IFH 432: From Film Editor to Billion-Dollar Director with Raja Gosnell

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Today on the show we have director Raja Gosnell. He directed comedy classics like Big Momma's House starring Martin Lawrence, Never Been Kissed starring Drew Berrymore, and Yours, Mine & Ours starring Dennis Quaid.

Raja is best known as the director who brought not one but two beloved children's cartoons to the big screen, Scooby-Doo and The Smurfs. We also discuss the original vision that Raja and writer James Gunn had for Scooby-Doo. Let's say we finally understand why Scoob and Shaggy always had the munchies.

He also directed the relatively low-budget runaway hit Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Raja's films have grossed almost $2 billion at the worldwide box office.

Raja wasn't always a director, he started his film career as an assistant editor in the late 1970s. His first credit as a film's main editor was the romantic comedy The Lonely Guy (1984), for director Arthur Hiller. During the 1980s, Gosnell served as editor in films directed by Tom Laughlin, David Worth, Bob Dahlin, Bert Convy, Christopher Leitch, Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton, Phillip Schuman, and Chris Columbus.

For Chris Columbus he edited the comedy film Heartbreak Hotel (1988), which features a 1970s teenager kidnapping singer Elvis Presley, to bring home as a gift for his mother. During the 1990s, Gosnell would serve as editor in several more films by Columbus.

The 1990s started with Gosnell working as an editor in two high-profile projects: Pretty Woman (1990) by Garry Marshall, and Home Alone (1990) by Chris Columbus. Both turned out to be among the major hits of the year 1990. He then worked in the Columbus films Only the Lonely (1991), Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), and Nine Months (1995).

Raja and I discuss his remarkable career as an editor, why he jumped to directing, and why he choose to do the thing everyone says not to do direct children and animals. I had a ball talking shop with Raja.

We also discuss his remarkable new film Gun and a Hotel Bible, which he co-directed with Alicia Joy LeBlanc.

Based on an award-winning play, GUN AND A HOTEL BIBLE is the story of a young man on the verge of a violent act (Pete) and his encounter with a personified hotel bible (Gideon). Can Gideon sway Pete before Pete pulls the trigger?

Enjoy my conversation with Raja Gosnell.

Alex Ferrari 2:23
Well guys, I'm super excited about today's episode we are talking to legendary director Raja Gosnell in you might not know the name right away, but you will definitely know the movies he's worked on not only as a director, but early in his career as an editor. As an editor, he worked on films like Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone home alone to and pretty woman just to name a few. And after working with some of the most amazing directors and filmmakers of their day, like Arthur Hiller, Gary Marshall, john Hughes, and Chris Columbus, he decided to leave the editor's chair and dive into directing and he's built us a pretty solid directing career for himself I have to say, he directed the cult hit, never been kissed with Drew Barrymore, the blockbuster big momma's house, and then his career really kicked into high gear with Scooby Doo Scooby Doo to Beverly Hills, Chihuahua, you Mine and Ours, and the International blockbusters, the Smurfs and the Smurfs to Raja is a really, really fascinating guy. I loved Love, love our conversation, I wanted to discuss how you direct, you know, animated characters within a live action scene. And he is by far one of the most go to directors in Hollywood for that. And I really wanted to get into that as well as his editing past how his editing career helped his directing career. And we also discuss his new movie gun and a hotel Bible. We'll get deep into that as well. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Raja Gosnell. I'd like to welcome the show Raja Gosnell. How are you doing Raja?

Raja Gosnell 4:11
I'm great. Good to be here. Alex,

Alex Ferrari 4:13
Thank you so much for coming on the show man. I am I am a fan of your work. Not only as a director sir but also as an editor when you first started out but we'll get into that in a minute. But I really do appreciate you. You coming on and talking shop with with the tribe today man,

Raja Gosnell 4:30
Love it man. Can't wait.

Alex Ferrari 4:32
Alright, so how how did you get into this ridiculous business?

Raja Gosnell 4:37
I was very lucky. I started as a driver at Robert Altman's Lionsgate films way, way back then I was shooting a movie called a wedding. And my job was to drive to the airport at three in the morning to to pick up the film that was coming in and take it to the lab. And I would spend the rest of my days in the car. room just doing, you know, whatever helping out the guys. And, you know, they taught me how to use the coding machine like, I think you never cut on film, but

Alex Ferrari 5:09
I cut on from I cannot film once, but this is

Raja Gosnell 5:12
The numbers on

Alex Ferrari 5:14
The bins.

Raja Gosnell 5:16
So, and I was fascinated watching the guys work and with that whole process and, and just sort of, you know, hung around as much as I could hang around in my extra time and they give me stuff to get ready made it to do. And I did it well. And so they hired me as a system editor back in back in the day. With the union, it had to be like that you had to be eight years before you could be an editor. There's all these different stages, kind of. But anyways, they hired me and, and throughout my course at that time with Altman, I worked from, you know, the driver to as first assistant editor on the movie, Popeye. So it was a really good run for me is great. You know, it's like super indie. They're like, something would come off the cam machine and Rajkot go out and mix it in. And I go out in the theater and thread up the machines and I had like a little mixing board. And so I there's very, very hands on and just a wonderful place to learn and great people, you know, tell you in Bartow and Dennis Hill were the editors. And Bob was sort of in and out larger than life. And

Alex Ferrari 6:21
I have to stop I have to stop you. How was it working with Robert?

Raja Gosnell 6:27
It was amazing. And wonderful is everything you think it was crazy? Yeah, he was just a larger than life. Figure. And, you know, we nicknamed the bear because because he just can't roll in. And, you know, he, we'd be working, he'd roll in like 10 o'clock at night and have a scotch in one hand and enjoy the other and, you know, just say, okay, we're going to start working. And then you know, you get these crazy notes. Like, let's take the beginning of the scene and put it at the end and putting it up. But you knew what he was talking about? You know what I mean? He wasn't that's what I learned. It wasn't like, specifically what someone's asking for. It's the idea of what someone's asking for. And it's the note behind the note. And it's just a fantastic learning experience. And he was a great great guy and treated treated his people really well. And yeah, I miss him.

Alex Ferrari 7:18
Yeah, I mean, I mean, I'm in a huge, I mean, Bob is Bob. I mean, he's, I mean, I mean the player, and we can go on and on and on. But he's, he was amazing. He was absolutely, and Popeye. So you actually, you worked with Robin, you know, in a sense with Robin Williams at the beginning of his filmmaking career. And then later on, he worked on Miss Doubtfire as an editor as well. So you're working as an assistant editor, and working your way up. And again, this is a different time. And if everyone listening like it's it was a whole different time, there was very much more of a apprentice like system in place where you would like Like you said, do your you eight years

Raja Gosnell 7:58
Yeah, the union requires a certain amount of years before you could advance to the next thing. It's like, it's like other unions, whether it's trying to protect the people that are there. And I think they've lost all that.

Alex Ferrari 8:09
Because now anybody anybody with a final cut system or resolves I'm an editor on editor now like it just and it you know, which is great and bad at the exact same. But so then you went from your first I think your first feature that you edited, was lonely guy, if I'm not mistaken, right? Or was it one of the first

Raja Gosnell 8:29
I was co editor on that. We edited it with we added to Bill Reynolds, who was amazing Oscar winning editor as his first assistant. And I think i think i think i got editing credit on that. I think the first like I sort of went off to the big movie world to do things. So there's something like soldier's revenge and and there was a one called Beverly Hills Air Force or whatever. And so some things like that, and

Alex Ferrari 8:59
80s all the 80s

Raja Gosnell 9:01
Yeah, exactly. Movies you've never heard over or probably will never see but but it was good learning grounds man, I was, you know, you're sort of on your own. And I'm working with very little in terms of like actual material, you had to sort of create scenes and stuff. So I was learning that ground. I sort of came back into the studio world. Again with with Bill Reynolds working on a movie called Making love Arthur Heller directed that and and we did a few movies with Arthur through that run. lonely guy was one of them. And author author was one of them without the Chino, and so it was it was a it was a very good run. And I learned a whole different set of skill sets from from Bill Reynolds. And that was just sort of the the politics of the editing room and analogies. And so yeah, it was a it was a fantastic playground that I grew up in and couldn't ask have asked for a better Just a better time.

Alex Ferrari 10:01
Yeah, I mean, and Arthur Hiller for people who don't know who he is, I mean, he was he's a legendary comedy director. I mean, he, I mean, he kind of broke Richard Pryor in with with Silver Streak and all of these other and he, I mean, you start looking at his filmography, it's like Jesus man, he's, he was a legend. He really really was a legend. And he did the biggest movie in 1970, which is love story. Yeah, like, that was like the Titanic of his day.

Raja Gosnell 10:29
I know, and you look back at that movie was so simple. And so simply done and it just hit a chord, it hit the Zeitgeist and the performances were great. And lightning in the bottle a man that's that's the film business he is, sometimes you just don't know what's going to be the thing. And I think that's one thing that attract people to the business in general is like, no, two days are the same. And you can make a great movie and fail miserably. And you can make a bad movie and succeed. And, you know, it's, it's, it's kind of it's kind of like go to Vegas.

Alex Ferrari 11:00
It's an insane, it's an insane. I mean, it's an insane, insane business. And you're right there is that kind of like chance, I think is that thing that draws that draws people in, it's like, it's the lottery ticket. It's like at any moment, I could just write that script, get that part direct that project, you know it or do something that will blow me up. But you and I both know, the chances of that happening is a lottery ticket. Like it happens once in a while. It's just the the the journeymen that kind of just keep hustling, keep working, coming in every day in and out that kind of build a career like yourself, like you were? You didn't you didn't like break out when you were 20? You you paid your dues?

Raja Gosnell 11:43
Hey, I don't think I was ready.

Alex Ferrari 11:45
I know, right? It's like no, I was definitely not ready. Any in any of my 20s honestly, my entire 20s I wasn't ready. Now, how did you connect with Chris Columbus?

Raja Gosnell 11:56
So I had worked on a miniseries called America spelt with a K. And it was, you know, the premise of it was the Russians, you know, slash Russian bloc had taken over the United States. And it was, you know, they didn't spend any time on like, how that actually happened. There was a you know, obviously, you know, it's actually sort of omniscient in a way because they, the story thing was they, they somehow got ahold of the communication systems and just convinced everybody that this was the new thing, which is wow, happening today.

Alex Ferrari 12:35
That's what Im about to say it's

Raja Gosnell 12:37
Really that that that is kind of could go down, you know, because it seemed it seemed preposterous at the time. The setup at least was, but the show itself was like how an ordinary American who grew up under an American system, we asked to living in a Soviet type system. And, and that was that was the premise of it. But that was a long way around the same at the post supervisor. His name was Dave McCann, on that, like me, and I was, you know, generally doing good work for that one. And so he moved to Disney to be the post supervisor there. And this movie came in this young director, Chris Columbus, had directed it. And they had just had a massive film on one sequence, and the regular editing crew just sort of didn't have time to jump on it. And sort of what I'd done on America was all the mass, you know, the big the big scenes. So he's like, I know a guy. So I came in, and like, basically the blues bar sequence in adventures in babysitting. Which was sort of a fun scene. Yeah. And it's sort of a, you know, sort of a tempo within that movie. And when Chris got his next gig, he called me up and said, hey, man wants to leave the movie. So I was like, Yes, thank you, sir. And yeah, we did a little movie called Heartbreak Hotel, which I was wanting to make. It was a disaster, you know, at the box office, and critically as well, I think, and I think Chris was thinking, Oh, there you know,

Alex Ferrari 14:08
That's it. I'm done!

Raja Gosnell 14:09
Ohio. Yeah, exactly, exactly. But then he got a little movie called Home Alone with john Hughes and went up to do that and asked me to do that. And so that was that sort of that was the E ticket ride for both of us. I think

Alex Ferrari 14:24
I remember I remember when heartbreak. heartbreak is heartbreak and a Heartbreak Hotel Heartbreak Hotel. Yeah, I remember what because I still remember that the the video the VHS box because I was working at a VA I was working at a video store. And I built the standee I built the standard for for our video store. I remember very carefully I remember watching it I enjoyed it when I watched it. But I remember it not being a huge hit. And I used to run

Raja Gosnell 14:50
One of these.

Alex Ferrari 14:52
It wasn't like a whole wall of them. There was probably like two or three I think we got at that point because they were still busy now I'm dating myself but it was I think like Still, like $99 or $79 to buy a VHS because it wasn't, it wasn't sell through at that point. Right. So and then you that and then you worked on that little film called Home Alone, which I mean, nobody knew. Right? Nobody knew that was gonna turn it.

Raja Gosnell 15:17
No, wait, no, nobody knew and we knew we're making a charming little Christmas movie with a with a great child actor and funny guys funny, you know, with Joe and Danny and and like the previews it previewed through the roof in terms of the snakes like people are falling out of seats laughing It's funny. And so but you know, we've done that before, like, great, you know, but didn't necessarily no one want to see it. But the studio got excited about it. And john Hughes at the height of his power during these days, we've had a lot of, he could pretty much use the 100 pound gorilla. I guess he got what he wanted. And, and like the final the final bit of fairy dust that came in was this, they asked Chris who he wants to compose. And he said, like john Williams and I. Okay, that's john Williams. And fortunately, john had done we did the Boston Pops with a lot of time, for a long time. And they always finish their Christmas things with these these big Christmas numbers and with the big choir and everything. And we attempt the movie home alone with Nutcracker suite and with you know, sort of all these sort of things that Boston Pops already playing. And john was like, I want to do a Christmas movie. And so it was just perfect happenstance that the most amazing composer ever decided to take our little movie and you know, when it went from a nine and a half to an 11 just his little magic touch across everything. Just elevated the movie and you know, we got a good release date. We think we're released against a rocky or Rambo, some some Stallone movie. And like, we're just number one,

Alex Ferrari 17:07
Okay, no Kindergarten Cop. I remember Kindergarten Cop was you guys were fighting Kindergarten Cop. And everyone was like, how is this little kid beating Arnold Schwarzenegger at that peak of his power?

Raja Gosnell 17:19
No, it was I think it was just repeat you and it's like someone will say you got to see this

Alex Ferrari 17:24
It grew it grew the second week. I remember it grew in box office the second week. So like if it made 20 million and made like 30 million the next week or something like

Raja Gosnell 17:33
Number one like in April was the movies or what but it was just, it was lightning in the bottle completely.

Alex Ferrari 17:42
But you but you were involved with a lot of lightning in a bottle because you got you know, home alone. And then you got to work with Gary Marshall with pretty woman, which also, you know, I know that I kind of know some of the story behind that the 3000 3000 bucks and that the original ending of that movie. And I think one of the producers was a teacher at my school, my film school. So I kind of heard a lot of the inside stuff of what happened before and before it was public knowledge. And you know, Gary, kind of he's another like he was a kid. He's like a Chris Columbus, he can come in and just very dust launder. And it just it just turned into this insane hit

Raja Gosnell 18:18
And the chemistry between Richard and Julia was just like, you know, Gary was really good at making that happen. But there was also an extra thing that no one could have predicted that that just happens between those two. Yeah, so I mean, it's basically a Cinderella story with a prostitute with his book bookending it with a guy you know, walking through the streets talking about you know, living your dreams? And yes, through like, let's just own that. It's a fairy tale. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 18:47
So did you was that Gary? That was a Gary idea.

Raja Gosnell 18:50
That was Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 18:51
That was so like, you guys like you weren't hiding that this was just a fairy tale like this obviously will never happen in real life like this.

Raja Gosnell 18:58
Well, we didn't want to say like, yeah, obviously. He climbs and climbs a staircase at the end. And you know, there's a line about a prince and what he What did she do when he saved there? He says she saved them right back. You know, it was all it was. Yeah, it's just it's just a great movie. It holds up beautifully. And and yeah, I give it down to Gary and the chemistry between those two actors.

Alex Ferrari 19:27
And then and then again with Miss Doubtfire? Mrs. Doubtfire. Another. I mean, how, okay, I have to ask you because I've never spoken. I spoke to a lot of people who've worked with Robin, written with Robin. But I've never heard anyone that's edited Robin Williams. How do you edit Robin? Williams, because I'm assuming you don't have just one take you probably have 30 amazing takes per shot that you need. So how does that work?

Raja Gosnell 19:55
Actually, I was lucky enough to edit Robin twice. So the broadcast he Good Morning Vietnam. Oh, so yeah, that was great. That was another one of my little lucky breaks that we needed a big scene guy. Here's the scene.

Alex Ferrari 20:11
That's your niche. That was just that was your pocket like

Raja Gosnell 20:13
Sending sending Roger. So um, so yeah, the second time. I mean, good shooting silences like let's get let's get at least one or two scripted just so we have that in the bottle and then then Robin go and, and yeah, I would literally have 30 takes. You know, if you want to get a little technically into the weeds, it was the first movie I'd done electronically. And I was in a light work system light works. Oh, yeah, system. It was great. But like, you know, remember those big towers that every so

Alex Ferrari 20:47
And that was like 50 Meg's It was like, you would have like, a refrigerator. And it was like 100. Meg's

Raja Gosnell 20:55
Yeah, exactly. So light worth could manage three of those things at a time. And by the time we finished shooting, and we've shot the equivalent of a million feet of film, I had like 20 of those things spread out. So to run the movie, I have to go to the specialist and say plugin number five, but number three, number 12 over there, so I could run this see, you know, cuz. But yeah, just cutting that look. I mean, it was just an embarrassment of riches. And so I actually don't think I could have done it on film just to have access to all that stuff. And the hardest thing was the hardest thing was a lot of times like the best setup for a joke would be over here and take seven within like the best payoff and reaction will be over here and take 10 or 11. But he said this one in present tense and they deliver this one I asked him because he's just gone, you know. And so I'd have to go through like, you know, hours of film to find like the end to put the end of that word. So that's past and so just like little things that you'd never think of is sort of what went into sort of building all that but from from a 30,000 foot perspective. My job was just to get the best Robin into the movie and and I think for the most part we did I think it's a really it's got a lot of heart You know, Columbus, he's amazing. And Robin gave his all and Robin in the dress you know I I'm biomat pitch you know,

Alex Ferrari 22:27
It's not a hard sell like Robin Robin is an old an older British British woman

Raja Gosnell 22:36
That scene in the restaurant man I mean it read fondly

Alex Ferrari 22:38
on my god that is a beautifully edited scene

Raja Gosnell 22:40
By me but like when it came all together and we had the music in and and I kind of give Pierce Pierce Brosnan a ton of credit just being a straight man is is Rob is just going off and like every euphemism for for screwing that he throw at him. nobody's heard before I'm like, oh my god. Pierce is just like trying to keep it together trying to get rid of it as soon as crystal y'all can. It's like oh my god, you know? So? Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 23:08
It's it's essentially editing improv almost. It's like editing like an improv session because like you're saying one parts present tense here. There's like, the best ones here, but you can't edit it. And I've had that experience as well. Not at that extreme, of course, but it's not easy for people listening, editing, that kind of like if it's not on the script, specifically, and you're just kind of going off. It's not easy to cut that together. And I could only imagine Robin

Raja Gosnell 23:35
I mean, it couldn't have gone with that one but it wasn't as good like I was just determined to get the best of the best in there. And yeah, we didn't you know, we didn't take a lot out and we we I think it pretty you know honestly the movies he mentioned home alone and pretty woman and Mrs. Doubtfire they all pretty much worked from the beginning like the minor changes little bit of this but no like, Oh my God, we had to fix the whole second act or anything was happens in a lot of movies. We got to reshoot an ending which happens in a lot of movies. So I guess I guess the messages when they work, they work and those movies work right.

Alex Ferrari 24:11
So now you so you've, you're you know, one of the top editors in Hollywood at this point, your career is on fire. You're working on some of the biggest blockbusters you know, whether you knew they were blockbusters at the time or not you still the luck is amazing. From Home Alone to Pretty Woman. You know, those two are just we're out of the box. No one really knew what it was going to be. And there's many other films like that in your in your phone.

Raja Gosnell 24:36
No offense to the luck because it was lucky as hell. I mean.

Alex Ferrari 24:41
I mean, I mean,

Raja Gosnell 24:42
Other editors, and they're like, you really stepped into shit.

Alex Ferrari 24:46
A lot of times, I like looking at that, looking at your editing filmography you know, filmography just like Jesus, man, like he had a break. How did he just keep getting hit after hit after hit? It was it like obviously Miss Doubtfire was Kind of like in the back, like we knew it was gonna be a hit just because of what it was. But, but you kept doing that. So now you're the hottest editor in town, one of the hottest centers in town, your careers on fire, and you're like, you know what, I think I'm gonna, I'm gonna retire. I think it's just too much, I have had too much success. I need to, I need to

Raja Gosnell 25:20
Do fun. Like,

Alex Ferrari 25:21
I'm having too much fun. It's no one should be having this much fun. And I'm getting paid for what I love to do. And I'm working with the greatest artists in the field. I need to stop this. So you decide at that point to go, you know what I'm gonna do what everybody says they want to do. I'm gonna direct. So. So the question is, why did you want to direct? Is that something that was always in the back of your head? Because it was for me, like, I jumped into editing. But I always wanted to be a director editing was just a means to an end for me. Was that was that like it for you? Or did you just decide, you know what, I want to try this?

Raja Gosnell 25:58
It was never like a burning desire, you know. But as an editor, as you know, you see all the tapes come in, and you see, you know, you see the coverage and like, where's where's the closeup gonna be? Where's the know, there's a closet. Okay. So I mean, you know, how to cover a scene just from being an editor, you know, and, you know, so I figured I could probably manage that part, I guess, I guess, pulling back a little bit. Look, you commonly editors never win Oscars. And so I was definitely aware of that. And so every, every year, the editing Oscar would go to some action movie or something, which was amazingly well edited. But I knew where I was, I wasn't, you know, so the question for me was, Do I try and transition somehow into that world? Or do I do I try and direct you know, and, and that was, that was sort of like, in the back of my head, like, like, he was saying, nothing was uncomfortable. Life was life was pretty good. And then an interesting thing happened. And this is no one to blame, but But Mrs. Doubtfire won a Golden Globe and Chris's mom was sick, so he wasn't there. So the line producer, Mark Radcliffe, who I love. When I accept the award, he has a list and he like basically thanked everyone down to the caterer except me. And by watching that, and like, like, one of those moments, it's like, at that moment, I figured, okay, like, I'm not mad. I know, Mark, I love mark. I know, it wasn't intentional or anything. But it also told me, I'm just a comedy at it. You know, I that's so if I if I ever want to, you know, I don't know. It's just like, at that point, this the, the gong band a little bit louder, say, Okay, I'm gonna try this. So my wife and I were writing during all this time. And so South is crap. Yeah. But I actually talked to an agent about maybe representing me as a director. And he was like, yeah, yeah. Then I called the, the editing the below the line editing agent at that agency and said, Hey, you know, I may I may come over to your agency, you know, if they represent me in other areas, and the phone rang like five minutes later and said, Yeah, so. So basically, my editing my editing, saleability got me in the door, UTA. But then another lucky thing happened. This is a story of one lucky guy. Hughes decided to make home loan three, Chris was not going to do it. And so is the story of who we're going to get. And, you know, I told my agent, I saw this like little blurb in the trades. And I called my agent say, what does that mean? Is that I don't know, I'll call so john was like, yeah, I'll talk to Raj and I flew to Chicago and had the meeting and, and, you know, within three hours as I was on the plane back to LA and heard that I was directing Hold On three, so I was like, Okay, now I got to do this.

Alex Ferrari 29:12
And john Hughes is being your producer on this. Yes. So So how, what's that? Like? What's it like having the 800 pound gorilla as your boss, like, on that level, because it's one thing to be the 100 pound regular as the boss of the editor, but there's a lot of there's a lot of people between you and him. There's nothing between you two at this point.

Raja Gosnell 29:35
I should put it this way. He is a 800 pound gorilla to the studios like he was he was like the nuclear umbrella. So this, this magical umbrella fell over your production, and not no bullets from the outside were able to penetrate it. So that was that was that was John's version of exercising his 800 pound gorilla. You know, the fact that he stayed and he shot in Chicago. He never worked in LA Chicago and post him in Chicago, just to keep those guys away. You know, I mean, the only person allowed in was Jake Blum is his lawyer. And, and so yeah is actually great. You know, once john writes a script, like, that's what you're shooting, you know, there's no changes. So if I wanted to do something a little different, I'd shoot his version and shoot my version. And you know, I mean, so. So yeah, it was actually it actually went pretty well. on schedule on budget and blah, blah, blah, blah. And then the movie, the movie didn't do great. I can't sit back and say on three was as good as the first one, you know, because it's just not but it got me in the director's chair and got me going and and taught me to never been kissed, which is

Alex Ferrari 30:45
Drew Barrymore Yeah, I remember that movie. That was a cute, it was really cute. You know, comedy.

Raja Gosnell 30:51
That's the next one that comes back. Like it's, you know, you think you had this whole career and the people I love that, you know,

Alex Ferrari 30:57
Yes, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, that's nice with the whole pretty woman in Hawaii, but never been kissed.

Raja Gosnell 31:04
It's a lot of movies. It is, it's a five year anniversary recently. And, you know, I did a couple interviews or whatever, but it's just, it's just one of those movies that is of the time and I have to, I have to give 90, I think of 100% of the credit to drew because she's just so vulnerable movie in the Chelsea grossie. And the writings great. And she, she and Nancy Jeevan produced it, and we've got a great cast together. So all great elements. But I mean, at the end of the day, when she's out there on the pitching mound, and the clock is ticking down. And she's in her little dress and her little tear forums, it's like, you know, come on.

Alex Ferrari 31:45
It's, it's drew at the height of her powers.

Raja Gosnell 31:48
Drew must be happy, you know, the audience was just dying for this movie to end. Like. Yeah, just so great cast great, great comedy all around. And, and super fun to do super fun for you.

Alex Ferrari 32:01
Now, what was the most difficult part of doing that transfer, that trans jumping from editing, to directing, because there's not a lot, there's a lot of post guys probably listening, who dream of walking down your path, or even just trying to get into the directing side, what was the most difficult part of that for you,

Raja Gosnell 32:21
Go there at the top. But like when editor, if you have an idea where it is I've got the sound, the music, the dialogue, like, here's my idea. And then when you're a director, it is obviously not nothing to cut, there's only words on a page. And so, you know, you meet with the studio people and you meet with department heads. And it's like, you have to learn to verbalize what's in your head, a visual concept that's in your head. And that was that was a learning curve for me. And, and then, you know, I feel like if I did pretty well at it, look, I've never been the smartest guy in the room. And I've accepted that. And I don't need to be the smartest guy in the room. But I'm a pretty damn good listener, I think this may be my superpower. So one studio had a studio had B, say completely the opposite things but think they're agreeing, then I think I know what to do with that and take the figure out what the real note is, and manage that and work on that. So that's, that's the difference in in an editing room is even the director and then maybe the producer near the end, the politics are very small. Whereas on in a movie in pre production, the politics are very big. And then on set, you know, the politics are big, too. So, so being able to describe your vision, whether it's to, you know, the head of the studio, who you want to hire you to this great actor or actress who you hope will agree to be on your movie down to you know, down to the, the set design to the director of photography, like like focusing on what their thing is and trying to try to put into words, you know, what, what, what you see and then also sort of letting go like, which tie would you like, sir? even wanna say department, you know, like, there's certain things certain things I really really trust to trust you guys to do. The best possible thing here because you're wonderful.

Alex Ferrari 34:34
Now and then you so never been kissed in home alone, obviously weren't huge monster hits at the time, even though they you know, never been kissed has definitely gained its popularity over the years. But your big first big hit was big, big momma's house. Big momma's house with Martin Lawrence that kind of was that he'd already done bad boys at that point. So he was already on his way up, but big momma's house really cemented him. Right

Raja Gosnell 34:59
We just done Blue streak was a really funny blue streak. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 35:05
Yeah, blue streak. I haven't met him yet. When he was the copy on Jason though.

Raja Gosnell 35:07
Yeah he just on that. And that movie came out as we were sort of talking about this. And so yeah, no, he was he was definitely a bankable star. And and yeah, Fox I was working for I had never been kissed for Fox, and also home alone. And so this is a fox movie. And they're like, what about Raj and so I met with Martin and met with the producer David friendly, and it seemed like, it seemed like a good match. And it got to do that. So that was, that was great. They biggest the biggest trick on that is that, you know, Martin could only take it all that not survive, but but you know, be functional for a few hours a day. So just the logistics of, you know, in the pressure. So from a production standpoint, maybe like, here's a master here's Martin's close up new set, here's a master here's Martin suppose up new set, you know, then after Martin was done, we sort of come back to the original thing. And, you know, she she covered so it was hard like to resist. It was just a different way of planning a heating day. And so making sure I didn't miss something. And so I was a little on edge the whole time. Like, I hope I don't need Martin for this next, couples ads or whatever. So but always great. Martin was great. And he gave it all into that big mama roll. me along. Fantastic. Terrence Howard was a sort of a great bad guy. We had fun me, just, you know, fun music and, and him doing that big church scene was sort of brought down when he was up there singing and dance. And that's, that was just like an idea like, Oh, yeah, Big Mama should testify then. You know, so Don Rhymer the late Don Rhymer wrote that and just wrote an amazing, something about the, in the back of it. El Camino, you know, it was perfect. And then Martin delivered it. And then music started, he started dancing, and we were all rolling cameras. And it was just like, you know, thought like, like that. So it was, it was really a fun. It's just a fun movie to do. And like, we originally have a release date. We're shooting the spring. We recently added recently state like in October or something. And then Tom sherek, who was the head of distribution at the time for Fox came to me and said, Look, there's this nutty professor to is coming out in July. We'd like to get out ahead of them. What do you think? I said, Yeah, if it's better for the movie, we'll do it. And so basically, long story short, we wrapped the movie had a had a we were on the mixing stage in two weeks and had to answer cramped, like four weeks later, I thought we were Wow, for this feature post ever. And unfortunately, worked, you know.

Alex Ferrari 37:51
Yeah. And did it. Yeah, it was a huge worldwide hit. And then and then you got into the next phase of your career that I see is the CG character phase where you better world Yeah, as the as the CG critter world where you you? Obviously, you know, you took you took on Scooby Doo, which was and this is 2002 from I'm mistaken, around there. Right.

Raja Gosnell 38:17
It's 2000 Yeah, I think 2000 and then the first one came out in 2001. And 2003. Yeah. 2000 2004 Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 38:26
So it's around. It's around there. And yeah. And, you know, to be fair, you know, CG was, you know, we done team, we've already done the T Rex, you know, but you were kind of on the cutting edge, because there wasn't a lot of if I am please correct me if I'm wrong, there wasn't a lot of animated CG characters who were just like, full blown characters who are going to be interacting with live action and talking like, I don't remember a lot of other movies around that time that were doing that. So it was kind of on the edge of technology. Am I wrong on that? Or was there other films in that

Raja Gosnell 38:59
It wasn't just in terms of the amount of screen?

Alex Ferrari 39:02
Yeah, yeah, huge amount

Raja Gosnell 39:04
The amount of interaction like shaggy Scott a whole Scooby, I, we work that out. You know, we got a break through windows or whatever. So so there was a lot of sort of brain work, I had a really good visual effects crew. And then, you know, we also had to figure out because a lot of times the visual effects people will say, yeah, we can do that for you know, but it's gonna cost you know, $20 million. So, you know, that's not gonna happen. So how are we gonna do for that? $20 million? Yeah. So you have to sort of reverse engineer things a lot of times and that's just the process. But you know, we all we all want it to be good. And within us, I think was our Yeah, was our visual effects house. Yeah, they were they were sort of famous for for creators, and I got to give a lot of credit to Matt Lillard cuz like, you know, just be them walk, you know, the guy walking into a scene and he sort of mind this sort of thing bumping his leg, you You know, I like it when you walk with a dog, you know, comes in and he just everything he did when Scooby wasn't there. He just had a sense that he was there when Matthew was just sort of aware of, of the Scooby of it also. Yeah, and James Gunn wrote wrote a great, crazy script and you know, we got Rowan Atkinson to be our great, crazy spooky Island guy. And so, yeah, it was it was it was a lot of fun and a lot of, you know, a lot of r&d on the dog. Like, every time some new movie comes out. There's always some outrage about the character. You know, it was about Sue's about Scooby It was about you know, it was about blue Aladdin. Someone gave me a call about the when when Will Smith was going to be the blue Aladdin?

Alex Ferrari 40:49
It was. To be fair, the blue Aladdin and and the sonic was kind of terrifying at the first the first way to fix it up. Sonic was terrifying. I'm sorry.

Raja Gosnell 40:59
Sonic Sonic was like a woodland creature.

Alex Ferrari 41:03
What's so terrifying I was like what is that?

Raja Gosnell 41:07
There was all this Sturm and Drang around the movie. And another thing that was weird around that movie is it was sort of a bird of the dawn of the internet. And what drudge report was to politics, ain't it cool news was to the film business and everybody read this the site and and without the frame shot, like the hairy nose is like, fucking hated me. And I can hate a James Gunn and hated the script. And so like, we'd be in pre production working along and it'd be like, it was another post. Was it say? Yeah, so it was weird, like working under that kind of scenario where this outside provoca tour, I guess, is is like causing all this anger, not just not just targeting because it's targeting you. But also in the industry like, like it is set a whole thing because it was so powerful at that time. So that was was the only weird thing working under that kind of thing, where we were under constant attack for when we hadn't even shot a film, or even had a face script. So that's what I know the Marvel people deal with all the time now it's become sort of a more normal thing where everybody hates everything until it's done. So and I can't imagine what the Star Wars people go through my God. Like,you better not do this.

Alex Ferrari 42:32
No, it's it's brutal. And for people that didn't, didn't weren't around at that time a nickel news, because they reviewed a couple of my films, and they were very pleasant than cowhide. But at the time, I mean, they they basically single handedly destroyed Batman and Robin, like that, that that last date, they they destroyed it before it ever came out and never and never got off the ground. Not that it's a particularly great, you know, installment of the Batman franchise, but they destroyed it. And you weren't that far off from that time period. It was like I think it was 97 when Batman rump so they were still at the height of their power. So I can only imagine. All they heard was like Scooby Doo live action. Who the hell is this guy? Screw it, and then they just went after you. And he definitely was a provocateur. I agree with you. 100% now, I mean, you know, you and James Gunn and a couple other they've done okay. And and and how many people are talking about including us anymore?

Raja Gosnell 43:29
In fact, interesting. I haven't talked to James about this. So this is going to be a complete speculation. But the tweets that James got in trouble for last year, whatever. Yeah, when I when I read those, I was like, this is a cool language, like would hearing those say, Yeah, I just done some kids had, it was so good. Like, that was just the language of that time, and the language of that site. And so he and I both, you know, took a lot of punishment from that site. And my instinct was just like, I'm never gonna turn on the internet again. No, socials. But he is a much smarter person than I am. And he like engaged and, and started a Facebook and he completely got immersed in that world. And so it was no surprise to me to see those and, but of course, in our in, in the time, that it came out, like, context was lost. And so, you know, it's a little a little sad note to the cool story.

Alex Ferrari 44:31
I mean, it's ridiculous. I mean, like, Look, if we all start pulling things back from when we were high in high school and things that we did when we were in our 20s like, I'm so glad there was no social media when I was a teenager or in the 20s I can only imagine like, we just would be insane. So I agree with you. It's like look at the reference point. You know, it's it is what it is. Now, I've been dying to ask you this because you've done you know, between the Scooby doos, the Smurfs, which you also did. You know, what kind of pressure is there? And can we kind of touched upon it right now? But what kind of pressure? Is it on you to be directing such a large IP? And how do you balance distal loyalty to the story you're trying to tell? versus, you know, making the fans happy making the the people who follow these characters for 3040 5060 years, whatever the, the length of time they've been around? How do you balance that because you didn't do it just with one icon you did it with to the Smurfs and Scooby Doo. So how do you how do you balance that? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Raja Gosnell 45:44
The answer is we do our best, you know, we do our best to honor the original source material, but provide something new, because why else would you be making a movie if there's, if you just don't tell the same stories. And honestly, you know, it's a, it's a whole team, when there's when there's IP at this level, there's producers, their studios, they're writing 100 million dollar checks, I mean, everyone, that's all eyes on this, and everyone has notes and so. So it's really, it becomes a committee, which is, you know, can be a good thing or a bad thing. But, but, but just there was a lot of eyes and a lot of really smart people working on both of those movies. So, but in terms of like, like my job, as a director, I sort of try and protect the story as much as I can and protect the characters within that story. And, and be as true to make the best version of the script that I was hired to shoot, you know, I mean, and that's, that's when we can go into it. I mean, you know, making a movie is there's this sort of global, like, this is the this is these are the tracks, we're on a wrist down these tracks. And these are, these are the borders that we can't go outside of, and there's all that, you know, from the 30,000 feet, but on the day to day, you got two cameras, you got this, you got this, you got the techno crane, you got this, you know, just like I want to get this shot where, you know, Neil Patrick Harris is running in the summer of this, this and everything else. So, so once the cameras are rolling, you totally flipped from from what you're talking about, which is how do you how do you honor the IP, and it's more into just like executing the day to day have a really, really complicated UI. And then when you get and post now you're back? You bet you were in the first tab again. And, and in a sense, you know, I've had a lot of movies that sort of got beat up in post by by having sneak previews and stuff Scooby is sort of a pretty famous example of it. I'm sure you're aware of that story? Yeah. Which one? Do you already Scooby Doo story?

Alex Ferrari 47:59
No, I don't I don't know that story.

Raja Gosnell 48:00
Oh, my God. Okay. So the first Scooby, the James wrote and that the studio agreement, by the way was, was to the Scooby cartoon what Austin Powers was to James Bond, very self referential, very naughty, I guess very, sort of a lot of winks at the the audience who grew up with it, who always wondered what's shiny, like,

Alex Ferrari 48:26
He was always high. He was always there are images. I've seen them in the cartoon where they were in parkfields. There was pot fields in the background, it was something that everybody knew there was smoke in the in the Mystery Machine. We knew what's new Scooby Snacks were Come on, guys. I mean,

Raja Gosnell 48:45
Was dama maybe gay? I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 48:48
There's a whole bunch of that. Yeah.

Raja Gosnell 48:49
So this this is all in the movie.

Alex Ferrari 48:54
In a kid's movie, in a kid's movie.

Raja Gosnell 48:56
Well, now there's way that hang on. That's the distinction. See, right. Um, we didn't necessarily go out thinking we're making a kid's movie, we went out thinking we're making Austin Powers ish, you know, the Scooby of Austin Powers. But then, you know, after we shot this, this movie, and we're in post production, there was some marketing survey done. And, you know, the marketing came back where, who was who's the core audience for this movie. And it turned out to be, you know, surprise parents and their kids, because that's what, that's what the previous IP was. And so So, they sent us to sneak the movie like in a really conservative part of the country, with kids, parents and their, you know, three to four year olds, and of course, we got killed, you know, we were basically sent there to get killed, right. And then so we had to cut the movie down and, you know, so basically, the head of the studio at the time says, you know, until that plays great for this core audience, like Not going to support anything that you guys are doing the bad over there. So anyways, that's the story of the of the, of the unreleased Scooby movie. We didn't set out to make our, by the way, we're not stupid, it was gonna be like 13. But, but it actually did go to the ratings board and they gave it to our because they misunderstood one word, which was the little we have this little Voodoo character, and he said the our new keybies. To me, it's something very much dirtier than that.

Alex Ferrari 50:28
So so it was with the Schneider cut that just has been done. Is there going to be a Roger cut of Scooby Doo one day, like, are you gonna ever gonna allow to release the R rated version of Scooby Doo

Raja Gosnell 50:38
Actually, but unfortunately, Scooby Doo is still a big IP there. And it's still, you know, for that, that age group, so I don't think it's ever gonna see the light of day. But, but it would have been fun, though. I'm also really glad because because you can watch it with your kids. And a lot of people grew up with it, and they come to me now. And, you know, they may or may not have seen it. If if we're done with the first version. So, you know, maybe, maybe, maybe that was the right thing to do at the end of the day.

Alex Ferrari 51:11
So at least after doing all these CG critters now, I have to ask you, how do you direct them? How do you direct actors interacting with you know, critters, like, you know, I've, you know, I've worked on visual effects shows that, you know, yeah, there's a, there's a monster over here, or the backgrounds gonna change there. But like, you're literally having dialogue with a smurf or with a dog, like how do you direct that and how, technically Do you go into that?

Raja Gosnell 51:35
It's mostly hard on the actors themselves, cuz for instance, well with Scooby So okay, so we go so here's the scene, I blocked it in my head and I have it all written down what's going to happen and so when we go to rehearse, we've got you know, we've got a guy with a full size Scooby sort of walk on besides and Scooby is gonna land here, he's gonna look up at Matt, he's gonna do this he's gonna do that he's gonna wander off over here. So you basically block it with a with a cat with a full size thing. And then it was up to a mat and maybe it looks like a green mark on the floor where the look dusty would be those those sorts of tricks. But in terms of like all that interaction, this is Matt sort of just being a great mime and just making like feeling the way to Scooby and all that hard stuff is it all falls to the Acura at that point. Same with Neil Patrick Harris, there was one of one of the favorite scenes in Smurfs was they're all in his office, and they're messing with his things and there's smirks everywhere. And there's this one's got dialogue, and that one's about violent and that one's got dialogue. And then we have voice characters on set. They're just basically firing these lines at them. And we have a little little puppeteers, who like, if the Smurfs going to touch the light, we will puppeteer like 10 of the light at a certain time. And so that's all the fun behind the scenes stuff, because you got to move stuff in, in the real world to interact with the characters. So we're always like little moving little things around themselves. So my directing is okay, Neil, there's going to be a smurf here is going to go here, he's going to climb up this lamp, who can I turn and say hi, and he's gonna do something. And in the meantime, this summer, it's gonna be talking, that's where it's going to be talking. And so the scene comes out great, but you can see like, halfway through, we're gonna be like, completely loses his looks. And he Cisco's, like, that's funny, because he's like, overwhelmed by all these words. So it kind of it kind of comes down to so we rehearse it with these little Smurfs. And we do the voices and where they're gonna go and where they're gonna be in. And then put it put a few key islands for the actors, but then that assistant vanishes off and go and then, you know, stop animation.

Alex Ferrari 53:50
And so not only do you work with CG characters, but you also do two things that every everybody says never to direct, which is children and animals. And you've done a few movies with children and animals. So and then not only animals, but animals that will have some sort of CG element attached them because they're talking animals right

Raja Gosnell 54:10
Coffee. Nah, that's

Alex Ferrari 54:13
That's like it like and this is so funny. This is Hollywood, man. It is so funny, because because you did Beverly Hills Chihuahua, right? Which was what I was like, wasn't a big project. It was like a smaller a smaller project that wasn't expected to do big business, right? If I'm if I'm not mistaken, right.

Raja Gosnell 54:29
Yeah, it was. We hoped we hoped they would do well. But we didn't have like a big all star cast.

Alex Ferrari 54:35
Right, right. Exactly. And then, you know, you've got these dogs and you've got the CG elements involved. Like how like, the first time I saw that was baby and I saw babe and I'm like, oh, and babies, you know, babies babies. One of the that's amazing little film.

Raja Gosnell 54:53
Picked it all up

Alex Ferrari 54:55
Dave is the one that started this whole this whole up I was gonna say like Hollywood such a weird place. Because now because you did Beverly Hills, Chihuahuas, like, oh, Rogers, the talking dog guy, like if you if you're gonna make a talky dog movie, it's Roger, because you've done it once, and they did it successfully once, and now you're the dude, it's just the way Hollywood works.

Raja Gosnell 55:13
And certain scripts in my inbox was just don't make it to me for some reason, I don't know why. So, I mean, the process is the same, I guess, in that, well, the process is different in that, basically, I'm directing Ansel and directing the dogs, you know, mass movements, and the dog's face in the sense where the dog loves and how the dog stands. But he has basic things if the dog supposed to be happy and peppy, then it wags his tail and stuff like this, if it's supposed to be sad, or, or whatever, it's kind of droopy and, and then getting them to sort of, you know, do eyelines with each other. This is great, sort of, it's great working with the trainer team, because they're all off camera going, you know, x x x, we're going to look over here, and then, you know, sometimes like I have a character Delgado and Beverly Hills to our, and he was hiding a secret. So I decided that most of his lines, I actually have not looking at Chloe when he said them, so I could we just kind of let let him be a dog for a minute. And the dog would sort of look over here, and then let's go to look over there. And then we sort of bring them back in. And then we let him look over here. So but going on dialogue, it's like, yeah, yeah, you know, back when I was a cop, you know, we would talk about those kinds of things. So So just like having having in your head like, wow, with it was a person, what would the attitude be how I planned out to a dog in terms of that to just to get that attitude? So that's, that's the trick. And I'm sure no one in your audience is ever going to want to direct the talking dog.

Alex Ferrari 57:02
Oh, no, you'd be surprised like I had on the show. I'm the creator of Air Bud. Right. And and he's he's

Raja Gosnell 57:09
He's made an entire industry of that, like

Alex Ferrari 57:13
He was he was a screenwriter, he created it and he think he was involved with the first two or three and now he just collects a check every single time they put out a new Air Bud movie. But you know, it's just a you explaining it i'd like I've never sat down because I've never direct ever had direct children a bunch, but directing. I think I animals like I kind of just let them go. I never thought of them as like, because you're talking talks. It's not like just dogs. It's just like talking dogs. So you have to think about some characters. You got it. You got to think about how you're going to direct them and how you're going to move and how the eyeline is going to work and and do you make your days? I mean, is that is that like, oh, always make your days with anime like that muscle?

Raja Gosnell 57:53
American overscheduling any movie I've ever done?

Alex Ferrari 57:55
That's amazing. That's amazing.

Raja Gosnell 57:59
Shot I wanted but

Alex Ferrari 58:02
Yes, famous words of every director. I made the day but I didn't get we never look. Is there ever been a day that you walked on set and gun? Every single shot on your shot list?

Raja Gosnell 58:11
Yeah, but then something must have been wrong.

Alex Ferrari 58:14
It's an alternate universe. At that point

Raja Gosnell 58:16
I shot to

Alex Ferrari 58:19
I gave my shot to the first ad. The first ad is like, this is not it's very ambitious, Alex. It's very ambitious. I'm like, I know 50% of it's gone. But it's there. Just in case.

Raja Gosnell 58:32
You can get lucky.

Alex Ferrari 58:34
Right, exactly. I mean, it's I know, it's 12 hours, and it's only in the same 12 hours for everybody on the planet. But for us, it's really going to time we'll stop and we're going to get an extra five hours.

Raja Gosnell 58:45
It's the same lighting setup.

Alex Ferrari 58:49
We don't have to move the camera.

Raja Gosnell 58:51
He's like, No, it's not.

Alex Ferrari 58:54
We'll just shoot a wide and 8k and just punch in. It'll be fine. We'll shoot just one wider we'll punch in. It'll be great at the peace. Love that. Now, now tell me about your new film, gun and hotel which has no talking dogs has no CG critters, or giant dog or Smurfs? So tell me it gets a little bit outside of your wheelhouse. I'm curious.

Raja Gosnell 59:25
So it's it's a drama. I guess it's a drama that involves faith. And the logline is that a young man walks into a hotel room contemplating an act of violence and he encounters a personified hotel Bible. And the Bible basically spends the next hour trying to talk him out of doing this act of violence. And it started as an award winning play. And we went to see the play and it was just, you know, great writing great acting. But what really struck me was on the sidewalk afterwards, like people just are not in this movie, they have these passionate conversations about this movie and, and it just really touches people and it touches people. Like if you come from a church background like this, there's a voice for you, if you come from a completely never going to church your entire life, there's a voice for you. It's extremely well balanced and extremely well executed. discussion about morality, and, and scripture, and, you know, just just all things, all things heavy like that. But it's also it's got a lot of them on humor and activity, these characters, they sort of they debate, but they also bond. And it's just an incredibly sort of emotional journey, that these characters go on together for their one hour together until the clock ticks down.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:01
That's amazing. Is it out already? Or is it it's been released on

Raja Gosnell 1:01:05
January 5, it's on all the streaming sites, iTunes, Amazon, all the normal places. So

Alex Ferrari 1:01:12
And I will put a link to that in the show notes. I advise everyone to take a look at it because it sounds extremely interesting. It sounds like actually really,

Raja Gosnell 1:01:19
You know, it feels like a play on film, in a way, but I think in a good way. I think part of the part of the dramatic appeal of basically takes place in one room, but this character can't get out like he can't leave. And he keeps being confronted by this by this bootstrap personified Bible. So I think the claustrophobic nature of it actually lends to the, the dramatic nature of it as well. And yeah, well, I'm feeling really excited about it. And, you know, hoping someone, some people see it, we've been really interesting, we've gotten really good response from on the secular side, but also on the, on the faith side. So it's I don't know, for movies ever, like sort of crossed over like that, right? Um, but there's this little voice for our characters, and they know strawman arguments. So if you feel like sort of, you know, snuggling up on a cold winter's night and getting into some deep philosophical and scriptural discussions, and then this is a movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:24
Absolutely. And God knows we're not doing a whole heck of a lot nowadays. We're pretty much staying at home and watching stuff. So I think that might be a good a good movie to watch. Now, what are you working on next? And what's the next few you're coming up with?

Raja Gosnell 1:02:37
Developing developing, I didn't have anything that's been sort of COVID shut down, because I've been developing stuff. And it's, it's more along the lines of what you think it's it's a, you know, talking creators and this is sort of more in the family, the family film zone that you would expect me to be working in and in SAS, so we'll see nothing I can talk about specifically right now, but hopefully a couple pieces IP that we'd like to get going. And once, once COVID lifts, we hope to be making movies.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:10
We're all hoping that COVID lifts and we can start making movies. I mean, it's in and as of this recording, we live in LA which is ground zero at this point in the game. It's It's It's It's really rough out here. It's really scary. And I'm just hoping that 2021 just starts we see some sort of light at the end of this tunnel for a lot of unperfect

Raja Gosnell 1:03:32
Man, I think I think I think theaters are going to come back for people dying to get out.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:37
I would love to go see the theater again.

Raja Gosnell 1:03:39
Just Just go on a date. That's like the simplest date just to go to the movies. So so hopefully the vaccine will kick in soon enough. And you know that all the gloom and doom we've been hearing about the industry will will sort of you know, evaporated and live streaming is always gonna be streaming it's always gonna it's gonna keep getting more and more but but I have a strong feeling that the theaters are going to survive and we're back to those big screen experiences.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:07
Absolutely. My wife the other day just said like we saw a commercial for a restaurant we're like oh, what restaurant Oh, like she's like, I just want to go eat somewhere I just want to go remember the days where we could just go eat we're not asking a lot like just to go sit down in closed in a room with other people close by just eat a good meal have some conversation. it's it's it's it's a it's a weird and wacky we do it. We are living in an alternative universe I feel without question. Now I'm gonna actually last few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Raja Gosnell 1:04:50
Man, just just make films do what you're doing. Like make stuff. Reach out to Vegas, you know, whatever. Whatever. The next person up on the run that you know or you have connections to agents like this movie, you know, this movie we got hooked up I want to talk about we did like the film festival circuit made enough noise to get a distributor and, and all that stuff so this is a movie that was shot in four days of in tears and one day of exterior and we managed to get distribution so it can happen and it happens by by making doing doing your craft and doing good stuff you know, and you don't you know, you don't have to necessarily like he could start as an editor like human I did you know you don't have to start as I don't want to be the executive producer and I want to direct the thing that I've written you know, start as an assistant start somewhere that you can work laterally into what you want to do more but there's learning steps along the way and man there's just so much content being made now and then like you said, Alex, like people can make movies in their garages you know what I mean? So so you know obviously getting those movies view harder in this in this days when there's a billion things on tik tok and on YouTube to compete with so that's the tricky part but but you're learning skills along the way even if someone doesn't see your short film, you've produced a movie and you've you know, you've shot a movie you've edited a movie so so yeah, just just keep doing and keep reaching out and and if if something comes up where you can get a foot in the door even like I never pictured myself as an editor you know, that's kind of just so you can get your foot in the door somewhere and and you know, if you don't love that and try and move laterally to the direction you want to move if you're on a film set as a as a as a boom guy, but you really want to be a camera operator to hang out the camera guys you know, you learn learn a thing or two so I think I guess that's I guess that's the way to do it. I'll have my wish I had a magic wand but I know

Alex Ferrari 1:07:09
And would you be fair to say that your success as a director is wholly in part from all of the years you worked in post because I think that you and please correct me if I'm wrong and this is just my looking in you got a job like a Scooby or or you know obviously Smurfs, but Scooby specifically because like okay, we need a director who knows comedy but also understands post and understands that whole work cuz there's directors I'm sure you know, who don't even understand anything about post production because I've had him in my edit suite. So you learning all these tools prepped you and got you good able to give you these opportunities that you might have not been able to do as opposed to you trying to just you know, jump into like you said the executive producer like you want to get to the top right away and like know, if you you chop wood carry water, chop wood carry water? Is that Is that a fair statement?

Raja Gosnell 1:08:01
I think that is that's definitely first statement and I think that I probably was hired Scooby, you know, based on around he must know something about

Alex Ferrari 1:08:09
Its perception is perception.

Raja Gosnell 1:08:12
Perception Exactly. I think that's less prevalent now. Just because, like like Marvel is this machine, you know? So like, Director Come on. It's like here's the entire storyboard department you want to you want a big fight. Let him go you know, I'm not in Marvel. So I'm projecting a little bit but but I think that but I think that it's maybe a little easier now for non technical people to sit in that chair because there's enough technical support

Alex Ferrari 1:08:47
But at the highest level though, not at the indie level at the entry level you still got you got to know

Raja Gosnell 1:08:51
Some stuff itself man you got there. So yeah, so I think like like you saying, I think each chapter would carry the water learning the craft really. And, and yeah, if you can get your foot in somewhere then in grab that man and go and try and move laterally on to the next thing.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:10
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Raja Gosnell 1:09:15
Oh, that is a very good question. Wow, let's see you hit me up. I want to say I don't think I've learned the hardest lessons yet. Well, okay, let's let's bring it back to the film business here. So I guess I guess when the talk I wanted to shut up.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:40
Amen. Preach brother preach.

Raja Gosnell 1:09:43
You walk into the room is the director and like, everyone looks at you and you know, you have to talk you know, I mean, but sometimes like you want to, sometimes there's other times when you should just actually listen better and so I still don't I've never been perfect. We have ever been comfortable socially and I don't think I have social anxieties but I'm not great in a group like one on one. I'm pretty good, like a group of 10 like not so good, you know, around a board table with a bunch of executives.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:16
But again, you've done okay, you've done okay,

Raja Gosnell 1:10:19
I limped through but But anyways, I guess, I guess. I guess the lesson I learned is sometimes those things that you really really don't want to do, you got to suck them up and do them to get to where you want to go. So as much as I dread going to into that boardroom with a bunch of exacts and doing a dog and pony show, I got to do and as much as I dread going to those the sneak previews where I know the cars are going to come in and people are gonna start wanting to rip apart my movie. You got to do it. You got to you got to do your job and all that and, and do as best you can do this honestly, honestly as you can and do it from the heart.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:04
And last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Raja Gosnell 1:11:08
Oh my god. This one? Well I'm gonna say it's a wonderful life as we watch it every year. I know we're gonna say Guardians of the Galaxy the James was great. I love that. Honestly, like first men and black you know, I mean, that was just those both of those movies. I got a wonderful life just because it's it makes me cry every year. I make a Forrest Gump even. I'm all over the place.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:48
All good choices are good choices.

Raja Gosnell 1:11:51
Let's see. Yeah, man, I just I could I could rewatch I can rewatch that first pirates any any day. Oh, we love that. I mean, what gore did in that movie and what James did in guardians of a Barry sonnenfeld did in in men and black like, like, I wish I could do that. Let's just this nails on. The tone was perfect. The movie was a fun ride. And I guess I'm giving you a category of my favorite movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:18
It's completely fine. It's a completely acceptable answer, sir. And those films have and those films have hit the list here on the indie film hustle podcast a couple times. So no, no question. good choices. Roger, man, thank you so much for being on the show. It was an absolute pleasure talking to you and and going down your history in your in your filmography and an amazing career that you've had. And very lucky as you as you as declared a very you've stepped into it, sir. you've stepped into it a couple times. But it's been an absolute pleasure and I wish you nothing but the best in the future. My friend. Thank you so much.

Raja Gosnell 1:12:54
I'd love to get together and talk more stories offline and get get the real the real dirty deeds.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:01
Pleasure, my friend talk to you soon I want to thank Raja so, so much for coming on the show and dropping his knowledge bombs with the tribe today. Thank you so much Raja. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/432. And as promised, guys, I've got a hell of a lineup of guests coming up in the coming weeks. So definitely keep an eye out for that. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.

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