IFH 155: What the Heck is a Line Producer with Sevier Crespo

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What the Heck is a Line Producer with Sevier Crespo

I’ve been asked by the tribe to do a show on what the heck is a line producer. Ask and you may receive. Today’s guest is Line Producer Sevier Crespo. Sevier is a line producer that works in the indie film world. He knows how to handle lower budgets and get the most out of them.

According to Wikipedia:

A line producer is a type of film producer who is the key manager during daily operations of a feature film, television film, or an episode of a TV program. A line producer works on one film at a time. They are responsible for human resources and handling any problems that come up during production.

I wanted to have Sevier on the show to really go over how a good line producer can help you with your productions. He’s been around the biz for years working with legends like Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, and Joe Pytka to name a few

Here’s some info on today’s guest. Producer Sevier Crespo, p.g.a., is a dynamic force in film and television production, known in the industry as the man who conquers impossible circumstances to bring projects in on schedule and on budget. Accolades for his projects include BEST AMERICAN COMEDY at the NY International Film Festival, TV GUIDE’s Hot List (the only web series to make the list), a Parents’ Choice Award, and a Mom’s Choice Award. And it’s no wonder since he learned the ropes from heavyweights, Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Mann.

Crespo may have cut his teeth on sequels to “Bad Boys” and “Chainsaw Massacre,” but $5-million-and-under budgets are where Crespo really shows his prowess. He developed, created, wrote, produced, line produced and acted in “Jackers” with a budget of $50k. The feature film grossed $500k in its first quarter and has taken in over $5 million since. Crespo also saved a film that was $60k in the hole (with a budget of $225k) and brought it in on budget and on schedule. And when he delivered an NBC pilot (starring Mandy Moore and James Roday) on time and on budget too, he was not only praised for an LA/NY shoot with the micro-budget, but also literally shocked a network exec over the project, who looked him straight in the eye and said, “How the fuck did you manage to do that?”

Crespo studied production at UCLA and learned the ropes under the tutelage of Robert Townsend and director Sam Bayer at Ridley Scott’s RSA USA, Inc. He’s since worked with such global brands as Adidas, Coca-Cola, Nike, Marlboro, Mitsubishi, NBC, and Netflix – to name a few. Tapping back into his latin roots, Sevier worked alongside Danny Trejo in the comedy “Pendejo” and the upcoming feature “Deceived” (2017).

Enjoy my conversation with Line Producer and Producer Sevier Crespo.

Alex Ferrari 1:23
So today on the show, guys, we have Sevier Crespo, line producer extraordinaire, a lot of you guys out there might have not had the experience of using a line producer on your productions. Generally, when you're an indie filmmaker, you don't have the budget to hire a good line producer. But as your budgets grow, you really do need a good line producer because basically a lot of producers just get stuff done. They're the guys who are the ones hiring the crew, putting things together, figuring out how to squeeze penny out of every dollar that you can and get the most bang for your buck. They're the guys who have the connections with the with the vendors, with crew trying to make you deals with locations. That's who the line producer is. And they are an integral part of any professional film crew. And a lot of you guys have reached out to me asking me Hey Alex, can you please do an episode on what the heck's a line producer, because they're completely confusing. And you know, there's so many different producers on a feature film from the main producer to executive producer, co producer, associate producer, line producer, there's so many different kinds of producers out there. But that line producer is the guy who gets everything done. He's the one he or she is the one that pushes and greases the wheels to get this production done. So I wanted to have severe Crespo on because he's a line producer who's not a, you know, guy who works on 100 million dollar movies. He's a guy who works on indie projects. And there is a very big distinction on that. Because if you've hired a line producer who's worked on big studio movies, they're not going to know those tricks of the trade to get the most bang for your buck in an indie world, what you have to pay for what you don't have to pay for and things like that. Well, so I wanted Steve on because he is He lives in the low budget, indie world. You know, he actually saved a quarter of a million dollar movie $60,000 just by doing his job, and doing it well. And he goes over all of that. And then I mentioned that he also worked with Jerry Bruckheimer Michael Mann, Joe pitka, and also studied under Robert Townsend, the legendary director of Hollywood shuffle. I mean, he's got some stories and we definitely go over and into in this like from the craziest Joe pitka story you've ever heard. And well, if you don't know who Joe pitka is, you will know who Joe Pickett is by the end of this episode, but Jerry Bruckheimer and working with Michael Mann and how they work together, how Ridley Scott he worked Ridley Scott and Tony Scott and and how they work together. Samuel Baier, who's a huge commercial director, and he worked with him as well. So he's definitely learned from some of the best people in the industry and he has a ton of stuff to talk about and share with you guys severe lays down some major knowledge bombs. So hope you guys get a ton of knowledge out of this episode. So without further ado, here's my conversation with Sevier Crespo. I'd like to welcome to the show Sevier Crespo. Thank you, man. Thanks for coming on the show.

Sevier Crespo 5:36
Oh, thank you. Thank you for having me.

Alex Ferrari 5:38
Yeah, man, I've been wanting to have someone of your skill set on the show because we haven't really tackled it out of 153 episodes that we've been as of right now as of this recording 150 154 episodes. We have not tackled line producing and and kind of your skill set. So I'm very excited to talk to you and hopefully drop some knowledge bombs on the on the tribe.

Sevier Crespo 6:02
Oh, wow. Well, the pleasure is all mine. And now I feel like um,

Alex Ferrari 6:06
the pressures,

Sevier Crespo 6:08
the pressures on!

Alex Ferrari 6:09
the pressures on now, but you know, there's no pressure in the film business, so you should be fine. It's super, it's super easy, right? You just you just wake up and go, I want to be in the business and, and you just things happen, right? doors open, money gets thrown at you. It's it's well, that's the 80s.

Sevier Crespo 6:27
Right? Well, you know what, that's perfect. That's exactly how it is. So you know,

Alex Ferrari 6:32
I don't even know why people are listening to this. It's just so easy. You don't need any help. So let me ask you, how did you get in the business in the first place?

Sevier Crespo 6:39
Well, interesting. I got into the business from the acting side. a funny story. I wanted to be a professional baseball player being Puerto Rican. And never I was

Alex Ferrari 6:49
gonna say, isn't that a prerequisite? I'm Cuban. So I was I was thrown into the on the diamond as well. And yeah, it was horrible. It was horrible.

Sevier Crespo 6:58
Yeah, well, actually, I was, you know, I was pretty good. I was I was pretty good. And, but needless to say, I didn't make the baseball team twice, which was a very interesting odd thing growing up here when I got to the states from Puerto Rico. So then I had to find a slot to fill my baseball period in the morning. And the only thing available that I didn't want to do that had to do with study was theater. Okay, so I said, Okay, great. I'll take theater class in the morning. And so then I took theater, and the first time I got on stage, I, it changed my life. I was like, this is the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. And so hooked instantly. And so then from there, I continued acting classes and acting career, and then I moved to Los Angeles. And when I got to Los Angeles, I had the fortunate opportunity of meeting with Robert Townsend and that kind of for people

Alex Ferrari 8:01
who don't know who Robert Townsend is, can you please tell him who he is?

Sevier Crespo 8:06
Yeah, Robert Townsend is one of the great legendary producers, filmmaker, writer, director, filmmakers. He did Hollywood shuffle, which was a

Alex Ferrari 8:17
if I remember Hollywood shuffle was the first movie that was kind of done super I mean at the first movie, but it was the one that got the most press because he used credit cards to make it

Sevier Crespo 8:30
That's correct. He used from the story he was he would tell us he used I believe at that time. It was a Sears card there was no he used all possible cards not only cash he used cards that were had appliances from Sears from there was quite a few other stores that are no longer available. But you're correct he used everything in anything on credit cards to make the movie

Alex Ferrari 8:55
and that movie was about like if I'm not mistaken was like a quarter million but it wasn't like 50 grand It was like a $200,000 I'm like that if I if memory serves me correct it was and also for everyone listening this is the 80s when he did this if I'm not mistaken correct? That's correct. That's correct. It was it was not easy being an independent filmmaker

Sevier Crespo 9:15
No, not at all. I don't even think it was even like you said earlier you know I think in the 80s the money was there and available and there was different times and so if you weren't getting it upfront, or someone was giving it to you to just do it on your own was not anything that anyone even thought about because remember we still

Alex Ferrari 9:37
it was so damn expensive. Exactly. So so you meet with this legend and and and what do you learn from Robert.

Sevier Crespo 9:46
The one thing I learned from Robert, the first thing was you better love what you do. And his level of energy was something I had never experienced ever in any field in any part of life. For a career he was constantly full of energy he loved what he did always ready to tackle the situation or whatever we were working on or doing and from there then we learned you know story and character and what it takes to really do a film with what you have you know, and some of the things that he discussed were look if you're doing a low budget film or an independent movie, start with what's free What can you get for free you know and then what do you have to pay for? Um, and so that was a very interesting point of view I'm like okay, well including things that you would have in your house you know, for example, when you know, when you go to acting class and you have a scene to put up in class you pretty much drag everything you have from your house to create yourself on on on stage right and I think it was kind of point of view or mentality when working on a film it was like okay, well not just what's in your house but what's in other people's house that you can use what that works for what you're filming on your film. So it was that process first and then what do you have to pay for and then also be realistic about what you're working on with what you have which is still encounter today? You know, a lot of media script and they're like, Hey, here's a script Can you do a budget? Or can you schedule this for me or can we do it for a certain amount of dollars? And the first thing you know reading through it is like, man you have you have a car chase in the highway and one cars over like come on, help me out here Help me Help me?

Alex Ferrari 11:52
Yeah, I've I've had many of those encounters in my career with scripting I mean with the script that you that give you an action script and like I think we could do it for 100 grand I'm like Guys, guys, you need you need 60 days to shoot this you know, and you have two days of budgets.

Sevier Crespo 12:12
Right? That's exactly it That's exactly it. And I think that was it. I think his point of view was be realistic about what it is you're making and what it is you have and also I learned a lot about story and character development. And I really realized how far that will take you it's like don't underestimate character and story and your audience and what what they're looking for um, because a lot of times especially now everything's these big, big blockbuster films, which are fantastic and are entertaining but if you don't have $100 million or $10 million or $20 million dollars you can you can tell the same story from what I've learned and what I was taught with not necessarily all the bells and whistles so I think that was that was the main thing so you know really character and story development in also not thinking that you need a zillion locations to tell your story

Alex Ferrari 13:24
mm hmm yeah, that's a big mistake a lot of a lot of young guys and girls who try to be filmmakers they try to they try to shoot a 50 different locations and most of the times all within the same day yes. Oh God, please everyone who's listening right now I want to give him one piece of advice don't do more than one or two company moves in a day if you can help it Try not to do any company moves in it because you kill your day

Sevier Crespo 13:54
which is interesting that you're saying that because the last time I just got back from shooting in Puerto Rico we literally had two company moves a day

Alex Ferrari 14:05
oh my god it must have been brutal I mean if it's down the streets different but if it's if it's 2030 minute drives I mean come on

Sevier Crespo 14:14
it's it's brutal it's definitely the days off we're well needed let's just put it that way.

Alex Ferrari 14:20
Yeah, because when you do that you basically got to pack up the circus and move and it takes time to pack up the circus and move and then reset the circus back up. You know, it's it's brutal and I'm but but you could do something like that. But guess what, the skeleton crew, you know, everyone jumps into the van and let's just go, that might be different.

Sevier Crespo 14:38
You know, I think for me, what I had to do was I really had to plan ahead of time a lot. I really had to with the first and second IDs. plan out the routes plan out by when we would wrap one location to move on to the next. Ideally, the brakes would be Right after lunch, right, start breakfast, breakfast, through lunch at one location, wrap that out and give us an extra 45 minutes to an hour. And a lot of tech scouts with the DP and the director in the first ad and the second ad at all the locations prior, and really measuring the sun and the lighting in the lights and, and doing a pre pre pre pre walkthrough of what they were thinking, which helped a lot. So it wasn't like everybody went in blindly to every location, there was at least somewhat of a skeleton of an idea.

Alex Ferrari 15:37
Right? Exactly. Now you're actually you know, you you came in from the acting standpoint, and as you knows, is very well as I do. Being an actor in LA is it's not an easy gig, it's a tough gig, to say the least,

Sevier Crespo 15:53
it is a tough gig, it can be a definitely a tough gig, it's it's from my point of view, it feels it's a very thick old, it can be very thick, old in a way because you don't know what people are expecting a moment moment, you know, it can change one minute, we want all blog next minute, we want all blah, and Yay, very fickle.

Alex Ferrari 16:17
And but the thing is, I think you did something similar that I did was my main goal was to be a director. But while I was going after my directing goals, I got into post production. So I think from what it sounds like you started you wanted to be an actor, but then you're also started picking up all these other tools to put in your toolbox that can actually keep you surviving and, and alive during your, your journey to get acting roles. Is that correct?

Sevier Crespo 16:45
That is 100% correct. That's true, um, you know, I got tired of, I've done so many different jobs in this town, I've been the janitor work during I mean, you name it, I'm sure you can 100% relate to all of it. And I think when I met Robert, um, I really started to like the process of producing and I felt like I had something there. And actually, when I learned and got into the line producing aspect of it, you know, I, I liked numbers, you know, the one thing numbers that I think was totally opposite of the acting, you know, numbers are predictable, you can predict numbers, you can actually, they, you know, they don't really last eight numbers never lie. You know, it's like I don't, there's so many unknown factors, that sometimes you can just leave a room or walk out of a situation, not knowing what they want. I mean, there's times where I as you know, I nailed it. Right? You know, in times where you're like, Oh, my God, I bombed and then you're like, you booked it. And so it's so I think, you know, on the producing, and especially line producing, um, that wasn't the case, I was able to always find the, the why. So I think that and I loved it. Actually, I found it interesting. And I still do to take something from a concept, then someone writes it, and then you put numbers to it, and then you've put it into existence. And eventually you're watching it on a on a in a theater.

Alex Ferrari 18:24
Yes. And that is a long journey.

Sevier Crespo 18:29
It is a very long journey. It is a very long journey. You know, and I've also learned you know, these are your babies. I Oh, yeah. It's like they're like children you know, it's it's you. You give birth to something and you have you live with it. I think people sometimes forget the amount of time that you live with a film is it for years?

Alex Ferrari 18:51
Oh, it's for it's it's I mean, I still I'm living with short films I did I mean, it's it's they're all babies. Some are ugly, summer, summer, some are gorgeous. And some you just love No matter who or what anyone says. And that's what an artist does.

Sevier Crespo 19:10
That is what we do. And you know, you know, the good, the bad, the ugly, you know, there's still yours and I think only those that have fully done a film or even a TV show or a pilot or a web series or anything of that sort. Even a music video or a commercial. There's a respect because man, it's a process and you have a team of people that count on you, you count on them. And you know, it's so to some degree, you know, you find the beauty in all of them because of the you know, the brutal blood sweat and tears goes Oh,

Alex Ferrari 19:50
god, yes. And then sometimes you just like I'm so done. I'm so glad that's over with and I never want to look at that project. I at least have one of those that I'm just Like, I don't even know why I did that. What What was I thinking? So now, after doing some research on you, sir, I found out that you, you got to learn from some amazing people. Specifically Ridley Scott and Michael Mann, the legends What? What was it like learning and being, you know, just picking up things from those guys.

Sevier Crespo 20:24
You know, um, you definitely realize and learn why they are, where they're at, and why their careers are their careers and what they've accomplished. Hmm, definitely two things that I picked up was they're so different. You know, they're totally different, but yet both fantastic, you know, in, in how they work, you know, one experience that I had with Michael Mann was, and this is like, at midnight Friday,

Alex Ferrari 21:03
by the way, that's the best way a story starts, I was with Michael Mann at midnight on a Friday, that's a great start to a story.

Sevier Crespo 21:13
Um, and, you know, I, I was actually on my way home from working, you know, in the office with them and on pre production on a job. And then I get a call, hey, Michael, wants you to come back, you got to come back and continue doing some more work on this storyboard thing. And so I was like, Okay, I turned around, went back. And, you know, it was interesting, because I had to piece together the storyboard for the shots. And he had shot everything with a camera, and it printed out all the photos and everything. And I was supposed to lay everything out according to the storyboard and how you wanted everything. And I remember at one point thinking, I have no idea what I'm looking at. I was like, I don't even understand one frame one photo from the other. This is all the same, like my mind was already losing it, but yet, they were able to come in and go well, no, this is different from this one because of this and look at this, and I promise you was the most minute things that I I even to this day, when I think about it, I'm like, wow, that was so specific. But yet, that's why he is who he is. You know, um,

Alex Ferrari 22:35
how about Ridley and Ridley You know,

Sevier Crespo 22:37
there was always a you know, there was a calm to him and it's communication and I found him to be good with actors and people um, one thing that I learned on that end was the crew you know, on that end, if they use the same people over and over again they they worked with the same people everybody knew each other. There was a very team point of view, if you will, you know, which again at the time I didn't really fully understand until then I started really producing in line producing and doing projects where I realized you know, how you go from crew to crew or certain people are not available you test allow and some work some don't some can cause a little bit more of a problem Some are fantastic. And that was that point that was I finally realized oh no wonder it was very difficult to you know, they use the same people over and over again you know, standard of filmmaking a standard of quality you know, I mean even for me to come in just I was supposed to only be there with them for a week and and and I ended up staying there longer than that but even just that process for a few days I didn't get the job right off the bat I had to be vetted in like

Alex Ferrari 24:13
the mob it's like the mob you have to you need to have someone to go he's a good fella. He's he'd come in.

Sevier Crespo 24:17
Exactly, exactly. And then you know, you think you're done and you hope you didn't embarrass yourself next thing you know, like, Hey, we like this kid, we're going to keep them and I think that was was pretty exciting.

Alex Ferrari 24:28
And that's, that's those are the things that happen when you live in LA. I mean to me, cuz I'm from Miami, you're from Puerto Rico. I know you grew up in Texas, but like, you can't get that kind of exposure unless you're here sometimes.

Sevier Crespo 24:41
Exactly. No, that's, that's that's true. I mean, here is where everybody is the base for for everyone, you know, so you're able to be to have that privilege and be lucky. And I feel like this. There's some in my career, that's something that I can say I'm very grateful for you know, I Robert Townsend and Ridley Scott and Michael Mann you know, it's, it's pretty wildly

Alex Ferrari 25:06
Now you also did a lot of commercial work as well, right?

Sevier Crespo 25:09
I did, I did, I ended up uh, you know, I've worked at RSA radical media, anonymous content. So I have I was able to work on, on, you know, work on the Green Day videos, wake me up when September ends, working a lot of big global commercials. You know, I was trained by some pretty fantastic producers that, you know, worked on global projects regularly, which was a very eye opening experience as well, you know, one to date was when we had to do a commercial that shot in China, France, London, and I believe in the US, and within, all within a two week span.

Alex Ferrari 26:00
And it's just business as usual for them. It is,

Sevier Crespo 26:03
it really, really, really is. And I think, you know, there was, I was lucky enough to have them, sometimes I would sit in the room, even, they would say, sit here, sit over here, and listen, how this is going to go. Or they would say, if there was a phone conference or a call, let's say, you know, if a client or someone was being a little difficult, and they were being specific, and certain things weren't they, you know, very accommodating, they would sit look, kind of tell me, this is how we're going to handle this watch. And I mean, that's kind of, you know, that was it was probably the some of the most valuable information that I was able to take in. You know, and I think that's what helped me move into the, as a line producer over to the film and TV side. Because when you're working in the commercial world, and video world, you know, when you do a bid, and you it gets awarded, that's what that is, you know, you really can't go back and say, oh, by the way, guys, I understand it. No,

Alex Ferrari 27:02
no do now with commercials and music videos. That's where I got that's why that's why I got started as well in the Miami market, doing commercials and music videos. So I I remember that time, like you can't, you can't just go Yeah, you know, we were about 10,000 under here. I'm like, Look, it's tough. The production company is going to eat it now.

Sevier Crespo 27:24
Yes, yeah. And actually in you know, you know, and actually, you coming from that world as well. And you know, things have to be specific or you won't work very long. No, you have to be as close as possible. And usually any of any overages, you know, come from the clients and their needs at the last minute, which that's acceptable, and they deal with it on their end. But you as a production team, you can't come back and say yeah, I bought that we lied or we underestimated or anything.

Alex Ferrari 27:51
That's why you always have to when dealing in commercial budgets, you always got to kind of pad everything, just for that specific time when the client goes, I really want that helicopter shot now. Yes. But we didn't budget helicopter shot. I know. But I want one. And all of a sudden you're like son of it. Well, I'm glad we patted those other departments.

Sevier Crespo 28:14
Right, right, right, right in those conversations, you know, it's like oh my God, is it cuz it sounds like I want to helicopter shot? Because you're like, yeah, you know, we got a helicopter, we got the fuel. We got the pilot, we got the permits we got Where are we flying this thing? We got, you know, it's just like, and when you start painting the picture for them? Hopefully, something you know, you want them to go Oh, yeah, maybe not. And sometimes, yeah, let's go for it.

Alex Ferrari 28:39
So that's a great segue to my next question. You've worked with the infamous and legendary Joe pitka. Yes. So for everybody who does Did you hear his voice audience? Did you hear his voice change? When I said, it's like saying Voldemort, or Kaiser so say show? For everyone who's that? Who doesn't know who Joe pitka is Joe pika is probably one of the greatest commercial directors of all time. He's also legendary for being difficult possibly sometimes. Yeah, you just nod yes or no, I don't want you get in trouble.

Sevier Crespo 29:25
You know, it's interesting because what I learned from Joe, and you know, what I learned from Joe, because Joe also almost, I don't even recall him ever going into overtime, shooting late. Um, you know, we always wrapped up around the same time, every time. He always served second meal to the crew, even if we didn't need it or whatnot. Um, so I found that to be awesome. Like, regardless of how he operate it on set and his own personal points of views and quirkiness or whatnot you know he always delivered great product you knew what you were going to get with him and I think that was a strong kind of principle that I even use to this day Believe it or not, you know, it's something that I I learned that I put in my toolkit because I was like, you know, that's something very valuable and it's something it shows respect for your crew and appreciation for your crew. Regardless if he didn't verbally say any, or Senate otherwise

Alex Ferrari 30:41
we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So can you tell us what are the best or craziest story Joe pick a story that you're able to say publicly?

Sevier Crespo 31:02
Huh, let's see. Ah, craziest

Alex Ferrari 31:06
because I've been on sets and every time I hear somebody like yeah work with Joe I go so what's the story and everyone always it's like that it's kind of like that it he's almost like an urban legend. He's almost like an urban because we all have stories if you work with him you all have these stories and I've heard hundreds of stories from different crew guys who've worked with them over the years and they're just the best stories ever so I wanted to see if he had one

Sevier Crespo 31:33
you know i think i'd you know this is one that I remember because it was God it was so was summertime and I believe we were working on I believe it was one of the Clydesdales likewise miserable and um you know Joe is the second meal and he has a specific type of pizza that he would like and things like that so I remember we had to go we were shooting in you know in the valley which is in the summertime believe I don't know shreem Lee extremely hot I swear I live Yeah, and I remember we had to go run find a place that I believe he approved the pizza because I had to be it couldn't just be from anywhere. So we all I remember getting in a 15 passenger van with a believe one or two more ppas and getting all of this pizza and remember having to wait for the pizzas to get done and then we had a special like warmer for his pizza and I remember because we were so petrified because if the pizza showed up cold especially his dog it was it was like just run like just go home. So I remember sitting in this 15 Pass van with just boxes and boxes of pizza with the heater on and I had the heater so scared that ever gonna show up cold I'm just I'm melting his pizza to be done man My life has to get better than that Yeah, that was one of the stories with Joe

Alex Ferrari 33:20
now the the thing is so everyone listening you're like this is just an extreme story I'm like no it's not it's this is this is business as usual on bigger sets or depending on the personalities of it could be a producer it could be a director. I mean I have stories I mean I helped move a frickin producer when I was an intern at Universal Studios in Florida you know like things like that that you drive two hours to move I mean seriously, but just to understand if when you get in the business this is what you're going to deal with Do you agree

Sevier Crespo 33:53
100% you know it god yes. You I pray for anyone coming into the business that you dodged a lot of those yeah aereos Yeah sure. You know luckily I have to say the scenarios that I've I've had to deal with still we're around fantastic talented legendary people that I at least got something out of you know four stories where people don't get anything out of it except just being fired or or Jesus really experience where they end up leaving the business

Alex Ferrari 34:28
so yeah, at least I mean if you're going to get if you're going to get a crap job it's good to have it on a job pick a setter Ridley Scott cetera Michael Mann set.

Sevier Crespo 34:37
Right, right.

Alex Ferrari 34:39
That's not too bad.

Sevier Crespo 34:41
It's not it's not you know, and listen, I mean, when I worked on the set with my command, you know, it was an interesting thing because, you know, microman will shoot and shoot and shoot and then he nothing's ready or done or move on until he says so he feels he's gotten the shot or comfortable or Thing along those lines so at one point you know I had the producer was like listen I need you to help me find the footage or the hard drive of work things are being kept because it was been being hidden so we like our producers and our and had no idea of where things that he was shooting was being kept keep it private and hidden you know so only he knew when he was ready to move on and so you know here I am being told listen I need you to make friends with his assistant you know which we ended up becoming buddy buddies and actually friends but it was like hey I need you to find out where this footage is and I'm like I mean to me I'm like I don't even know where to start with that like I'm not I became a spy within the set to figure out where you know the footage was being kept so we could look at it so it's you know

Alex Ferrari 35:55
these know these I mean we could go on for hours with these sores I mean it's so can you do me a favor Can you break down what a line producer does for the audience?

Sevier Crespo 36:04
Yes, line producers job and what they do is they take the content usually a script and they break it down line by line, meaning how much is catering going to cost approximately locations gear, permits, any picture cars the amount of extras the amount of talent and we pretty much go through the whole script we break everything down according to what we feel the budget is and it's going to take to make the project usually it can be it's broken down or I like to break it down into three areas or levels one is ideal one is comfortable and the other one no way lower than this. So yeah, so it's producers we we budget the film every aspect of it, you know that you figure out how much it's going to cost for union fringes, sag AFTRA, W GA, DGA all of those elements that then you know, wardrobe hair and makeup props, set dressing, and then you know how long it's how long it's going to take approximately to shoot and then budget within those days.

Alex Ferrari 37:29
Now you I have heard a lot of times in digital you can tell the audience a little bit a UPM and a line producer sometimes are interchangeable correct?

Sevier Crespo 37:37
They are kind of a tricky one right? Because they kind of have the same position one of them's PGA ones. DGA shows on union shows union bigger union films you can kind of carry both um, or they usually carry both and it kind of it's interesting thing because they they do the same things for the most part overall it would depend on the executive producers and a product project that you're on that then you know, dictates whether you need one or the other. Both.

Alex Ferrari 38:21
Got it? Got it. So now I also read in your in my research of you that you save the film $60,000 that was they were $60,000 in the hole with a budget of 225 and you brought the film on in on budget and on schedule Can you please break that down for us?

Sevier Crespo 38:40
Oh god well you know, it's interesting because people that work on that film with me to this day still call me the general like I kind of came in you know, and I I didn't make very much I didn't make any friends on that on that that film. Because I didn't I was I wasn't the nicest and I think is because just morally and ethically I was pretty bummed out and I was a little upset on how they could have gone you know negative $60,000 in mind you this was this was approximately prior to starting Principal photography. Okay, because the director slash producer had had paid himself like 20 grand he flew in a hair and makeup person for six grand Oh Jesus. No from Texas, like there was all these elements that were like we're in Los Angeles, California, you tell him to use lose someone in for makeup from access for makeup. Like I forgot hair and makeup or wardrobe was one of those departments and I just couldn't believe it. So I think when I Oh in the family that had done it, or put the put the money in, you know, they had just had a new baby. This was their savings they wanted to project and we're

Alex Ferrari 39:56
like, why would they put $225,000 into this movie.

Sevier Crespo 39:59
You Know what they had the money, it was something that they wanted to do this is before the market crash, you know what things were flourishing and prospering all around. And I think they just felt like this was their time, you know, they had no idea that they was going to go this way. And I think usually most people don't. Of course, you know, the the things that could go wrong on a film set on an hourly basis, minute by minute. Yeah, the minute by minute is Yeah, absolutely. is pretty big. So I think when I when I was offered the opportunity to take it on, think I just went in, and I just locked everything down. And I was needed to go. What do we need? What don't we need? You know? And I'm, I think I started to I think my Robert Townsend instincts really kicked in at that point, it was really like, okay, what's free? What do we have to pay for the food? What do we do not need, like I really I kind of then became very, you know, I was the no guy, which I hate being the no guy. But I think in this scenario, you know, the one thing that I did first was collect all of the information. And when I put out where the negative came from, which was paying certain people, this lump sum of amount, that was unnecessary. A lot of things also this huge sag deposit, because they had stuff on racks. And sag is very delicate. And I said all unions are so they had put the film under TV contracts versus feature film, which then sag was already like, no, something's wrong with this picture, we need a full deposit of all talent. So it was just like, Whoa, it was right when the red camera came out the very first one. So

Alex Ferrari 41:49
a workflow was beautiful back then.

Sevier Crespo 41:52
You know, what that experience? The camera would burn out. Sure. And shooting and this was again, another scenario

Alex Ferrari 42:04
over Sure.

Sevier Crespo 42:07
And you couldn't take it to the you couldn't take it to the camera house and exchange it, you had to then wait for a technician to come out to make sure that you didn't do anything wrong, that it was really a burn or something happened with the actual camera before they would even exchange it. So

Alex Ferrari 42:23
that's the bloody that's the bloody edge of, of technology.

Sevier Crespo 42:26
Yes, yes. Oh, God. I mean, y'all got that experience with that camera, which wouldn't even need, by the way, sure, that filmmakers always do is they they convince executive producers or finances or whoever they're working with the best. Yeah. And it's like, you know, if you know what you're doing, you can do it with an iPhone. Yeah, yeah. And so I think on that film, I really locked everything down, I had to dig deep in all of my resources. And what I learned from the Robert Townsend's of the world, and also, you know, started to you know, this is something that I do I don't do it as brutally as I did, then. But I kind of just made everybody beg for it. I was, I need this. No, you don't find a way like use your imagination. You have a mind? Your creative. Give me a solution that doesn't cost $1. You know, it's interesting, you know, I, I learned very quickly how to use you can tell when to hit when someone a crew member needs the dollar. Or they just want it because it's easier. Mm hmm. And that's kind of what I did. You know, I got that film. Oh, my gosh. That's no, I did, uh, you know, I, I remember the director, producer, wanting like, more of his money up front. And I was like, absolutely not. You're the last person that's going to get a paycheck. You know, you put yourself in the situation, I'm here to fix it. You're the last person that's going to ask me for a paycheck. You know, because crew comes first. And people's, you know, being fed comes first. Um, you know, so yeah, it was it was I had to lock everything down specifically and get to get going on how to get from day to day on that.

Alex Ferrari 44:16
So you basically became the parent the parent came in and cleaned everything up.

Sevier Crespo 44:20
100% 100% I had a lot of disgruntled kids.

Alex Ferrari 44:24
I mean, look, I worked on a project once that was a million dollar budget with big stars in it. By the time they got to put the director set himself up in a house like almost a mansion style house for the shoot, which and pre production post production. He got a car, he basically was living the life. He spent all the money upfront for for talent. And for production was like on a million dollar budget. All of production was basically like maybe a quarter maybe.

Sevier Crespo 44:55
Oh my god,

Alex Ferrari 44:56
and then wait and then wait post. That's what I got involved. Post had post had I don't know, I think maybe 30 or 40 for all the posts and and they shot on a mini DV camera oh wow they shot on the dv x 100 day with major like decent stars you know people who you would recognize if I said their names and and it was I was just shocked at the like kind of like this The director who just felt like hey, I'm this is how I'm gonna roll. And I'm like wow. And like the movie obviously suffered?

Sevier Crespo 45:37
No, I think

Alex Ferrari 45:40
we all have stories we all have those stories.

Sevier Crespo 45:42
We all have stories and think you know, because we can relate it literally it's bone chilling. It's like, Oh, God,

Alex Ferrari 45:50
yeah, that cornea. That poor guy will never get his million dollars back. It was one point, I think 1.1 or something like they'll never get its money back the guy who invested in that movie, never ever ever get his money back. Ah,

Sevier Crespo 46:00
God and you know, actually going back to that something that I learned also from Robert Townsend was you treat people's money? Like it's your own? Yeah, like, like, like you guard that money and you protect it and you treat it like it's your own every single dollar. And you know, you'd listen you do your best 100% you know, production and elements like we know you know, can sometimes things can come up that are so unexpected. You want to just curl curl up into a ball and die, you know, but that was that one main point of view is every dollar everything you know if would you spend it if it was your own money? And if the answer's no, or if you have even a slight pause, do not do not spend it in that area.

Alex Ferrari 46:48
Hmm. apps? Absolutely. No Look, I mean, I gotta get Robert on the show, man. If he keeps bringing him up.

Sevier Crespo 46:57
He's fantastic. I learned a lot from him.

Alex Ferrari 46:59
Yeah, he's he's, I mean, he's one of my heroes from Hollywood shuffle. I mean, what he did with Hollywood shuffle was, you know, cuz I started coming up around that time, and I and he was that story before, Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, before that, the Sundance gang came out. Robert was there before he was there only probably by about three or four years earlier, but it's still just amazing his story. And so anyway, when you want to tackle a low budget film, man, what what is your point of view from the budgeting standpoint? Like someone gives you a low budget script, and they go look, I've got a quarter of a million bucks, I got $100,000 to make this action movie,

Sevier Crespo 47:44
what do you do? Um, what I do is I read the script, it's have a interesting process on how I read the script. First, I read it as an audience member as a just a film lover filmmaker point of view with all the characters and everything and just get the story and get everything. Then I go through and read just the descriptions, just the descriptions, locations, just go through I skip all dialogue, all characters, all that. And, you know, I've gotten to a point where I can very well tell what's going to really take what's realistic and, and also, red flags will pop up based on certain scenes or actions or sequences or things. And I go, Okay, I mark them all the way down, and then have a conversation after that with the director, and go Okay, so these things, if you did them regularly, it does not fit in the budget, it's actually not even a possible situation. So what were you thinking when you wrote the scenes or you wanted or do you chose to do this project for this budget, so I can start to understand where the director is coming. Right? And so then, if he has a solutions, I already thought about all of that this is how I plan on doing it, whether it's through post or certain movie magic scenarios or certain elements with shooting in a specific way or certain things very rarely does it happen. What I usually get is like, you know, will you know, and I you know, we'll figure out in post cliche, I 100% try almost never say that, because I just know that that's so wrong. It's just so wrong to do that to the post team. or to even think that you can that you can do that because if it's not shot on screen post can only do so much.

Alex Ferrari 49:47
Even with all the money in the world and at anytime I want to set I tell everybody the only person allowed to say I'll fix it in post is me because I'm fixing it in post. There you go. And

Sevier Crespo 49:58
that is totally correct. That's 100% correct. And so you know, so then what I saw after going through the scripts, marking out the elements that are doable or not doable, I talked to the director, I find out how he was thinking of doing these moments where the scenes, and if I feel as if I'm satisfied with how he chooses to execute that, then I have a conversation with him, and usually actually him and the DP to be the person that's going to actually be shooting what the director saying, right? So I wanted the DPS reaction, and look and read comments based on that, because the DP could be like, he's crazy, there's no way to do that, you know. So, after getting all that information, I then go, Okay, this is a doable thing. And this is how it's going to go and I hold them accountable to that, then what I also then do is create a plan B, and I go, Okay, so let's say that's the ideal situation, we're going to go ahead. And, you know, my job is almost to be the cheerleader, and to be the person that motivates them, and keeps them excited to be doing this as well as it is for myself. So then I go, Okay, that's fantastic. This is awesome. Let's go for it. Okay, so also plan B, let's say we have other scenarios, or things come up or running behind schedule, or whatever the the elements or situations are, what are going to be the other solutions. And then at that point, it's also my job to come up with solutions that don't take away from the story, or the message, but to provide solutions or in different scenarios to help solve any problems. And I always keep all of those in my back pocket, because it's the director and the DP and the crews job to go in full gung ho. with, you know, portal, Braveheart offer one One for all, you know, it is my job to do that as well. But then also get ready to have their back, huh,

Alex Ferrari 52:03
that's, that's, there's basically a great line producer to do something like that. And as a director, a lot of times, I mean, line producers are basically one of your generals on the field, you know, without question, the DP, the the line producer, all those guys. And if you don't have a good line producer, a could all spiral out of control very, very quickly.

Sevier Crespo 52:27
Oh, 100%. And, you know, I think what I've been wrong, very few line producers in the same room, because obviously, we're like, unicorns, everybody's working.

Alex Ferrari 52:37
Right? You are you I never see, every once in a while, he's like, Oh, is that Oh, they're they're usually in an office somewhere taking care of shit.

Sevier Crespo 52:46
You know, I think so. One of the misconceptions, at least, you know, from my point of view, or at least with myself is, you know, because of Robert Townsend. And because of the background that I have, you know, I'm very creative. And being an actor in Britain projects, I come from a very creative point of view. So I don't always look at the numbers. I don't, I'm very flexible with the numbers, I know, I know where to put them, or quote, unquote, hide them to just keep it as a pocket. Because if I see a departments needing more than expected, I know what to do. But it's also really knowing being creative. And being part of that team that, you know, you have to be one with your director, with your dp with your crew. And I like to, you know, I like to move around the set a lot. I like to kind of go from department to department to see how everybody's doing, make sure everybody's, you know, don't they don't have any concerns or worries, or there's nothing negative happening. Um, because that helps the process. You know, I think when I've encountered producer line producers that are just all about the numbers and all about the budget. It's not, can't be that way. No, it hinders the project. And it's a bummer. You know, I've heard people before they've met me, you know, people stiffen up, and they're like, okay, he comes a line producer, oh, my God, he's about to tell us we can't do because, apparently, like, you know, if you're, you know, if you're being an idiot, that's Yes, I have to use your job, that's your job. But I'm not, you know, my job is to really come up with solutions, and to keep everybody motivated and excited. And, and, and have the vision that you want as close as possible or 100% nilly, you know, but I also prepare people in the pre production end with the reality of what's doable, and you know, like on my last film, one thing that I like to do is be transparent. I'm very transparent with my crew, and everybody and I even show them the budget. I'm like, Look, this is where things are at. This is what you guys wanted. This is what you guys told me. You could do. This is where we're at things change, I have no problem ever taking, you know, faults in any of my anything that I've missed, done or miss calculated or whatever, I will call it to show my, you know, being cute that I'm human just like everybody else. And I think that also then they realize, Oh, he's part of us, you know, versus a lot of line producers can just be like, the budget is this, this, you know, golden, you know, Chalice this like, you know, held in secrecy. And you know, no one's able to look at it,

Alex Ferrari 55:36
and it's rich, and it's rigid, and it's rigid. Yeah, it can't be.

Sevier Crespo 55:41
It's not. And I think once you, you know, and they don't, so they don't know that. So I think once you walk everybody through the director, the DP, all the key, all your keys, and you really you let them know that you're part of their team, and you're there to help them do their job the best that they can, because their names on the project, their work is on screen. And you know, you're there to take all of the hits, which is another thing that, you know, that's my job is, my job is to take all of the hits from everybody, including your executive producers, so they don't come and attack my set, or my crew members, or my director, you know, I think that's what he's the, you know, it's a big asset. And I think all of that so basically to a long winded answer is I just prepare everybody and I give them the facts up front. And I also give them the wise not like a parent where like, they just can't be done. Because I said so well, because it's impossible, and I don't mock anybody or laugh at them, I just go look, this can be done. Because of this, this requires this kind of permit. This kind of permit requires this because you're using this requires, you know, these amount of police officers and Fire Fire Department, or we need extra stuff, people because of this, this thing right here requires a special rig, and I give them all of the information. So they don't they go, Oh, I get that, let me help you now find a solution for that. Or sometimes I find a lot of directors and DPS go, you know what, let's find a different way to do it. So it doesn't, you know, it doesn't even give anybody a headache. And also the next Look, guys, this is going to take extra time, which then puts your crew with extra work and you know, they go we can go into overtime. And I don't want to do that to the crew. It's not fair to them. Because they they're they're doing physical manual labor here with all the lights and everything. They you know, they kind of they always find solutions for themselves. So that's usually how I handle a lot of low budget projects that have more on paper than is realistically

Alex Ferrari 57:39
allowed, which is generally mostly all the projects. So what what advice would you give a filmmaker just starting out?

Sevier Crespo 57:48
Oh, wow. Wow. I mean, I consider myself to still be just starting

Alex Ferrari 57:53
out. Well, you you're a little in the in the journey of filmmaking, you're a little bit ahead of someone just coming in. So what would give that advice? Um,

Sevier Crespo 58:05
you know, I would, I would tell a filmmaker, don't underestimate story and character, and minimal locations. I would say don't underestimate minimal locations, and the magic in the power that are that great characters and great stories have, because then you can maximize your budget. You know, I mean, perfect. You know, honestly, I think one of the most perfect films that I think, you know, out there that was done in that sense was, you know, Reservoir Dogs. I mean, man in the mean, it's like, that's, and it's suspense, it's a thriller, and you have a certain amount of characters, but it's, it's kind of contained and you know what I mean? So I think that's what I would tell a first time filmmaker or a young filmmaker coming in as well as you know, right? with things that you know, you can get to increase the quality of your shell you know, whether it's your parents home, your own car, um, you know, a perfect example is, you know, my wife son just did his first short film with some friends. And that's exactly what he did. And I have to say, I was excited I was beyond impressed. I was like, my God, this is you know, they they knew what they could get for free what they wanted to get for free and where the money had to go. And it shows on screen that you know, it's it's not the most complex all over the place film, but it's so well done. Like I'm I'm just I'm proud like I'm so I'm stoked that a young filmmaker was able to really do it that way. So I think that's what I would for young filmmakers. It's a maximize what you have minimize locations. And yeah, and never underestimate you know, never assume because this happens all the time that that's just gonna be a quick shot.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:28
It's just yes just a quick quickie. It's a quickie it did three hours later, three hours later,

Sevier Crespo 1:00:33
that non stop, you know, it's just a really quick quick shot. It's like,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:37
it's not on the schedule, but it's just like real quick, real quick. Real quick, it'll be fine. Bring in the dolly. And we're just gonna lay this Dolly track down real quick. Real quick. When you hear the term, we're gonna lay down this Dolly track real quick. There's a problem.

Sevier Crespo 1:00:53
Yes, Dolly in the car mount.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:56
Oh, God, karma.

Sevier Crespo 1:00:59
Car mount. I mean, I think it's just, you know, it's gonna be one of those days.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:06
Now, um, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life

Sevier Crespo 1:01:20
communication can handle almost everything and anything like communication with respect, and integrity, and really, really understanding as best as you can the other person's point of view. Because I think it whether it's in life, or in the film industry, people can be very arrogant. They're like, what do you mean you don't understand what I'm saying? What do you mean? Like, you can do that? Or why are you doing it that way? Oh, my God, get out of my way. Let me handle it. I think, you know, I found to be successful in life and in the film TV industry by communicating and being specific and understanding others communication, especially when there's an upset and I think they really, really, really will value that. And um, and it just takes you along. It just it takes you further in life. Okay, no, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:25
that's excellent. Now, what are the three of your favorite films of all time?

Sevier Crespo 1:02:30
Oh, wow. You know, I heard you ask this question in your previous podcasts and I so I was thinking about it. Um, let's see Gone with the Wind. Okay. Um Wow, wow, there's so many Wow, I would say Scarface

Alex Ferrari 1:02:57
okay. Of course of course you know the most famous the most famous Cuban of all time is Italian

Sevier Crespo 1:03:05
yeah right um you know, huh kind of so many I'm not gonna be kicking myself for this but I will then have to just say Good Will Hunting I

Alex Ferrari 1:03:22
love good wanting Yeah, that's a good one as a girl with the late great Robin Williams

Sevier Crespo 1:03:29
right yes. Oh God I was so sad

Alex Ferrari 1:03:33
that the whole that movie in general is just such a it's such it's it's almost perfection in the way that story was told

Sevier Crespo 1:03:41
it is and I think that in actually perfect example that's a perfect example of another great film where they maximize I mean, you know what they had and granted you could say oh, you have Robin Williams and the unknowns of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon but you know the story and it's like he's he's a janitor happens to be a brilliant and is it's just it's beautiful. Yeah, it's you know, and I think you know, I think I don't know for me was the beginning of I think that was when I realized I can do this

Alex Ferrari 1:04:15
yeah, for me it was um, was Roberts movies Robert Rodriguez movies like Desperado and and mariachi that's the point where I said Oh, I think I can do this

Sevier Crespo 1:04:29
right Yeah, well that's those were I mean, I was blown away on his ability to make those happen or what we had available

Alex Ferrari 1:04:36
so insane insane. So listen, where can people find you? Oh wow, I'm at your home address now you know Matt just just

Sevier Crespo 1:04:48
I'm on you know, was saying that Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. It's severe Crespo or Cedric Crespo? calm. It's kind of vice page with some of my work. And a little bit of my bio and things like that and then on social media it says your crossbow a to be

Alex Ferrari 1:05:08
a severe man thank you so much for being on the show man I really appreciate you dropping so many knowledge bombs today.

Sevier Crespo 1:05:14
Well I appreciate it and thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure and an honor.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:19
I tell you guys having a good line producer is imperative on these on productions man i've i've had bad line producers and I've had amazing line producers. My my, my line producer on my last project I just did with legendary and Nerdist was Paul Silver. And Paul was amazing he was really really great. His and and just got everything done for me, I didn't have to worry in, in the sign of a good line producer as speaking from a director's point of view, is not having to worry just knowing that when you get on set, everything's going to be there for you don't have to worry that he's picking everything and put everything in, in place. So you've got what you need to do your job as a director. So it's so so so imperative, and I can tell you some, I'll tell you one quick story of a bad one I had, where literally a day before production of this thing I was shooting the line producer and I use that term extremely loosely, hadn't gotten cameras, trucks, things that we needed to get things just going food, he just dropped the ball so many places where I had to stop prepping for me for my directing, and actually had to put on a producer's hat and actually go out and get all this stuff I had to go out and get the trucks I it was insane. This is early days of my career and and but you know, you learn and you learn to make sure you hire good line producers because they can save your butt trust me so hope you guys got a lot out of that episode. And you know, guys, if you if you'd like to show, please spread the word, spread the word as much as you can share our links. And if you can head over to iTunes, or you can just go to filmmaking podcast.com and leave us an honest review hopefully a good one. But it really helps us out a lot and I want to get as many filmmakers this information as humanly possible. So I need your help with that guys. And I want to give you this as Meg update, we will hopefully be releasing it sometime in the summer on iTunes. And we we are working through distributor to do that. And we will be doing a video, kind of video, small little video documentary on my experience using distributor and going through the entire process from launch strategies to everything we're going to go down to the distributor, headquarters, shoot some stuff, post some stuff, it's going to be awesome. So I'm going to give you guys as much behind the scenes of me launching this as mag on iTunes as humanly possible. Don't forget to head over to distribute comm forward slash indie film hustle. If you want to get your film on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, any of those platforms, these guys can help you out. And I'll just be showing you what I'll be doing with them in the future. And also I have a bunch of things cooking, or the rest of this year. I'm working on some big stuff, some big projects, some big updates for indie film hustle, as well. And some new stuff that I'm working on some new launches some new things. I know I'm being very cryptic here, but just keep an eye out because I have a lot of cool stuff coming for the tribe. So thank you guys again, so much for your support. And I really, really appreciate all those emails, and Facebook messages and Twitter messages that you guys send me on a daily basis. I'm so glad that my my hard work that I do here at indie film hustle is inspiring you guys, and you're finding value in what I do with indie film, hustle. And you know, it does keep me going so thank you guys so so much and I really wish you guys all the best in any production and any journey that you guys are on so thank you again. Oh, and by the way, if you want to know what if you want to get links to anything we talked about in the show, head over to indie film, hustle, calm forward slash 155 for the show notes of this episode. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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(Last Samurai, Blood Diamond)

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