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IFH 115: How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck with Steve Stockman

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In this week’s episode, we have Steve Stockman. Steve is an author/writer/director/producer at Custom Productions, Inc. in Los Angeles.  He’s created and Executive Produced tv-series Brew Dogs for the new Esquire Network, Dogs of War for A&E, Devils Ride for Discovery Channel and $24 in 24 for Food Network;  plus worked on over 200 commercials, music videos, and web series.

He also wrote and directed a film called Two Weeks starring legendary Oscar® Winning Actress Sally Field.

His book, How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, is now in its 6th printing from Workman Publishing.  It’s based on a course he’s been teaching to kids for the last 14 years, but adults understand it as well.

“Like two years of film school in 248 pages.” – Steven Pressfield, Author of The War of Art and The Legend of Bagger Vance

It’s not technical—it doesn’t matter whether you’re shooting RED or iPhone. It’s about how to shoot video that’s entertaining, effective—and that actually gets watched. Enjoy my conservation with Steve Stockman.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 5:39
Now today we have a really cool guest. His name is Steve Stockman, I read his book, how to shoot video that doesn't suck. And when I read I was really impressed with him and I reached out to Steve to see if he'd come on the show and he said he would. And Steve after doing research on steve steve is not just an author. He is a producer a director he directed a movie called two weeks star he wrote and directed a movie called two weeks starring Academy Award winning Sally Field and we talked a little bit about how it's like to work with a cat on actors of her caliber as well as a great cost to as an amazing cast. And now he also he's a producer on shows for a and he and Esquire magazine for Food Network and is done easily over 200 different web series music videos, commercials and so on. And his book, how to shoot video that doesn't suck. Suck is now in its sixth printing. And I found out is the best selling cinematography book on the market, which is pretty amazing. So I really wanted to dig in with Steve about how to shoot video that doesn't suck as well as all his other experience of being in the industry. So enjoy my conversation with Steve Stockman I'd like to welcome to the show Steve Stockman man thanks so much for jumping on the on the indie film hustle podcast.

Steve Stockman 7:03
Well, thanks for the invitation. I appreciate it.

Alex Ferrari 7:05
No problem. No problem. So I always like to start the the episodes with the origin story. So how did you get into the crazy film business?

Steve Stockman 7:14
Well, I started in the crazy radio business. I actually I think when I was when I was a kid my dreams when I was eight years old, I can still remember, I dreamed of going into radio and going into film. And I started in radio when I was in high school. And so when I got to college, I continued and sort of went from there. And I had a career in radio at first. And but I've always been a marketer. And I've always loved how marketing works. And I used to, you know, sit around as a little kid and count the number of cuts and TV commercials and all kinds of other odd behavior and I always loved movies. So as I went through radio and doing radio marketing, I got involved in a lot of television campaigns for radio formats, and started doing that from the client side and when I left radio, I started doing it. From the production company side I started a production company called custom productions which is now in Los Angeles. And we did television campaigns for entertainment clients. So we did TV commercials to promote radio stations all over the world we did TV commercials to promote home video releases from Wayne Avista, another large companies. And we eventually, you know, still do commercials occasionally do web stuff occasionally. But I moved to Los Angeles and got involved in independent film and now television.

Alex Ferrari 8:52
Very cool. So yeah, cuz you have a voice for radio? No.

Steve Stockman 8:57
It's my dad's I can't really take much credit for it.

Alex Ferrari 9:02
So So then what inspired you to write your book how to shoot video that doesn't suck? Well, great title, by the way.

Steve Stockman 9:09
Thank you. I am. I was getting a lot of questions about online video. And this started maybe five or six years ago, when online video started to mainstream and when phones started to be reasonable things to shoot video on. And it started to be like a doctor in a cocktail party, except instead of saying, Hey, could you look at this boil on my neck? People would say, you know, I just shot this video and you're a director, could you look at this. And so I'd get these videos. And a lot of times they had the same kinds of issues with them. And I've been teaching a course at this thing called summer stars camp for the Performing Arts, which is a nonprofit camp that takes 11 to 14 year olds from the inner city and gives them an intensive arts experience for 10 days. And I've been teaching how to shoot music videos. And I had thought that those kids didn't know anything about how to shoot because they were underprivileged. And they didn't have video cameras and all that. What I realized when the internet boom hit is that nobody knows anything about shooting video, principally, because until six years ago, nobody except professionals ever did. Right? You know, you'd have your home video occasionally. But nobody really knew how to do it. We never asked anybody to do it. And so I had taught this course for these kids. And I was getting asked more and more about how to do video and I was hiking with a friend of mine and Joshua Tree, radio guy, actually an old friend of mine, who, whose producer had called me two days earlier to show me a video, which sounded terrific, and was so boring, and that was unwatchable. And you know, we were talking about it. And he asked me some advice. I went, wait a minute, I wonder if anyone has written this book. And so I went back to my hotel room that night, and instead of, you know, surfing porn, like a good American, I searched for video books, and all of the books that I could find were technical video books, they were about, you know, how to do three point lighting and how many peas in your HD? And how do you plug your computer into your camera and, and that stuff not only doesn't interest me, because as a director, I generally have other people do that. But it also isn't the thing that's going to make your film or video successful. And so I came up with this great idea. And I put this book together called it how to shoot like a Hollywood director and called another friend of mine and radio and told him about it. And he said, Well, I don't really care if my guys shoot like Hollywood directors, I just wish they could shoot video that didn't suck. Oh, well, that's much better title than what I had. So. So that's the that's the origin story of the book now.

Alex Ferrari 12:08
So what are some of the biggest mistakes you see people make when shooting videos. And again, a lot of the stuff we're talking about guys is about people just shooting, you know, online videos and things like that. But a lot of these lessons can definitely be translated over to filmmakers as well. So what are some of the biggest mistakes, Steve, that you've seen with people,

Steve Stockman 12:28
the biggest mistake is to not think in shots. And that's kind of both a superficial and deep thing to talk about. Because we know especially if we shoot indie film already, or we do a lot of our own videos already, and we pay attention to this stuff, we know that most shots in a feature film or a movie or a great video produced today are somewhere between half a second and five seconds long at most, you know, and rarely Are you gonna see a much longer shot without some sort of change on the screen. But people don't really think about first, when they're starting out, they don't even realize that. And so they tend to let the camera roll a long time. And secondly, they don't think about how those shots are constructed, and how that affects the overall movie process. So the first thing that I tell people who are just starting out is to practice shooting in shots and start your shot when something interesting is about to happen and stop it when that interesting thing has happened. And then move somewhere else and shoot something different. And that's a real eye opener for people. Because even if you just do that on your home vacation video, you will go from having horrible, boring videos that last three hours to you know, having a three minute entertaining video sort of fall out of your camera. And that's that's maybe the first biggest mistake people make.

Alex Ferrari 13:58
And so what are some tips you can give indie filmmakers that they can kind of take away from the book.

Steve Stockman 14:06
I think the first thing for indie filmmakers to think about his that film is a medium that has story embedded in every single moment of it. So what I mean by that my metaphor for this is a little obscure, but a holograms you know when they were holograms were invented. And even now if you shoot a hologram, and you print it to film, and you look at it, you can see a three dimensional image on this flat sheet of paper. What's really interesting about a hologram though is if you cut that sheet of film, and you take away one section of it, that section will have the complete hologram on it. So it's not like a photograph where if you cut a corner off it you're just cutting that corner of the picture. Every piece of the hologram has embedded in it. The full picture, which is fascinating. But I like to say that every piece of a film has story embedded in it. So the big picture of the film is, you know that there's a kid who's stuck on a farm working with his aunt and uncle and he hates it. And he's dying to have an adventure, and get off this dusty planet and see the world. Right and the best.

Alex Ferrari 15:29
Sounds familiar that sounds familiar. familiar,

Steve Stockman 15:32
big picture. Did he live where?

Alex Ferrari 15:34
No, no, no, no, it sounds a little familiar. I think I think some name George is George. Yes, sir. George.

Steve Stockman 15:41
So the big picture is the story of this kid, and the kid is the hero. And the story is how he goes from living on a farm to taking a giant journey to rescue a princess to destroying the Deathstar. Right, that's the big picture. But if you take the next smallest unit of film, which is the sequence, inside that film, there are different complete stories being told, there's a sequence where the kid meets a magician, and they decide they are going to leave the planet. And so the hero of the sequence is, it's still this kid. And in the beginning, he meets the magician, and in the middle, he negotiates with a rogue ship captain to get transport off the planet. And at the end, they run away from people who are after them and managed to escape. And that's a sequence that takes seven, eight minutes in the film, and it's part of the bigger picture. But it has its own story, its own hero, it's beginning and middle and end. The next unit down is the scene. And inside the sequence about escaping the planet, there is a scene where the magician and the boy go into a bar to negotiate with the rogue ship captain. And the hero of that scene is the rogue ship captain. And you learn about what he's thinking in terms of how he can get the best deal and get off the planet before he's killed. And so at the beginning, he meets the magician and the boy in the middle, he negotiates a deal. And at the end, he agrees, and that's that scene, which goes inside the sequence, which goes inside the film. But inside the sheet scene, there are shots, and the shots also have a hero, beginning, middle and an end. So there's a shot where we're looking outside the window, and there's a bounty hunter who turns his head and recognizes the rogue Captain as someone worthy of capture. And in that one shot, the hero is the bounty hunter, the beginning is he sees the captain. And the middle is he expresses surprise. And the end is he calls somebody, right, and that's just a shot, that's like, four seconds of time on the screen. But that's a complete story too. And so usually, bad film and television can be fixed by looking at whether every single level of what you're making, has a hero beginning, middle and end from each individual shot, all the way to the finished piece. And if every single piece of it works as a story, than the whole will work as a story much better.

Alex Ferrari 18:24
That's really great advice. Actually, a lot of a lot of filmmakers don't have surprise and no I not from you, but just generally speaking. No, it's that so many, so many filmmakers don't understand that each, there are multiple elements. And I think also if you break it down that way, it it lessens the beast the mountain that you have to climb because if you look at, I've got to entertain somebody for 90 minutes. If you if you go under that big huge Mount Everest, that's a huge deal. But if you start breaking it down, like sequence scene shot, it really does make it a lot easier. And then you could it's like baking the cake, you've got to learn the you got to learn the ingredients, you can't just look at the cake and just throw a bunch of stuff in the oven, you've got to understand each ingredient how they work together and so on. So

Steve Stockman 19:16
and I would I would say it also goes to you know, the level of pitch you know, when you're pitching someone your story in three sentences, you have to have a clear beginning middle. And maybe you don't give them the whole end but you intrigue them with how it might end. And you have to know who the hero is. And and so in every part of the development process and the shooting process and the scripting process, you can be running this story check for every single piece of it and that will keep you in tune all the time.

Alex Ferrari 19:46
Now you've you've directed a few things in your in your day. So I wanted a couple things from that I've done my research on you so you've been directing for a little while now. What while a little while you just got out of school last week. I think or so. Yes.

Steve Stockman 20:02
Okay. 24 year old I have a lot of experience Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 20:06
Same here, my friends say. So um, do you have any directing advice for first time filmmakers like going on set how to deal with that whole pressure because I know, being a fan, I was a first time filmmaker at one point. And even on a small set, it was very intimidating. So do you have any advice, maybe for preparation, or how to deal with the politics of a set, all that kind of stuff?

Steve Stockman 20:32
Yes, the big picture advice is that you're always walking a line between controlling and allowing. So what I mean by that is that every part of a director's job is to find the right place at the right moment on that line. directors who try to control every single thing, prevent themselves from hearing good ideas from their collaborators. And they prevent people from doing their best work. Because they interrupt other people's ideas, they don't make people feel like they're contributing, they don't hear suggestions that people make that might be huge improvements or, or problem solvers. So if you don't, if you're not open, if you're totally closed and controlling you, you will never get the best out of your collaborators. And on the flip side, if you have no idea what you're doing, and you let everyone tell you what to do, you will have a directionless film that will not be on time and not be on budget and probably not be any good. So every step of the directors process is walking that line. And some of my favorite examples you know, are like the Godfather, which is you know, arguably one of the best movies of all time in terms of the way it's put together. You know, and and they're shooting the opening scenes of the Godfather, which start in the dark, and then open on Marlon Brando's office. And in that scene, Marlon Brando is famously petting a cat. That cat was a stray that happened to be on the lot that Brando picked up and started petting and it became part of that scene and it told you a lot about Brando's character that he was you know, old world and he was a nice guy, and oh, surprise, he can have people killed. That was that was that was a big deal. That revelation that he was we were going to understand this guy's a human being and as a monster. And that cat wasn't on the set. Now if, if Francis Coppola had been the kind of director who tries to control everything, he would have said, well, there's no cat in my script. And I didn't picture this with a cat get that cat that cats bothering me. And instead, he trusted his actor. And he allowed the cat and he shot the scene, which is masterful.

Alex Ferrari 23:07
And he also he also allowed those cotton balls in his mouth.

Steve Stockman 23:11
Exactly. Yeah, there's a lot he allowed on that set, you know, and I, I of course have all the fan books on the Godfather, since it's probably my favorite movie of all time. And if you haven't seen it, you should see it at least five times this week.

Alex Ferrari 23:25
Yes, everybody. Yes. Yes. It's like an Oracle. The Godfather is an Oracle if you have a problem with life. The answers in The Godfather? And yeah, I think Tom Hanks was saying that I think years ago I saw Um, I think on The Tonight Show or something like that. And he would just refer to anytime there's a problem just the answer is in The Godfather.

Steve Stockman 23:45
Yes. Anytime you want to be humbled as a filmmaker you should watch out because there's stuff in there that just you will never be able to do. No matter what

Alex Ferrari 23:53
I miss Frances man, I really miss Francis. I wish he could come out and do some stuff. I you know, I was watching. I didn't mean that they get off. No, but I was watching the Palma, the new documentary

Steve Stockman 24:04
that I meant to say I have not seen that yet. But I'm a fan. It's a

Alex Ferrari 24:08
great doc. It's a great doc. It's just Brian Obama just completely, completely unleashed. He doesn't care. Yeah. So he just says whatever he wants to say. But it was really interesting that he said one thing and I try to go back and there's only very few exceptions. But he said that, so that when you study directors, you're really going to talk about the movies they made in their 20s 30s 40s and 50s. Not like maybe 30 actually more sometimes 20s but mostly 3040s and 50s. And then after that you don't you don't hear from them anymore like that you those films that they make in their 60s and 70s are just not the same. And there's very few like Martin Scorsese is the only guy I can really think of off the top of my head. That's his Woody Allen obviously, yet another guy, but it was very interesting. And Francis. I mean, he's Francis Ford Coppola, for God's sakes. I I just wish he would come back. I really wish you'd come back and do something like it just blow everybody out of the water one more time.

Steve Stockman 25:06
There you go, Francis, you heard it here.

Alex Ferrari 25:07
You already Yes, Francis is listening. But you were saying I didn't mean to interrupt you in regards to the Godfather and, and well,

Steve Stockman 25:15
so we were talking about finding that line of how to be a first time director. So So I think the the second thing that comes up a lot, if you're a first time director, you don't know what you're doing. And if you're really smart, you may have hired people who do. So you may have a line producer, or a grip, or a sound guy or a gaffer, or actors who have made more movies than you, hopefully your entire crew is not there for the first time. And I think it's, I think it's a strength, not a weakness, to be able to say, hey, look, guys, my first movie my first day on a set, and I really appreciate all your support, I'm gonna listen to any suggestion, if I can't do it, I'm really sorry. Because I do have to keep the schedule, because obviously, we're a low budget production. But I really do want the suggestions. And I will really try to listen. And if you have something important to say, Please bring it to my attention. So that I can include it in my planning for what I'm going to do next. And by saying that, what you're saying is, I want to hear you, but I'm still going to decide, because that's my job. And the only way I'm going to learn my job is by doing it, you know, in deciding and maybe getting it wrong, but I'm not going to decide like an idiot without listening to the people who know better First up, but I am going to decide. And that to me is striking. First timer balance, you know, people who try to hide that they're first timers or try to pretend they know more than they do get in trouble because it becomes very obvious very quickly, that they're full of shit. Oh, no, they don't want that to happen on a set.

Alex Ferrari 27:03
Oh, no, the crew, the crew, a season crew will smell it in the first five minutes.

Steve Stockman 27:08
Yes, but they'll help you if you're willing to be helped.

Alex Ferrari 27:11
Exactly. That's the thing. That's the thing. And I've been on sets with, you know, guys who've been in the business for 40 or 50 years. And you know, some of them are very gracious, some of them are ballbusting. So it all depends on who you hire. But like, like I think it was, he said Woody Allen or the Palmer someone said that 90% of directing is casting. And not only casting,

Steve Stockman 27:40
a lot of people have said that I think it's in my book as well. Yeah, I think yeah, it's not

Alex Ferrari 27:43
only casting your actors, but casting your crew.

Steve Stockman 27:46
Yes. If you're if you're doing it, right, I think the the writer you're doing it, the closer you come to the Tao of directing, you know, which is to touch without touching, which is to get what you want with a very minimal amount of effort. And where you're focused on flow and team function and how things move forward. Rather than being focused on how am I going to control everything, right, you know, you set the vision, you're, you know, when you're doing a big feature. You know, two weeks was not a giant feature, but there were still 100 people working on it every day. And if you're doing a feature correctly, or a commercial correctly, or a TV show correctly, you should be setting the vision as the director, you should be clear in communicating that vision and you should take input, make decisions, and then help people execute their version of your vision. And only stick your nose in and correct things that are close to dawn and just aren't going to work and really aren't better than what you had in your head. You know, and let the rest of it play and let people bring stuff to the table.

Alex Ferrari 29:05
Absolutely. You bring up two weeks, that was a film that you directed, and produced right with and wrote as well. So and it stars Oscar winner Sally Field. So which was amazing. And you had a great cast, by the way I saw the cast that you had involved with that movie. Really great, great group of actors. Can you tell us a little bit about us? Yeah. How did you get the film off the ground?

Steve Stockman 29:28
Um, well, this is a was another interesting lesson for me. I wrote a bunch of scripts, you know, because I've always been a writer and I wrote commercials and you know, I've written my whole life. And so I I'm moved to Los Angeles with my commercial production company because I wanted to do features and I knew I'd never do them in Boston, which is where I was living at the time, even though I love Boston. And so I came to LA to kind of immerse myself in this environment and also because I had to tell people what I was doing. And once I told them, I would be humiliated if I didn't actually do it. So self management thing.

Alex Ferrari 30:10
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Steve Stockman 30:21
So I came to LA and I and I started writing and I my scripts were reasonably well received, you know, some agents were interested lawyers were interested. But it wasn't they weren't kicking ass, they were kind of high concept things. And my mother had, my mother died like, few years before I got around to this, and I made notes on my hard drive at the time, just because it was a very weird and obviously painful experience. But it was also kind of interesting. So I wrote a lot of stuff at the time. And then, but I didn't look at it for like five years, and I was hunting around for the next idea to write. And I was thinking, high concept, this and high concept that and then I kept going back to these notes, and finally decided that it was a pretty interesting experience. And I would write about it. And when I did that, I did some readings, some some cast readings, you know, to hear how it played on its feet and stuff. And the difference between that and the earlier scripts I had written was night and day. It was people loved it, they cried at the end, and they all wanted to be in it. And it's a good sign this Yeah, well, this was where I learned the another key entertainment rule, which is if you find that you're pushing the boulder uphill all the time, it's probably time to find a new Boulder. You know, the difference between a script that people like well enough, and a script that inspires them to actually do things is night and day and it became so easy to get people involved. So I took that script and I did some readings and I raised a little bit of money and I found a casting director who also loved the script and was able to pay her some of the little bit of money I'd collected which was nowhere near her rate but it was enough to let her know I was serious and then she actually you know Sally Field was the second two time Oscar winner who was attached to this movie in the course of getting it together and you know, and we were able to get a cast because she believed in what we were doing and we had some money and then as we started assembling cast we assembled more money until finally we had enough to actually make the movie and we cast and movie more or less the same time and went ahead on

Alex Ferrari 32:51
it. That's awesome. But how did how would you direct the legendary actors like Sally Field?

Steve Stockman 32:59
How do you I think you try to stay out of her way. I'm not sure I did. Like it wasn't the most fun experience I've ever had. I really owe a lot to Sally because she she came into the movie and she really stuck with it and she did everything she said she was gonna do and she gave a great performance but there were times where I could feel my inexperience was maybe

Alex Ferrari 33:26
gravitating towards grading on her yeah grading otter I get a

Steve Stockman 33:29
little bit so I learned a lot about that. And so but I think that this is part of the key to you know, with great actors or great grips or great other people, you provide them with support, let them help your vision and stay out of the way you know so so one of the things I learned on two weeks is that some of the actors that I had were better after their third take and some of the actors I had only had three takes in them and so figuring out when to shoot whose close ups you know became kind of an interesting thing I'd never really considered in commercials you know you don't worry about that in commercials you just tell the actor to stand there and smile and eat the pizza and they do it they fire but if you have a if you have you know an Oscar winning actor or really experienced you know, really great cast, they have a way that they work best and if you can't figure that out, you're doing a disservice to the project so i think i think the that all of two weeks was me learning how to work with a big cast that had different working styles and try to make it all come together.

Alex Ferrari 34:46
Now you've you've actually worked so that was an indie film correct that was wasn't a studio finance film you find that you found financing outside this just after

Steve Stockman 34:54
MGM released theatrically and you can find it in you know for me on Netflix. And Amazon and all that stuff. Okay,

Alex Ferrari 35:02
so then Joe, you've done indie films, but you also are producing hit shows like devils ride and brew dogs. Can you tell us a little bit of the difference between doing indie films and doing you know shows like that?

Steve Stockman 35:20
Yeah, I think that the difference is that you're working with non actors. And yet, for me, and I, by the way, I don't know if I do reality television the right way or not, but it's the only way I know how to do it, because I am a narrative guy. So I do my unscripted television, very narrative style. And so, for example, on blue dogs, which is the story of two Scottish guys who run a brewery called brewdog, who've just opened by the way, they're their newest brewery in Columbus, Ohio. So now they're in the States, but they were in 32 countries at the time that we started working with them. And we did this series for the Esquire network where you can still find it. And these couple of young guys 30 years old, came to the United States to brew craft beers. stant craft beers with the world's best craft breweries. So we would go to went to stone brewing, and we were brewed a beer using the world's hottest chili pepper, and we brewed it in a 1940s Railway car that we turned into a brewery and hooked it up to the Amtrak Pacific surfliner. And we had to brew the beer between the time we went from San Diego to LA and back. Nice. And it's that kind of thing. And that's so so you're working with non actors, in a sense, although James and Martin are terrific hosts and got even better as the series progressed. But you know, they're interacting with real people, and they're in real situations. But a lot of what we did was well planned and thoroughly produced. So even though we weren't writing lines for people, we were setting up situations in which we expected something fun to happen. And it did. And then sometimes we had to change our plans going forward to accommodate what had already happened. And that was fine. So it was kind of a cross between kind of an improvisational version of television. And I'm just shooting a pilot now for, that I can't talk in too much detail about but it's a sitcom about a couple with a new child. And they're famous musicians and the this thing, it's like, not reality, like the Kardashians, it's more like a reality version of Modern Family, where these are people who are naturally funny. And if we put them in situations that are fun, and we can do intelligent, really interesting, kind of classic sitcom style comedy, in an unscripted setting, where again, we're not writing lines, but we are doing a little bit of improvisation. And we are putting them in situations that they really have to do, but we think will be fun to watch. And so again, just going back to the story point, we're bringing this hero beginning middle and end into unscripted television and saying, Okay, let's plan this like a movie. And let's make sure that our story is good from the time we planet, that at the time we finish shooting, it doesn't mean we're not going to switch things around or improvise on the fly or try something different if what we're doing doesn't work. But it means when we go into the field, we're going to have a really good idea of what's going to happen. And it's going to be a really solid story, which we'll trash if we need to, but we're prepped when we go out. And I think that's different than the way a lot of people do it.

Alex Ferrari 39:00
Very cool. Very cool. Now I wanted to ask you something as a filmmaker, and as also as a content creator, what are your feelings of the changing landscape and distribution? The indie flicks the Amazon Video direct the iTunes, the whole streaming thing? And how many different opportunities there are not just for indie filmmakers, but also for show runners things like that, What's your feeling on it? And how, how it's changing the game.

Steve Stockman 39:29
Um, I think we're in a little bit of a bubble right now as my instinct, where there are lots and lots and lots of sources that have raised lots and lots and lots of money. And so it's possible to take your science fiction series to Comic Con, digital channel and to sci fi and to a&e, if you want or two stars or Netflix or any of these other places, and That's great. If you're creating great content, again, going back to the rule of if you make something that people really want, you know, you'll find a place to put it. And so this is awesome, I think it, I think, isn't gonna last forever. I don't want to say it's like a bubble about to burst because that I don't think that's right. But I think that it's definitely going to contract a little bit. As cable networks continued to lose viewers and thus also lose budget, some of those things are gonna get a little harder to do, and some of these digital channels aren't going to work. And so that's going to reduce some outlets going forward. But I think it's super exciting right now to be in a place where if you can find sponsorship, or you can make deals or you can create something awesome, you have an opportunity to put it somewhere where people will see it and where it will be, you know, something you can be proud of. and point to that, you know, has way more outlets than there used to be?

Alex Ferrari 41:07
Yeah, absolutely. And things like Netflix and specifically amazon video direct, where now you can literally just upload your own movie or TV show or series and start making money right away. It might not be massive amounts of money. But it's all about marketing as well. How many eyeballs Can you push to set format to help you. But it's pretty exciting, though. It's pretty, pretty exciting. Now, this is my Oprah section of the of the show. So I'm going to ask you something, am I gonna cry, you might cry, I need to know what kind of tree you are. So what are the lessons that took you the longest to learn whether in life or in the film industry?

Steve Stockman 41:47
Oh, man. Well, surprisingly, it's a lesson I've been quoting for some time, and I think it's in how to shoot video. That doesn't suck as well. But I quote it all the time. And it's a lesson from the great American philosopher health, as you may recall, was a space alien puppet, who was popular in television in the late 80s, early 90s. Yes. And Alf said, The secret to life is to figure out what you don't do well, and then don't do it.

Alex Ferrari 42:25
That is, that is going to be the quote, I start off this episode with By the way, it's just such That's awesome.

Steve Stockman 42:31
It's my all time favorite quotes. And I think I keep repeating it, because I'm slow at learning it. So So figure

Alex Ferrari 42:41
out me figure out what you don't do well, and don't do

Steve Stockman 42:45
it. Exactly. Such a great quote. So So I think, you know, I like to think I'm good at everything. And I think a lot of people do and and in truth I'm not, you know, I'm not the all time best business manager on the planet, although I can, I can do a lot of that stuff. So I have finally gotten to a point where I'm going, you know, if I really want to grow what I'm doing, I'm going to need to bring in some business management help and have a chief operating officer and all that kind of stuff. And so I'm finally at that point where I'm going Oh, so this is how you actually grow strategically and think about it. But for a long time, you know, I've just sort of kept the company small enough that I did everything. And I realized I'd really rather be making new shows than negotiating contracts with lawyers, which is how I spend half my day. So

Alex Ferrari 43:35
yeah, that's something I've learned as well. I'm starting to learn now with just with indie film, hustle, like at certain point, like you've got to start letting go of the reins and start concentrating and doing what you want to do and hire good people who can fill you know those areas for you. And just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do something.

Steve Stockman 43:55
Yes. And I've actually I'm very good at that in terms of sets and production and all that. And I've always been less good at it in terms of running my business. So that's the biggest lesson for me. I think that's been hardest for me to learn.

Alex Ferrari 44:09
Now what are your three favorite films of all time? I think I know one of them.

Steve Stockman 44:15
Yes, the Godfather. You know, it's funny, I was just wondering if I should look no in the back of how to shoot video that doesn't suck. There is a complete list of all the films I think are the most influential and important for you to see. Dating back from 19 you know, whatever, go six to nearly the present day because the book was published a couple years ago. Godfather is definitely top of the list. And I and after that there's about 10 that are equally wonderful in my mind. So for example, Mary Poppins may be my favorite. My all time favorite filmed music. A call. Although you can make a case for singing in the rain as well,

Alex Ferrari 45:04
I would throw grease in there as well. But that's just me.

Steve Stockman 45:07
That is just you because I certainly would not think it's on my list at all. Maybe it depends on how old you were when you saw it.

Alex Ferrari 45:19
That's for me has nothing to do with it.

Steve Stockman 45:23
And other favorite films, I would say, God that's a tough one because there are so many you know, it's everything from I'm I'm kind of omnivorous so I like all kinds of films. So so on my list is everything from from Jackie Chan's Drunken Master genius, brilliant. To the matrix to Casablanca, you know, to an old sci fi movie called The hidden which is one of my favorite.

Alex Ferrari 46:05
Anything in the 80s I'm, I worked in a video store in the 80s. So I remember video boxes very well in my head. And that was one of those movies I can hit. And I know I've seen that box in my head. So what

Steve Stockman 46:15
outspent the opening scene is just watch the opening scene and then you can turn it off. It's fantastic. It's about a it's about a space alien that comes to her Earth and it's kind of a parasite and it invades people's bodies and then does whatever it wants and after it kills them It leaves to the next body.

Alex Ferrari 46:33
Is there anybody in it or is it just a

Steve Stockman 46:35
Laughlin? Is the FBI agent who's tracking this space alien and it and he turns out to be a different kind of space alien himself. And Michael Nori is in it. It's a it's a classic late 80s cast

Alex Ferrari 46:51
Yes. I just looked it up and yes, I do remember the amazing cover for that with the word hidden. cracked and middle awstats Yes, we had that we rented that one very well.

Steve Stockman 47:03
So you know heavy films. I like stuff like once upon a time in the West once upon a time in America. I love everything by Preston Sturges. I love most of the early Brian De Palma stuff I love most of the early David Lynch stuff. Hitchcock obviously, you know, I've seen all of that and enjoyed it. So

Alex Ferrari 47:28
do you like some of the contemporary guys like Nolan or Fincher?

Steve Stockman 47:32
Yeah, like Christopher Nolan a lot. I think David Fincher is more my style and a lot of ways but you know, memento and the Batman series were awesome. And the other two or three what's the one with prestigious prestigious the US is pretty interesting, although ultimately not perfect as a movie. And, and the and the one where the buildings band and Leonardo DiCaprio is essentially Yeah, inception. Yeah. Yeah, that's okay. Those are all right. They're not as thoroughly thought out as I'd like. But, you know, there's some amazing stuff in them. And he's an amazing director. Yeah, I mean, on the on the more modern side, I like drive

Alex Ferrari 48:19
on and Nicholas is, he's drive was amazing. It was such a unique voice.

Steve Stockman 48:26
And lately Lately, I've been seeing some fairly disappointing movies, I go to the movies a lot, and not a lot sticks. I think. I think I've gotten crankier about this as I get older.

Alex Ferrari 48:41
I think

Steve Stockman 48:45
it's kind of like, I don't care what kind of food it is, but it better be the best of its kind, you know, perfect. Food for my French doesn't matter to me, as long as it's really good. And if it's not really good, I don't really want to be in the restaurant anymore. Whereas a while back, maybe I would have sat there and eaten the dinner and and enjoyed it. You know, but now I've become a professional critic. So,

Alex Ferrari 49:11
so So was there ever a point in your life that you watched Bloodsport, and said that movie is amazing?

Steve Stockman 49:18
I don't think I've watched that movie. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 49:21
okay, you gotta go now when you're done with this interview and watch great sport, and I'm not sure if it's going to hold as well as it did when I saw it in the 80s. But it is wonderful 80s camp and, and the beginning of all those kind of Bloodsport movies, those fighting movies and, you know, pit pit fighting and all that stuff. It was I had Forrest Whitaker in it. Right? I mean, it has of course john Claude Van Damme doing his in the height of his career. The height of his john Claude Van Damme is But anyway, there's movies like you were saying like as you get older, you kind of put up with less and get crankier. Like that's kind of where I'm at as well like In the 80s, you know, when I was when I was younger, you know, Steven Seagal and john Claude Van Damme were the greatest actors of all time. But right, as you get older, you just like, Huh, not the things change, perspective change, and that's what art does to what good art does, you should change as it should change as you get older. Yes, without question, so I should so where, um, where can people find you online? Like you personally,

Steve Stockman 50:27
I, I am. My website is Steve stockman.com. Okay. And there's a lot of stuff that kind of builds on the book and examples from the book and all that other kind of stuff is right there. And I'm on Twitter at steve stockman. And I don't know how to keep you busy for a while there's a lot of stuff on the website. So look around, including if people want to ask questions about movies or about how to make things or if they want to say hey, here's a video I did. What do you think? Or I was having this particular problem on the set. You know, you can you can pop me a question, and I use those to spur blog posts. So I will answer your questions online.

Alex Ferrari 51:19
Very cool, man. Steve, thank you so much for doing on the show. Man. I hope you had a good time.

Steve Stockman 51:23
Thanks for having me. I did thanks, Alex. Appreciate it.

Alex Ferrari 51:27
It was a great guest man had a ball talking to them. And now we hopefully know how not to shoot video that sucks. So hope you guys got something out of that. And also, Steve created this great little trailer for his book and gives you a bunch of tips on how to make video how to shoot video that doesn't suck. So I'll include that in the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash 115. And as always, please head over to filmmaking podcast COMM And leave us a good review of the show. It really helps us out a lot in the rankings and getting the word out on indie film, hustle. And guys, I hope you're enjoying all this new content that I'm creating for indie film, hustle. So we're trying to do an article a day, five days a week. So either a podcast slash article or an article in general, we've been doing some we've been getting some really great ones, especially one that we just posted a little bit ago is where you can go download all of the new contending script screenplays, Oscar containing scripts for 2017. And definitely check that out guys. Just go to indie film, hustle, calm, Ford slash 2017 screenplays, and I've added in a bunch of new screenplay since then you have all of Stanley Kubrick's screenplays are there as well as the Oscar winning and Oscar nominees script from 1999 to 2006. A bunch of the best ofs so like the green miles there and a bunch of great screenplays are there as well. So it's a great resource guys, and I would download them as fast as possible for educational purpose of course, but the studios will take them down as as we get closer to the Oscars, or right after the Oscars. So definitely go in there and download and enjoy and read and learn guys so as always, keep that hustle going, keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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