IFH 182: The Indie Film Hustle Tribe Interrogates Alex Ferrari with Rob Alicea

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Today’s episode is a first for the IFH Podcast. I had Indie Film Hustle Tribe Member Rob Alicea reach out to me with a crazy idea. He wanted to interview me for the podcast. He thought that the tribe would like to know more about me and my personal journey. I have to say I was skeptical. I didn’t think you guys would be that interested but Rob convinced me so here we are. Rob asked questions I never answered before and I have to say Rob was a great interviewer. I hope you find some value in it.

So here we go. Enjoy Rob’s interview with…I guess me. = )

Alex Ferrari 1:17
So you heard right today I am the guest of this podcast, I had a indie film hustle tribe member, Rob Alicia reached out to me and propose that he do an interview with me. Because for some godforsaken reason, he believes that a lot of the indie film hustle tribe wants to know more about me and I was like, really you guys, don't listen to me enough. You want to like get deeper into this crazy head that is me. And he's like, I feel I really feel that a lot of, of the tribe and filmmakers would really like to know a little bit more about you and things that you just haven't talked about on the podcast before. So I said sure. And we recorded it a little bit ago. And it was a really great experience. I talked about a lot of stuff I've never talked about. And and Rob was an amazing host. So I'm not going to talk anymore. I'm going to go right into our interview. So thank you Rob Alicea, for being an amazing host. And here we go.

Rob Alicea 2:23
Welcome to the show, fellow indie film hustlers. This is not Alex Ferrari. This is actually Rob Alicea, a fellow member of your tribe, independent filmmaker, and today I bring you a special show. I'm interviewing Alex Ferrari. How about that?

Alex Ferrari 2:40
The horror? Oh my gosh. It's really interesting how, you know, for everyone listening, Rob actually just reached out to me, he's like, Hey, man, I love to hear a podcast with you. Just like being interviewed by somebody about you. And I'm like, do you really want to hear more about me? And I was listening to him. And he and once you explain exactly what you why you kind of put this whole thing together up.

Rob Alicea 3:09
Yeah, totally. Um, well, I, you know, I first started listening to your podcast, probably close to about a year ago. And immediately, you know, started listening as much as I could, because obviously, you know, your energy and your love and passion for indie film is so infectious, and you genuinely want to help people. And started to learn, you know, a little bit more, a little bit about your background, but a lot about, you know, technically what you've been doing getting started as an editor. And now, obviously, shooting your feature. This is mag, and I said, You know what, I want to know more about this guy, you know, like, what drives him? Because I mean, you're a workaholic man. Like, I think I'm a workaholic sometimes, but I feel like you work 90% of the people I know. Under the under the table, and I'd Yeah, I just wanted to know more about what drives you. I mean, to even start the indie film, hustle. And you know, just how you balance life being someone who's married and has kids. It's like, it's crazy. What we do is crazy. But I thought this would be something really cool for your audience who I'm sure wonders probably some of the very same questions. I was wondering. So I said, Hey, why don't we do this? And here we are.

Alex Ferrari 4:26
Yeah. And I said, Sure. I mean, I think it'd be a fun, a fun interview to do. So without any further ado, Rob, ask away, sir.

Rob Alicea 4:35
Sure. So I mean, I think first and foremost, maybe a two parter like why film and you know, what is the story of how you found film and and how did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker? Well, I,

Alex Ferrari 4:51
I got started back in the Chaplin days. No, I actually got started. My first time I ever really I felt like I even wanted to be in the film business was when I when I just finished watching et, and I came out of the theater and I was blown away. And I was in second grade at the time. And, and I just started, I went home and started writing a script. I didn't know what the script was, or anything, I just started writing basically the story that I just saw, that was the first time I ever remember ever wanting to be in the business. Because if you remember, back then in the 80s, there was no film business, there was not a career choice. It was something on the outskirts, it was there's not a lot of information about filmmaking, or being in the film industry at all. So after that, I just was always a big fan of movies. But then I went to, to work at a video store when I was 15. Actually, when I was 14, I started when I was working, working at a video store. And that video store, it's I worked there for about four or five years, something like that. And during that time, I amassed a collection of about 3000. VHS is and yeah, I was pretty insane. I was a pretty obsessive kind of guy back then. Not that much different now. But I, I watched so many movies, and I category catalog them and just started studying them again and again again. And when I left the video store, or actually when I got out of high school, my mom asked me Do you want to do and I looked around my room and I said, Well, I guess I want to be a film director. And she's like, Alright, let's go to film school and there and that started my journey into the crazy dream. The dream that is the worst thing in the world. But yet the most wonderful thing in the world of being a filmmaker and, and finding that balance between the love and the hate. The ups and the downs of being an independent filmmaker in I've only after 20 years have kind of fallen in love with the journey, as opposed to as opposed to the goal. And that takes time to learn. And it took me longer than I wish it did. But I really now just love the grind. I love the daily in and out I love the grind of chasing the dream and doing the work. The goals are, you know, like when I got to and we'll talk about mag in a minute, but when when I had the premiere at the Chinese Theater, it was kind of like, Okay, great. Let's go next next. Like it wasn't this, the goal was just part of my journey. You know, it was just like, Hey, you know, when we got when we got, you know, distributed and, and got picked up by Hulu and all that stuff. I'm like, Great, that's another light Let's move on. You know, before it would have been the end all be all. And then I would have just stayed there in the in trying to stay in that goal moment in that final peak of the mountain. But for me, it's always another mountain. I enjoy the climb rather than the peak. But that's, that's a lot. That's a long answer to a very simple question.

Rob Alicea 7:53
No, I mean, I love it. I mean, and and what I always found like super cool is you grew up in Queens, I actually grew up in Queens as well. So we have that in common. What was I mean, was there I know you said kind of there wasn't but I mean, did you ever meet any other fellow filmmakers or aspiring filmmakers that you know much like yourself, or you know, still hitting that grind? Coming up film school

Alex Ferrari 8:18
And Phil in film school, of course, I met a bunch of people at film school. I my one of my teachers was the associate producer of pretty woman and was in parenthood another Ron Howard movie back in the 80s. And that, to me, I thought was the like, he was Hollywood. You know, he was like he was the that was the end all be all because I had never seen anybody or never even spoken to anybody that worked on a movie that I'd actually had seen. But I just met people along the way before I didn't meet anybody really I didn't meet like in a video store or anything like that wasn't you know, Fort Lauderdale For God's sake. So, you know, I was, you know, a mom and pop shop but I was I was as far out from the film industry as you can imagine. So it's fascinating to me just to look back at like how the hell I even got to where I am right now. But it's it's the journey you know, in this doing that work and getting out there and pounding it but but yeah, I didn't meet anybody along the way. I've met many people since very exciting people along the way and that have helped me on my journey and and it's just been cool to meet. But but that not back then before I got started. No.

Rob Alicea 9:32
That's awesome, man. Yeah, I mean, it's so what now? You're in Los Angeles. Is that correct? Or you're in

Alex Ferrari 9:37
Florida? Oh, no. I'm in LA. Yeah.

Rob Alicea 9:40
So now what made you What made you decide la like let's say as opposed to New York. I mean, when I hear about LA for example, I have friends that are you know, both filmmakers and actors. They always say there's a lot of work out there. So that's why a lot of you know of them go but there's also so much in New York. I mean, what made you say no way not saying in Queens anymore. I got I go to LA or well,

Alex Ferrari 10:01
Originally, I didn't have a choice to leave queens. I was taken by my mother when I was 10 years old. And then from 10 years old until, until my mid 30s. I, I lived in Florida. So New York I was I grew up in New York. I was born in Florida, I grew up in New York, and went back to Florida. And New York was just really never an idea of what I said, I was going to move to LA I was like, I gotta go, I gotta go to LA, I gotta go to Hollywood and being from New York and understanding and annoying a lot of people who work in New York in the film industry. They're such a big difference between east coast and West Coast as far as the industries are concerned. If the film industry left New York tomorrow, New York is still New York. Sure if the film industry left LA, the whole city would crash. I never thought of it. And that makes a lot of sense it because la was built it's a city built on the industry. New York is not a it's like if even any even like if the if the financial district left New York, it's still New York, there's a lot of things in New York that you know, make New York la was built upon the film industry. You know, it was there was nothing here it was desert. Before, you know, Chaplin in the boys showed up and started making movies here.

Rob Alicea 11:16
Well, let me ask you this for for, let's say up and coming. independent filmmakers, which obviously that is your audience, what do you recommend? Should they try their hand at New York? You know, the age old adage, right? If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere, would you recommend someone, Hey, take the plunge go out to LA?

Alex Ferrari 11:36
Well, there's a couple of different answers to that. One, if you're in a certain market, a smaller market like Miami, let's say you're young, you're going to be able to do things in a smaller market that you won't be able to do in LA or New York, when you're first starting out, you can grab a bunch of friends, you can go out and shoot in the streets, you can, you know, grab some cheap camera gear, and you can go make content. If you have those resources, you know, you know, probably houses and businesses and, and you know, places you can go shoot and go out and make some content. I would do that first. If I was starting today, and I was 20. And I was in Miami, I would probably be making a handful of feature films, as many as I can get my hands on and start just knocking it out, learning as much as I can along the way. Once you have a base of kind of work behind you, then you could come out to LA or New York, I argue I argue la rather than New York purely because again, everything is about the business out here. Like you just drive around and everything's the business. New York is not like that you kind of have to hunt and peck a little bit more to get to get you know, to find the job to find the the Find the tribe, you know, out here, they're everywhere. You can't walk into a Starbucks without using Final Draft on someone's computer. It's the longest it's the oldest joke here in LA, like you cannot walk into a Starbucks. Everyone's writing a screenplay, there's always somebody in the business. So to be completely engulfed like that and immersed in the industry. That's why LA is such a special place. But that's when I came out here, I already had 10 years, 12 years of of you no work behind me. So when I landed, I was able to start working right away, I tried to come out to LA in 2002. And la ate my lunch, I completely got my ass has had my assay handed to me. And I went back to Florida with my tail between my legs, because I was not ready. You know, people saw me coming from a mile away. And I had a nice real and everything. But it was just not enough. You know, it's just it was a very hard grind. What rather when I showed up, you know, almost 10 years ago, I was ready to rock and I can and then I just hit the ground running. So that's what I would suggest if someone's coming out right now I would try to get something under their belt first. Again, if your resources and you have the money to kind of live out here for 12 months. And by the way you got to have if you're going to come out here, you got to have at least 12 months worth of money to survive, because it's going to take you that long to probably find work or start building up, building up relationships that you're going to need to do what you want to do. And you can have roommates, it could be one or two, three roommates, whatever it is, but you have to have enough money to be able to come out here and live for a year. If you're gonna come out here for a month, like I did in 2002 you're done. You'll get your answers and you'll get your ass handed to you.

Rob Alicea 14:39
Well, let me ask you this now, you know obviously being in this business you often hear do not go to LA unless you have an agent. Now that is something I know I personally hear all the time. What do you think about?

Alex Ferrari 14:52
Absolutely agree? No, it's absolute bullshit. I don't have an agent. You know, I haven't had an agent. I had a manager Ones who really didn't do a whole heck of a lot for me, God bless his heart. He tried, but it's you look, the whole agent manager thing. And I know a lot of filmmakers get caught up with this, I did, I got it fine, I finally came to a point where like, I'm not going to chase managers or agents anymore. If they want me, they can come get me, I'm just going to do, I'm going to do me,

Rob Alicea 15:20
I hear you 1,000% there were times in my life where I got really caught up in that, and, you know, not not to put you over too much, but I'll put you over. I mean, it was just, you know, moments of listening to your podcast that reminded me, like, it just doesn't matter. You know, it's about the work and about doing the work. And I think that's the thing that, you know, I've learned in my years of doing it, I mean, you know, I'm fairly young guy 34. And I think I just learned it this year, I think it was the culmination of everything that, you know, if you just do the work, surround yourself with good people, your tribe, as we call it, right? Then you're gonna be fine. Because it's so easy to get caught up in that, who's rapping who and who is getting this distribution deal, and, you know, all of a sudden, it stops being about the work and stops being about actual storytelling. And I think, you know, it happens to the best of us. So I'm really glad to hear you say that, hey, you know, what, you don't necessarily need to have the agent or manager that can come later. I mean, it can come at any time and I think an actor or filmmakers life,

Alex Ferrari 16:25
You know, with, with, with the whole agent manager thing, you have to understand that if you're gonna start playing that Hollywood game, that game, that's the that's the major leagues, okay. When you start coming in, and you start playing, and you're trying to like, oh, who's going to rat me, I'm going to be SCA, I'm going to be at William Morris, or I'm going to be at endeavor, well, you know, whoever, or you know, what paradigm, whatever agency you're going to be at, when you start playing that game, it starts, it's a game, it's a major league game. If you're coming out of the bush leagues, you know, you're coming out of college ball, if we're gonna use baseball analogies, then you're not ready to play that game. Now there are like, there's always a phenom. There's always that kid that comes out of college goes straight to the pros. And there are those people, you know, without question, there are those people, but most of us aren't, you got to work your way up until you start playing in those leagues. I feel comfortable enough right now in my career, where if an agent shows up, I'm ready to play. I've been around the block enough times. But I'm not going to play the game of chasing it because I was the problem I got. That's what took me 20 years to get Meg made. Because I kept chasing that all the feature or the money or the agents gonna get me the money like, Look, you got to just do the work, man, and not play the game. If you start playing the game too early. You're You're done. And it is a game. It is a political game. It is as much as a creative and a business game. It's also a political game, you know, and I was talking to an agent once. And they said, I need a director who is part creative part businessman, part politician. And that's the perfect director that I'm looking for to wrap. You know, and he knows and he was repping Guillermo del Toro at the time. So Oh, so and you Those are the people the Spielberg's the Lucas's the Cameron's the features, these all have those three things. Some, you know, argue that James Cameron doesn't is not very political anymore. But he's a he's a giant, he doesn't have to be, you know, but at the beginning, you've got to play that game. If you're going to play in the big leagues, or you can just kind of reject all that and do your own thing. Because nowadays, you can, you know, look at the duplass brothers. I mean, they are amazing, those guys, I mean, Mark is firing, no marking, yeah, Mark. And Jay, you know, I was reading the other day that they said, I read this story, it was just amazing story of love. They like Look, when we first got here after puffy chair, and we won, you know, Sundance and everything. We got an agent and the agent starts sending us around, and we call it the water bottle tour, where you just go around to all the agents and everyone takes meetings and, and everybody wants to talk to you about doing something. And after every meeting, they would walk out on like, hey, these guys really want to work with these guys are going to make make our next movie. A year later, nothing had happened. So they realized they said, Wait a minute, these are all a waste of time. So they called their agents up and said, No more meetings. And they said what if that's the way Hollywood works so like, it's not working for us? So no more meetings. We only we make movies, not meetings. And that's Yeah,

Rob Alicea 19:32
I remember I think it was I was listening to an interview and pretty and I don't remember which of the brothers it was with but they were saying how, you know, they started getting submitted for directors jobs and it's almost like, you know, trying to submit your ballot for homecoming king It was such a popularity contest, and he said you know what, we just got to go out there and make our movies because we're gonna keep putting our you know, our hats in the hat anyone stay in the race to try to get He's directing jobs, and we're not actually doing what we love to do, which is making movies. So they just said, Just do it. And I think that kind of leads me to, I think not that another question that I'm super curious about because, you know, you're, I think a whole big part about what the indie film, hustle, you know, movement. And what you're doing stands for, at least from, from my perspective, is also this feeling about, you know, you can do it on your own. So, you know, besides, you know, the accumulation of your years of experience, I mean, can you pinpoint, you know, a feeling or, you know, what was that internal shift for you, where you kindly said, you know, or you finally said, rather like, I'm just going to start doing me, and I'm not going to focus on the agent, like, was it a particular moment? Was it a build up of experiences?

Alex Ferrari 20:50
Well, I'll tell you what it there is. I don't know if I've ever spoken about this specifically on the podcast. So this might be an exclusive. I've spoken about it and other places, but I've never actually sat down and talked about this. I actually left the business for a little bit. They have, did you ever hear anything about that? I do not recall. Okay. So there was there was about five years ago, when my daughters were born. I, I had this bright idea of opening up an olive oil and vinegar tasting shot. Yes, yes. Right. So I opened up this olive oil and vinegar tasting shop. It was in the it was the largest shop in Los Angeles at the time, from the idea of having the shop four months later, we had a store on Ventura Boulevard here by Laurel Canyon, which is a very expensive place to be as a retail shop, and a lot of traffic and so on. And I did that, because I felt really beaten down over the course of the last couple years prior to that, that I was just just chasing a lot of post jobs. And, you know, and it was directing here and there. But, you know, I was getting beat up by distributors, and, and just like chasing money, and I was just kind of burnt, you know, working on really not the greatest projects in the world. You know, it's just more paycheck stuff. And my soul was just kind of gone, you know, my I was just really tired. So I opened up this business, and I was kept one foot in the business in the film industry, and always do a job here or there. But I kind of you know, towards the second year, I kind of really stopped doing a lot of film industry stuff. Because I was focusing on this company. And during that time in my life, I worked harder in those three years than I had worked in the park prior 17 in the film industry. It was the most brutal, physically brutal time of my life, emotionally, spiritually, everything. And I, I literally was just, you know, pounding it day in day out, I would be going out, you know, at the peak of our of our company, we were doing 25 farmers markets a week. Wow. And doing weekend doing 30,000 to 60,000 people events. And I was, you know, I was the best sales guy we had. And, you know, I was working four or five days a week, six days a week just just really brutal eight hour days out in, you know, in the hot sun selling olive oil. And and I would just be sitting there sometimes going, what the hell am I doing? It was actually a moment and there was a moment in the middle of that where I'm good friends with the guys from Holly shorts Film Festival. So they actually invited me to come and do an olive oil tasting at their opening night, where I have opened movies, multiple movies with them. So I'm sitting there watching the filmmakers walk in and out. And I'm there with a fucking olive oil spoon, and I'm going What the fuck am I doing? Like, I felt like absolute crap that day. I was just like, what, and that was like the first chink in the armor for this whole olive oil thing. And about a year into a year left in our three year lease. I started figuring that I'm like, I gotta do something else. I gotta I gotta get back into the business somehow. So I started doing research on how to open up an online business. And, you know, figuring out that whole social media marketing and, and social media and marketing and just creating an online business. And then the idea for doing something in the film industry came up originally it was my wife's idea because I was just going to go off and do another business. Being the you know, the hand sanitizer guy, like you want to know about hand sanitizer, I'm the dude, all the content you want to know about hand sanitizer. I'll be that guy. I'm just using that as an example. But my wife I was like, why don't you do something in the film industry? I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll open something up that way. Yeah. Yeah, I'll think about I think about it. And then, like, a few months would go by she's like you working on that thing yet? I'm like, Alright, fine. I'll start something with the indie filmmaking. I'll start off with filmmaking. Then as I started getting into it, I'm like, I'm such an idiot. Why wouldn't like it just was the stupidest thing ever. So finally, it's like, Okay, I think I can. Let me check the business. Just make check the landscape. So two years ago, three years ago, I looked at what was going on online. And I really hadn't seen a lot of websites, blogs or podcasts. That was telling it really coming from a good place. Yeah, telling it really and raw, because a lot of people out there didn't have my experience didn't have I didn't I hadn't walked the path. I've walked for 20 odd years. So I was like, You know what, I'm gonna throw my hat in the ring. And I'm gonna come out there. And I'm going to just be me. So when, when I launched indie film hustle, in July of 2015, within a month, I was already going, I was already larger than a lot of the guys had been around for five or 10 years. And they started contacting me, and like, Hey, who are you? Like, where the hell do you come from? Because I all of a sudden, I was everywhere. And if anybody listening knows in the you're on Facebook or Twitter, you know, I'm for you. Yeah, I post a lot. And I get my stuff out there. So then, about a month later, open up the podcast, and I start launching it within three months, you know, we became the number one filmmaking podcast and iTunes. That's amazing. It was insane. It was insane. And it kind of grew from there very rapidly. And two years later, we are where we are. But But during that journey, I wanted to help I truly wanted to help. And I've been wanting to do this back from 2005 when I released my short film broken, and a guerilla filmmaking school, you know, that nobody had ever done before prior to that. So I wanted to, I always wanted to help filmmakers, because they're, they're my, they're my, you know, they're your people. They're my people. Man. I know, my I know, my people well, because I'm the people to, you know, everything. All the questions I asked. My guests are questions I want to know about. And because and that's probably why a lot of filmmakers love the podcast because I, I asked things I want to talk, I'm not going to ask them, stupid, you know, stuff, I'm going to ask them what I want to know about. So the the podcast continue to grow and grow. And the website started growing, growing. And as I started going through this, you know, when you podcast, you're talking into a microphone, you really don't know if anyone's listening. You know, it's a weird thing, because it's not an instant gratification thing. Yeah, you see some downloads, but their numbers that you don't have basis to those numbers. So as the as the podcast continue to grow and grow, I started getting contacted by the tribe, you know, by this group of people, group of filmmakers and artists that had started following and listening to the podcast and, and following and listening and reading stuff on the blog. And then those stories started coming out. And, you know, the thank yous in the, you know, I was reading the people were giving, you know, the podcast was giving them hope. And I'm like, Oh, my God, like, That's insane. I can't believe what I'm doing in my office is affecting so many people. So all of a sudden, it became real to me, like, Oh, my God, I got a responsibility like these people, these filmmakers, you know, really, really are enjoying what I'm doing and finding tremendous amount of value in what I'm doing. So I wanted to continue to grow it and build it and start getting better and better and better at what I do. You know, we're at Episode 181. Right now as as of this recording, and that's insane.

Rob Alicea 29:06
And I think and I think, you know, what, what, I think what you hit on, and I think a lot of people, you know, maybe don't necessarily speak about our cover. I mean, you know, your website covers a lot of like, Great and interesting, you know, tutorials and a lot of the technical side of filmmaking, if you will, and I think that you know, what, your podcast what it really serves, you know, and it served me I'm sure served, pretty much everybody was listening at some point. It's just even the emotional side of this business, which can be very taxing and very tolling and I think it's a part that, you know, a lot of people don't often talk about, because, you know, everyone loves a great Hollywood success story. But you know, a lot of people don't talk about those moments where you're down in the dumps, or you're getting ready to call it quits. I think we've all felt that. I know, I felt that and again, I'm sure a lot of people were listening to Felt those moments.

Alex Ferrari 30:02
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Rob Alicea 30:13
I think for me, you know, obviously, I always loved hearing the different interviews. But what I always got, and what really, you know, helped me and what I really enjoyed, you know, it was also just hearing, you know, your energy, like I said, and and your drive, because, I mean, man, you got more energy than most people I know. And, you know, it's, it's crazy. But I think, you know, it goes hand in hand that, you know, it's like drinking while you pour, right? I mean, you're still an active filmmaker, but you're also giving to other people at the same time. And I think that, that can't be understated how important that is, you know, to also, you know, serve those next generation of filmmakers, those people that are, you know, trying to do what you're doing, but don't even really have an idea how to even get started. So, you know, that's, that's, at least for me, personally speaking, I think has been one of the best parts of, you know, my journey, you know, as a, as a tribe member, and as a loyal listener. And, you know, now I'm, I'm telling my friends to listen to it, and I got one of my best friends to listen to his first episode The other day. So, you know, you're

Alex Ferrari 31:26
Like a drug pusher, I love it.

Rob Alicea 31:28
I you know, it, you know, speaking of which, I mean, it sounds like to, you know, when you were getting into the olive oil business, and totally correct me if I'm wrong, but you know, part of it could also be to now you're married, and now you had kids. And now it's kind of like that moment where like, well do I have to, quote unquote, be serious, right, or, quote, unquote, get a real job or whatnot,

Alex Ferrari 31:54
I don't think it was the whole real job thing, because I've never been a real job thing, guy. You know, I've been fired from both both staff positions I ever had. This is going back many years. So I was never, I, I've always been a freelancer, I've always been my own boss, for the most part. And my wife signed up for this, this this drain, she knew that and she it took her a while to get used to but she knows that I always provide and there's always gonna be work, no matter what it always is. And that's it always, it always happened has happened to me that way. I think that for me, I was just burned. I was burnt out in a way that this town does. And no other place does. Like you get work here. The kind of work you get is a whole other story. But you will get work. There's always some work somewhere. And coming from a smaller market like Miami, you know, I came in here, right as the crash happened, you know, so in 2008 is the crash happened three months after I arrived, and I worked steadily for the next three years, four years without without no problems whatsoever. Because I was just I was just happy to work. But I was taking everything. Anything that walked in the door I would take because I was hungry. You know, I was hungry. I wanted to get more stuff under my belt and, and I hustled hard, you know, but, you know, I think I was just so burnt out that I needed I needed to, I thought I needed a way I thought I needed something else. I thought maybe this isn't for me anymore. Because I don't know about you. And I'm sure everyone listening to this could kind of feel this is multiple times during my journey. I have stopped and said I can't do this anymore. I got I gotta go, I gotta do something else. And you and you just throw your hands up in the air, you know that that project falls through the money doesn't get dropped? Whatever. And then it always turns in five minutes later, you're like, well, what else you're gonna do? Yeah, yeah, there's, that's generally the answer, right? Like, what else are you gonna do? And then unfortunately, one day I said olive oil? Yeah. Yeah. You know, and, and, you know, that's, I think another thing that I try to do on the podcast, and in the blog as well, is to, to be more open than most, I don't really have a fear of being open about myself. To a certain extent, I keep my private life private. But when it comes to my journey, as a filmmaker, I'm very open with my journey and my experiences, when other people are deathly afraid of that, you know, there's not a lot of filmmakers out there, who would have even acknowledged that, that they had opened up an olive oil company, you know, because you start thinking, like, Oh, God, if I say something, then all the haters are gonna come out and say, Oh, he's just an olive oil guy. Why should I listen to this guy? You know what I mean? You know, there's that fear that little voice in the back of your head, but I made a decision to say you know what, fuck it. I'm gonna be me. And I'm gonna be authentic and I'm gonna be who I am. And if you notice all the big YouTubers all the guys out there, they're all doing them, you know? Yeah, they're all doing, they don't care. They just gonna do who they are. And that's it. You know, and that's, that's why I kind of grew into it and as as time passed when I opened up any film hustle as time progressed, and I started getting more and more confident. I mean, if you go back and listen to some of those first episodes, Oh, Jesus Christ. Yeah, they're so era how far back you've listened to. Now Now I want to know, they're they're just, you know, they're they're kind of brutal if I listened to them, I mean, there's great information on there. But a friend of mine, Scott from film trooper, he, you know, he was telling me, he's like, Alex, man, I love I love your podcast, and you've got this great opening, like from the back streets of Hollywood. Come, Alex. And then you know, and he goes, here's your host, Alex Ferrari. And then you hear me How you doing guys? I'm Alex Ferrari today in no energy like whatsoever. And it's just brutal. Now I tried to keep the energy up the entire time. But, but yeah, if you if anybody listening once they get a get a good laugh. Go look, go listen to the first any for any one of the first 10 or 20 episodes. They're, they're quite entertaining.

Rob Alicea 36:12
Let me ask you on that note, do you have a favorite interview that you've ever conducted so far on the indie film hustle podcast?

Alex Ferrari 36:19
My favorite episode, I can tell you right off the top is Episode 88. Where I lost my mind and and, and started cursing for an hour. Until people like why why filmmakers are always so effing broke and what they could do

Rob Alicea 36:33
I remember that one. I was listening to that one. I think it was like six o'clock in the morning.

Alex Ferrari 36:38
And what what happened when you heard what happened when you heard me start talking?

Rob Alicea 36:42
Honestly, I was like, kind of laughing my ass off. And people were like, looking at me. And they're like, because, you know, like, I I love listening to podcasts. I mean, they I love listening to them in the morning and get up. Sometimes I bring my phone into the shower, I even listen to waterproof seriously. And I'm just always listening. I'm always like, just trying to just gain more and more knowledge. I mean, because this is like you as my life, my passion. I just feel like I just need more and I just couldn't stop laughing man because I get it. It's true. It I mean, like, there was like literally nothing you said that I can really disagree with in that episode. But But you know, for me also to like, that's the one thing that I think has always kept me like, you know, I'm not gonna lie, there are some podcasts I listened to. And then you know, I listened to my Subscribe for it, I kind of dropped off. You know, the one thing that keeps me listening to you is your authenticity, the fact that you can be vulnerable, because that's real. And you know, I feel like as a filmmaker, you know, just authenticity in life and about who you are, you know, when you're not behind the camera that can only make your work in front of the camera better. No, it's a it's like you're breaking that barrier. And you know, and that's Yeah, I think that's like, you know, something that you got going for you. So you know, let me just say, Don't ever change that.

Alex Ferrari 38:04
Thank you. That's a big compliment. Thank you very much. I appreciate it

Rob Alicea 38:08
Well, I guess you know, let's listen fast forward, you know, you put out this is Meg, which I purchased. And you happy? You did that. Because, you know, like when I posted on my social media accounts. You know, I was like, this is a guy who, you know, practices what he preaches. He's not just someone that saying to go out there with your camera. This is a guy that did it. Now you, I guess how you want to say adopted, some might say an unusual filmmaking method with your script meant. Now you tell like people a little bit more about that, because I'm going to be honest with you, I never heard of it before I heard it on your episode, but I want to hear more.

Alex Ferrari 38:49
So a scriptment is basically we'll look I'll start started a little bit farther back from that I, I got I was attached to a project and it was really, you know, when it went south again, you know, I had already gone casting, I already met agents and managers and all this kind of stuff. And it went south again. And I was just so exhausted and tired of waiting around, that I decided that I said, you know, screw it, I'm just gonna go make my movie. And I don't care. I don't have I don't have a script. I don't have anything but I'm making a movie in the next couple of months, and I'm not gonna wait around anymore. So that's when I called Jill up. And I said, Jill, I want to make a movie about you in your life with all your crazy friends. And let's do it. And I told her in the style that I want to do it, which was a very duplass brothers style, which is, you know, writing a script meant. Now what a script is, is a very structured outline. Sometimes it has dialogue, depending on the scenes like we did. Some scenes have no dialogue just has beats. So things that have to happen within the story. And the actor is free to get to each of those. Those mile markers. However they like to get to it. So as long as As this is covered in the scene, I don't care how you get to it. So what what that does is it creates a really raw and real performance from the actors, because they're not memorizing anything, it's coming to their head, very convert conversationally in a way that I couldn't write if I wanted to. Now, this works because I had an insane cast. With, we're all seasoned professionals and all seasoned actors and seasoned improvers, that all just came and brought their A game, you know, and they just showed up and had fun, I wouldn't have done this with a bunch of brand new actors that had never acted before or done one or two things, it'd be a little bit more difficult to do, I wouldn't have been able to move as quickly it was I was dealing with professionals at every level, at every level, through this entire production. So and I also carried, you know, a toolbox of 20 odd years of tools that I've been carrying around with me for years, so I brought a lot to the table as well. So that's the only way that kind of works. But if you want to kind of quickly put together something, a script, it's a wonderful way of doing it. The duplass brothers do it all the time and it works for them. You have to find actors who are improv, that know improv and can really perform it well. And if they have that, and you and you as a director have to kind of just let go. And I did I met on this is Mike, I completely let go. I was just there capturing the lightning. Like Alright guys, let's the angles, let's go. And that's all I did. And it was such a freeing experience was a wonderful experience. I wouldn't say this is going to be for every movie I ever do. But it's a wonderful experience to do in a wonderful way of doing movies. It's just gives the energy a little bit different and you can move much quicker. Now it's a pain in the butt to cut.

Rob Alicea 41:55
Jesus. That was gonna be my number one question, because when I heard about this script, man, as I know when I've directed I've had editors that say you know, I really wish that actor had an improvised so much it's it's it, they're great, but it's a nightmare for editing. So how does that end up working? And how did you not go nuts on set?

Alex Ferrari 42:16
Um, well on set, you don't go nuts. You just kind of go and you shoot. When you get to the post room. I actually edited this is Megan three weeks. So we cut mag in three weeks and the performances overall I'm going to say that most once they left once they landed the improv, they pretty much stayed close to the improv with a couple variations here, there. But again, I was dealing with very high end professionals. So editing it was a pain. Don't get me wrong, because I didn't edit like a Reno 911 you know where you jump cut. I actually edit it as a narrative because that's the only way I know how to cut. So when Jill saw it, she was expecting a Reno 911 style edit. And when she saw me actually cutting it like a real feature. She was like, Oh my god, how did you do that? I'm like, it took a while. You know, but I'm a quick cutter man I like again, it's the 20 it's 20 odd years of of tools that you bring with you that you know, I've cut stuff like that before, nothing as extreme as that. But you just do it. You know, like everything, man, you just do it. Like people always ask like, how did you handle twins? I'm like you just do it. You don't know any better. You know, you don't know what the rules are. So you just do it. And same thing goes for this. I didn't know you're not supposed to edit, you know, improv, like a narrative. But I did. And it worked out. I think it worked out really well. And the flow of the movie works. And most people watching it can't tell that majority of the movie was improved. So that it was a little bit of a nightmare. Honestly, color coding color correction took me longer, much longer.

Rob Alicea 43:46
Well, then I just want to tell you that I'm very, very happy for you. And you know, again, I want to say thank you, then don't worry that the interview is not over. But I'm giving you my gratitude that I want to take a page out of Tim Ferriss book. Yes. And before we go, I'm gonna give you a couple of rapid fire questions. Yes, go for it, man. All right. So and I'll take this directly from Tim Ferriss. When you hear the word success, who comes to mind and why?

Alex Ferrari 44:16
Oh, man, and I've listened to Tim's podcast so much to he's what he honestly right. He's honestly the reason why I started in the film hustle. He was the book. The Four Hour Workweek was the reason why I even got the idea for indie film hustle. If I had one person I can say that success man. Wayne Dyer,

Rob Alicea 44:43
Which which Wayne Dyer, a particular one because I'm a big Dyer fan

Alex Ferrari 44:47
Wayne Dyer the the the spiritual guru if you will. Yeah, you know who I'm talking about. Right? Oh, yeah. No, I love Wayne Dyer. Absolutely. Yeah. So So Wayne Dyer is I was I had a, I had the pleasure of meeting him before he passed. Man, his energy was so so wonderful. He even flirted with my wife, it was wonderful compliment right there. But when I kind of, I kind of want it to be, you know, in a weird way of wanting to kind of be a Wayne Dyer esque kind of person, for the film business and for artists in general, because I feel that artists are such a, such a needed group in humanity without art. We can't move forward in all sorts of arts, whether it be written music, film, any of it. I'm a filmmaker. So that's why I identify more with filmmakers, but artists in general, I wanted to kind of give artists a way to hope to let them know that like, Look, you can make a living doing this. And that there's there is this whole starving artists thing is Bs, it's complete Bs, you know, Michelangelo was a very rich man. You know, he he worked, you know, he goes charge for his art. You know, there's this whole mentality, which I think came around in the 1800s, or 19, artists, whole starving artists thing. But artists throughout time, have made money doing what they do, it can work, and it does work. And in today's world, there's absolutely no excuse. But you have to do the work. And I wanted to kind of be a little bit of a beacon of light, a beacon of hope, a beacon of information for, for filmmakers, and for artists. And that's why Wayne I feel, did that on a much grander scale, and helped, you know, millions of people over the course of his lifetime. And when you start helping people, and you start, you know, and say guiding, but all I can say is like you know, a teacher is someone who's walked the path a little bit farther than you have. You know, like, if Steven Spielberg walks in the door right now, I'm like, Mr. Mr. Spielberg, I have 1000 questions. You know, it's like, there's always someone who's maybe walked ahead of you a little bit more. And then there's giants like Spielberg or Nolan or Fincher, these guys, but I try to just give the information I have, that of my experience. So I might have been just a little bit ahead of you. And I can talk to you all of a sudden, now you're a teacher, because I just happen to know how to hit that hammer on that nail a little bit better than you might be doing it, because I've been doing it a little bit longer. So that's what I try to do. I try to, you know, share my life experience now with with filmmakers and and hopefully help them along their way. And, look, this podcast has grown into ways that I can't even imagine and this, the website has grown. And, you know, I have, I'm going to be doing a bunch of new stuff on YouTube coming up. You know, I'm, I'm connecting with people in a way that I never do. And when you start helping people, truthfully, coming from a good place, it's addictive. And then to become, I become very selfish in that way. Because now, I want to help as many people as I can, I want to help as many filmmakers as I can. No matter where my career goes, I want to always try to continue sharing that adventure, and sharing that with the tribe and with anyone who will listen because I think it's so valuable. I wish I had someone like that. And maybe it's because I never had a mentor. Growing up, I was always my own mentor, you know, by listening to LaserDisc commentaries and DVDs, and watching movies and reading books, where I kind of had to mentor myself. And it's extremely difficult to do that. I want to be able to do that for other filmmakers, and for other artists. So I think why I feel Wayne is my answers, because I really, I think he did it in a way that I would I would love to emulate and, and he looked and he wasn't a perfect man, by any stretch. If you know, you know, Rob, you know, Wayne story, I'm sure. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And, and, and he's learned along the way, you know, he became who he became over years, decades of, you know, not only helping other people but helping himself. And that's what I would like to do for, for the tribe, and for anyone who would listen is to be able to help them by me helping myself and going down my path, but then sharing that information with with everybody else.

Rob Alicea 49:36
Well, and I think you're absolutely doing it and I heard a quote one time that I think, you know, really goes along with what you're saying that you know, you don't need to be fully healed in order to teach wound care, if you will, you know, you can still be a beginner or intermediate in your career, and still try to help people and I think that you know, it's my hope as I'm shirt is yours that for people listening to this, you know, we're always told it's such a, it's such a grind, which, you know, we love the grind, but it's also so competitive and, you know, don't help anyone, you got to get ahead. But you know, I, myself, have always helped people, I think I'm very much known as that kind of person. So I think that's why even before we actually ever spoke, you know, I felt a connection to you and why I think I enjoy so much your work because, you know, you're that kind of guy. And, and I think you'll continue to inspire the tribe to also, you know, give unto others,

Alex Ferrari 50:36
If you will know, in one thing is when, when you were saying like, you know, it's very competitive and this and that, I kind of don't believe that anymore.

Rob Alicea 50:46
And I, I don't believe it either. Because who are you competing against you like, oh, anybody make a movie?

Alex Ferrari 50:52
Like, look, guys, you know, everyone listening? You're not competing against, you know, I'm not competing against Rob, Rob's not competing against me. You know, why wouldn't you help each other in one way, shape or form to get each other's projects done? You know, like, it's art, you know, it's not like we're both making an iPhone. You know, it's like, we're both making different things, and we're helping each other along the way. The reason why Spielberg Scorsese, De Palma, Coppola, and miletus. All those guys coming up, were able to make it is because they knocked on Hollywood store and Hollywood wouldn't let them in back in the 70s. So then they started helping each other out for free, like without questions, and they would just help each other out. Because they knew that they weren't. They were all competing to try to get a job in Hollywood, but they just helped each other out on each other's projects. And they all grew because of it. rising waters, you know, rising tide lifts all boats. And you know, you know the story about miletus Spielberg and I think it's the Palma the way they shared their points. I do not know is this Spielberg? melius and Lucas. And the story is that they all helped each other out on their movies movie called Star Wars movie called Jaws, jaws. I think it was jaws or close encounters. I think one of the two and and melius did on a big Sunday. On any given Sunday, no, no, no big son, big Sunday or something like that's a surf movie. And they all swapped points on it. So Spielberg and Lucas did fairly well on it, but mamillus actually did better than all of them. But they were like, Well, look, you know, I'm thank you for the Star Wars points, because the Middle East had Star Wars points. And they just gave it away. And and then Lucas and Spielberg always asking like, where are we going to get our big Sunday, Monday. But that's the way they helped each other along the way. They didn't care. They just weren't. They were friends. And I think as filmmakers, you've got to help each other out, man, because it is rough out here. And it is tough. And it is brutal. And there's no question about it. But at the end of the day, you're in a race with yourself and nobody else.

Rob Alicea 53:14
That's it. I love it. All right. I'm going to give you two more questions shouldn't having you on long enough. Back to the wife and kids.

Alex Ferrari 53:23
I've got time did you know I can talk?

Rob Alicea 53:27
Me too. So if you could recommend and I have a feeling I may know this answer but I'm going to put myself to the challenge anyway. If you had to recommend one book to a filmmaker someone starting out or even someone that's been in it, what would that book be? And why? The Alchemist Alchemist Okay, now tell that tell, I guess tell the tribe a little bit about the alchemist. single handedly changed my life by

Alex Ferrari 53:57
The way? Of course. Yeah, it's it does because the alchemist is by an amazing author named Pablo Guido. Who's a think Brazilian if I'm not mistaken. How Paulo Coelho? Yeah, is Brazilian. Yeah, he's a Brazilian author. And he wrote this amazing book called The Alchemist. And it's basically a book about following your dreams. And that book, when I read it, it was a fairly, it really knocked me on my ass. When I read that book. It's a beautiful fable esque kind of book. They've been trying to make it in into a movie for probably a good 1520 years now. And

Rob Alicea 54:36
I kinda I kind of hope they don't, I'm sorry. Unless it's one of those books that I think it's just best left up to an individual's interpretation. But anyway,

Alex Ferrari 54:46
Yeah, I agree. I agree with you. I mean, if unless it was it was in somebody's hands that we could trust. Like, I wouldn't mind seeing a Guillermo del Toro version of you know, or you know, even a Spielberg ask version of that. I don't want to see a David Fincher version. But someone's dying. But, but that book really changes your life when you read it. And as a filmmaker, you're going to need something to kind of go back to, to kind of re inspire you to continue the journey. Because when you start out, it is a very difficult path, is it's a hard path, it's going to take you years before you can make any real money. You know, and, you know, like, I always say, you know, it's not it's not a 12 month plan, it's a 12 year plan. You know, yeah, you know, it's not a one year plan, it's a 10 year plan, you've got to kind of always be thinking that, like, I'm going to be in this for a decade, like I'm giving this 10 years, that's how you should do you got to give it 10 years, if in 10 years, you can't make a living, doing what you love to do, or in some way in the business, then you got to reevaluate how you're approaching it. I'm not saying give up to say how reevaluate how you're approaching it, and see if you've still got it to keep going. And that's the kind of book that will continue to inspire you, and bring you back to the reason why you started down this path in the first place. If you're in it for fame and fortune, you're going to be eaten alive, in a matter of minutes, is seconds, you won't last you won't survive. And I would argue Please get out. Because you're just ruining it for the rest of us. But if you're in it with good reason, because you love it, because you want to tell stories, because you want to help people, because you you know, want to if you want to be a big time, you know, Hollywood director making $200 million movies, that's fine. There's nothing wrong with it. But if your goal is just to be rich and famous, forget it. And Can't you, you can't make it, you won't last because it's too hard. It's too hard. The grind is too hard. It's taken me over two decades, to now love the grind. But I'm at a different place. I'm not starting out. But if I was starting out again, and I had my mind that I have now, I would love it, I would just enjoy the grind every day. And you have to love that. If you can learn how to love the grind, you will survive in the business. Because, yeah, because if you're enjoying the journey, you've got to enjoy the journey.

Rob Alicea 57:14
And yeah, and it's like when you know, when you're working on anything if it's a script, or you know, you're shooting or editing. I mean, it's it's great to be goal oriented and goal focused, but you don't want to wake up at the end and post productions complete. And you're like I missed out on actually laughing and having fun on set. You know, just enjoying the people. So yeah, guys. Definitely fellow tribe members continue enjoying the journey. I know I do. And I guess with with the alchemists, I can just say, again, from my own personal experience, it's a book that grows with you. I mean, if you read it now and you read it five years from now, it's almost a completely different book. So I highly recommend that book myself. It's actually a book that I constantly recommend to people.

Alex Ferrari 58:01
So as all good art as all good art changes as you grow all good art does that. So that's why I'm such a fan of Stanley Kubrick. Because you know, you watch Eyes Wide Shut when you're 15 it's not the same as you when you watch it when you're 35

Rob Alicea 58:16
That's actually my favorite Kubrick film. It's my I'm alone a lot of now. No, dude, I knew I knew we were connected. Ah, do

Alex Ferrari 58:23
It's my favorite too. I love Eyes Wide Shut and, and I just finished watching Full Metal Jacket in the theater I thought at Holly shorts a few weeks ago. And it was a wonderful experience but Eyes Wide Shut for whatever godforsaken reason. I just I think it's it's it's his masterpiece. And he actually said before he passed this is my masterpiece, like this is it was his favorite movie of all of the ones he had done.

Rob Alicea 58:50
And he and he actually he passed before it premieres I'm pretty high or

Alex Ferrari 58:55
He pass just as He finished the

Rob Alicea 58:58
Man. Well, I mean, what a way to what a way to go out so, Stanley, wherever you are, we appreciate and we miss him to apps. Absolutely. A final question for you. Yes. Who is on your personal filmmaking? Mount Rushmore? I'm gonna say Kubrick. Hitchcock,

Alex Ferrari 59:20
Kurosawa. Um, I'd probably throw Spielberg in there as well. And a contemporary I would probably say, Fincher, I love it. I'm gonna have five heads on my mountain Rushmore.

Rob Alicea 59:39
Alright, I'm gonna I'm gonna Spitfire my quick four. Okay, number one, Kevin Smith, because without him I would have probably never gotten into this crazy business. To Edward burns. Sure. Eddie brij john Hughes because he can his movies just they make me feel so good every time I watch them and they continually make me laugh, and he just such a pure at heart filmmaker. And last but not least, Steven Soderbergh. Because the guy's a beast of a filmmaker, and, you know, guy who truly I feel advocates for the independent filmmaker. So those are my guys, man. And you know what, I'm gonna throw my fifth Alex Ferrari, Oh, please,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:19
Jesus, please.

Rob Alicea 1:00:21
He's, like I said, Let's practice what he preaches. And, you know, man, this was such a joy, I'm so happy that we got to connect. And, you know, once again, I'm very, very grateful for everything that you do, because I can't even imagine how much work it is. But it's very clear that you put a lot of this, a lot of your heart into this. And, you know, you're doing a lot for people. So you know, I'm sure that a lot of our lives are better for it. So thank you, man,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:48
I really appreciate it. And I, you know, it is it is hard work without question. I mean, I I don't have to put out as much content as I do. I just feel I'm slacking. So I always continue to put out more and more work. But I truly love doing this. I actually love helping people. And the more I do it, the more addicted I'm getting to it. So I just love being able to, to inspire, through interviews with other amazing filmmakers. And if I can, if I can throw a little knowledge to somebody and a little bit of hope to somebody along the path that it can be done. And if I have to go down the road myself as a crash test, dummy, I will do so like I did with Meg. I'm all about it. And I want to continue doing it, hopefully for many years to come and, and help as many artists and filmmakers because I think the more artists and filmmakers we have out there, I think the better the world will be.

Rob Alicea 1:01:44
Great 100% All right. Well, Alex, my friend, thank you so much.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:48
Thank you for having me on my show.

Rob Alicea 1:01:52
Thanks a lot.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:54
Man. I really want to thank Rob for suggesting this and doing this. And you know, it's surreal. It was surreal doing an interview like this, with you know, someone from the tribe. And it was it was a thrill to me. And I hope you guys got something out of it. I try to make it as educational as possible and inspiring as possible. But it's weird. It's weird doing this kind of stuff on my show. So you know, I've done it on other shows all the time. But doing it on my show is kind of weird. But I'm really thankful for Rob for suggesting it and I hope you guys found some sort of value in my ramblings. And guys, Seriously though, I can't do this without you guys, you know, you guys inspire me as much as I inspire you, or this show inspires you. You know, I couldn't have done Meg without you guys, I have a lot of stuff coming up at towards the end of this year and next year is going to be probably the most insane year of my life. And that's what I'm planning on. And you guys will know all about that in the weeks and months to come. But you know, I rely on you guys as much as you might rely on the show on the blog, and so on. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening through 182 episodes now, and and going and I don't plan to stop anytime soon. So you want to check out some links of some of the stuff we talked about in the episode. You could always go to the show notes at indie film hustle comm forward slash 182. And as always keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.

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Where Hollywood Comes to Talk

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Writer/Director
(Smokin' Aces, The Grey, Narc)

HIGHLIGHT GUESTS SML - ALBERT HUGHES
Eric Roth

Writer/Director
(Menace II Society, Book of Eli)

Oscar® Winning Screenwriter/Producer
(Forrest Gump, Dune)

HIGHLIGHT GUESTS SML - EDWARD ZWICK
HIGHLIGHT GUESTS SML - DAVID CHASE

Oscar® Winning Writer/Director
(Last Samurai, Blood Diamond)

Emmy® Winning Writer and Showrunner
(The Sopranos, The Many Saints of Newark)