Miranda Bailey is a prolific producer, actor and director, known for producing high quality independent films. Her passion for bringing compelling, well-crafted stories to the screen has been the driving force in her distinguished 15-year filmmaking career. Bailey has produced over 20 films, among them the Oscar®-nominated THE SQUID AND THE WHALE and the Spirit Award-winning THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, as well as James Gunn’s SUPER, the Sundance hit SWISS ARMY MAN, the critically acclaimed NORMAN and the indie hit DON’T THINK TWICE.
Bailey’s directorial narrative feature debut BEING FRANK, an offbeat family drama/comedy premiered in the Spotlight Section at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and was theatrically released June 2019. She assembled a decorated cast including Grammy-nominated comedian, actor, writer, producer and New York Times best-selling author Jim Gaffigan, two-time Emmy winning actress Anna Gunn, Samantha Mathis and Logan Miller. Karen Kehela Sherwood of Imagine Entertainment produced the film alongside Amanda Marshall of Bailey’s Cold Iron Pictures. Bailey’s made her documentary debut GREENLIT – a humorous documentary examining the hypocrisy inherent in Hollywood’s “green” movement – premiered at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival to critical acclaim and was acquired by IFC International. Bailey’s second documentary, THE PATHOLOGICAL OPTIMIST, the film was released theatrically by The Film Arcade and on VOD by Gravitas.
In 2018, Bailey teamed with Gurl.com co-founder Rebecca Odes to launch CherryPicks, a groundbreaking aggregate movie review and rating service by female critics for the female audience. The site went live in 2019 and over 800 female critics are subscribed to provide their reviews on the site.
A production powerhouse, Bailey’s Cold Iron Pictures has amassed an extensive list of critical and commercial successes, including SWISS ARMY MAN, starring Golden Globe-nominee Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, theatrically released by A24. DON’T THINK TWICE, directed by Mike Birbiglia, starring Gillian Jacobs and produced with Ira Glass (This American Life) was distributed by The Film Arcade. NORMAN, directed by Joseph Cedar (BEAUFORD, a Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released by Sony Classics. Bailey also produced I DO…UNTIL I DON’T, directed by and starring Lake Bell and Ed Helms. Additionally, in 2019, she produced the Sundance hit documentary, THE UNTITLED AMAZING.
Miranda Bailey 0:00
Hello. Is this Miranda Bailey? I'm like, yeah, like this is me something about her. Did you crash and audition last week for the da da da da And I was like, Uh, yeah, well listen that is unacceptable. I will tell you something right now, you don't do that in this town.
Alex Ferrari 0:16
This episode is brought to you by Indie Film Hustle TV, the world's first streaming service dedicated to filmmakers, screenwriters, and content creators. Learn more at indiefilmhustle.tv. I like to welcome the show Miranda Bailey how you doin' Miranda?
Miranda Bailey 0:31
Pretty good. How are you?
Alex Ferrari 0:33
I'm doing great. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm I'm excited to talk to you about your adventures or misadventures in the Hollyweird business.
Miranda Bailey 0:44
That's a good way to explain it.
Alex Ferrari 0:46
I'm sure you have a few stories that you can say on air and probably a couple more out there.
Miranda Bailey 0:52
I could say it all on air now.
Alex Ferrari 0:55
Well, that's, that's, that's amazing. So first question, How and why did you want to get into this insanity that is the film business?
Miranda Bailey 1:04
My father was friends with Brian Dennehy and Brian Dennehy became kind of my mentor resource. And I went to the set of Little Miss marker when I was a young child. And I saw this little girl acting with him and decided that I wanted to do the rest of my life. Because that was the women that were there were, I think a script supervisor now that I know who it is a teacher and the little girl. Sounds like so I'll be an actress. So then, I studied acting and then came well, while I was in college also was directing and writing just because it kind of came out of me and was producing accidentally in theater I didn't even realize it was producing. Then moved to Hollywood, Hollyweird and got very lucky at the beginning. You know, crashing audition got my sag card, you know, made a lot of money on a commercial, Denis Leary accidentally, my ego went really high, and crash roller once reality hits, and started getting partisan stuff that I didn't really have any control over. And so I decided to start making more stuff that I liked to be in, or to at least be in existence, then being stuff that I didn't like, anyway, now I got into producing.
Alex Ferrari 2:32
So I wanted to go back for a second. So I love to hear stories of when the ego goes up. Because it is fantastic. It's a wonderful ride. First part, at least. Wonderful, Rhys, how did you deal with it? Because I always, the reason I do the show is to try to let filmmakers know that you are in a boxing match, and you're gonna get punched in the face. I don't care who you are in the business. Punches are being thrown at you left and right. Most filmmakers don't even know they're in a fight, let alone that there's a punch coming towards them. That is one of those. That is one of those things that the ego when you get that first award, the first red carpet, the first time someone says ooh, you're like the next Spielberg or the next Nolan, or this kind of thing. The ego builds up. What so after you did that commercial with Dennis, Larry and made, you know, a gazillion amounts of money back then because I know what money was made. It was a national, I'm assuming. So you
Miranda Bailey 3:29
They had that played on the Superbowl.
Alex Ferrari 3:30
Oh, Jesus. So you were just like, this movie business stuff is easy. Why do people talk so hard about? So what was it? What was it like just going up? And then what was it that caused the fall of the reality when that punch came?
Miranda Bailey 3:46
Well, you know, you know, in hindsight, you know, 26 or seven or however many years later, I think I'm really lucky that my ego was slammed down so quickly. Because ever since then, it's been massive, you know, climb up this ice, you know, mountain, like ice climbing. I slept. Yeah, yeah. And so, I mean, it really was I was very fortunate. And, you know, I was 21 or 23 or something like that. So, you know, I didn't believe in fortunate I believed in you know, destiny. And,
Alex Ferrari 4:33
Of course, and you were destined, obviously,
Miranda Bailey 4:36
Well, I know I'm destined.
Alex Ferrari 4:39
Obviously, obviously, we all are,
Miranda Bailey 4:41
It takes a lot more work to get to that. I mean, I don't know exactly what my destiny is. I will be a grandma someday, I hope
Alex Ferrari 4:49
Okay, fair enough.
Miranda Bailey 4:51
But um, ya know, I was squatting in this house in Mount Washington and Every morning it was for sale party, we were in the basement, we put the mattress up and slide it behind the washers and dryers or whatever. And then we'd have to be out of the house. And my roommate at the time, and I had just gotten there, like, I'd been there maybe two weeks. And she had an agent through her aunt for commercial, and we didn't look anything alike, like at all. And she asked if I wanted to crash the audition to see what it was like. And I was like, Sure. And, you know, I was like, not nervous because I was crashing, I put on my ugliest dress, you know, so she looked hot. I didn't wear any makeup. I put my hair in long brown braids, because she had like a short blonde Bob and she was tall and skinny. And I was like, shorten whatever. And wrote my name down on the sheet. And then it's like eight and so I wrote like, independent. And then it's like their phone number and I wrote my phone number. And I think I was teaching Pilates at the time. That was like my job, which everyone didn't know what it was or like Pele it's what is it? At Pilates. And I remember driving like, like on the on this very curvy part of the 134. That's pretty dangerous. And my leg Motorola rings. And you know, there wasn't really caller ID and like, Hello. I'm gonna like, I'm like, yeah, like this is me something rather Did you crash and audition last week for the lottery? And I was like, Uh, yeah, well, that is unacceptable. I will tell you something right now. You don't do that in this town. Nobody does that in this town. Okay. You don't pass auditions. I was looking everywhere sending everywhere trying to find independent doesn't exist, and I can't believe you did. Don't ever ever do that again. And I was like, Oh, I won't definitely. Just real quick though. Like are you calling to tell me never to do it again? Or? Or am I getting a call back? She goes well, bolts honey. That's amazing love with the United talent agency straight case she's trying to appear. You've got her on Saturday, you've got to call back. Oh my god. This time. Here's your agent Socrates expecting your call.
Alex Ferrari 7:11
This movie business is super easy.
Miranda Bailey 7:15
I'm like, Okay, so like that Saturday, I go to the thing. I have one line. The word is the internet's I say the word the internet. I booked a job. It's an international commercial playing ball with Dennis Leary. I go on set I meet this really awesome girl. Samantha was I think we were friends for a while. I don't know what happened to her. And there was another guy on set I also kind of ran into through the through the worlds and we're like all at a coffee shop like computers or whatever. And like we would like look up and say the internet. But like Dennis Leary would like walk by us while it was talking to the camera. And it was so cool. And like it was it just felt so like I needed to be there. I loved it. And you know, and then I had a couple more auditions and couple more callbacks, but I didn't get anything. And then the department, the commercial department for UTA shut down. And they had to go find an agent. And that's when reality hit. It was not that easy. It was not and then and it was just definitely not easy.
Alex Ferrari 8:18
So that's that was the rise in the fall of the ego. And that's honestly your right, it was probably the one of the biggest blessings you had is at such a young age because I'm sure you've met a few people along your journey that that did not happen to them early on. And they're still dealing with their egos in their 30s 40s and 50s and older. And it becomes
Miranda Bailey 8:39
Much more devastating for them when things don't work out for me. I just expecting to not work.
Alex Ferrari 8:46
That's your, That's your place. You're like this is never going to have this movie. The money will never drop. That star will never sign. This is never Oh, it did. Okay, great. We're never gonna get into Sundance. Oh, were going to Sundance Great!
Miranda Bailey 8:59
Finally ended up at FCM after like a meal of a toy toil and just like crazy stuff, which had to happen from like a short that I directed as an exercise to get out of the documentary. I was directing. It was too dark for me. Sure. So I needed to make a comedy at my house. Now from that shore, that's how I got representation with echo Lake and ICM, and this was, you know, seven years ago, so like 25 years into struggling to try and you know, get the right representation then finally, like I remember when my dad short this guy emote to my manager now, but he's one of the first people I met in Hollywood. And, you know, he's, you know, he's, he's, he's big time, right? And I would never act even ask him or consider him to represent me. I mean, he's he saw a diverse movie greenlit that went to South by, it was like a comedic documentary and and whatnot but so golden in my short to get like notes or something like to see like, Hey, do you want to take a look at this and see if you have any like, thoughts. I called him back. He's like, incredible. This was amazing. I want to represent you and I'm like, What do you mean? I want to be your manager. And I'm like for what he's like directing and writing and I'm like, what does that mean? Like, what do you like? And she's like, I'll get your jobs and I'm like, Really?
Alex Ferrari 10:30
Okay, so, I don't know. But it sounds like that casting director for the Superbowl commercial sounds very similar to your manager invoice. Like, exactly. Now, I mean, you've worked on some amazing projects. You know, super and Swiss Army Man, I got to ask you about Swiss Army Man. How in God's green earth did that get made? Like how is that movie like that is so wonderful. It on paper? I can't believe this is a good pitch. It's a horrible pitch on paper. How did Swiss Army Man get made and thank you first of all, for having a part in bringing it to life? Because I'm so glad it exists in the universe. But how did you how did that movie get made?
Miranda Bailey 11:20
Well, you know, it's interesting because that is kind of like the point where my confidence as opposed to ego allowed that to happen. So you know, I did squid in the whale Before Noah Bombeck could get arrested like no one would no one would even glance his way after Mr. Jealousy right. But I there was something there and then this feeling, you know, in your stomach kind of thing. And then I had that same thing with James Gunn was super. And you know, I said yes to that. And then Diary of a teenage girl Mari. So these are all either fail. Like, you know, no one will hire this director again, or director, jail people or new directors that have a voice or like so I gave Jill Solomon her first writing job ever. Which never made the movie but it was from a short story called Courtney Cox's asshole. And then, I hired her to write me talk pretty one day into a script, but then it didn't end up happening. She wrote it, but the movie didn't end up happening because David didn't want to get made, but I still on the script. But so by by asked by after Mari, I was like, you know, I kind of feel like I know it when I feel it. And I had had some other directors that I worked with, where I didn't have that feeling. You know, that didn't work. So it was kind of like I knew it was it was it's like, I can't explain the kind of kinesthetic feeling in the air when you are like, No, you're like, I think this person has vision, like a vision of their own that is unique, which is pretty rare. I mean, I wish I did, honestly. Sure. I mean, I hope I do. I just don't know what it is yet. But so I had done job cedars Norman. And Ken, he's like a director with, you know, an incredible vision. And it was going to be his first American film footnote in Israel, which was nominated for an Oscar, which is most beautiful film. And so Oren moverman had asked me to come on, come on to footnote and on footnote, I admit, I guess I guess I had met this, you know, this team of, of financiers and this team of producers, and who I'd also knew some of them from time out of mind. Because Oren moverman is one of those people I think, has real vision. So this guy, Lawrence, he he's on his movies, and he comes into town and we're at this house, I'd finally gotten into the Soho House. Okay.
Alex Ferrari 14:06
That's when you finally got in.
Miranda Bailey 14:07
Like getting into the Aspen house because I still wasn't cool enough to get into Hollywood house. And there's no filmmakers here. So they needed filmmakers here. So
Alex Ferrari 14:16
Miranda Bailey 14:18
I'm still not calling out for the hot whatsoever, for the record, but
Alex Ferrari 14:24
I was. I was I was invited once. I pretend that I'm invited. Yes, exactly.
Miranda Bailey 14:30
Yeah. So he's got a lab. What are you working on? What do you got going on? I gotta go on. And he starts telling me well, this is what I'm looking to partner on. And he's given me one story. And I'm like, Yeah, kind of seen that before. And it gives me another story. I'm like, that sounds depressing. I love Dan Stevens. But no, that sounds kind of depressing. And then, you know, there were just a couple of these ones. He gave that. I don't have anything like new doesn't have anything like, it's like, well, I have one but You're probably not gonna like it. And it's something that these kids have never seen a movie before. You know, they made a music video. And you know, it's about a guy who falls in love with a dead guy not fall in love with best friends with a dead man and in the forest and his boners a compass. And it's called Swiss Army Man, and he uses the dead body like a Swiss army knife. And I was like, any actors attached? He's like, No, not yet. And I'm like, What's music video turned down for what? And I go.
Alex Ferrari 15:37
Oh, oh, those guys.
Miranda Bailey 15:39
Oh, okay. How about this Yes. greenlit will make a one and a half million dollars, because that's what I made diary for and the squid for. And, you know, it's two people, whatever. And let's set a meeting for tomorrow. And he was like, Really, that's like the last one I would imagine that you would use feminists be into. And I'm like, whatever. i It doesn't feminist, non feminist, you know, like, being lost in the woods, and being so what's your opinion on I hadn't read the script yet. So that night, I read the script. And it was like, insane. But if you know that music video, sure. You're like, I get it. And then the script still needed work or whatever. So Daniels come in, and I show up at the office. And I'm like, I say to Amanda Marshall. I'm like, Hey, so we have a meeting today for it's with Daniels. Who's that their music video directors. I've already greenlit the movie. You know, here's the script. And she's like, are you serious? I'm a guest. So she goes and she reads it and she comes back. She goes, you're not? You're kidding, right? Do not going to make this movie. She's, she's like, we're not making a movie about a guy who's Boehner tells them where to go Miranda, who was just his girl. He's like, she goes, and I don't even know how half of these things like how does he become, you know, a motorboat or like, whatever, like, watch this. So I play the music video. And she goes, Ah, wow, cool. I get it. We go and we meet with them. We tell them a couple of things about how we, you know, feel that the, you know, it needs to be dude, basically development stuff, and structure and stuff. Yeah. And we give this offer and of course now, this is where the Hollywood douchey this becomes Hollywood douching. This is where their agents and managers were like, Oh, great, we got an offer. So then they're like, well, we want 7 million. And now we're gonna shop it around. We have an offer from pictures. And I'm like, normally, if it comes back to if there's something that happens and something comes back to me, I'm like, you know, but with this one, I'm like, go ahead, shopping around.
Alex Ferrari 17:57
Let me know how that works out for you.
Miranda Bailey 18:01
Like have fun. I can't even get a black woman to be a lead. Okay, good luck with this. You know, like so, you know, and I tried many times, and it was it was hard. So they just did the companies that will put a lot of money behind things. It's like they need a sure thing, of course. And this was far from that. And so they went around for six months, chopped, it came back to us. And then we did a budget realize it was like around more around 3 million. And then we were like, Okay, well the best thing to do here because they at one point they were gonna play the parts, or Daniel, Daniel Quan was gonna pay for that play part. And I'm like, listen, we really need like, a indie art house. Starling. Yeah. And then you need your international like James Patterson type guy. Right. And so we went to Paul Dano because our new Paul Dano and and what Lawrence was working with Oren. And he said, Yes, and then we got James Patterson on but James Patterson didn't want to rehearse. And we were like, but these are like, even before a take. Okay, like, that's impossible. It's for the dead body.
Alex Ferrari 19:35
All of that. Like there's a lot of logistics. Yeah.
Miranda Bailey 19:38
Camera maneuvers, and special effects and practical effects and stunts, like you have to hearses. So, we were like, Okay, that's not gonna work. And I'm like, well, there's that Harry Potter kid. He's valuable. That dandy guy. So we call Daniel Radcliffe's agent and his agent was like, Oh my God, that clip has been begging to work with the guise of this music video if they ever were gonna do anything. Oh, wow, that was really easy. And that's how that's how they came on. And I have to say that Daniel Radcliffe, I mean, everyone knew Paul Danna was a genius, right? Yeah. But Daniel Radcliffe to me, just blew me away his. And watching him work and watching how precise he was in watching his getting to know him and like his process and being there. And I mean, that's the hardest role in the whole movie. I mean, there's only two roles in the movie really? Like they're really they're there. They both both of those guys. Paul and Daniel, like their champion.
Alex Ferrari 20:48
Yeah, no. Yeah, they're they're two titans. So two titans in the space. And when I saw that, I was just like, how in God's green earth Did This Get Made? Like how, like what things needed to line up for this to be in front of my eyes right now? Any baby destiny, it's destiny. So that's, that's a fantastic so right now i Now I can die in peace, that I know how this movie finally got to the screen. So thank you. So there's always that day on set. And I asked this of all my guests, that the whole world's coming down crashing down around you. And now most filmmakers say that's every day. But there's that one day that you feel like oh, my god, I can't believe this is happening. Why am I here? How am I going to get out of this? And it could be a million things. You've lost a location, the actor doesn't want to rehearse that day, whatever it is, what was that day for you on any of your projects? And how did you overcome it?
Miranda Bailey 21:45
I can think of two. Okay. The most recent was on God's country where there was suddenly a pandemic.
Alex Ferrari 21:55
Right, we heard that we had Julian on the show. So we heard that that holster because that was his too, by the way. So what's what's the other one,
Miranda Bailey 22:03
But I had to fire them.
Alex Ferrari 22:06
For your perspective is a little different.
Miranda Bailey 22:09
Yeah, and I and we had money in the movie or company of money in the movie, you know, you don't know if you're ever going to make it again. Obviously, that's it same you know, him as a film director, but like, for me is someone who is like, here's a people that may or may not ever work again. And I have a choice whether or not we can keep going another three days to finish the week, risking Tanduay getting back to London or not. Or pulling, pulling the plug. So Tanya, we can get back to her. Just brutal. Um, but fortunately, it all worked out. And we came back a year later. And we did it. So right, you know, and the other one was, on this film that I directed, called being frank with Jim Gaffigan, which premiered at South by the whole culmination of the movie of this guy, hiding between these two lives, ends up at this one, like, you know, Starling festival, in this small town. And it has to be very, very choreographed of where each person goes, we have two cameras, where where each shots going to be where it's so and so's place where so this was placed. And we have this, we had like, found our location, it was near this lake. And two days before we were and we're almost done with a movie, and it's like it's the final it's like the big scene. And if this scene doesn't work, the whole movie falls. But we had really, really figured out a way to make it work with the location like this tree here will block him here because we'll be here. This person will walk this way leading us over here to the popcorn to whatever right the all based on this location that had hills and levels because that way you could hide right? Like you could figure out a way to miss each other. So I'm onset directing this scene, which is already insane we didn't have enough extras for the pool it was freezing and they're extras on their phones. I'm like it's I've been that like just like the phone I'm looking at a phone I'm looking at a phone. Right right right. It's not a book put a book if somebody
Alex Ferrari 24:37
Wants a book
Miranda Bailey 24:41
And we kept moving the extras around you know like pool in different bathing suits and
Alex Ferrari 24:47
And time is in time is ticking and money's burning.
Miranda Bailey 24:51
Lunch break happens and turns out that for for the big scene that we're shooting, not next day, but the day after for two or three days, we lost the location, of course. But they have a place that we can go look at right now right over here, power that's available. And I'm like, okay, so me and my IDV or OCR get in the car, we go to the park, and it is just a lack
Alex Ferrari 25:26
Cinematic, extremely cinematic is what you're saying.
Miranda Bailey 25:30
And we look at each other. And he's like, none of the blocking that we had before her, or any of the setup will work. And I'm like, I know. And I'm like, so what's the chance of us getting the other place back and then another line producer, another bruise like zero. And I'm like, so what's the, what's the possibility of us not having to do it here and they're like, zero, this.
Alex Ferrari 25:58
And you gotta run and you've got to figure it out.
Miranda Bailey 26:01
Yep. And that was, after we shot that whole day. We went to Iran and I went to the park, and figured it out until sun went down. And then the next day during break, and during afterwards, we also kept figuring it out, how will how a block and how we'll shoot it. And then the next day, we began.
Alex Ferrari 26:30
But that's the thing that it is, I think that filmmakers don't understand it that the world is every day, every day, something goes wrong. Very rarely does everything go exactly according to plan because it never goes according to plan. And I love I remember the first day I walked them to set to direct my first big thing and I had a shot list that was obscene. And the first ad picks up and goes, Yeah, we're gonna shoot about five of these. Before lunch, I know you've got 40 We're gonna shoot. So pick the five you want. And if you're really good at those five, we might be able to add two more. And you're just like, but I spent all night putting that together like yeah, I don't care. That's not the reality of the world. And I always try to explain this to filmmakers before they go on like these, just the whole world's gonna come crashing down. And this is what it'll teach you in film school. They don't teach you how to adjust and pivot on the day second by second because the costume didn't show up. food's not there. You're losing locations. The camera doesn't work because it's frozen over or overheated. I'd like it's just obscene amount of things that could happen. And it doesn't really the only difference is when the bigger budgets is generally on a much bigger budgets, the studio stuff. Things still go I've still I've spoken to those those filmmakers and they're like, Yeah, we just we lost a location. Like even the big the 100 million dollar movie. They look like we just ran grabbed the camera, me and my DP and the actress and we stole I'm like you stole shots at 100 million plus movie because we stole shots. It's just
Miranda Bailey 28:11
I mean, this is what I love about camera tests. I'm always like, let's get it set. So our cameras can be usable.
Alex Ferrari 28:19
Ohh that's Amazing. Oh, that's great. I never thought of that.
Miranda Bailey 28:22
Yeah, I mean, being able to produce alongside alongside produce the movies, and watch and learn from James Gunn, and Mari Heller and Daniels and not and and the bad ones. Not that the bad. I'm not a list, you know, but there we have ones made mistakes. There was this one that was too afraid to talk to the actress. I'm like, she stopped folding laundry like she didn't she just talked to her dad, you know? And I remember he's like, Well, you tell her and I'm like, I'm not the director. You know, just knowing like, Okay, I if I you know, that didn't work or like, you know, seeing someone just do bad things to you know, or make bad choices, and seeing people make good choices and watching how different people prepare, you know, working with Mike Birbiglia and like bow, both actors who wrote directed and starred in their material, and I was able to produce those. They have very different ways of going about how they do it. And that was fascinating. And it definitely made me feel like hey, you know what, I could do that sometime. And it'll be totally different than theirs. But I've learned like, from there like brilliance, and then the and then the bad things that happen on set with with the same stuff, how they handled things. And producing really an enacting really kind of got me was my best film school as a director.
Alex Ferrari 29:49
Right. Right. Well, let me ask you a question as a producer, when you pick the wrong horse, in any department, it could be the director. It could be an actor. It could be a You know, as a crew person, when you pick the wrong horse, obviously, the higher on the on the totem pole being the director, the actors are the DP. How do you adjust that? Aren't you like you? Like, what do you do as a producer? Like, oh my God, he's not talking to the actress like, What? Are we going to finish our day? Are we like, how are
Miranda Bailey 30:18
Were pretty much screwed I mean,
Alex Ferrari 30:23
I love that.
Miranda Bailey 30:24
Yeah, I mean, it really, it's the script, right? It's the product. Sometimes it comes just as a script, and you build around it, sometimes it comes as a script, director, and then you help cast it. But it's that director's job to really hone it in. And it's my job as a producer to get the director's vision correctly. So even though I wouldn't have made the same choices that Lake Bell did on I do until I don't, my job was to support her choices. And that's kind of what you have to do as a, or the way I look at producing personally. And so I would say one of the most important lessons that I learned was producing or directing, or even mentoring, because I doing a lot of mentoring of people, not through programs, just individuals. Is, you really have to love it. Because if it doesn't make money, like anything I did, and I have done things thinking, Oh, this will make money never does.
Alex Ferrari 31:39
And then oh, this will never make money.
Miranda Bailey 31:41
This will never make money. And it does, but I love it. And it does. So it just makes, and I've done things that you know, this, this, you know, it's things. So, honestly, if you love something, because it's hard, if you love something, whether it's a commercial success, or a critical success or not. If you love being there every day, then it's still a win, you know? So and I'll go back to like, you know, with my bid Yeah, I loved I was like, you know, I was like determined to do his next project. After Sleepwalk With Me, I pretty much stalked him, you know, in a nice way without a craziness and was like, I don't want you could have turned in a bunch of blank pages. And I would have said yes, like, so I knew I was going to make his next movie. And that was a success. And so we were really lucky. But I didn't know I really didn't think it'd be Who the fuck wants to see a movie about improv actors not by make his next movie so badly that I was willing to overlook that plot.
Alex Ferrari 32:52
Right. That's how you like, I don't care, I don't care what it is,
Miranda Bailey 32:54
I don't care. Because, you know, and that was successful, you know, and I enjoyed, I enjoyed it. And, you know, became really good friends with Kate Micucci from that, and worked with beautiful people and great, great DPS and great, just great everything. Like, I love Mike, I love everyone on that, you know, Kagan's rad, everyone. So when when that stuff happens, it's really great. You know, and then when the for instance, with lakes movie was similar, you know, it wasn't a critical success. It wasn't a commercial success. But I really loved working on it. And I loved watching her work. And I love watching, you know, working with my friend Amanda on it. And, you know, we got to be in California and you know, Dolly wells and I became close, and she is hilarious. Yeah. You know. And so it's
Alex Ferrari 33:55
Now when you're looking when you're putting a PAC a project together, what do you look for in a director? Or the what are the traits that you specifically look for in a director?
Miranda Bailey 34:07
Um, well, I do seem to do a lot of I seem to do a lot of first time directors. So I can't really explain it because it's not like a looking, it's more of a feeling. And it's, if they can see it, and explain it to me, and I can see what they see. Then I know that they know what they're doing that what they want. If they're wishy washy, or you know, unsure, you just feel it in the room. And oftentimes, you don't even get to that point because you already feel it in the writing.
Alex Ferrari 34:52
With the writer directors, you generally work with writer directors, right. Seems like it. That's generally the way it goes.
Miranda Bailey 35:00
I mean, it's not a it's not a mandate or anything.
Alex Ferrari 35:04
What is what is the biggest misconception that people have about a producer and what they do?
Miranda Bailey 35:10
Well, people think we make money
Alex Ferrari 35:16
Do you make obscene amounts of money and just trucks of truckloads. You've got a Pablo Escobar problem like the rats are eating my money. I have too much money that
Miranda Bailey 35:24
I've got mattresses stack full of money behind me. It's just invisible. The best kind of money perceive success money
Alex Ferrari 35:35
That's the best kind. You can't spend it though. You can't spend it not to
Miranda Bailey 35:39
Like Bitcoin because it gets you into parties and restaurants. And you don't have to pay anything.
Alex Ferrari 35:47
Gotcha. That's the perceived the perceived riches of being a producer's wanting to know. Yeah, people think you're like, when you're in the film business. Oh, you must be making a lot of money. I'm like, no, no, no, that's, it's, that's the top one of one of 1% that, like, make that kind of grit. And that's all you see. I would say.
Miranda Bailey 36:07
Hey, I'm here I'm gonna tell you something!
Alex Ferrari 36:10
Im still fighting baby.
Miranda Bailey 36:13
Movie, or something's gonna happen where I will make money like actual money someday. $30,000 I will make more than that in a year. On a movie someday. I just got to stick in there. I just gotta hang in there
Alex Ferrari 36:31
Another 20 years. Ad I got this. I got.
Miranda Bailey 36:35
We're trying to do TV now. So I'm like, maybe there's money.
Alex Ferrari 36:39
Well, that's, I mean, everyone knows that. That's where the money is, is in television. So it's,
Miranda Bailey 36:45
Trying to get in the door of that is like, Fuck, it's hard. No, no. We just shot a TV show a Hindi nine episodes are selling now. I don't think that's been done yet.
Alex Ferrari 36:57
It's been done a couple of times. idea on the note is not a bright, it's not a bright idea, generally speaking, but the pandemic, you have to do what you got to do.
Miranda Bailey 37:09
Sorry, it's nobody GQ plus story. It's about mental illness. It was super important for me.
Alex Ferrari 37:18
I love this. I love I love that this is such a raw conversation. So people really have a look filmmakers who just are new to the business, get an understanding of what the business is really like, is there's so much perceived perception about the business. And I always tell people, the Hollywood's really good at the sizzle, but they suck at the steak. And
Miranda Bailey 37:39
Great, great if that's okay, is that a mug? Because I'll buy it.
Alex Ferrari 37:45
Because it's so true. Because Oh, and I always use the I always use the example of because I was from LA I lived in LA for you know, over a decade. And, and I always anytime someone came to town relative to like, Hey, we're not going to Hollywood Boulevard like no, you don't want to go to Hollywood Boulevard. I go no, no, that's where the Oscars are. I'm like, yeah, that that that 50 feet is basically all looks good. And I go that is a perfect analogy for the business. Because on Oscar night, Hollywood Boulevard looks amazing. But if you go a block over to the left or a block over to the right, you better hold on to the purse. It's and the farther you get away from the COVID another Kodak
Miranda Bailey 38:32
Oh, it's now it's just insane. But I was there for the Irish screaming the premiere. And I will say it looks just like you know the
Alex Ferrari 38:41
Oh, the Chinese Theater of course. And all of that stuff.
Miranda Bailey 38:44
That was awesome. But that's the only time I've ever or like when we did super. And that was at the Egyptian Yep, yeah. But don't go there just to like go see the stars because you can actually the stars go on forever. Oh, forever and ever go to the stars by the spied by the good coffee shop.
Alex Ferrari 39:02
It's exactly. But I use that as an analogy. Because it's a perfect analogy of what Hollywood sells. It sells the image. But the reality is, I mean, if you just if you live in LA for any short amount of time you realize it is a Boulevard of Broken Dreams. So many people go there with these bright eyed and bushy tail ideas about the business. And that that reality hits hard. And it's not an easy, it's not an easy grind. It is his grind. Like you just one day. And you're you know, arguably a very successful film producer. And in your you know, I mean, you've done some amazing projects. I mean, you've done you've done you've worked with amazing people you've made amazing films, but you're still you still awesome at it. You still grinding it you still do. And I tell people I'm like I know Oscar winners who are like I gotta still hustle the next project that you know the boss will get me into a party but it's not gonna pay my rent. Like
Miranda Bailey 39:58
By God's country. I remember someone one of my Hey, friends is distributors who's kind of betting on it or whatever they were planning on doing a words campaign? I'm like, Yeah, well, Warzone payment. Words don't keep the lights on. So bring your number up.
Alex Ferrari 40:12
Yeah. I don't want an Oscar nomination. Another million.
Miranda Bailey 40:18
It is you have, you know, there is an amount. I mean, I do, like a cockroach. And like, I feel like, you know, slowly the world, but people quit around me. And if I can just still be there that time.
Alex Ferrari 40:38
You just gonna wait everybody out. But you know what the, you know, the funny thing is about that. Keep working, keep going. But you know, what I and I've said this so many times, you know, I've been in the business close to 30 years. And I know people who are less talented than many people I know. But they just stuck it out. They had a willpower to keep going. And they're less talented, less experience, and they just keep that just keep grinding and they outwait everybody else. So people are like, Oh, I know this talented person like talent, man talents, the beginning of the conversation. It is, it is because there's, you know, a lot of talented directors and writers
Miranda Bailey 41:20
Talented is needed, like so I have this quote on my website, Miranda bailey.com. Yes. I just put on my website that that I read in the newspaper in the Hollywood Reporter that first week I was here, okay. Oh, I clipped it out. And I have it somewhere in some journal, you know, some pasted it down. And I don't know who said if someone important, probably. And it said talent isn't what gets you in the room. But it's what keeps you in the room?
Alex Ferrari 41:49
Miranda Bailey 41:51
So I would I do think I'm talented at this point. But I know that that's not enough. And
Alex Ferrari 42:01
Then there's hustle, then there's experience, then there is craft and there's all these other things that you need to be good at. Not just just that,
Miranda Bailey 42:09
Yeah. You know, basically, if you can be, you know, for me, the most important thing right now is authenticity. Yep. And that is the hardest thing to find, when you first come to LA, probably for people who are going are getting into the movie business. And it's it's hard to be authentic, surrounded by inauthentic people. So but I think that the pandemic has really helped kind of the world realize what in every business what they want to be and who they want to be and who they want to be around. And I think that my hustle was really, really killing me before the pandemic, you know, authentic, but I was definitely doing things very fast. And I am kind of bad like this, like Sundance and South by has kind of gotten me on this again, and I'm like, whoa, whoa, spring break, let's go. Like, let's like, vacations get to kids. Yeah, it's more important for me to go to that go to the Oscars, it's more important for me to I live in Aspen now, like, it's more important for me to just, I don't care how much I like the project. If the person involved that is a producer involved, or a director, or social or even an agent involved or whatever is an asshole. I don't want to do it. No, because my time, my time now, I'd rather sit here and create this movie I'm working on with Oren moverman, or one of the five movies I'm working on or movement because I love him and he's my heart and soul. My brother that may never get made, then, you know,
Alex Ferrari 44:03
Life's too short. Life's too short. And as you get older, the the, the the level of crap that you put up with starts to drop dramatically. When you were 21, you'll put up with a whole lot of crap that you won't put up with at 41 or 51. And it just started you just start and it's you just start dealing with and it's so true. And you really start finding out what's important to you. Because when you're young and you're starting out in the business, it's all about the business, your entire identity is wrapped around the business. But as you get older you start to realize oh, I'm more than just a director I'm more than just a writer you hopefully get to that point that you realize I'm a father I'm a mother I'm a sister a brother I charity I do other things besides just this and yeah, it takes time it takes time. It takes time to realize and
Miranda Bailey 44:52
I think supporting other filmmakers like has been a you know are other people who want to be producers want to be writers or want to be directors and stuff. That's because Have a great joy in my life. They're not just making our movies, but even just helping them get their movies made that stuff is, is because no one ever helped me. And in fact, it was kind of the opposite. They tried to hurt. So I always said, you know, if I ever get to a point where I can be valuable enough to help other people, that doesn't mean give them money to make their movies, right. But give them support and encouragement, then I will do it. And that's been something you know, that's a non-country, which just premiered at South By the way that came about with me is, I had been Frank that I directed, and merkt ahead, Ingrid, which she directed at the bendfilm Festival. And we were talking as directors, and she told me about her next idea. And she's like, but I just don't know what to do. And I'm like, Well, you know, I'm here for you anytime you need it. And she's like, well, will you be my mentor? And I'm like, Yeah, of course. And so my relationship on that movie, obviously, it ended up becoming later on, you know, bringing on my company and my agency and like, I need the right publicist, and you know, now finding the right agent for her and, you know, finding the right festival to premiere out and stuff like that. I'm just so fucking proud of her.
Alex Ferrari 46:23
But that's, that's a joy. That's the joy that you look for now. And that's the thing that I look at, when I started this show six, almost seven years ago, my life changed. Because I started giving back, I started being of help being of service to other people. And and then now I get to talk to people like yourself, all the time, where I would have killed to have this conversation with you early on in my career. Now, I'm just like, This is amazing that I get to talk to you at a different place. And, and hopefully, my intention is not to get anything out of it. For me, that's I don't care. I'm here to have a great conversation that hopefully will help other people. And that's the intention I have with all my guests, regardless if they want Oscars, or if they're just a new filmmaker just starting out. And that has been so rewarding. And it's, it's changed my life. So I think you're feeling that too, just by helping others and mentoring others and giving back in that way.
Miranda Bailey 47:18
Yeah. So it's great, because then, you know, you're a part of something that you love. Right! You know, and and that's just that's, that's it
Alex Ferrari 47:29
Now, how, how, because you've been doing this for a while now. Can you tell the audience how the independent film space has changed in the last five years? Not 20? The last five, arguably the last two or three? How much more difficult? Is it to make a movie, get distribution, get your money back in return for your money for your investors? Is there how has it changed from, you know, 25 years ago?
Miranda Bailey 47:59
Well, we're in a very, very state of who knows because of the pandemic. Sure. So that's obviously problematic when it comes to shooting things. And if you get shut down because someone gets sick, or if there's a new variant and and you know, we are still in a pandemic, even though people are not talking about it, I mean, my husband and my two kids just got COVID Again, by longer so that I could get to Hawaii for my vacation. But I'd say one thing that I I'm, I think is great about the last five years is that the idea of windowing, which has, you know, has has collapsed, so there was for a while and are about 90 days is a real theatrical release. And otherwise it stay in dates. And there's really no in between. And then they were calling something called like broken windowing. And I'm like, that doesn't sound good. We call it creative windowing. So creative windowing. And but it was still very hard to navigate. And that what people don't understand is when you selling your movie, you're gonna get way more money from Florida and everything if you had a traditional 90 Day release. But you had to play in so many theaters, and your box office numbers had to be so much money in order for those deals overseas to actually kick in. So as soon as that change, you're kind of screwed. So for instance, with being frank, we released it through film, arcade and universal because we didn't want to take necessarily in any of the other offers, which is good because we made more money than the other offers by now. But our deal with Universal was a 90 day doing, which I didn't think would be the right thing for being frank. But that was the filmer K deal. If day and it should have been day in but Did you know universal at that time was doing 90 Day theatricals. So now, with us being able to watch at home, you know, marry me, let's say that now that the rom com coming back, which I'm like, hallelujah,
Alex Ferrari 50:18
Miranda Bailey 50:20
I need some more. I mean, that's my favorite genre. So I usually never get to but you can put it on TV and still make a million in the box office opening weekend. And on on Peacock, it had a gazillion people sign up for peacock and watch it that opening weekend
Alex Ferrari 50:39
I did. I did my wife wanted to watch it so
Miranda Bailey 50:44
The numbers or anything and I, you know, so that that's really great. I mean, I think the other thing and this is probably just for me, because other people I, I want to make I want to direct to one of those movies that you're like, oh my god, did you see the ALI Wong movie or the movie? And they're like, oh, yeah, I love it. Who directed it? I don't know. Like, it was on Netflix or it was on this. That is my ideal situation. Because then you do not have to be a director like with a point of view or say something or, you know, is he ripped apart? Or is it now in authentic way?
Alex Ferrari 51:21
Correct! No, you're absolutely right. It's changed so much. I can only imagine Disney how many how much how many subscribers Disney plus got from all the Pixar movies? Oh, yeah. All that stuff and HBO the whole last year? I mean, how many people signed up
Miranda Bailey 51:37
Played all the best they played lately? And Harry Met Sally. I watched it like four times.
Alex Ferrari 51:41
Exactly. So they're it's the game has changed so dramatically. Is there a place right now? In your opinion? For the well, we would have called in the 90s? That independent an independent film from the 90s? The? The slackers, the clerks the El Mariachi is the Brothers McMullen. Those films. Is there a marketplace for that anymore? Those kinds of films?
Miranda Bailey 52:03
Yeah, there is there is, you know, there's Magnolia, there's AFC neons doing their own wing, which is called Super. There's film arcade. Those, those are the ones who are doing those movies. And then, of course, there's self distribution models out there now that you can do that, you know, because there's nothing I mean, once someone asked at South by when I was on a panel, like, you know, what do you think about idea of self distribution to this and it's competed, that's I'm like, look, the more places there are, for us as filmmakers to be able to put our money or movie out there. So instead of it sitting on on our shelf, or in our closet, it's on Apple, or Amazon or whatever the better because no one wants to make a movie and not be seen. Now that has nothing to do with money, or minimum guarantees, or anything like that. But you know, there's more places for you to see a movie, there's ability for you to make a movie, the market. You know, big sales had been gone for a long time.
Alex Ferrari 53:14
Oh, yeah. And pre and pre sales as well.
Miranda Bailey 53:17
Well, pre sales is a totally different kind of thing. It's not in for independent film anymore.
Alex Ferrari 53:21
Yeah. The days of AFM and just having a poster. I mean, unless you have a relationship with buyers,
Miranda Bailey 53:28
I know Nick Cage movie that Stallone movie and movie you're fine, solid, but you know, or big or big director, but if it's like you need making a movie starring my best friend, you know, Zack, Sal Lin, we're not going to pre sell it.
Alex Ferrari 53:44
No, no, and you're right, it's just that that world is is gone. And I always tell people with with self distribution, you got to hit the ball so well, to get to make real money in that play in that space. You got to really know what you're doing, really understand a lot of different things to be able to generate three, four or 500,000
Miranda Bailey 54:05
That does it. So like the arcade, we do self distribution. I mean, Bleecker Street's also doing service deals. Sure. So you know, I think as long as you use those companies that really knows what what they're doing, and they'll guide you then then then you're good.
Alex Ferrari 54:23
Now I'm gonna ask you a couple questions ask them I guess what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Miranda Bailey 54:28
Alex Ferrari 54:30
Run away get an accounting job No. You gotta love it.
Miranda Bailey 54:36
You know, I don't know. My advice is always changing. You know, I would, I would say is understand that it is a collaborative art. And if you can't collaborate, you will make it because what doesn't bend breaks?
Alex Ferrari 54:53
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Miranda Bailey 54:59
That I am not fat despite magazines or movies, and what they have said, and then I don't look like everybody else. And I want to thank Shonda Rhimes. For this. She's the one who allowed people to go and be seen that are real people. Because when I got to Hollywood, I was called, not fat enough to be the best friend, or skinny enough. So but I was really funny. So I needed to gain or lose 20 pounds in order to be successful. And I was not pretty enough to be the lead. And those were the rules for me as a woman.
Alex Ferrari 55:38
Wow. And they told you that
Miranda Bailey 55:40
This more than once
Alex Ferrari 55:43
Wasn't like one outlier, it was a constant.
Miranda Bailey 55:46
That's just the way it was. Wow. And life is not over when you're when he turns 30 If you're an A woman in the business, in behind, or in front of the camera, my dad learned how to ride a horse at 65 years old. And he then became a horse champion by the time he was 75 years old. So you know, just stay on the fucking horse.
Alex Ferrari 56:12
And three of your favorite films of all time.
Miranda Bailey 56:15
Oh, gosh, True Romance. Number one favorite film of all time. That's amazing. Then I'm gonna go with my fair lady.
Alex Ferrari 56:25
Obviously, both double double, double.
Miranda Bailey 56:28
Thirdly, Some like it hot.
Alex Ferrari 56:31
Oh, very good. Wow, that's, that's a heck of a screening night. And run to where can people find out more about you and and see what you're doing?
Miranda Bailey 56:42
Well, my website mirandabailey.com, because my dad was smart enough to get my name on websites when they first started so lucky because you know, you know, Shaundra Wilson would asset by now has my writing, directing, acting producing in it. And it also has the some information on Cherry picks, which is a website that I started for female critics to kind of put them together and give a score for female critics. And that's the cherry picks.com That's a really fun. It's kind of like, I want it to be the cut meets Entertainment Weekly meets rotten tomatoes for women and non binary people. Fair enough, but it's you know, we show this was Army man's on there. I mean, Ford versus Ferrari, I will say is one of my favorite movies in the last five years. It's so good that
Alex Ferrari 57:36
It's such a good movie that says Miranda, it has been entertaining as hell talking to you and also very educational. I appreciate you taking the time out to talk to the tribe and dropping your knowledge bombs on them. So I appreciate you. Thank you again.
Miranda Bailey 57:52
I had to go drop something else. So thanks so much, guys.
Alex Ferrari 57:56
I love it. Thanks so much.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.