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How to Raise Your Filmmaker IQ with John Hess
Today on the show we have director, Youtuber, and founder of the legendary Filmmaker IQ John Hess. I have been a huge fan of John’s for quite some time. The videos he creates for Filmmaker IQ are, by far, some of the best and most informative film education on Youtube.
Here’s John’s explanation of what Filmmaker IQ is.
Filmmaker IQ (which also goes by the aliases Who?, FilmmakerIQ.com, and FIQ to evade debt collectors) is worshiped by no less than five monotheistic religions on Earth despite their petulant childish behavior, persistent meddling in the space-time continuum, and clear bipolar disorder. FIQ is the largest black hole of film knowledge in the universe.
With over 3.4 billion courses on subjects such as Ways to successfully acquire both armrests at a movie theater, Why do all the evil people in Star Wars have a British accent? and Martin Scorsese’s Eyebrows. FIQ’s video lectures are hailed by educators, non-educators as well as people who are against the concept of education on moral grounds.
John and I geek out over cameras, post, and filmmaking in general. If you haven’t watched his videos you are missing out. They are a must for any serious filmmaker. Enjoy my conversation with John Hess.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- DONATE to Feed America to help with people affected by the Coronavirus
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
- $1 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)
- The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop with Suzanne Lyons
- Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story) (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
REAL-WORLD STREAMING FILM EDUCATION
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
- Hollywood Film School: Filmmaking & TV Directing Masterclass
- Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons
- Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
- The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters
WATCH MICRO-BUDGET CASE STUDIES
- IFH Academy – Exclusive Filmmaking & Screenwriting Training
- FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)
- Indie Film Hustle® Podcast
- Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast
- Filmtrepreneur™ Podcast
- Inside the Screenwriter’s Mind® Podcast
Alex Ferrari 2:22
Now guys, today on the show, we have John Hess from filmmaker IQ. Now I've been a fan of John's work. For years filmmaker IQ is an amazing website with these remarkable mini documentaries that he puts up on YouTube. And he's just shows you everything from how to make air powered blood squibs to the history of the mock buster, the fundamental elements of film music, who's in a movie credits, the science of deep focus and hyperfocal distance. I mean, the history of the Hollywood musical he goes deep into each topic he covers and they are so entertaining, so well produced. I just love what john has been doing over the years. He is definitely an OG in this space of helping filmmakers follow their dreams and make their movies so I just had an absolute ball talking to John on the show. I can't wait to share this episode with you. So without any further a do, please enjoy my conversation with John Hess. I'd like to welcome to the show the legendary John Hess from filmmaker IQ. Thank you, john for being on the show brother.
John Hess 3:38
Hi, thank you for having me.
Alex Ferrari 3:39
I appreciate it. Man. I mean less I've been like telling you earlier I am been a big fan of filmmaker IQ and what you do you have a very unique voice and how you approach the filmmaking process. And the work that you do with filmmaker IQ than anybody else in our space. And I've been at admire from a distance for quite some times you are. I like to call you. There's a few of you guys but like the OG's, you're one of the OG's. Okay. One of the original gangsters doing this because it's starting to weight right.
John Hess 4:13
Ah, yeah, the site started weights at my beliefs. Yeah, I guess so. I haven't really thought about that. But it was at the tail end of the MySpace era. So if you want to play off of that,
Alex Ferrari 4:24
Oh, I Oh, yeah. I made a lot of money on spy so they sell only independent film. I was it was I was huge on my space. Huge.
John Hess 4:30
My Space was I mean, we're talking like a bunch of old old guys sitting around talking to the old days. Yeah. But yeah, my space was kind of how I got into the whole discussing film online. And it was the through the MySpace film forums. That's really kind of how IQ started was born there. It's a long story behind it on if you want to get into it, but it basically was we wanted, we were kind of kicked off of my space. So we were both my friend I dance was we're both banned from my space and he's like, let's Start on site. Because we for a longest time, we didn't have moderate moderate moderators on on on the film forums. And then we've been clamoring let's get some moderate because there's probably people in here expanding constantly. Well, my friend Dennis The site was would always post very interesting articles, but he would bump the posts up to get them back the top, you would post an article, but he would bump it up. And that was against the rules, you know, the moderate, so they banned him, one of them one of the more you know, important assets of the film was banned because he would bump up his old posts and that's so he says, and I fought for him and I got banned as well and To hell with my space and we went off to your own site.
Alex Ferrari 5:38
Well, and arguably that worked out for you. Okay, because not many people talk about my space anymore. Is it still I know it's still on it's still around right
John Hess 5:48
It's still on for I guess there's some bands that use it, you know, or some music in the music scene still kind of uses it. Yeah, love. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 5:56
I mean, it's like a SoundCloud is probably bigger than that.
John Hess 6:01
I mean, it's probably dead yeah
Alex Ferrari 6:03
I think was it who bought a Fox Fox paid like a billion for it?
John Hess 6:08
Back in the day? Yeah. Tom Anderson and nice little payday. Because everybody's friend remember?
Alex Ferrari 6:14
Tom! Tom! Tom! So um, so before we get going, man, how did you get into business? How did you get into the to loving what you do?
John Hess 6:24
Oh well, you know, it's the say you love it. You know? It's it's complicated. Say you love what you do. I mean, I love it so much. I'm willing to put up with all the crap that I do.
Alex Ferrari 6:34
Amen. Brother. Preach.
John Hess 6:36
You know, that's it's not that I love I love every single waking day moment. No, I honestly frustrated half the time. But I wouldn't do it if I wasn't. If I was that if I didn't love it. I'd be doing something else. So I started off. I made, I made little videos. And I grew up I was class of 2000. So I grew up in the late 90s. And I made little videos for my, for my high school. We just as a budding, you know, TV video production class. And I started doing just little projects, advertising on the morning announcements, because we had like closed circuit television back in those days, advertising the Academic Decathlon team, so I started making spoofs of things I made like a like a silent film spoof. I made a titanic which was really big back then spoof. I made a Mission Impossible spoof, which is yet another movie franchise from the late 90s. And a kind of like, I started fall in love with the whole process of just making moving pictures. Kelly, that's if you're if you've read if you heard Spielberg talk about how he got started how when he was a kid, he had a little eight millimeter camera and he would shoot two trains running into each other and, and he learned he could just shoot it and watch it over and over again. That's kind of same way I got into into video making or filmmaking is just I like creating things on this watching them over and over again. I kind of fell in love with that. But as a kid I always wanted to be in business. I've always because my father was in a national engineering so I was always involved with some sort of bit I just love the air of business. So I went to school to be a business major and I found I still like business but I was like I still want to make video that's still what I want to do. So about my second year of college I said hey, I want to go intern at I want to see if I can make marry that to become a business and and then video maybe do maybe like a producer and film so I found a a small cable company that was out in Corona, California and they were doing commercials like local local cable commercials. You know, it was really bad. Cow Worthington kind of stuff.
Alex Ferrari 8:34
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday.
John Hess 8:36
Yeah. Oh, yeah. So I interned there for like a year. Like, I just just did it because like, I didn't take class credit cuz I was like, I don't want to do the paperwork. For the credit. I just wanted to be there and hang out and do like little these little movies, not movies, little commercials. Did that for a year. And I'm getting more detail than I probably need to but I did that for a year. And then I was laid off by the company. And my the people I worked with were laid off and I kind of burden me this like this little independent streak. like, Man, these guys, I known work for the company for 25 years, they build a family, they depend on this job. And the corporate culture comes in and just can't access them. And like, I don't want to I don't want to go work for the man. So I just want to started to start doing my own business. And that was about 20 years ago, or 18 years ago, 17 18 years ago.
Alex Ferrari 9:24
And what was that business? And what was that business?
John Hess 9:27
Oh, what do you mean my own business video production?
Alex Ferrari 9:30
John Hess 9:30
So any like any kind of video production in fact I do. That's primarily what I do. I mean, the film one narrative filmmaking is something that I I want to aspire to more but right now I'm actually doing a ton of video work for like, I do work for cities and corporate corporate called corporations that call me in to do like a like a documentary about, you know, their corporate culture, whatever they want to promote. So I so I ended up still using that business education to mine the business marketing But I make commercials and stuff like that.
Alex Ferrari 10:03
So filmmaker IQ more was a side kind of like a side hustle for and more of a labor of love for.
John Hess 10:09
I mean, it's honestly the labor of love kind of thing. It's, I mean, I like to kind of push it more toward an actual productive income generating stream, it's really is still more of a labor of love. And I don't know, it's it's one of those things where I don't want to I don't want to kill it by making it too much of a job necessarily. Although I do want to do something to you know, I do want to actually make it to be more of a job, I guess. Right? Should I call it that? Let me I mean, I guess I'm being very candid, honest. breaking their spells about who I am and what I do?
Alex Ferrari 10:40
Well, you know, there's a lot, there's a lot of, you know, and I've been doing this for four or five years, and I, I still, I still say that I have the original filmmaking tutorial on YouTube. It was in 2005, I put up behind the scenes of my short film that's still up there. So I was one of the first to do that. But I never kept going with it. So a couple other guys like Film Riot and Ryan, and those guys did it in rocketjump. And those guys, but a lot of people think that they have a different perception like I because of how good you do what you do. The perception of what you do is like, Oh, he's just, you know, this is this is amazing. And he's just killing it. And he's just rolling in it. And it's like, and then a lot of people, and a lot of people think that of me as well, like, oh, he must be just kidding. Like, you know what I make? I make I do okay, I do. Okay, yeah, but, but I'm not Scrooge McDuck in it anytime.
John Hess 11:39
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I made me even wrong, but like, I think even someone like Martin Scorsese, who is all intents purposes, hugely successful, he still has trouble. He still has problems making the movie he wants to make half the time, you know, he's always complaining, like, I can't get the money to do this.
Alex Ferrari 11:56
Well to be fair, you know, be fair, Marty's not going after two or $300,000 is going after 200 million to make a movie that doesn't have a lot of marketability.
John Hess 12:07
That, you know, you just hit on exactly how I feel about the situation. Yeah, if he would just go for like a $10 million movie, you know, get some people he's never worked with before. He could he could get that money in an instant.
Alex Ferrari 12:18
Yeah, exactly. I mean, there's there's different like Spike Lee, Woody Allen. And those kinds of I mean, Woody, you know, regardless of his personal life, as a filmmaker, he did something that I don't think there is another filmmaker of his generation. He did, he made a movie a year for like, 30 years. And he always kept his budget because he knew his art, his films, had a specific audience that could generate a certain amount of money, and he would be able to attract huge stars to come in and work scale for him. Because he was who he was. And he built that kind of system up for himself. And I don't think I mean, maybe Clint is another guy that I will throw in that but that just a different plus a different generation as a whole different with a word. Yeah. But that's what that was. Even Clinton, like, you know, he did that. What was that last movie he did with the bomber jewel ever two children? Yeah, Richard, I can't I don't think Richard Jewell costs 150 I don't think that cut No, no, it did cost 150. Because Clinton knows like, you know, I'm gonna make a movie about Richard Jewell and it's called Richard Jewel. Like the people that What? Who else in Hollywood, in a studio is making Richard Jewel,
John Hess 13:26
With a schlubby lead actors like schlubby guy on the front.
Alex Ferrari 13:29
Who no one knows, Who no one knows, Who no one knows like, it's not a face that people recognize. So but he's click, but he's smart. Like there's a there's a there's a budget range that makes sense for that movie. Marty still hasn't figured that.
John Hess 13:46
No, you know, it's funny that you're articulating like one I feel like I was a lone voice back when what's the movie that part? Irishman to finish? Irishman Irishman cost almost as much as spider man homecoming? You know, like, happy? And it's, that's that should be like, if people will will? Let's because we spent too much money on Comic book movies. Well, there's a bigger audience for the comic book movie, you know, Spider Man. So I found that with that whole thing was you could just smell the marketing. That's right. You could feel it, you know, coming out, you
Alex Ferrari 14:22
No Exactly. And if you look at I mean, if you look at someone like Nolan, who also, you know, has a very expensive palette, but his films are for a very broad audience, even that like inception. It makes my head hurt and makes everyone's head hurt. Like thinking about the plotting in that film is is pretty insane. But for whatever but he brings in action. He brings in star like he understands his art form very well, where Fincher has a little bit of that Scorsese vibe to them, which is like, you know, I really, I really need 150 million input into like, Fincher, we'd love you man, but I I can't, we can't.
John Hess 15:02
Yeah, no. I love I love the fact that we're talking about this, because it's, you know, like so much of what I see online is kind of like just give, give these guys to give Marx was a $200 million because he deserves it. So you know, that's not how you put your money into it first if you had to put your put your dollar up and
Alex Ferrari 15:23
So everyone we're talking about here we're all talking about giants so Martin you already and Nolan and Fincher and all these kind of they're just giants. They live on mountain Hollywood, I call it mount Hollywood, where, where the they're the gods, the Olympic there, the Greek gods of, of Hollywood. And we're just the peasants throwing up stones. And I'm not throwing up stones at all, because I'm huge fans of all of them. And believe me, if it was up to me, I would give Mardy $500 million, because I would love to see what he does with that. But the reality is that on a business standpoint, it makes no sense. You, you have to you have to have if you're going to create a product and I know a lot of filmmakers out there gonna go films, not a product, I hate to tell you it is it is it. So if you're gonna have a product, that product has to have a cost, and there has to be an ROI or return on investment, that if you want to do art films, you make that $5 million, or that Woody Allen budget range film and do whatever the hell you want, like, whatever you want, because you'll make your money back because the ROI on a film like that makes sense for a filmmaker of that caliber. But if not, then no, like, Look, Spielberg couldn't get Lincoln financed. You know, yeah, it Steven Spielberg with Daniel Day Lewis as a star, and couldn't get financing for for Lincoln. If Maurice steel and then the reason why he couldn't get that was because the ROI essentially didn't look like who's gonna go see a movie. And again, and like, what's the budget range? Is it gonna make sense?
John Hess 16:53
And the way that Spielberg was selling this movie, Lincoln, he was saying this is going to be a courtroom drama about the 14th amendment.
Alex Ferrari 17:00
Wasn't great marketing at all.
John Hess 17:02
That's that's like, Oh, yeah, that's summer blog. That's a popcorn movie right there. Right. Right. But
Alex Ferrari 17:07
So even so someone was like one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, one of the most successful filmmakers of all time, couldn't get financing for a film. And it wasn't like he was asking for Mardi numbers, because Marty, you know, as Marty, yeah, but he was still asking for, you know, 70 80 million, 90 million to make this kind of period piece film. It took a hit to go to India to get the money. And they were just like, they were just happy to be making a movie with Spielberg, like here, here's a check. And it worked out for him. And now Netflix is doing the same thing with Marty. I think he's they're doing his next movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. So but their business model is different, though Irishmen made sense, in the Netflix ecosystem. It made and made all the sense in the world to spend 150 100 $80 million in the Netflix ecosystem in the Hollywood studio system, it makes absolutely no sense. It's just not fine. It's just makes no sense. Would you agree?
John Hess 18:00
Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I don't know much. I don't know enough about the Netflix world. I mean, to me, the Netflix streaming stuff is still so speculative. We, they're no one knows exactly what the numbers are. They purposely hide that. So I don't know. I mean, there but I know it's not a Netflix is raising so much capital to make new properties. And part of me is like, Well, why can't I get a piece of that action?
Alex Ferrari 18:27
But yeah, well, if you if we go down the Netflix hole for a second, which from what I'm hearing about Netflix is I know for a fact that they're extremely debt, extremely in debt, because they've just they've had this kind of, don't forget, they were not a studio. They're, they're the Silicon Valley startup. So they look, they brought their entire business model as a Silicon Valley startup, meaning spent a lot of money, lose money for a long time to gain market share. And then right, you'll be brought the Amazon model, the Facebook model, every big Airbnb model, all of those kind of models. Then it became a studio afterwards. But you know, they're there. I don't know, man. It's just like we were talking about earlier is like it doesn't, from what outside, we look like, we're Scrooge McDuck in it. Netflix is the same thing. I think a lot of people have a different perception of Netflix as like, oh, they're just killing it. They're, they're hurting. They're hurting. I don't know if you know, I don't know if you knew it or not. But this is not we're getting into a little bit of tech geek stuff. Sure, since the pandemic, Netflix has been extremely hurting because more people are watching Netflix. Yeah. So the the load on their servers and the technology and the cost of that has, I think tripled. But there are no new subscribers that can't to offset that. So that just exists. That now they're just like, oh man, we've got this everyone's watching Netflix now. Great, unfortunately. Our business model is not set up for that. We just want a few people to be watching Netflix and pay for it, but don't watch it. And that's that's what happened. So they actually started throttling. I don't know if you know that they started throttling the image quality just a bit, because if they drop it 5%, that could be millions of dollars in service fees. So internet, that's what's that's, that's one of the things on, but I put enough
John Hess 20:23
I buy it. So yeah, I think you're right. Yeah. interesting to think about it. So yeah, like people, people who are losing their jobs or not getting new Netflix subscriptions?
Alex Ferrari 20:33
No, and there is an album. And there's also a critical level of critical mass when Yeah, there are no more subscribers that they can get. But yet, they're going to have to keep spending Irishman style money for projects to keep what they have, because now Disney's out and I want to actually want it. That brings me to another question I want to hear I want to talk to you about you know, Disney plus and the whole COVID situation and what happened and now Disney is already over 60 million as of this recording subscribers, which had gotten well, less than a year is insane. Now they're doing ulaan, so they're skipping theatrical. What do you think about that whole $30 you've got to be a member of Disney plus to watch it and it's an expense. It's literally they're doing $150 million experiment, which is what I was saying. When everyone's talking about trolls to like oh, trolls to kill that. I'm like, Dude, this trolls to was the first like month of the quarantine. Everybody thinks kids at home. Nobody knew what to do. Of course, I'm gonna spend 20 bucks on Charles to plot I want to see a tentpole, Mulan is a tentpole, what do you what do you what do you think's gonna happen with it? What's your thoughts on it?
John Hess 21:40
Oh that's a you know, it's what I hate the the the cliche, we interesting to see. Because I can say that about everything. I think it will probably be, it'll probably do this. It's hard to say because we're in such a weird time right now. Because we can't go to the movies theaters, though. So if the utricles even an option for them. As far as far as what I think is gonna I mean, I think it's an op. It's an it's an experiment, but I'm not sure you can be repeated in next year, when theaters do eventually open up again. Can you do that? Can you see that same kind of success if people have the option to go back theater. And again, I know theater is also one of those topics that people are feel it's very weird that every time I bring up the theater, like on social media or the utricle on social media, there's a group of people that want to see it die. I don't understand why.You noticed that?
Alex Ferrari 22:36
I have I have noticed that people are like it's dead. Ivan said it. I've said it many times I like I think I personally think that the the theatrical experience, as we knew it, in January 2020, will not return to that level, probably ever again, we will never have as many screens like that again, because it was all going in a downward slope, downward trajectory. I mean, theatrical attendance and things. It's just what's happening in regardless if you love it or not, I think there'll always be a theatrical, like there's Broadway plays, there's always going to be a movie theater. And there's always going to be IMAX is going to be an experiment in experience like that, but it's never going to die. People still want to go out and do that. But yeah, the business model is going to change. So now, Disney could just go You know what, guys, we're just gonna release this for three weeks, and then we're gonna go straight to Disney plus, and if you don't like it, we'll just go straight to Disney plus, because we'll probably make enough money to cover that.
John Hess 23:35
Well, I mean, I don't know if you follow the the courts just have one every overturn that Paramount decrees. So, which I think is, you know, people are, you know, jumping over head like that, how can we do this? I think the Paramount decrees are kind of long and done, because they were made at a point when movies had no movies had only radio as a competition. 1948 right, you know, fit television was 50s. So television came in and kind of beat the crap out of movies. And now we've got internet streaming, which let's face it, most people are probably doing instead of watching movies. So I think the time for a business model shift is probably here. So like what you're saying, as far as Disney, maybe Disney ends up buying a bunch of theaters where they'll come like Disney does not like the Egyptian here. That's
Alex Ferrari 24:22
No, No. Do they have El Capitan? Here? Yes.
John Hess 24:24
So maybe that happens in like St. Louis. Now they have a, you know, the Disney El Capitan in, in St. Louis or wherever Toledo, you know, and that's all they do is they show Disney movies, and I'm not a parent. But imagine if you were if I was a parent, heck, I take my kid to the Disney theater once in a while. And it might be something that's worth worth worth pursuing.
Alex Ferrari 24:44
And don't forget, there will be a Disney Store inside that Disney theater.
John Hess 24:48
Alex Ferrari 24:49
I mean, and it's so for them. It's almost a loss leader to get you in the door to watch the movie because they're going to sell you on others. I mean, it's the truth and it's the only way Like I agree with you 100% I think that theaters, someone's going to buy AMC before the year is out, if not this year, in the next year, or sometime in early next year, someone's gonna buy Amazon's already circling. There's a lot of people with a lot of cash, who could just come in and buy it. And all of a sudden you have how many screens all around the country. So and there's and there's, there's so many regel and all these other things. They're hurting and they're there. They're going to be vulnerable for purchase. I agree with you. There's only three major studios that have the power to do anything like that. The have the financial power to do that which will be Disney Warner's and universal. But But the big unknowns, Facebook, Cash, Google, Amazon, Apple. They have Apple has,
John Hess 25:51
Alex Ferrari 25:51
400 billion cash. Yeah, just cash.
John Hess 25:59
Apple Store in every theater.
Alex Ferrari 26:01
No I mean, so that is but that's the key to this is it's this kind of creating of this ecosystem that Disney has been. I mean, that's what Disney does. This is that they mean their theme parks their cruises. Yeah, they're their Disney stores that it's it's what they do. So there's no doubt that there's going to be a Disney chain. And he just makes all the sense in the world.
John Hess 26:21
Mm hmm. And in that world, where we have the internet streaming, I don't see that as a bad thing. Because it's not I don't feel like it's stifling competition. Because it's not like these indie movies. We're getting into those big chains anyway. So I don't know.
Alex Ferrari 26:36
Yeah, exactly. I don't think you're absolutely right. I mean, yeah, AMC. I mean, I mean, yeah, some but not like really indie movies. That theatrical experience for independent film is almost non existent, unless you really are at the top 1% of all films, whether either you've got a a tastemaker, like Sundance or south by or, or an A 24, or someone like that neon when these guys that can kind of come in and elevate, elevate the art house vibe, in their small movies that could do that. And you have to really understand how you do marketing and audience building and all that kind of stuff. But for like the standard, you know, 100,000?
John Hess 27:19
Another also like these independent wings and these major studios that because I mean, if you're, if you're Fox, Adam, or whatever, you know, searchlight studios, or whatever you can, that that's where you would see some sort of, you know, if you're partnering with a large studio, or an independent man, I'm not speaking out of my experience there.
Alex Ferrari 27:37
Yeah, but but those kinds of things have kind of fall off to the wayside. It's not the early 90s anymore, where everybody like, you know, Paramount advantage, and Fox, searchlight and you know, focus film, like all of these small, little independent independence where the money is that so of course, they all made their independent labels. But so do you think that would so? Do you think that theatrical experience? Would you agree that it's going to be different? Do you think that it's going to be the Disney Studios, do you think, you know, IMAX is going to be a thing, like how it should be
John Hess 28:10
I think it was changing before January 2020. I mean, I noticed my, like, I I'm a big fan of the movie theater subscription model, personally, because I just I like for 20 bucks, I can go to movie theaters every weekend, count me in, and maybe I'll buy extra popcorn and you know, get the movies will make a little more money off of me. So I was already way on board with the subscription model. And then my AMC just recently switched over to the all the, you know, the big, the big chairs and the more spaced out stuff. And like, yeah, this is what I would, I'll pay actually to do this. So, I mean, we're no longer It's not like that, that, you know, sardines in a can kind of situation. I used to squeeze everybody in the theater, and the seats were like worse than, you know, airline seats. Or they were the same as airline seats. But so I so I think that that respect, but then again, it's there's a there's an old there's a theater that does the second hand. Second second run theater. Yeah, whatever
Alex Ferrari 29:05
That like $1 Theater, yeah,
John Hess 29:06
Dollar theater. And they used to always do they do like Rocky Horror every every three or four months. And there's that there's a little bit of that, like, I don't want to see that go away. You know, I want I want to be throwing popcorn at the screen and having this crazy time in the theater. So you know, maybe, but maybe the dollar theater model still kind of floats around. As I say, that doesn't mean you can have more than one, you know, model out there. So yeah, it was changing, I think. So. And I think with with the recent the COVID discussion about how we had to separate the seats and all that it's going to be quite different, at least for at least for the rest of this year.
Alex Ferrari 29:49
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. oh four, I think I think for the foreseeable future, it's gonna be
John Hess 30:02
Foreseeable future. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 30:03
I think the next two or three years, this is going to be not exactly what we're going through right now. But there'll be different versions of this moving forward. I think COVID I don't think it's going to go away in the way. It's gonna be with us in one way, shape or form. We're not eradicating it anytime in the near.
John Hess 30:23
Exactly so and there's always the question of what's next after COVID you know what disease comes next that we all get?
Alex Ferrari 30:31
Well there's there's murder Hornets, earthquakes, explosions. I mean, there's just there's I'm sure there's a meteor honest way as we speak. Everyone busts out a deep impact and Armageddon so we can figure out how we deal with it. Yeah, but there's that's coming. It's coming.
John Hess 30:49
The secrets, the secrets oil, oil, oil drillers. That's how we get through the next
Alex Ferrari 30:55
Astronauts to drill Let's change drillers to be astronauts in five weeks. Yes, this, this makes all the sense of the world. But hell, what a hell of a romp of a film I love.
John Hess 31:06
It's going back aways.
Alex Ferrari 31:11
I mean, look, I look, I'll watch Armageddon before I'll watch Deep Impact, like I watched deep impact and once I've seen Armageddon probably 10 times in my life.
John Hess 31:25
What's the was that the every frame of painting did the whole thing. Bayhem? Really good, good video just discussion about and he gets a little respect for for being kind of just visually interesting. Oh, even though it's even though it's storylines might be stupid, but you kind of give it to him. He knows how to frame his shot.
Alex Ferrari 31:45
I said this. I've said this publicly before. And I'll say it again. There's action films before Michael Bay, and there's action films after Michael Bay. And the same thing happened with Ridley Scott when released and released. Tony Scott, when Tony Scott showed up, there's action films before Tony, there's action shots as films after Tony. They shift the visual medium, Michael Bay, everybody wanted to look at their action films to look like Michael Bay. They just did. And you could see them they just they copied the shots and they never got it right. And, you know, there's there's guys out there who will remain nameless directors who really, really like we're on top of trying to exactly do what Michael Bay did and all this kind of stuff. Whether you love him or hate him, like the rock is still probably my favorite Michael Bay film of all time. And it still holds up as part of the best story. But we love him or hate him. You got to respect the visual prowess of what he's been through. I mean, it's there is nobody in the history of film that did what he's done. You know, do I like all his films? No. But visually, I mean,
John Hess 32:53
He did for Netflix.
Alex Ferrari 32:55
Oh, yeah. The one with them with Ryan Reynolds. Yeah, that wasn't bad. But you can tell it's as you can tell, it's Michael like the second a friend shows up. Oh, yeah
John Hess 33:04
I mean, there's a lot of stupid stuff but you're looking at it like like Whoa, I never thought you would do that. The frame it's there's so much clever visual stuff is going on. It's Yeah, sure. It's wrapped in some some kind of silliness from my taste, but I can appreciate the fact that there's there's just so sit set pieces that are like, this is very creative. This is very ingenious. So yeah, I ended up really liking that in that movie. Yeah, I can't remember the name of it. But
Alex Ferrari 33:29
I was like six something six or something like that.
John Hess 33:32
Yes. Something like that.
Alex Ferrari 33:33
Something six, I was like the six ghost ghost guys out there doing what they do. But they're gonna go back to theaters real quick. I mean, I've always said that theaters have had a combative relationship with their customer base. For a long I mean, it's first of all, the experience used to suck was this. It was sardine sticky floors, stale popcorn, and then they charge you inside $45 for a coke $75 for for popcorn. Like, it's like, it's almost like it's almost like airport costs. So and they never really cared a lot. But then slowly but surely as their numbers start to go down. They're like, Oh, wait a minute, we've got to create a better experience, because we're not the only show in town anymore. And that's when these scenes started showing up and bars like it like the MC here in Burbank has like a bar inside of it. And it's like, you know, special seedings and the sound got better. But it's like, you know, for a certain generation we all remember like and they're still abusive. I still think they're abusive. abusive
John Hess 34:41
For a beer Come on, give me a break. Yeah, so there's a guy Well, I will say that the other day I was thinking about this I forgot to mention it but yeah, if you if the if this Disney owned I mean Disney is not going to do things like to lower the price I think
Alex Ferrari 34:55
Oh no but their experience look when you walk into Disneyland or Disney World Oh, yeah, you just my wife and I, every time we drive into the parking lot to one of those places, we just go let the beating begin. Because you are, you're just being charged, like $25 a park, and you're boom, boom, like, and you're just you're in there, but the experience, they are offering you a very high quality experience for the most part. So that's what you get. But you don't get that with a standard movie theater as well. Have you ever been to El Capitan?
John Hess 35:29
No, I haven't I need to go.
Alex Ferrari 35:30
So when I went to that when I went to El capitano, frozen there with my daughters, and they had like, the princess came out and did like a pre show. And, and there's this stuff. It was like in Disney everything. And next door, there's a Disney Store. And he's like this whole experience. And the price honestly wasn't much different than a normal movie theater. So I was like, Okay, this is this makes sense. This next?
John Hess 35:53
Well I think I think the point I was trying to make was that, I think if if let's say let's not pick these, let's say like Amazon or something owns a studio or owns a theater, you might conceivably see a lowering of the costs of like concessions, because traditionally the the argument was that concessions is where the movie theater makes money. Well, if that movie theater is owned by the studio, then they're also making money on the on the ticket price, right? conceivably, they can lower the you know, popcorn refilled being $7 for small, maybe it's $5 for a small, because
Alex Ferrari 36:27
And that's still abusive? And that's still abusive, but sure, but it's three days to $3. Last, yeah, sure. Yeah. Agreed.
John Hess 36:33
So um, there might be that might be a benefit that comes out of it?
Alex Ferrari 36:37
Well, it's a different business model. I mean, since you're a business major, so if you look at a business models of theatres, it's they get, you know, 50%, or, you know, 40%, or 30%, depending on the big how big the movie is, in the week, it's coming out. So you get a small percentage of the box office, all their money is made concessions. But if the studio owns the space, then they get 100% of royalty of the sales at the box office. And they get a little bit off of royalties off of the concessions, but where they start making their money is off of ancillary products. And so if there's a warner brothers style theater chain, then there'd be all sorts of Warner Brothers, and you can buy the poster of the movie, you could buy all the merch for that movie that week, and it's rotating in and out every week. And it makes sense. That's a different business model than what we have currently. And it's gonna change to just Nope, I mean, arclight, you've been to arclight? I'm assuming Yeah, yeah. So they have that little store on the side that has like the, you know, the movie memorabilia stuff. And sometimes they would bring out stuff. But it's kind of like a most, if not throw away. But it's not themed out like a warner brothers or Disney, or even an Amazon theater would have because and with Amazon's data on people's buying habits, they know what products are going to be out there. And they're going to have you just walk in with your app, pick up the thing and walk out and they charge your Amazon account. I mean, it's
John Hess 38:05
Oh boy, that'd be
Alex Ferrari 38:06
Well, they have those stores that are convenient. They have those stores now they have the bookstore now like that the Amazon bookstore that you walk in
John Hess 38:12
Not to get sidetracked too much, but I'll just tell you a story about yesterday, I was returning something from Amazon. And I found out that Amazon has this Kohl's thing where you go into Kohl's and you just drop off your product. And I did that and then the the Kohl's said thanks for dropping off. Here's a 25% coupon for Kohl's. And I was so impressed by it. I actually bought something. I was like, I need some sandals. And I just bought them and I was like this is this is such a brilliant idea because it's a great service for me. Because I don't the package is not the ticket to ups I have to worry about that and gets me in their store and I got I got what I wanted. I needed some sandals. So like I finally got my sandals and I got a coupon for it.
Alex Ferrari 38:48
So for Kohls when it's Yeah, for Kohls is a little bit you know, a little bit more hassles and staff, one person staff to deal with it and more foot traffic and Amazon's like, we need more we need real estate. So yeah, we'll give you traffic you give us the real estate. What's the deal? It is it is fairly fairly brilliant. Now let's talk a little bit about production film production. Yeah. What do you think it's going to look like? I mean, you're shooting now like how is it working you know shooting with you know, this COVID stuff? I mean, for one man crew or short like two man crew is one thing but like, for narrative TV show like I don't know how you move forward. Right right now at least
John Hess 39:33
I really I agree with you. I I mean, I do one man to man things operations. I do. And well I work with corporate clients. I've including school districts, and we're just, it's a lot. I mean, I don't get I don't want to sound too, too dangerously political, I guess. But it's a lot about optics. It's about appearing to look like you're doing in media where the mass You stay here so your social distancing, you apply you You know, we apply the, the hand sanitizers and all that. But it really just comes down to we just have to look like we're doing our jobs. And unfortunately, with with, with, when you get the larger narratives, we have lots of groups of people, you know, hair, makeup and sets and all that just 3040 people cruise it's hard to maintain those optics. I mean, you can, there's so there's a whole movement about, you know, getting somebody people trained in, you know, health and safety and having that one person on set and look, is that really gonna make that much of a difference was that you're just kind of it's just a See ya maneuver? I don't know. You know, I don't I don't, I don't see us really getting into like, traditional. And this I guess was like, I don't know, if you've probably been affected. But I think a lot the society in general has been had like overhanging depression. all, this?
Alex Ferrari 40:55
Yeah. You know, it was like, like Obama, like Michelle Obama came out. She says she has low grade depression. And I think it was. And I think what Seth Meyers said, like, when you go low, I go high. I have high grade depression. And it's, it's very, it's very true. No, there is there. I mean, I don't know why I do this. But I watched the news every day. And I just watched 30 minutes of it, it just I know, I watched network news. And it just watch it just to just to find out what's going on just just to stay informed. Because we've got canon, he got kinda got to know what's going on. Because I never was a person who watched the news. Like, I just, I'm like, you know, what, if it's the big enough, I'll hear about it, I'll find it on my Facebook feed, or someone will tell me about it. And now it's just like, things are changing so rapidly, and craziness is happening on a daily basis that you kind of have to stand for. And, you know, I sit there with, with my wife, I just turned her I'm like, why do I? Why are we doing this? I don't under, you know, we're hope we're praying for that last segment, which is like how a puppy saved someone with COVID. Like, it's, it's, it's like that we're praying for that one happy moment. At the end?
John Hess 42:05
Yeah, that's, that's depressing, because I think, you know, I'm trying to if I try to put together like a small production, and I'm not, I'm not throwing lots of money at I'm just gonna, you know, put together a little short film or something. I can't really foreseeably do that in the next, you know, few months. Just because if I wanted to cast it, it would be difficult because there's going to be half of your cast supposing Well, I'm not going to, or not even interested in working in something right now. They don't want to be in anything, you know, and I'm not going to be paying them huge amounts of money. This is more of like a for fun project. How can you it's hard to justify and it's hard to even even look like you're doing a lot of watching and watching old movies and thinking like, Hmm, I wish we could hug people like that in the movie. Because you can't do any of that stuff. Yeah, well, I don't know what's gonna happen.
Alex Ferrari 42:53
Love scenes. How can you do a love scene?
John Hess 42:55
Alex Ferrari 42:56
How can you fight like a like a, like a, like a fight fight
John Hess 42:59
Close combat for now, we can't do it.
Alex Ferrari 43:01
I mean, it's, I know, I mean, someone like Tyler Perry, who has an infrastructure that makes all the sense in the world. He's popping out content like crazy. And he was he's the guy who creates content. Like he creates like, like 50 episodes of a show in like four weeks or something like that. It's like it
John Hess 43:17
Flows. Amazing. I mean,
Alex Ferrari 43:19
He just pumps it out. But he has this he's unique person, because he has an entire movie studio at his disposal, which he can quarantine, lock it down. And everyone's in a bubble for that time, and you could shoot, that makes sense. But no, we're not set up for that. But that's never been a thing. And that's in the studio world, let alone in the indie world. I actually did a whole episode about COVID safety because I went for a bike ride. And I saw, of course, independent filmmakers on the side of the road in my neighborhood, shooting a short or some scenes that were COVID related because the guys were dressed up in like, you know, hazmat suits and stuff, okay. And I'm just and they nobody was when they had the hazmat suit off, but the head was off. They were all clumped together in a small group talking, the actors were all talking and then the director and DP were setting something up over there and that nobody had masks on. And I'm like this, this is so irresponsible, like you can, you can't do it. Like I couldn't as a film director, put my cast or crew in harm's way right now. With for film, like, it's not worth it right now. It just doesn't make any sense to do something like that. I, I can't
John Hess 44:38
I'll send it further to mean look, I mean, not if someone and I'm not saying I disagree, but I'm saying if you even if you think it's not an issue, you can't get other people to do it. You know, I mean, it's it's like so you're you're just unless you find like a bunch of people that all agree that Oh, we're gonna take the risk. But that's not fun. That's not the point of making films that receive opinion. So it's I, yeah, we're all.
Alex Ferrari 45:07
Independent film independent film is going to have a rough time for the next few years, and people are gonna have to get very creative. You know, they're going to if they are going to do something, it's going to be, you know, kind of like what I did with my last film, which was last last film I couldn't do now is because going to Sundance and shooting at Sundance, which is something I can't do right now. But it was a small crew, it was a three three man crew was made the DP and the sound guy, and then my actors. And that was it. And I was running around so you, you have to you have to start getting creative in the storytelling process on how to do it. Like I've been hearing from the studio's people in the studios that they're saying, when you're writing, no crowds. Don't put this in don't put that in anymore. No more love scenes. It Yeah, like do figure out another way to do it. If we if we're going to continue to do so I think there's going to be a COVID era in filmmaking, where after we're done with everything that's in the can, we're gonna start seeing films and television shows that are going to be just like, oh, that was in the COVID era. Yeah. And it's going to be like, they can't kiss they can't touch. It's like this whole weird thing. But I think that's what's going to happen and independent film, I think, you know, I'm waiting for the next great COVID era independent film like the El Mariachi of this era. I don't know what that will be. You know, that's gonna like take the world by storm like the the paranormal, like paranormal activity. Perfect. COVID movie, like, perfect COVID movie, like
John Hess 46:35
You can see, though, that's a problem.
Alex Ferrari 46:37
No, no, no, but if they've quarantined together, they're fine. Okay. So again, but there's a small crew, very small amount, if you quarantine with somebody for two weeks, and everyone's all we're all good. All right, great. Let's, let's go. And we're all on a house. And it's very controlled. And that's the kind of films I think we're going to be seeing coming out.
John Hess 46:57
Yeah I mean, I always think about like, what what will future generations look back and ask us, you know, like, Oh, you lived through that era was like, it's gonna be an interesting story to tell the grandkids
Alex Ferrari 47:09
Now, so I want to go back real quick to filmmaker IQ, man, because I just, I love what you do with filmmaker IQ, you've, you've created some amazing, I've promoted your stuff over the years. As far as this little mini documentaries you make over like, you know, a lens that the feel the 180 rule, like, and they're all you know, all this color and lepin, 28 frames and 24 frames a second, all this kind of stuff. How, why do you do it? Because it's a lot of work, dude, it's like, I can see a ton. You've got the little 3d image that the 3d guys coming out, setting me to create a 15 minute video must take you forever.
John Hess 47:49
Well, the last video I did, oh, started at the beginning of the COVID saying was that Vox video, the history of William Fox, it'd be like 43 minutes long. And it was a ton of research just trying to go, why don't we Why do I Why did I think it's, it's it's a it's a self expression kind of thing I really enjoy ever just really enjoyed exploring the truth of a topic like that. And kind of going in depth into it. Because I don't I feel like no one else is really kind of tackling it the way that I do, which is unrelenting depth.
Alex Ferrari 48:23
Just I've seen obscene depths of the minutes on focus, like or on depth of field, I think it's 15 minutes of that, like it was like, but it's so entertaining. And like you go into the history of it. And it's like the lenses and the breakdown all is great.
John Hess 48:38
And of which I will get like plenty of YouTube comments that will argue with me and tell me I'm completely wrong, because I have not done the research. It's like, Yeah, but now I you know, it's also born I think I have a I have an internet forum personality where I do like to go on on. I unfortunately, read all the comments and I engage in Don't do that. Don't do that. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's a habit. part of who I am. A lot of stuff drives, sometimes ideas for new content was based on all that person made a mistake about that. So I want to talk about that particular point, you know, but it's kind of in that in that range. That's, that's, you know, I want to get to the point where I don't work can no longer read comments, because there's too many of them. That's, that's, that's my goal. But until then, I'm just I'm stuck arguing about 24 frames a second every day.
Alex Ferrari 49:27
Yeah, I mean, I mean, the depth that you do on these videos is pretty insane. And the research that goes into them is insane. The production of them. And again, you've been doing this for years now over a decade. You know, you've been you've been doing some of these, some of those little documentaries, the ones with the little, the little do I call it a little dude, I don't know if you haven't specific. Yeah, the little 3d dudes that go back seven, eight years.
John Hess 49:52
Yeah, about eight years. That's when they started doing the videos because we were when we first started filmmaker IQ was more of a aggregator site, a blog site and We'd do like what all the other bloggers do is just go out and try to find articles and post them together. And just the funny thing is we do that long enough, you kind of get a very good sense of what the blogosphere looks like. And you get kind of disgusted by like, I've seen the same thing over again. So I decided at that point, like, I'll just start making our own stuff instead of relying on other people to make stuff. So that's when the video started happening. And the first one was like Dolly zoom. I first explored that topic. But yeah, but I think I think what it is, is, I have talked to some people about this, I feel like filmmakers have like a, like 80% of filmmakers have an expiration date of like, say, I want to say like three or four years, I think three or four years it takes to learn everything about filmmaking, it's still that fun, like exciting, all good learning about this camera, there's new cameras coming out. So about three or four years, you absorb all this information. And then after that, you either if you love it, you continue on you, you pursue like story, and you pursue creation of actual, and we just said, a product, you know, you get over the the, oh, this is exciting, where this learning thing. And then the other segment just loses interest and they disappear. So I feel like a lot of what the growth in the internet is capturing that first, like three or four years of people that are just starting to learn this stuff. And the what's scary about that is there's so much marketing, there's so much like the the manufacturers are shoving down marketing information down your throat, like like a like, I'm just gonna pick on them. Black Magic just can't
Alex Ferrari 51:37
i knew you were gonna say I dknew youre gonna say black magic
John Hess 51:41
12k camera and they're saying it's revolutionary. It doesn't have Bayer system. And I'm sitting back, you're thinking the Bayer system is a good thing. People because people online saying the Bayer system sucks now, because this new marketing is coming down and slapping them with this new, we got this new system of camera. So I don't know where I'm going with all.
Alex Ferrari 52:01
But it started with red, red was the one that first came out with 4k and just like exploded I remember, at an ad, when it was a box. It was a box and they're like, just give us $10,000 and you will get a camera one day. And like that was insane. And then they sold like whatever 500 cameras that during an AB at that time. And they changed the game red changed the game, love them or hate them, they changed the game. So it took a while to catch up. And now people argue all the time, air is better than red Sony's better than airy and black magic is now you know, black magic was like kind of the redheaded stepchild for a long time. And now they've kind of come into their own as a real player in the camera game, you know, and I've always said, personally, I'm a big I love black magic I've had, I've shot black magic, I shot both my features on them. And I love black magic cameras and DaVinci Resolve and, you know, I drank the Kool Aid, because I feel because I feel that they have the best bang for the buck. And I think out of all the cinematic cameras, I think they have the best bang for the buck. And I did some tests once and I shot on airy, down the middle, and every Alexa down the middle and I shot the 4.6k Blackmagic down the middle. And I put them up and I brought in some filmmakers and some DPS I'm like, which is which and not a 10 times they can they could not tell the difference because the Blackmagic image lit the same everything was same same lenses and everything. The image is equivalent. It's not even and I know a lot of people are gonna be like know what he was saying. I'm like, Listen, calm the hell down. Where the the cost. The reason why the Alexa cost so much more, is when you start going three or four stops under five steps. It falls apart, the Blackmagic falls apart. But if you shoot it like you're supposed to shoot it, I it's pretty damn good. And the cost versus like 80 to 80,000 versus this a really easy workflow versus have fairly intense workflow and post all of all of that. You just got to kind of look another 12k What is it? How much is cost? 10,000?
John Hess 54:11
Alex Ferrari 54:13
I you know, I'm not I'm fine with my I have a 4.6 I'm good.
John Hess 54:17
It's Yeah, like it's an interesting camera. The thing is, I've seen a lot of people jump on board with it. And it's just, I don't feel like the existence of a 12k camera does not invalidate your 4.6 camera. Right. You know, but it feels like a lot of people are thinking that and that's Mark I mean, it's not. And look grant Petty's he's he did a good job on his video, but I think it's the it's the next layer. It's the people that talk about what he said that are kind of overhyping it. And that's that's what that's what bugs me about kind of marketing and that's kind of what I've tried to do with my videos a little bit is to try to get down to the fundamentals get down to the understanding what does what does it mean when they say Bayer system Bayer pattern, you know, what does that mean? And then cut through some of that marketing hype that you're just constantly inundated with. And that's, that's, that's kind of what I'm trying to do with some of these videos.
Alex Ferrari 55:12
So like, Yeah, when black white and black magic came out with the 4k, the little mini pocket 4k, then everybody was like, Oh my God, oh my God, my God, we got a pocket 4k. And then like, five months later, four months later, the 6k comes out. And I'm like, Are you kidding me? Guys? Are you are you effing kidding me? Really? Yeah. Like, can you? Can you stop it? Can you? Can you just not. And I know the black magic guys. I've worked with black magic. I yell at them all the time. I'll go like, dude, dude, seriously, man, like, just give us a year, give us like some time to like, enjoy what we have. Like,
John Hess 55:44
I'll give you a better one. I have the atom Mini, which I bought, like early. Well, early this year, they came with the atom Mini Pro, which I bought, because I like because I need that multi cam view, which is what added to the system. And then a month later, or, like, the week I got it after being on backorder for a month, they announced the atom Mini Pro ISO, which can record off all your camera streams at the same time. So it's like literally a month after I got the thing, a brand new one came out. And I'm looking at it like, Am I that's a great feature to have. Do I need it? Not really. But man, I wish I had that option. That's the thing is that you have to get used to the fact that hey, you know what? I need to stop buying technology and make stuff with the hat stuff I have had purchased.
Alex Ferrari 56:27
John Hess 56:28
That's that's what I need to do.
Alex Ferrari 56:30
Well, I think and I think a lot of filmmakers use technology as an excuse not to actually get into the arena. Yeah, it's so true. I mean, so many filmmakers just like, Oh, I can't shoot it because I need this camera. Oh, I can't shoot it. Because I need that camera.
John Hess 56:44
What are you when people argue with me? About 24 frames a second? If people say that they want to have high frame rate movies, I would say go out there and shoot them yourself. Like you be the change. You go and then every single time. They always tell me I can't because I don't have any of this. I don't have any equipment. I don't have any casserole. So it's always it's always an excuse to get out of making something
Alex Ferrari 57:11
Well listen, I mean, I've been I've been a filmmaker for 20 odd 25 years plus, and I understand the excuse, demon, because it's fear. We're fearful of putting ourselves out there. We're fearful of creating art and oh my god, no one's gonna like it the comments Holy cow. All of that kind of stuff. And and not to mention that the pressure of if it's, you know, the cost and people you're working with, and can I really do it and all of there's so many doubts and fears that we as filmmakers have, that we find whatever excute looks simply happens with screenwriters that's like, oh, I'll write tomorrow. Or it's like there's fear as an artist in general, there's always fear and gear is the one of the easiest things you can say like, Oh, I don't have this camera, I don't have that camera, or I don't have this lighting, oh, I need that location. Or I can't make this script without 3 million like I can't, I just I can't, not to say I'm not going to go write a script that can make for 10,000. But at this script I can't make so I'm going to just sit around for three years chasing money for it. And that makes me feel like I'm a filmmaker, but you're really not a filmmaker, you're just a guy or girl chasing money. That will more than likely never happen. And I played that game for 20 years. 20 years, I played that game. So I turned 40. And I was attached to another big project with a big producer and screenwriter. And the project fell apart again. And I said I'm 40 I can't do this anymore. So 30 days later, I was shooting my first feature with a Blackmagic cinema 2.5k why because I had it. You have and and I didn't even hire a dp I lit the damn thing myself and never really dp before. I was a colorist for 10 years. So I felt that I could get it. I just gave me a down the middle of fixing a post. And I did
John Hess 59:10
You you're inspiring me, Alex. Man, I
Alex Ferrari 59:14
But I did. But that's the story. But the thing is that I didn't I made it because I was already with indie film hustle at that time. So I felt very comfortable for whatever is something psychological, but I just felt, oh, I have indie film house, I can go back to like, I have my I have my tribe. So if it doesn't work out, no big deal. Because I don't know about you. But in my mind when I made my first feature, it was going to be Reservoir Dogs. I mean, I don't know about you, but it was going to be Reservoir Dogs. It was going to be mariachi was going to be clerks, it was going to be one of these big, independent films that explode out of the gate. So that pressure that I put on myself, stifled me for 20 years and of course I was fearful and of course I was chasing every other dream and every other little project and everything else because I was scared to actually Go do it. Whereas when I finally just said, You know what, screw it, I'm going to just go out and shoot it. 30 days later we shot with a script, which was, you know, a page outline with a bunch of stand up comics and improvisers. And we shot around our, all their apartments and around LA, and we shot the whole damn thing and eight days, I went up to the Hollywood sign and stole it. Which by the way, anyone wanting to shoot on the Hollywood sign this is this is a little tip if you just want to eat because if you want to get permits and stuff, it's becomes a pain in the ass. button. Yeah, so I was like, I'm just gonna steal it and like halfway and we were released. I was scared. Oh my god, what do we get this the Hollywood sign on, like, halfway up. While I'm lugging the gear up with my actors and actresses walking in front of me and I've got all this gear. I'm looking up. And I said, No one's coming. No one cares. There's no one kid. Like if someone called them a someone's illegally should buy that they're not helicoptering somebody in by the time they get up there. I'm done with my shot. So I just realized like, okay, fine, I could just you and we shot and with all these cool images and stuff that we got up there, but I didn't give my mind a moment to stop itself. Because it was afraid and I just did it and I was done. And I got it out there and, and it sold to Hulu and we sold internationally and we did very well with it. And it was cost like five grand to make. And it was great. But that was I had to it took me 20 years to get there because of that fear and I think gear was one of the all bands I need to read. I can't Yeah, I need to I need to have all this all I need I need I need a tech No. How can I not shoot without a tech? No. Have you ever shot Have you ever shot with a tech? No by the way?
John Hess 1:01:48
No, I've seen them but I never thought
Alex Ferrari 1:01:50
I was shooting a music video and I had a techno the entire day. First time I ever had one. Oh my God is so basic. It's just, it lived on the tech all day. Just I just like I can't I can't I can't shoot without a mini techno everywhere I go. It was so amazing to have that thing. I was just like, Oh, I get why James Cameron has like 20 of these on the set just in case. But um, but anyway, so that's the that's the fear thing. So I think
John Hess 1:02:22
We've, we've kind of talked about gear for fear of gear, but I think it's also the, the fear of actually materializing your idea because as long as it's an idea in your head, it's brilliant. It's perfect. You know, the movie in your head is is Oscar winning. You put it on paper, and then you start realizing Oh, crap, it's maybe it's not.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:41
And then you start shooting? Oh,maybe
John Hess 1:02:44
Yeah. Are you see it? Oh, crap. This isn't really as good as I thought was gonna be. It's the fear.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:50
No, it's scary, man. It's scary being a filmmaker and doing all that but in anyone listening out there. I hope they don't get caught up that because tomorrow you'll wake up and you'll be you know, 70 and you'll be stuck chasing that, that that that Hollywood dream that Hollywood sells you that is bogus. It's the sizzle, no steak behind it. And you kind of just got to go out and do it. Like my second film. I shot with the pocket camera 10 ATP. The first generation pocket camera shot the whole movie on that people thought where I was crazy. That was crazy to shoot a whole film on that. I'm like, No, I love the look of it. It looks great. And it was a 1080 p camera right? blew it up to 2k for for my DCP screened it at the Chinese Theater. It's one of the best things I've ever shot in my life. It was beautiful. Lee shots I was like I can't I was I was scared to death. Because on my my 55 inch, you know, a color grading monitor it look great. I'm like, Yeah, but projection and like I don't know when in the first time I saw it was at the Chinese Theatre of projected theatrically, I was like holy cow. It holds like i thought was gonna get picked but it held so beautifully. So I don't want to hear excuses from people like oh, this and that. And if you want to go to tangerine with the iPhone and right, just worry about your story. People will forgive the image quality. And don't get caught up in like, dude, you're not deacons. Like you're not deacons. anyone listening, you're not Roger Deakins, you're not gonna make something look like Roger Deakins, I'm sorry. It's because there's one, Roger Deakins. You're not going to be Fincher, you're not going to be Nolan, you're not going to be Spielberg because they're that's what they do. And it took them years if not decades, to get to where they are. Be yourself and be the best version of yourself that you can be and that's all we can ever do as a filmmaker.
John Hess 1:04:30
That's a fantastic message. No deacons doesn't work alone. He's got no script set dressers he's got you know, location scouts and all the basic all the all the resources at his disposal x expose a expose. Yeah, well, I was gonna say that in this nice little narcissistic, but if so if it was between me and Steven Spielberg and Steele Spielberg was given like 15 minutes to work a scene and shoot it. And I was given eight hours to shoot the scene and I had the same people Steven Spielberg has I think I would probably hold up at least I wouldn't. I wouldn't embarrass myself. I think
Alex Ferrari 1:05:08
You get something competent up there it Yeah, it'd be something there. Yeah, I agree. I mean, I know what you're saying. You're not saying that you're Steven Spielberg, nor that right? You can compete at that level because he's Steven Spielberg. No one can.
John Hess 1:05:20
Alex Ferrari 1:05:21
But if you use the same crew, the same resources, chances are your stuff is going to look, it would be more present
John Hess 1:05:27
That would be Steven Spielberg, but it would still be okay. I mean, it's especially given a time time difference that I had, I had a lot more time than Steven Spielberg might pull off something.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:38
Something that looks really good. Like something that looks really good. And then before before we go, man, I gotta ask you, cats.
John Hess 1:05:47
Alex Ferrari 1:05:47
Cats. Come on. Let's Let's Yeah. Let's talk about cats for a second because you wrote it. You did a video about the you like cats. And I've spoken about cats publicly many times. Okay. And I generally don't like to bash other filmmakers on the show. And I'm not bashing the filmmaker, that something happened, in my opinion. I don't know what it was because it was such a perfect storm that you will never see in your lifetime again. Because you had Spielberg producing. You had an Oscar winner directing it you had based on one of the biggest Broadway shows of all time with the biggest music Stars of All Time. Some Oscar Wilde like us, throwing Oscar winners around like it was water on that set. And everyone drank the Kool Aid. Like everyone said, this is going to be huge. This is a great idea. That doesn't happen. You know, you get the room every once in a while. Like you'll get the room you'll get a showgirls, you'll get a trolls too. You'll get something that's so bad. That a transcends being good. I'm still not at the point where catch transcends to being good. I got through 20 minutes of it. And I just said, Oh my god, this is so bad. I can't keep going. Maybe with a group of people I could watch it again. But I can the room I could watch again and again, but I can't watch cats.
John Hess 1:07:12
Well I think with cats Well, I think what's true to me is I enjoyed I really liked basically, the garish ness of it as part of the first 20 misses we had we had a Jenny any dots sequence when you have the kids on the cockroaches. Oh, that is a bridge too far. That's That's the worst part of the movie. I get, oh, it gets better. It gets better. It gets better. Okay, holy it is. It is totally. Like once you get past that,
Alex Ferrari 1:07:38
Once you get past the dancing cockroaches,
John Hess 1:07:41
But with the children faces that wouldn't
Alex Ferrari 1:07:42
Children's faces. But that's the thing I want. I just want to impress upon everyone listening is that this was a universal movie, with Spielberg producing it. Like with $100 million behind it. This doesn't happen. These studios don't take risks like this. But on paper, but on paper. This was a sure fire hit like hmm, this was a hit on paper, it had a check every single box off. The one thing it did not check off was the cat Amos's that were in it and the unfinished hands and visual effects. Or at least it was a
John Hess 1:08:26
I even noticed the hands part. But I think what I what I appreciate what it was cats though is it does offer it adds something to the the musical genre that has been missing in a long for a long time. And that's actually having some people involved that. And again, I'm looking past the effects, which I think I just kind of got like a hot tub you kind of get used to it after a while.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:48
That was a great analogy. Like it's really hot when you get in but after a while just like it just waves over
John Hess 1:08:54
Like the ocean. But yeah, but I think he got like all these a lot of the roll a lot of the the more major roles of cat and again, like I got, this is an admission that I am a big cats fan before no movie came out. So I know I knew the there's not a story. It's a collection of songs. It's really what it is. It's based on poems by TS Eliot. So I mean, I have that background of it. So I understand new characterizations. But you'd have a lot of people that are that are in the musical genre that don't, because the musical genre has for a long time been plagued by the fact that you have to have the paper, the paper has to say, you know, we have this star and it's gonna bring this lunch box off this star, this star. And the problem was, you know, that is Johnny Depp. For example, in Sweeney Todd, he's not really a good singer, not for that particular role. That's the, the so what cats did, which was kind of unique was they got a lot of people in the leads that aren't household names that are that are from like the Royal Ballet Company, which was like, wow, we're actually bringing in people that are good artists. Now, we covered them.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:03
But in those sets,
John Hess 1:10:04
Atleast it brought in some good, some good art and if you actually, if you were to only watch one segment and not and just ignore the rest of if you watch the symbol Shanks, the railway cat and this is this is this sounds absurd now, if you watch just that segment, and you can it's actually very good because it's probably the best segment in the entire film. It's not. It's not like, disturbing there's no children on cockroaches. But it's actually some very, very high level dancing on on display. It's something you don't actually see in in movies. So I'll give I'll give the filmmaker credit for that.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:39
It's, it's lit beautifully. The dancing is great. The singing is fantastic. The songs are the songs. They're great, you know, what a Geneseo cat, whatever the hell that thing is called I don't go cat angelical cat. The first eight minutes of the movie is just one long ass song. And my wife looked at me She's like, is this gonna stop anytime soon? I'm like, No, it's not. It's not. And the best review I've ever heard for a movie was for cats. And it's one sentence, just so perfect. Cats is the worst thing to happen to cats and stocks. It's just apps. But it's been bashed enough in the press. But I just wanted to hear your point of view. So I appreciate that. Anyone out there? Please watch cats. Let us know what you think. In the comments below.
John Hess 1:11:31
It helps if you go into it maybe a little inebriated.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:34
Oh, no. Halfway, like in those first 20 minutes. I'm like, man, if I don't, I don't drink. I don't smoke. I've never done drugs. But I'm like, if I was high, this would be much better. Like I could like if you're if you're tripping, again have never tripped. But if I could only imagine like if I was tripping this this movie would blow my mind.
John Hess 1:11:56
It is it is one of those in the mood movies. Again, it is the thing is I'm also a huge fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber who's obviously wrote cats, but Andrew Lloyd Webber in his earlier years, you have to realize the guy was there was some weird stuff he put out really weird classes is in that category. That category.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:22
Now I'm gonna ask you a couple questions. Ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
John Hess 1:12:28
Oh, my lord. can be very, very facetious and say quit.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:35
Just just run away, just stop
John Hess 1:12:36
Run away. Because if you follow that advice, then you probably made a good decision. If you said, No, john, you're an idiot. I don't want to listen to you. And you probably have the right mindset for, for sticking it out in this business. Because it is it is hard, I think, to be less facetious, I think is to, to really understand what you're trying to put out there. I think a lot of people get so so narrow. So they put the blinders on. They think about their project their movie, and they think it's it is so perfect for everybody. And everyone will love my movie, because I'm the one that made it. And I actually had somebody send me a question the other day, he asked me, What does what do they mean by target audience? And I asked myself, like, how do you not understand what your target is? I just kind of went through what I went through with him was like, What is your movie? appeal to? What do you think, would want to see your movie? And I think that's if any advice, maybe it's just to understand, not only like, what what are you making your movie? Not say for who you're making the movie, but or how? How does the How does it fit in the larger world, you know, and I also realize, too, that you don't necessarily make movies for, for the entire world, you sometimes you a lot of the times you make a movie for yourself first. But also realize that fact that that, you know, try to tie that into I mean, I try that and make you make the movie for yourself. But also realize that how does that how to appeal to other people, if that makes sense.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:00
Makes a person understand who your audience is, basically, and try to create something for that audience is a good piece of advice.
John Hess 1:14:09
Yeah. And I think again, the audience could be you too. I mean, you are in the audience. You are You are the first audience. So if it doesn't appeal to you, then obviously it's not. I mean, if it doesn't appeal to you, you're gonna have trouble appealing it to somebody else.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:21
And oh, and three of your favorite films of all time.
John Hess 1:14:24
Oh, that's Dr. Strangelove is probably one of my favorites of all time. I'm not gonna go cats. By what you may think it's not even near top 10 I'm trying to think of the Dr. Strangelove is absolutely my favorite. Oh, I love Some Like It Hot. Yeah, I just like I'll just pick another one that it's kind of a more of a smaller one. This is kind of what really inspired me to be a filmmaker is a movie called The Big Kahuna.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:51
Yeah, I remember that. I remember The Big Kahuna
John Hess 1:14:53
Kevin Spacey Danny Devito and the guy that played the one of the vampires on Twilight went on to
Alex Ferrari 1:15:00
Yes, I know what he's talking about Yeah.
John Hess 1:15:02
And it's it's an it's a, it's a great little movie from the late 90s. It's about these three salesmen that get together and they're trying to land the Big Kahuna. And it's entirely driven by conversation and entirely place that takes place in a single room. And it is, but with some of the best performances I've ever seen on film. So that's, that's, I think that's one of my favorites.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:23
Very cool. I'll get that out there. Now where and where can people find you? Oh,
John Hess 1:15:28
Oh filmmakeriq.com I need to I'm I am redoing the website. Eventually. It's it's a long process. But if you really want to find me youtube.com slash I think filmmaker IQ is just look up filmmaker IQ, you can meet chase me around on Facebook. I mean, I post more like personal stuff on Facebook. But between those two, that's really where you're gonna see most of my face. And obviously, on this podcast.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:53
John I really appreciate you coming on the show, man. We could talk for about another two, three hours, just just geeking out alone on cast. But But I really appreciate what you do man and and all the education you put out there for, for filmmakers out there. So thank you for doing what you do my friend.
John Hess 1:16:12
Oh thank you for having me.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:15
I want to thank john for coming on the show and dropping his filmmaker IQ on the tribe today. Thank you so so much, john. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/433. And guys, if you haven't already, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com And leave a good review for the show. It really helps us out a lot. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for listening. 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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