign for Abercrombie and Fitch, Bruce Weber called me up and said, Hey, we're gonna do a commercial. You want to get on it? And like, Yeah, I'd love to get on it. And I'm still chasing money. And during the process, intertwining all that stuff. I woke up one day, and I was 30 years old. And I had a two year old daughter and I was miserable. I had, I had three retail businesses and partner, a construction company with doing residential commercial ground up with partners, and I just, I wasn't happy and when I was home, I wasn't home. And so I I reflected back and just just really thought about what made me the happiest. And I gotta tell you to this day, being on set in Tokyo, Japan, that commercial made me the happiest. And so I I said, You know what, I'm gonna take a chance on myself, I'm like, my daughter's never too late to take a chance on yourself. I'm gonna show her it's never too late to chase your passion, your dreams. And I did two weeks later, I sold out my positions in the company to my my partners, and I never looked back.

Alex Ferrari 11:34
Wow, man. And what gave you the strength to do that man, because a lot of people, you know, listening would just say you you were living the dream, you had stability, you had money coming in all the things that people think are important. But you know, what gave you the courage the the fortitude to just say, you know what, I'm gonna throw it I'm just gonna throw a roll the dice.

Drew Waters 11:59
I you know, I think it's because everybody's had a grandmother in their life that always said, you're a little ham, you should be on TV. Right? a very young age, my grandmother would put that in my mind. And, and I don't know, I did everything, because everybody else kind of guided me to it. And I never really took a chance on myself. Like, I mean, even the business, I just woke up one day someone opened business. And I just, it wasn't like, it was something I wanted to passionately do. I just wanted to do to make a financial makeup make us look stable. And, and I never really chased my true passion. I didn't want to do modeling, I didn't know anything about it. It was just the money was great. And I get to travel around and, and but it was, you know, people say, Oh, you're just being, you know, whatever I'm not, I was so insecure and shy during that whole process, how I worked and did campaigns, I have no idea. But acting, I knew that it stuck with me, that moment stuck with me. And I never, I never really just took a chance on me. And, and and that's scary. You know, I didn't know if I could act. I just said screw it. I'm just gonna try it. I know, I could go back to the the corporate world if I need to, or I'm an entrepreneur, I know I could figure out to open up another business or do something else. All right. But I didn't know if I could take a chance on myself to just lay it all in line on me.

Alex Ferrari 13:27
You know, the thing that I wanted to point something out from the story that I'm picking up is that it's wonderful to follow your dream. But you had already gone through, you know, a good amount of year, almost a decade since you were 20. Building other companies doing other things. So you had a foundation that you knew that if all else failed, you can go back to it. You had the skill set, you had tools in your toolbox to to that you felt comfortable enough to jump in to a new venture, knowing that, hey, it's all good. If so, if it all goes to crap out, I still got something to fall back on. And you were kind of you know, smart about it in a sense, as opposed to being a teen and driving to Manhattan getting out of the cab with 10 cents in your pocket to go and I'm here. If I wasn't so insecure and shy, I probably would. Because we all hear that story from Madonna, Madonna, like just showed up, showed up and it literally in Times Square with like 10 bucks in our pocket. And she's like, I'm arrived. And I'm like, that's wonderful. But that's called also a lottery ticket. You know? That's right. That's the that's the exception, not the rule. And every day here in LA every day, I meet guys and girls who just do that. They just show up with some pop. But most don't. But what you did was a little bit more intelligent in the way you did. I mean are you look arguably arguably Are you are you I'm just saying that I asked my partners for money for investments. So it's great, you know Yeah, you had a path you set, you definitely had a path that was laid out for you. And you chose to walk the paths and decided, look, I'm off this path. Now I want to go start a new path. But that other path really did show you teach you a lot, because you had already lived a bunch before you jumped into the, into the right.

Drew Waters 15:18
Yeah, and I you know what that's that was the important factor. I think for me to get in this because I you know, growing up, everybody has their stories growing up, but I was a, I was a pretty locked up kid, I quit crying at the age of 10. I just got angry inside and every six months i'd blow up and then I'll be happy again and go on. And I realized early on, I was good at building businesses, but not running them now. And so I I'd have to just just step away from it and laugh and trust that it would happen, but then I couldn't relinquish the control over it. And so being able to look back on that moment and say, there's no one else, there's no one to blame. There's no one at risk, but myself at this point. So now's the time I have some money in the bank. Now's the time and I didn't go to the east or west coast agreement. Again, I've never acted before in my life. I just knew I loved that moment. And so I got in front of every acting coach I possibly could in Dallas, Texas. And I started talking to casting directors, letting them know who I was doing workshops, doing showcases, and I'll never forget the first thing that ever I found it on Craigslist. And everybody's don't go to Craigslist and find things I found on Craigslist. It was a horror movie. Of course. Yeah. It was like 30 $500 was our budget because we bought the it was the Canon SD back then it was even HD. And, and Anyway, it was it wasn't even the HD and stuff. So I met these guys, I'm sitting there and I'm dyslexic. And that was a big thing that held me out of this game for a long time. I thought I couldn't memorize things. I couldn't. I couldn't figure all that out. And so I get there, I'm nervous. They give me the script. I'm sitting there on the on the stairs, reading it, people are coming in and out and they go through your reading and they'll give me a few more minutes. For this thing, I'm like, Oh my God. And I didn't know what movies were even like it was gonna be amazing. I booked it. And I walk in and my character is supposed to be reading across from this beautiful young lady right? Of course. We're here's this bearded old man sitting here as this beautiful young lady. Oh. Listen, I walk in and I go, Oh, you guys are really challenging me, huh? And they're like, hey, Drew, sit down. And I ended up booking this thing. And it was it was a it was an incredible opportunity. Because no one really knew how to make a movie we just knew they just knew they wanted to. And they had a genre that didn't really lie. To locations you put a bunch of hikers in the woods is a scientific killer worm that gets loose and starts eating them.

Alex Ferrari 17:58
Of course. Yeah, of course it is.

Drew Waters 18:01
Through that process. We went through everything that we went through all the highs and lows and everything else.

Alex Ferrari 18:08
So it was kind of like a film school for you. Do I was it kind of like a film school for you?

Drew Waters 18:13
It was absolutely it was on onset film school. And we ended up putting this thing together selling it to a sales agent out in LA that sold overseas and it made money and she called us back one day she goes hey, can you make another one but dump a bunch of blood in it? We're like yeah!

Alex Ferrari 18:27
So that was that was your first movie that you worked on as far as yeah as an actor and as a as a producer or something or just just as an actor.

Drew Waters 18:33
I became a I became an actor. Producer. gaffer good craft service.

Alex Ferrari 18:40
Yeah, service got it got the whole thing. So you came in as an actor, but then fell into the behind the scenes behind the camera aspect of things. Yeah. And then you did just so how much did you make that movie? That was 3500. And how much did you sell that for?

Drew Waters 18:55
Well, we sold that one. I think it ended up doing like $86,000 or no Ron,

Alex Ferrari 19:01
what was that? Oh god, it was way back as 2015 years ago. That's when money yeah, that's when our movies were just you could just all you had to do is just make a horror movie. And it made the obscene amounts of money.

Drew Waters 19:13
Yeah, and I'm sitting there going, how he's made a move 3500 bucks and it's sold. This is easy. You do this all day.

Alex Ferrari 19:19
Exactly. So then you make a second one and how much did that cost?

Drew Waters 19:23
1500 bucks.

Alex Ferrari 19:24
And then how much did you sell that one for?

Drew Waters 19:26
Well about the same. Both of them together. It's out there today you can go online you can go to selling in Canada and some box stores still it's it. It got repackaged twice when ground when the Grindhouse came out roguery since it came out the the distribution company repackaged it in like a popcorn to box you know offering deal. Like a drive in theater thing and it's old again, we're like this is crazy.

Alex Ferrari 19:54
So then tell me about that 30k movie that you made.

Drew Waters 19:58
So a friend of mine said, Hey, we're gonna do a short I was in between shooting Friday Night Lights and another product. No, I think I was just wrapping up Friday Night Lights and go into another project. And he goes, would you be in? I'm like, Yeah, I'd love to let's do it. And it started out to be a short, it was just about, you know, blue collar homeless in America and kind of touching on the hidden truth of it. And we got the footage, I was shooting on reds, we had two cameras, full equipment, everything else had a five turn on that thing. And we raised $10,000. And we got the footage back and we are looking at it. This is really good. And so we stopped production for a week wrote a feature and shot it out. And I'm not exaggerating, shout it out in 10 days, and the dadgum thing went off to win like 14 different festivals. And he won bought it for 50 and gave us an mg of $50,000 on it. And so now 3 for 3 right, I'm like,

Alex Ferrari 20:56
So basically this is so everyone listening, this is how it works. You come in you fall into a part, then you become a producer, you make one movie makes a lot of money, make two movie make a lot of money, then you make a third movie makes a lot of money. This is why all film stories go correct.

Drew Waters 21:12
Because the horrors coming in the real horror stories.

Alex Ferrari 21:16
We haven't gotten to the real horror story yet. Okay. Okay. So you guys can see

Drew Waters 21:21
Yeah, so we sold it to each one. It did well, it's still out there against it's selling, we get little Penny Jacks here. And it's funny that when you get a like a point 01 check.

Alex Ferrari 21:33
It's like the old episode of Seinfeld, where he had all he got was checks of like Penny checks. And he had like, 1000s of them from some job he did in Japan, and he had to, but he had to endorse all of them. And it was killing them. It's the craziest thing you're like, cost more to mail this thing. Just Exactly, exactly.

Drew Waters 21:50
But But, you know, from there, I started doing a meeting a lot of people in Louisiana, I you know, started getting out to LA more and then it just kept progressing. And one of my dear mentors and and dear friends in life, you know, he started he drove his truck to Hollywood and one day became a PA on universal lightning. And now he's executive producer and and he said, Hey, Drew, I want to do a movie where you come on and be associate producer on it and lead actor and I'm like, so we made this movie thinking it was going to do incredible. And he called in all his favors. It's I won't give you the budget, but it's below half a million. looks amazing. It's it's about a dog and a kid and A Christmas Story.

Alex Ferrari 22:36
I mean, well, what could go wrong?

Drew Waters 22:39
What could go wrong? Well, this is what I learned how to really pay attention to distribution. And sales agent.

Alex Ferrari 22:47
Oh, here we comes. Come on. Yeah, I'm waiting for it.

Drew Waters 22:51
Yeah, so so what was should have been a no brainer. We had enough attachments at the time. My IMDb score was low enough. And I had enough recognition coming off these other things. We're thinking this is the no brainer. It's a cat and a dog movie under a half a million, like, half a million should do very well. We should least break even sure. Now, that didn't happen. Because we found out the truth about distribution sales agents, I didn't have that much experience with distribution companies and sales agents at the time. And so we trust the friendship and and unfortunately, that's that was the hard lesson to learn but but

Alex Ferrari 23:30
So so what so so can you can you give us any details in regards to what happened with the sales rep what they did it as much as you can say publicly, and what happened with the distribution company as much as you can say publicly?

Drew Waters 23:43
Well, it was you know, you're supposed to get quarterly reports you're supposed to post that nowadays and stuff the reputable sales agents and distribution companies at least it's kind of an open book policy quarter reports, you can cap their their marketing spans, you can make sure you have a big say in it. Back then we didn't think to ask any of those questions. So it kind of just we don't know what happened to them. And legally, we could go and audit and Sue and then do all this stuff. But the reality of it is what would we actually get? We decided maybe not since it was a low lesson learn we get the movie back it's now been in that's the other thing we signed.

Alex Ferrari 24:23
Seven Year 12 year I was 12 years I think is I think I'm not 100% sure. Oh my god, you should have been listening to my podcasts back then. It wasn't available button still. Oh my god. I've got like, four or five episodes just dedicated, let alone articles written about this. Basically, let me make all these mistakes. Even though you weren't around. Damn it, man. Oh, now you make an excuse. Just call me call me Marty McFly. Anyway, I gotta go back in time. So so you signed a 12 distribution deal with no caps on anything, which basically gave them carte blanche to never pay you a dime.

Drew Waters 25:08
Yeah. And I mean, it went to a big, it went through to the sales and took it to a big distribution outlet. It just got squashed. Sure. We because and we don't know, we don't know what the date is. The good news is now we're smarter or older or smarter. It's funny how you grow and you get burned a few times and you learn

Alex Ferrari 25:27
Oh, and there's those are the burns that leave the scar. Oh, they leave a scar because if it's not a big burn, because I got I got shafted 10 grand by a sales agent. Yeah, a producer's Rep. And I didn't she never better did anything for me. And that was like episode six. Like, I just, if you go back to Episode Six, you just hear me rant and rave about, look, there's good producer reps out there. But these sons of bitches, and this is what's going on and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and I laid into it. And yeah, they'll see that dad never forgot that. So now when you walk into, and I've done, I've done many movies, but every time I go into a distribution deal, my eyes are wide open.

Drew Waters 26:12
Yeah. You know what I do? Here's my first approach. If I if if we make the movie and stuff we get people making offers everything else, I'll go to their site, I'll look at the genre they cover and I'll find a couple films and match genre that we're looking at them rapping, and I'll call the producers. Yep. And I'll just simply ask the simple question. How did you like the experience, whoever has the least amount of complaints, as well start with?

Alex Ferrari 26:36
Oh, by the way, that that producers rep, I got a lot of filmmakers calling me over the years about that producers Rep. And I'm like, so rotten, stay away. So it does come back around, it does come back around. But yeah, that's a great way of doing it. And that's a great advice for anyone listening, if you are going to go into a deal with a distribution company, you know, unless it's a huge monster company, and even then, the deal has to be really laid out nicely, like upfront guarantees and things like that. Right, but but you should always call up other other filmmakers, other producers of the directors who've worked at that company and find out what their experience is like because that's the best way to tell it's basically Yelp for distribution companies

Drew Waters 27:21
Yeah, well I mean it take it one step further is is no no your genre and know the distribution company that wants to take it out even if it is a big conglomerate, but yet you're not strong in that genre.

Alex Ferrari 27:33
Yet Disney,Disney's their Disney stop pushing horror movies.

Drew Waters 27:37
Yeah, you know, it's like sure it's gonna get thrown out there everywhere. But if it doesn't perform, it's going to get shelved. If you're not going to get the momentum you want unless you have enough marketing dollars to help the momentum along.

Alex Ferrari 27:49
Now, did you ever self distribute any of your projects?

Drew Waters 27:53
We never self distributed those our latest film we held out a lot of rights because it's a our company does a lot of family value PG, pG 13. Our claim things we don't do any gratuitous objectable content. Okay, good. So okay, so we're known in that space, my business partners, Aaron, but they and she she was lead actress and fireproof, and comes from the background. We're Kindred brothers and her dad's executive producer, and I come from the general world. And I got tired of getting pushed HBO specials want to take my clothes off? You know, my daughter's couldn't watch it. So we decided to make something that families can sit down and enjoy. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 28:32
So tell me a little bit about your new film. It's called new life. What was the what was the budget? How did it all come together?

Drew Waters 28:38
We did that one. For 1.5. Okay. And we raised 2 million we bought our own pain a nice,

Alex Ferrari 28:47
What a smart move. Oh, yeah. 25% of the budget is going into PNA, which is publicity and advertisements for anyone listening in so smart, so smart.

Drew Waters 28:59
I tell you why it's it. Share, we could use more. But what we had was such an It was such a blessing because we didn't have that the movie would not have been and still is being successful like it like it has been so far. But new life it came about from a personal experience. I mean, the long story short is I was just coming off of a TV series, and I was in LA and I was just finding myself not happy with my career. And it was dragging a little bit not going the direction I kind of wanted to and I was confused and you know, management agencies, everybody's in your ear and you kind of you can't absorb all that and I just I was writing her to get out of it. And so one night I decided to drive to Santa Barbara. And I found myself in in the wine country up there and I found a bed and breakfast. I had a glass of wine sitting next to the tub looking at a blank wall going, what are you doing, man? What do you want to do with your life? Yeah, you sold your businesses, your daughter's that you're raising them. But what do You want to do what's what's the end goal here? What's your accomplishment here? And I started thinking, you know what to do a festival, I want to do something I want to do I want to I want to do take something that has meaning and leave something and, and I said, Well what wins can can seems like the way to go. And this is usually the European truth and emotion with a little bit American flair. And I was like, okay, is what bothered me right now the most. And I lost my grandfather six years prior, and he was my best friend. And he died of a broken heart. And he Yeah, yeah, live two loves of his life. And so I sit there, and I, in my mind, I'm just thinking of this. And I closed my mind. And I imagine the short of flashbacks and coming through, you know, just everything happening and stuff like that. Without my eyes, I was crying I go, alright, let's go write that. And so I came back home and and found a couple that are writers and asked, told him a story and asked, hey, you want to you want to write this for me, and they wrote the short, and I was all set to make it. And then I met Aaron, I was, I got booked for a lead role in 1890. Western out in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Aaron was lead actress in it, and I start pitching her on the short and she said, Why are you gonna do a short no one sees those gelee do and we started out that argument. She taught me to write in the feature and the rest is history.

Alex Ferrari 31:24
One thing I'm finding fascinating, I'm seeing a pattern in your life journal, that I see a pattern in your life where you really go with your gut. You, you listen to your gut. And the second that that that inspiration or whatever comes into your mind. You don't fight it, generally you just go. And and I think it's served you fairly well, in your life in Mike, am I wrong?

Drew Waters 31:50
No, I don't think you're wrong. You know, it's when I stopped fighting my gut is when I started being successful. Really? You know, I have less headaches now. Right? Oh, yeah. Listen, I my life's not, you know, peaches and cream. I'm not none of those are not look, none of us.

Alex Ferrari 32:05
But just general. There are aspects of our life that are flowing, and some that are not.

Drew Waters 32:11
I think that's important, though. It's just because you have one or something that stops you figure out a way around it. You know, I'm a problem solver. Now I am, by nature, somebody that likes fixing things. And so when I see something in my life, that's a problem. I figured out a way around it, I figured out a solution to it. My worst word that I could hear is no, I hate that word. Because it's it's the best and worst, I'll say, because if somebody tells me No, and I know in my head that I can make that happen that way, or I can make I will go out of the way take the long way around and make it happen that way. To just prove the point that it can't happen that way to hopefully Don't say no to somebody.

Alex Ferrari 32:53
And there's hardly ever a no in this business, right? No, no, no. And now you barely rarely ever hear anyone say no or a negative energy at all in the film industry. What's that word?

Drew Waters 33:05
Exactly. You want to hear it? Here's the funny story. Yo, for everybody out there. I'm coming. I I was hustling. I mean, your your show is perfect example of what you need to do to hustle. If you're waiting for somebody else saying to you, nope, then just go do something else. Because they're never going to hand it to you. You got to go out there and make it happen. Sure people get lucky in the right place right time. You know, a lot of my stuff has been luck. But every step of the way I can tell you where I was hustling during the process of it as well. And I was hustling I was as recur on Friday lights I just did Breaking Bad I was coming off of another show or another movie out in LA. And I decided to go out to a movie in Louisiana and I started I started to go out to LA and my agent set up all these general meetings with all the casting directors of the network's like, this is awesome. And I started talking to them and going back and forth. And I'm not gonna say any names I'm not gonna tell the network. This is the honest guy truth. I get in I get into my last meeting. And I'm all excited pumped up everything's been going great and I give him my spiel. I'm like, wow, this is all everything else. And he put his finger up because it sounds all great everything else he goes but when you get to stop playing around you take your career seriously. And I went What? Yeah, in a grant you I'm coming up all these shows thinking I'm on a high right now. Right, right. Because when are you going to take your craft seriously, I go What are you talking about? He goes, What do you got to come out here, get a waiter or wait or get a waiter job. pay your dues until you get lucky and somebody you know somebody you know finds you and

Alex Ferrari 34:42
Discovers you discovers you.

Drew Waters 34:44
And Excuse My French but I literally he picks me up so bad I literally stood up and I sat there with that that awkward you know pause for a moment and I looked in my window and I was walking out and then I got mad I turned back around. I gave a little habit, I was like, You tell me I'm taking it seriously when my kids, you know, I'm hustling for them. I'm out here doing this, I go, I leave this office, and I go work on a network show right now without, you know, all this other stuff. And then at the end of it, he goes through I see you're passionate. I get it. And he called me in, you know, for multiple shows after that. And it was like a mind screws like

Alex Ferrari 35:22
It was no, it was it was I think what it is and they do this sometimes in in Hollyweird is there are, there are some producers, and casting deepl and especially with actors, but also with directors and writers, is they'll test you to see if you have a spine to see if you have any passion behind you. Because they see 1000 pretty faces a day. And they see 1000 talented directors and writers a day. But what's going to make you stand out and they will push you just to see what you'll do. And because you reacted the way you did, if you were to walk out with your tail between your legs, that would have been the end of it. Yeah, but because you did what he did, he called you back on budget, and I'm sure I'm assuming you guys became at least cordial with each other.

Drew Waters 36:09
Oh, yeah, I had his personal number I could call him it was like, Alright, we got that out of the way. Let's let's go ahead and do some stuff. I don't recommend doing that. For anybody listening I do not recommend

Alex Ferrari 36:21
Don't curse out generally don't curse out the producer of a show. And network executive, an agent or manager in a big agents just try not to. But be nice to everyone because they could be running the show. You know, two three, especially the especially assistance always be nice. One thing I one thing I realized to doing what I do is that you're right that you don't have to you can't wait for someone to hand things to you. You definitely have to go out and do it. But what I've seen at least in my experience doing what I'm doing with not only with indie film hustle, but with my movies, is that when you start doing your own stuff, and when you start making your own opportunities, other doors open, other opportunities present themselves that would have never presented themselves unless you were working and out in the spotlight. Does that make sense?

Drew Waters 37:17
Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 37:18
Is that happened to you a lot?

Drew Waters 37:19
No, it absolutely I take every opportunity you know, no matter what I I'm actually NCIS just call me back I got a recur position on NCIS character NCIS LA. But I literally got that phone calls in Atlanta, Georgia. And, and my agent called me said Drew, tomorrow morning producers want to see in the room for this new character. And I had to make a decision then whether to fly out that night, take the red eye into LA to make that happen and stuff and I never I never thought twice. I said absolutely. Is it an opportunity. I'm gonna go do it. And and now look at you know, he didn't kill them off the first episode. That's usually a good, good side. Hey, Mike, come back.

Alex Ferrari 38:04
You might go back. I'm going back. That's awesome. And what I love about your story, man is that you just didn't, you weren't just satisfied with being an actor. You You went all in new, I mean, you went all in, you want to be a director. You want to be a producer, and an actor and just enjoy everything that this business has to offer, man and I do applaud you, man, because there is a lot, I promise you, there's a lot of people listening. And a lot of people who aren't listening who don't have the courage yet to do it. And I say yet because they have to build up to that moment, but that they take that risk in life. And I wanted you on the show because I wanted to show an example of someone who threw caution to the wind and just said you know what, I'm going to follow my passion and because I love I'm not happy now. And how many people do you know and personally in your life true that are not happy with where they are? They could be rich as all hell yeah, they could be surrounded by beautiful women or beautiful men and they could have they be flying around and jets and vacationing and drinking champagne around the world, but are dead inside or on unhappy now there's mind by the way. There's also very happy people who do all that as well. But generally speaking, how many people do you know that like that? I can't count on on both my hands. I take my shoes off. Exactly.

Drew Waters 39:30
And this business definitely. Everybody puts on a persona a not everybody

Alex Ferrari 39:35
No everybody now on Instagram and in Facebook and Twitter. Everyone puts on a persona. Yeah, everyone's life is perfect.

Drew Waters 39:42
Yeah. And that's not the case. And you know, when I got into this industry, I went to therapy for six months just to see you just to break out of my shell. You know, get out of my head Get out of my subconscious quick. Just break neat back down to reality. sad truth is now I cried everything He's made me cry. ridiculous, but I'm very I'm very in touch with my personal side. So,

Alex Ferrari 40:05
Yeah, see as you should, as you should. But as an actor, as an actor, you have to be able to tap into those things.

Drew Waters 40:12
I think I think at anything, though, why limit yourself? Why, if you're going to do it, do it, you know, don't, don't go I, you know, I'm not there yet. I'm not ready yet. Well, maybe you're not ready to take on like, I love the steps you take, start out small, work your way up. And that way you can continue to grow the people that around you believe in, you now will continue to believe in you. Don't be scared of failures, learn from them, and steps forward. If you are passionate about something, if you're easy to work with in this industry, and you're good at your job, because no one wants to waste time on you, and you don't have an ego. You mean likeability is a big factor in this.

Alex Ferrari 40:51
Huge, huge, huge, I'll take someone who's less talented, but I can work with the most talented mF er in the world. If you think it's all about talent, man, give it up.

Drew Waters 41:06
It's it's not? It's I mean, you have to have town that we're not saying that to say you don't have to have talent, but it's how creative are you? I mean, there's a million different directors out there, producer. I'm taking my career towards the directing side, I love acting and directing. That's my two favorite things. cinematography is my third, like dabble in it all. Because the reason why I opened a production company is because I wasn't given an offer, I wouldn't get any offers for the roles I wanted to take. Were sitting in the room with people you'd recognize on television and stuff. And the door would open into the casting room, and you'd hear them making an offer out to a person with an agency before the door open. And then the door would open say, hey, Drew, come on in. I'm like you sure it sounds like you got the guy? Like, no, no, come on in, we have to do this. But we had to wait for that to drop off, then hope no one else picked it up to give us a shot at it. Right? Then there's 100 million factors that you have to go through whether or not you get it. So I decided to take that that factor out of the equation and open my own production company. Because I was passionate about it. And I had a story I wanted to tell. And I had people believing in me and I built up the knowledge and I built up the the crew following and they create a following to do so

Alex Ferrari 42:17
How important do you think it is for filmmakers today to understand and be an entrepreneur?

Drew Waters 42:26
I think you have to have it in your portfolio. I mean, you I say this all the time, I talk on a lot of panels about financing and distribution now and stuff and and the biggest thing is if you as a producer, or creative takes an investor's money without having any understanding of how you're going to recoup it, you're basically stealing it, you're basically stealing correct it's, it's it's our job. as producers, you know, the best way to do it, the way we approach things now is we get paid for all we need is paper I need I need, I need agreement that you will commit, but based off these contingencies are met. And once that's done, then I'm greenlit but it's my job as producers to go now because I have that on paper to go now get the agencies to attach the cast that I need distribution to be able to look at the market strong and get a get a realistic number between our low high you know and not over evaluate it and really understand that start talking to my Television Distribution deals and all my outlets, tax incentives, branding, integration, all that stuff. Before I agree to take that money in my job. If I do it right now I'm only putting high side 30% equity at risk. Right. And I have a backstop against that somewhere in my mind is usually on domestic but I have a backstop somewhere. And and it's a chicken and egg scenario that the chicken being the money. But if you have somebody that believes in you, instead of just taking that money making something and hope it's gonna stick, some people are gonna watch it. Go. Once you have the money, half the battle is over, you can now call any agent you want to and have a conversation money, you have you the doors open up for you. You don't need to spend that money just yet. You can talk to him or you can talk to casting directors or you can have these conversation. You can start high and you'll find your finger somewhere in the middle that you'll land somebody will say yeah, I'll take a chance on this. Let's do this. And then you start you start climbing the ladder,

Alex Ferrari 44:31
Building your portfolio. Yeah. Now you're not just a filmmaker with a dream. You're a filmmaker who's actually made successful movies. And it doesn't matter at what level I mean, it could be simply a 15 $100 movie that made 10,000 bucks and if that $1,000 movie they made 20,000 bucks or obviously your standard 15 $100 movie they made $86,000 no a Not everyone can make a bad deal horror movie and makeup and makeup scene. amounts of money with it. You throw a bad CGI worm in there like, Oh, I could only see. I can see it in my head. I've never seen it. But this we're talking about my 15 year old 15 years ago. Always bad. unexperienced. Yeah, I will say it's not the worst thing out there is not the worst. Oh, no, there's no but but it's close. It's close. But I could only imagine what that CG worm looked like 15 years ago, at not a high level, I'm sure the VFX crew.

Drew Waters 45:37
You know those? You know those kids? Yes. Like, okay, so that's what we bought, we bought this kit that we got home depot where the kids crawl through it, we got that. And then we put this we figured out how to make this kind of blur, special effect kind of blob thing around.

Alex Ferrari 45:57
Oh my god. It's amazing. It's, it's amazing. It's fantastic. And I did my own stunts. That's how I started getting me I got into stunt work. So I did my own stunts that what don't you do? What don't do it Oh, man, you enjoy life. You know what, and that's that. And that's something I say to people all the time, I have a toolbox that I've been putting tools in since I got into this business. And I have an immense amount of tools that i've you know, like like Liam Neeson, I have a certain set of skills that I've acquired over time, that, that I'm able to use on all of my projects. So I can't go out and make a $3,000 movie, because I can do a lot of the heavy lifting myself. Because the tools I'm able to do and if you don't have that education, you don't have those tools becomes a lot harder. So and you being who you are, you've picked up a lot of tools along your way. And those help you along the path.

Drew Waters 46:51
You know what, I'll tell you some of the funniest, the funniest moments I've ever I've ever had in this industry so far are making those very, very low budget, no pundit budget independent projects. Because it's a it's, it's a collaboration, the stress is a lot lower on those than it is on a $2 million product. There's a lot of moving parts and a lot of stress. But dealing those it's just it's passionate. It's it's a group of small, small group that have like minded people that come together to create something and and anybody can do it nowadays, technology has come so far and are so advanced that anybody can do it nowadays, you just got to do it. And sure, it may not be great the first time or it may be great the first time. There's platforms that you can put it on there for free. And there's just drive traffic to and start talking about it. But if all you're doing is talking about not doing it, you're never going to get it you're never going to experience it. Just Just Just shut up and start doing it is like I would have always told people just how did you do it because I shut up and I just did it. I just started doing it. I didn't know anything. I am a prime example of I never went to college I was in the military. I was a small Southern boy that used to rodeo running through the woods with cut off shorts and hatchets, you know, it's right. And I and I woke up 30 years old going, I'm gonna take a chance on myself. And I just put the mindset of business in front of my ability to act in it or the creative side and I just long distance, figured it out on the creative side and I am I'm a true creative when it comes to that stuff. Aaron is more of our production side of our company. I'm a true creative. But I have a huge Rolodex of people that I can call to fill my gaps. Correct. And I still do those no budget projects, because they're so much fun. And I think that's when some of the best creatives come out. I elaboration is is king in my world.

Alex Ferrari 48:52
And no absolutely I always I always compare it to like carny folk, you know, Carnival folk or circus folk on those kind of small budget films because you get all these in you lovely personalities, who are just wonderful and they're all just trying to get we're trying to get the tent up for the show. We're trying to get the tent up for the show cuz the shows happening tonight. And that's the mentality it's not like with a big budget movie that you got cranes to put the tent up and everyone's got air conditioned this or you know, caviar that it's just, we're just on the ground just trying to get that tent up and put on a show.

Drew Waters 49:27
That's why you said you said something great. In one of your podcasts I was listening to you said you know, use what you have. Absolutely use what you have, don't try to reinvent reinvent the wheel or anything as usual you have and become as creative as you possibly can within that space. Absolutely. And create great content. And great content doesn't mean necessarily high quality you know it doesn't have to be shot on reds or fourcade or iPhones out there now

Alex Ferrari 49:58
IPhone

Drew Waters 50:01
Create good sound. Mm hmm. Create a content that moves people tell a story visually tell a story.

Alex Ferrari 50:09
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. So jurors, I have a few questions to ask all of my guests. So it's going to be kind of our rapid fire questions. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Drew Waters 50:24
Just do it. Believe in yourself and do it. You know, you know, right now, around you, you probably have about five to 10 people if you started just talking to your friends, everything else that would probably help you out. And and sit down, figure out the concept and do it. What you're what you're carrying in your hand, or you can go out and succeed with.

Alex Ferrari 50:47
Now, can you tell me a book that had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Drew Waters 50:52
I can tell you the book I'm reading now.

Alex Ferrari 50:55
Fair enough. Fair enough.

Drew Waters 50:57
And don't laugh. It's the it's the big bet. Big Bad book of Bill Murray.

Alex Ferrari 51:06
Bill Murray, Bill Murray. He's a god. Bill Murray is a god man. I love bill.

Drew Waters 51:11
The fact that he has a one 1-800 number and leave a message and they may call you back is amazing.

Alex Ferrari 51:15
Do you have a 1-800? Are you serious?

Drew Waters 51:17
I'm dead serious? I'm dead. I'll send it to you.

Alex Ferrari 51:19
No, no, send me the I'll put it in the show notes. Everybody. That is really it. I would love to call Bill Murray. Just. I don't know if you're gonna hear this or not. But you got to come back, man, please. We're in desperate need of some humor in this world today.

Drew Waters 51:38
Oh, my gosh, I have three dreams in life. I want to work the cleanest wood. I want to work with Bill Murray and Richard Curtis.

Alex Ferrari 51:45
Nice, nice. Alright, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Drew Waters 51:54
Be humble and believe in yourself. That Believe in yourself thing is the biggest thing. Don't, don't sell yourself short. Life is too short. When it comes down to it. Don't find your passion late in life and wish that you would have spent, you know, younger years chasing it. Do it now.

Alex Ferrari 52:11
Oh, I agree. I always tell people whenever I meet a filmmaker on the street, and they come up and ask me like, what do you do? I'm like, Look, dude, and they're young. I go Look, tomorrow morning. They're like 20 years old. 25 years old. And tomorrow morning, you're gonna wake up and you're gonna be 40. Yeah. And then after that, you're gonna wake up and you're going to be 55. And you're still going to be what if don't be don't do what I did. It took me until I was 41 to get my first feature made, because of all the stuff I had to deal with. But when I was ready, I hit the ball roll. I hit the ground running kind of like what you did it 30 which I wish I would have done at 30. But yes,

Drew Waters 52:46
That's it. It's never too late. That's the thing. Never. It's never too late. Just go do it now.

Alex Ferrari 52:52
Now. This is the toughest question, obviously. What are three of your favorite films of all time?

Drew Waters 52:57
Easy.

Alex Ferrari 52:58
Oh, good.

Drew Waters 53:00
Unforgiving.

Alex Ferrari 53:01
Yes, Unforgiving, amazing movie

Drew Waters 53:04
Not just because I'm a Clint Eastwood fan, but it's my all time favorite Western. I watch that on repeat

Alex Ferrari 53:10
Absolutely. It's so good. So So yeah.

Drew Waters 53:13
Love Actually.

Alex Ferrari 53:14
Oh, because every Christmas you have to watch love actually.

Drew Waters 53:18
I'm a romantic is such a hopeless romantic.

Alex Ferrari 53:21
Such a good movie.

Drew Waters 53:22
It really is. And you know, it's of course it's

Alex Ferrari 53:25
Did you see the sequel? Did you see that little mini sequel? They did? I did. Yeah. I was so good to watch that little movie. It was so brilliantly done. I loved it.

Drew Waters 53:36
I just love anything they do. I need to be able to work with them. I think they're brilliant. I just think that whole crew is brilliant. Yeah. And then the Shawshank Redemption.

Alex Ferrari 53:45
Oh, there you go. man that's on my top three.

Drew Waters 53:48
You can't get tired.

Alex Ferrari 53:49
No, no, you could watch. If it's on I put on let's just let it roll. Yeah, just throw the mic on the remote away and just let it rock just go. When my girlfriend gets mad at me for leaving dishes in the sink and I clean them I'm watching that. Absolutely no question about it. And I always tell people to because a lot of people I'm sure you've dealt with this. You know, sometimes you get beat up by critics or you know about your films or about your performances or things like that and like and they critique you and they beat you up a bit. I always anytime that ever happens to me I just go to Google and go bad review Shawshank Redemption. Right? And then I go and read that and I feel so much better. Because obviously I'm not comparing my work to star sack redemption by any stretch, but it makes me feel like you know what? Even Shawshank Redemption had haters. So, and I always tell people if I meet them I'm like, do you like Shawshank Redemption? Well, I'm not I really like him like, unfortunately we can't be friends. I'm sorry. If you You're dead inside. You're dead inside. I'm sorry. You didn't goodbye and you're dead inside. I'm sorry. Goodbye.

Drew Waters 54:58
Hey, listen, you don't know You don't make movies or television for critic, you make them for the audience. Absolutely. Absolutely. That's the important thing. Grab your audience find who that is, and give it to them.

Alex Ferrari 55:10
Absolutely, well question. And now where can people find you and your work Drew?

Drew Waters 55:14
you can go to drewwaters.com, which leads back to all roads are gentle entertainment.com and it's ARGENTUM entertainment.com. And then drew waters 13 is my handle on all the social medias. But if you guys want to go to our argentum entertainment, sign up for our newsletter, because we're in pre production and our new film this fall, and then we have another film next spring that we're shooting in Ireland. So we're going to be sending out if people are in Atlanta, you know, we're gonna be sending out requests for background and cast and things like that through some of them. So it's a good opportunity.

Alex Ferrari 55:56
And it does these new films have a dog and a Christmas movie by any chance No,

Drew Waters 56:01
One of them does and making one in Michigan that's coming up. Actually. I can't talk about me and stuff. But I'm so excited because it's kind of like a, it's kind of like an FSU, you know, in the face of the first one. Because Because, I mean, it meant so much to us and everything else. And so we're gonna go we're gonna do a repeat with it. And but we would with a smarter approach of who we're taking it out with.

Alex Ferrari 56:27
I would I would hope you've learned something since then. I'd like to think so. Drew man, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you, man, you've you've really get I hope it really lights a fire under everyone who's listening to this right now, too. It's never too late. You can always follow your passion. You could always follow your dream and be happy in life. And I think that's, I think, honestly, the most important thing is to find that happiness to find, as Joseph Campbell said, find your bliss. Find that thing. Do you agree?

Drew Waters 57:02
The truth, the truth of it is you find what you love. You never work a day. This industry is is cutthroat. It's hard. There's a lot of nose, like you said, and there's a lot of lost hours in between. But I don't work. I have fun. I get to do things that I'm so passionate about. You know, so yeah, just go out and believe in yourself. And if you make if you're making excuses, as to all the excuses, there's nothing that should hold you back in today's technology, money. It doesn't matter. Money doesn't matter. Anything else go make something.

Alex Ferrari 57:36
Absolutely, man. Thanks again for being on the show.

Drew Waters 57:39
Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 57:41
Drew, thank you so much for being on the show. Man, you are an inspiration. You go out there and you hustle every day, man. I don't know, if I would have the fortitude to leave everything that you had to leave at 30 to follow your dream. So thank you for being an inspiration to the tribe. To me, to everyone who's listening to this episode. And if you want to get links to anything we discussed in this episode, head over to indiefilmhustle.com/268. There you can see the trailer for his new film, the new life, as well as links where to rent, buy and watch that movie, and contact information for Drew. Thanks again, Drew. And guys, if you haven't already, please, I'm gonna say one more time, go to filmmaking podcast calm and leave the show a good review. It really really helps the show out a lot in the rankings and getting more and more people to hear this information. It's so so important to share this kind of information with filmmakers, screenwriters, and anybody who wants to be in this business. So thank you guys for all your support. And by the way, I have been reading the reviews you guys have been leaving. So thank you so much. I do read all of the reviews. So please leave those reviews at filmmaking. podcast.com Thank you guys, again, so much for all the support. And as always keep that also going keep that dream. And I'll talk to you soon.

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