Today on the show we have director and screenwriter J. Mills Goodloe.
J. Mills Goodloe grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He began his career at Warner Brothers working for director Richard Donner. Goodloe worked from 1992 to 1995 as Donner’s assistant on Lethal Weapon 3 and Maverick, both starring Mel Gibson, then segued into producing where he developed and produced Assassins starring Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas and Julianne Moore.
In 1996, Goodloe produced Conspiracy Theory, once again starring Mel Gibson, along with Julia Roberts, and Lethal Weapon 4, the fourth installment of the billion dollar grossing Lethal Weapon series.
In 2001, Goodloe wrote and directed A Gentleman’s Game starring Gary Sinise, Dylan Baker and Philip Baker Hall. In 2005, Goodloe wrote the adaptation for the John Grisham novel Bleachers for Revolution Studios. Goodloe also co-wrote the screenplay for the inspirational sports film Pride, released theatrically by Lionsgate and starring Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac.
In 2014, Goodloe’s adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel Best of Mewent into production, starring Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden and directed by Michael Hoffman.
Based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart twenty years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today. Spanning decades, this epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances.
In 2013, Academy Award nominated director Hany Abu-Assad was hired to direct Goodloe’s screenplay Mountain Between Us, a Twentieth Century Fox project based upon the novel by Charles Martin.
In the Spring of 2014, Goodloe’s original screenplay Age of Adaline began principal photography, starring Harrison Ford, Blake Lively and directed by Lee Toland Krieger. The film will be released by Lionsgate in the Spring of 2015.
After miraculously remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever.
In 2014, Sony Studios hired Goodloe to write the screenplay Christian the Lion with Neil Moritz’ Original Film producing. His other projects include a scripted drama for Bravo Television called All the Pretty Faces which he and Jennifer Garner are producing.
Enjoy my conversation with J. Mills Goodloe.
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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome the show Mills Goodloe how you doing Mills?
J. Mills Goodloe 0:14
Very well, thank you.
Alex Ferrari 0:15
Thanks so much for being on the show my friend. I appreciate you coming on before I just want to even get started and how did you how did you get into this insane, insane business?
J. Mills Goodloe 0:26
It was a total fluke. And it had nothing to do with any pre determined strategy whatsoever. I was in college on this thing called Semester at Sea. And I ended up getting kicked off of it for many reasons, but I don't want to get into here. Yugoslavia. Now now Serbia and I had was with some girl that I was dating and she lived in went to USC. And I had I decided maybe I should go to California and what I do in California, I guess they could get involved in the film business. Because people do there and I had one friend of mine who I was went to Berkeley, his name is Chris Silberman. And he's now the chairman of ICM. Oh, nice. And he was a Cal Berkeley guy and his dad was a publicist and his dad got me my first job. And I had no idea about movie business. I'd never read a script. I didn't major in film studies. I didn't braider in English. Very not well. versed. I wish I could tell the story that I saw Star Wars when I was six years old and came out of the theater with my life. It's different and but it's completely fluke. And happenstance had no rhyme or reason whatsoever.
Alex Ferrari 1:45
So I like that story more because I've heard the Star Wars Story 1000 times, I'm part of that generation as well. So this whole like I just fell into it is probably infuriating to some people listen,
J. Mills Goodloe 1:57
Well, If I be like I would have fallen for some girl that was living in Seattle. In the 90s. I don't know maybe I would have gone to Seattle and whatever they do in Seattle,but it was like
Alex Ferrari 2:07
Coffee. You would have been in coffee. You would have been in coffee or Microsoft.
J. Mills Goodloe 2:10
Yeah, exactly. I could have been on the ground floor of Starbucks. But it was it just happened to be the one guy that I knew that could get me a job was in the film business.
Alex Ferrari 2:19
That's amazing. Now, doing a little bit of research on you. One of your first jobs was working with the late great, Richard Donner.
J. Mills Goodloe 2:29
How, how did you get in that was the gentleman was Chris Silverman who said he's, you know the name Chris or No,
Alex Ferrari 2:36
I know the name but I don't Yeah,
J. Mills Goodloe 2:38
He's the he's, I see all he runs all ICM and he was a film student that came out of college and his dad was a publicist. And they were doing this film called Radio Flyer. I remember Radio Flyer, yes. Directing that, and he was already shoot, he had just had finished it actually. And they were gonna do some pickups on it. And I somehow found out that he needed an assistant, a driver. And through a through luck and circumstances I ended up getting an interview with with Dick donner. And he, I did something really crazy in the interview, and I got the job basically being a gopher. Third.
Alex Ferrari 3:21
But what did you do? What did you do? But you have to what did you do? What was that crazy thing
J. Mills Goodloe 3:26
During the course of the my interview with him. And like I said, I'm just out of college. I never been on film set before. I'd never read a screenplay before. I didn't know anything about anything. But in the course of the interview, Dick had mentioned part of the job as being very, almost like an investigative reporter. It was all personal stuff. For him. It wasn't short films. And one of the things he said was, you know, like, this morning, I was talking to someone in my office about, I read somewhere, this is pre internet, by the way that you can, there's these devices which detect lightning. And he said, you know, like, I would just say, he's using this an example of the job. So I'd say to someone that's, you know, I'll say someone on my staff, you know, see if you can find out about that we can use it for shooting, let me just use as an example. And I had this epiphany that night. And the next morning, I woke up really early, and I called some people I know on the East Coast, and then I wrote my obligatory thank you letter for the interview. Once again, pre email, I wrote the obligatory thank you for it's a great opportunity, I'd love to be blah, blah, blah, all the same normals. And at the end is, by the way, if you're still looking for those devices that detect lightning, there are three companies that make them and I listed the three companies and the price and their address done. And later he said, while the guys they interviewed are the only one that actually paid attention and wanted to follow up with some throwaway comment I made in the meeting. So because he had brought up lightning detectors, I had had the foresight to be pre emptive to preemptively kind of go out there and give them an answer on a job that didn't have. And I did that. And that later kind of turned into something that I did when I was trying to get writing jobs, rather than doing your normal pitching, I'd go and write the first 20 pages and send it to a producer before I get hired, really. So that was another thing we did 18 pages.
Alex Ferrari 5:23
And that were obviously that worked out okay, for you.
J. Mills Goodloe 5:26
Well, it's, you know, if you're trying to hire someone to write a script for you, and you meet with six people, and it's a pitch situation, and all of them, they're kind of having the same things. And you can, you can make yourself a little bit different by like, Hey, you don't have to hire me. But look, I just wrote the first 12 pages, I wrote the first three scenes. If you like them, then clearly, you know, I've got a grasp of material.
Alex Ferrari 5:48
That that is absolutely the most ingenious approach. I mean, I've done this for a long time. I've never heard that approach. I have, I've never heard that it's so simple.
J. Mills Goodloe 5:59
Well, you also have to preemptively tell them, if you don't hire me, once again, I'm married to a lawyer, you have to say preemptively, if you don't hire me, that's fine. I'll send a I'll sign a release, you can throw them away. But hey, this is you know, I'll write the first three, four scenes for you and you. And you, if you like them, I'm listed, they hate them. They're not gonna hire you. And I'm glad they didn't hire you in the first place. Because they don't like your writing. But if you I mean, you've read you, you and I've read 1000s of scripts. Sure. If you, if you're a producer, and you read the first 10 pages, and you're like, yeah, that's kind of what we're looking for. You get the job. If you read 10 pages, then you're like, No, he's the wrong guy. And it takes me, let's say, it takes you a week to write those 10 pages. You know, otherwise, you're going to spend, you know, two months trying to get a job.
Alex Ferrari 6:50
Right. And it's the equivalent of like, I'll just shoot the first five minutes of the movie that, um, it's a lot cheaper, though.
J. Mills Goodloe 6:57
Yeah. Or if you're, you know, if you're an independent film director, right? Well, I mean, it's, it's a lot cheaper. Also, if you're going to try to direct a film, it is nice to see I'll shoot the five minutes, but then you're relying on actors.
Alex Ferrari 7:07
Oh, no, no, it's much more complicated.
J. Mills Goodloe 7:09
Yeah. Cinematography, no, you have to but with writing, it's just you. And these are the 10 pages, you know, and it's only up to you, it's only how you're taking the material
Alex Ferrari 7:21
And costing your time. And it's just costing you time. And it's just costing you a ton of time,
J. Mills Goodloe 7:25
But you know, what you spend. So I mean, you waste so much time in this business anyways, trying to get jobs, right, and spend weeks and weeks meeting the people and trying to get through the three levels to get to the guy that actually can say yes to hiring you. It's always labor intensive. So I'd rather labor intensive work to like write 10 pages. And you also find that if you write those 10 pages, they're not going to come back and say, Yeah, we kind of like you. But hey, can you write you know, the last 10 pages? Come back and say that? They're like, Yeah, but what do you think about the second act? Or the third act was like, no, they either get it or they don't get it? Right. So it's pretty great. Hey, you're going off the wrong track? You're not fine.
Alex Ferrari 8:09
Fair enough. So when you're working with Dick, I mean, I mean, Nick is such a legendary director, what was like the biggest lesson you pulled from working with him? Because I mean, you started off as a driver, but you eventually ended up producing and running and running Donner productions.
J. Mills Goodloe 8:22
Yeah. He said, if you if you produce my, if you can produce my personal life, you can produce my movies. That's great. And his personal life was much more competent in personal life, meaning that he had, he had three houses, and he had all of this stuff that he's always tinkering. And he's got cars, he's got houses, there's always things that he was about his personal life, and he had dogs, and you'd always kind of run his personal life. So the biggest the biggest thing, by far I learned for him is anticipating what's gonna happen around the corner, and you can also never tell him? No, he could never say to him, like, I don't know. Like, I'll give you an example. This is just multiple, I can give you so many examples of stuff that you do. But one of the things let's say is he's he would come on and say, I have an idea that, you know, my pool hat goes from three feet to seven feet. But you know, I don't ever use the deep end. This is how his mind works. So I get the pool. So it'd be three feet, three feet in the middle of the five feet. So I can have two, two, a shallow into the pool, and you're like, okay, and then I go out and I talk to people and meet with people, they come back and I give them a presentation about these are three companies that do it. This is the price this is how long it takes. And you'd kind of apply that to making films or you kind of have a task to get something done. And you can ever go back and say, I don't know how to do it. I mean, I used to jokes like I would go back to and say hey, the solution for something you want for your house in the Hollywood Hills is we got to tear down your entire house. It's gonna cost you $7 million to do it. But at least you had a solution. It's something, it's something you cannot go back and say you can't do something years to process information and find solutions to problems. And that helped with producing because when you show up on a film set at six o'clock in the morning, and you lose your location, right, you have to be rational and go to the director and say, Okay, we lost our location. I've thought about it I've anticipated there might be a problem. These are the three different solutions for us, ABC. And he taught me to think like that. And he taught me not to freak out not to panic. And in that situation, if you get to the film set, you need to have producers that that aren't saying, Oh my God, you're not gonna believe the worst thing to happen. We showed up this morning, and the building caught on fire and we have nowhere to shoot. I don't know what to do. Who are we going to call?
Alex Ferrari 10:51
Yeah, you can't do that.
J. Mills Goodloe 10:54
So he that's he really ingrain that in through his own. And, you know, through his the way that his mind works for the three through all the different things that he would do as we tried to train me to think that way. And he trained me to just be rational to always be looking ahead always anticipate contingencies. And basically, you know, just always have a cool level hadn't I had none of those skill sets when I started working for him.
Alex Ferrari 11:17
Now, I do have to ask because I'm such a fan of a lethal weapon, man. What was it like working on on those? You worked on the last one? For sure. Right?
J. Mills Goodloe 11:25
I did the last one. And the very first job I the film first films that I had with lethal weapon three, and I never been on a film set before. Okay, literally, I've never been to California before. I never been I was driving him to the set and the Suburban. And I'd be like, Oh my god, this is a film set. Like this is what people do for a living. And it was very intoxicating. And we made two of those films. And the first one I didn't I mean, I didn't know what a gaffer was, I didn't know what I completely over my head and like, but my job was just basically to get him to the set, and like go take his dog to the veterinarian. But by the end on the fourth one, which is the last movie I did with him, you know, but that was a different, you know, I was at the end those films were made at the end of an era. And that was in the late 90s, Terry Semel, Bob Daley studio films, and they kind of let him do make those films and there was no script. You get pages, you know, three days before you're shooting, and it was very, very a different system than it is right now of making films. Very old boys big office, Donner had an office on the Warner Brothers lot that used to be Frank Sinatra's bungalow. And, you know, you had one, Terry Semel and Bob Daley, if they just said, Hey, we're gonna make the movie, they make the movie, there's no meeting with marketing executives, there's no international people. There's no accountants involved. He just kind of did it. And they've trusted the people. And they made the film. And, you know, there's, I could write an entire book about the stories that I learned during the 90s, making five big studio films for Warner Brothers during those times and how they came together and how they were shot and how they were made, which will never exist in our business again.
Alex Ferrari 13:13
And is that just because they because basically, the studios have been bought out by all the big conglomerates now. They're just giant monster marketing machines, essentially.
J. Mills Goodloe 13:22
Yeah. And there's not less gut. There's less guys that just say, Hey, that's a good script. It's a gut to do it. I think there's so many other decision makers involved in it, as well as analytics. It's kind of like sports, you know, football, it's turned into analytics, and it's taken some of the fun out of it. But I assure you when they made those films, there were no analytics involved. There were no Donner never saw budgets, there was we never really no, there was no signing off in the budget. He but he was a very responsible guy. He was always he never went over budget or over schedule, but there was no tightening the screws on a budget, there was no CGI. And, like, very we didn't, we didn't have to like send, we can rewrite. See, we have writers rewrite scenes and never even send them to the studio to get approved. It sounds about the dailies.
Alex Ferrari 14:15
It sounds it sounds like this is like a magical alternative universe.
J. Mills Goodloe 14:21
It probably happened from the 60s until probably what do you think? 2000 2005? And then it all changed?
Alex Ferrari 14:29
Yeah. And then yeah, yeah. And I mean, I guess it's a movie like conspiracy theory. You know, there's no way a studio would make that today. I mean, just just
J. Mills Goodloe 14:38
THe didn't have an accident Julia Roberts in that and you know, Joel solver would pull stuff and put these movies together and how would they ever got made as but no one ever they've kind of left them alone. I think people haven't been in the studio world and that as a producer 20 years but they really left him alone and didn't give him a hard time about anything. And I'll tell you One quick story about making the movie assassins which was Yeah, easy. That was a which hausky brothers script.
Alex Ferrari 15:05
Yeah, the wachowski. Yeah.
J. Mills Goodloe 15:07
Well, now wachowski
Alex Ferrari 15:09
J. Mills Goodloe 15:10
Okay. Yeah, siblings. But at that time there with these two guys. And I had this office at Warner Brothers and these two guys would walk behind my office every morning. They're trying to make matrix. Yeah, yeah, yeah, remember it? There. bookbags like walk back and there. This is before the first major came out. And they had this script called assassins. And Joel Silver for all of his foibles and all the things that are probably wrong with him. He's really great at busting down doors. So we have a script and this is this is will never happen again also. So he has a script on his own. And he goes to Sylvester Stallone, he says, look at slide. They're going to pay you $7 million dollars to do this. Here's a script. Donna's gonna direct it and the studio wants to make this film with you. And sly would read the script he says, Okay, great. Now the studio not read the script. And Donna did not read the script. Smart now, but he doesn't know that that day. He just knows that the IRS here they want so he told him the Warner's wants to Bob and Terry want to make it Donner's gonna do it and pay this amount of money. No one is that then he goes to donner. He says Guess what? He wants to do the film with you and Warner Brothers gonna pay you $5 million to direct a movie. But it's all ready to go. It's just read the script like it's ready to go. Then decrees like Oh, Sly wants to do it. Okay. And scripts pretty good. And and these guys are really hot because they did this movie bound and they're gonna matrix and Alright, maybe I'll do it. Then he goes to Bob antarious has got great news, guys. I got donner. I got sly. All you gotta do is paying him Place. Place. Pay sly seven. Pay donner, five. Here's the script. Let's go make the movie. So basically, he had a producer that completely packaged and put together movie and negotiated their deals without the other two parties knowing about it.
Alex Ferrari 17:11
That's brilliant. And that's also something that just doesn't happen to
J. Mills Goodloe 17:14
No. Now everyone know everything. Yeah. Anything and everyone's confirming like, like funds and never called dick to see if you actually read the script.
Alex Ferrari 17:24
But it was also Joel saying it. So there was there was a level of
J. Mills Goodloe 17:27
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Dick wants to make this with you. Sly wants to read the script. Oh, Jake wants to make it. Okay. Shall I want to make it with him? Okay, that's good.
Alex Ferrari 17:33
All right. And it's Joel Silver, saying it you know, at, you know, arguably
J. Mills Goodloe 17:36
He's kind of got away with it. And by the time he said, The greenlit and worked for it, because no one knew what the other hand was doing. It was a shell game, and they make the movie and then it's only at that time, it was only two guys that could say, Alright, here it looks like the movie. Let's make the movie. And that was it. And then once you've just convinced two guys to make the movie. You could I guess maybe it's a little bit like Netflix right now where there's a lot more autonomy but and the last thing I'll tell you, which is really crazy about those days is I'll tell you who's in the office. So I was in the office and I was donner. I got bumped up to kind of be an executive with him. And I hired a guy this kid from Michigan State named Jeff John's okay to be my assistant. Now Jeff, John, do you know who he is? I don't ended up running DC films. He was the head of the head Content Officer for DC films from Warner so all of the Batman's and everything that all that stuff now. He's the main DC guy now, across the way in Laurens office, Dick and Lauren, obviously we're married. There's a little guy in the front desk, named Kevin fight.
Alex Ferrari 18:39
I thought this was Kevin was
J. Mills Goodloe 18:42
On a desk that was about half the size of mine in my office right now. And he didn't have his own office and he was Lauren, second assistant. Lauren's first assistant was Scott Stuber.
Alex Ferrari 18:53
And that name sounds familiar.
J. Mills Goodloe 18:55
Scott's do around runs all of Netflix. Oh, there you go. That's why Cooper is he was head of use of his credit budget universal and now Netflix. He's, he has a green light. He's been there for maybe eight or nine years to greenlight, everything like that. So between Stuber Geoff Johns, and Kevin fygi, I was by far the most underachieving of that group. That's a that's a heck of a roll like and I was at the time I literally would be like, like Kevin fygi and I would go take their cars to this carwash on Lankershim on bank, and he would take Donner suburban and he would take Lauren's BMW, the seven series old school BMW, and we'd go twice a week like and sit and watch car get made but like the carwash that was like and detailed and detailed, of course, detailed once a month we had so that was our that was how we started out
Alex Ferrari 19:48
You mean the one that you mean not the that the old school carwash, right by Warner's? Yeah, that's yes. It's exactly where I lived. I lived down the street from Kevin
J. Mills Goodloe 19:58
Murphy go take turns. We take their cars to get washed. And that was like part of our mornings.
Alex Ferrari 20:03
That's amazing. That's amazing story now Alright, so
J. Mills Goodloe 20:06
It was a fun anyways, it was a fun era. It was the last gasp of a dying system. Yeah, a system that unfortunately died. But it was it was a really a fun fun time. And then it all went to shit. And Donna was off the lot goes off the lot. You can't pull that stuff anymore. And it kind of about all screwed up after that.
Alex Ferrari 20:27
Yeah, I mean, all we keep doing is remaking stuff. It's so hard to find original IP now. Because it's just so much money and so much. It's corporate. Everything's corporate like, yeah. And the funny thing is that everything that remaking is because of a system that allowed that kind of creativity to flourish. So like the 80s and the 90s. There was like, you know, can you imagine a lethal weapon today? No way. There's just no way a lethal weapon or conspiracy theories or assassins or any of those kinds of great Donner flicks in this inside of the studio system.
J. Mills Goodloe 20:59
Well, if you said the Goonies you know, I mean,
Alex Ferrari 21:01
Can you imagine the Goonies at a studio?
J. Mills Goodloe 21:04
I mean, that's, you know, when they're, when they're remaking Planes, Trains and Automobiles, that's when I started to really lose my mind, but they can't make I mean, you can't remake who they are. Kevin Hart, and
Alex Ferrari 21:15
Oh, no what with planes trains. Yeah, yeah, I know. He, there's certain because now they're starting to run out of stuff. Like, he can't just, I mean, there's only so many movies that were made in the 80s
J. Mills Goodloe 21:26
Make it another time. I heard that I heard though, that I've always remembered I'm sure you've heard it as well. Miss Stevens. smote Soderbergh said something really smart. And he said, rather than making successful films, they should go back and remake really great ideas that turn films that weren't turned out very well. So movies that you're like that was a really brilliant idea. And in the movie, either to the casting or whatever, it didn't really work but like go and mine the really great stories as opposed to only mine them bait made based upon box office.
Alex Ferrari 22:05
Oh, yeah. Like if you go back to point break when they remade Point Break, I thought that was just an atrocity. And, and the thing is, is like you can't read you can't that that that lightning in a bottle was then it was Bigelow is Swayze it was Reeves. It was that moment in time. You can't bring that into this world, but you could bring something that didn't maybe pop properly in that era. And then because no one will have any emotional attachment to those right.
J. Mills Goodloe 22:32
There was a great idea. Right? I have this I read this week. They're remaking Roadhouse.
Alex Ferrari 22:38
Yeah, I just read that to what Jake Gyllenhaal like
J. Mills Goodloe 22:40
Roadhouse was a great idea.
Alex Ferrari 22:43
It's Patrick Swayze. It's silly to me.
J. Mills Goodloe 22:46
That brilliant about the idea of Roadhouse.
Alex Ferrari 22:49
No, it's a bouncer in
J. Mills Goodloe 22:51
Harley Davidson. the Marlboro Man. Absolutely should make me
Alex Ferrari 22:53
Oh, God. Yes, yes, yes. Oh, God, that would be amazing. But yeah, you look at something like Roadhouse. And you're just like, well, it's to bouncer. And there's like, it's not a really great idea. But also at the time it came out because I was working at the video store at the time in high school, and I came out so I'm very familiar with. I love that movie. It was that moment in time that that thing that that that was Patrick, it was that moment, it was, you can't bring that out, like you can make something else that's kind of something like it. But it's not that you can't read it, you can't.
J. Mills Goodloe 23:26
Because the only this dalje would be is for people of our generation, right? That film and they're not going to be predisposed not to like it. They're No, no one's ever going to come out. So that point break was so much better the original wonder that rode out, I never Alger for people who have have an affinity for the original film, who are not going to like to remake and anyone that's younger than that. Doesn't care will have no idea what the film is. I think the scary thing is a few years ago, I was a writer, one of two writers on mountain between us. And I was talking to I've got two young children, but I had babysitter's who were 18. And I was telling them at 19 years old, and our I was telling them about Kate Winslet being in the film, and then not seeing Titanic. And you realize, wait a second, they're they're born in, you know? 2000 right at 91 was Titanic 9797. So like, you think that our references are very iconic references because you're like, oh, yeah, it's the girl that was in Titanic. But if you're born after that movie came out, you're not going back to rewatch Titanic. Because your upbringing has been social media, YouTube videos, tic TOCs and so forth. So you're not going back like you know, I'm gonna think about Netflix. I'm going to go back and start looking at really popular films the 90s so they had no idea about Titanic.
Alex Ferrari 24:55
Oh, my daughter's my daughter's were, you know, like nine They, they just saw Titanic. And it's probably because you asked you Oh, I know. I know because my one of my daughters is obsessed with Titanic. And the the actual event, not the movie, and I showed it to them and, and they're like, Oh, I've seen Jack before. And now they don't know it's Leonardo DiCaprio. It's Jack. So anytime a trailer pops up like oh, it's Jack, you know? And then oh, that's Oh, that's, uh oh, that's rose. Like they don't they don't see them as they just see them as those. But it was only because of us poking them to go into those like, Hey, you got to watch Star Wars. Or hey, you got to watch this movie or that movie.
J. Mills Goodloe 25:36
Star Wars now because there's they can go and you can get them caught up on Oh, offers that you know, but you look at Roadhouse. 17 year old 20 something year old kid right now he's going to see Roadhouse, they're gonna say I have no idea what Roadhouse is, I've never seen the film. And then the people that they actually are attending for that film detract, which is people like you and I won't we're not gonna like it.
Alex Ferrari 26:01
I mean, the only reason I would even remotely even considered it's because I'm a huge fan of Jake Gyllenhaal. And I'd be curious out of almost a morbid curiosity to see what he does with it. Because he's such a fantastic actor. Yes, but it's not I'm I'm not going because of Roadhouse. I'm going because Joel Hall Yeah, exactly. And it's just a warrior to
J. Mills Goodloe 26:18
Make it you know, if PT Anderson makes the move,
Alex Ferrari 26:21
Well then I'm gonna I'm gonna
J. Mills Goodloe 26:23
I want to get a normal off the off the conveyor belt director. Three, you know, can you do like 21 Jump Street, right?
Alex Ferrari 26:31
Oh, yeah. What you completely turn it on its head. And, and that's a completely reinvention of, you know,
J. Mills Goodloe 26:38
I don't like this thing be reading. I don't want break was not a reinvention of it?
Alex Ferrari 26:43
No, not so much. Not so much. Now, going back a little bit. So you you obviously got you start as a producer, how did you jump from producer to writer and writer, you know, what
J. Mills Goodloe 26:53
I wanted to always direct because of donner. And I realized that it's really hard to be a director without learning how to write. So I did it to be to direct films. And I directed a film that was not terribly successful financially, but it kind of forced me to be a writer. Then I wrote a second script to direct my second film. And that was basically kind of a lot of Magnolia is kind of a film called August and everything after, but I was only writing to direct films. And then that film, the second one didn't get made, even though I got really close with Michelle Pfeiffer and Annette Bening and crazy stories about that one, and then basically, I ran out of money. So you had to start writing, start to realize, if I want to be an independent director, I got to make some money. So I better start writing for other people. That was the only it was only it was kind of a backwards way of doing it. It wasn't it was I'll try to make my own films. I had an agent at Uta, because they really liked the script that I wanted to direct. And then I spent a year and a half trying to make that movie, and I couldn't make it. And then I said, I'm literally broke. I need to make an income. Maybe if someone would be stupid enough to hire me to write something and pay me to write a script, maybe I can get money that way.
Alex Ferrari 28:15
I love your perspective on everything because it's just such a, I mean, universally, I've talked to 1000s and 1000s of screenwriters and filmmakers over my career. And it's always the struggle in this thing. And I've got the watch Star Wars and you know, it's you know, it's James Cameron and it's Spielberg and, and all of this stuff and you're just like, I ran out of money, man. And I just,
J. Mills Goodloe 28:38
I just because I liked a girl.
Alex Ferrari 28:41
I mean, I got into the business because this you know, the girl I liked was in it and I you know, it's so refreshing to hear your your take on it. And I love like, how did you start writing? I needed money, man. I mean, I ran I ran out of money. I was like, Well, someone hopefully hire me.
J. Mills Goodloe 28:55
So broke. I found someone. I found this the one who and through some I found someone give me $10,000 Right, right. Karen bio pic. Okay, sure. And that was like, awesome. I got $10,000 My rent was 1400 a month. I was single. Where we
Alex Ferrari 29:15
Where were you living? In LA? Where were you living in LA?
J. Mills Goodloe 29:20
I was living in the flats of Beverly Hills. Oh, wow. I live in a studio apartment and $10,000 Allow me to live for three months.
Alex Ferrari 29:28
There you go. Yeah.
J. Mills Goodloe 29:30
And I was I was one of those guys. I went from producing really $120 million movies at Warner Brothers with donner. Who by the way in the nine years I was with him. We flew commercial twice. Twice. So I probably spent well over two or 300 times at Warner Brothers jet golf G fives all over the world. She's as he would do junkets in Europe. We take the Warner jet from Burbank to JFK spend the night the four C's the next morning take the Concorde to Paris where they the private jet go to all different our tours all around their life for nine years with him because I was always with him and that was those days vexes. I went from that to, I can't be here later, really hating the month of February, because there's only 28 days in February, which means I had to pay my rent faster earlier than I normally am used to. And I love those 31 days because it squeezed me another two days, two or three days to try to come up with my 14 bucks in rent.
Alex Ferrari 30:32
That's brilliant. Alright, so Alright, so you wonder the amazing story. So you're one of the films you did the gentleman's game, which you wrote, which you wrote and directed. You know, you've been obviously you've been watching dick, do his thing, you know, and he's a master at what he did. On your set. When you are directing What was the worst day you had, and how did you overcome it? Because we all have that day dread?
J. Mills Goodloe 30:57
That's an interesting question. My worst day that I had to set is when my cinematographer went rogue on me. Oh, that he stopped listening to me that he was going to set up stuff and shots on his own. And he was a very well known that had this. This is his this cinematographer named Conrad Hall.
Alex Ferrari 31:18
Oh, yeah. Conrad. Yeah. He's kind of famous in cinematography.
J. Mills Goodloe 31:22
Or his father Yeah. His father was famous. This is the son. Yeah. So his father was a DP on, you know, American Beauty and 1000s of other things. That was I but I realized, I learned so many things. Because when Donner would walk on a film set, people knew his reputation. And no one would ever Can you swear on this thing. So you can if you want to throw a couple articles in there, and no one mess with him on the film set, he carried a certain weight to him that he demanded respect. As a young first time filmmaker. I we've never been around a situation where you have to go to your crew, and have them believe in what you're doing. Because I never saw that. Right? For donner. In, you know, the 90s. He had been directing films since 1976. With the Omen, he had a direct salt and pepper with Sammy Davis and Peter Lawford. He had been directing the original with Steve McQueen, the rise of Superman. Yeah, yeah. So when he walked on the film sets, I never understood that you have to earn that level that people listen to you. And that was something I wish that I would have known. I thought that by virtue of my title that I would be in control of the set. And then people would listen to me. And also, I didn't know exactly, you have the answers to everything. So I was a little bit and I was very inexperienced as my first film. But that was an eye opener for me that you have to go on to the film set and really have the crew know, and feel that you know what the hell you're doing.
Alex Ferrari 32:56
And they will in a season crew will smell it out in the first five Melis fine pre production. Oh, God, you walk on that set, and you just go, Oh, this guy or this gal is way over your head, and then they'll tear and if you got a DP, who's somewhat seasoned, yeah, they'll take
J. Mills Goodloe 33:13
His mark. Yeah, he's trying to undercut me. And they really they smelled it, and it was a fight. And I knew, but you don't get that you're young. Now. I understand that now. Like, now I get how that works. But you know, I didn't, I wasn't aware at the time that if you lose the not the respect isn't the right word.
Alex Ferrari 33:32
But you lose the group. If you lose it. It's mutiny. It's mutiny.
J. Mills Goodloe 33:35
I'm gonna go the extra job the extra mile for this guy because I really see what his vision is. I was reading interview with PT Anderson yesterday. And I'm sure that you know, when that guy goes on the set because of who he is, and his resume, no one's gonna question him, whatever he says is golden. And he's the tour of that film set. If you don't have that reputation, and you're a first time director, they're going to be kind of crossed arms. You're going to get a paycheck, but they're really not going to bend over backwards.
Alex Ferrari 34:02
Yeah, his experience on Hard Eight versus his experience on his latest movie, slightly different pizza. Licorice pizza. Fantastic title. Yeah, it's a little bit different because he got railroaded on Hardey.
J. Mills Goodloe 34:15
But that's because it was a terrible experience on that
Alex Ferrari 34:17
terrible experience on harday and, and that was the producers. He hated the studio. He hated everything. Yeah. And he's like, I'll never do it again. And then that's when he got Boogie Nights. He finally they he said, I'll only do it, but you gotta leave me alone. And that's the first time he got a little bit of freedom. Just a bit. Yeah. Now, you also adapted a film for a book by Nicholas Sparks. How do you approach adaptation because you've done it a couple times? A few times.
J. Mills Goodloe 34:46
Fortunately, with with Nicholas Sparks on that particular film, it was very easy because he had made so many films during that time and he was really amenable to having you change things. was not. And I'd done a couple things. Also with John Grisham, both those guys were really good at understanding it's a different medium, and that they are going to be very loose with their material. So the first thing right off the bat would I had a source material that no one was holding as scripture in terms of what you could do with and there was also a certain I hate to use this word, but there's a certain formula, and how those films were made. And the producer that I worked with, right, had made two other films with him. So you kind of go in there went into a machinery that, you know, kind of what it is, and, you know, that film, you know, it was they were making a lot of those films those days as Michelle Moynihan, you know, it did, okay. There's some things I would have done better, but it was a it was an interesting experience.
Alex Ferrari 35:55
So but when you actually like the actual technical process of adaptation, do you like take the book and outline everything? Do you take what you like out of it,
J. Mills Goodloe 36:03
They go through the book a few times, and I get the idea of what it is, and I just start, I just kind of look at it as a, you know, this is the characters these the story, I'll just kind of know what the story is, I know the characters, okay, that that B, C, D, that doesn't work, this works out, it just kind of structurally kind of putting it all together. And that was more important on mountain between us because mountain between us as a better probably a better example, for an adaptation because that originally was a 400 and some odd page Christian fiction book. And that was going there and saying, okay, know what the story, you know, here's the story. But there's, you know, how much stuff got thrown out of that adaptation? It's like, it's really mainly a job of figuring out like, how much do I need to get rid of how much things can I condense? And how can I kind of streamline the narrative and come up with a narrative, but I look at it as just kind of like a little thing that I can refer to, as you're going through the script, to, you know, but unfortunately, this is the biggest problem that you have is you wish that in source material can take more dialogue? And you don't really can't really, you really notice how much dialogue in in in source material and novels do you have to is different. There's just something about it different than film dialogue than prose dialogue. I don't know what it is. But I think everything everything was an adaptation. There's so much of the prose in prose dialogue that I wished it'd be make my life a lot easier if I could just go in there.
Alex Ferrari 37:46
And just copy copy and paste.
J. Mills Goodloe 37:49
Yeah, I feel like it's much more difficult than that. So it's always a nice thing to have. I think both of them are both originals. And I think the misconception I'm sure your audience knows it's wrong is that they think that, you know, or strictly to the public, the general public, they think your adaptation is just when a cliff notes version of the book is take it's different. It's shrinking it down. It's a whole different animal. But they're, everything's hard.
Alex Ferrari 38:18
No, no, I mean, I'm in the middle of adapting one of my books, and I've lived the story. And it's just like, it works as a biography, or an autobiography, but it does not work. In film like this. This is gonna be a horrible movie, if I make it exactly the way I read. So I have to like,
J. Mills Goodloe 38:34
Just pick you pick the things. You think that right man, that's cinematic, I don't need that. I don't need that.
Alex Ferrari 38:39
We need all that away. Yeah, we got to change this character on we got to combine a few of these characters, we got to throw a better argue out of your own autobiography. I'm not I'm trying not to. I'm trying not to
J. Mills Goodloe 38:50
Have any emotional distance from that.
Alex Ferrari 38:52
I don't. That's the problem. I'm looking for a screenwriter, if you're available, we can talk. And no, it's honestly, with the producers I'm working with. I'm like, I just don't want to do it. I'd rather get somebody else to do it. And I'll be standing behind them. And I'll talk to them and I'll help them but I need someone with a fresh eye. It's so hard. It's so so hard.
J. Mills Goodloe 39:10
You got to be pretty Mercy, mercyless. And I think that you know, I've I said I was fortunate with those situations that the authors of the source material were really, really cool. Although I did do something that I made it a huge mistake on everything, everything. And I think I wrote one of the better scripts I've ever written in my career on that and the film does not reflect a lot of the things that I really liked in there. And the big mistake that I made in that film was I went to off of what the source material was I started making some decisions and some choices and they broke it into I broke off a little bit. I got a bit too loose with it. And the producers in the studio got me because the book was number one New York Times bestseller. They reminded me you can alienate too many people, you got to go back to source material. So I learned also that you can be too. You can also be too loose with it. Right? They got to lose to that one. And it's a weird thing when you're writing and I don't know if any people that if you agree with this or other people to do it is sometimes you're getting paid. And they're cutting you a check to do an adaptation, you feel like you need to do a lot more work, because to justify your paycheck?
Alex Ferrari 40:29
Right! Because you're not
J. Mills Goodloe 40:30
On that project or felt like I could have like, not coasted is not the right word. But I didn't have to do as much heavy lifting. And sometimes you feel like you have to do that the lifting to justify the paycheck, right getting paid on this. I have to like change things, I have to reimagine a lot of things I have to kind of open up the world. And sometimes you can open up too much. And instead of saying you know what they pay you just to? Yep. Well, I'm a little more faithful.
Alex Ferrari 40:57
Right, exactly. And the reason that the movies gave me produces because there's an original IP that they attached, the only reason it's being produced,
J. Mills Goodloe 41:03
I went too far askew on that one. I wish I could use some things that I put in that script. And another I think scripts are a lot of times, there's so much material that I've on films, I've had seven, I think seven movies made, there's so much material that on previous drafts that are like, it's like you have a garage and a car and at least like part of the spare parts around my office that I wished I can put in there. They try to find it never never works into other scripts. There's so many ideas and so much great scenes that I've written that I thought was great that I just can't repurpose,
Alex Ferrari 41:39
Right! Yeah, I've had that problem, too, is like you like, so good here, but I can't,
J. Mills Goodloe 41:44
I know, I'll find it, I can find that. That's such that's such a great idea. I'll find it in another movie. And then you never find it in a movie. It sits there. And he just gets so frustrated. Because there's there's some really good ideas in there. Like I just as on that movie, everything, everything that the character that Nick Robinson played in there, I had this great eye, this whole thread, they get attached to a bar code tattoo. Okay, and what didn't exist in the novel, right? Like this. My my thought this was such a clever idea. And he falls in love with the girl. And one day when they're together, she asked him about his bark there in Hawaii after the after she runs away. She asked what was barcode. And he said that when he was 12, he was 13 I had this whole story you had sit somewhere to a tattoo artist, because it was a date of his 18th birthday when he'd be in massive pain from his parents.
Alex Ferrari 42:34
And that's what the barcode represents.
J. Mills Goodloe 42:36
When he was 13. Like for like, like someday, when I'm 18 I'm this pain that I'm going through with my parents, I can always look at the tattoo, because they tend to the bar code represents the man that whatever the date is two, seven, whatever the is my. So you like you find ideas like that? Do you think they're really interesting, and that that talks about a character's internal pain. It's a physical reminder of why he's waiting to get away out of his house when he can finally move out when he turns 18. And you build in his whole story as you build these whole scenes, and it's never in the movie and I can never use that idea for a tattoo again.
Alex Ferrari 43:12
Geez, that's a that's a good idea, though. That was would have been that would have been fun. Now what
J. Mills Goodloe 43:18
Will that kid is like, my parents suck my dad's in a hole when I turn 18 And I can get out of here and I'm gonna force myself to brand myself to basically say on this date when I turn 18
Alex Ferrari 43:33
I'm happy. That's awesome. Now there's another film you did the age of Adeline Yes. I absolutely love that film. I'd love to.
J. Mills Goodloe 43:42
Well, that's my favorite movie. I've done that's my by far the most favorite thing and the thing I can't complain about
Alex Ferrari 43:49
Now I loved it and my wife and I watched it and we were just like, this is your kids? Nine they're about nine Yeah. Yeah, they're Yeah, they're kids aren't gonna watch it at Adeline just just yet. But um, can you tell me the story behind it? Because I Is there a little bit of a story of this one. I I've heard through the grapevine that there might be a little bit of an interesting story behind this.
J. Mills Goodloe 44:12
Yeah, this is this is crazy. There's a producer, unfortunately no longer with us. But a great man named Steve golden. And he started anonymous content. And he was he was, you know, he wanted Academy Award for Babel and for Birdman. And he was a really, really great producer. And I had written this script called August and everything after which never got into production, but it got people as I said it got a I was able to get an agent. And I was trying to direct that film. And I had a meeting with him when I go to Culver City. And I sit down with Steve and he's like, look, I love your script. It's a great script. I'm doing this movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind right now. And it's a total little pain in the ass. The other thing, too, it's good. But it's like it's hard. It's independent because I had written the script is kind of like magnolia. It was like this kind of big, sweeping, independent, interconnected items. It kind of later turned out to become the crash kind of thing, but crashing out by then. But basically what he said was, I'm doing Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. It's another was another great script. Great, Charlie, you're not Charlie Kaufman, but you're kind of like trying to do some interesting. I just don't want to do it. And he said, at the same time, because he's shooting two films simultaneously. He's also doing 51st dates with Sam.
Alex Ferrari 45:38
Both imagine the sides of the spectrum
J. Mills Goodloe 45:40
And the shooting simultaneous. And he said, You know what, so I'm just, it's just too hard. It's too hard. You know, anything, that's good. I could that's more digestible, that I can sell, I'd be really interested. And I said, Steve, you're in luck. I've got the best idea. I got the most high concept really that I can. It's like a one sentence perfect pitch. Hi, you know, because 51st days was a pretty high concept idea. Sure, the great he says, what is it? I said, Well, look, I need I want to go back and kind of put all my thoughts together. He says, he says, Can you come back next week? I said, I want to come back next week and pitch it to you. I can do it proper, because I wasn't ready to pitch in that meeting. Because I went into the meeting talking about this movie August and everything after mentioned this to me, I said great. So he calls out to a secretary or assistant he says, you know, have Mills Mills has come back Wednesday at 10 o'clock. Did you know okay, I shake his hands walks out. I'll see you Wednesday. 10 o'clock. I walked out there. I had no pitch.
Alex Ferrari 46:39
You didn't have an idea.
J. Mills Goodloe 46:40
Alex Ferrari 46:41
Oh my god. It's amazing.
J. Mills Goodloe 46:44
I got a really powerful producer. And I've got a meeting on the books.
Alex Ferrari 46:48
So you so you pull. So you pull the Joel Silver you you kind of pull the joseffer
J. Mills Goodloe 46:55
I got seven days to come up with something. And I have to do in seven days. And that's how I came up with Adeline Wow. And I came in there and somewhere on day like four I've heard a story. I think it was a short I think was Benjamin buttons or there's some things that yeah, that were percolating, like okay, maybe I have a girl that spent the entire 20th century as a 29 year old woman. And then I kind of did that and I went I pitched him on that Wednesday. And he said I really like it. This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to give you I'll give you like $10,000 to write the script and I'm only going to be $10,000 to do it but I'm going to be attached with producer and once you write it then I'll produce helping you to made and I was great because once again $10,000 with some extra money that I could live for another two or three
Alex Ferrari 47:49
While you wrote this thing.
J. Mills Goodloe 47:50
Exactly. So I said great $10,000 And they wrote I ended up writing the script and that was just completely but uh circumstances thing but I'm a big believer in in like right now I'll do it right now cuz this is I don't want I should say this but I'll say it anyways they're trying to do a limited series on Adeline now as they should yeah do but to do it like a whole thing spanning I'd like to see her basically taking the flashbacks that are in Adeline from her in the 40s and 50s Biddle whole thing around it. But I'm a big believer in and I've done this unfortunately too many times where I will call a producer and I'll say I have my pit I want to I have my pitch ready can we put instead of the bucks just so I can have to back into something I have to give myself deadlines to do things like that. And I did that with Adeline where it's just like I've got till Wednesday to do it. You just have to like as a writer, tell people you're going to be ready and you're gonna be embarrassed if you show up and say I've got nothing so you better get your butt in gear and do something.
Alex Ferrari 48:56
It's like It's like posting on Facebook. I'm gonna lose 20 pounds and here's here's my before picture.
J. Mills Goodloe 49:01
Yeah, tell the world you're gonna do it you better do it and with and with Adeline if he would not if he would have that only Honestly, the only reason that script ever gotten written was because he didn't want to do the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Alex Ferrari 49:17
Because it was just too complicated. It's
J. Mills Goodloe 49:19
Too hard for him to do. And if he would have said no, I won't do that whenever it only happened because I saw window as an opportunity to do it.
Alex Ferrari 49:26
And but how long did it take to get made that took 10 years I was about to say it wasn't overnight for 10 years get made. And what was the
J. Mills Goodloe 49:37
I have to tell you off the record. I can tell you I can't do off the reg I'll tell you a really funny story later about that though. Okay, so then how public this is, but there's how what happened over those 10 years. That movie at one point was going into pre production on it with set in Boston with Andy Tennant directing. Okay. Katherine Heigl, starring in Donald Sutherland playing the Harrison Ford Harrison Ford part and they were in pre production. And then it went and I got a call saying that the producer is gonna fight with Katherine Heigl. Just shocking. Yeah, she's this in the middle of her like huge rush, you know
Alex Ferrari 50:18
Of pissing everybody in Hollywood off. Yeah.
J. Mills Goodloe 50:21
No, but but it was also coincided with her run of doing like the bridesmaids movies and not like not was that movie shoot?
Alex Ferrari 50:29
No, no. Um, then knocked up. Yeah, knocked up and all of that 51st Yeah. 50 for
J. Mills Goodloe 50:36
Bright, yeah, bright, or whatever it is, right. But anyways, the moral of that story is I was devastated when I got that call. And I was I was practically in tears. And I, I took a long walk. And I'm like, I was so excited about this. I'm super my big break. It's all gone down the toilet right now. My career is over. I was devastated. And then you look back on it and say best, my entire career was changed because that iteration blew up.
Alex Ferrari 51:06
If it would have been a very different, totally different film.
J. Mills Goodloe 51:11
Totally different movie and, and I just, it just, there's a lesson in there that when things go bad, and go sideways, and you're all upset about it, I always go back to that and saying, God think that we're so glad it worked I just these are jobs that I've gotten that I've been devastated. You didn't get jobs, and then the movie turned out to be really bad.
Alex Ferrari 51:29
Yeah, and I literally was just talking to somebody I had on the show the other day about this exact same thing is like you look back on your life. And at the moment when you don't get the job or you don't get the girl or you don't get the production falls apart or something along happened. She's like, Oh my God, my world is over. And then a year or two later, you're like, Oh, my God, I I think thank God
J. Mills Goodloe 51:50
That that thing never happened me that I didn't get that job, or that movie didn't get made because it would have been a completely different movie.
Alex Ferrari 52:00
And I'm a big believer of it. What if the universe is pushing you in a certain direction? Something doesn't go the way it's supposed to. There's a good reason for that. I'm a believer of that. I truly because I've seen it so much in my life. Like, I mean, I was almost I'll tell you a little side story. I almost got onto Project Greenlight. Season two, I made it to the top 20 And I was this close to getting on and I was like, oh my god, I dodged a bullet.
J. Mills Goodloe 52:25
Then was the one at that time.
Alex Ferrari 52:27
Exactly. Who was the kid who won that that time? It was Shia LaBeouf. That was a Shia LaBeouf season. That was the Shia LaBeouf season. So it was yeah, the battle Shaker Heights.
J. Mills Goodloe 52:36
But again, you'd always that would have destroyed everything
Alex Ferrari 52:40
That would have I would have been known as the guy who was on Project Greenlight, nobody would have taken me seriously, which is what happened to unfortunately, to a lot of those directors. And then I did it again with on the lot. Remember that show on the lot. I made it to the top 20 of that show. And, and one of my best friends was the DP in it as well. So I'm like, Oh, this is gonna be great. I'll get on the show. You'll be my DP. We're gonna kill it. It didn't make it. I'm like my life is you know, I was I was flown out it was the whole thing. And then I look back. I'm like, Thank God, I didn't become a reality filmmaker.
J. Mills Goodloe 53:12
Yeah, and it would have never always been on your Wikipedia would always travel with you everywhere. Right? Really deep, deep hole to get out of so it does work. Yeah, remind yourself when things go sideways?
Alex Ferrari 53:26
Yeah, absolutely. That there's always a way. Um, I have to ask you, do you when you start writing Do you write? Do you start with plot or character? Oh, no, no, no. Okay. So do you. Listen, listen? Are you telling me that you just like sit down? Like, you know, I'm just gonna start writing and something will
J. Mills Goodloe 53:44
I ever? Any system that I do, and then I never write anything in screenplay form. Okay, so how do you write then I write in, I get a Word document. Okay, I'll get a Word document and I'll open on pay and I'll get one page. Okay, I'll say, Okay, what is the movie, this is the beginning the middle of the end, it will be, you know, maybe, you know, five bullet points. Like I know, at the end of the first act, this is going to happen. I know the, in the second act, this can happen. And this is you opening this again. And that's all I have.
Alex Ferrari 54:15
So not like a basically an outline, an outline, then basically,
J. Mills Goodloe 54:18
Yeah, but then day two comes around, and I'm like, okay, that's kind of the game. Now the first x gotta have at least I don't know, maybe 10 scenes in there in the first act. So like, okay, that it just starts growing and growing. And then I put a little dialog in there. And then I put too much description in there. And then it grows and grows and grows until about three months later. I've got a 50 page document that still in word form. That's just kind of building it out and only in the last day before I turned it in. I then turned it into a screenplay and I made it something that's very new. I don't know anyone ever does this, but I equate it to if you're a painter And you have two canvases, if I have a oil and acrylic, and I've got a paintbrush, and I'm going to the actual canvas to start to, you know, to do something, it feels like I'm really making a piece of art. If I have a second canvas over here and I've got a pencil and a pen was kind of playing around with like, I could put a sign here, I could kind of do that, okay, three months doing that, it frees you up mentally. So I've never believed I never had to believe I'm like India fade in page one interior office daytime, and then you're looking at something that's very structured in a very weird format. But if you just kind of let your mind free, just like the beginning and middle the end. So I do that in a very elaborate, I've done that to every script I've ever written. And that's the only way that I think even to the end, I get really specific about like, I just I think interior exteriors screws me up.
Alex Ferrari 55:56
And I tell you what, I do the exact same thing, but with my books. So when I write books, I do the same thing I never get into like the actual document that will become the book until like, it's like never know, I build all that out and I build notecards within each of those chapters that you Shriver. So it's just kind of go in there. And I just kind of organize it all and then when I feel that, it's all kind of written there, then I'll start copying and pasting into chapter one. And then I'll keep going Chapter Two
J. Mills Goodloe 56:23
You can also put a lot more stuff in also, like put as much stuff you want in there, right in, right. At your notes, I'll put in 50 note cards, 100 like I can add everything and then at some point, I'll just start cutting some of those things out and kind of shaving it down. But it feels like it's much more of a playful way of, of writing. And it just puts the pressure off of you, I think when you're starting a script, and you have to hate three and it descriptions very insane. And you know, like description should only be really be, you know, three law. And as you know, in screenplays that you have three, maybe four lines the most that you're you're writing small, you're writing tiny like this, whereas if you have some big huge piece of paper and you're like, oh, it never comes into play, let's say you know, I'm writing a scene, you know, an interior restaurant scene, you're like interior restaurant, there's this person, this person, there's a music, there's seven waiters, this is what's dressing, it's raining outside, you know, these three people are talking like this, the hostess is fighting with her boyfriend, the bartenders drunk, whatever you're kind of you create all that stuff. And I'll just write all that stuff down there. And then I can write the scene in the dialogue that two people, obviously, none of that's ever going to win the movie,
Alex Ferrari 57:38
But it helps you in the process.
J. Mills Goodloe 57:39
But it helps you just like, there's no I just write, I can write. And I just write a bunch of dialogue. And then and then the best line I've heard about write about writing, which is really smart is you always tell less experienced writers is you write a scene, you put everything in there, and then you start cutting it down. So if you took out one more word, the entire seat would make no sense. Meaning like you distill it down to like, everything is as tight as you possibly can be. And then to the point that if you change one little thing, then it's gonna collapse, but you shrink it down like that. So the point of what you said, what you do in your books, and what I do in screenplays is, you can't shrink everything down to the real essential stuff. Unless you start out here, and you can't, unless you write a bunch of stuff, and then you can start shrinking it down. It's really hard if you start if you start the scene only knowing that you're going to be shrinking it down, started big and shrink it down. Just don't mean working in the shrink down phase.
Alex Ferrari 58:40
Right! You're, you're you're creating a much larger piece of marble that you can start chiseling, as opposed to, as opposed to thinking like, Well, I only have three centimeters to chisel as opposed to three feet to chisel
J. Mills Goodloe 58:51
Yeah, and that'll be 10 feet of marble just I'll just do whatever I can do. It's maybe it's a psychological thing, but
Alex Ferrari 58:59
It's, you've done okay for yourself.
J. Mills Goodloe 59:02
I don't I'm not like I'm don't i I've never taken a film school class. I'm really instinctually Yeah, I don't really I'm not I'm not terribly well read. I don't really have a great film history. But just instinctually that's kind of a process that's worked for me. And if I don't, and I just get comfortable with it, and it just feels it feels freeing, because I know I never want to think about what I do too much. I think that's really important as a writer as well, and I'm sure you might understand this as well. If you really think about how you make your living or how you make scripts. It's very, very scary. Because it's so subjective. It's all in your head. Yeah, and it's really frightening so if you just kind of play around with it and don't really take it too seriously, and you're gonna be better off
Alex Ferrari 59:50
Preached my friend preach. Because, I mean, I don't know if you've had this experience, but there's sometimes writers, they they go up there But sometimes, and they're a little too in their own head, and then you're lost. When you get into that mind space you can't create. It's very, very difficult.
J. Mills Goodloe 1:00:09
It's scary if you think it's really, really scary, and I have a family and I've got a wife and you're like, my whole living is based upon the stuff that I think is right. You know, it's kind of like if you make it's the same thing making music. I mean, once your whole living was based upon being a songwriter, and the whole idea of being a songwriter is to say, that note sounds right, that song sounds good. Well, there's no empirical, Deaf Jack measure to it. It's a very subjective thing. Well, how I would freak out if I'm like, my whole career, my whole supporting my family is based upon a song that I think is good or bad or dialogue that's good or bad or or a scene or writing it's a really scary proposition to base a career
Alex Ferrari 1:00:55
With with that said, leaving it's all up Nope. Let me ask you a few questions. I asked. By the way, everything he said is absolutely true. And I've said this constantly it this is a ridiculous business. It's insanity what we do. And if you start to truly break down what we do as a business, it's not a business it really isn't like like a business is in Coppola said it the best is like, I was in the business from business for a long time. That's not a business. He wants to real business Wine, wine. At the end of the day, you stop some grapes, you put in a bottle, you market it, sell it, repeat. That's a business. Right? You never you know, and it's like, does it wine tastes good? Done. There's no question. It's gonna get sold because it's alcohol, as opposed to a script or movie. You can have the best filmmakers of all time who've made some doozies in their career. There's very few. I mean, the only one I've always said that has always hit a home run every time is Cameron. He's really never had a flop really.
J. Mills Goodloe 1:01:58
But every he's my neighbor. By the way.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:00
It was Jimmy, tell Jim, I said Hi, Tom. Can you get the avatars enough with the Avat? Can you can you can you please? But yeah, but other than that,
J. Mills Goodloe 1:02:08
I'll tell you off the air. I'll tell you though. He's out of his house. And man, it's crazy. All right. Yeah. Like it's like Fort Knox over there.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:15
No, I've heard I have some friends who have worked with them. So I know a little bit about the house.
J. Mills Goodloe 1:02:19
That place is like I he has a he has a whole culdesac here if i is called a sack. You feel like
Alex Ferrari 1:02:28
All you see all you see is Terminator.
J. Mills Goodloe 1:02:30
Yeah. I mean, it's it's like, East Berlin. Like a Berlin wall there. It's like, why these guys on fire department
Alex Ferrari 1:02:39
Oh, no, I know. Yeah. The fire department. Oh, yeah. Yeah, the navy seals that are on
J. Mills Goodloe 1:02:43
Secret Service guys. I'm scared to go down that
Alex Ferrari 1:02:47
We will we will talk off air. I'm not going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?
J. Mills Goodloe 1:02:55
I think the best thing to do if I was to if I was to start out fresh right now doing it. I would be writing and directing. I'll be writing small things that I can get made. The advantage of the business right now is when I first started out there were very small distribution channels. I mean, now there's so many distribution channels. And so many ways to do the film, I would say, to show off your writing, try to find something that you can write on a very, very small budget, maybe million dollars or less than million dollars, or 100,000 or 50,000, whatever it's going to be write something you can get made. That can be shot and use that as a calling card. Because people are more inclined to see a finished product that you wrote than a screenplay and you might have five great screenplays. It's really hard to get. No one's got actually known as five brains. But maybe one has one. One good screenplay that they read that they have written is really hard to get people to write that screenplay to read that screenplay and to pay attention to it. But it's very easy to shoot, or pretty easy to shoot something and to get a final piece of product into their hands to say, Hey, can you watch my movie? And if you can get if you can make a film, you can watch a film, you can get that first thing that people can notice your talent or your abilities. I don't think you can do it well from a script. I don't remember the last time that people said oh, that's I know the blacklist is a big thing right now. But that's been co opted I think in certain ways. But I think if you can have a finished product, you can be a lot more successful.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:31
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
J. Mills Goodloe 1:04:36
I just keep slugging away at it. I think you just keep keep trying to get away with it. Don't take it too seriously. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. And certainly I know that's can you ask more specific question?
Alex Ferrari 1:04:53
Okay. Um, how about three screenplays that everyone should read? You're now you're gonna go ahead. But if you've never read a screenplay, know what?
J. Mills Goodloe 1:05:06
I don't really I read. I don't really Alright,
Alex Ferrari 1:05:08
So three, three of your favorite films of all time.
J. Mills Goodloe 1:05:11
Alex Ferrari 1:05:12
J. Mills Goodloe 1:05:14
Jerry Maguire is one of my favorite things. I love a lot of PTN and stuff. But Jerry Maguire is something actually the screenplay that I have read, which also breaks every rule of screenwriting you ever can imagine. And that's another example, Alex of the film that if you tried to make Jerry Maguire today, it would be devoured by Studio notes, because you're saying, Can you the first movie opens up with VoiceOver, which never comes back in the rest of the film? Tom Cruise plays Jerry Maguire, he marries Dorothy boy, they break up at the end of the second movie. Do you know why do you remember the film why they broke up? I found a man you remember what it is?
Alex Ferrari 1:05:51
I forgot. What is this? I don't remember specific reason. I've seen the movie 1000 times. What was the specific reason they broke up?
J. Mills Goodloe 1:05:57
She says to him, I'm so lucky. I found a man who really loves my son, and really likes me a lot.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:05
The great line, oh, great line.
J. Mills Goodloe 1:06:08
And she breaks up with him, basically, because he's just isn't into her that much. Or at least he hasn't shown. He hasn't shown it. And then after the rod tubewell thing, and he shows up as he had me Hello. He says, You know, I do love you and I want to be with you. But there is no precipitating or whatever the word is, there's no incident that happens, which causes them to break up. And if you would go to a studio right here, right? What causes the two of them? And they're married by the way? They are married? Yeah, they are to break to break up. Well, they're married. He's working a lot. He likes her. He's not cheating on her. His he really loves her son. He's just not into her that much. How can you possibly get through that? And I think those are that maybe that's those are the things that I find inspiring about any script is the ones that kind of get away with stuff that aren't notes. The best example of that is The Blind Side. Meaning that somehow John Hancock got away on making a film on the blind side. Every rule in there because I asked you, what is her arc in that movie?
Alex Ferrari 1:07:14
It I mean, and I had John on the show, and I asked him about that. And I think it was I think it had a lot to do because he had the 800 pound gorilla in the room, which was Sandy. And she protected the project a bit and that's you need that.
J. Mills Goodloe 1:07:28
That art. Does she have a bad relationship with her husband? No. Your kids fine. Yeah. She rich and wealth in the beginning? Yeah. At the end? Yeah. Every if you if you filter that through a studio notes, yeah, I know for a problem, they would give her an obstacle to overcome just no obstacles in that film. Anyways, if you look at those things, whether it be the blind side, or Jerry Maguire, that if you really empirically or dispassionately look at it, how many things would be noted to death on that by people that would say, you know, there's no reason for her for Renee Zellweger to break up with him. Make something make him more dramatic. Maybe you should get caught with another girl. Maybe you should be
Alex Ferrari 1:08:13
It but it would have been so formulaic. If they did that. It would have been a
J. Mills Goodloe 1:08:17
Thing for me. My other favorite movie is lost in translation. Yeah. Like what relations a great film it is. And you know what? This is another crazy thing, Alex? They're both married in the movie. Right? Yeah, I'm gonna make a movie about two married people who are each other. Right? One of them is much, much younger than them. They don't, they don't consummate that relationship. We don't see the last line of dialogue that they have a great arc with Bill Murray in that movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:47
You know, he's pretty much the same guy. She's She changes
J. Mills Goodloe 1:08:49
In time she changes a little bit nicer. She kind of maybe she's trying to figure out her life. There's no extra obstacles. There's no antagonist. There isn't. There's no antagonist in that movie. And it's a brilliant movie. And it works so well. So those are the things I look at. My two favorite films would be lost in translation, or Jerry Maguire. They break a lot of rules. They're they're they're walled off from bad development notes. And they're somehow were made for people not to give them a hard time about it. And those will those always look up to, because they're really, really hard to pull off.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:29
Mills, it has been a pleasure talking to you, my friend. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I hope everyone is off. I hope everyone's off the ledge. Because there were some moments on the show. Like this is tough, but I saw Star Wars and that's what I need to do from now on. So all these all my future. I saw my future but Thank you my friend. I appreciate everything.
J. Mills Goodloe 1:09:54
Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it and you've got a wonderful show and I want to read your book.
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