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So I want you to get ready for an epic podcast. Have you ever been surfing through Youtube and come across a channel with 5, 8, 10 million followers and ask yourself:
“How the hell did they build that audience?”
I do all the time. Over the last year, I’ve had the pleasure of working on a killer new show called Dimension 404 for Hulu and Lionsgate.
The series is created and produced by the boys over at Rocket Jump. Now, Rocketjump is one of those Youtube channels with 8 million followers I was talking about. I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the co-founders of Rocketjump and showrunner of Dimension 404 Dez Dolly.
Here some more info on Dez Dolly:
Desmond Dolly is a writer, director, producer who got his start in the industry selling TVs at an Indiana Best Buy. After graduating from USC Film School – Dez wrote and directed an independently financed feature film, Champion of Glory while climbing the ranks as a commercial director & editor. Building a post-production company from the ground up, Dez cut his teeth on AAA ad campaigns, boasting a client roster that includes Google, Viacom, Warner Brothers, Fox, Visa, Kraft, Dodge, Samsung, and AT&T, to name a few.
In 2010, Dolly partnered with film school classmates Freddie Wong and Matt Arnold to form the digital production company and entertainment banner, RocketJump.com. There, Dez and his partners pioneered new forms of online video, bringing professional content to the YouTube platform. Their culturally influential viral videos have accumulated over 7 million subscribers and tallied over one billion views, making Dez one of the most-watched video directors on the global web.
The first season of his flagship web series, Video Game High School, gained over 130 million cumulative views over 21 episodes and was named “#1Web Series of 2013” by Variety. Season 3 was heralded as a must-see People pick in 2014, and was nominated for a 2015 Producers Guild Award for Outstanding Digital Series.
Dez Executive Produced and co-starred in the Hulu docu-reality series, RocketJump: The Show. In 2017, Dolly renewed his first-look deal with Lionsgate and served as creator and executive producer of Hulu sci-fi anthology series, Dimension 404.
Dez is a wealth of information and drops some MAJOR knowledge bombs in this episode. If you’ve ever wondered how you could build an audience of almost 8 million then perk up your ears and get ready to take notes.
Enjoy my conversation with Dez Dolly from Rocketjump.
Alex Ferrari 1:55
So today's episode, guys is a huge, huge treat. It is an epic, epic podcast. And I'll talk to you a little bit about my guests in a second. But you guys have been listening to me talk about the show I've been working on for the last 555 or six months, which is called dimension 404 for Hulu, and Lionsgate I've been I was hired to do all the color grading and online editorial and deliverables for the show. It's an amazing anthology series six episode run with an insane cast. And you know, I've it's some of the best work as far as my color work is concerned I've ever done in my career. I'm really, really proud of the work that I've done on it. You guys are if you guys have Hulu, definitely check out dimension four, four. But one of the other great benefits of working on dimension 404 is I got to meet the founders of rocketjump, Freddie Wong, Matt Arnold and Dez, Dolly. And, you know, I've been picking their brains for the last six months here and there at lunches, and in sessions and stuff like that, trying to kind of figure out how they were able to build this insane online Empire. And if you guys don't know who rocketjump is, just go to YouTube and type in rocket jumping, you'll see there are some Oh, geez, in the YouTube space, they were they started back in around 2010. And their story is pretty remarkable. They've got close to 8 million followers on YouTube. And they've been able to unlike other YouTubers, they've been able to leverage their audience on YouTube to start creating higher end content with bigger and bigger budgets. And again, like unlike other YouTubers, they actually start seeing a plan. far ahead of the game, they start seeing around the corner, they're like, Look, we don't want to keep doing just YouTube videos all for the rest of our lives, we want to actually start creating more narrative content, episodic content, feature films, things like that. And what they were able to do with the rocketjump brand is, is pretty remarkable and kind of unheard of in the YouTube space, and dimension. 404 is by far their most ambitious and largest budget production they've ever undertaken. And it is epic. What they were able to do with the budget they had is kind of remarkable. I know we had over 1400 visual effects shots that I personally inserted every single one of them into each episode throughout the series. And it's pretty remarkable what these guys did. So I wanted to get Dez Dolly, who is the executive producer, and also showrunner of dimension 404 on the show, so we could pick his brain a bit about how they built an audience, how they've been able to leverage that audience, you know, create content for that audience and build careers, basically We offer YouTube their stories kind of crazy and desert story specifically it's pretty inspiring and just plain amazing and you know it's it's you know we talk a little bit about this in the episode you know it's about the right place right time right product, same thing with Kevin Smith or Robert Rodriguez. But you know any of these guys that you just hit at the right moment and rocketjump with Freddie Mac and as they all hit at the right moment, but they kept going with it didn't just sit on their laurels, they actually started building something building a real production company building up some something that can actually do more than just funny little YouTube videos, but actually take it to a whole other level and that's what they did. So I drove over to rocketjump headquarters and sat down with Dez and really just beat him up and I actually picked his brain with every for every ad question I wanted an answer to and hopefully you know, a lot of the stuff he talks about you guys can apply to your careers in your filmmaking journey but it's a pretty inspiring story but also just knowledge bomb on top of knowledge bomb on top of knowledge bomb was dropped from a perspective of someone who you know he's not a YouTuber all the way you know, he is you know, he went to USC film school so he did grow up in that 90s independent film world you know, the Robert Rodriguez the Kevin Smith Quinn Tarantino's that world but also has not only a foot in that world but has a foot in the YouTube world so he's a very unique individual because he's able to kind of straddle those two worlds and it's pretty pretty insane man so I just want you guys to sit back this is a long one it's gonna be you know almost by the time we're done with this episode is gonna be almost two hours but I guarantee you if you stick to it, there is some major major stuff in this episode that you guys are just going to love and just just get ready to write some stuff down man so without any further ado, here is my epic podcast with Dez Dolly I'd like to welcome to the show the one the only Dez Dolly from Rocket Jump sir thanks for jumping on
Dez Dolly 7:11
Ohh thanks for having me. How are you?
Alex Ferrari 7:12
I'm good man. I'm good for all you guys that don't know me and does have been in the the trenches now for a few months now.
Dez Dolly 7:21
We've been we've been at the indie film hustle base camp. Yeah headquarters. Since when?
Alex Ferrari 7:29
Well no, I originally I came on in June of last year. Oh, and then and our fearless post production supervisor leader told me no, they're just gonna do a few reshoots and then I didn't get anything till November I think when I first got matchmaker was in November for for this week
Dez Dolly 7:50
we definitely underestimated how many pickups we would be doing on this show. Yes. And we greatly underestimated the amount of visual effects in the show as well
Alex Ferrari 7:59
but we'll get into we'll get into dimension 404 and a little bit of water to kind of dig in a little bit about your past deep deep deep Oprah questions I'm going to prepare you so
Dez Dolly 8:09
you're gonna make me cry
Alex Ferrari 8:10
if you were if you were a tree what kind of tree you would be no I'm
Dez Dolly 8:15
a tall tall tall thin handsome super rich
Alex Ferrari 8:20
that all the other trees wanted to do with
Dez Dolly 8:22
relatively wealthy popular
Alex Ferrari 8:26
so um so let's let's take it back all the way to the beginning. All right, um, what made you want to make movies because it's a crazy business?
Dez Dolly 8:35
That's a good question. What made me want to make movie
Alex Ferrari 8:39
and then what made you stay in? This is after you went down that there wasn't
Dez Dolly 8:43
the money? Obviously. Um, okay, so taking you back that's a good question. So you know it's funny when I was home for Christmas this past holiday my family and I were going through old family videotapes of VHS cassette tapes
Alex Ferrari 9:00
What are these VHS as you speak of?
Dez Dolly 9:02
Hey all right. Big Thing recorded to magnetic tape anyway
Alex Ferrari 9:08
you're speaking gibberish
Dez Dolly 9:09
I know. Sorry youtube youtube Jenner you guys have tuned in to speak to some hip young YouTube generational type and I am so I'm one foot in and out of this generation. Yeah, but so anyway, so we're looking at my father's VHS tapes of us and we went back to some of the earliest ones and I think I was five six years old opening a a pilot with a thick detailed book on elements of production design, costume design and all this stuff and I'm I'm watching this table can I my parents like it I asked for that. Like how I was that into the mechanics of filmmaking back then. You know back then it
Alex Ferrari 9:50
wasn't a cool thing Don't forget we mean when you were doing this is not like now that everybody's a filmmaker.
Dez Dolly 9:54
Oh, no. This was back when they were still stuffing nerds and lockers. Yeah, this is Was I was I was the weird Dolly. Yeah, I got two younger brothers. Everyone was in my family except for me, of course very athletic. My family is sort of famous in the region for wrestling, pro wrestling. actual real rasslin. So Midwest. Jimmy is like a flight supervisor. But that's a whole other you have to get my brother on your show talking about progress. But yeah, you know, it was my father was in the film. Okay. He was always a fan love the monster films, especially like the universal monster movies. Sure. He had gone to the drive in with his buds when he was a kid. That's how his friend's parents used to babysit them. So he had he was a bit of a cinephile. He was definitely a genre freak and I don't know that was just something that we did very early on we bonded over that we're a part of that young video generation Video Star generation exactly you know not having a lot of money as a kid weekends were the Friday was the night to go to the video store Absolutely. So we're gonna we're gonna we're gonna get a stockpile of tapes we're gonna get one for the family to watch one for the brothers to watch you know and then and then one weird one you know that was just that was that was it like now it's good make selections based on like box cover art cardboard cover? I love those days you would find these strange ship but that's just what we did as a family and I can't recall I couldn't put a fine point on it. It just felt is you know, strangely enough like that love was always there. Maybe I think after I saw was probably like, seven Voyage of Sinbad. And you've got the fighting skeletons the house and stop motion animation. Jason the Argonauts? Yeah, you see that? And, and I really got into that. I remember having a love for stop motion cinema. I was really into magic at the time. Just the illusions that you can create small films. Yeah, exactly. So you know, my dad had this VHS camera that you know, he used for shooting family stuff. And he and I, when I was, you know, some around six to eight, started making stop motion animated films. You know, I'd make little clay creatures and they're all genre films. Sure. My first one was a monster movie. The second one was a war epic. All stop motion and little green army man, a big spruce cruise. You know, and we did a lot of in camera, sound effects and stuff like that. It was just I don't know, man, that love was always there. And I never knew how to. I was always struggling to find a way to develop it. How to learn more. I was so hungry. There's nothing to be involved in show business. And I couldn't Yeah, you didn't have special features. I remember. Do you remember that Discovery Channel show? Yes.
Alex Ferrari 12:40
Dez Dolly 12:40
I that would I would. I was okay. For your audience. For the three old guys out there listening to this. Yeah, you need to go to the I would go to the newspaper, or a TV Guide. What is this newspaper TV? And you would look up the time and date of the next show. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Magic. There's nothing I can plan around it. Oh, yeah. Be home and have a fresh videotape. Ready to record it, and then study it. Yeah. You know, oh, yeah. If you'd missed it, you'd never get to see it again. That
Alex Ferrari 13:11
was the one that got me because I had I watched all of those. Yeah. And then they came on video. Yeah, years later, they came. They really? They came on video. I'd love to go back and watch those. Yeah, they're there. They're just genius. Yeah, but the one that stuck with me was the making of T two. Yep. The Making of T two blew my mind. Yeah, I never and I just watched watching it. I'd watch James Cameron, do all this stuff. And they the way they shot the chase and the LA River and all this stuff. And the VFX I mean, can you I mean, back in 91. When that came out, I
Dez Dolly 13:44
remember there was more than most films in that era. That was the one there just happened to be this huge swirling storm of supplemental supplemental. Yeah, wasn't it? It was just a massive blockbuster that had you know a lot of really cool effects. So grabbing a lot of a lot of stuff that came out around that movie, I remember that I remember I had the book. You could oh god I go. Yeah, you know, I found a couple of catalogs. And you could order some filmmaking books or like, theatrical makeup and wardrobe costume design books out of the backs of these catalogs.
Alex Ferrari 14:16
And nothing like today that you can literally just log on to your phone and hit you have 1000 film podcasts. 1000 film podcasts 1000 tutorials. You have full film schools online. Yeah, that you can just learn anything and everything you ever
Dez Dolly 14:28
wanted to know. It was a it was a treasure hunt. And that I think that was part of the thrill. You know, tracking this stuff down and yeah, you know, I was just I was always into making things. I was like a crafty type. I was an indoor kid for sure. You know, my brothers wanted to go out and play and go to wrestling growing up. I grew up in South Bend, Indiana. Mishawaka, rather, the princess city. So it's right where Notre Dame is town wouldn't exist if it weren't for the university, of course, and you know, we're,
Alex Ferrari 14:56
I saw Rudy. Okay. Yeah, yeah. And
Dez Dolly 14:59
a lot of family and The background and the broody yeah that was a big to do when Ruby came by
Alex Ferrari 15:05
by the way if everyone listening if you haven't seen Rudy you've got to watch Rudy yeah you will Yes. You will cry your eyes I don't care how big of a fucking dude you are you will cry your eyes
Dez Dolly 15:16
but our that was our life Notre Dame it still is that region it's all Notre Dame football that's all that matters. There's some parts of Indiana where it's all basketball but right there it's all my hometown. Most of my family went through Notre Dame most of my family still works at Notre Dame and obviously jobs there I went to school there for a time like that is what you do when you grow up in that region. You live in Britain or today but
Alex Ferrari 15:40
it's obviously a film Mecca as well. So you had an amazing support
Dez Dolly 15:48
rally went through who didn't know
Alex Ferrari 15:50
Sydney Sydney Pollack Yeah, he went directly to Notre Dame but the film school is not really is their film school I think they have one they have they have a media
Dez Dolly 16:01
I when I was choosing between that or USC I
Alex Ferrari 16:04
think he chose which which brings us to USC Sure. How was your experience at USC because I was I had the pleasure of speaking at USC the other day and I first time I walked into the campus and I was just like you know the Lucas building and the Spielberg bill Yeah, and and you just kind of sense all the stuff that's happened there's an energy there is an energy at that place that is pretty freakin cool. That can you just like oh yeah, Lucas was walking down these halls and cold knuckle blows us at UCLA. But even just a list of Ronny Howard. Yeah, Ronnie Howard and a million Robert Meccas? Yeah I mean the list goes on and on. Oh USC grad so how was your experience at your time? When did you go in the 90s right.
Dez Dolly 16:44
I graduated and knows that early 2000 early 2000s I graduated in 2009 Okay, okay 2010 I got there I got there at 2000 2006 okay transferred from
Alex Ferrari 16:57
I did I did all four years there.
Dez Dolly 16:59
I did two and a half I was a transfer student I came in during the spring I did a couple years at art school in Chicago where I was getting more of like a broad art history degree knowing that that would you know feed my my film background while I was trying to get into a film school somewhere
Alex Ferrari 17:18
gotcha because that our degree and paying the bills but
Dez Dolly 17:22
you know I didn't I'll admit I wasn't I still didn't again because the internet was very premature then I didn't quite know where to how to take that next step I knew Okay, Chicago is two hours away there's an art school there that's that's where I'll start you know and just you know digging through phone books and calling universities and having to do all that hard work I found out okay USC is sounds like the place to go Okay, so that's I'm naive like that. I decided okay, that's where I'm gonna go now. And so just worked and worked and worked for years getting building my grades up until you were like, you were like rude I was the Rudy of USC No, look, I remember the day I put all my eggs in that basket. So I had no
Alex Ferrari 18:09
backup plan other than you know, basically going on my distribution my distributor plan is Sundance and that's it
Dez Dolly 18:16
you know that's that's how it works. So you know, like by then you I had read a handful more film books is a little some of that stuff was becoming more popular. The Sundance generation made the idea of filmmaking more popular, the Tarantino audience, you know, you can, you could get Robert Rodriguez's book, or you could get easy writers raging. You know, rebels on the backlot, learn more about filmmaking. And so I realized, okay, so this is not a lot of folks do it. You get to film school, or at least you get rejected, and then you use that as fuel. So that's the next step. I need to try to get into film school. Now I'll put money together, go to an independent film, take that to Sundance, it'll win. Sundance, and then I'll
Alex Ferrari 18:56
come in, he'll represent you, right? That's his history.
Dez Dolly 18:59
Right? So I was like, okay, USC film school, I did apply everywhere, okay, and got in nowhere, except for USC. It was the last place I heard from. And I got in and I remember dancing in front of my mailbox.
Alex Ferrari 19:14
That's just so you get rejected from all schools. But the the number one film school in the country said, Yeah, we'll get we'll take
Dez Dolly 19:20
a you know, I saw a lot of a lot of schools. just looked at your grades, my grades were, they were great. So I don't really know how they were making those distinctions. USC, specifically, you had to write a lot of creative material. And I was always into Creative Writing when I was a kid. So I think I had a leg up there, as opposed to places like NYU where they're actually looking at a portfolio of short films, and minor garbage. Frankly, you know, that's why I was going to film school to learn how to learn how to make better films, so I don't Yeah, I'm not surprised that they would look at that and go this is no, it's not gonna happen. You USC, I was able to sort of swindle my way in there with some colorful essays and stuff like that. But,
Alex Ferrari 20:07
but at USC, from what I understand from talking to a lot of USC grads, it's it's not only the education which is wonderful, but it's the connections and the relationships that you build at that school that kind of help you propel to the next level.
Dez Dolly 20:19
Oh, yeah, no, I met my my partners to this day met Arnold and Freddie Wong in practical special effects class, taught by a gentleman by the name of Tom Anderson, who ran the optical printer on the original Star Wars title crawl. You know, like, this is an old school guy. It was like the last film class there at the university. We shot stuff on 35. And you learn how to do like hyperfocal calculations and force perspective, you really needed to know what you would do you Yeah, you know, like there was math involved in filmmaking. But we like, you know, I met guys like that we bonded over that. And I've so many friends that I met at USC. And we all still work together, like everyone on my crew is either someone I met at USC, or they're a friend of someone I met at USC, or they auditioned, you know, or send in a resume. And you see how they went through USC? I know that they probably, you know, like myself got a well rounded education there. You know, I'll give him a shot.
Alex Ferrari 21:14
Now, very similar to me. You came into the business through post op on post house. Yeah, absolutely. Back in the day. So how did that help you move to your next level, how important is post in your whole journey as a filmmaker, because I always preach it like, like crazy, like, you guys got a no post, if you don't know pose, the days of, you know, wearing the monocle and the bullhorn and just being the director is, those days are gone. In my opinion. What do you think?
Dez Dolly 21:40
Yeah. Oh, yeah, they're gone. I feel like filmmaking has. And I'm not saying this is the I'm not endorsing. This is not the way it should be. But certainly, when you're looking at a lot of the young up and coming filmmakers, and looking at a lot of folks on YouTube and stuff like that filmmaking is mostly post production. It's very posed. Not necessarily a lot of thought put into story and character and the production, it's all about, like, let me get the coolest camera, and I'll just point it at stuff and I'll throw it in After Effects and I'll really fuck with it until it's good.
Alex Ferrari 22:13
Right? Exactly. Or I'll fix it in color.
Dez Dolly 22:18
I don't really know how that applies to me. I guess I'm just sort of commenting on the state of things. Sure. USC prepares you I mean, they make no bones about it that they're preparing you for a role entry level role in the business. And I'm talking like a coffee pouring pa and I always found that frustrating that whenever I expressed bigger ambition, they were like they would sort of scoff and laugh and a lot of there were teachers that weren't working in the business so you wonder if there's jealousy or some cynicism there sure. You know, they've gotten their asses kicked and now they're back to
Alex Ferrari 22:55
teaching not to say that all teachers are that
Dez Dolly 22:58
Not tonight teachers we had fantastic teachers there but there was just this air of you could sense from the faculty that this is going to be tough. And they you know, they never sugar coated that, like most of you, I remember orientation day it was they would show us short films of I remember Justin Lin, they showed us a short film. And I remember being I was floored and they said okay, this is the one student who's off doing something now the rest of you won't make it you know, look around, there's like 150 of you here one of you will make it everyone else will be schlepping XLR cable the rest of their lives. So you need to buckle down. You need to work hard and one of these folks sitting next who is going to offer you a job one day so you need to get to know them. So it was like boot camp. It really prepared you for getting your ass handed to you out here and it does yeah Oh it does every day
Alex Ferrari 23:52
every day even to this day
Dez Dolly 23:56
you know so i still having that. I mean coming up being a fan of you know the film school kids or not the film school kids like the Sundance kids Tarantino and Rodriguez. Those guys were heroes. You know, like, these are dudes who just went out and made it happen you know, and coming off of sort of that cynical feeling that yucky feeling in the film school when everyone's saying you're probably not gonna make it and the industry's impossible I'm saying I've read these books these guys went and just charged a movie on their credit card and made it work I will will this into existence Yeah, I'm not I remember having coffee with with classmates and peers those last couple of weeks of school and everyone's looking at each other which is that that face those like that when we care who is going to actually give me a job nobody's gonna let me make a movie and I said then let's go make a movie.
Alex Ferrari 24:48
And but the thing is, at the time you cam came out was when you graduated what 2009 the technology had gotten to a point where you could go do it on the cheap and it taken a bit Because when I made my short in oh five, the tech it was the dv x 100 a Final Cut was just coming into its own. The technology was just starting to get there and that was still standard def Yeah, you had already gotten to the even got cheaper, more powerful. Yeah, but you know what they did in the 90s that was ballsy. That was that was like, you know, hey, we're taking 27 grand shooting on black on my film in a fucking convenience store. Yeah. And editing on a flatbed right in their apartment. Like that's,
Dez Dolly 25:27
it's commendable. God bless them, right? No, I had the benefit of after after effects package, you know, and having a copy of Final Cut from school. Literally, Freddie and I would go down into the archives at USC. And we would burn CDs with sound effects. Oh. Oh, God, you know,
Alex Ferrari 25:48
and a lot of stock footage. Yeah, stock footage just from our bins and stuff like that. I still got books full of bootleg versions.
Dez Dolly 25:56
Yeah. But then, you know, the red one camera came out. That was around then. Yeah. And I realized, okay, I only really need to get together like 20 grand to buy it to just make a film, I can rent one and hire a crew and I can afford I basically did the math and ran the numbers and like the least amount I can put together a movie for would be about 20 grand, you know, well, I could have done it for cheaper but I figured note with the people I knew that's the bare minimum I could raise right right, you know, and the maximum so I just I said the hell it I told my buddies, you know, they looked at me like I was crazy. But I said it has to be this has to be crazy. But you know, you got to be naive in this business to make something and nutty. Yeah, so I said, Let's go make a movie. I you know, and then I was forced to put my money where my mouth was, so to speak. I just told everyone we're gonna do it. We're gonna, I don't know how we'll raise the money. I'll write the script. You know, it was all just, it was madness. But I told everyone and I convinced a bunch of friends like you're gonna you're gonna fly out to my house this summer, right after commencement. You're gonna live at my place and we're gonna shoot a movie and everyone went, Okay, that's not we had literally nothing else planned. So I wrote a sports comedy based upon my experience in youth wrestling region didn't start my brother, and was definitely heavily influenced by a lot of independent comedies, you know, your, your clerks and whatnots. But it had this I had seen foot fist way. Around the time I was graduating with Danny McBride and written directed by Jody Hill. Yeah, the Virginia boys and that really floored me that you could do something dark and I had a really twisted sensibilities. So I thought, you know, my brother's a bit of a character, let's sort of create this little fun vehicle for him. You know, he was he had been the star of all my short films and stuff like that, all those years. So it just made sense. Put together a prospectus, based upon basically a formula that I pulled from the Evil Dead companion. Yeah, written by Rob tapper and Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell who's chronicle the way they put together the original Evil Dead film literally laid out how they put a business together every single step and then sold stock in the business to dentists. So did the exact same thing. I created a corporation for this movie and sold stock to friends and family and anyone who's the ear you know I can talk into and raise 23 grand
Alex Ferrari 28:29
and you made hundreds 1000s of hundreds of 1000s off that movie right
Dez Dolly 28:33
oh yeah I'm frickin loaded you were loaded off that one that bought your first Ferrari right Yeah, exactly. No didn't make a dime off that but I lost every penny we spent on but I got to make a movie. Right? You know it's an experiment that changed me just being able to say I made a movie i did it i learned what works you know, being able to have your ass handed to you on a movie right out of film school is also an awesome learning experience. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 28:57
I mean that's that's a ballsy move like you know it took a look. It took me it took me 20 years to make my first feature Really? Yeah I mean I just finished it like last year Yeah, because I just didn't want to it was that mountain it's that's what was the feature film is that mountain and
Dez Dolly 29:12
I didn't I didn't want to I knew I just had to I just had to get to the hospital so I could see the land. Yep, you know and just get that out of the way
Alex Ferrari 29:21
you just like it's I don't care if it's good, bad or indifferent. I'm just gonna make this feature and I could just say I made a feature
Dez Dolly 29:25
well Yeah, exactly. No, I had assumed that it would be
Alex Ferrari 29:30
a massive course of course Yeah.
Dez Dolly 29:33
Yeah, I'll be the next link later and sure we all so forth. We all how it's gonna go from there but you know, reality set in. I mean, look, taking a step back. I shot the movie. Would you shoot 21 days on the red one, okay, rented it from a guy here in Los Angeles friend of a friend and flew him and I think eight other guys from USC down. We all live on air mattresses in my parents house. I had a letter from the mayor of Michigan WOC Indiana that was essentially a gold key to do whatever we wanted for this production to shoot wherever you want to wherever, whenever.
Alex Ferrari 30:07
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Dez Dolly 30:18
I mean, we would have cops show up to set out of curiosity and then just offer help, you know, like, what can we do? Do we need to wrangle crisis
Alex Ferrari 30:25
just literally like in a shooting here in LA? It was.
Dez Dolly 30:28
It was a family affair. It was awesome. It was it's such a small town. So the dollies and I was in the filmmaking and they were making something that I made fun of for being into all those years. Sure. And everyone, you know, raised an eyebrow when I got to tell them, I'm moving to Los Angeles to pursue this. And they went, Oh, he's not the weird kid. He's actually he's got a plan. Yeah, you know, and then to be able to come back and you know, show them this letter, and walk in with a crew and say, we're doing it everyone went, Okay, cool. What, what, how do we help? Yeah. And it was an amazing experience. So we finished shooting, and started calling friends around Los Angeles and said, I'm coming back to town. I just shot a movie. I need a place to live. Because if I stay home, I'll never make it back out there. Of course, you know, again, I've got like 500 bucks left over from the film and spending cash. I'll crash on couches for now. And found Freddie Wong who was you know, we were friends in school. He said, Look, I got a place. It's not pretty. You can stay here and it's cheap. So I said let's do it. I packed up my car I drove out here. Literally a mound of garbage in this room. All concrete square space. That was built in an old paint factory down in East LA. Nothing completely inhabitable. You know there you guys were bums dumpster diving outside my quote unquote, bedroom window. was not pretty but we were in LA, you know, and I had two hard drives with a movie on it. So like I'm like here with this like, buckle down. buckaroos like let's frickin do this
Alex Ferrari 32:13
that's awesome and it's you know, it's so it's so true and because we both come from outside of La we weren't born here. I know Matt was born here. I was born here but he lives in Pasadena Yeah, he's been here most of his life but you know I'm from Florida you're from Indiana and and you know that half the battle is just getting here. Yeah, and then the other half is staying here. Surviving figuring a way to make a living and just stay in you could be in a rat infested place down in East LA but you're here right you can make that you can go to that meeting you can you can show that movie in a place you know, it's just getting here is the biggest
Dez Dolly 32:49
I remember. Yeah, man. I was so excited to get into school out here and I just it's gonna change everything and and it did but I remember when I first got to town my mother drove with me She came out with me She made the trip and the first thing we did after we moved everything into my dorm room were sitting there on my little twin bed and she says Okay, so now we're here you're moved in what's the first thing you want to do in LA? And I said we're going to Hollywood
Alex Ferrari 33:20
oh god haha everyone does the damn same thing I did it Yeah, I got it. Let's go down to the walk of fame.
Dez Dolly 33:27
What a shit show what on absolute just a hot dose of reality.
Alex Ferrari 33:33
Oh Mike isn't isn't but listen isn't Hollywood Boulevard the perfect analogy for Hollywood NLA in the business in general because on TV when the Oscars are playing they only show like a block and a half
Dez Dolly 33:47
the block and a half that's been carefully curated for two weeks leading up to the award
Alex Ferrari 33:51
correct yeah and that's it but when you go down and I'll tell you my quick Hollywood story when I first got here I I'm coming here visiting a friend and we're like checking out places to my wife and I to live we're gonna move we came out like two or three times just to check neighborhoods and stuff yeah so we first time we come out he's like we're like hey we you know we want to go see Hollywood right and exactly the same reaction both you and I were like Jesus yep All right. And he's like all right if you want to go We'll go so we went at night never forgot it we parked right behind man is Chinese whatever it's called now but China the Chinese we parked right in that little parking lot on the side of it. I think now is madam to SOS.
Dez Dolly 34:30
SOS is like an AMC or so it's still man's but it's like man's AMC. Yeah, whatever.
Alex Ferrari 34:34
But yeah, but so anyway, we parked there and the second we get out the car. We turn around and we see this girl I swear to god is this. You know some girl and she's like, welcome to Hollywood and flashes us literally in the parking lot. My buddy just turns without skipping a beat like, welcome to Hollywood. Yeah, and we walked it in. It's just the most disgusting.
Dez Dolly 34:56
You get the scummy freak shows and there's like a low cost. Taking hustlin extorting people out of money for photographs. Oh,
Alex Ferrari 35:04
it's Oh god. Yeah, yeah, those
Dez Dolly 35:05
gets a hot dose of reality.
Alex Ferrari 35:07
It is. It really is early. It's so let's get into, you know, rocketjump Okay, how the hell did a guy from Indiana right? And Freddy and Matt and all these guys just get together and start making short films and build this kind of rocket jump Empire?
Dez Dolly 35:22
Sure. Well, you know, those guys and I bonded because we all had similar because backstories you know, we all had similar upbringing and association with film, where we all experienced backyard, DIY filmmaking with your friends and your brothers and stuff like that. So we bonded on that immediately. And obviously I moved in with Freddy out of film school. And that's where I was putting my film together while I was doing odds and ends jobs trying to make money. I remember before I'd gone to film school, I sold TVs back in Indiana. So I thought, Okay, well, maybe I'll go back and get a job at Best Buy. Boy was that just demoralizing thing to have to go sell cameras. At an electronics retail store. After you get out of this amazing film school thinking you're going to be whisked away into Hollywood stardom. Oh, no, I lasted maybe a month before. This is I can't I would rather eat ramen, you know, live dirt poor. Yeah, waiting for something better to come along. And I mean, I did a lot of crap. I edited a lot of garbage for actors. It was all awful remedial work for nickels and dimes. And it was one of those film school connections. I had a friend from school a mutual friend of Freddy's that called me one day she knew I was editing for folks. And she called and said, Look, I'd and I have an editor on this commercial. And he called off sick today and the director needs somebody here. Can you be in Santa Monica in 45 minutes? And I said, You bet. You know, and I went and the director and I bonded both being Midwest kids, shared love for Neil, the thing and 80s you know, supernatural sci fi horror films. And I ended up sort of getting Shepherd under his wing in the world of commercial editing, all that stuff. So I did that for many years and started climbing the ranks relatively quickly in the commercial business, which was awesome. You know, it was again, it all happened because some guy call off sick and rush into someone at USC. Yep. And I was ready, I was confident enough, having cut enough reels to say I'll, I can do it, I'll figure it out. Um, so I learned a great deal from him when I was doing a lot of commercial work for the time. And, you know, in the meantime, Freddie had just started figuring out that YouTube was a thing he had heard from folks that they were buying houses with YouTube money, you know? And I remember scoffing I'm like, no, that's not okay. That's not even tell you about the concept of a film festival. And here's how this works. And, you know, Freddie had been working sort of in that side of the business he had been producing, like direct DVD, or which I got a kick out of like, some of my early jobs, were cutting the behind the scenes special features for those movies that he was producing, you know, so we were all working together and he said, I'm gonna give this YouTube thing a try. And I remember you know, Matt and I would be going off to our jobs. He was working at Disney at the time in their video game department. He was a video game producer. And he started making short films around the office and we were like, Oh my god, filmmaking. The whole reason why we came out here, let's do that. So we would work together on things you know, being being Freddie's movies, hold a camera and a boom mic for Freddy because it's it was the thing that we all wanted to be doing. And, well, hell if he if his first videos didn't start getting millions and millions of views, you know, I was incredulous at first, like, this is impossible. How is this happening? It doesn't make sense, you know, and,
Alex Ferrari 39:10
and, and that's to remind everybody this time is what 2000 This is
Dez Dolly 39:13
10 11 11
Alex Ferrari 39:15
About 11. Right? Yeah. 2000 so YouTube is basically five, six years old at that point. Google had around
Dez Dolly 39:22
Google already bought a villa just bought it. Yeah, it's it was still niche.
Alex Ferrari 39:26
It was still small, and the quality still wasn't Yeah, it wasn't that great yet. But so everyone understands what
Dez Dolly 39:32
was it was literally the advent of creators a new batch of creators using it as a distribution platform. And it was unheard of you know, while everyone else guys like me, thinking you have to you know, schlep it through this you know, this archaic says this archaic system, you know, frayed just recognize that with YouTube, you didn't have to you go shoot a movie for you know, the cost of pizza and cake. Water.
Alex Ferrari 40:00
And it didn't have to hide it. Sure, yeah, it didn't have to be this 100,000 $200,000 short film to make it all this production value, you can just make something that's entertaining, right? And that's all.
Dez Dolly 40:11
A lot of people were uploading home movies and stuff like that, like, that's what they thought YouTube was for. And so for Freddie to be able to use just a little film school know how and some After Effects VFX wizardry, he could create, you know, really, as far as everything else is on YouTube, just content that was lightyears beyond anything else you could find.
Alex Ferrari 40:33
Yes, I was gonna ask you there wasn't there wasn't anybody really else doing what he was doing? Or what you guys were doing?
Dez Dolly 40:38
You know, there were other creators on there expressing themselves with a with a touch of production value that you weren't seeing on but nothing but a platform for nothing with VFX. Ready? is a you know, he's a VFX wizard. He was the guy in film school that we would go to because he knew After Effects, right? You know, he did. He did title design and explosions and muzzle hits in all of our, all of our videos in school. He was that guy. So, you know, he was into those movies. And you know, he's definitely a nerd. In that respect. He knew after effects. So yeah, but by by nature, he could do things in his shorts that nobody else was capable of doing at that time. So it really stood out.
Alex Ferrari 41:19
So once again, you know, and we've had this conversation off off air, but rocket jumps rise to fame and is basically a good place of timing to Oh, yeah, it was Yeah, right place right time.
Dez Dolly 41:32
Yeah, no, that's I don't I can't recall who said it to give them proper credit. But luck is preparation meets opportunity.
Alex Ferrari 41:40
Yeah, I don't know who said it either. But it That's true. That's all that
Dez Dolly 41:43
it that's it, we were literally right place right time. You know, with the right product. We had the we had the proper training, we had the ambition. We had the technical know how we just didn't quite have the money. And we were all stuck in these other jobs. And YouTube was paying creators through ad revenue.
Alex Ferrari 42:01
When you had to like when you had to still apply for that not not automatic like it is now
Dez Dolly 42:05
Exactly. But Freddy got in, because he had met folks through some other filmmaking competitions that were in YouTube. And he spoke to the right people. And they were going to allow him into the system to make some money off of YouTube ad revenue. And we saw that there was a platform that there wasn't a lot of bureaucratic red tape like it, there was no, there was zero, we could literally upload a thing, complete way to mass of people, complete control, and make money just express ourselves. And then yeah, hopefully, at least cover the cost of the film itself. That was the goal.
Alex Ferrari 42:41
And that was, I think he clips pretty much. Yeah, you guys did better than just the $400 or $300 that it cost to make those.
Dez Dolly 42:51
It was surprising how much money you could make off of YouTube in those days. It was like
Alex Ferrari 42:55
obscene, right? And then you guys also figured out an obscene but you know, obscene and today's you know, just in general
Dez Dolly 43:00
Sure. I'll say it wasn't PewDiePie money or anything like
Alex Ferrari 43:03
Nozomi. Who I mean, who makes PT Batman? Yeah, but But no, but still, it was it was more than 300 bucks.
Dez Dolly 43:09
Yeah, it was it was it became it got to a point where to just so to bring it back to your original question, like what was rocketjump it ballooned very quickly past the point of it, just covering the cost of the film itself. And we started to see, okay, we can actually pay ourselves for the labor. We're starting to earn, you know, as loosely includes a living out of doing this. Yeah, this isn't necessarily the end game, but this is a means. And it's providing us with an outlet we can actually afford to go out to dinner and talk about what movie we're going to do next. So there's a lot of exciting
Alex Ferrari 43:46
we're basically getting paid to be filmmakers.
Dez Dolly 43:48
Yeah, nobody gets to do that. Is that dream the dream That's the dream and to be able to literally fall into that fuckin ass first right out of college is absolutely insane.
Alex Ferrari 44:00
It was again exactly like I always tell people like being replaced the right time. I mean, if a mariachi shows up today, it doesn't hit No. If Clark shows up today doesn't hit. No, you know, now if Reservoir Dogs comes today hits. Yeah, maybe me? No, but that's a different. That's a different conversation, but generally speaking right place right time. Yeah. And, and that's what you guys did. And it's fascinating. And the basic concept here guys, who's listening, whoever's listening to this podcast right now, is, you're being paid to be a filmmaker.
Dez Dolly 44:31
We were professionals, you were? Well, I would say we were professional amateurs.
Alex Ferrari 44:36
We're professional, amateur amateur professionals. I'm not sure being paid to be filmmakers in a new I guess I hate to use the word genre. But in a new Yeah, it was all it's all new. It's still on.
Dez Dolly 44:49
It was all I would definitely say john. I mean, we weren't doing dramatic stuff. They were all action concepts. A lot of it was birthed out of there was there was a guy Andrew Kramer We're have Andrew Kramer and himself video copilot. Yeah. Yeah. And he was putting out these really cool After Effects tutorials. Yeah. And so we would watch these After Effects tutorials, you know, just consume how you do these create these illusions and a computer for basically $0 and cents. And you could reverse engineer an idea that we like, Okay, well, so we can create a shockwave in the course of a day. All right, so it would be a cool idea, you know, focused around a shockwave and you reverse engineer from a cool effect. And you wrote a story or you write a little story, right? Okay. So it's like, you know, again, this came down to our backyard filmmaking day. So it's like, Alright, we've got an out and industrial looking alley in East LA, we've got one shitty car, we've got one camera, one mic 40 bucks, and Shockwave effect, you know, Friday, you'll be in it. Of course, we've got one actor, if everyone else is holding a mic or camera. Okay, we literally left with off ready. That's the box, you know, how do you feel that? So it was all out of necessity, you know, all experimentation really early on? Well, it was always experimentation. But it's amazing how relatively quickly it became business, you know, there was money to be made there. And we saw something bigger than just YouTube filmmaking, we saw that, okay, this is a means to an end, we can potentially open up doors here, you know, there's agents reaching out to us managers reaching out to us, maybe we can, if we can keep this going, we'll build an audience. And that the building like fostering an audience of people, gets us meetings, and then we can talk about maybe in the future one day doing a Marvel movie or something like that. So
Alex Ferrari 46:43
what In your opinion, because you I mean, you're the perfect person asked this question about because you have one foot in both camps, you have one in the old way of doing things. And it's still very much the standard way of doing things, which is the normal, you make your independent film, you go to the festivals, you get seen, or you make a short film, you get an agent, and that gets you a job, and blah, blah, blah, you have your foot in that sandbox, but you also have your foot in the digital world. So you're not one or the other. You don't live in one or the other. You live in both. Yeah. And you come from both. So the way the world has shifted so much, recently, in the last five years, even what's your take on the whole shift of where things you think are going because, you know, I've just finished my feature, I've gone down the festival route. And I'm going to do, we're going to do streaming, we'll do iTunes, all that kind of stuff. And we'll see if we make some money with it. But part of me wonders like well, maybe I should have just put it out on not YouTube, but like Amazon Prime or something like that. Sure to see if I can generate some revenue off of it. What's the What do you think all this is going?
Dez Dolly 47:50
I have? I have mixed emotions. I mean, look, I make no bones about it. If if the business hadn't changed, when it did, I wouldn't have a TV show on Hulu right now. Right? You know, I just I'd still be bundling cable. So I mean, it created so many opportunities for us, there is a credibility that you get taking the quote, unquote, traditional, rather old school route that you don't get in this digital space yet. Yet, it's I would, I would say there's a type, there's a specific type of credibility that we've garnered doing things the way we have, which has certainly got the attention of mainstream media and the traditional folks. But they still kind of look at us cyanide. It's not I can take in 100% serious Yeah. And we're certainly hoping with dimension 404 that we approached with a more ambitious quote, unquote, traditional mentality that we can change that perspective a little bit. But I mean, I don't know like part of me would love to go as a next project, go get a few $100,000 and go make any move in any movie, like the puffy chair or something, you know, just and just turn around, take the festivals just because that's, again, that was also a dream of mine to be able to do that and just experience what that feels like good, bad, or indifferent. You know?
Alex Ferrari 49:15
It's, it's fun. I've gone through them, right? I've gone through it. It's fun. It's wonderful. But you're coming from a different perspective, because you've already achieved a that's a success. Yeah, from where you're coming from. So now you're kind of going through this other project. I love to feel what it's like to go and run at a festival walk the red carpet at a festival with a movie that I'm doing, and they're gonna show it on the big screen and stuff like that, that whole process, right? And I've done that multiple times with my projects, and it's wonderful, but I want to go down the path you're walking down and see how that feels like wow, imagine just putting out a video and you've got 2 million people watched it, right? Like that's an experience that I've never had. It's weird. It's weird. Yeah. How was that experience like when you have something that just
Dez Dolly 49:59
it's just shaking. It's It's a gift and a curse. It's the you know, pros and cons. There's look, you want to know how your art is perceived, you know, and the internet's
Alex Ferrari 50:11
very kind and gentle that way.
Dez Dolly 50:14
Yeah, exactly. And specifically in regards to filmmaking, it is it is a shared experience, or at least that's the way I view it. Yeah. I think it's the reason why we keep coming back to the you know, proverbial campfire after millennia. There's something about that shared experience experiencing that art together and as a filmmaker you want to see how people perceive your work so being able to literally click a button and get instant feedback on YouTube is incredibly gratifying nasal also fucking horrifying. People on there are a special breed they're brutal. Yeah, rude, right and another group of people it's weird I tend to stay away from that now you know, sounds like you have the ability to put something out and get that feedback but you have to stay away from it because it will drive you absolutely crazy. Oh, I know. with with with dropping a show on Hulu is the complete opposite of a festival affair in that there was no screening we didn't have the cast and crew together to watch it on the big screen to be able to hear the laughs are are the cringing uncomfortability the shifting of seats when something there's a lot of tension on screen even if something isn't working, you get that immediate feedback. This show just dropped at midnight and I'm at home alone on the couch you know zero feedback which is very different from its anti climatic the YouTube thing you know, using YouTube as a platform. So sure, that's why i would i would love to experience that you know, willdan like we've talked we'll definitely have a screening here in LA just so we can all very selfishly stroke one another's egos and have the feeling of watching our thing communally on
Alex Ferrari 51:50
that. Now, how do you go from making YouTube videos, funny little YouTube videos, to working for Hulu? Lionsgate short and working them as partners? How's that transition? Because there's a lot of guys on YouTube, who make their little short film and make videos, but have not been able to make that jumping. You guys have done it in a very unique way with video school in high school.
Dez Dolly 52:13
That was it. That was the that was the sort of Rosetta Stone. bridge for us. Again, I can never give Freddie enough credit, and especially my partner, Matt, those guys very early on realized that that could be an issue, a perceived issue of value. If these guys are short filmmakers, why should we talk to them about making long form content? And I'd be curious to talk to Freddie more about where exactly that came from that if he was just sort of this digital monster Domus, if you will, or I bet a lot of it has to do with some of the meetings we were getting at that time, folks curious to meet with us for say, you know, like a Guardians of the Galaxy type film, and they're not being enough of product that demonstrates we could pull that off. So you know, the short version was we agreed, okay, we got to prove that we can do long form narrative. We got shorts in the bag, how do we do long form narrative, let's do a web series. And well, Kickstarter was a thing that had just happened at the time. And we figured, boy, okay, we love the creative control that we have in YouTube videos, and we fund everything ourselves. How do we translate that into a much higher budget web series? And, you know, we were very lucky in that we had at the time, the highest or as most successful film Kickstarter, you know, people were just again, right place, right time yet right place, right time, Kickstarter was new. People were loving the YouTube channel, the nexus of perfect timing. So we got the cash. And that a lot of that the credit for that show comes down to the writing, you know, and specifically Matt Arnold, and will Campos and Brian frenzy who the writers on that series put a lot of work in a narrative. We knew that that was our shot to prove that we could do that. And you really strated to YouTube, we lease it straight to you, because
Alex Ferrari 54:16
you it was our funding already. So you basically no out of pocket no out of pocket costs. And you're basically just paying back everybody by just showing it for and there weren't really a lot of options either. To make money, there was not a lot of streaming options. Like you couldn't put it on Amazon Video direct and start, you know, charging 399 or iTunes wasn't really a thing as much back.
Dez Dolly 54:35
Oh, no. I mean, our audience was our audience was expecting free content. Right? We had an audience on YouTube, right? So yes, if we want to make something bigger and better for them, we weren't ready to ask them to follow us somewhere else.
Alex Ferrari 54:47
Dez Dolly 54:48
Let me look pay for it.
Alex Ferrari 54:49
Do you have to live there? Gotcha.
Dez Dolly 54:51
So in a way, we did ask them to pay for it by kickstarting Of course and just letting them know like you're not paying for the film, you're supporting this effort and you're part of it, you know, it was a, we really sold the communal aspect. But you can't do this without you guys. And then yeah, like, Look, it hit that first season went gangbusters. I think you got like 50 million views or something stupid like that. And, you know, just got to work on a second season and the second season. We said, Okay, so how do we take this a step further, let's try to follow a more traditional 22 minute television format. So the first season, episode length varied. From I don't know, maybe the shortest was around 16 minutes, and then the longest is be 40 something that you're all over 40 minutes, they're all over the place. You know, the cool thing about YouTube and being our own, you know, distributor was that the length of the content was dictated by, you know, the narrative. But then we realized, okay, well, let's take an opportunity, though, to prove that we can do a traditional TV format with the second season, so they were 20 twos. And then same with the third season, but then some got longer, as you know, as the season went on your finale was nearly an hour long and special special episodes. Exactly. But there were, you know, that make a long story short, there were a couple people in the industry, younger guys, you know, around my age, who were looking for new emerging talent, to full bring into the studio system to introduce to everyone and they saw what we were doing with that series. And they recognize that there was potential, you know, we were, again, at the time, there wasn't anyone else doing long form content, you know, we had inspired this movement of creators on YouTube to throw up short films and stuff like that, but we were the only guys who were mimicking a traditional television format. And the studio system said, Okay, so much like, music video directors in the 90s. There's something going on over here we should take a look at and I think that's what allowed us to get meetings over maybe even other way more talented folks on YouTube, it's gonna be demonstrated an ability to craft a long form narrative.
Alex Ferrari 57:18
And, and also, you guys have a very strategic ability to understand your audience. Like you didn't go make Downton Abbey, you made video game High School, because you know, that was the crowd that you had your audience
Dez Dolly 57:33
that, you know, Matt always tells the story a little better than I do actually will does have a name for it came from will another friend of ours, Chris, they were they were on a road trip once we're talking about the idea of doing something longer, what could it be? What would the audience like? And the joke was, well, the most knowing those people, the most pandering thing we could do would be a silly show called video game High School, you know, where it's those, those kids literally, in high school have an alternate future, playing video games to become professionals. That was just a joke. Like when they go nuts for that. And you know, to Matt and Freddie's credit, they went, Oh, I think there's something there. You know, maybe if we approach this with sincerity. We'll do and you know, and I think to our credit to self analyze a little bit, because we've made mistakes in in, in misunderstanding the audience. And coming to incorrect conclusions about what they want, and what they're looking for. And for us, it always just came back to making stuff that we wanted to watch, you know, Video game High School was, literally that show got made, because Matt Arnold said I would pay to see this. So I'm going to take up the mantle and showrunner and we're gonna make this happen. And we all went, Okay, this guy's passionate about this, let's make it work. You know, dimension. 404 is very similar in that respect. It was a natural extension of us doing short films, and then sort of webisodes. And we just thought, well, hell, there's a total vacuum of anthology television at this time, you know, we were developing years ago, and we said, we would all pay to see this, this is something we're really passionate about, is the audience gonna like it? Well, if it's something that we love, and we're passionate about, and we're giving it our all, it will, it will, by extension, find an audience and that's what we were more attracted to.
Alex Ferrari 59:22
Now, can you give any advice about how to build an audience because I think that is the key moving forward. I think as filmmakers in the future, like, it's about niche. It's not about trying to hit the mass market, it's going to be about finding that audience and feeding the audience that you can attract Sure.
Dez Dolly 59:36
Well, in the earlier days, a lot of it came down to consistency, quality, communication, transparency. We were we treated it like a business. We treated the audience with respect, you know, so very much like, Okay, so we're fans comic books, and we're kids. I get a comic book every every week. Here, so there's a new issue, okay. And I know what the story is going to be, I know what I'm going to get it. And I know there's going to be a certain quality that I can expect from it. And you know, the same goes for television. And that's the way we treated the YouTube channel. So even though we were completely independent, amateur knuckleheads making YouTube videos on the cheap, we treated it professionally, we knew there had to be a certain level of quality it had to hit every Tuesday at 2pm. People could expect to know what type of content it was going to be it all fit within this sort of genre Venn diagram. So it's not like we would throw out action one week, and then sincerely melodrama, right? Yeah. It was, it was it was branding. Yeah, that's what it was.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:43
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Dez Dolly 1:00:53
And then, at the time, a lot, a lot of benefit came out of running the second channel, which is very transparent, and specifically, a community building effort, where we sort of remove the corporate mask, and it was, hey, look, it's just us, it was, you know, pro blogging, in essence, you know, or vlogging, rather than, you know, most often it was already in front of the camera. A lot of behind the scenes content, like, look how much fun we're making this stuff. And we're doing it for you guys. thankful that you love it. Here's where you can go see more. And then furthermore, let's take an extra step. And let's show you how we do this stuff. If you're into this, like we were when we were your age, here's how we put it together, you know, and so we were sort of giving back in a digital way. What we got from all those DVDs, special features. When we were kids, you know, I think we were all because we were such nerds for that stuff. We wanted to be able to say Oh, yeah, just it feels cool to be able to share that with Oh, yeah, you know, and just bringing them in on that action rather than treating it like some sort of corporate entity. They I don't know everyone just said okay, these are real people. This isn't just a brand. There are dudes behind this. It was reverse engineered in that way. It was originally behind a person and personalities before we slowly introduced the concept of a brand around it as opposed to trying to personalize
Alex Ferrari 1:02:18
a corporation you're trying to make you're trying to make it a human connection. Absolutely. As opposed to like
Dez Dolly 1:02:24
Disney we are Yeah, we are artists you know and creators and we are making stuff that we're passionate about for people that want to see cool stuff as opposed to we are a brand that makes x product here's why product is good for you. You know,
Alex Ferrari 1:02:39
got it. So let's let's get let's get down to D 404. Okay mentioned four four. Yeah, how did it come to be? It's by far the biggest thing you guys have ever undertaken? ambitiously in budgetarily everything
Dez Dolly 1:02:53
Yeah. Why should a studios chagrin
Alex Ferrari 1:02:59
How did that come to be? And and you're the showrunner of it. So how does that feel? Because I know I know a little bit of how you Well, we could talk about that in a minute
Dez Dolly 1:03:09
show running as as it's a horrible. Yeah, no, it is an awful, thankless, thankless evil, nasty job. But an honorable one. Sure. And it feels good I'm proud of what we were able to pull together. Where did it start? Well, after season one video game High School, you know, we successfully distributed that first season and we thought okay, so we know we'll do a second season. Is there anything else we can develop? And our friends from here yet again, USC will Campos Dan Johnson David Welch said we'd love to do an anthology show and we have an i def for like a hook for one and a really cool title called dimension 404 and here's short, short script for an episode and we can do these as another web series just like video game High School will just release episodes on YouTube we can do them on the cheap and what was
Alex Ferrari 1:04:05
it What was that script? Was that one of those
Dez Dolly 1:04:06
it was it was Kronos
Alex Ferrari 1:04:08
Okay. He was calling us on the cheap
Dez Dolly 1:04:11
it was and this was before we had to change his name for legal reasons. It was called Captain Kronos in the time teens. oh four we had to change it to time writer and the crono teens. Captain Kronos is actually a name owned by Marvel Captain Kronos is when we went through the funny funny quick tangent here is when we went through the clearance process, we discovered that Marvel literally trademarked every possible cool superhero name ever, ever.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:41
Even if they don't use it, you should
Dez Dolly 1:04:42
the Rolodex of names for comics that they've never created, to me is insane. Wow. Anyway, they had a script, it was I think, 12 pages long, eight to 12 pages long. It was just a little web webisode. But I was I mean, God my favorite anthology film is Creepshow. And I grew up on Twilight Zone rewrite the stories. Amazing Stories. Yeah, outer limits. Those were my dad's favorite TV shows. So we would watch you know, bootleg videotapes, that stuff when I was a kid. So they presented the idea of doing anthology show, which was an extension of what we were doing. shorts and webisodes anyhow. So my little light bulb went off. And I said, Yeah, this is something I can see myself getting passionate about. Let's, let's talk more. And we slowly started the, you know, spinning the development wheels at rocketjump. Fast forwarding some time, it evolved from a web series to a television show. And that's around the time we got involved with Lionsgate, we signed an overhead deal with them, again, based upon what we're able to do with video game High School. There's an executive over there who said, You know, I think you guys above a lot of other folks we've seen on the YouTube platform, the digital space in general, you demonstrated you can do long form narrative, let's talk, what do you want to do? And we pitched dimension 404 is something we were going to do as a web series. And they went, No, you're selling yourself short, we can sell this as a television show, you know, we bought this is what we do. We've got a television apartment. Let's go make it a show. Can you make it a show? He's like, yeah, we can do anything, you know. And it was originally being developed because they were shorts, we said, well, there'll be half our show. And then the economic start to get involved. And I guess, in place of that, so I'm jumping ahead. The studio said, Okay, well, why don't you guys develop that? Let's get some finished scripts. And we'll take it around and pitch it folks. Try to find a distribution partner. Do you have anything else and we pitched rocketjump, the show, which was something that didn't require as much development and was a true extension of our creating short films, and they said, We can go do this right now. You know, so we walked over to Hulu, who they were very friendly with and who loved the idea. And we went right to production into that, while we were simultaneously developing dimension 404. So we already had a partnership with Hulu. very fruitful partnership, those guys, excellent collaborators. I have only, you know, the utmost respect for them.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:16
Yeah, I've heard from I've heard people who work with Netflix, and Hulu and even Amazon. It's it's a completely different experience than working with a traditional studio. Like they just kind of let you go a lot.
Dez Dolly 1:07:28
You know, I've never really been in in a traditional quote unquote, studio environment. So I can't say All I know is that Yeah, they gave us the freedom on that first show to do whenever we wanted, you know, same thing, good or bad. And the same thing with dimension 404. You know, so we had the one show going, we were developing dimension for a for the studio calls and says, Okay, well, you know, we're looking at the economics here, and we think this might be better served as an hour long show. And at first we're hesitant, we're like, okay, I don't know, this feels weird. Why do we keep changing the format. And then when the writers and I, you know, super talented writers, the again, the guys who came up with the original title for the show, Dan, David will. And then of course, my friend from Ruby dog films Jake Andrews, and Catherine Garcia. We all said, You know what, there's something to this. We have to change the format of the episodes. But this is really liberating. Having an extra 20 minutes, we can explore more advanced character arcs. We can we can, we don't, we're not building to a twist ending. We can open with a twist and or we can have a twist ending even come at your second act low point. And then really take off and see where it evolves. From there. Like imagine an episode of Twilight Zone, we get to the twist ending. And then there's another 22 minutes where you explore how that character deals with their sheer set of circumstances. And we thought, okay, now that's just like something that we can use to distance ourselves from those other shows. There's always a fear of ours that we are going to be. It's funny in hindsight, we were always afraid everyone's gonna say you're just a druid of Twilight Zone. Instead of doing your own thing. Now unfortunately, everyone's saying Black Mirror this black mirror that Yeah, for the record listeners, we had developed this show before Black Mirror was ever premiered. So I don't want to hear it.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:16
Yeah, but even the black mirror is a completely different show than before. I
Dez Dolly 1:09:19
think if you've seen both, it's quite odd.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:21
It's completely different. We
Dez Dolly 1:09:23
were We were terrified when we heard this thing called Black mirrors coming out. And we saw the first episodes when we loved them, but we side relief, knowing Oh, this is its own. This is not us. We I grew up in a Sam Raimi camp. And I wanted it to be that spooky blast theme park ride of a show. I wanted it to be fun, funny, weird, pulpy. Just pure genre entertainment. And of that said, we wanted it to still have a message and a theme and to say something about the world that we live in. But it wasn't about and you do, sir. It wasn't about techno fears and anxiety like some of those other shows. Yes, you wanted it to be an adventure. thrilling adventure hour
Alex Ferrari 1:10:01
and you know after I you know I've been so blessed to work with you guys on this project and it just came it's right up my alley and it's from the same like you know it's the same school I'll give you an I lived a block from each other we probably would have been making movies and and a good time yeah back in the day so that because it's exactly the kind of movie a kind of show that I would watch. And it's it's so much fun and just like you said pulpy and and kind of quirky. Yeah, can I get away with stuff because of that? You're just like, yeah, I'm just having a good time.
Dez Dolly 1:10:30
No, I mean, it's it things really came together when we settle on the hour long format, because then we realized, okay, we're not we're not doing Twilight Zone. We're literally doing mini movies. Every this event tell it is every week more like amazing stories every week is its own mini piece of cinema. really ambitious stories with a high concept sci fi hook, and they're all about something. And, you know, every writer, there was a shared love for genre, but everyone had their own influences. They were on their sleeve. And that's why these episodes. That's why that the show really took on the quality of it being a series of small films as opposed to something I don't know, perhaps a little more thematically cohesive than it is. It's definitely a mixed bag. But
Alex Ferrari 1:11:18
oh, yeah, that's why I love about it though. Right? Well, like amazing stories. Yeah, amazing stories was, I mean, they were all pretty much a mixed bag. Yeah, one week, you have less stuff. That's the fun of
Dez Dolly 1:11:27
Anthology, you know, there's a little something for everyone. And then again, that's why we got excited as filmmakers because we all knew, alright, there's going to be some that Dez is passionate about writing, directing, Matt, you know, and Freddy, and then we'll bring other people in to do stuff that they're really excited about. And hopefully if we get a chance to do second, third, fourth, fifth seasons, we can bring in other cool filmmakers, maybe people that we admire that come in and work in quote unquote digital space and let them do their thing so there's just a lot of potential and opportunity
Alex Ferrari 1:11:54
there right right excited about now what is the biggest lesson you learned? On d 404?
Dez Dolly 1:12:00
The biggest lesson I learned man I don't know if it was a new lesson but you're constantly reminded how hard filmmaking is.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:15
Even with all the tech even with all the resources
Dez Dolly 1:12:18
you guys have more money than we've ever used me I've ever had access to before it never gets any easier ever, ever ever and you always think that okay on this next project because it's it's one step higher in the echelon of where I'm trying to get you'll coast there'll be a lot yeah, we'll be able to Coast A little more and it only gets harder you know because you get more ambitious you get more ambitious we're always constantly trying to push the envelope and yeah Jesus man is hard it was really hard putting the show together it was certainly a hell it should have been a lot more expensive than it was we did this for nickels and dimes you know oh budget you know what you're getting paid
Alex Ferrari 1:12:57
yeah no no no question and look how many visual effects shots were there 1400
Dez Dolly 1:13:03
if you include what we did here in the office Yeah, roughly around 1600 it is on par with the same amount of VFX shot and wrote wrote one
Alex Ferrari 1:13:11
right right yeah. And to do that many VFX shots at the quality you guys did and because the quality we didn't want
Dez Dolly 1:13:18
it to look that was I said that I you know from day one when I spoke with VFX vendors and then we settled with our good friends that play fight we don't want it to be TV quality and they aren't it should be cinema quality VFX you know we didn't want this to look like television.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:34
Yeah and you achieve that without question it's at times time yeah and and I personally inserted every single one of those VFX shots in that all 1600 1600 those goddamn shots I put it to each episode so you know I think great and I oh my god the VFX that kept coming in. Like we descend a Thrax. Yeah, and polybius those are the two Those are my two favorites but I know you direct about them. I'm not kissing your ass. They're two of my favorites
Dez Dolly 1:14:01
that's my It's okay
Alex Ferrari 1:14:02
It's okay yeah, well that's how it works here got a little smooch emotions that never hurts no but in all honesty because they're more of my sensibility and synth tracks and specific a Bolivia's when I was when I was dying because I had the offline yeah for weeks right and I'm watching it I'm like and we'll we'll are the post soup on this he kept telling me like other common and they look great because it was the monster and rice kind of stuff and
Dez Dolly 1:14:27
the meat and then a lot of it's really superfluous we always everything we do has to tie back to story and character right but boy It was really look flat out disheartening know there's it's your film is never as awful as that first assembly. Oh god and i remember how crushed I felt. I mean completely defeated and like an epic failure when we saw those first assemblies or the episodes. And you know, that's just that's, that's the process but actually when
Alex Ferrari 1:14:56
there's so many effects you have no you can't it's hard to even imagine You know but that's
Dez Dolly 1:15:00
how it is to me to answer your question How is it never not surprising every time you you get through every stage you go I I've lived this 100 times now and every time you're you're you're never prepared for how awful that first assembly is or how awful your your first I don't know sound design passes or your color pass or whatever you know it's always like oh shoot that's not what I was expecting. That's not what I pictured in my mind's eye. Okay, but let's roll up our sleeves and get into this you know, how do we work with this? And look I gotta say, despite all the those negative aspects of being sort of caught off guard when as you're sort of, you know, slugging your way through an ambitious low budget project like this I'm always constantly surprised as well and how amazingly the things come together in those last couple steps when you get the final be effect that's where I found that's where I learned Yeah, you it's a little easier for you because I live with that you get to see all the pieces come together in the final stage you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:16:02
you know sometimes I'll be honest with you like throughout the entire process I rarely watch the shows until the final online we really like I seen every shot 1000 times I usually don't have the audio on so like a lot of times that asked you have like so what do you remember when you watch it like so what why is she doing that and who's in it and you look at me like Didn't you like now I just wait till everything's in before I watch it. So when I watch that final long like like I still haven't seen impulse fully yet with all the with the full info I've cuz I've watched the whole show 1000 times Yeah, I've had to read online right? I haven't heard it. So now I'm like okay, and then when the second I start hearing stuff I'm like I'm having so much more
Dez Dolly 1:16:43
good I'm glad I'm glad to have that works so much better. You know what it's actually quite nice to have a set of fresh eyes that lately game
Alex Ferrari 1:16:50
No, I really yeah, I tried to do that. So when I call her something I generally don't watch the movie. You know unless it's something specific that's just my process. Yeah, but at least I'll just I just look at it completely yeah fresh but that's I didn't know if you knew that or not but that's how I
Dez Dolly 1:17:05
had a sense yeah, I had a sense
Alex Ferrari 1:17:08
I wait for the VFX and all that stuff to come out
Dez Dolly 1:17:10
man the VFX look great. It's the first like I've made a billion short films and web series worked in commercials and I've done a lot not a whole lot yet you know like I feel like I'm just at the very beginning of my what I hope to be a long career sure sure. But boy, was it fun watching these episodes finished you know, so I can I have given birth I always find it difficult I feel like learning the craft of filmmaking has in many respects ruin watching films for me Oh, before having a love for filmmaking that was my favorite thing to do you know watching movies and you know just knowing seeing behind the curtain spoils
Alex Ferrari 1:17:50
that but occasionally once in a blue moon you get that movie that you forget and you get so caught into chasing that high you you look for that highlight you just completely forget about the process you forget about the lighting you forget about the VFX you're just there right that moment when you saw Star Wars for the first time right? That's what you keep a high is what we chase
Dez Dolly 1:18:11
thing the American Werewolf Yeah, exactly
Alex Ferrari 1:18:13
one of those one of those movies Yeah, so I've got a couple more questions before we go because it's been going on for a little bit but I have a couple more questions I always ask everybody but yeah, specifically the last question I wanted to ask you is if you were going to start building an online audience today Yeah, from scratch, right? What do you do? What do you do and I'm not saying YouTube I'm just saying audience in any shape or form podcasting website blogs or shorts or anything.
Dez Dolly 1:18:42
Okay look, well you You first have to figure out what it is you want to share with this audience? What product are you delivering to them? Is it film is it music? Is it your personality and your critique in the way of some sort of blog or vlog or what have you you know, what is it that you're going to be creating? What are you passionate about? Where is your particular skill set? And then you have to ask yourself, you know, precisely which niche that falls into and so you can target yourself at a specific audience. And I think it's really important for folks to ask themselves you know, what it is they're passionate about, because you got to be making something for yourself and that's what people are going to be drawn to as there's a lot of folks out there who I think chase in the wrong end of that stick you know, they chase them if you take it for the money you chase it for the money are you just thinking okay, I'll just do what somebody else I'll just replicate the process you know, as opposed to actually having you know, passion for something like No, I wouldn't do it if you think you're gonna get rich off of it because it's nothing nothing's, you're not going to necessarily you're almost definitely not going
Alex Ferrari 1:19:50
to get if you go into it with that mentality. You definitely want them
Dez Dolly 1:19:53
and it's not gonna happen. I'll also say don't say anything racist. Don't say anything racist on the internet. You know, but Again, it comes down to creating quality content, something that you're passionate about. And tying yourself, you know, finding a platform where the community can, we're a community who's into that kind of thing can very easily find it, you know, it's got to be of quality, keep your content consistent, you know, give the folks what they want, they're not going to come back, if it's sporadic, or they don't know if it's when the next thing is going to drop, you know, be transparent with these folks. Let them know a little bit more about your personality. People don't want to subscribe to brands, they want to be inspired by artists, you know, people with unique personality. So I think people need to be self reflexive, ask themselves self evaluate, you know, what makes my perspective unique? And what do I have to offer? Is it something new? And if it's not something new, maybe you should take a hard look at that being a road, you actually want to go down? You know, that's just got to start me, it's got to start with you, yourself. And I, you know, what are you into?
Alex Ferrari 1:21:03
No, do you agree with this statement that any kind of audience building is a long game? It is not a short game? Meaning that it's going to
Dez Dolly 1:21:12
take absolutely no, absolutely. There are exceptions to that rule? Or they're few and far between? Right?
Alex Ferrari 1:21:18
The lottery tickets,
Dez Dolly 1:21:18
the exactly the The reality is, the rest of us have to play that long game.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:24
Yeah. Because it took you It didn't I mean, rocket jumped in just take off in five months, or it took a little bit it was it was fast, but it was it did take time. And to build it to where it is today that took years.
Dez Dolly 1:21:35
It took many, many years. And and it will, it will constantly be that way. You know, as your audience grows, tastes change, as our tastes as filmmakers and our goals and ambitions change, we're going to be appealing to a slightly different subset of that audience, or perhaps a whole new audience in general, you know, the original audience was built around us making short action VFX videos. So if I want to go off and do a drama, which I may very well want to do at some point in my career, I have to start thinking ahead of how do I how do I broach that with my current audience? Do I need to build a new audience? How can I extend the boundaries of the folks I currently produce content, I don't even want to say content. I hate that. I hate when people throw that around. Like, like, we're just making a product, you know, our, our we're making art, but we have to be real and that there's there there's the whole commerce, flip side to this coin. It is a business,
Alex Ferrari 1:22:31
the word business has twice as many letters as the word show. Absolutely. And my friend Susan Lyons said that I was like, yeah, that's, that's awesome. You know, and
Dez Dolly 1:22:39
I think that's what a lot of folks fail to realize. You're building something like this on your own is that it is a combination of art and commerce, you know, you can't have one without the other. I think a lot of folks are really talented artistically and have something unique to say, but they don't take the necessary steps to keep it at a certain quality, keep it consistent, you know, reach out to folks in a professional manner. And then vice versa, you get a lot of folks who sort of break down this the successful strategies of building an online social presence. But they don't have anything unique to say, right? It's not necessarily artistically inclined in any way shape or form. They understand SEO but that's pretty much it. But it's if you look back to the fundamentals of filmmaking, you have directors meeting, you know, their perfect producing partner and you have their comedy. You have your your Rob tapper to your raise. Ron Bryan, raising your Ron Howard. Yeah, and a million other examples, like, you know, so if you're someone who's not, you know, necessarily inclined in a business sense. Go find someone that is someone who's good at that someone who's looking for a partner, you know, reach out to folks, involve yourself in these social circles. And, you know, God, I mean, I would love to hear more on your perspective, because I know my, we were able to build a hell of an audience on YouTube, but God my my Twitter game sucks. So hard, so hard, you know, well, I
Alex Ferrari 1:24:04
have a horse. I'll send it to you, please. It's called Twitter hacks.
Dez Dolly 1:24:07
Alex Ferrari 1:24:08
Easy. It's literally Twitter hacks. I got 10,000 followers in 10. weeks. Yeah. Organic Byam. No, not organic. Yeah. Audience specific. And look at will go off on a quick tangent on social media. So you asked about it. You know, social media for me, especially because Twitter and Instagram, those guys, and even Facebook, all of it. You know, it's it's nice. You have to have massive numbers, right? You're talking millions, right? To make a dent. Because, you know, on YouTube, you've got almost 8 million followers. But every time you put a video out, you don't get 8 million views, right? There's a percentage of those people that watch that. So generally, that percentage is 5% 10%. You guys have a little bit better percentage, depending on how active your audience is. Yeah, but when you post something on, you know, how many people actually interact or work on it's minuscule? Yeah, so for me, Twitter, specifically All Twitter has been really good for its Yeah, I have caught audience members there. I've gotten people there and I people follow me there. What it does is I'm able to reach out to other people through Twitter. Like I tweeted, Jim rules. The writer Fight Club, right? I tweeted him I'm like, and this it's still weird for me to say that I tweet. Like I tweeted me Oh, it feels so unnatural. It's just the weirdest thing. Yeah. But I tweet him and I go, Hey, you want to be on my show? Sure. And then I got a chance to meet and speak to the writer of Fight Club, one of my favorite movies of all time, where the first half hour was just me talking. How is David Fincher? Yeah, and how was he working with him gushing? Yeah, and I was just completely just, you know, but that's what it's good for. Because when they go to my Twitter, they'll see almost 40,000 followers, they'll go, Oh, this guy's serious. That's what Twitter is. For me.
Dez Dolly 1:25:49
I'm certainly learning to be a lot less bashful on there and reach out to nobody Exactly. Like you're saying, reaching out to folks that, you know, I aspire to be like, Yeah, I just appreciate something that they did. You know, and letting them know that I'm a fan and I slowly starting to learn how to insert myself into other circles.
Alex Ferrari 1:26:09
You know, it's amazing, man, you can cut it's a direct contact. Like, I didn't have to call an agent. It's cool. When it works. It wouldn't work. And it's worked a million times. Like I've gotten so many guests on, on the show purely by tweeting them out like, hey, big fan. love to invite you on my show and talk show I saw
Dez Dolly 1:26:25
you just reach out to Larry curzio ski I did. I tell you, Mike connexional Aereo? Okay, you get Larry on the show for me. I could I could maybe ask him but Larry is he's, I owe him some credit, even though he probably wouldn't take it. But when I mentioned my father going into drive ins as a kid, and Larry probably is like, why is this kid always mentioning me, but I feel inclined to give him I feel indebted to him in some respect. But my father and Larry were friends when they were kids. No, and Larry's dad would take them to the driving to go watch the monster movies. And oh my god, you know, I think that's, you know, obviously Larry was really into film and you think you think Yeah, exactly. It's my dad. A lot of that rubbed off on my dad, which in turn rubbed off on me. So he works. We're sort of friendly in that respect. And I couldn't be more happy for that guy. Success being a fellow South Bend kid. He's he's done well for himself, right? I mean, people vs. Larry Flynt. And I mean, and then the little v oj simpson is Oh, my God was asking. And that's, I mean, yeah. How do
Alex Ferrari 1:27:27
you take a story that we all know, and I was still on the edge of my seat. It's so well done credible. But yeah, Larry, for people who don't know, I'll put it I'll put some information about him in the show notes. But when you see his credit, you'll go. Oh, that guy. That guy. Yeah, exactly. But yeah, like I reached out, I just tweeted him just to see Yeah, cuz he came up on my Twitter feed. I'm like, I would love to talk to you. I
Dez Dolly 1:27:47
hope you get to because he is he's the nicest guy and he. He knows his stuff. And cyclopedic film knowledge.
Alex Ferrari 1:27:54
I'm absolutely sure. No question. So I'll ask you the same four questions I asked all my
Dez Dolly 1:28:00
guys. Okay, you put me on spot. Here we go.
Alex Ferrari 1:28:02
These are the rough ones. Okay. This is the lightning round. You read it? If you were going to give one piece of advice to a filmmaker starting out today, what would it be?
Dez Dolly 1:28:10
Just go megaphone. Simple as that. Yeah, right. Look,
Alex Ferrari 1:28:15
I can hear someone right like this. No fucker just said, Go make a film. Is that really? No,
Dez Dolly 1:28:19
you have to embrace the naivete, you know, you have to be a crazy person to survive in this industry, you got to, you got to throw rationality out the window, and just be freaking nice. There are so many people that work with continually because it's a pleasure to work with them. And there's a lot of folks out here who are not and they don't get phone calls back. So
Alex Ferrari 1:28:42
and it's, it's about talent, but you'll take someone who's just slightly less talented. If they're nice and
Dez Dolly 1:28:49
tolerate working with them. If you
Alex Ferrari 1:28:51
could sit in a room for eight hours, and not kill them are on a set for eight hours.
Dez Dolly 1:28:56
There is a thick depth chart of folks waiting to get their shot in every field in the in show business. And the second you someone takes that ticket and they step up to the counter if they're a jerk, you tell them to move to the back of the line. You know, it's an N word. And ever you never know who's going to be your boss.
Alex Ferrari 1:29:18
Dude. Um, look, look at perfect example. I'm talking about Larry, I just wanted to reach out to Yeah, imagine if I for whatever reason, screwed you over. And then five years from now I'm in a meeting with Larry and you happen to mention my name to your dad or to Larry directly and all of a sudden like, oh, you're that guy that fucked over does that day, huh? Yes, sir. We're not going to work with you. I've seen that happen.
Dez Dolly 1:29:41
People. It's Hollywood's when people gossip, you know, people gossip. So leave a good impression. Absolutely. That's
Alex Ferrari 1:29:47
a good piece of advice. Yes. Absolutely. And as big as you think the town is, it's really small. Yep. It's extremely, extremely small. Okay, what is the what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in life Or in the film business.
Dez Dolly 1:30:02
The lesson that took me the longest to learn life or in film business hmm i don't know maybe. I mean in life The most important thing that seems like the most obvious, but now in my elder years you just have to find happiness You know, in any way that you can. And for so long I chased it through film and but again that's just a means to an end. It's a tough
Alex Ferrari 1:30:40
it's a drug man. It's like it's like it's like being a heroin addict like if you chase a lie constantly through film and that is your only happiness you're going to Janaka I have
Dez Dolly 1:30:51
I have really I have spent my entire life chasing this only now to realize that the most important thing is spending more time with the people that I love. Yes, and you can get lost chasing that Tiger morphine drip of filmmaking you know? Yep, yep, yep. And before you know it, you know life has passed you by and I know I'm speaking like I'm having some sort of midlife crisis it's okay I'm only 34 years I've been going like cuz I spent the last two and a half three years buried in the show. Why not not spending enough time with friends and family and I'm, I now get to say I did I achieved a dream of mine. I got to make a TV show people really dig it. But what matters most you know, what do I want to go do next and do like literally my next project now that I've wrapped dimension for for spending time with my family?
Alex Ferrari 1:31:42
Yeah, I just asked you right before the show. Like I went on vacation like next week. And if you guys could have seen the look on his face when I asked him like, when are you off? He's Wednesday Wednesday, it was just so dead on like, it was like shark eyes. And he was like, I'm
Dez Dolly 1:31:57
out flights booked? I am out and I have zero plans for when I get home other than sleeping on the couch and rolling around with my my dogs.
Alex Ferrari 1:32:04
Yeah, exactly. You know, the more you know I have a few years on you're not much we're similar genre. Similar. vintages? Yeah, but you learn that after a while, because when you're young, you just it's all about the big the big, the big, the big Jason that tie you chasing that tiger? Yeah. And when you get older, you know, I've got a family. I have a wife and all that stuff. You start realizing you look at the end of the day, and you start watching all these guys that like you know, Don Rickles just passed. Yeah, these legends were a loss, right? Oh my god, he was amazing. All these guys last year was brutal. I mean, how many famous you know how many people are ours that we lose last year? And you go to the end of like, you know what, at the end? What does it really mean? Like, are you going to be thinking about on your deathbed. You know how many projects you got off the ground? You know, it's art is art, and that's great. But at the end of the day, it's about being with people you love,
Dez Dolly 1:32:55
I think. Yeah, and this is turning into like the WTF pie.
Alex Ferrari 1:32:59
It is what it is. And it's it's going deeper. It's deeper. I'm not uncomfortable with
Dez Dolly 1:33:03
it. I think you know, as an artist, I definitely chase that. Probably because there's a piece of me that wants to leave something behind. We all do. You know, absolutely. You know, we like to see we're reaching for that slice of immortality in a way but you can't lose sight of living in the now you know, in chase of I mean, look at Luke trying to live forever.
Alex Ferrari 1:33:22
Look at Lucas I mean, George George created, you know, Star Wars. Yeah, He's good. He's legacies pretty much locked. But he took
Dez Dolly 1:33:29
Why don't know he seems like he's not happy. That way things have gone. Well, I mean, which is sad. It's so sad, isn't it? Okay, put a frickin dent in the world. He no he didn't the universe. Yeah, literally, right.
Alex Ferrari 1:33:41
He literally Damn. like Steve Jobs a
Dez Dolly 1:33:43
boy. He just doesn't. I feel empathy for that, man.
Alex Ferrari 1:33:48
You know what I think? And I had a chat. I did have a chance to meet George once. And it's it's interesting to see how I'm not sure a lot of time. I think Coppola said it best he goes, you know, Star Wars was kind of almost, I won't say the worst thing, but it's a shame that he got caught up in it. He said, Yeah, because he never got a chance to be a filmmaker. Right? And that's what because THX 1138 and like, what a wonder what he would have done or American Graffiti. I mean, really, really great. Once, but once you get into Star Wars, that's it. You're done. You can't get out of that. So almost like the universe picked. I don't want to say the wrong guy for the job. But he just seems very reluctant. And it's his journey. And it's afforded him I mean, you know, the empire that he's built. Yeah, but he took 15 years off the we didn't get a Star Wars movie, because he's just like, I'm out. Yeah, then we got the prequels.
Dez Dolly 1:34:41
Then we got the prequels. There's
Alex Ferrari 1:34:43
there's moments. There's moments but we won't talk. We won't go into that. Okay. Final question. What are the three favorite films of all time?
Dez Dolly 1:34:50
three favorite films of all time?
Alex Ferrari 1:34:52
As of right now?
Dez Dolly 1:34:55
Okay, unfortunately, well, not unfortunately for me. They're awesome. movies. I don't know if your audience is into the same horror schlock that I am, but I have to go with three of the movies that not necessarily the quote unquote best films, although I think they're masterpieces in their own right. But these are the films that had the most significant impact on me as an individual and as an artist, and a professional working in show business and that would be Halloween, awesome first movie that, you know, scared the living shit out of me. And my earliest scripts were Halloween sequels.
Alex Ferrari 1:35:32
And it bubble it real. Is it true that john carpet is still hates USC? Because they sued him? Yes, because very true. He made Halloween with USC gear. And when it became the biggest independent film of all time, it's time USC sued him for the money.
Dez Dolly 1:35:48
I believe there is truth that I have also heard a story that they he shot a film they had asked him if they could have the leftover set flats to use at the university. And he begrudgingly loaded them up on a truck and had them carted over and dumped on the loading dock at like two in the morning or something like that, right? A legend that they tell him He's like, just dumped a garbage on their their doorstep. I look I've again, I've had mixed experience with the bureaucracy. Sure, over at a large, well endowed University. I'm not gonna say anything nasty about USC,
Alex Ferrari 1:36:27
of course, but I just thought that was funny that you said all the ways. Absolutely. Okay. The other
Dez Dolly 1:36:31
ones and and this is only because you're asking me today every day, it's a different, a different mix. But American Wharf in London was another film that set me on this path. Not only is it just a just an awesome, hilarious and terrifying movie, but seeing the werewolf transformation effects done by Rick Baker. Oh, change my it blew my brain right open. Sure. And at that moment, I knew I wanted to be a special effects makeup artist. No, I obviously now am a filmmaker because that business died off, but I spent you know, 12 Wow. Yeah, about 12 years of my life as a special amateur special makeup artist sort of chasing that dream. And that got me into writing and producing and directing all that stuff. And then, oh, boy, the third one. That's tough. Maybe I gotta go with another Carpenter jam. The thing? Sure. Yeah. Just think the thing is just such a rad movie, and it's just got that bad ass Carpenter vibe to it, you know. And again, those effects are unparalleled. I'm just such a sucker for all the practical gooey rubbery
Alex Ferrari 1:37:39
as I as I know after watching some of the episodes of of your episodes from dimension four for
Dez Dolly 1:37:45
another film I my father showed me when I was way too young, and I can still visualize the nightmares I had. After I watched that film, those are the three movies that again, I'm not saying claim. They're the best movies ever made. Although they are fucking perfect. They're the best to you. They made the biggest dent on me and who I am. Yeah, that's, that's awesome.
Alex Ferrari 1:38:07
And so real quick, where can Oh, by the way, because you said the thing and Halloween. What do you think Robert? remaking Empire Escape from New York. With Carpenter's blessing.
Dez Dolly 1:38:20
Right? So the news is we talking about Robert Rodriguez being tapped to do Escape from New York. remake and remake? I look. I always look, I'm approaching that with caution. I will, with all films reserve judgment until I see it in the theater. Sure. I think because one of my all time favorite movies The thing is a remake.
Alex Ferrari 1:38:44
Oh God, it wasn't that great. That remake? Now the original thing was a remake.
Dez Dolly 1:38:50
Yes. Correct. carpenters made that Yeah, no Bart carpenters thing is a remake of the thing from outer space. And I think that movie is, is fantastic. So you know, I reserve judgment until I see what the filmmaker comes in and does with it. I'm skeptical. Knowing Rodriguez is such an outspoken fanboy for Escape from New York, that he may have some difficulty approaching it with a fresh perspective. And I'm worried that we're just going to get a lot of liberated courage. attainted you know, modernisations you're gonna get like the psycho remake with Vince Vaughn essentially, Ghostbusters. I haven't seen it yet.
Alex Ferrari 1:39:37
It's the worst thing ever made. Okay, well, it's absolutely the worst out of people like that. Now it is the worst thing ever. I love it. We're in it. Yes, for five seconds. I'll see it. But but the four girls are awesome. Yeah, they're, they're great. They're great. Excellent. And and if it was a handing off of the baton, it would have been perfect, right? But because they're like talking about it like it's like they rebooted it you don't reboot ghosts
Dez Dolly 1:40:04
no it's everything now is days is a reboot cool no no no not a direct sequel without a direct reboot it's like this just JJ Abrams z antic dude give the dude credit what he did with Star Trek basically rerouted what we were seeing in Hollywood happening today everything is a reboot cool you know like we're going to reset the timeline not erase the original for all of those fans but try to update it and there's nothing like that goes by I would rather see with a case of Escape from New York to bring it back to that I rather than grab some weird hungry ambitious young dude young guy, you know or girl. Absolutely. That would be amazing. I would love that would be awesome. I would love to see a female and and recast snake plissken as a female oh my god can you imagine someone on Twitter said Wouldn't it be awesome as Emily Blunt played snake plissken and I said fucking yeah yep yeah that sounds I want to see that like let's get something fresh lately fresh
Alex Ferrari 1:40:58
Can you imagine Emily Blunt playing
Dez Dolly 1:41:01
now have they announced who they've cast in the film yet
Alex Ferrari 1:41:03
Am I amazing?
Dez Dolly 1:41:06
I know for summary well now for some reason is for good reason Rodriguez has garnered a lot of ill will is his last wins last few films. But you know that guy still has a soft spot in my heart. His book Rebel on the backlot was you know a Rebel Without a Rebel Without a crew? Yeah, excuse me was a you know, that was that was Gospel to me. And it still is. And that's a special features on his feminine film schools. His 10 minute film schools really helped me out in my formative years, so I wish the guy the best of luck. It sounds like something he's really excited in doing and I know how frickin hard it is to make a good movie. So Best of luck.
Alex Ferrari 1:41:41
And where can people find you?
Dez Dolly 1:41:43
I'm on time in Burbank.
Alex Ferrari 1:41:46
Here's my arm as
Dez Dolly 1:41:49
you can find me in Burbank. Or back in Indiana as I go on vacation. Now I'm on Twitter at at does Dolly with z No. So we're going to work and we're going to work on your Twitter game. We're gonna work on my Twitter game, send me your tutorial. And then the show of course right now is well it's everywhere. here in the States on Hulu. So as of this recording, we've launched four episodes on Hulu matchmakers Sena Thrax Bolivia's and Kronos and again if for anyone who's interested in just flat out good TV, really cool genre, sci fi action and something that's fun funny and weird. It is don't come into this expecting black mirror is nothing like black mirror. It is it is a roller coaster ride of a fun sci fi show you know so if you're looking for fun, something fun, funny, weird and different. dimension 404 is the anthology show for you so that's on Hulu here in the states and we've got a new episode premiering the last two Tuesday's in April it's also on iTunes in Canada and it's on HBO overseas
Alex Ferrari 1:42:51
nice nice and then of course Rocket Jump comm
Dez Dolly 1:42:56
rocketjump.com we got a lot of behind the scenes material and mini chronicling of the very very long development it's all on the show and then a couple other fun shorts that a lot of the filmmakers around the office have put together inspired by the show so yeah, and of course you have that little YouTube channel we got a little YouTube channel we're gonna give it a solid go just starting out yeah youtube.com slash rocket jump and we're gonna try it see how it works out we're gonna see if we can garner a viewer to the YouTube channel
Alex Ferrari 1:43:27
does man it's been an epic interview man it's been
Dez Dolly 1:43:30
An epic six months this is a good working with you and you know for for your fans out there. They should know how appreciative we are how I am oh thank you everyone at rocketjump for the work you've done your contributions to the show this was it was a labor of love for sure there's no question about that there's a lot of sacrifice that went into it and just a hell of a lot of elbow grease and we couldn't have done it without you did an amazing job man appreciate you guys if you're fans of Alex you should definitely check out the show just for that alone because his collar work is it's unparalleled and
Alex Ferrari 1:44:03
If there's any mistakes I didn't do it
Dez Dolly 1:44:04
Exactly it was somebody else that has been
Alex Ferrari 1:44:08
Thanks again I appreciate it
Dez Dolly 1:44:09
Thanks dude love talking to you.
Alex Ferrari 1:44:11
Man I want to thank Dez a he's a super busy guy right now who just finishing up the last episodes of of deferral for for Hulu and he took a couple hours out of his day for this interview because I told him how important it was for us to get on the podcast I wanted to get this information to you guys so desmin Thanks again so much for taking the time out. I hope you guys picked up a lot man I absolutely did I plan to now have 10 million followers on my YouTube in a matter of weeks if not hours but but it was great information and really great information about how someone who's actually done it did it you know as a lot of times people talk about stuff and all you know in theory this would work on theory that work well this guy and his partners did it. You know they did it this Way, and there's no reason why you guys can't do it to, you know, the world is big enough that there's so many people in the world that you guys can create your own niches for what you're trying to do your own audiences for what you're trying to do, there's absolutely no reason why you can't. And that's what YouTube has, has proven to everybody. That's what the internet's proven to everybody. Sometimes they'll run across a site, or a personality or, or a channel and go, Wow, man, this guy, I've never even heard of these guys. And they got 5 million followers, or 2 million followers or a million followers. And you're like, Wow, there really is an audience for almost anything, you know. And now the size of that audience is another story. But you can build a niche audience and if you build a passionate audience, you can do amazing things. Look what you know, we've been able to do as the the tribe, the indie film, hustle tribe, you know, we got Meg made, you know, you crowdfunded. You guys helped me with that. I'm hoping you guys are gonna help me with us trying to break iTunes, as I call it, and I'll be talking more about that in the coming weeks as we release it in the summer. But you know, it's amazing what a group of people we're passionate about something can do. So I hope this inspired you guys inspired the hell out of me. And again, Dez Thank you very, very much for dropping some major knowledge bombs. For the the tribe and myself. And if you want links to anything we talked about on the episode, head over to any film hustle calm Ford slash 152 for the show notes, and don't forget to head over to free film book calm. That's free film book calm to download your free filmmaking and screenwriting audio books from audible. Alright guys, this episode is long enough. I'm out of here. Keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.
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- Rocket jump.com
- Dimension 404 on Hulu
- Dez Dolly – IMDB
- Dez Dolly – Twitter
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