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IFH 643: Directing the #1 Christmas Film on Netflix with Janeen and Michael Damian

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Michael Damian is an award-winning actor, singer, director, writer, and producer. He first gained recognition for his 18-year run in the role of rock star Danny Romalotti on the #1-rated daytime television drama, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. On the stage front, Damian starred as “Joseph” in the Broadway production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, which broke box office records in both Los Angeles and on Broadway and earned Damian a Grammy nomination. In addition to his Broadway career, Damian has released five albums and has had eight Top 40 hits, including the smash single “Rock On,” which shot up the Billboard music charts landing at #1 and garnering Damian two gold records.

Damian won the BMI Song-writing Award for his hit single, “Was It Nothing at All,” and has also written and produced songs for the soundtracks of A PRINCESS FOR CHRISTMAS, FLICKA 2, FLICKA: COUNTRY PRIDE, MARLEY & ME: THE PUPPY YEARS and SWEETER SIDE OF LIFE. Damian has also enjoyed a prolific career behind the camera and has co-written/directed/produced 15 films and television movies.

He is a filmmaking partner with his wife Janeen Damian and most recently co-wrote, directed and produced Hallmark’s #1 movie of the year for 2020, CHRISTMAS WALTZ. Some of his other recent credits include the feature film HIGH STRUNG FREE DANCE and its predecessor, HIGH STRUNG, Lionsgate’s holiday romantic comedy, A PRINCESS FOR CHRISTMAS, which starred Sir Roger Moore and Sam Heughan (Outlander) and launched Hallmark’s smash hit Princess Christmas franchise.

Janeen Damian is an American writer, director, and producer of film and television. Together with her husband, Michael Damian she has made 15 feature films and TV movies. This year she co-wrote and produced the #1 add-supported cable movie of the year for 2020, CHRISTMAS WALTZ. She also co-wrote and produced the award- winning feature films HIGH STRUNG and HIGH STRUNG FREE DANCE which were released theatrically worldwide and distributed by Sony and Disney. Ms. Damian also co-wrote and produced A PRINCESS FOR CHRISTMAS starring Sam Heughan and Sir Roger Moore and distributed by Lionsgate and received Hallmark’s highest ratings for the year launching their original Christmas Princess franchise. The Damians went on to co-write A ROYAL CHRISTMAS and A CROWN FOR CHRISTMAS.

All three films air annually on Hallmark’s power rotation with continued high ratings. Some of Ms. Damian’s other Filmmaking credits include 20th Century Fox’s MARLEY & ME THE PUPPY YEARS and the popular reboot of the Flicka franchise, FLICKA 2 and FLICKA COUNTRY PRIDE starring Clint Black and MOONDANCE ALEXANDER, which starred Don Johnson and garnered Ms. Damian best screenplay honors at L.A. Femme Film Festival.

She also co-wrote and produced THE SWEETER SIDE OF LIFE, starring Katherine Morris and James Best. LOVE BY DESIGN starring Jane Seymour and David Oakes, and the award-winning independent feature film HOT TAMALE starring Jason Priestly and Randy Spelling. She co-directed the TV Pilot RED EYE for France’s #1 television broadcaster, TF1. She also co-directed the award-winning film FINDERS KEEPERS starring James Best.

The Damians went on to co-write A CROWN FOR CHRISTMAS and A ROYAL CHRISTMAS. Damian also directed three films for 20th Century Fox: FLICKA 2, MARLEY & ME: THE PUPPY YEARS (which he also wrote), and FLICKA: COUNTRY PRIDE starring Clint Black. He directed, wrote, and produced the feature film MOONDANCE ALEXANDER, which was also released by 20th Century Fox, and romantic comedies SWEETER SIDE OF LIFE and LOVE BY DESIGN. Damian also co-wrote, directed, and produced the indie crime comedy HOT TAMALE and co-wrote and co-directed the television pilot Red Eye for France’s TF1 network, which he also starred in.

Falling for Christmas is about a young, newly engaged heiress who has a skiing accident the days before Christmas. After she is diagnosed with amnesia, she finds herself in the care of the handsome cabin owner and his daughter.

Enjoy my conversation with Janeen and Michael Damian.

Janeen Damian 0:00
I think that it starts with the fact that we have very similar artistic tastes and tendencies. And so our vision tends to be a cohesive idea. And we don't really argue a lot about stuff because we, we tend to like the same things. And we, we tend to want and a lot, and especially because we write, you know, most of us have at least rewrite and polish everything we do. We're so close to it, we've already worked through it. So

Michael Damian 0:32
We finished a lot of thoughts in writing, like, we'll be writing and she'll start a sentence. And then I'll just say it just comes out and finishing and that she's perfect. And then I ended and then she does the other character. And then we start to have a dialogue and we start acting out the scenes right there in the office. And so it's

Janeen Damian 0:48
Between the script and then pre production, we're mostly we'd like to we're really specific about everything that we want to put on screen. So by the time that we finally get there, I think that we have a pretty good a pretty good idea and we don't really have a lot to fight about except for fight for something together.

Alex Ferrari 1:08
This episode is brought to you by the best selling book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome the show to Janeen and Michael Damian, How're you guys doing?

Janeen Damian 1:23
Hi!

Michael Damian 1:25
Alex hi!

Janeen Damian 1:25
So nice to be here. Thank you for having us.

Alex Ferrari 1:28
Oh, thank you for coming on the show. This is like a Christmas special episode because I haven't had a like a Christmas heavy filmmaking, you know, partnership on before. I mean, looking at your filmography. You guys are fairly obsessed.

Michael Damian 1:44
She has some decorations here. I just realized we don't have any decorations.

Janeen Damian 1:50
Heavy weights before that. Yeah,

Michael Damian 1:51
Yeah, we're honored we'll take it.

Alex Ferrari 1:55
Before we get started, I have to ask you one question. What was it like working on the set of Captain EO?

Janeen Damian 2:02
Oh, that was a career highlight, I have to say,

Alex Ferrari 2:06
For everybody for everybody listening. Captain EO was a short film, directed by Francis Ford Coppola produced by George Lucas starring Michael Jackson in 1983, something like that he 45. In that world, when Michael Jackson was basically at the they just made a they made an amusement park ride around Michael Jackson at that point. That's how big he was. And it was, I remember seeing it at Epcot. And many times and I've watched it online ever since. But I've never spoke with anybody was on set. What was that like?

Janeen Damian 2:40
It was it was phenomenal. You know, the production design was by the production designer who did Blade Runner so. So there was all that steam and all this crazy smoking. And it was really loud, actually. And Michael had to speak with me to everybody with his with a microphone on there. And when we first we actually hadn't rehearsed with Michael, we rehearse without him. And then he came out on set. And the very first take, you know, you got Francis Ford Coppola yelling action. You've got George Lucas, who's created this 3d camera for this movie and bleachers, for guests like Elizabeth Taylor, Nick Cage. And you know, it was just this celebrity bleacher over there. And I was in the bleach and Michael was in the waiter, I got to invite Michael because Michael is a celebrity too. So that was there watching it. And they and so when he yelled action, Michael Jackson goes. And it was rainbows flew out of him. And it blew all our hair back. And we all messed up the choreography, the first take, and they had to redo it. But it was really amazing. It was an amazing experience. So that's one of those special ones.

Alex Ferrari 3:49
I mean, I think it's such an in the George Lucas Coppola and Michael Jackson all of like, with a short film with an insane budget that never would have had happened any other way other than if it was an amusement park ride. Like,

Janeen Damian 4:06
I mean, Angelica Houston was was the was the Wicked Witch as well.

Alex Ferrari 4:10
I forgot. She just did such a great job. I can't recognize her. But she was there.

Janeen Damian 4:15
She was terrifying and fabulous.

Michael Damian 4:17
I told him about the music wasn't loud enough when they first started. And Michael Jackson couldn't feel the music, the rhythm and so he quietly

Janeen Damian 4:28
So he gets it gets on the microphone and he says, you know, I'm sorry. I can't feel I'm not gonna try to him. Anyway, he says, I'm sorry, I can't feel the rhythm of the music and until I can, I can't work so thank you very much. And then he and Macaulay Culkin whom you keep brought with him left. And we all stood there said okay, what's happening? And so that's when we're going to take a break. And while we're waiting, they bring in these ginormous stacks. Have martial speakers that go from all the way to the to the ceiling. I go to the soundstage. And that and then the music was so loud that, you know, we came back in and Michael was happy. Everybody's happy. We're shooting and then we get a visit from next door and they were shooting Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy in WarGames, WarGames is that? Yeah, I'm working. And they said, Well, we hear you were over here, so we can't work now. And so we had to stagger our shooting between work and

Michael Damian 5:32
It was either war games, or I think it was more games or

Alex Ferrari 5:35
No it was war games with John John Batum directed that one. Yeah.

Janeen Damian 5:38
Yeah. So that so that was kind of that was, I don't even know how they work that out. But they worked it out to where we actually rotated, who was going to shoot when awesome. So that's insane. It's a great story, though. And it was really, it was intense and amazing. And we had a phenomenal photographer. So

Alex Ferrari 5:59
How long did you guys shoot for, by the way,

Janeen Damian 6:03
Month that we were I mean, it was also it was we had rehearsals as well, and then they shut up shot a bunch of stuff without us without the dancer. So that was that was a big printer. We were on that show for I was on it for a month, but I don't actually know

Alex Ferrari 6:19
What I had. When I saw that on your filmography. I had to ask you, so thank you for indulging me. I appreciate that. Yeah, how did that how did you guys meet and start collaborating working together as a direct producers?

Michael Damian 6:32
Oh, how did we meet? Well, we met on an airplane. And I thought that Jane's dad was her boyfriend because I didn't know at the time and I later found out it was her dad and it was awesome. And I was like, Oh great, because it was one of my favorite actors James best Roscoe from the Dukes of Hazzard. So I got himself a young girlfriend. But I want to make her mind. Jessie's Girl Roscoe is the girl now. And we met at Utah going to the Osmonds, Children's Miracle Network. telefone. And that's where we first met. And then we started writing together. Janine was dancing. You know, she was on the show solid gold she was dancing with, as you know, Michael Jackson, Prince, George Michael, Elton John. Dinah Ross, Lionel Richie, the list goes on and on. And on a mile long. It said I was doing young and the restless and my music career. Rob, you know, tours and Broadway and all that. And we just started. We started writing together. We started with a script as short stories in New York. Yeah, started there. And

Janeen Damian 7:40
Well, Michael started he wanted to, he wanted to try the other side of camera. So he actually was the impetus to us trying to write together actually he was writing and he said, Well, we can write I said, Well, we can't write. We're not writers.

Michael Damian 7:54
Well, Janine really helped me a lot. You are you're a

Janeen Damian 7:58
Guy that he doesn't take No, he doesn't put limits on himself. And so it was really amazing the way we've made that career pivot together, but it started small and then just kept going. And we

Alex Ferrari 8:13
Mike, if I may. Correct. Rosco P Coltrane. If you if you just go be

Michael Damian 8:17
Coltrane. Yeah, you got to put the gold

Alex Ferrari 8:23
Trade back in the day. Oh my god, solid gold. I remember watching that growing up, Mike. That's it. I'm going back for Michael Jackson.

Michael Damian 8:30
Roscoe was Quentin Tarantino who was engineerings dad's acting school. And he was one of the students.

Alex Ferrari 8:36
Also, he's he was the one that was teaching Quinton, How to Act back in the day when he was trying to be an actor,

Michael Damian 8:42
Urging them to write their scripts. And he brought scripts in from Reservoir Dogs and Janine would rehearse the scenes with him. Because, you know, she was just an actor. Yeah. And she was always she was very kind to everyone. And she was rehearsing dialogue. And the scenes are like, it's kind of weird that all these characters with bizarre names and Mr. What

Janeen Damian 9:00
Were the listeners think Mr. Blonde? Yeah, Mr. Payne? Yeah,

Michael Damian 9:04
She was just kind of wild, you know, but he's really, you know, passionate about, you know, quit acting.

Alex Ferrari 9:10
I've never heard this guy. Did he ever do anything ever come out of him? Did he ever do anything else? Yeah. Never heard

Michael Damian 9:21
About the Oscars all the time.

Alex Ferrari 9:23
Anytime you write something, you just see him at the Oscars.

Michael Damian 9:26
Oh, he's amazing. I love Quinton. So those are all really fun. These are all the movie experiences, you know that we grew up in our background. You know what you mean when I say dance? It's really important because she worked with Barry Levinson. She worked with a lot of well there so the list goes on and on. Some great people and I got a chance to work with Gary Marshall and a lot of faculty directors and so you know, this was our background we were take we were like sponges, not really knowing, not realizing effort. time, this will be transferred to the other side of the camera. We were just taking it all in, as performers, and, and you know, great experiences and always listening. And you know, I had a great opportunity working with Angela Webber for two years when I did Joseph on Broadway. And that was an amazing experience. So we got, we got all these, you know, these amazing mentors. And that's really kind of that's why it started.

Alex Ferrari 10:23
So I mean, you it was pretty much osmosis at this point. You're just kind of absorbing it all just being on set. Yeah. For Masters. I mean, you're talking about legends. Yeah, yes,

Janeen Damian 10:33
Exactly. It's really inspiring and a little intimidating, but at the same time.

Alex Ferrari 10:39
I mean, I can only imagine being on set and just watching these these masters work, and then just not knowing that this will ever do anything else for you, other than like, oh, you know, it's nice that I worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber and, and parva joven

Michael Damian 10:54
Fans, and really, it was great. And it's really great to you know, we ran into Paul a couple times. And it was their home and, and it was really wonderful to see how we reacted when he saw you Jeanine, it was it was what do you say?

Janeen Damian 11:09
He was really nice to me. Yeah. So that was a that was a really fun experience working with him because he's kind of a little bit of a different personality than what I had worked with before.

Michael Damian 11:19
They worked on Basic, Basic Instinct.

Alex Ferrari 11:21
And I saw that too. I was asked about you worked on basic is, you know, so funny. I have a funny Paul story. Paul Verhoeven story. I reached out to his people a year or a year or two ago. I'm like, Hey, would you like to come to? I'm a huge fan, Paul, you know, would you like to come on the show? And he goes, Paul, is going to respectfully decline, actually, I'm putting the respectfully and because he thinks podcasts are absolute shite. And that is perfect. Because that's Paul Verhoeven. He's,

Janeen Damian 11:54
He doesn't, that's for sure. You know, he's just honest.

Alex Ferrari 11:57
Oh, he's so honest. But he'd made some of the greatest movies. I mean, just whatever Mr. Verhoeven, whatever you like, but I just thought that was such a wonderful way, if I make so much sense coming from him, it just like, because I've known, like, I've heard stories about him, and just seeing his interviews, he's just a, he's an intense dude. But that's how he made his movies back, back in the day, so they're great. Now, all those years that you guys have been in the business, kind of believe that it wasn't all happy go lucky puppy dog tails and unicorns, the entire ride, right? I'm assuming as,

Janeen Damian 12:31
As actors and performer as

Alex Ferrari 12:34
Well as acting performers, on one side of the camera is one thing, and you guys get just the nose, the amount of rejection that you get, as an actor, I'm assuming that prepped you for the moment, you said, hey, I want to be a filmmaker. And people are like, yeah, that's nice. Pretty much, right?

Janeen Damian 12:55
That's the biggest level you get, actually, because I think that I think that today, they're much more open to people crossing over. And but at that time, you didn't you I mean, you get a film, or you did TV, or you or you did Broadway. And, and Michael, is he's just, he, he, the other day was saying to me, he's like, I'm just better at denial than you are. You know,

Michael Damian 13:24
I cross the streams, like, it goes both ways. It's like, you know, when when I was doing the music, that, well, you can't act and do music. And I just didn't understand why I couldn't do that. And then it was about, well, you can't do this and then do Broadway. That's just not how it works. And so all these kinds of things, you know,

Janeen Damian 13:42
You started actors weren't really directing so much. And now I have to say that we've really evolved and as, as in the entertainment community, and, and I think the streaming services have helped also to sort of to make it an easier flow to move from one, you know, one side of the cameras or the other. But you're right, that was a really big no, as a matter of fact, we actually had to go to France before somebody would let Michael direct something because he was the most popular in France than anywhere else in the world at the time. And we thought what was my accent? Can we go where you have the most heat? And that was France? Yeah.

Michael Damian 14:19
And we developed a pilot. With TF one. It took quite a while because everything had to be written in English, translate translated back into French, and then back into English again. And we had to do to two languages. And she looked into languages. And it was a it was an adventure, but it was a great experience. And that really got the ball rolling. Yeah, that was actually there. It was off and running.

Alex Ferrari 14:44
Well, Mike, I mean, I completely understand because I can't walk the streets in Japan. I mean, I'm just saying I'm joking. I was gonna say I've seen you before. And I saw you everywhere is funny is funny. I was doing The the the alcohol ads, the whiskey ads just like just like Bill Murray.

Janeen Damian 15:07
John Travolta Can't you hide?

Alex Ferrari 15:09
Did you did you do you must have in the same amount of stories I mean things you could say on air and things you could say off air.

Michael Damian 15:17
He was riding horses in commercials. Nice knife wheeling.

Janeen Damian 15:22
I mean, no, but the country high commercial was was back when celebrities were doing Japanese commercials when you didn't do television commercials in America back then. Yeah, back then.

Alex Ferrari 15:33
You know now for me it was and there was no YouTube or there was no internet. So it stayed in Japan.

Janeen Damian 15:38
Exactly. Nobody knew that they were doing them. Yeah.

Michael Damian 15:41
Except you're giving away John Travolta secrets now.

Alex Ferrari 15:45
Trust me this. He's fine. He's done. All right. I think I think the cats out of the bag on that one. That's all right. I remember when doing some like commercials over because in Japan, he was huge after all, you know, Pulp Fiction, all that stuff. And he would do commercials over there too. And I've seen some of them. It's just like, the weird is to have weird commercials. I read just When was your was,

Janeen Damian 16:13
It was weird. It was at the Hilton estate in the pool. And we had, um, for some reason, they put bunny tails on us, and 50 swimsuits and beach balls. And John was doing well, we were riding rockets. And this was on a soundstage. We did a couple with him and they put these crazy wigs and they could only bottom fake eyelashes. Honestly, it was really you know, and they were like fashion.

Alex Ferrari 16:39
Bats. That's a very polite way of saying it's weird.

Michael Damian 16:44
To the director, they said, put this on and you said

Alex Ferrari 16:47
So so once you got once you got that first production off in France, which is faster, because I've heard that from so many actors that they go overseas, because they can't, they won't get a shot here. But overseas, they're much more open. Even back then to actors are like, oh, yeah, he's a big star here because we weren't watching him and you know, all that kind of stuff. After you got done with that. Did that open the door here for some projects?

Janeen Damian 17:11
Well, no, because then we're back in America, and then the nose kept coming. But you just have to keep pushing, you know,

Alex Ferrari 17:16
Just so so let me ask you this, then how did you guys keep moving? I always love asking that question. How do you guys keep moving forward, when you keep constantly getting nose and nose and nose? And I remember that time I remember, you know, I was I was young coming up in the 90s as a director, and I remember everyone was you have to be in a box. You couldn't move back and forth between things. You know, like I was I came up in the commercial world and like if I happen to do a Spanish language, commercial, my agent would tell me, you're done. You have to then you can't do general market. I'm like, What? What? Like, oh, we can't you didn't get the job. Why? Because you never had you never shot anything with any dialogue in it. I'm like, a camera just speak. I could I don't it didn't. It didn't make any sense to me. Like you have to like, everyone's so boxy and everything. So how did you during that time?

Janeen Damian 18:04
Well, actually, in the movie, well,

Michael Damian 18:06
Actually, let's back up just a little bit. If you don't mind. We, we did a short film. And this was really great. We put together a short film, yes, I'm going to show and Janine produced it. And and I directed and we wrote it but what was great about it was that Janine did all the producing and the line producing so she literally had to learn on the fly hire everybody ensure the film every single grip trucks this I mean, she she really it was like a super Master's quick class on on, you know how to produce and, you know, run a budget. And and I was, you know, doing the same thing, and we were working together. And we picked a lot of people's brains. I was over burns and Sawyer seeing them there every day after young in the restless. Yeah, we leave to go to the rest of the time, do my shoot my scenes. That was his, that was his school, and I go over there and I would, I would just harass them. They were so nice to me. And I just I said can you can I see the inside of the 35 millimeter. Okay, now what now? What is this now? How do we load this and these guys were, they were showing me everything. And I just sat and learn how to load, learn how to shoot bought my own cameras and started shooting. And we and we were we started making stuff you know.

Janeen Damian 19:23
So then what then I guess are the first project that we did in America was we but then we came back and we raised money.

Michael Damian 19:30
Well Michael raise money, and we shot an indie film was like what no one's going to go in. And then we sold it after. Yeah, we did a product and we were off and running. Yeah, we did a modest, you know, indie film, met fabulous producer named Brad Krivoy. Who makes a lot of movies. You know, Brad, Dumb and Dumber. He's the guy that made that film happen. And he bought the movie. Yeah. And so he bought that short film and sold it worldwide. And then we we've been

Janeen Damian 19:56
Working together. We worked with him on falling for Chris I say yeah, we it's he's actually Brad was the one who was the big turning point in

Michael Damian 20:05
Our career. Brad introduced us to 20th Century Fox Fox hired us for the flickers the prequel to Marlene, the. And so we just sort of, again, networking through people and working with people and building up, you know, you just have to, you've got to, it's great where we started. And we were able to, to, you know, inch up the budgets and get higher and higher with the budgets and take on bigger responsibilities. And it's been it's still understand the value and understand the dollar. Because when you raise your own money, and you're working on that, it really teaches you a lesson on Oh, yeah. And really how to and putting your own personal money into into it. And we've learned a lot

Alex Ferrari 20:43
You wish you don't do. Don't do that. Don't

Janeen Damian 20:44
No, no, no, we don't

Michael Damian 20:48
But we used to, but it really helps you respect, of course, every dollar you put into a film, and that's why, you know, we're always asking a lot of questions about stuffing, can we get this? And do we have to, you know, what's that going to cost? And is there any other options? Because we'd love it, but it's too expensive.

Alex Ferrari 21:05
Right! Exactly. Yeah, it's, well, it's nice that Brad was like the 800 pound gorilla in the room that kind of opened the door. And you know, you need everyone needs a champion. Everyone needs a champion. I mean, and it's many times I've interviewed so many filmmakers on the show, Oscar winners and everyone in between. They, they always have a champion, they always have either someone who's crazy, like the producer of Oliver Stone, who's like go make go make this into the Vietnam movie here 6 million that nobody would give it to him for 20 years. And they in the heat goes off and makes platoon and then the rest of it. So you have to have a crazy 800 pound gorilla or, or an 800 pound gorilla is very skilled. Or

Janeen Damian 21:46
See something in you, you know.

Michael Damian 21:50
And Brad was like, I really would love a Christmas script. Can you write a Christmas script?

Alex Ferrari 21:55
So that's the next question. What is this this obsession with Christmas guys? Seriously, you're out of control? Like, no, I just know. You filmography I'm like Christmas, Christmas Christmas. But like, I think I think I see a pattern here. So this is what I mean. It's great. And it's fun. And I see that I mean, obviously the Marlene me and the flickers and death thing. But then recently, it's just been Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. And another new movie coming out with balloons. These next ones the Irish bride the bride movie.

Michael Damian 22:25
Spooky. Yeah, so we go ahead. Yeah, no, no, it's like, well, well, we

Janeen Damian 22:35
Well, we love doing Christmas movies. So I mean, you know, the first one was because we actually love Christmas. And we're big fans of Christmas. So we thought, well, let's make one and see if everybody watch ours every year.

Michael Damian 22:47
Yeah, let's do a castle and let's go to Europe and shoot it at this beautiful castle. Let's find someplace to go off. I'm going to send you I found he sent this to Romania. Castles a castle in Romania. And here's you go and make the movie. And it was he got us. You know, Roger Moore got us. Roger Bowie, Sam. It was awesome. Yeah, Sam, Sam. Nobody knew who Sam was. And we were telling back to the stage. Like, we have this. This guy is amazing. And he's gonna be a megastar. And like, Oh, really? Yeah. Yeah. And Sam is obviously he has, you know, exploded and, but as Janine said, Roger Moore. I mean, Brad is like, I know, Roger Moore. Do you want James Bond in the movie? Like, yes. How do we get him in this movie?

Janeen Damian 23:31
And, and so it was a it was an awesome movie. And it went number one. So then we then we were sort of, you know, we were proven in Christmas films.

Michael Damian 23:40
And I had a lot of requests a lot of Christmas. Yeah.

Janeen Damian 23:43
And so I'm going to work is, and they're beautiful. And they're inspiring and hopeful. And so why not, you know,

Alex Ferrari 23:51
You go where the work is, hey, you know, people like what, you know, it's that's the that's one of the big mistakes. I've heard from a lot of people on the show that talked about the like, they get a big hit in something and they're like, Christmas now I, I want to do horror. Now. I don't want to do Christmas, but I just want to go into horror films, because that's where my passion is, like, no, just stick to Christmas a little bit longer, and then go off and make something else up. But you have to establish yourself on a path of success before you can start, you know, you know, playing bass. In other words, Michael Jackson can Amanda Michael J. Michael Jordan can jump from basketball to baseball because he was Michael Jordan. He shouldn't have we all agree. But because he had established himself.

Michael Damian 24:30
Yep, he shot Yeah, yeah, you're right. Yeah, right guy. I forgot about that.

Alex Ferrari 24:37
But imagine after his rookie year, he's like, You know what, I know. I'm like the greatest but I really needed a little time. So that's the lesson that people should take. If you're lucky enough to have a lot of success in one arena. Stay one stick with it. And you gotta love it too. It seems like you guys do love it though. You do love the Christmas would

Janeen Damian 24:51
We love it. I mean, if it was if it was something that we were really unhappy doing, then I'm sure that we would, you know, look, another way to kind of transition out but we really do. We really do like we love rom coms in general and also what's happened is is that rom com sort sort of had you know, they sort of kind of fell out of fashion and they're now coming back again but they but Christmas is always rom com so so for us we thought well that's great well we can stick with rom com you know, if we stay in Christmas, then we can still do our rom com. And now it's starting to have a resurgence again. So, so Irish wish is not Christmas, and it's still a rom com.

Alex Ferrari 25:29
Right! Exactly. And the days of When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, where the studios were making these big rom coms they don't like or my best friend's wedding. Those don't exist anymore in the studio system. Not really. Now it's all Netflix. Hallmark. These many studios, right? Yeah, the

Michael Damian 25:47
Ones Yeah, they're the ones making the rom coms. The bigger studios are more on the franchise, franchise action. You know,

Janeen Damian 25:55
I mean, I think Amy Schumer is doing stuff and you know, Rebel Wilson a little bit. I mean, I think they're starting to kind of come back in a more offbeat way. But you know, not quite the classic rom com like they were back then. But Irish wishes is I think more what, what people are thinking of when they think of like, following Yeah, that's exactly what fanbase is looking for.

Michael Damian 26:16
Because it's not the Christmas genre. It really is more of a classic rom com.

Alex Ferrari 26:20
Yeah. So let's talk about your latest film fall, falling for Christmas, which I saw on Netflix before I even knew that you because my wife and I were looking and like, oh, this would be a great family film that we got the girls their moods are watching it. And it's just a fun, you know, Saturday night, you know, everyone around around the campfire kind of watching movie and was so it was so beautiful. It looks gorgeous. And I was I was asking you before we got on, I'm like, is that a real place? That you build the sets like, and I'm like, analyzing I'm like it think it's because my wife was like, I don't know, it looks. I think it's real. I'm like, Yeah, I think it's real, too. So I like that there's some sets there. They built some stuff there. But it's not like a completely. It's not the Grinch that stole Christmas, dumped the entire world scenario.

Michael Damian 27:02
What it was, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 27:03
But it was beautiful. So how did that how did did did Netflix get involved first? Or did you make it and they get Netflix? How does that work?

Janeen Damian 27:10
No, this was our first movie with Netflix. And we were really excited when they they approached us with the script and Lindsey attached. So yeah, so we with

Michael Damian 27:20
Brad, our wonderful, Brad. Yes. And we all came together. Yeah. And we Yeah, and

Janeen Damian 27:28
They wanted to and what was great was that Lindsey schedule worked out so that we could shoot it actually in December. So we shot it in the snow in Utah, Deer Valley Park City midway, so we were able to actually shoot it in the snow. So that made it just that much more authentic and

Michael Damian 27:44
The locations that you're talking about are extraordinary because what we found was a gem it's the Goldener Hirsch in Deer Valley is they have the Austrian side and then they just built this spectacular modern side and there's a pasture rail between them and not to give away all the secrets and the magic of it but we had some stuff at our that was real physical right there that we had at our disposal that we could really dress and work with those structures

Janeen Damian 28:14
And they were and they were so close in proximity that we didn't have to move our base camp so we were able to shoot so we saw our dates we were able to use our our days actually shooting as opposed to moving around and then we found

Michael Damian 28:25
A beautiful North Star extender is this charming in in Midway Utah called blue bar end and we that's the one you know the the North Star exterior you saw that's the BlueBoard en and it's and we did build like the we built a little stable for

Janeen Damian 28:41
The horse and the work shed and they're still there they kept a basket

Michael Damian 28:45
Keep them sure it's a term down we didn't talk about apart now we just don't know and so fun because we go visit

Janeen Damian 28:55
The blue bar and you go you simply have brunch and then there's boundless our there's our settings so stable right there. private dining area so

Alex Ferrari 29:05
And this in this film, if I'm not mistaken he went to number one right on Netflix.

Janeen Damian 29:09
Yeah, it went number one on Netflix and in the world. And then I think of all streamers of all streaming of almost all streaming service. That's insane.

Alex Ferrari 29:20
How did you guys feel after you? I mean, that's, that's a pretty decent accomplishment. Yeah, it was.

Janeen Damian 29:24
I was huge. We were really excited.

Michael Damian 29:28
We pop some champagne for sure.

Alex Ferrari 29:30
I mean, so you know Lindsey is such a wonderful actress. I mean, I've been a fan of her since since she was a kid and I've spoken to some of the directors who worked with her on like Freaky Friday and, and Parent Trap and those kinds of things. But she's such a fantastic actress. And in this project she was she was she was great. And she has his fan base that just love her obviously. Because I saw it I was like, Oh yeah, Lindsey Yes. She's one of those people that we all recognize. We all were Remember, and we all genuinely have fond memories of the work that she did you know, when she was coming up? And I think that's one of the reasons why everyone just gravitated to this film and made it number one around the world no less.

Janeen Damian 30:12
Yes, you know, it's multigenerational her her fan base and then the young people are embracing Mean Girls again. And so everybody's kids and grandkids so her her fans when when we were in Ireland, her fans were you haven't split. There's all these little school girls and they're little.

Michael Damian 30:31
They're like, 1315 years old aside, you

Janeen Damian 30:33
Know, her hundreds of, you know, streets.

Michael Damian 30:36
Yeah, we're Wow, where are these? How do they know her? And like you

Janeen Damian 30:40
Said, so she just crosses over and, and well deserved because she really is an amazing talent. And we're so excited that she's decided to come back.

Alex Ferrari 30:50
Right, exactly. And then yeah, now you have the new movie coming out, which I'm excited to let them I love romcoms it's like one of my dirty, deep secrets. I just love walking. Dirty, stupid. I just love walking. It's like killing

Michael Damian 31:02
Cars, but it's a dirty secret. It's

Alex Ferrari 31:04
A dirty secret. That and, and boy bands like I like listening to boy band. What am I gonna do what I mean? Come on. I don't care. Leave the comments if you want guys. I don't care. I wear it with pride now.

Michael Damian 31:16
Yes. When's the best one? Right? I swear.

Alex Ferrari 31:19
Oh, no, stop it. Don't get me started. I'm not You're not gonna get me to sing it on there. Because they will become a meme. And I'm not gonna let that happen. It's already in my head. I can't. I won't be there. But. But so I always like asking directors, this producers this. What was the worst day on set? Meaning like we all have that day that the entire world's coming crashing down around us? Because that's production. So what was that day for you? And how did you overcome that challenge? I know the day.

Janeen Damian 31:52
Well, what happened was is that we had no snow and it was December. And we all did a snow dance. Oh, yeah. And it snowed so much that we couldn't get anybody through the

Michael Damian 32:03
Mountain. Everybody was stuck down at the bottom of the mountain. We and Janine and I stayed at the top of the mountain. So we

Janeen Damian 32:09
Lost a half a day. And also none of our background talent made it out. Yes. So we had to figure out how to Yeah, we had all the crew had to step in and be in the background. I got my Yeah, it was. But it was we really I mean, it's really hard to maneuver in a lot of snow. Yeah. And

Michael Damian 32:30
So however, the market the Christmas markets, of course, that was coming out. It was 10 below zero.

Alex Ferrari 32:36
I was gonna say, You know what? I literally said, my wife, my wife look at it, because we're, she's she's become a visual effects expert, all of a sudden, over the years after being with us, is that it's just like, is that real? And I go, they didn't have the budget. This is no way they had the budget to do that digitally. That's not that's real. So it's really that polar. Like, I promise you, it's probably that gold. And it was,

Janeen Damian 32:58
It was It wasn't all that snow and we were in a watershed so we weren't allowed to make any snow. So that's why we all had to do the snow dance.

Michael Damian 33:05
The snow on the trees, we couldn't put it on a synthetics. We couldn't do any synthetic anything.

Janeen Damian 33:10
Nothing or the soap bubbles. We couldn't do anything. So we're so here we are with a Christmas market, no snow, and then all of a sudden, it just dumped it snowed three feet. And then we couldn't get anybody up there. We all know and then we couldn't get anybody up there or any of the equipment. But anyway, so that was the most challenging day. But so we had to shoot really fast because we lost a half a day.

Alex Ferrari 33:31
And that's it. So in other words, you showed up with 150 shots on your shot list and you shot 10

Michael Damian 33:39
Exactly. Okay, wide

Alex Ferrari 33:41
Shot here. Move the camera there and we're out boys. Let's

Michael Damian 33:44
Go. Okay, move on. Next. Move on. The 500 extras we have 50 Okay, so let's put them all over here. Now. In other jackets are moving over here.

Alex Ferrari 33:56
I did that all the time. That's the best. I mean, you don't need 500 I mean, unless you're Ridley Scott. I mean, you don't need them and you need good 20 or 30 Yeah, fill the screen just fill the frame. That's all you need.

Janeen Damian 34:10
That when you watch it that you can't tell. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 34:13
I couldn't tell at all. No, that was a beautiful little Christmas Town.

Michael Damian 34:16
And we did get we finally they came up and what was great is that they actually made it but it was now 11 o'clock at night. And and then then

Janeen Damian 34:26
We weren't allowed to sing. They said we can't play music after 11 So we had the whole singing and the fireworks when everybody's singing and they're all there to sing and then we couldn't sing because we couldn't play music. So we just kind of you know, it's one of those

Michael Damian 34:38
We just said just ask forgiveness. Let's just crank up the music once. We'll probably get one take at this. Let's just turn around, put it on 11 Go to 11 Sing everybody until they just say stop you know the till they pull the power plug on

Janeen Damian 34:54
Us eat us but you know it was Christmas and it was a Christmas song and everybody loved it. Yeah, nobody complained

Michael Damian 34:59
Actually. Thank you We're so worried about the people in the condos complaining but nobody was complaining

Alex Ferrari 35:04
About like, hard. It's not like thrash metal, you guys.

Janeen Damian 35:09
World, the world of your shop and not to

Michael Damian 35:14
Shut us down on Joy to the world.

Alex Ferrari 35:15
I mean, what kind of, you're gonna go straight to hell, you're gonna straight to hell at that point. I mean, what's the point? Now, another question of asking, you know, especially couples who work together, how do you balance? I mean, because it's insane to be in the film industry? How do you balance the work relationship with a personal relationship, especially onset, because onset is a stressful place, production is a stressful place, feelings get hurt, egos get crushed? You know, how do you especially working so closely together as a producing directing team? How do you balance that for other other teams out there might be listening?

Janeen Damian 35:54
What you know, go ahead, you say so, oh, I think that it starts with the fact that we have very similar artistic tastes and tendencies. And so our vision tends to be a cohesive idea. And we don't really argue a lot about stuff because we, we tend to like the same things. And we, we tend to want a lot. And especially because we write, you know, most of us ever at least rewrite and polish everything we do. We're so close to it, we've already worked through it. So

Michael Damian 36:30
We finished a lot of thoughts in writing, like, we'll be writing, and she'll start a sentence, and then I'll just, it just comes out and finishing and then she's perfect. And then I ended and then she does the other character. And then we start to have a dialogue. And we start acting out the scenes right there in the office. And so it's

Janeen Damian 36:46
Between the script and then pre production, we're ammonius. Mostly, we'd like to we're really specific about everything that we want to put on screen. So about time that we finally get there. I think that we have a pretty good a pretty good idea. And we don't really have a lot to fight about except for fight for something together. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 37:07
It's done. That makes sense that makes perfect sense. Let me ask you, if there was something that you guys could say, each of you, if you can go back in time and tell your younger self one thing about this business, a warning, if you will, just a little piece of advice at the beginning of the career, what would that be?

Michael Damian 37:28
Well, I would say I would say, if you really believe in yourself, and you really believe in something, and know it to be true. You've i You're gonna hear a lot of stuff down the road. And I'll give you my quick, probably my quick story on that, which is my record, when you say that's probably the best,

Janeen Damian 37:51
I'm always saying you're gonna tell yourself something, something different.

Alex Ferrari 37:54
Something that something like you know, guys, it's gonna be

Michael Damian 37:58
Other people, others wanting other people something that happened to me,

Alex Ferrari 38:02
No, no, no warning set, like you personally can go back in time with Marty McFly, you talk to your 16 year old self and you're thinking about getting into this business. And you go Listen, guys, you're gonna have a hell of a ride, I can't tell you anything else. But the one thing you should worry or be wary about is it's going to take a long time, you're gonna have to write, don't eat carbs, I don't know.

Janeen Damian 38:23
The sooner that you can figure out what what it is, what your passion is, and what it is that you want to do. Go for it. And it may it may not present itself right away, but really pay attention to what is meaningful to you. In, in whatever industry, you know, within the industry, I wish that I would have paid more attention. And I wish that I would have transitioned out of dancing sooner. Or at least while I was while I was on camera, I would have paid more attention to what was going on. But I didn't know that that's where I was gonna go. So I went to like Michael Jackson.

Michael Damian 38:56
And he went to bed with Coppola and Lucas and all those great people.

Janeen Damian 39:00
So don't really waste your youth. Don't waste your seize the moment. Really. I mean, if you want to go into the entertainment industry, the sooner you know that you can get in and get work experience and actually dive in there and not and not wait for stuff to come to you. I don't know. That's what I would say.

Alex Ferrari 39:21
That makes perfect sense. Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Janeen Damian 39:29
Be tenacious and creative. Because, you know, if one door doesn't open find another door because there's a lot of doors available now.

Michael Damian 39:38
I would say get on a movie set as fast as you can. Yeah. I don't care. Where are you going to be because Janine and I have elevated people on our sets that came in and had no experience and we just said you know what? This young person should be over with the production design team. They're there. They're getting us coffee and this person needs to be over there learning. Because we saw what we saw what was happening here. I mean, and so

Janeen Damian 40:09
70 and be really good troubleshooter and elevate quickly.

Michael Damian 40:14
Yep, exactly. And be open and listen. And anybody, just any department engaged with them? You know, don't harass them. But you know, like I did with burns and Sawyer but the camera. Yeah. How did was that sprocket doing? No, but you know, you know, there's a point where you're annoying but but just really be there and be present. And listen, and pay attention is so important and have positive energy on set. When you don't you don't yawn? Yawn. That's a really big one.

Janeen Damian 40:45
Yeah, don't ever yawn to really try not to yarn.

Michael Damian 40:48
Yeah, go outside, go away, go go in the outhouse or something and move on, but just don't let anybody see of yawning on a set.

Alex Ferrari 40:55
Now, what is the lessons that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Janeen Damian 41:00
Good question. i Okay. Why is the opposite of my goals is to, to be confident in myself

Alex Ferrari 41:09
Believe in myself more,

Janeen Damian 41:10
Believe in myself. And that I am, I am prepared. And I am. I am worth it. So, it took me a long time to have a lot of confidence in my stuff. Michael is the most confident person I've ever met.

Michael Damian 41:30
I was just naive. I just thought you know, I My parents just instilled that it's just sad. If you're going to do it, go all the way. Do not ever quit anything. I don't care. What is the only thing I did quit, I want to tell you is that I had a paper route. And I had to quit because the dogs attacked me. Every time I went down the road. My pants were shredded. Sorry. I just I've never told anybody in any interview that so anyway, I quit. Question, What was the question?

Janeen Damian 42:05
It's a basic question. Alex, remind me that.

Alex Ferrari 42:09
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether the film industry or in life?

Michael Damian 42:15
The longest to learn? I would say probably not to echo you. But I think I think a lot of it was learned, really just learning and paying attention. And really picking up all the all the nuances on the set, I could have learned a lot more. I did learn but I think if I would have I guess I didn't know I was going to be on the other side of the camera, I would have been, I would be paying a little more attention to certain things. But gosh, did He mean Good answer?

Alex Ferrari 42:48
Good answer. That's a good answer. And also never underestimate the power of naivete. It is it is

Michael Damian 42:56
It's denial

Alex Ferrari 43:00
It is a gift. It is a gift. But also the the thing I always tell people is like there is an there's an insanity to what we do. It's insane. It's insane. It's insane to get a whole bunch of people together to tell a story in up a hill with snow. And there's just it's an insanity to even believe that we could do this in the first place. So you need that to even just get on the field to play. But then when you're you have denial, and you have night, like you're completely clueless along the way, but it's very powerful, but extremely dangerous.

Janeen Damian 43:36
I came along. Got me for no, you're just that you've got such a good team. Why are we such a good team? This is why you balance?

Michael Damian 43:46
Yeah, you got to you got to know your stuff. And we're have we'd like to have a lot of fun. But we're really detail oriented, we have a plan every single minute. And you know, and of course the plan is gonna go right out the window, the minute you get on the set. And we now find out that we can't shoot this way because now all the wind is blowing the blue screen into the set. And now we have to shoot another thing. And you got to learn how to adapt quickly. The most important thing is keep the train moving. Don't panic. Find a way to adapt and always keep rolling camera. It's really when I see people just stop and everything just grinds to a halt. It's painful. Sometimes it's necessary but

Janeen Damian 44:30
Try to keep shooting, find solutions, find something to

Michael Damian 44:33
Shoot, find solutions and find something to shoot. Because the clock it's in the taxi with the meter running and you've got at the end of the day time is the enemy obviously you know the enemy but constantly, you know, have a plan, but be prepared for the unexpected. And I think that's what happens almost every day on the set to be honest with you.

Alex Ferrari 44:52
And three of your favorite films of all time. Days of Heaven, Star Wars The natural Field of Dreams. Where's your baseball movie coming out? I'd love to I'd love all three of those movies. But what?

Janeen Damian 45:15
Romeo and Juliet. And he's having

Michael Damian 45:18
Romeo and Juliet as

Janeen Damian 45:20
Well, because these jerseys are sort of life forming experiences for me. So and then Also A Star is Born the Barbra Streisand one.

Alex Ferrari 45:28
Okay. All right. That's a good that's that's a good that's a good set.

Janeen Damian 45:33
Those were the ones that made me want to get into the film.

Michael Damian 45:37
Can I throw a fourth in there? Sure. Nice. Oh, that was the one that when I sat in that theater, it just,

Alex Ferrari 45:45
I mean, you want to talk about suspense of disbelief, though. You were 45 year olds playing teenagers? I mean, seriously. I mean, seriously, I mean, what was it was it candidate was that what's what's her name? Stockard Channing. She was like, 33.

Michael Damian 46:04
I didn't know we listened. I didn't know.

Alex Ferrari 46:08
I love that movie. But like, like, we go back and like, they're, they're like, 50 What is going on? Why are they flying away at the end into the sky that was never established, like what's going on?

Janeen Damian 46:24
All those questions just said, you know, I liked Greece. But I did want to know what was with the aja. She said you

Michael Damian 46:29
she was asking me all these. I was like, I don't really care. I just love them.

Alex Ferrari 46:35
Michael, I'm like you I completely suspend disbelief. My wife on the other hand, like that's not the way it would happen. And I'm like, can you just enjoy Can you suspend a little disbelief?

Michael Damian 46:48
Together Alex, you and I need to watch you because

Alex Ferrari 46:50
I just like to name my mighty cruise. But she's like, she just watches it and she like ruin stuff. And I'm like, I'm like, it's like, oh, that's not the way a doctor's office would be because I don't care. I don't care. I just let me enjoy. Like, she's ruined many a movie for me. And I'm very careful now. Like, this is okay. So I forced her to watch Star Wars. Okay, Michael, I forced all six of them. It this is years ago, years ago when we first started dating. And at the end, she goes like, she's like, you know, Darth Vader's kind of a punk. And I'm like, What do you mean? She's like, he you know, he's basically the the Emperor's like, you know, you know, like lapdog and he goes around intimidating people with his deep breathing and choking people out with his imagination. I didn't understand it. And I was like, Oh, my God, that is really amazing description. is deep breathing and chokes people out with his imagination. I was just like, You know what? I think so. You want to talk about balance? There's the balance. There's you always need. I love Star Wars too, though. Thank you. I like to

Michael Damian 48:06
Sneak I love. I sneak up and all of a sudden I hear God like, are you watching Star Wars again? It's either that or Indiana Jones and Oh, I love it. I really? That is my fourth my fifth film. Indiana. Yeah, Raiders. The Lost Ark.

Alex Ferrari 48:24
Oh, I did see the new trailer. I just came out. It just came out like two hours ago. I looks really nice. It looks good. I enjoy it looks good. I'm a James Mangold is the director. So awesome. I have high hopes I have high hopes that he's not going to be blown up by a nuclear bomb in a refrigerator this time. So buddy, we could keep geeking out about movies forever. Guys, I appreciate you coming on the show was such a pleasure talking to you guys. Continued success. I can't wait to see Lindsay's new movie and your new movie when it comes out coming out by the way. I wish wish

Janeen Damian 49:00
Oh, we don't have a release date. Well, we're just editing it now. So I think they'll it'll be forthcoming your release date but we're not sure yeah. 2023 2023

Michael Damian 49:11
Yeah, we're we'll be done. Probably around April May when you know when we've picked your lock and color and sound music all that should be around May, April May. So alright.

Alex Ferrari 49:21
Well guys, continuous access, and it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you guys. Thank you so much for coming on the show.

Janeen Damian 49:27
Thank you so much for having us.

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