Secrets to Successful Low-Budget Films with Jason Blum
I'm excited to talk to a fellow low-budget independent filmmaker today.
Granted, he does low-budget films on a completely different level than I or most people do at this point. But if we are going to talk about budget filmmaking, it is only fitting to have expert horror film and television producer, Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions.
Our chat sort out knowledge gems on Jason’s mentality behind his filmmaking and the budget strategy. Especially the ‘freedom’, he’s expressed in many other interviews, he gets from a low budget — in the essence of the chances it allows him to take.
Jason has over 200 production credits for numerous horror television and films franchises. The likes of BlacKkKlansman, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, The Normal Heart, Paranormal Activity, Elizabeth Moss’s Invisible Man, The Purge, etc.
Black As Night, the Amazon original film, is one of the twenty-five projects he’s produced that have been released this year and streaming on various top streaming platforms.
The story is about a teenage girl with self-esteem issues who finds confidence in the most unlikely way, by spending her summer battling vampires that prey on New Orleans' disenfranchised with the help of her best friend, the boy she's always pined for, and a peculiar rich girl.
He’s recognized for his multiple award-winning works and his production studio which is currently booked and busy with over fifteen projects lined up for the rest of the year to 2023.
That is a testament to his company’s high-quality production. Blumhouse is known for pioneering a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality micro-budget films and provocative television series. They have produced over 150 movies and television series with theatrical grosses amounting to over $4.8 billion.
Paranormal Activity: Next Of Kin will also be coming out this December. It is the second film in the franchise. Which continues to follow a young man who became the target of a malevolent entity, he must uncover its true intentions before it takes complete control of him.
All you horror and non-horror fans out there need no further introduction about our guest. Right in time for the Halloween spirits, please enjoy my ‘spooky' chat with Jason Blum.
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Alex Ferrari 0:08
I'd like to welcome the show, Jason Blum. How you doing, Jason?
Jason Blum 0:14
Very good. How are you?
Alex Ferrari 0:15
I'm doing very good. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Man. I'm excited to talk to a fellow low budget independent filmmaker, but you do it at a completely different level than I do or met with almost anybody does in Hollywood at this point. But I'd like the mentality behind how you make your films.
Jason Blum 0:33
Well, you too, we love low budgets,
Alex Ferrari 0:35
right? Yes. And I think you've said it so many times on other interviews is like the freedom you get on a low budget. is it's immensely like, rather than having $100 million, or I'll make 20 movies or $100 million.
Jason Blum 0:50
Yeah, I love low budgets. Because you can take chances you know, you can make movies that don't feel like other movies, you can work you can bet on actors, you know, maybe you don't have the biggest printer up to use all famous people and you can kill the lead after 30 minutes. And you know, you can make movies about gun control and racism. Yes, that makes everyone nervous. And I love I love I love love budgets.
Alex Ferrari 1:11
So how did you get started in the business?
Jason Blum 1:16
Let's see, I got started. I I went to college with Noah Brownback, who's a great filmmaker, writer, director. And he his first movie he wrote was a movie called kicking and screaming, which was about five kids in college. That was one of those kids was based on me. And he wrote the script and I my friend Jeremy and I said, Let's produce this together. We had no idea what that meant. And we said that to every rich person we knew they all turned us down. One guy who was actually one of my ex girlfriends dad had it was an investor in a movie company in New York called arrow and arrow almost made kicking and screaming and at the end of the summer, they said I'm not going to make the movie but I'll give you a job. And Dennis friedlaender gave me my start in the movie business and I worked for this little company called arrow entertainment for three years and that's that's how I started
Alex Ferrari 2:10
and then you know, we'll jump a little bit fast forward to paranormal activity. How did you get involved with a film like that? And I mean the phenomenon that that became
Jason Blum 2:22
so yes, so Paranormal Activity came much later maybe 10 years later I was I was in my mid 30s I relatively recently moved to Los Angeles to try and you know make my way in Hollywood which is complicated and and we had a we had a first look deal with the overall deal at Paramount. We the first look deal with it with a guy named Stephen Schneider, who's a who's who is who's a producer, but he's more more more well known for 100 movies you should see before you die or 1000 movies you should see before you die, that series of books, he edits that series of books. So he took that cachet he had from those books and started his producing career and it was it was pretty good. And he's really kind of an expert in, in, in horror movies. And, and he is the one I think who initially brought my attention to to the paranormal activity movie which was actually sent to us as a directing sample. We were told we were told by the agent that the movie was going to go directly to DVD but that we didn't want to work with the director and Steven and I both saw the movie and we said we're or Steven showed me the movie and I said you know I bet this could work in a movie theater. And the rest is history but it was it was a long journey from that moment to when it came out in the theater was actually three years
Alex Ferrari 3:47
when you were starting out and had that first job in an arrow what was the what was the lesson that you wish you would have told your younger self that you had to learn the hard way during those those years those early years?
Jason Blum 4:02
That's my lesson I would have told myself well I don't know it's a lesson but the advice I would have given myself is to try and be a little less stressed out I was very nervous you know maybe maybe that's what made me successful I was so anxious about everything but but but I would have told my I would have told my former self to relax a little bit
Alex Ferrari 4:20
but you seemed a little bit more relaxed now. I mean you've chilled a bit over me ah ah chills you in general. I mean as you get older,
Jason Blum 4:27
I'm more relaxed now. Definitely by far yeah,
Alex Ferrari 4:30
Jason Blum 4:31
That's when I was 22
Alex Ferrari 4:32
Oh, can you imagine as I always say, I'm not the only one that ever said this. The youth is definitely wasted on the young
Jason Blum 4:41
he's so great to be young now.
Alex Ferrari 4:43
With with our minds today Jesus the damage the damage we could do cheese. Now when you opened up blumhouse was it kind of like a you open that up because of the frustrations you had with the general Hollywood mission. You have like making big budget movies and ego and always have to like if you make a small movie then and that's a hit you've got to make another bigger movie and things like that is that one of the reasons why you started blumhouse
Jason Blum 5:11
yeah you know my dad had his own company and I grew up in a in a in an environment where having your own company seemed possible and I worked for other people and I thought God I definitely want my own company I think I think initially it was not my frustration in Hollywood but my fret I hated working for other people I just I did not like it at all It just didn't didn't it did not work for me. I wanted to do things my way I didn't want to do things the way someone else wanted me to do them and and that that's what gave me the drive to start my I mean my own company was me and my apartment that was my own company was me and my apartment with a telephone and an assistant would come you know we come over to that apartment from nine to five or whatever and the two of us just sat there and you know tried to sell movie scripts and we sold them you know we made them we got these little movies made they were they were pretty crappy movies but we got them made and that was that was that was that was what drove me to start and then blumhouse what we you know, when we was really paranormal activity was this idea of an independent movie distributed by a studio and that that seemed like the kind of company I wanted to that's what I wanted to pursue as a as a model for filmmaking.
Alex Ferrari 6:32
And then tell me how the relationship with universal came because you have arguably one of the most incredible deals in Hollywood I mean it just doesn't doesn't exist anywhere else when I heard the deal is like How the hell did he get that and then the success on success on success I mean, you're only as good as many successes as you have but how did that relationship even start How did you even get how did you convince a major studio to your craziness
Jason Blum 6:59
I made a I made the such a successful movie for Paramount and then a second movie for Paramount that they kicked me off the lot. And because they wanted to keep all the credit for themselves, wow. And the money to doing that. And my my dear friend and partner in crime, Brian, Lord at CIA, had our lunch with Donald Langley who runs ran universal and still does. And Donna said to Brian, you know we really want to bring back the monsters and the tradition of scary movies in Hollywood. And Brian said you should meet Jason Blom and the first deal with universal with a very small deal and and oh god and and we I made a deal there no no one else You know, I couldn't I couldn't. It wasn't like it was a bidding war. I mean, I didn't have any other opportunities. Y'all and I took it I should say and it turned out turned out great. But it was a it was a it was a real leap of faith on her part and you know, I'll always be indebted to her for that.
Alex Ferrari 8:09
So what was the first movie with that original original urge? It was it was James is as as our friend James the Monaco
Jason Blum 8:17
James Monaco's movie we did the purging we screened it in this little this theater in the valley and a test screening and all of universals showed up because it was like the new horror guy you know Nikki Nikki Rocco was there and all the bras from Universal they're all going to this two and a half million dollar movie and they all liked it name of the company released it Adam Adam focus and was there and it was great but but but it was very nerve wracking.
Alex Ferrari 8:49
So when you work with when you worked with James because James was I don't know what he had done prior to the purge I think he's just in but this was a big deal for him. And when you work with James on that whole project and two and a half million dollars thinking about it now it's like you watch the purge is like,
Jason Blum 9:06
really that's all the cost is 2.7
Alex Ferrari 9:09
It looks so it looks so amazing. How since this was like the first big thing for you, how did you talk to James about the James that final cut? Like how did that work? Did you like did you have that power yet?
Jason Blum 9:22
You know had Final Cut on the movie? Michael Bay. Exactly. That's right. And Mike Kobe's a genius. So Michael, these two guys drew and Brad, who was working for him. And I met with them and we were like, let's do a movie together. No, not at all. And, and they he gave us a movie to do or something. And I said great. Let's do it. And Michael said You know, I'm not gonna give you a movie of ours to produce and loot unless you give something of us to me to produce. So of course we never made the movie he gave us but meanwhile we made six purges and a purge TV show all of which Michael Bay produced But anyway, Michael Bay had Final Cut on he still does By the way, he has Final Cut on every purge movie he had Final Cut or Michael Bay.
Alex Ferrari 10:27
That's I mean, and I've said that 1000 times and like whether you love him or hate him, he changed action movies. He's an absolute genius. Visual Yeah,
Jason Blum 10:34
I was just I just had lunch with, with with with with Jake Gyllenhaal who started his movie and you know I always get the best advice from you always get the best take on directors from actors always actors know better than anyone else. And and Jake was just saying you know he's one of the best directors if not the best and one of the best directors that he's ever worked with like it's just he's just he's he's you know really great at this at this at this at this specific thing but also at moviemaking you know, Jake Jake just loved them. I've never been I've made the Giga guys very rich. I've made him a lot of money I never heard from the guy. I mean, it's unbeliev
Alex Ferrari 11:16
You can't even get him on the phone for God's sakes. I haven't tried to call him calling me fair enough. Now what are you kind of laid out this model for blumhouse films? What are the few of the rules that you that you look for or have to abide by for a blumhouse release
Jason Blum 11:39
on the movie side for the original for an original movie, you know, we have to have you know, I always say you you can either have a lot of locations, a lot of speaking parts or a couple of special effects, but you can't have you can't have you can't have more than one of those categories. So really, it's a funny way of saying with the movies that the scope of these movies has to be has to be has to be small, you know, not too many locations not too many characters, no stunts, no special effects or very limited stunt limited special effects. And you have to be willing to work for scale and participation if the movie makes money and if it doesn't make money then you're not going to make anything more than scale.
Alex Ferrari 12:15
And and why do you were you afraid of people or the or the town starting to copy this model when this when you first came out and you had success after success? You're like, Oh my god, I'm gonna have 40 competitors all the big studios are gonna obviously be doing this. It hasn't turned out that way. But were you afraid of that happening? You know, I'm very competitive.
Jason Blum 12:34
But I'm not i don't i don't i don't i don't you know, I don't I'm kind of I don't have a lot of fear. I'm not like fearful in that way. So no, I mean, I was annoyed if people would try and do it, but I was afraid of that. I was I was I but I'm always competitive when someone else has a successful horror movie. I'm horribly competitive about that.
Alex Ferrari 13:00
Jason Blum 13:01
And then quiet place almost send me to my grave
Alex Ferrari 13:06
you had get out so I think in Split I mean you did okay,
Jason Blum 13:09
I wanted all the horror I wanted to conflict and quiet place
Alex Ferrari 13:15
when when Jordan showed up with get out, how did that get? I mean, did you how did that whole process in because Did anyone think this was gonna be a hit?
Jason Blum 13:25
No one wanted to make that script, you know, script was laying around for a long time and, and we read it, I thought the script was great. I had a great meeting with Jordan. We talked about race in the meeting, because I wanted to be comfortable. We're gonna make a movie about race. I want to be able to talk I remember saying that Jordan. Like, is it true? Like if there's a party and it's all white people, and there's like one other black person you guys like, acknowledge that? And he's like, Yeah, it's definitely true. And I thought I'm never in a party where it's all black people in another white person, it wouldn't occur to me that you've got to nod at each other like we are. But of course it makes sense. And, and I found it, you know, very easy to talk to Jordan about race and, and, and he had such a clear vision for what he wanted to do with a movie and and, and, and we loved it. You know, we loved it. And we we, we had our partners in Burbank make it and the rest is history.
Alex Ferrari 14:25
No, when? Yeah, it definitely did. Okay, it did. All right. Yeah, it did. Okay. And I saw on one of your other interviews you did that you got, you're like, oh, Jordan won the Oscar. But I didn't. I thought that was great.
Jason Blum 14:41
So honestly, you know, I got nominated, I got the booby prize, you
Alex Ferrari 14:47
know, when you work what you deserve to know it without question. Now, when you work with directors, it seems that you know, looking at your filmography
Jason Blum 14:56
stake that year though they did make a mistake. I mean, that's that we know everyone is excited. allege that Yeah, yeah yeah I acknowledge that they may have a separate Oscar ceremony to acknowledge their mistake gave the best picture Academy Award to the picture that should have won that
Alex Ferrari 15:11
obviously that I think they'll be coming to your door any second any second now the now when you It seems like that from looking at your filmography the directors you you work with a lot of times, they're not first time directors that I don't think there's ever a first time director, but a lot of them
Jason Blum 15:28
blumhouse there are for our streaming movies and stuff like that there are but our on our other model, they rarely are Jordan techlink. It was a first time director. Yeah, well, Joel Edgerton, technically first time director, but they both of them had a lot of set experience,
Alex Ferrari 15:42
right, it wasn't like their first time on set, and they knew how to Yeah, they didn't know what they knew what a grip was.
Jason Blum 15:48
Which is more than I know.
Alex Ferrari 15:50
So when you're working a lot of a lot, but a lot of the filmmakers you work with, some of them were in filmmaker jail, and then they come to you to get out of filmmaker jail, you know, like EMI and emanates a great example because and I love what I did, because after a few of his films, he was just kind of like, Oh, it's over. Don't which is always insane to me. Like how can you take the keys away from an M Night Shyamalan like, how, how does that like, how does the Tom work that way? But when split came out, I'm like, Ah, he's back. He's back, baby it oh, you know, and you give those opportunities back to these amazing filmmakers?
Jason Blum 16:26
I did. I brought him back. And then he kicked me to the curb. It's outrageous.
Alex Ferrari 16:34
But it seems like I mean, it seems essentially that you are money. You're in Moneyball for movies. And I know that's the term that's been thrown around.
Jason Blum 16:40
Was that yeah, I mean, we I mean, you know, we're less that now and all series we were less of that now. And that that's because when we started the company, there was there was a there was there were a lot of super talented people who were not working. And that's no longer the case. It's that there's so much work now in TV and streaming and movies. There's just so much work now that it's it's you can't replicate what we used to do there really? Isn't that the idea of like Moneyball for movies? You know, it's not really, you can't really do it anymore, because everyone's working so much. But definitely the first, you know, 567 years of the company. I taught I used to always say to be what, no one no, no, it's funny to hear you say that? Because no one no one. No one knew what the hell I was talking about when I said that, but that's exactly what we did. You know, we looked and said, hollywood looks at your last movie. They don't look at your body of work, which is insane. It's insanity. always looked at the body of work, like the guy that did saw. You know, he did two movies that didn't work after that, but he wrote and directed the like the most success one of the most successful horror franchises ever of all time. I bet that guy can get this from a horror movie. I bet it will be good. You know, that was James one, you know? Yeah, I mean, amazing.
Alex Ferrari 17:59
Yeah. And when you give those opportunities, and again, Hollywood is just such a it's such a weird town. And it's in its DNA, this whole concept of having to spend more it's almost ego like you know, it like I think you said before the cool kids, the cool kids spend a lot of money and you're not a cool kid.
Jason Blum 18:17
I'm not a cool kid. Now the cool kids, they spend a lot yeah, but but
Alex Ferrari 18:21
you make a lot with your money. So then you become a cool kid after the fact.
Jason Blum 18:24
You think I'm not so sure. If I'm allowed to sit at the cool kids table?
Alex Ferrari 18:29
No, but I was I remember listening to Robert Rodriguez when he did I mean, who's one of the originating low budget guys in the 90s from coming from the 90s. And he did a spike it. And it was a huge hit. But he did it for like 30 million, which was a big VFX thing. But then afterwards, after he's like, okay, here's 100 me like, No, no, just give me 30 again, I'm good.
Jason Blum 18:50
I was smart. That was smart. Because the second one didn't do as much. People make big mistakes they every every manager and every agent, they their their idea of you have a successful movie is to make your client making a more expensive movie, which is which is stupid.
Alex Ferrari 19:05
Do you do you find that there's where do you find the resistance to your model? Is it more in the representative side, in the talent side, you'd like where because when you go
Jason Blum 19:15
and look, you know, the representation, although they now it's better, because I've made a lot of people a lot of money, but representation, it's not even their fault. It's just they're compensated by. It's like quarterly bonuses, right? So they're very, very incentivized to make money fast. Now, if you said I'll pay you $50 now or $100, over three years, give me the 50 now and then I'll get a job for another client. So it's not it's not that they're, it's not that they're short sighted. It's just the the the incentives aren't aligned. And the rep is incentive with the client is not really aligned like the client is much better with $100 over three years. The agent is kind of better with 50 bucks. Right now and then go to the other ones to get more so that's just the way the system is set up. I don't know you know, it's hard to really blame people for that. Now as much as I like to
Alex Ferrari 20:12
fair enough now when you work with directors I heard somewhere that you give director's cuts to a lot of filmmakers that you work with your final films. Yeah, final, final and
Jason Blum 20:23
we always get Final Cut to our filmmakers. Yeah, we do. Not always but 99% 95% of the time we do other than Michael Bay. Well, no, he was the filmmaker in that right so we actually did give the filmmaker but we didn't keep it ourselves. We gave it to him.
Alex Ferrari 20:39
Right? Exactly. Of course of course. But but that is so against the grain in Hollywood like to get Final Cut. So most of all, I mean, it's it's, it's, I
Jason Blum 20:46
think it's immoral to ask someone to work for a reduced rate, but then tell them but I'm going to tell you what to do. Like if you ask someone to bet on yourself, you have to allow them to bet on themselves. So if they go down sinking, they can say well, this is your fault. I mean, if you're really saying like you're financially invested in the movie, you can't do those two things. They they they don't work together, either. Either. You pay people a lot of money and then you know you could I would have no problem taking Final Cut. If people are making money up front. Then we do take Final Cut. But if you're not making money up front, if then if you're the director who has the most control over a movie by far, I think I just like I said, I think it's immoral to to take Final Cut from them.
Alex Ferrari 21:33
Yeah, cuz I remember I mean, when Spielberg and those guys started getting Final Cut, but then they were they were handing out Final Cut like candy back in the day, in the 80s. In the old days, but then it's just unheard of to have that kind of control. But I guess again, because you're at such a low budget, you can, you can play, you can do things that you just don't do and it's hard to give $100 million Final Cut. It's just very difficult. Yeah, that's
Jason Blum 21:57
what I mean expensive movies that never do it. Final Cut has only of the 150 movies with a we've made, there have only been like, less than five times where Final Cut really hurt us and hurt the movie, which is pretty good ratio.
Alex Ferrari 22:17
That's not a bad ratio at all, actually. Yeah, yeah. Now what some of your films go directly to streaming other or VOD and others go theatrical, then go there. What is your determining factor on which goes where?
Jason Blum 22:31
Well sometimes it's pre determined, like Welcome to the blumhouse all these movies for Amazon, they're all gonna go directly to Dell. Yeah. When we make an original movie for Amazon, we we I screened the movie in front of an audience and, and 99% of the time it's very clear if you show the movie in front of an audience, the movie is connecting with a big group of people in a movie theater in such a way that it shouldn't play in the theater or it's or the tone may be kind of the tone may be kind of different and it kind of may be slower or it may be you know the audience you don't you feel it where the audience is not like the movie could work at home, but it's not gonna work in a movie theater. And then we do we don't really do limited releases we either do funnily enough we need to do like a really wide release or we go you know, we'll do it straight to ancillaries to VOD or to iTunes or to all the all the different places you can order movies online now.
Alex Ferrari 23:29
Now you have the dubious honor of having a couple of records of note some are dubious Some are are not dubious.
Jason Blum 23:39
Oh, what am I What am I bad records I need to hear immediately.
Alex Ferrari 23:43
Is it the widest release film?
Jason Blum 23:46
Now got we got we gave that record up I want here now. You gave it up. Oh, we no longer hold that record. Oh my god. partner here. Do you know what the media took that as Cooper? He knows? Okay, so he that took that record from us. I was sorry to see it go. I had to pass the torch.
Alex Ferrari 24:04
That's what I'm sure you were Tara. You really torn up about it. I was
Jason Blum 24:09
real torn off about it.
Alex Ferrari 24:11
Now, I have this is one question. I've always wanted to ask you what makes a good horror movie?
Jason Blum 24:16
The name blumhouse showing before the film. This interview is going to be a great interview. I'm feeling very, very I don't know what it is. I'm hunched drunk, but I'm not drunk and I haven't even done that many interviews. Now Cooper. What is the movie that took the AR record for widest ride release? Lois gross. Ah Gosh, I think it was Warren Beatty I want to say no you knew this. We we celebrated giving up this record you don't remember Oh I know you're on the air. You're Live on the Air right? pressures on Yep. Live on the Air in a in a live interview. That's your interviewer.
Alex Ferrari 25:03
Hi Cooper. No No pressure.
Jason Blum 25:06
What's going on? Can you hear me? Yeah just FaceTime in your other no FaceTime or your face that was your rock the Kasbah that was the same weekend I came up the same week no no no no no are you literally doing a jacket right now it's coming up without answers Cooper it may have been rules don't apply the Warren Beatty movie okay maybe one day we'll go over that now view if you find out something else text Karen and then we'll we'll call it in right now. Now Now this interview is going to be one for the ages I mean this interview I mean, I love it.
Alex Ferrari 25:52
I love it. I absolutely
Jason Blum 25:56
rent your mate Have you are you really relaxed you're just you talked about James to Monaco Yeah, you called James now and I mean he just
Alex Ferrari 26:05
it's all it's all calculated. I I am a master at this sir. Just like making a good horror movie only is only good horror movies have blumhouse at the front
Jason Blum 26:17
only good. first have to have blumhouse and if you have that you're on a good road. Yes, a good horror movie should survive if you have take out the scares. And just watch it with no scares. It should be a great drama so good horror movie has a great story and great acting. If you have a great story and great acting. Good movie, The scares will work if you have not a good story and not a good act and you could have the greatest scares in the world in your movie and they won't be scary. You got to get the audience riveted with what's going on lockwise and story wise in order to do that you have to have a good story you have to have great actors they have to believe what they're seeing. So when you surprise them with a scare, they're so entrenched in the story that they're not ready for it and then it's scary and if you if you don't do that you're not going to be scared
Alex Ferrari 27:05
so yeah, because horror movies are infamous for being you know, they're bad a lot of there's so many bad horror movies out there and then your films aren't so there's a reason like what's the difference?
Jason Blum 27:19
Okay, say you have to have blumhouse obviously obviously right the movie by the way that was the empty man what's the empty man?
Alex Ferrari 27:29
Jason Blum 27:32
thriller well the empty man you look it up but the empty man took my word as the least successful, wide released lowest grossing film of all time.
Alex Ferrari 27:43
Wow. Thank you for thank you for updating that because yeah, please correct me because I was a fan of gem in the Holograms personally.
Jason Blum 27:51
That movie was great I think I still love movies you've done freaky is in a plus movie should have been ahead and it got all screwed up the releases all screwed up my fault By the way, I take all the blame for the release. I screwed it all up. But boy what there's nothing more frustrating as a filmmaker when you listen if you make a movie and it's not so great and it doesn't work it is what it is and we've done plenty of those but when you make a movie that's really fucking awesome and it doesn't work it's so frustrating and you know I always feel guilty about Chris Landon who made this great movie and we didn't deliver for him and we're good at delivering I always say to our directors if you give me the goods I can make the movie ahead but and I'm usually can but I wasn't able to with freaky which kills me at what kills me even more is I wasn't able to deal with Jon Chu who's turned out to be you know, the greatest director on the planet.
Alex Ferrari 28:51
He's done okay,
Jason Blum 28:52
these are two These are two These are two tremendous disappointments that I try not to let keep me up at night but often do
Alex Ferrari 28:58
but well I think you've done a few other ones that have been okay. So I think they balance that and a lot of successes. That's true. That's about to balance things out. Now do you believe Do you think that the purge is almost like the perfect embodiment of the blumhouse model as far as the rules are concerned of what the low budget pillars Oh yeah,
Jason Blum 29:19
there there are two movies that are letter that are really there. They're more than two but like the purge is perfect high concept low budget. Getting get out is pretty perfect, right kind of high concept, low budget, you know, sinister and insidious also really are where are where, where they really embody what a blumhouse original is they check all the boxes that it's this super gripping, wide release, wide appeal movie, made for very little money, and the acting is great. The story is great. The characters are great. And as a result the movies are scary as hell.
Alex Ferrari 30:02
And like and get out I mean, I think the most the biggest set piece was the deer crash right? That was like the most biggest visual effect.
Jason Blum 30:10
To goofiest, they crash in the world. But it's so scary because you have Allison and Danielle like talking. It's his it's his. It's his mixed race couple and they're talking about race and it's like you're you're just you're it's exactly what I described, you're on the edge of your seat because they're like, Oh, he's like, your parents don't like black people. And it's like, oh my god, where's this going? Oh my god, where's this going and the deer hits and you jump out of your seat? Because you're so focused on the conversation between the two of them.
Alex Ferrari 30:39
And the the I think I heard you say this bunch before the the difference on being cheap. And understanding how to get the most out of the budget is something as simple as if there's a waiter that comes to your to your table. He doesn't say he or she doesn't say, oh, would you like to hear the specials? They come in, they dropped the kids off. And the difference between a day rate of speaking day rate versus a walk on?
Jason Blum 31:05
We don't like we don't like characters to speak and yet waiters never speak in our movies. They always come up with a pad and they go like this.
Alex Ferrari 31:14
Exactly. Because of the because that's a substantial cost difference
Jason Blum 31:17
if a speaker cost me $600 What do you crazy?
Alex Ferrari 31:21
And if they don't speak How much does it cost?
Jason Blum 31:22
A Dell $600 less? Because
Alex Ferrari 31:28
it's so funny to hear someone have you know, someone like yourself who's done you know, so many movies talk like this, because you don't hear producers in Hollywood talk like this. Like that's, that's just not something that's talked about is like, Oh, well, you know, I'll just write it in.
Jason Blum 31:42
It's because they're not there. That's because they're already they've been paid upfront. You see, the producer is already made his money. So what are her money? So what do they care of the characters talk, we don't make any money unless these things make money. So we're, we're very conscious of where we spend because every every every dime we spend is a dime less we make. That's why everyone should I always think, you know, movies and shows would be so much better if everyone worked for much, much less money up front and then made money. When the thing you're doing connects, sadly, we're going further and further away from that. closer to that model, because streamers will have nothing of my silly ideas.
Alex Ferrari 32:23
Exactly. Yeah. So the streamers aren't thinking about doing fine. Oh, no,
Jason Blum 32:27
no, no, no, no. The streamers what they do is they pick, they pick, you know, 2030 projects a year that they think are going to be wild home runs, the extra systems, one of them, they pay everyone as if the movies have already come out in our home runs and the rest of everything they do they pay less. And it's a very different way of of, of compensating people.
Alex Ferrari 32:54
You have to imagine that. I mean, obviously you've had a lot of success you've been you know, you've been nominated for some Oscars and with whiplash and get out and other films. But and exactly blackkklansman but did but I have to just because I've been in town so long. And I was I was I've been in I was in LA for 13 years and I've done all the waterbottle tours and I've been in those meetings with agents and producers and things trying to get projects made it someone like you with your energy and the way you're looking at things I can't believe that you will open arms excepted with these concepts when you first started out I have to believe everybody was just like, Dude, this guy's nuts.
Jason Blum 33:35
They still think I'm nuts.
Alex Ferrari 33:38
Jason Blum 33:40
Were you talking to Yeah, I'm like, I'm like Crazy Eddie Remember him? Where are you?
Alex Ferrari 33:44
I'm from I'm from New York so I completely know what crazy ideas are you kind of I'm not gonna say but you kind of a little bit
Jason Blum 33:51
I'm a little bit like Crazy Eddie. I've been told that before. I was proud of that
Alex Ferrari 33:56
these movies are insane your logo you should sell do
Jason Blum 34:06
it's fun to do I think what are we doing in Hollywood if you're not trying to do some you know crazy stuff? I mean, I think it's I think it's
Alex Ferrari 34:14
we could you could be thinking it's just somewhere we could be digging we could be digging ditches somewhere
Jason Blum 34:19
yeah we're supposed to be having you know we're supposed to be having fun and making challenge I think also you have to I think your artistic process is better. If you're a little looser about what you're doing I think if you have all this tension it doesn't serve the director as well so I try and I don't know if that believe me I don't know I'm not always like this but I try and try and keep keep keep a sense of humor about what we're doing.
Alex Ferrari 34:43
I mean I can't even comprehend what you know some of these directors with $200 million on their head or I mean God forbid James camera,
Jason Blum 34:49
then that creates so much pressure and lets you know, some directors can work with that kind of money and not feel pressure but most of the most of the time they do and I think it doesn't doesn't help the creative On the movies.
Alex Ferrari 35:01
Now tell me about Welcome to blumhouse.
Jason Blum 35:05
Welcome. Well, welcome to the blumhouse. Yes, is a is a series of eight movies we did with Amazon. And we made this deal with them about two or three years ago. And Jen soggy who runs Amazon who I knew a little bit from her time at NBC. Right when she started, she kind of pitched this idea to me. And I lit up to the idea because we look at so many Scary Movie scripts, and there are a lot of great ones that don't fit for a wide theatrical release. But that I'd love to make that I think would be fun. That's to take. And when we did this deal with her, it gave me a place to put to put these movies so we were actually able to say yes to people who we couldn't say yes to before. And we chose to do all underrepresented filmmakers, which is which is, which is something we both really wanted to do, which is a more accurate reflection of what our audience looks like, you know, our audience audience for horror movies, the minority is Caucasian looks like you and I, you know, most people who watch our movies don't. And it didn't make a lot of sense to me that that the people behind the camera weren't reflecting that. And so this is the second we did for last year. And this is our second for this year. And I think the difference between the four this year and last year is that is that this year, we we not only have people from underrepresented groups directing the movies, but we also the movies are actually about marginalized groups of people. And I noticed that in a more pointed way than, than the last four movies. So I felt like you know, the stories that we're telling better represent the idea of hearing from directors we were we're not used to hearing from so I love the movies, I'm really proud of the movies, I think they're really cool. They're very different. They're very, you know, speaking of all the things kind of we've just talked about, they're definitely really original, all four movies. Don't remind me of anything else I've I've seen recently or a long time ago, and, and I'm excited for people to see him and I was excited to be able to give all these directors a shot. And I think like the first four directors we worked with, they're all going to go on to do more interesting things.
Alex Ferrari 37:26
Now I have to believe that you walking around at a film festival or at an event or even just walking around LA, you might get recognized and you might get pitched by somebody like Hey, I got this idea. Hey, I got the screenplay, because that's LA. Does that happen often to you? And how should you properly pitch a project to blumhouse? Because they're like, Oh, he's doing the kind of movie that I'm writing. It's be perfect for you, Jason. So how do you properly do it? And do you? Have you had any stories of people walking up to you like, Hey, here's my script.
Jason Blum 38:02
Well, you asked two very different questions. Okay, I'm gonna break them down separately. Do I get recognized and how do I feel about it? The answer is not nearly enough. I love nothing more than being recognized as the greatest thing ever when people asked to take selfies, especially when I'm with my wife because it really pisses her off. So you see me please don't hesitate to come up to me ask for my autograph or take a selfie or do anything well not anything because that's the second part of the question. Yeah, but but but I love it it does and it does happen sometimes. And yeah, and I'm working on making it happen more in every way I possibly can find it awesome. And I love to make my wife angry. Yes, that's her number one. Do not if you see me though, please don't pitch me your movie that would not be a good way to get your movie read or heard about in fact it's it's really not a good way first of all, you have to have representation which is just the rules of the game to submit a project to us but if an agent or a lawyer submits something to us, someone at the company will always read it and if it's something that feels right for us more people will read it and eventually I'll read it and and and that's that's the way to get us to do something. And the other way in is if there's someone you know the other thing that always helps is if there are a lot of people that are almost 100 people that work at the company and if someone knows someone who works at the company and is read your particular script, fine for that person to call the person they know it blumhouse and say hey, you should look at this submission or whatever I get I get emails or calls like that all the time. But that's that's the way to submit a something not on the street, but like I said, very happy to do a selfie.
Alex Ferrari 39:44
Sounds good. Now I'm gonna ask you three questions I asked all of my guests one, what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life,
Jason Blum 39:54
but the the premise of that question you You're implied in the question is like I've learned all the lessons. I have learned all these lessons.
Alex Ferrari 40:05
What are you still learning? Yeah, no, that's uh, yeah. Working on Yeah. Are you still working on?
Jason Blum 40:09
Okay, what I'm still working on is patience. I'm still working on not raising my voice which I've done before which I don't which I'm not proud of so I'm trying not to do that those are my two biggest things that I'm still working on.
Alex Ferrari 40:29
Now what did you learn from your biggest failure?
Jason Blum 40:33
Every I mean it's cliche every failure makes make you stronger but um you know you my biggest failure there like seven things going out of my head right now that I'm thinking about that what you learn from your failure is that you can recover that life goes on so that so that so that although you can fail at something or another thing you don't fail at life where you don't the company doesn't go down and i think i think the scary thing about failure is you think if you fail, you won't live again to fight another day. And I think what what I've learned from all my failures is I've gotten stronger and realized not to not to move past them and move into your next you know, your next chapter and not to dwell on your failures I think that's what I've learned.
Alex Ferrari 41:16
Was there a moment on any of your 150 plus films that you were a producer on that you were on set that day and everything was going to absolute hell and you fit and how did how did you handle that day? And what did what did you do to break from like to get through that that opposite?
Jason Blum 41:34
When one of the beginning of sinister the first shot we shot in the beginning of sinister is when the for the family is hanging from the tree we had a we had a we had a terrible stun person and hung the four people from the tree no one was you know no one was no one was was was was heard in a way they had to go to a hospital or anything but the stunt went wrong and someone was definitely scared and they were hurt you know some what it didn't go there it didn't the stunt did not go the way it should go. And we shut down the move we shut down the whole movie.
Alex Ferrari 42:08
Oh my God first day this day one first day.
Jason Blum 42:11
And we replaced a bunch of different people. And we add to add like you know, between 500 and 1,500,000 a million dollars to the budget with the budget was 3 million so it suddenly became 4 million is 25%. Jesus so it's 25% you know, cost. And that was a horrible day, you know, and I felt like I let Scott derrickson down and and that was my that was by far the worst day I've ever had on onset. Now I don't spend a lot of time on set anymore. So I think worse things have happened on our movies. I can hear a director saying oh my god, that was so much worse that happened on my set. But when when I was actually on the set, that was the worst thing that ever happened to me. It was bad. It was really bad.
Alex Ferrari 42:55
And last question three of your favorite films of all time.
Jason Blum 43:01
Citizen Kane, Goodfellas. Moulin Rouge,
Alex Ferrari 43:09
no horror movies.
Jason Blum 43:10
Now I'm going with those three today. Moulin Rouge
Alex Ferrari 43:12
is fantastic. And we're what are three horror scripts that every horror screenwriter should read?
Jason Blum 43:19
Roseman, Rosemary's Baby,
Alex Ferrari 43:21
such a great movie,
Jason Blum 43:25
three horse scripts the shining. Yeah. Yeah. And you know what? It's not my movie, but a great script to read, which I actually read this just because it's interesting to read is a quiet place.
Alex Ferrari 43:37
It is a great script. That is a great read. I know it's still I still know it still pisses you off, but you've done
Jason Blum 43:44
and it was a great movie. You know, it doesn't mess me up. I'm just jealous.
Alex Ferrari 43:50
And where can people watch? The when is when is it available? The Welcome to the blumhouse.
Jason Blum 43:55
So the first two films are on the first and the second two films are on the eighth. Perfect taste awesome over first and October. Then the other month, October is the most important month of course,
Alex Ferrari 44:07
obviously, obviously, obviously, it has been an absolute joy talking to you, my friend. And a lot of thank you so much for being on the show. And I wish you nothing but more success. And thank you for giving voice to filmmakers that might have not gotten that opportunity through the work that you do, man. So thank you so much.
Jason Blum 44:25
That's nice to say thanks for having me.
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