I had the pleasure of meeting Joshua Caldwell, a brother in “indie filmmaking” arms. He directed a $6000 feature film called LAYOVER, which World Premiered at the 2014 Seattle International Film Festival where it was nominated for the New American Cinema Award.
The story of how he made the film was educational, rebellious and funny. Many things he said mirrored my experience making This is Meg. Josh really has a great philosophy about making films and content. Check out the trailer below to see what a $6000 feature film in today’s world looks like.
If you are going to make a feature film in the near future you need to listen to this podcast. It will change how you think about making indie films. Below, I also included a talk the Josh Caldwell did at the Seattle International Film Festival that is AWESOME! After you listen to the podcast watch the video below.
Joshua Caldwell – The $6000 LAYOVER: Rethinking Indie Film
Director Joshua Caldwell discusses making his debut feature film, LAYOVER, for only $6000 and how filmmakers need to rethink their role in the ever-shifting paradigm of independent filmmaking.
Here’s a bit more about Joshua Caldwell:
Joshua Caldwell is an accomplished director, writer, producer, and MTV Movie Award winner. He has worked with a number of high-profile producers, including CSI: creator Anthony E. Zuiker, for whom he produced CYBERGEDDON, the online global motion picture event for Yahoo!, and directed all of the film’s ancillary content for its immersive website.
His award-winning short film DIG, starring Mark Margolis of BREAKING BAD, was featured in numerous film festivals, and his latest short RESIGNATION screened at Comic-Con.
Alex Ferrari 6:03
So guys, I'm super excited about today's guest, Joshua Caldwell. I mean, Josh is I call him my brother in arms in my my brother in indie film arms, because, you know, as I was interviewing him for the for the show, I just started realizing everything he was saying was like, Oh my god, this is like, he's basically saying a lot of the stuff I've been preaching for a while now. But he's put a lot of it in practice. He's made now three feature films. And one specifically that we're going to talk heavily about in this episode is the layover, or actually just layover. layover was made for 6000 bucks, and he shot it on a on a DSLR you know how I feel about DSLRs. But I'm coming around. Again, I always say that DSLRs are good if you know what you're doing. And if you can shoot it properly. And my man knew what he was doing, because I saw the trailer for it. And it looks really, really good. He really talks a lot about really guerrilla stuff stealing every shot, you can imagine. I mean he was in he basically shot all around LA, went into the the highest profile locations and just stole shots, he actually went to LA x shot in LA x went on a plane shot on a plane. I mean it was it was pretty a pretty great story. And it just shows it shows you that you can go out and do it and you don't need a million dollars or half a million dollars or anything to go make your movie he did it. He proved it himself. And he just like you know what, this is the movie I wanted to make. And by the way, it's a French language. He's not a French, he doesn't speak French. But a French language indie film, basically done for $6,000. no action. I'm not sure about sex, but I don't think there's any sex in it either. And it's just basically a romp one night, throughout LA, it's pretty, pretty awesome. I can't I can't express to you enough how awesome it was to talk to Josh. And I really was excited to get him on the show. And then also to get this information out to you guys. So if you guys are going to make a feature film in the next year or two, or even thinking about making a feature film, you've got to listen to this podcast. It will change the way you look at movies, and how it make movies, especially in today's world. And the empowerment that you will have it which again is what I've been preaching all his time with what I've done with this is Meg when I'm going to be doing with my future projects coming up in 2017 and so on, and it's you I just want to give you guys the freedom to just go and shoot. And Josh really lays out a great battle plan, a blueprint on how he did it with layover and I'm really excited for you guys to hear his story, his antidotes and all the cool stuff that he's been doing over the last few years and he also have a common inspirational movie that kind of started us off this on this path, which is for lovers only I've talked about this movie by the Polish brothers many times on the show before and I will put a link in the show notes to the podcast with Michael Polish where we discuss in depth how they went and shot for lovers only which was basically done on zero budget. And a lot of these those techniques that they were using back then which is 2010 something like that 2011 is a lot of stuff that Josh used in this movie and I used in this as mag so without any further ado I'm not gonna talk anymore guys, I want you guys to hear this interview. Really get ready to listen up and listen to this many many times because it's very valuable information. Enjoy my conversation with Josh Caldwell. I'd like to welcome to the show Joshua Caldwell.
Joshua Caldwell 9:54
Alex Ferrari 9:55
I got it man. How you doing man?
Joshua Caldwell 9:57
I'm good. Thanks for having me.
Alex Ferrari 9:58
Thanks for thanks for reaching out. And so we were talking a little bit off air before we started and you actually remember, I guess you remembered my name from years ago on another project that did right.
Joshua Caldwell 10:11
It's a whole decade ago. I think at this point. Stop
Alex Ferrari 10:13
it, man. You're making me feel.
Joshua Caldwell 10:16
How do you think I feel? Yeah, I
Alex Ferrari 10:17
know. Right? Exactly. So yeah, you you apparently you're one of the people who bought broken back in the day. Well, I
Joshua Caldwell 10:26
buy it. I'm trying to remember.
Alex Ferrari 10:28
It's fine. You boot
Joshua Caldwell 10:29
like, that's fine. That's okay. Yeah, no, I mean, I saw it, I think because it was available at some point. But yeah, no, I remember, you know, it was it was kind of one of those things when, you know, the dbx x 100, a was coming out, the Canon XL two was coming out, and everyone was like, 24 p was the huge thing. But like, people hadn't really used it to make, you know, generous terms, a decent looking movie, you know, something really cinematic. And so I think your guys, I just remember you guys blowing up and sort of, you know, reading about it and reading about this, like the the process behind it, you guys had the whole website with like, here's how we did the effects. And here's how we did the color correction. Here's how we did all this. And it was just like, you know what, at that time, I mean, the people that are sort of into filmmaking now don't realize, like, how little information there was, you know, even 10 years ago. And so, you know, I mean, I've talked about that before, but this idea of, like, you know, you and I, I don't know how old you are, but you and I are like, those were similar vintages. They're similar, we're in the same decade range, I guess. But you know, it's it's like how how, even in the early stages of the internet, there still wasn't like a ton of info. And so you really had to, like, suss out, like, you know, online, like how people were doing things like I've just I've said, you know, I'd be watching, like the behind the scenes on Magnolia back in like, 2000 and seeing a dolly and being like, a fisher Dolly and be like, what is that thing? Like, you know, Mind blown?
Alex Ferrari 11:56
Where do you get one of those?
Joshua Caldwell 11:57
Yeah, or, or Yeah, exactly. Or, like, What is that for? Like, I don't know what that's for, you know, or seeing a shot in the movie and trying to understand, like, you know, Oh, is that a zoom? Or is that a dolly? Or is that a combo? Both are like how do they get all this walking stuff so smooth, and you don't know what a steady kin is, you know, and then you discover Oh, there's a thing called a glide cam that you could use with your, your dv x or your GL to or whatever you're using, and suddenly like, but you're stressing all this out. And I just remember like, you guys, like had put up you know, taking this film you'd made this film, you know, that was very well received. But then you would also gone that step further of putting up this like wealth of information in terms of how you did it, and that just being very, like a really cool thing in in a in a very, very small lake of film, technique and information at that time.
Alex Ferrari 12:46
Thank you, brother. I appreciate it. Yeah, when I went when I when I did that movie, I there was nothing. I did
Joshua Caldwell 12:51
Alex Ferrari 12:52
I looked everywhere. And I was like, Well, I don't think this is
Joshua Caldwell 12:55
kids today's habits so
Alex Ferrari 12:57
Oh, these kids, they don't need kids. They could shoot on their iPhone, the iPhones better quality.
Joshua Caldwell 13:03
I know right? Like people people do this day I made it I did a short in college that I won an MTV Movie Award for called the beautiful lie. You know, that was shot on the exhale, too. And people are like, oh, Can I see it? I'm like, No.
Alex Ferrari 13:17
Yeah, no, that's no,
Joshua Caldwell 13:18
I don't even know if I can get it to for you to see it. Because it was like SD and it's on a tape somewhere and you're just like, don't worry about it, just let
Alex Ferrari 13:25
it go. Just let it Yeah. So how'd you get into the industry in the first place?
Joshua Caldwell 13:31
I so I started making movies in high school. And we just had a cool program where we had like avid systems and digital cameras, and we were able to like edit. And this is like 2001 no 2000 2001 that we had this and so I sort of just took advantage of it something that I kind of found myself really loving and you know, I grown up like you know, seeing movies with my dad and in playing you know, take seeing Batman and and coming back and playing Batman and getting neighborhoods get together and sort of play acting, you know, or building worlds with like Legos or Playmobil and sort of like creating, you know, narratives and stories and sort of acting that out, but not knowing what a director did or writer did or cinematographer or any of that, unlike kids these days, you know. And so you know, and then in high school, I discovered that they had this program and it was sort of being able to do this program for a learning perspective. But then we had our ASB officers Associated Student Body officers would make parody movies in order to sort of like you know, introduce the new homecoming theme or something like that and I had a friend that did it and so I started hanging out with him and sort of pitching ideas and eventually I took over directing these things and we did like you know we did a usual suspects rip off and these weren't like parodies like sometimes some of them were serious. You know, they weren't like all comedy, but I did like usual suspects. Rip off. We did like a snatch heist movie, I did a soap opera in in my big finale was we did an hour long Star Wars movie. Oh, wow. So it was like really great because we had the tools available. You know, talking about not having this info like, you know, back in 2002, trying to figure out how to make lightsabers work and do lightsabers on screen and After Effects, it was like, you know, and then I did one way and then discovered the way that you could actually do it where you could get it to flare out. And I was like, well, it's too late now to make it better looks now looks like a little toothpick that you're swinging around. You know, but just trying to discover that using like 3d Max and like, you know, getting free downloads of spaceships that that people have built in 3d maps and then animating that, you know, and just all that kind of stuff. But the idea was you always had, you know, you had a deadline. And we showed these at school assemblies. So like, you were somewhat censored, you can do whatever you wanted, but you were able you were expected to make 1300 Kids happy. You know, and so it was like a really great sort of formative experience at a very young age to sort of know that we had a deadline, we had no money and we had to find a way to make it work. And so that's that's where a lot of my kind of approach has was born out of
Alex Ferrari 16:17
which leads which leads us to I guess you did a handful of shorts, obviously prior to your first feature. Right? kind of got your your feet wet, and you learned a little bit of the tools. But on your first feature, which you made four 6000 from what if I read
Joshua Caldwell 16:31
6000? Yeah, 6000 layover? Can
Alex Ferrari 16:33
you tell us a little bit about that first feature?
Joshua Caldwell 16:35
Yeah, it was, um, you know, it's the story of a young French woman who is traveling from Paris to Singapore to visit her boyfriend. And she is sort of expecting him to propose once she gets there, and she has a unexpected layover in Los Angeles or a connecting flight is canceled until the following morning. So she's stuck here. For 12 hours, she has a friend here calls her up, they go out and that sort of starts this night of sort of self reflection and discovery and sort of consideration about you know, sort of whether the life she's flying to is the life that she wants and sort of in an interesting way she's given a pause button for 12 hours to sort of just take a breather and think about it and that's kind of what the show you know and it's a it's a traveling movie we traveled throughout the city of La you know we're all over the city
Alex Ferrari 17:31
I'm assuming you paid for permits and everything right
Joshua Caldwell 17:33
no no we had Yeah, we had the trailers and all that stuff following no no it was a total gorilla I mean shot on the five D You know, everything was stolen we didn't permit anything but it was an attempt and the 6000 was just that was the money we had so we made it work but we paid our actors you know, we had a small crew like we always get we get you know, online if you read some of the articles on like dough film school, you get a lot of people who've never made a movie before writing back and be like, Oh, you didn't make it for six grand? or How did you do this? And how do you do this? And it's just like, you know, one, well go make a movie yourself before you talk, but to like there, there are creative ways of doing it and you just didn't think about it. Like they would make assumptions that were clearly incorrect. Right? Oh, yeah, I
Alex Ferrari 18:16
hear it all the time. I hear it all the time. And people just always wanted like, well 100 100 Robert Rodriguez really make the movie for 7000 I'm like well, the movie he showed his agent was made for 7000 the one that we saw was made for 1.2 million.
Joshua Caldwell 18:31
Right after and everything exactly and so but you know, it's like it's possible it's possible nowadays certainly. And it was just one of those things where you know, we just did very limited crew there's four people the whole time and we didn't pay the crew but they got credit and we shot on weekends so nobody really cared if they didn't really want to do it. They didn't have to be there like it wasn't you know, it wasn't this thing where we had 30 people standing around and we weren't paying them you know it was very which is what you people usually do and I have done on shorts you know where you're like well I don't have the money volunteer and it's just like oh, you know, so layover was an attempt to sort of do an indie movie for very low budget that was different than what you were seeing made which was limited characters and like limited locations like one to three locations but they would have the crew and I just got to the point where I was like, well the crew is not what's up on screen. The crew is not helping me put something up on screen so having made these shorts and little things with the five D where I was running around town for no money and trying to shoot stuff and expected to turn in high quality work. I was like is this possible on a feature level Could I make a feature this way? You know and so I wrote a movie designed to be accomplished at that budget you know for no money I brought everything I you know, spent 14 years learning as a do yourself filmmaker to the table. You know, I brought my experience as a shooter to the table. You know, and and And we really kind of went for it. And it, it turned out pretty well. I mean, you know, it's a French language movie, I don't speak French, but we decided to challenge ourselves in that way. You know, and it was also coming at a time in my life where I was, like, you know, I'd been writing features and trying to get features made, and you kept going, like $300,000 for the type of movie I want to make, probably not going to get it, I don't want to spend time like looking for money. And it just kind of got kept boiling down to me going, alright, I'm about to turn 30 I want to shoot a feature. So what's the feature I can shoot, and if the feature I can shoot is layover for six grand, and that's the feature I'm gonna make. And, you know, it wasn't even a gamble. Because like the money was like, a non issue. Like, it wasn't like, you know, oh, I have this French language, indie drama with no stars, I'm spending a million dollars to do and I'm never gonna make that money back. You know, it was really so low risk that we never felt ever that we were like, We can't get this done or, or this isn't gonna work or it's not going to be as good as it can be. I mean, we you know, we shot on weekends, we had time in between the shooting days, to figure it out, think about it, which is a process I brought to, you know, another film I did negative more recently, you know, but that had a significantly higher budget, but we still brought the same approach, which was all basically, it was all in service of making of turning around the best movie that we could, which really involved getting the best performances that we could. And so everything about the film was shaped to give us the most time on set to get the best performance as possible. And so we didn't, we barely lit, we shot the five D at like 30 to 6400 ISO, you know, and that allowed us to basically spend like, show up light in 30 minutes and spend eight hours shooting the takes, and get us really, really, really great performances. And so you know, the thing that I say is like, everybody's sort of always thinking about their first feature and worried about the first feature, and I'm like, well, it's just a feature, you know, like, it's going to be good or it's going to be bad. And the thing is, though, is nobody's going to give you a shot until you just do that first feature. And really for me, like I made great shorts. I have a short that I'm like incredibly proud of called Digg and I spent like 40 grand to make it. period drama just got mark, my goal is Senate from breaking bad. It's like, really, really, really great. Nobody cares.
Alex Ferrari 22:14
No one cares, man. No,
Joshua Caldwell 22:16
I got I got nothing off of it. And the second I make a $6,000 French language neuron, the RS indie drama. Yeah, I get offers for the next three years off the same film.
Alex Ferrari 22:32
Now, first of all, I want you to I just want to say man preach on brother preach on because, I mean, I can't explain to you how much and the listeners know, this is as you've said, pretty much verbatim above at least three or four podcasts that I've talked about all those topics about backing into your budget. Damn something low for your first one. So you can just experiment and don't put pressure on it. It's not going to be a home run out the park, you're not going to get a deal with sun, you know, go to Sundance get a deal.
Joshua Caldwell 23:02
It could be it could no you could but that's a lottery ticket. It could but don't worry about Yeah, exactly. It's a lottery ticket. So very few people that can do that.
Alex Ferrari 23:10
Do the best work you can and that's all you can do within the within the parameters that you have. And that's exactly what you did. So what what what was the biggest thing you learned on shooting on the shooting layover.
Joshua Caldwell 23:22
So the biggest thing I learned shooting layover is that audiences. So really, it's a very technical thing, but it's a technical thing that leads into everything else, which is that audiences do not care about the image in so far as the way that DPS care about the image decision. What I mean by that is that as long as it looks decent, audiences do not care. If it as long as the performances are great, if you have a beautiful looking movie and the performances suck, because it took forever to get those beautiful shots, audiences will not care about your movie, they will not care performance and attachment to the story triumphs over everything else. And so in a way that gives you a huge amount of freedom. And I talk a lot about this now everything these new cameras like Canon cameras specifically and using them at very high ISOs which allows me to step into locations and not light and not spend time lighting shots and instead spend time getting performance because I've said this before on layover and a lot of people watch layover they think it's very beautiful because I think it's a beautiful film because you know use the natural city lights in LA and you shoot at 6400 ISO it's gonna look amazing. But I never once had an audience member. Watching layover say I really enjoyed your movie until I saw the shot with some noise in it and it ruined it for me Yet I have always had people say and some other projects I've done that will remain nameless, that, you know, we didn't, we spent a lot of time lighting and we didn't have time for performance and it was not set up in a way to succeed performance wise, people do not care about it, because the performances aren't great. When you have three takes, you're not going to get great stuff, unless you're using you know, unless you got frickin like huge a list actors and they know what they're doing. You know, and even then, but it really is like a thing where where I took from layover something that I now applied to everything that I have control over which is like, we are not going to spend three hours lighting the shot or this scene, like we're gonna, I'm gonna I'm gonna ask you to shoot above 3200 ISO which most DPS don't want to do. And I'm gonna ask you to trust me that it's gonna be okay, because I've spent two years doing it and doing it with great effect. And so, to me, what I took from that was, everybody really loves the performances and layover. And that was because we were in a place where we could play and we could try things and we can do things differently and we could spend the time to get the good performances and get the story right. rather than worrying about is this lit as perfectly as it needs to be. And guess what, at the end of the day, people still love the cinematography and layover. Right yeah, like Oh, it looks like shit and you can't you know, you clearly did it looks terrible, but the performances are great. It's like it still looks beautiful. It's really about you know, Mark polish and I talk a lot a bit about this now, because he and I have been sort of is sort of in the same vein,
Alex Ferrari 26:29
Mike saying that Mike's a friend of the show. Yes, I know. Mike. He's awesome. Mark his brother, Mark. Mark. I love Michael.
Joshua Caldwell 26:36
Yeah, Michael is great, too. But the market I've been talking about is sort of the idea of like, you know, framing is almost more important than lighting. Yep. And so in that respect framing doesn't take time like framings discovery framings like you know
Alex Ferrari 26:51
and still especially if you're shooting for like even if you're shooting at a higher resolution you can always reframe and post as well.
Joshua Caldwell 26:57
Exactly, exactly and it gives you that freedom and so like you know I took from layover this idea that wow, like we can go out in the street and go out into these locations that we've never seen before with a minimal light kit or a non existent light kit and shoot really really great material that people aren't going to believe we got and so that that to me is what I've taken from it and really have pushed DPS I've worked with now and push myself as a dp you know to sort of really take that to the next level and I think that that's what I'm most excited about what I'm most excited about in terms of like camera technology is low light sensitivity not resolution
Alex Ferrari 27:33
right absolutely in the cameras now are getting they're getting sick it's really getting
Joshua Caldwell 27:37
sick they're ridiculous I mean I you know parts of negative were shot on this this canon mb 20 that shoots up to 4 million ISO and we didn't shoot it that because it's unusable but you know we shot a big sequence in negative which is the shootout sequence in the middle of the desert. We shot that on at 25,000 and 100,000 ISO and you see the stars in the night sky and we were a little light with like you know i two people up there with a small light kit like huge lighting huge swaths of desert because those these cameras are just so sensitive and so it gives you a lot of freedom to move fast move quickly work with a small crew get a lot of materials spend a lot of time getting like great takes and great like I'd rather have 20 great takes I've got to choose from the Edit than one you know and so that's what it's about it's really about how do I on an indie budget build in the chance the opportunity to do sort of David Fincher Michael Mann style takes you know not 100 of them but a lot
Alex Ferrari 28:37
I remember looking at my freedom but look what Michael Mann did and he was one started he I think he's one of the first guys him and Fincher to use the Viper because it was one of the first cameras to actually see at night and you can actually see more than film could see with collateral I mean that movie Yep, I think he went to a foreign Miami Vice personally but
Joshua Caldwell 28:55
well it was a little great well agree to disagree on that one but
Alex Ferrari 28:58
it's a little grainy was just a little grainy that's Yeah, but
Joshua Caldwell 29:01
you know, I think what's I mean we can do this a whole side conversation. What I what I liked about Michael Mann is I think he's pushing he's pushing form. And the thing that's funny to me about Michael Mann in terms of people's like expectations of him as a filmmaker because they know him from heat and they know him like for these really great narrative stuff. I think like Michael at heart is in art is like an RD filmmaker. Like he's like so interested in the rd aspect of it and you see it now in his movies because he's got the freedom to play with it and like you're either gonna like it or you're not, but like, it's so much more about like feeling and mood and like that kind of stuff than it is about like a narrative thread. Like the narrative thread was almost like secondary in an interesting way but but anyway, but back to you know, yeah, so I mean, you know, everybody's sort of talking about this like resolution game. And I'm like, well, you got to think about like how that hurts you because like shooting at high resolutions means you got to pay a lot of money for storage. It's a lot of like, heavy workflow, you know, it's not something you can probably do on your home computer to you know, color it 8k, and so it creates a A lot of situ a lot of issues for you down the line that you're going to have to make sure you've got the money for in order to accomplish it and it doesn't 8k doesn't make your movie better no you know but I think that low light sensitivity on cameras can make your movie better because what can do is it can it can simplify and limit the amount of time you need to spend lighting which means you can now spend more of that time shooting and that's what's going to make you your movie better is to give you more material to shoot you know and to have in the Edit room than having one two takes
Alex Ferrari 30:38
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show now there's other there's the second move you made was B somebody had to get that off the ground
Joshua Caldwell 30:54
that was just a for hire thing honestly oh really that came out of yeah that that was something where they were looking for a director and they hired they had seen layover they really liked layover and I had also come off of doing a series called South Beach which was on Hulu and so be somebody kind of came out it was one of the it's one of those for hire things that kind of comes out of nowhere and you're like oh that's a really interesting story like you know I can see my sort of see myself doing this and and you know, it was something that was like an opportunity at the time and so I went for it and I sort of was intrigued by the idea of, of sort of taking this notion of like Roman Holiday and sort of you know and updating it and but shooting it in like a way that really spoke to me you know and sort of was my approach to it as opposed to you know somebody else's and so I and I was also intrigued by getting into this like digital world this kind of world of digital features and influencer movies and sort of seeing if that was something that you know would lend itself to my approach
Alex Ferrari 31:56
yeah what what affected Matthew's audience have on the financing of the film and also the selling of the film?
Joshua Caldwell 32:02
I mean financing was all of it it was all him you know i mean it was certainly like the impact of having 20 million very rabid followers you know you know possibly buying into that movie was was them determining This is worth the risk and then I know for a fact on Paramount side the reason why Paramount came in and agreed to you know license and release the movie was was an experiment as well to see like Oh, is this something real? This kid's got so many followers. Is it something we can translate into sales? I don't I don't actually know the answer on whether how that worked out. But I think it did I think it did pretty well.
Alex Ferrari 32:35
The I mean I'm sure they did pretty well on VOD and that yeah I mean
Joshua Caldwell 32:39
we did like a limited 10 week or 10 day theatrical you know for like a week but now it's on Netflix on iTunes on Amazon you know and so it it seemed to get you know i think that i you know I've had people friends of mine watch it they're like it's like it's good I get it and I'm like you know but I think it's like kind of directed in a very specific audience you know and but again like To me it was this idea of of again trying to experiment try things and it's like oh, how does this look if I have more money you know, but at the same time like one of my issues with that movie was I was given 12 days to shoot you know, like we shot that movie in 12 days and he's like yeah,
Alex Ferrari 33:19
from the trailer alone you but you bounced around a lot It wasn't like yeah room
Joshua Caldwell 33:25
bringing that approach which is hey, here's how we can sort of expand the scope of it but it was one of those things where I just you know now I feel like every in your listeners got to know there's like, here's the thing like you as a director we spend so little time actually directing you know, we're either editing when we're writing over pre production but like we spend very very little time on set directing and having that experience so the more that you can do it the better off you're going to be you know, I think about it like okay, like I did, you know layover or negative was like a 38 day shoot you know, and be somebody was a 12 day shoot. And then I just done sort of, I just did a short film that was a three day shoot and it just did a pilot which was a two day shoot. So like, what is that you know, 55 days so out of 365 days I've spent 55 of them on set directing,
Alex Ferrari 34:24
and the rest so prepping so those days Yeah, or editing those days right? Yeah, but
Joshua Caldwell 34:28
you're not there's not a huge learning until you're on set trying to figure out how to capture all this you know so so getting on set and having that experience and having to solve problems and figure things out is probably one of the best things you can do to learn how to do all this stuff and that's why like, you know, making layover I didn't do this at 22 before I'd done anything else I did after 14 years of just like Do It Yourself filmmaking and trying to figure out and going oh you know, this works this doesn't like you know layover is possible because when i when i the job working as an exact for Anthony psycho recruited CSI That was I was involved in digital then. And I didn't know much about digital and YouTube and all this stuff, but like, clearly you have no money. So it's like, how do you shoot stuff for cheap in digital, and so all of that came out of an experience of all these things like, wow, you have cameras that can shoot in low light, you can go out on the street and capture stuff without having to like, you know, because I knew from experience with the read that you can't really do that. And so all these things started to add up, but they all added up, because I was out there doing it, and testing and trying things and shooting narrative and seeing what worked and what didn't, you know, and so now it really is, like, you know, be somebody was like, sort of going, Okay, I don't understand how I have a far higher budget that I do on negative, and yet, I'm only given 12 days, and you know, negative, I can stretch it out to 38. You know, and then to me, I go, well, what's the better movie? You know, for me, it's negative, you know, in a certain way, but I really, I think that that's because I created a production model that, you know, as I mentioned, gives me more time to get greater scope, you know, and better performances for less money. And so now the learning is, well, here's where the waste is, here's how I can change this, here's where you need it, and where you don't need it, you know, and sort of starting to feel out. Okay, now, how do I take this low budget model of like me and two people shooting a movie and having it look really good? How do I apply this to things with bigger budgets? You know, how do I apply these things? Where I've unions? How do I apply these things where I have, like, you know, whatever. And so it's become like, now I'm trying to experiment with, with the whole form of production, the whole model of production, because, you know, one of the things that I find kind of frustrating is this idea, what what they what they've done in sort of the low budget indie world, is they've gone well, let's take the same production model of a 10 2040 100 million dollar movie, right? And apply it down to, you know, a million dollar budget. And guess what, you lose, you lose days, you know, obviously, you lose crew, you don't have the same size crew and $100 million movie, but you cut down to like, you still have a lot of crew, you still have a lot of trucks, you still have a lot of trailers, you still have a lot of this, that and the other thing, but what you what you really lose is days. And that is not really cool with me.
Alex Ferrari 37:14
Right? Because that that doesn't allow you to get the performance as you need. And to tell the story that you were trying to tell,
Joshua Caldwell 37:20
yeah, you know, I just had this, I just, you know, had this discussion with, with a producer on something. And, you know, I was given a bunch of reasons why one location was was better than the other. And I said, all of your reasons are production related. They have nothing to do with creative. And so I'm taking a less creative location, you know, to adjust for production, rather than production adjusting for creative. And what I need is sort of the power to control both, which is where I'm trying to get to, because when I can do that, then I can do stuff like negative where I have 38 days, you know, yeah, that's
Alex Ferrari 37:57
a pretty, that's a pretty bulky indie film. But yeah, well,
Joshua Caldwell 38:02
I mean, yeah, I mean, listen, they weren't like 38, full 12 hour days, you know, but the idea was to really not the, the idea was, we have so little money, so let's presume we have done, which means Let's spread it out. Like, you know, I don't want to find myself rushing to try and get, you know, car mount stuff, you know, and do every car mount scene in one day, which is what they would do on any other movie. You know, instead, like, we'll just go up when we go up. So like, you know, but I also was able to go and do like one of those a couple of those days, we're just going down and getting one shot. But that's the shot that helps expand the scope. But it's the shot you cut in a normal production.
Alex Ferrari 38:36
Right? Because you don't have the time. It's very summertime. It's extremely smart. A lot of the stuff that you're talking about is what I just went through with my first feature with Mike, it's just like, I had to just go out there and like, hey, let's just go do it and spread it out. And I hadn't days, it was all about time, having as much time as I could with the actors and Okay, it's it's all. It's It's wonderful to hear somebody else talking about this besides.
Joshua Caldwell 39:00
Yeah, I mean, I, a part of it, too, is just figuring out what works for you. That's true. Like, it's
Alex Ferrari 39:06
what like, what's your flavor? What's your, your process?
Joshua Caldwell 39:09
Yeah, there's some people that can deliver a movie in 12 days, three takes per scene, you know, with really, really great stuff. That's not really me, you know, and so it's hard to go and say, Well, I need 100 days. But like, arguably, I probably need 100 days and $100 million to really execute a lot of this stuff, like in the way that I would want to because it's like, it's weird. It's like, you either need so little money that you have none. And it's like you're just completely free. Or you need so much money that you can buy that freedom.
Alex Ferrari 39:36
We're all at the end of the day. I think all directors are aiming towards the freedom that Kubrick had. Yeah, with a complete with a studio behind you and you can do whatever you want. And but but a lot of people don't understand about specifically about Kubrick is that you hear about these long, because he had some of the longest he has actually the world record for the longest film schedule with eyes right? But the thing is, he has like You know, 10 people on crew? Yeah, that's it. He's like, just gonna just keep Why are you here? If you're not helping me anyway, get out? Yeah. And that's how he got all those days. He was never he was rarely over budget. That's the funny thing. I think of him as a recluse, but he wasn't he was actually always on budget. Thank you went a little bit over budget Eyes Wide Shut, but generally speaking, he was always on budget and just did his thing. But yeah, I think we're all aiming there. That's, that's what I would like,
Joshua Caldwell 40:25
well, and it's, it's sort of, you know, it's, I mean, it's, it has to get there, you know, because, like, people just aren't giving you that money studios aren't giving you that money anymore, you know, and so, yeah, so it's an interesting thing that I've been flirting with, and trying out and sort of like taking jobs, like be somebody sort of allowed me to sort of see how, okay, this is how this works. Here's how it change it. You know, here's how it adjust this. And so you know, you only have so much power in a for hire situation. That was it's hard. observer, it's hard for people to sort of understand and trust it, you know, because you're saying, you need to kind of give me the money. And let me go away and make this and people don't want to do that.
Alex Ferrari 41:03
Unless you have a hell of a of a resume, then yeah,
Joshua Caldwell 41:06
or you can just or you're just coming in. I mean, like, if I come in with a project, and I wrote the script, and I'm directing it, I'm going to produce it like, you know, I can kind of say, Listen, I'll take less than what you would normally get for this, but you need to like, let me just go do my thing.
Alex Ferrari 41:19
Gotcha. And you got to trust me. Yeah. Trust me that Oh, yeah. Done. Now, with layover, which is interesting, you have a $6,000 movie. What did you what was what came of it as far as your career as far as festivals as far as distribution? How that how does that help, because a lot of people listening can make a $6,000 film. So I'd love to hear the story of where that actually went to and what it actually did for you.
Joshua Caldwell 41:43
Yeah, so we finished it. And we were very fortunate. Both Travis, who is a longtime friend and writing partner of mine, like produced it. And we're both both from Seattle. So we have a friend at the Seattle International Film Festival who had sort of heard about us making the movie because we'd been tweeting about it and things like that. And he was like, Listen, I'd love to see when it's done. So we sent it to him steams. And sorry, his name is Brad up there. He runs. He runs the catalyst program. And he, he watched it and really, really loved it. And you know, he'd seen a non finished cut. But he really loved it. He wanted to program it. And we were, we were like, Listen, like, I mean, when we made the movie, we had no illusions about like, Oh, it's gonna get us in this. It's gonna get into Sundance, you know, we're gonna like, the, you know, it's, again what you said, it's like this kind of huge thing. It's gonna blow you up. I was like, No, I'm like, but I do think it might be a festival movie, because we're talking about it being like a French language
Alex Ferrari 42:41
day. Yeah, absolutely.
Joshua Caldwell 42:43
But so anyway, anyway, so they offered it to us, the premiere pro world premiere there, and we took it, we thought that like being a little bit of a bigger fish in a smaller pond would be good. Being in our hometown would be good in terms of like getting, you know, sellouts and things like that. And we really loved the idea of premiering, you know, our first feature at the, at the our hometown festival. And so, so went really well we have two sold out shows, we were nominated for their five plushie award there, which is like their their sort of prestigious independent award. And we didn't win. But it premiered there. And then I managed to get David Chen of slash film to come and see it. Because he lives in Seattle. And, and I said, Listen, I've got this, you know, you don't know me, but I've got this film. I know you're going to the festival, I'd love to invite you and have you see it. And he came and, and tweeted out some very nice things about it, and then interviewed me afterwards. And that was kind of the first notion of the idea of it being like us putting it out there that it was a $6,000 movie. And people started to not believe it, you know, and so we started writing articles. And we did a whole like, you know, we had a couple articles come out about like the sort of process we had something on no film school. And that sort of got us a little bit of attention. And then we got the usual like aggregators saying, hey, we'll put your money in a movie up and you know, not pay anything. And we're like, well, let's wait and see. And so so actually, David ended up coming on board as a producer, he ended up helping sort of provide some finishing funds for the film, and promoting it and sort of getting it out there. And we basically went through a couple more film festivals, not a lot, you know, kind of once you give away your world premiere, like, you know, unless you're a huge movie, people are really gonna play it, although some people, some people will, it's hard to know, I thought it was going to play more festivals than it did. And we started aiming for a fall 2014. So this was May of 2014. So then we decided to start aiming for a fall 2014 self release, we decided, you know, let's not do this aggregation thing, because we're never gonna make a dime off of it. And let's experiment again, like the nature of the film is to try things and experiment. So let's experiment with self distribution, and try that out and see if it's possible. And so David was also very intrigued by that and so we He ended up setting up our film on gumroad. Because they were like one of the cheaper, like they took less in terms of their their costs, and built a website and put it up and, and started selling it and put it up on Vimeo. And, you know, David David posted a couple articles about it. And, and then as a result of that, we ended up getting a guy out of Canada who agreed to sort of do additional distribution, and he ended up you know, he put it on iTunes, Amazon, that kind of thing, we kind of reached a point where we were like hitting our limit in terms of sales. So we were like, yeah, if somebody else wants to bond the cost of putting it up, like we feel like we've kind of made our money. But it would be beneficial just to get it out there.
Alex Ferrari 45:41
Was it a problem? was it? Was it profitable at that point?
Joshua Caldwell 45:45
No, well, it might have at this point, but it's it has not made, it's made probably last I checked, it's made about five of its $6,000 budget, okay. But here's the thing, like, here's what we learned from that, right? Like, we have no stars in it, you know, we have it's a it's a very friend, you know, it's French language, it's indie drama, and we kind of recognized Oh, like, there's a limit to this sort of circle of discussion about that extends out of you, right, there's a limit to your reach. And we kind of realized, okay, like, there's a limit to this reach. And it just never, it never really took off in terms of the public, you know, sort of consumption of it. But we were kind of always okay with that, because we'd made a feature in like, we made a feature that played into felt really reputable Film Festival was getting attention, and we were writing about it, people were intrigued by the $6,000 thing, and I started getting meetings off of it. And then I got, I got, you know, basically ended up getting the last three jobs iPad came out of directly out of layover,
Alex Ferrari 46:48
really. So that was just because that someone did people in the industry reach
Joshua Caldwell 46:52
out to you. Yeah, I mean, they just had heard about it, or saw it, or my manager was pitching me, you know, or sending it out to people. I mean, listen, like, the thing about Hollywood is while everyone's making Transformers movies, everyone came out to Hollywood to make the Godfather, you know, right? Well, for the for the most part, but creative execs really like you know, they love a lot of different stuff. And they're always looking for different things. And so the sort of idea of this low budget, French language film, made by a director that doesn't speak French, became very intriguing. movie on top of that, you know, they were, they were like, kind of always amazed at what I can do for the budget that sort of become the thing that I'm trying to Now get out of
Alex Ferrari 47:34
the cheap guy, he could do that. Yeah, he can do.
Joshua Caldwell 47:39
But I but it was more than that. Because I think like they've seen obviously a lot of cheap movies. And I think that it was really sort of just the right, it just works. I think the movie just ends up working.
Alex Ferrari 47:49
Got it. Now
Joshua Caldwell 47:50
what's but it was, but that's the thing that I that I also talk about is like, Listen, like if you want to go out and hunt down, you know, $4 million to make your first feature like by all means, like, go ahead, you'll probably do well off of it. But like, you can still do well, I mean, you need you should have your man, you should have an agent, you should have a manager, they got to be able to you somebody's got to be able to push you. But like it's possible to, to create a career out of doing something for for $6,000. That isn't some massive Sundance hit, you know, like clerks or something like that.
Alex Ferrari 48:17
Now, what's your approach when when you are working with actors?
Joshua Caldwell 48:22
You know, at this point, it's, it's hire the best actors that I can and kind of stay out of their way. You know, which sounds really simple but but what I do, what I do is I mean, what I tried to do is get get it into the text of the script, like, if it's not in the script, it's not going to be on screen. So like, get into the text of the script. And then what I do is I try to get it the best actors that I can, whether those are friends or whether they're whatever in it by in it in what I tried to do is also adjust the role to their sensibilities. So I don't ask the actors to do if they're not capable of doing big emotional crying scenes, I don't ask them to do big emotional crying seats. You know, it really is about creating, like limiting the role to what they do best. Because if they do that, and do it really well, no one's going to miss. Right? The biggest trick to movies is people don't miss what's not in the movie. Right? You know, if you don't, but what they do sort of what they'll cringe at or what they'll Scott that or what the roll their eyes at are the things that you put in the movie that you really couldn't afford to do well, right? Like, don't do a car chase, if you can't really do a car chase, do a foot Chase, because if you do a car chase to do it poorly, people are going to see that. But if you do a foot Chase and do it really well, people aren't going to go Oh, that was probably a car chase that they switch. You know. So it's sort of, you know, this so it's Same thing with actors like you know, you have to understand the sort of until you're in a place where you can hire whoever you want, and they're all very, very talented. You have to understand sort of those limitations, but if you can craft it If you can create those limitations in the character, then the actor can do what they do best. And you're not asking him to do something that they don't do very well. And so I sort of figured that out, we tailor the role to them. And then we sit down and we do a lot of talking, we do a lot of talking about the character and throughout the script, and this is where she's coming from this issue she is, and then if I can do any kind of, like, sort of real life training, like when we were with Katya on negative, she plays a spy. So we did a lot of like, you know, real steel gun training, we did a lot of like, you know, I have a guy that's who's a former British SS officer who does like concealed carry training. And so we did a lot of like, on the range gun training with her, you know, we did like, sort of some airsoft style training as well with like, you know, former former Army Rangers and things like that. So you're not using real steel, but it's still like you're holding a fairly realistic weapon, and you're doing, you know, cleanroom clearance and all this stuff, because like, what I didn't want her to do on set was think about how she was holding the gun, what I wanted her to do was behave, and just the gun was second nature. And so like, so we do training in that way if we can. And then and then really, once we get to set, it's about, we've done all that work, we've done all the work of the character, and then it's about just fine tuning, right? Like, oh, try this line, you need to be a little angrier here. But it's usually like not a lot of talking to actors, it's not a lot of discussion on set, it's not a lot of like, here's your motivation, which is like the cliche, it really is, like, just fine tuning what they already know. And then but also setting up an environment where you're not limiting, right, like you're not saying you got to hit this mark, because if you don't, then you don't, you're not in the light and the shot is screwed up, you're trying to get them out of thinking about the movie aspect, and more thinking purely from a character basis. So I set up the set and the way we shoot I do a lot of handheld, I adjust to them, you know, so if they aren't on their mark all move like I do a lot of these kinds of things were what I tried to do is like create the behavior and the blocking of what they're doing and then I shoot around them, I try to avoid asking them to adjust for camera and I try to adjust the camera for them. It's not always the case but like for the most part, I like to do takes where it's a lot of discovery and they're doing what they do and I'm just capturing it and then we go in and sort of like you know scalpel certain things. I'm like I just need this angle in this position or I need this and then we but they've already done the bulk of it, you know and so and letting them letting them do their thing like try not to get in the way too much.
Alex Ferrari 52:39
It's it's kind of like what I say is you're there to capture the lightning Yeah, yeah in a lot of ways.
Joshua Caldwell 52:45
And that just has come from me developing that approach over over the years of doing a lot of prep so I know the character they know the character it's all in the prep but like the idea of like you know, oh here's some action verbs or Oh like pretend there's a stone in your shoe or like oh try and get her to smile like I don't really do any of that like I am not really it doesn't really work for me and and I prefer try and do what I try to do is just get to as realistic a situation on set as possible.
Alex Ferrari 53:13
And then hiring actors who are close to the characters that they can play like you say their limitations are the limitations of the act of the character and a lot of ways and yeah,
Joshua Caldwell 53:22
that's really if you're working with they haven't been on shows they don't have as much experience they don't have as much like you know, talent because a lot of times you're starting out you don't have you know, unless you're in LA and you just know a bunch of actors like a lot of times you don't have like you know, access in the same way that you do. You know, as you build yourself up and you do more and so and so in that way you kind of want to limit it, but once you also get to a point where like, the actors, it's their job, it's
Alex Ferrari 53:49
Yeah, Meryl Streep is going to come in and do what she does.
Joshua Caldwell 53:52
Like you're not you're not directing Meryl Streep, you're just kind of like, you hire Meryl Streep, and then you let her do her thing. You know. So it's, it's, it's sort of that prospect, and I think it's trying to create, you know, you know, and this is something that I now it's like, kind of also onset, it's like doing a lot of like real environments, like again, like, even for negative we didn't permit most of negative we kind of just stole it. But in a live environment.
Alex Ferrari 54:19
So So tell us a little bit about First of all, tell us a bit about negative and then also the concept of stealing a shot because I know a lot of people don't understand what that might mean. So if you can explain the concept of stealing the shot, and what are some of those tricks that you don't get caught?
Joshua Caldwell 54:34
Right? So So I'll start with negative so negative is the story of basically it's the story of this guy, his name's Hollis, who's a, he's like an amateur, slightly professional photographer, a bit of a hipster and he's out one day taking photos and he snaps a photo of this woman. And next thing you know, he's back in his place developing the 35 millimeter film and there's a knock on his door and she shows up and she demands the negative two Man is the photo. And before she takes it by force before she leaves, men with gun show up, and so she escapes with him, gets him to come with her. And they have to essentially escape out of LA, you come to find out that she's a former British spy who was trying to negotiate a retirement deal with the cartel when things went wrong, and now they want a dead and because of his involvement with taking your photo, and whatever, he's involved as well. And so they basically have to escape from LA to Phoenix to meet up with a former contact of hers, and figure out what the next steps are. And so it's a bit of a spy movie bit of a bit of a road movie. It's a thriller. It's it's a lot of fun. It's really really it's it's cool. It was written by Adam Gaines, who's like this fantastic writer with really really great ear for dialogue and Katia winter for and Simon quarterman for Westworld, isn't it? And Thaddeus
Alex Ferrari 55:58
Joshua Caldwell 55:59
Kati is from she was in Sleepy Hollow. Oh, very cool. And she's also been on Dexter and so she's been she's been around she's done a few things. And so marvista financed it and produced it along with myself and we'll Borthwick who's my producer on it and it was one of the you know I repeat it and it was one of these things where what I wanted to do was I wanted I wanted marvista to give me money and leave me alone and go I'm just gonna make this movie The way that I wanted to make it so that's what we did we basically like I said we shot for 38 days over the course of six months you know we have gun fights in it we have a really awesome fight scene you know we have a lot of travel we go from LA to LA to Phoenix you know we did a road trip to shoot a bunch of stuff on the road you know, we shot a bunch of stuff up in the desert you know, and I was as a dp was in addition to be a director and the camera operator was basically trying to collapse the conversation because I was like I think that I need to try and do this my way in terms of like the visuals and see if I can take the layover approach and apply it to something with a bigger canvas and see if that can work and I think it absolutely worked so it was a really really great thing and we're just now in the process of searching for film festivals like somewhere where we can premiere it and then you know and then we'll we'll Marvis still put it out and then release it probably sometime next year.
Alex Ferrari 57:17
Now this really interesting about marvista because you know this movie doesn't sound like generally when distributor or a company a production company like marvista or that caliber they're generally looking for some sort of star power that's going to be able to sell overseas and things like that which what you're telling me basically goes against convention in a lot of ways because it's not a job or movie in any there's not a horror movies that yeah you know unless there's a lot of nudity internet which i don't i don't know i don't think there is I'm thinking I'm now I got my my dirty AFM hat on right which is unfortunate I'm just curious about how that came to be
Joshua Caldwell 57:54
yeah well I mean marvista had been a fan since layover and you know their their their thing is they do sort of their lifetime you know they make a lot of money doing those kind of movies but they've started really looking for under a million dollar grittier Film Festival style movies, right? Like things that are very much against what they've been doing that like might you know, play festivals and win some awards and get some attention in a different way but make them low enough low budget enough that they're not taking huge risks you know, it's not like huge a huge gamble for them. And I think they were kind of intrigued I mean they really like the scripted like the package I was about to make it no matter what I was about to maybe even self funded and marvista came in and they were really intrigued by not only sort of every the package but also just you know how much we were going to make it for which I can't talk about unfortunately but also the way in which we were going to make it and I think that there was like the idea was give us enough money to make this but not so much that you really care and then let us go make it and let us bring it back to you and it was really me also talking to them and saying listen like I need to make this my way like I just come off doing a project that like I was not happy with because I didn't have control over it and I just I need creative control you know not final cut but I need I need creative control to execute this the way that I want to execute it and they were very very generous and in allowing me to go do that and very supportive of that process. So you know i think that they have a sense of what they can make off of it and they know that whatever they gave us budget wise is much less than
Alex Ferrari 59:33
what the obvious how that works. Yeah, no, no, I
Joshua Caldwell 59:37
think they're they're stoked on it though. They really like it.
Alex Ferrari 59:39
Now as far as stealing shots. Can you talk a little bit about tricks, tricks that you've learned along the way on how to steal shots, what to do and what is stealing the shot specifically?
Joshua Caldwell 59:49
Well, you know, listen, you know, when I talk about stealing shot, I'm not talking about stealing shot with a bunch of trucks and gear and equipment and crew and all this stuff, right? Like you'd be going Now route you need a permit like because that's what the least care about. But one of the things that's become really interesting with this whole YouTube thing and iPhones and all this stuff is the the the really proliferation of people shooting stuff, right people are shooting stuff specially in LA all over the place and it would be a police officers full time job to sort of police that. So they don't really care as long as you're not blocking sidewalks as long as you're not impacting pedestrians, as long as you're not, you know, sort of like creating a headache for traffic or, or doing anything dangerous, they're not really going to pay attention to you, especially if you're a limited crew, if you're like under three people, they don't really care either. So that gets you around sort of the law thing, the permit thing and again, like check with your lawyers do your due diligence, like don't take my word for it. But this is in my experience, because a permit only gives you really permission for that moment, when an officer shows up and says do you have permission to be shooting here, you know, that's it, it's not something you need for distribution, it's not something you have to prove later. Like it's literally just a document that's good for like the day that it's a fault, you know, it's dated.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:09
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Joshua Caldwell 1:01:20
And so, you know, that gives you a lot of opportunity to sort of steal stuff now, you know, stealing shot basically means not paying money for it, and not permanent. And so there's, you know, a lot of sort of looseness in that but really it's just it's getting the shots without people sort of stopping you and the fact is I've never really been stopped because I move so fast so like one of the things about like layover is layover again opens on an airplane flying by Los Angeles we're on a real plane and we landed at LAX and we walked through the airport and we get on a shuttle and we go to a hotel and all that's in the movie none of it is permitted none of it was paid for well
Alex Ferrari 1:02:02
you shot in the airport yeah How did you shoot in the airport
Joshua Caldwell 1:02:06
well up so we just walked through and we got one take and you know I had a five D kind of like pressed against my chest right behind my actress and we sort of just walked in I shot it all documentary style knowing that I would cut it up later and that's the secret like you can't do it where you have multiple takes and important performances and certain lines you got to nail and you can't do any of that if you're stealing a shot you need to kind of steal a shot like that that that you can shoot kind of doc style so that might not fit into like somebody's style of shooting works in mind but you know we shot in Union Station you know but we do all these is like kind of walkthrough so they like they show up is like seconds you know they show up is like the short things these interludes these in betweens you know and we we basically you know but that gives so much scope to it that gives such
Alex Ferrari 1:02:59
issues yeah if you're shooting at Union Station i mean i guess if you walk in with a small enough camera and you're not making a big deal of it you're just shooting with natural light and you're just following somebody or getting someone's yeah and
Joshua Caldwell 1:03:09
you're walking through like they don't even know to stop you they're not looking for that right you know they're looking for like shoulder cameras and like whatever and so you know I shot negative with the C 100 mark two and you know, which is a fairly small compact camera and so like by keeping it sort of close to my chest and like having a monitor where I could kind of just look down and see it it just walking like I chose a style that benefited from that approach you know that's what it's like it is my stuff
Alex Ferrari 1:03:37
and that's it is a compact camera but it's definitely not a DSLR camera so it does have a little bit of a footprint to it yeah you got to be a little slip with that but
Joshua Caldwell 1:03:45
now yeah but nowadays these cameras they have autofocus that's fantastic you know you can get away with like so much because these cameras are really small, they're compact, they're light, it's just really like it's it's it's if you're stealing it like we shot a whole chase sequence through this Chinese market in Chinatown, right and the way we did it was just walking through it like we just walked through it I would I would like I'd stop and I go okay we stopped and then I get to the front shot and I do like a walking backwards thing for like 20 feet and then we turn around to do a side shot like we would just move through it and I knew that I was just going to chop it up so much and nothing was the geography was not going to like be you know not have a continuity to it so it didn't matter and I could just like you know I could just cut and so that's very different than going out and shooting a dialogue scene where you know you need to do multiple takes multiple You know, you're trying to get performance you don't want anybody bothering you. And so for negative what we did for a lot of those was we were out in the desert we just went up to Palmdale and found like these tracts of land that, you know, I've shot on before, and we would just go shoot and nobody bothered us because nobody cares.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:46
Yeah, you know, I just went to one of the scenes in my movie, I wanted the Hollywood sign. And I was nervous because I'm like, oh man, but halfway up, I figured out I'm like, there's no one coming up here. I'm exhausted. No, by the time someone would call somebody. It's Over. Yeah, yeah, it's it was pretty eye opening and it gave me a scope to the movie.
Joshua Caldwell 1:05:05
Yeah. And again, people I think in LA, they kind of give you the benefit of the doubt. You know, like they kind of assume one again, like YouTubers are shooting all the time, you know, with layover layover was interesting because the other thing about shooting with a DSLR is people don't assume you're shooting a movie. Right? Right. You know people's perception This is what it really boils down to people's perception, although it's changing. But people's perception of making a movie or making a movie is not one guy with a small tiny camera. Right? You know, it's sound guys and lights and trucks and a lot of people and a big camera. And so that's what they assume making movies. I mean, when we were shooting in the airport, you know, we had people sort of be like, oh, like, what are you shooting? I thought I thought people were gonna flag me thinking I was taking photos. You know, like, but I was also not taking photos of like, you know, I didn't try to shoot the security area. Like I wasn't an idiot. I just looked like, like, the actress I was with just we just look like travelers. You know, so it was just you and her. It was just me it just me and her. Yeah. Done. You know, we bought we bought two tickets to San Francisco. And we went to the airport early and shot the end of the movie. And then we waited, we flew up to San Francisco. And when we flew back, we shot on the plane coming into LA and you know, and then we shot on our way out and yeah, like you just kind of like, you know, it just looked like we were taking photos. And so people just don't know, and they don't they don't assume that you're like making a movie. They seem like, you know, our our cover was gonna be, you know, oh, well, we're, you know, we're just like travel bloggers. And if people were like, Well, you can't shoot and be like, okay, right, you know? Yeah, like, it wasn't like, I mean, we even tested it. We went we went did a test shoot, we went to like the baggage claim area at LAX and shot with the camera and shot a couple things. And like, nobody paid attention to us.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:51
Wow, really? Yeah. Well, that's great. That's great, great, great advice.
Joshua Caldwell 1:06:55
I mean, but yeah, you know, and so but there's only certain things you can do, like, you know, I mean, I'm not going to attempt to do a scene where somebody is holding a gun in public, like, yeah, that's just that's just foolish. Yeah, it's just foolish. So it's like, so what it is, is it comes back to your script, right? It comes back to what you talked about, which is like, you know, adjusting your script for the budget you have. And basically, it's creating, like a modular script. So like, what you're doing is you're creating a script with scenes that can kind of be shot anywhere, and like, you know, like, you know, when layover and reference layover layovers easier because people actually watch it, you know, but like, layover, there's a club scene. And I knew I was never gonna be able to afford to do a club scene because I've done music videos. And I know, it's like, it's cost
Alex Ferrari 1:07:35
articulates, it's ridiculous.
Joshua Caldwell 1:07:37
So I was prepared, I was one I was like, okay, no people in the club, see, maybe I can come in with them, and bring a camera, like I'm a photographer, you know, like, and then we'll shoot the like scenes. Or maybe I'll buy a table for like, you know, part of the budget for three 400 bucks, and I'll bring my iPhone and we'll like to shoot on the iPhone, right? But the whole premise of this in terms of how we execute it was all done because in the script, I was like, I'm never gonna get like, a club that I own to shoot this scene. So I need to write a scene that does that, that has limited action, no dialogue, and does not require me to do repeat performances. Because if I have to steal this in order to get the size of us being in a big club, like I can't afford to have people go like why do you keep doing the same thing over and over and over again, you know, so I didn't so I designed it to be kind of documentary like the point of the club scene in layover is her letting go she's taking ecstasy she's like letting go she's having a fun night. And that's what that scene really needs to reflect and then there's a small bit of action now we ended up getting permission to come into an existing club that was open and we were allowed to be in there for an hour with our cameras and we were able to shoot a lot of that stuff but it was designed to be done in a way that did not require a lot of effort production wise and that's part of it right like just being smart about it like again though the airport not shooting stuff that requires a narrative not shooting like the narrative is she gets on she flies in LA actually gets off the plane she walks to the airport, she gets on a shuttle goes to a hotel, that's all you need to know. And I can roll a lot of it because all I'm looking for is a little piece that I can edit.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:12
Well, I mean it's perfect you're basically telling you basically saying the same thing that mark and Michael did a Polish did on for lovers only. Yeah, they weren't exactly they went over to France and shot and every Cathedral every place they wanted to because they were shooting with a DSLR and they happen to have a star in it was Dana that helped to sell it the selling of it, but yeah, but they on abortion standpoint, that's what they did.
Joshua Caldwell 1:09:38
Listen, like we got kicked out of the church then we'd shoot the scene in a cafe. Right? No, you gotta be you know, yeah, kind of like whoa, yeah, exactly. You got to be you know, so you design a script to be done like that. Like I always say, you know, don't write in. Don't be specific about things like don't be specific about the house. It's just it's a house. It could be a small house, a big house. It really doesn't matter. Because once you write in what you know, a way in which it matters, then that there's only one way you can do that, you know, there's only one house that you can get, and that's gonna cost you money. And that's, you know, like, if your uncle, by the way has a Ferrari dealership, and he's gonna loan you a Ferrari great, right? The Ferrari is awesome, you know, but don't write in a Ferrari knowing you can't get it without paying for it. And so Exactly, yeah, that's the kind of thing and also like, you know, and I ran into this on South Beach, because, you know, I came in to South Beach, South Beach was my first job after layover. And it was certainly massively not massive, but it was a much, much bigger budget than I had a layover, although pretty much any budgets bigger than what I had in labor. But you know, it wasn't a lot. And so what I, you know, I sat down with them, because they were like, well, these locations are costing more money than we expected that it into, and I said, Listen, you guys have written a TV series or a Hulu series, but you've written a story that's entirely about rich people. Like everyone in this story is rich. And so, you know, you've set up expectations for an audience, right? Like, you've got Samantha, who's a club owner of the hottest club in in South Beach, you've got her dad, who runs the hottest record executive record label is in Miami, right? These are people who require the look of success in your show, or nobody's gonna buy it. So suddenly, you've got to find you can't give this high powered record, record label owner, a corner office in a basement. You know, you can't do it, you got to give them something with views. So that stuff, you know, you can't have 20 extras in a club. That's the hottest club in South Beach. Like you need three 400 people to fill this thing. You know, so I'm like, that's that that's your problem. The problem isn't like it's costing you money. The problem is you wrote us you wrote a script that's cost you money. You know, there's only so much I can fake. You know, I can fake nice clothes. You know, I can't fake
Alex Ferrari 1:12:02
300 people club, right? Yeah. There's only so much I can do. Yeah, and
Joshua Caldwell 1:12:07
so Yeah, exactly. So but that's the thing is, like, you know, don't write scripts about rich people. You know, like, you're not gonna be, you're not gonna be able to afford just to fund the creative that's required to make them look the part. And then you're in that whole, like, you know, middle school thing where like, you're playing, you know, you're shooting your brother's playing gangsters and cops, and they're 12 years old. You know, that's, that's where you get into. And so Amy, like, the thing for me is that I'm, I've said this before, like, I'm really allergic to cheapness as a director, like I don't, I will make any adjustment I can to make it not feel cheap. Because if you feels cheap, your audience is just gonna sense that too. And then we're going to turn off because it's again, going back to like the chasing right, like, fast, fast, the fast series has cornered the market on chases, like so unless you're chasing is so outstanding is so different and so unique and achievable with whatever money you have. Why are you bother, don't bother, because everybody's gonna compare it to that, right? You know, and so find a way to be different because trust me, like, I've had the experience on stuff, I've produced stuff I've been involved with, not as a director, fortunately, but on other things, where you write a chase sequence, and it just gets cut, and cut and cut. And all of a sudden, you're in a loop de loop, you know, in a warehouse. That is not very exciting. You know, and everybody sees Wow, that was a really rinky dink chase sequence that clearly they had no money. I never want people to say, Wow, you clearly had no money. I will do everything I can to not put in the idea in there into my audience's heads, that I had no money to pull off what I wanted to pull off, I would I hate this idea of let's take a million dollars and make it look like 20 million, right? Like, take a million dollars and make it look like you know, like don't reach for a $20 million thing. Do the million dollar version really, really, really well. You know, like do an outstanding put Chase, do an outstanding fight scene. Like because you could afford those things but you can't afford you know, to blow up an airplane. You know, as a car flies out of it. Like you're going to do that visually on your own home computer is gonna look like crap.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:24
And that was the funny thing is on swingers. Doug Liman actually said, you know, instead of us trying to make the million dollar movie, which I think they had, like, I think half a million bucks or something like that to make that movie or 3000 something like that, instead of trying to make the $300,000 we've got look like a million or two. Let's make the $300,000 movie look like a $20,000 movie, but let's just blow open the scope. And guess what they did? Yeah, it worked perfect cuz you look at that movie. You don't go Oh, that looks like a 345 million dollar movie. No, it looks like what it is. But they were able to travel to Las Vegas and yeah, do all this stuff that are all over the place. Yeah, with that with a net have been able to do if they were trying to blow push that production value up to a million dollars
Joshua Caldwell 1:15:05
that's what we did on layover you know layover is nighttime it's all shot at night run motorcycles are traveling through the city and shot on a five D it's not like you know it's almost entirely handheld you know like the lights are sort of blown out that not like perfectly lit like you know but there's a beauty to it and there's an experience to it and what I've kind of gotten to where I've gotten to that I'm very a place where I'm very very excited about is this idea of like you are following along on this you're not you don't feel like it's staged you that's the interest that's the feeling that I now as a director I'm interested in in trying to get on film and try to create for my for the audience is this idea of like, Is this real? Like because it feels like this is a documentary? So I know it's not
Alex Ferrari 1:15:54
I got you so I got three last questions I asked all of my all my guests go home what is the advice you would give a filmmaker just starting out in the business
Joshua Caldwell 1:16:07
Get yourself a camera, whatever that camera is don't worry about how good it is and and find and start shooting. And you know some of the best advice that I saw was funny enough on in you might have been on this not this thread, but like on the board. But remember the IMDb like messageboards of course, like with all the like filmmakers and there were some like a couple guys on there that were clearly like hot shots and they're like you know making like some direct to DVD movie. But But the best thing that I saw was Get yourself a camera find some plays short plays, and we're now at the zoo, whatever. Get to people that you know get a couple people together and start shooting and and and get some editing software and try to put it together and learn from that and see how you messed up and see what doesn't work and see how you cross the line. But really like I think that you can read about it you can study up on it, you can do it but you got to get out and you got to do it. You got to see what works for you. So like, I really don't think there's a substitute for like doing it. And nowadays, you know, if it's an iPhone, it's up choosing that like, you know, what's that the issue like 2k or 4k on the iPhone, the shot the shot. tangerine tangerine on Yeah, like whatever it is, you know, like there's there's you don't really have an excuse anymore. And don't worry what's going to happen with it. It doesn't matter. Yes, not right now Your goal is to just make things put them together, see how it works, see what didn't and then make it again?
Alex Ferrari 1:17:36
Don't be precious. Exactly. Don't be precious.
Joshua Caldwell 1:17:39
There's no any time to be precious later. You got to earn you got to earn it. You got to
Alex Ferrari 1:17:43
earn Yeah, exactly. As opposed to I know so many filmmakers, I make their first feature. And they and they are on it for three years. Yeah. And just on it for three as opposed to just keep going, keep going keep going. They're just on it for three years. What's the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Joshua Caldwell 1:18:01
I'm okay, I don't have one that took me the longest to learn. But it's something that it takes people a long time to learn. And that is, nobody's going to do it for you. Yeah. So I learned very quickly after I won my MTV Movie Award, and nobody saw the awards and nobody cared that I was not God's gift to filmmaking and not the second coming of Paul Thomas Anderson. Right. You know, I won this award and really thought like, oh, the doors are open. You know, I know it's an MTV Movie Award, but like who when you know, who's a student filmmaker wins an MTV Movie Award, right? And it just didn't happen that way. Doors didn't open, and I didn't, you know, get agents calling me and I wasn't making my first feature at 23 It took me a couple of years to really, you know, go, okay, nobody's gonna do this for me. So if I'm going to make it happen, I've got to start hustling. And that's one of the best lessons that I've learned and I was fortunate that I actually learned it early on, rather than 10 years of sort of bitterness waiting for people to read my scripts and give me a shot even though I hadn't really earned the right to do that.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:11
I am that bitter guy took me a little longer to figure that out my fault well
Joshua Caldwell 1:19:18
there's a lesson for you you can take that Yeah, no, it's the truth.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:21
I was waiting around I was waiting around I wasn't waiting around for people to do stuff but I was like I wrote scripts try to get the money yeah man got a short shot a short that shorts gonna blow me up because you know when I did broke and broke it did open a lot of doors for me. Right? You know, I got the I didn't get deals, but I got a lot of meetings, a lot of stuff. But I didn't have anything ready. I had no script. I had done nothing. And I lived in the East Coast at the time. So it was right. It was really a waste. All that was a waste.
Joshua Caldwell 1:19:49
It's so easy. When you have because I feel the same way. It's so easy at a younger age when you have something like that happen, right? Like all these people want to meet with me, or Oh, I won this award. Like unless it's literally like an Oscar, or like Sunday but then even even then even then, but but at least you could say you won Sundance or an Oscar. But you know, it's it's it's that thing of it's all just like it's all talk, it's just all talk even now I'm just like I'm telling my agents I'm just like, I got to stop it with the generals because like they're a waste of time for me. Like, I'm so tired of these, like, let's go in when I have something but like to sit to say like, like, watch.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:28
Let's go Yeah, let me Yeah, he's like hey, I just want to come over there and like have me agree.
Joshua Caldwell 1:20:32
Right? Because the idea is it's it feels like something's happening when nothing is happening. That's what this that's what this town is built on. Yeah, and it's distorting and you can get really lost in it and you can be waiting around saying Oh, they just they're gonna read my script and then and the fact is your scripts probably not that great. You know, and like, you know, you got to create opportunities for yourself like that's what it really is like we're in an age where you know, whatever system was in place in the 90s were like filmmakers could come out of Sundance and like blow up and do big big features you know, it's not that anymore like people are looking to YouTube and there's also no excuse now like you have such an opportunity with like the the cheapness of shooting editing sound equipment, but not only that, now you have distribution that's what's really cool and different about this world you know, whether it's indie film, whether it's YouTube whether it's whatever is like I mean for 2000 bucks you can pay to have your movie on iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, like whatever any of those you could pay upfront to make that happen. Yeah, you somehow that much like yeah, like the stripper or something like that. And so that was never available before you were making a movie and spending whatever money you were spending wrong hoping that somebody else would do it now that's not the case. And the fact is, like, you know, yes, there's so many people now on YouTube and it's like saturated it's like a saturated market but like, I think that what I've seen is like good content still breaks through and if you have somebody if you can get somebody like an agent or manager that can help push through into the Hollywood area because listen, people in Hollywood are not watching YouTube all day. They're being told who's on YouTube and earning a lot of money you know, and then they watch them and so you know, and also like think about this too like a lot of people make movies like you know for fans like or for an audience maybe your first couple movies should be made for the industry right like what movies would an industry like exact like to watch what would he enjoy because then he goes I really liked this guy. Let's get him to make this movie. You know, that's what happened with layover layover didn't find a massive audience in terms of the public because what America you know, it's America and who's watching you know, 80 movie with subtitles?
Alex Ferrari 1:22:40
That's why I find so fascinated about layovers, because it's so not El Mariachi, its own bar away from clerks, or, or any of those kind of movies. It's a foreign film shot in LA by a non foreign director. Yeah, it's like, if someone would tell me like, this is going to be my first feature and I think I'm gonna be able to get work off of this in LA. Oh, you're nuts.
Joshua Caldwell 1:23:03
Oh, yeah, for sure.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:04
You're nuts. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah,
Joshua Caldwell 1:23:05
it's, it's I never thought it was gonna lead to what it led to. But it's this idea of like, like you said, the pitch sounds so intriguing. You're like, I got to watch this. And then that's at least good. If it were terrible, you'd be like, forget it. But like, people seem to really connect with it in some way. Because it's about you know, it goes back to like, layover is about a choice layover is about coming to a fork in the road, and trying to figure out which direction to take. And everybody has been in that position.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:30
Hmm, amen. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?
Joshua Caldwell 1:23:39
Time is the insider. Okay. By Michael Mann. Yep. Good. second favorite film of all time is traffic to film. And I would say my third favorite film of all time is Casa Blanca.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:53
Nice. I guess I always always like I always find it fascinating to ask that question, because it really gives me a good idea of the sensibilities, especially when I'm talking to a director or writer. Yeah, their sensibilities and those three movies pretty much says a lot about us.
Joshua Caldwell 1:24:08
I mean, Costa Blanca is a huge outlier, but it's just such a perfect film. It is like it's just it's an unbelievably perfect film. It's one of those things I just like I can put on any time and just enjoy it. And so and I can watch it as many times as possible, but
Alex Ferrari 1:24:22
inside Yeah, sauerberg I mean traffic is is is a genius.
Joshua Caldwell 1:24:27
Traffic blew my mind. I saw it like five times in the theater. Yeah, but
Alex Ferrari 1:24:31
also Soderbergh is one of those directors that doesn't get as much credit as he should. Man is amazing. I mean, out of sight,
Joshua Caldwell 1:24:39
out of sight, even the even the che, you know, yeah, the two movies, like his work on the Nick is unbelievable. It's like, I mean, it's funny because I see myself starting to go in that direction. Like we're I'm a dp and I'm operating and I'm editing and I'm like, you know, and I'm like, Oh, that's that's kind of like the path he took in season. work out for him. But it's this idea of like, you just kind of get to a place where you're wanting to condense all these conversations, you know, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:25:07
I mean, I just I just dp my feature I edited it I was the camera up. I was a direct I did I did yeah, pretty much everything on it. You know, almost everything. I had a three man crew on it. And you You're right, you're like, I don't want to have to, I couldn't have had all those people. It would just take too long. And we were able to shoot something and from idea to finish in six months. Yeah, there you go. And you're done. And you're out the door.
Joshua Caldwell 1:25:31
And it's all you Yeah, oh, for better or worse. Yeah, that was the thing on negative was I was like this. But for better or worse, this represents exactly what I want it to be, you know, whereas before, it's sort of like, okay, it's sort of what I want, it's close, like, the DP is fantastic. I don't really have a complaint about it, but like, I would have done this, or we could have sped this up or been quicker on the lighting with this, you know, and it's, instead of just being like, yeah, I'm going to put one light up. I mean, you know, I know you're, I don't know what you are on time. But like this last project that I just did, in, I just shot this project in Mexico City with canon. And it's called ciudad, it's a short, it's a it's a short, that's like a proof of concept for a feature. And the idea is, you know, we basically went down there and we, we can't shop completely without permits. And we shot in these, you know, it's a narrative documentary hybrid. So it's like, there's narrative elements where we're doing dialogue, we're doing it French New Wave style, or rent controlled environments, like indoors, restaurants, you know, apartments, whatever. And then we have these kind of like on your street is a story of like a combat of a photojournalist, you know, who's like, covering Mexico City. And so she's basically like, so we shot the narrative stuff, like like Mark is actually in it Mark polish, she came down, and that's awesome. And so we actually like, shot the documentary stuff, like, I mean, the narrative stuff, these conversations in these locations, that one I'd never been to before I'd never seen. And we did it with basically existing artificial light, like I put up like one or two lights, at most in these scenes. And I just shot it like on this canon c 300. You know, I shot at high ISOs that was a whole part of it, which was like, it was like a live learning exercise for like, DPS and students down there to sort of see, you know, you can push this camera beyond 3200. I know everyone tells you not to, but you can, and this is what it looks like. And this is what you get, you know, and be able to shoot like five page dialogue scenes in four hours, because you're spending 20 minutes lighting. And then you go out in the street, and you shoot all of this documentary, like we were like, basically, like Nightcrawler Lee, we're patrolling around Mexico City, trying to find like, you know, action with like cops and things like that. And it was like, it was really like life changing for me, because I was able to really prove how you can shoot something cinematic, without the use of like anything other than the camera. And so it's created now this, this sort of approach that like, I'm starting to blend into other things I'm doing, which is this kind of like feeling of documentary narrative hybrid. And the thing about the documentary and the thing about stealing shots, and the thing about like, that aspect of it is, you don't know what you're gonna get, right, like we were shooting with her. We ran into a police raid, with like cops and riot gear, we ran into a truck, a semi truck and crashed into a building, and then like, destroy the entire front end of the cab. And then we hopped happened upon a fatal hit and run, where we showed up and like, I mean, they were like, like, I have a shot in the movie of them moving the body from like the street to the corner, like bam. And it's just like, you would never plan that. And you can never do that without a huge amount of money to stage all that. And yet it works within the narrative, because it's about her being in Mexico City shooting this stuff. And so it's really, for me, it's like kind of the new thing, which is like this idea of like something like Soderbergh does this too. He doesn't like, you know, he builds the lighting into his sets, he puts up one or two things, and that's it. And he just moves he just moves, moves, moves, moves, moves, and shoots really quick, and like, by gets a lot of material. And so that's kind of where I want to be, which is this idea of like, let me break open this traditional production model, let me shoot things a different way. And then all you're doing in talking to terms of the money is expanding the scope of how that's captured. But the idea of blending reality, what is real, what is not what is in this movie is real. What is it? And having documentary and narrative footage look exactly the same? There's no differentiation, differentiating between them, is probably the is the next sort of frontier of what I'm exploring as filmmaker.
Alex Ferrari 1:29:34
You know, I think, and I'll end it on this, but I think that what what you discuss and what I've discussed in the past about doing our respective films, is that you you know, a lot of young filmmakers and just indie filmmakers in general. They get caught up in the dogma of film. Yeah, what they're told and books, what they're told in schools, that this is the right way of doing it. This is the this is The way it's been done all this time and it's it's the few people who said fuck it I'm not gonna do it that way I mean Robert Rodriguez you know he did it his way and you know all the guys from the 90s Kevin Smith Richard Linklater, you know all those guys, they did it their way SATA Berg. I mean is is the poster child for that. Yeah, and it's really just doing like Mark duplass I mean, seriously are just wow. Yeah. duplass brothers. I mean, the duplass brothers, Joe Swanberg, Lynn Shelton, all these kind of guys. They, they just do. They're just doing it their way. And, you know, I don't know if you've had the same experience. But I've talked to industry, friends of mine who are like either TV directors, or film, you know, big time film directors and things like that. And I tell them my process for making mag, and they just look at you like deer in headlights? Yeah, they don't get it. They're like, What do you mean? Like, I'm like, yeah, we shot? We shot it with three people on the crew the entire time. Yeah, but But how did you get? How does it look like that? Exactly. Like I did this, I did that. I'm the colorist on it. And all this guys. Yeah, they just don't get it. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. I find it so invigorating, honestly. Like, it's a lot of fun. It's like, Oh, you guys don't know how the sausage is made?
Joshua Caldwell 1:31:29
Yeah, you know, I remember. You know, it's funny, because I remember like, at, at the, at in Seattle, I was on a panel with all the catalyst filmmakers. And of course, you get the question of like, what was the budget on your movie, of course, you go down the line. And everyone's like, I can't tell you, I can't tell you, I can't tell you and get to me, I'm like, I'll tell you who's six grand. And then like, all of a sudden, you're the focus of that conversation, because they can't talk about what they spent, and they probably spent half a million dollars. And you're suddenly the like, the spotlights on you, because you're like, one, you can talk about it. And two, it's such a ridiculous number that everybody wants to hear about it. You know, a part of it, too, is like, you know, you've done this is like, how do you create a conversation around what you're doing? and get people to want to talk to you about it? How do you get execs to go understand how you made this movie for six grand, and then they want to meet with you. And then they want to talk about it. And then they want to find a way to like, do what you're doing. Because it's faster, you know, so it's just like, it's a really interesting sort of position to be in and, and sort of coming from that perspective of like, you know, it's, it's what I said, and I know people who are like this, we're like, you know, they don't want to edit themselves, they don't want to shoot themselves, they don't want to take the time to learn, you know, but as a result, they're always going to be reliant on other people to make their films, right. And if you don't have money, then you're asking favors, and who wants to keep asking favors for life. But if you're a guy who can shoot, edit, direct produce, right? You know, we'll leave off music and sound mixing. But you know, those are like five serious roles that you can do yourself. You're never in that position, the only person that's going to not get it done is you. You know, you've no excuses. Oh, well, I don't have a dp so I can't go shoot, go shoot it. Yeah, you know, like, there's nothing stopping, you just learn how to do it. And then all you need is the camera and you can get out and you can start creating content, you can start getting out there more and doing it more. But like, you know, in this low budget, indie world, if you're always in a position where you need money, you have to have this you have to have that then you're going to be doing a lot of waiting. And clearly people have created career out of that. But like, you know, it doesn't have to be that way.
Alex Ferrari 1:33:31
And go back to Sonnenberg real quick. I mean, you know, he did sexualize a videotape, but on the same, the same method he did Ocean's 1112 and 13 Yeah, let them for yourselves. I had no idea. He lit those themselves. And they're gone. Yes.
Joshua Caldwell 1:33:45
Yeah, I was having a conversation with Tim Smith at Cannes and he was telling me about how he was helping out Soderbergh on was it full frontal that like, yeah, back in the day, he was just like, Yeah, he's like, you know, we rented out a hotel and he's just on the Excel two and our Excel one s or whatever, and he's shooting around, it's just like, you know, it was insane. We were shooting so much. And he was just doing it. He was experimenting and like, you know, he's like Brad Pitt's sleeping on the floor next to me, because we're all tired. You know, and, and it's that same thing, he did it with skits. opolis, where he just went off and like, kind of made this thing and kind of like, you know, and so he's he's got that experience so that he can back it up, and he can, you know, and then and then what's really great about is that he's got $100 million that he can play with, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:34:26
can you imagine he's like, Okay, he's right thing. Well, like he like, Oh, we can't go to a casino so we're just gonna build one.
Joshua Caldwell 1:34:33
Yeah. I mean, that's what Yeah, exactly. Then you have complete control. Like, Funny enough, my, a very great friend, dp mine. He does like, he'll do group work in New York. You know, like, whatever. But anyway, so he did a grip workout. He did grip work on a pickup scene, in haywire. So this scene where Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender are like, talking in the pub. I don't know if you see them. I haven't seen okay, but there's a conversation where they're they're talking in the pub, right? They're just having this conversation so that was shot in New York is supposed to be somewhere else, but it was shot in New York. So he's like so Paul is like my dp friend. He was like, yeah, so Soderbergh comes in everything's already set up. He's got his two red cameras. He's got a two monitors. It's already set up for the shot. He's like, they basically shoot the scene. You know, it takes them half a day to shoot this dialogue scene. Like that's it, and then they're like, getting ready to go and if somebody says, Oh, hey, Steven in this in this shit in the mirror, you
Alex Ferrari 1:35:33
Sorry about that. Can you say that one more time you just broke up.
Joshua Caldwell 1:35:37
Oh, I was just saying. So anyway, so right before they were getting ready to break up and pack down, somebody pointed out on the monitor that you could see one of the flags or one of the like frames, for the light for the lighting, like in the shot in the mirror in the reflection, and Soderbergh looks at and goes nobody's gonna see that it's like that's it and like True enough if you look in the movie, you can see it if you're looking for it, but if you're not looking for it, you never know you know, and it's like it's just that kind of thing where it's like you get what you know what you can get away with. And if you can do that then you can shoot faster and you shoot more and shoot better and you shoot differently and you can you can get to a place of doing some really really cool stuff because you know, you're not letting stuff worry.
Alex Ferrari 1:36:20
Yeah, amen brother. Amen. Now where where can people find you?
Joshua Caldwell 1:36:24
So the best place is Twitter. My handle is at Joshua underscore Caldwell ca l d w e Ll or you can go to my website Joshua dash Caldwell COMM And that'll have news and all that kind of info and you just kind of branch out from there.
Alex Ferrari 1:36:39
Very cool, man. Look, man, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you, man. I feel like I found a brother in arms here, man. It's very
Joshua Caldwell 1:36:46
Yeah, well, you know, when I saw when I heard about shin and saw what you were doing, I was like, Alright, this guy's gonna get it.
Alex Ferrari 1:36:51
Yeah, absolutely. There's no question brother, I appreciate you. Thank you for dropping some major knowledge bombs for the in the for the tribe. And I appreciate it
Joshua Caldwell 1:36:57
Of course, anytime.
Alex Ferrari 1:37:00
I told you, I know it's a little bit of a longer episode. But there is a lot, a lot of knowledge in that episode. And I wanted to thank Josh for coming on the show and really dropping some major knowledge bombs on the tribe. And again, if you want to check out the links to lay oversee the trailer for layovers, you can really see what a movie, a $6,000 movie looks like. from his perspective, head over to indie film hustle.com, forward slash 121. For the show notes, and all the links of everything we discussed in this episode. It's an exciting time to be an indie filmmaker, guys, I have to tell you, and coming from a perspective of someone of my vintage, you know, I wish I would have had all of this kind of stuff when I was coming up. I unfortunately did not have that type of technology, nor the amount of knowledge that there is out here. So honestly, there's no excuse at all. For you guys not making a feature film a year, if not two, or three a year, and getting them out there making money with them and continuing to grow. As an artist, as a filmmaker. And as an entrepreneur. You're building up your filmmaking business, there is no excuse. And I will continue to hopefully prove that in the coming months and years, which is what I'm planning to do with all the features that I've gotten a taste since I've got a taste now to shoot a feature film, and I'm like, hey, it's not that big of a deal. I'm going to shoot more of them and I'm going to shoot as many as I can and tell as many great stories as I can and get it out there to the world and build a business because at the end of the day guys, it's called show business and the word business has four more letters, double the letters than the word show. So also today's show is sponsored by masterclass if you guys want to take some amazing courses online from Warner Hertzog Academy Award winning Warner Hertzog on filmmaking. Aaron Sorkin for screenwriting, uh, Hans Zimmer for film composing, as well as if your directors or filmmakers, you want to know how actors really act and how they like to get inside the head of an actor. You could take two classes from Dustin Hoffman, and Kevin Spacey. All at masterclasses just head over to indie film hustle, calm forward slash masterclass and check them out. I've been taking those courses now, since they've been coming out and I know they have a bunch of new courses coming out soon for filmmakers and I'm excited cannot wait to see what's coming up. So indie film hustle.com forward slash master class. And also don't forget to head over to free film book calm that's free film book calm to download your free filmmaking audio book from audible. So guys, thanks again. As always, keep the hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.
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- The Layover (Special Edition)
- Official Website
- Joshua Caldwell – IMDB
- Joshua Caldwell – Twitter
- Joshua Caldwell – Vimeo
- Be Somebody
- Michael Polish – How to Make Money Selling a No Budget DSLR Indie Film
- This is Meg – Feature Film