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I can’t be more excited about the conversation I’m about to share with you. Today on the show we have filmmaker and indie film legend Albert Hughes. Albert, along with his brother Allen began making movies at age 12, but their formal film education began their freshman year of high school when Allen took a TV production class. They soon made the short film The Drive-By and people began to take notice.
After high school Albert began taking classes at LACC Film School: two shorts established the twins’ reputation as innovative filmmakers. Albert and his brother then began directing music videos for a little-known rapper named Tupac Shakur.
These videos lead to directing their breakout hit Menace II Society (1993), which made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and grossed nearly 10 times as much as its $3 million budget.
Albert followed up that success with Dead Presidents (1995).
On the streets, they call cash dead presidents. And that’s just what a Vietnam veteran (Larenz Tate) is after when he returns home from the war only to find himself drawn into a life of crime. With the aid of his fellow vets, he plans the ultimate heist — a daring robbery of an armored car filled with unmarked U.S. currency!
Albert continued displaying his highly stylized and visual filmmaking with From Hell (2001) starring Johnny Depp and The Book of Eli (2010) starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Gary Olman.
The Book of Eli has the distinction of being the first studio feature film shot on the RED Camera. In the example below, you can see how Albert pushed the camera to its limits with the ground-breaking color grade he gave the film.
Most recently Albert brought to the screen the epic film Alpha (2018). The project was shot on the Arri ALEXA 65 for a truly larger-than-life experience.
An epic coming-of-age adventure set in the last Ice Age. A young boy becomes unlikely allies with a lone wolf, enduring countless dangers and overwhelming odds to survive the harsh wilderness and find their way home before the deadly winter arrives.
My conversation with Albert was EPIC. We began the episode aiming for our standard 60-90 min run time but we were having such a good time talking shop we just kept going. The final episode clocks in around 3 hours and it was, by far, one of the best times I have ever had on the Indie Film Hustle Podcast.
Two filmmakers talking shop and telling stories. We discuss his public beef with Tupac, his rise after the breakout success of Menace II Society, how he navigated the shark-infested waters of Hollywood, working on big-budget studio films, his creative process and Albert even throws in a story about how he stood up to Harvey Weinstein while the disgusting predator was still a power-player in the business.
Do yourself a favor and listen to the entire episode. There are knowledge bombs drop throughout!
Enjoy my EPIC conversation with Albert Hughes.
Alex Ferrari 2:20
Well guys, the waiting is over. I've been pumping this episode up for a while because it is arguably one of the best times I've ever had doing the indie film hustle podcast. Today's guest is Albert Hughes. Albert came up in the 90s in the same kind of time period as Kevin Smith, Tarantino Singleton, Spike Lee Robert Rodriguez, in that school of filmmakers, and they their breakout hit, which was menace to society which he co directed with his brother Allen, which he followed up with dead presidents American PAMP then he went on to direct from hell with Johnny Depp, then the book of Eli with Denzel Washington, and most recently alpha that just came out in 2018. Albert is an adjust a not only a cinephile, but a technical juggernaut when it comes to the technical aspects of filmmaking. I just had so much fun talking to Albert. We go over how he came up in the business, doing music videos for Tupac when Tupac was no buddy. His stories about his adventures or misadventures in Hollywood are amazing. I mean, just the story of Harvey Weinstein and what he did to Harvey is worth the price of admission alone. It's just we just had so much fun talking. And I'm not going to talk anymore, guys, because as you can tell, this is a three hour conversation and I thought of breaking it apart. But after talking to a lot of the tribe members, one on one, they said, Nah, man, just let it go. So that's what I'm gonna do. So without any further ado, please enjoy this epic conversation with filmmaker Albert Hughes. I would like to welcome Albert Hughes to the show. Thank you so much for being on the show, brother.
Albert Hughes 4:19
Oh, you're welcome. Um, thank you for having me. Because excuse my Corona beer. If you're doing a video. Everybody's got one now even the ladies
Alex Ferrari 4:28
The ladies my my Corona haircut. That's why that's why I have my COVID haircut. That's why I have my hat on all the time. Man, thank you so much for being on the show brand. I've been a fan of yours, man since since the since the 90s message you came out with menace to society. You know, you were in that group of you know, I'm an IT skater. You and I are pretty much the same vintage as far as age is concerned. So, you know, want to get into how you started and everything. But there was that moment in time and that early 90s I call it the like the Sundance time. And like every the independent independent film, as we know it today started in the 90s, not the 80s independence or the 70. But the 90s independent film, as we know it today started in the 90s. And you were in that crew, you were in the Rodriguez and, and spike and Singleton and Ed burns, and you know, Linkletter and Kevin Smith, that whole group, there was like, every week, it almost felt like there was a new million dollar deal, you know, came out. Yeah, who's that I never heard from. But yeah, all those guys came out around that time. And it was, it was such a magical time for filmmakers. Because man, it literally felt like every month, there was like an El Mariachi story or minister society or a boys in the hood, or, you know, or clerks. It was a crazy time, man. So you know, Well, listen, before we get into them, how did you get into the business? How did you get started? Cuz you started off young. You started off young?
Albert Hughes 5:57
Yeah, I mean, in hindsight, looking back in it, you know, I don't how old are you? Actually?
Alex Ferrari 6:01
I'm 46. So you're 48? Right.
Albert Hughes 6:03
Okay Yeah. 48 about to turn 49. Right.
Alex Ferrari 6:06
So we're similar vintage.
Albert Hughes 6:09
Yeah, exactly. The wine is released the same five years. It, it's weird. When you look back, and you're in your 40s. And you look back at your early years, and you go, wow, you know, it could seem like a struggle. I can see like, it happened quick, or whatever you may think but we literally had like, overnight success. But looking back on it, you know, I mean, at 18 doing music videos, at 19 doing music videos, and then at 20 doing a movie, you know, and we were we were so anxious to like, prove ourselves. And our mother would constantly you know, be on us about like, oh, why do you keep comparing you? Why do you guys keep comparing yourself to someone like Martin Scorsese? Don't you realize that man, it's 50 years old. He's had a life. And you know, you can't put that pressure on yourself. Right? So when I look back at how it all began, it basically was like, you know, it started with our mother giving us a video camera, which is a, you know, well known story about us at age 12. And we were just fooling around with it and making shows for ourselves. And then eventually, when we got in high school, we were doing public access kind of stuff. You know, it was mostly comedy, you know, and we did kind of like an A living color before and living color was out of like a comedy sketch show. I play a why No, my brother would play this or that, you know? And then and then somewhere around the 11th grade. I don't know if you want the longer short answer I can give you
Alex Ferrari 7:35
However you would like.
Albert Hughes 7:37
Okay, you can cut me off when you want. You're the host Oh, by the way, you get that Yoda in the background. I got a baby Yoda up there on my TV.
Alex Ferrari 7:48
Well played, sir. Well, I have a look. All the way in the back. I got my baby. My baby yoda. Oh, no, like underneath the hulk's. He's very little I haven't. I can't bring myself to bring like the life size Yoda in the house because I already got the baby Yoda because I already got a life size. Yoda, I'm good.
Albert Hughes 8:06
That's the life size Yoda. Yeah. And that's a cool, cool space you got there. Thank you. So anyways, um, we were we were in the 11th grade. And, you know, we both got girls knocked up and pregnant, you know, or high school years were kind of whatever. And I decided to drop out and go to film school. LA City College, basically, right. And I had this master plan of like going to UCLA or USC film school. And all I had to do was a couple years in a community college. Good. See, see average, and then I can transfer I have this weird plan. Anyways, by the time I got to film school, my brother hadn't joined me because he was in love with the mother of his kid. And I was 18 surrounded by like, you know, 50 year old people, 30 year old people, 40 year old people, because it's Community College, right. And they had a pretty good film film program. And I was just pumping up these like super eight shorts. But by then I was so advanced, I didn't know the technology the term or you know, but I do remember the day that the first project was the teacher said, go out and shoot a wide shot. A close up a Dutch till. So I took my cam camera I borrowed from a friend's father a super eight camera, the black and white roll of film and went out with my brother and shot this. processed it came back and projected it to to my brother and you know, halfway through it. He goes What the fuck is this? I go, What do you mean? He goes, this look that we've been after our whole life. What is this? I said this is film film. It's a chemical process. That shit we've been doing is video. That's what we were doing comedy. And from that day forward, we basically were doing drama right. So I did, I did one short my first show was called menace to society to society. But it wasn't the movie that eventually it became It was like chasing you know about a guy coming out of the bank with money and getting shot and chasing the guy that shot them and that was my brother. And then I did it. another phone call but drive by, right. And I'm at that time and I may be getting too much into the weeds here. You know digital editing ever wasn't even, there's nothing around it was a flatbed still nothing. No flatbed and herbig spicers like for the little super eight film and real the real stuff. And I was frustrated in my first project that it was so slow because I was used to doing tape the tape at the public access place, you know? So I told my teacher you know, I this is frustrating like that, basically was saying the future is not this. This is 100 year old technology. He's like, well, Albert, you know, you can you can edit it at your public access place, tape the tape if you want. But if it's considered one of the better films of the year, we're not guaranteeing we're going to screen it at the end of the year because we project so it Okay, so I wouldn't did it on video. It ended up being the best film of the year in that in that class. And they rolled in the TV set. Sure enough, he showed that
Alex Ferrari 10:58
Lesson lesson to all the children out there just do you do it. Do you?
Albert Hughes 11:03
Do you? Exactly. There's a lot of stuff detailed and get into there. But what happened was those films were integral to getting us into the business basically. Right. So it first first with music videos, which we never wanted to do, really, we love music videos, but we wanted to be filmmakers, right. So at this key moment, I had my second film called The drive by one of my older friends in class, he was 45 years old, you know, right around your age. His name was Roberto, I think he was Cuban, too, by the way. And he said, Albert, you should come bring your film to my film party this weekend. Um, you know, it's one of the better cons. You know, I was so shy back then I'm like, whatever. Meanwhile, my brother and me show up to this party, show the film. And there's a crowd of people around and one of my classmates as a woman in Kelly was dating a guy who was the brother of Tamra Davis, who was a director at the time with music videos of hip hop music videos, eventually did see before and Happy Gilmore and stuff like that, right? This white one. So he was there, the brother camera, David's was there because he was in a relationship with Kelly, who was in my my school. And they both came up to me and said, Hey, you know, his sister, so and so you guys should hook up with her. She She can help you, you know, get into the business. I'm so shy at the time. I'm trying. I'm just backing away from the conversation, right? My brother grabbed the guy Tom and puts them in a corner and just like give me your information now. Right? Had my brother not done that? I don't know that we would be in the business today. Had I not gone to that party and had my brother not done that. Right? That that was all very that kind of aha moment that that sparked everything basically. Right. So skip to a week later. Tamra Davis wants to meet us at Astro burger on parent you know, right, right next to Paramount on Melrose. Yeah, we go there, you know, blonde lady, very kind of quiet. And she's there with this guy who must be her boyfriend. And he's not talking he just eaten french fries. And ketchup is falling off his face. And she's telling us how to build a real and we should you know, send it to these record companies and how to write a treatment. All this stuff. He's gaming given us game. And we're so distracted by the guy because he just ketchup is dropping everywhere. Like Who the fuck is this guy? Right? Turns out that was Mike defund the Beastie Boys. And they shortly married after they're after. But we knew the Beastie Boys. Well, we didn't recognize that as being Mikey would like who's this weirdo with CUT TO she has come over her house. And she shows us how to make you know, like, reels on VHS. And we start dropping them off at like delicious binome who, you know, they weren't paying anyone to us, you know, Hollywood Records and the Disney lot. And that was another crucial story right there. Who was at the time we were driving to the Disney lot. And my brother got into one of the biggest arguments in our in our lives. And I was saying this is a waste of time. Like Fuck this. I was so introverted and shy and not social. Then I didn't realize my brother was he was a producer type. He was a hustler. Right? He was like, No, we gotta do this. And we're fighting. We're fighting. We drop off that tape at the Disney a lot on dopey lane, right? The record company called and meanwhile at home we're I think we're 18 years old. Our mother's like Yeah, but five applications that jobs every day, you got to get out of bed and when I come home, you got to be doing chores and all this crazy shit. And we were just be laying in bed all day. If a car pulled up, we jump up and act like we're doing something right. So one day we're both in our separate bedrooms like napping and I hear the phone ring a week or two after we dropped off the tape at Hollywood Records. And when the phone rang and I heard my brother's voice, His disposition and how it went past five minutes. I said that's our first job. I know it, I feel it. And it was it was basically like a spin off group. on digital underground, called raw fusion, we had $30,000 to go up to Oakland and shoot this music video on. And that began the career right there. Right. And then, you know, minutes came, we were developing that along, and there's more kind of details on that. But that's the long and short of how we kind ofcracked it.
Alex Ferrari 15:20
So then, so then you're working with, you know, digital underground, and that crew of people and anyone who doesn't know digital underground is please Google it. But there was a unique there was a specific dude that was hanging around carrying some crates for digital underground back then. His name is to pack I think, two pack knobs to five, obviously.
Albert Hughes 15:42
Yeah, he helped us and we helped him it was weird. It was like, my brother tells the story much better than I do. But we were up there. And you know, money B is the rapper and rock fusion. And he had his DJ named Dave a white guy. And our first day up, there was let's go to they wanted to go to Waffle House. So we go to Waffle House. And, you know, some of the guys from Digital underground are there. And there's two pocket. Tupac is not known at the time. He doesn't have he has juice in the can, but it hasn't come out. Right. He has a record deal with Interscope, but it hasn't come out. We just know that this guy's hilarious because he just cracking on everybody at the table pointed doesn't like just destroying people with his mouth, you know, and you know, from hit him up and records like that season. he's a he's a master shit talker, right? Like, who is this dude? And we're just laughing at them. And then my brother tells the group like we're shooting them all kept him calm, because we don't want to put them in the intro of the video. And if you look at the video, now it's on YouTube. It's called a rock fusion is a group. The track is called Throw your hands in the air. The group come down the staircase, the duo in two pockets that sitting next to which is his name our Schottky, right. And so he was in the video and and he's magnetic, you can see already leading to start, right. So we were in a break in the video. And he says, Hey, here's brothers, because that's what everybody call us. You know, he's both come over here. He's hanging out the front of this, this car. And he said, Listen to this track, and he starts playing this track. He goes that's on my album. It's coming out on Interscope in a few months. And I would like y'all to do the music video. You know, we're in our first review, and this guy's telling us he's gonna give us a music video. We didn't believe them like yeah, okay, cool. Whatever, right? Three weeks later, sure enough, we're doing his first music video. And we do his following music video, and we do a third music video for him. And, and at the time, we did his first music video, he had his first music video he we were all staying in a hotel in West Hollywood. And I may get this wrong because my brother disagrees with me. I remember we got invited me my brother got invited to a early screening of Jews on the Paramount lot. Right. Right. And, and. And we invited to pot to come with us. Right? So we take him to see his own movie that he hasn't seen yet. And we watched this movie and we're like, oh my god, this guy's incredible. Like his acting the way the camera loves him. And we'd already figured out some of that stuff, right? We take it back to the hotel, he goes into this jealous rage about some other famous girl he was messing with me found out some other famous guy was messing with her. And he calls us down to his room and we go down to his room. And it was the first time that we've seen he shaved his hair in a drunken rage, because he had stress marks, you know, clumps of hair missing. And that was also the first time we saw his dark side. You know, the the jealousy, you know, the rage, the pettiness kind of stuff. But what happened after he saw juice was he transformed into that character up on the screen. And we slowly started see that happening over the course of our working relationship with him. Right.
Alex Ferrari 18:54
But he wasn't. But he was I don't mean to interrupt you. But he when you before then before he saw that it saw that image of himself. He was not. He was just just a smart
Albert Hughes 19:07
With more along the lines of like a Chuck D or Kara's one, a very conscious rapper. And even if you see his early, digital underground stuff, it was all Afro centric, right? Black Panther background, very well read and very intelligent, right? You can string together like words, you know, you'd have to look up at the source basically right? In what he did with the thug life stuff that most people don't know is that he created a persona and he dummied himself down just to go into the kind of gangster I remember he was just as fascinated with Eazy E as me and my brother work in NWA who we were very close to easy at the time he knew was before we made it, and he took us under his arm for like three months during the summer of 9091. And he knew we had a relationship with easy and then he wanted easy to be in his first music video on easy kind of bullshit at us didn't show up. But you could The early seeds of like he was fascinated more by gangster rap. You know, he was fascinated by the conscious stuff, but he was really drawn to the gang in the trigger was juice. He just saw that character. And he goes, I got it. You know, he didn't say that to us. That's just our theory, you know?
Alex Ferrari 20:16
Right right now, so, so you guys do these music videos and you're getting some obviously you're starting to get a little heat. And for everybody listening, you know, it was the late 80s, early 90s that was a whole different world. Like if you were doing music videos, there wasn't a lot of people doing music videos, you know, there was nothing compared to today like what anybody with an iPhone is doing the music therapists figure them out. Yeah, exactly. Now they're spitting them out like I remember when I was in Miami during those years, you know, I remember budgets of like 150 $200,000 for like B and C level x not like not like top level top level you talk a half mil mil now
Albert Hughes 20:56
David Fincher is mine Oh yeah, I mean, he was he was the basis where he was he was like where you see a sugar like I might as well turn up a glove you know?
Alex Ferrari 21:07
Like oh no Janie's Got a Gun.
Albert Hughes 21:09
Oh my god.
Alex Ferrari 21:10
Yeah, I mean, he's making epic movie. Oh,
Albert Hughes 21:14
Express yourself. Like over Madonna. George Michael thought like, it was insane.
Alex Ferrari 21:19
No, no. Fair. Everyone listened and Fincher man. I mean, like, I mean, that time I my buddy worked the propaganda and he used to send me Yeah, Fincher demo reels this before the internet. So I would just watch all of Fincher and spike Jones and and Fuqua and all those guys. And it was both interviewed. He was Yeah, so I could imagine like, you're making Brenda's got a baby, which is an amazing music video. But then you got Fincher doing express yourself and like, how much like he his bill Metropolis like?
Albert Hughes 21:47
Yeah, exactly. Robin, it was a bad, it's still going on with me nowadays, I always have an eye on him. Because I'm very technical. I like editing, I like shooting, you know, I do a lot of this and my all time and I see what he's, he's doing. And I always keep my eye on him. Because he's a, he's a very, very, you know, extremely technical director, you know, and, for anybody that's trying to get into this business, trying to be a director or a filmmaker, it's like, you got to go the, you know, take, take a cue from Hitchcock or David lean is like, the first thing is, get into the editing, learn how to edit, because if you learn how to edit, you're going to be a better filmmaker. You know, it's like sparring in boxing, you know, we don't spar, you're going to be shooting the ring. It's a bad analogy. But you know, if you don't do that one thing, you're never going to develop as quickly, you know,
Alex Ferrari 22:42
agreed, agreed. 100%,
Albert Hughes 22:44
Finchers mind is an editor. He's not really a physical editor, but he has the mind of an editor
Alex Ferrari 22:48
No question. No question at all. So so you now so you're doing these music videos. So now you're getting a little heat on you. Because it's the 90s in and you're doing is a smaller pool of people. So you're getting attention. Yeah, there's no internet, there's like an A such weird thing to say. But like, there's no internet, there's no YouTube, there's no like, MTV is still MTV. And then you start getting some heat on you, you guys are developing minister society. So then you from my understanding you you got to set up over a new line, how did that whole how to administer society even come about? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Albert Hughes 23:31
What was interesting, it was like, my brother and I had an idea, you know, 15, that we wanted to do this kind of hood story. But our perspective is we wanted to, you know, have it be told from the point of view of this, this kid that just got corrupted by you know, nature versus nurture. And he got corrupted by both, basically right. At the time that we we got to the age where we're about to start doing music videos. We were at a production company that we were assigned to called the underdog film, which is a black owned Film Company in LA. And they were doing a music video for the boys in the hood soundtrack. We tell the boys in the hood trailer and we're like, oh, it's over. Somebody already beat us to it, right. Were in the production company at the time. They you know, they insert the clips into the music videos from the movie back then, you know, and and we they had two three quarter inch tapes. You know, the movie was split in two, and his closet room with a with a TV and a playback thing. And we decided to work one day, let's just go watch this thing to see what we're before we give up on our dream, you know, so we watch it and halfway we're just looking at each other going. This is really spoon fed. You know, this is kind of its weak compared to what we want to do, like stylistically and thematically it's, it's not as potent as but we want to do. And at the same time we had saw James almost American meme, which blew our minds. Yes. And that actually that actually made minister so A harder movie because we saw that were like, Oh shit, we gotta, we gotta at least be where that movie is. So my brother took the lead in developing the script while we were 18 doing these music videos. And he would show me like 10 pages or 20 pages, you know, from our friend, Tiger Williams. And at the time, it was called rampage. Right? The script was called rampage. Nice. And there was no liquor, liquor store opening, there was no videotape that was going throughout the movie. And at the time, I started experimenting with with marijuana, you know, we relate to marijuana, like we're 80 or 90. Again, I was really introverted or shy and socially awkward. So I started reading the script as more and more pages came in. And then I spoken when I went to my room, and I came back to my brother and Tiger said, we need to have an opening scene that knocks people's socks off. Like they need to know when they see this opening scene, the rest of the movie, this is what you're in for, basically, right. And so I pitched them, the opening scene, not knowing that that would be a through line throughout the script, because I was the last thing we added, you know, before the script was complete. But once we complete the script, we had to line producer friends from music videos, one guy was Ruben Mendoza, the other guy was Darren, who's our who ended up being the producer, I forget his last name, though, there in Scott, who produced one of our two pop videos, okay, so we hand them both my brother hands on both the script and says, Whoever can get it set up, you could be the producer, you know, naively thinking that that's producing work that doesn't, um, we get an agent who then moves the CA, we still haven't done anything yet, except for a few music videos. And she says, you know, new line, read your script. But they don't want to do that. I want you to go in and meet with them. They want to talk to you about last wreck and part two. So on the way over to new line on our first meeting with an executive, my brother pulls up the car to a parking meter. And he says, Listen, what that we're not doing last year, and part two, we're gonna go down pit replacements. So we go into the office and do just that. Not knowing that an East Coast exec had read the script and loved it, which put pressure on the West Coast Rep. Exactly. Right. And I'm Bob Shea, who is the owner and founder of noon line found out about the script. People were excited about it, and the wheels are starting to roll. And they he wanted he wanted to put the script on weekend read. And I think it was a Thursday or Friday, we got a call that you know, Bob Shea and everybody's gonna read it this weekend. But he hears you guys did an episode of American most wanted. And he saw your music videos, but he wants to see that episode of American most wanted. And we're like, fuck our careers already over because we did this episode. And it was horribly acted, you know, some janky direction. And it was something that me and my friends we would all just clown and we'd say line from it like it was it you know, it was it was we spooked it it was so bad. Right? Right, right. We just plowed it daily. And we buried it deep inside our like, conscious like, whatever. Now Bob Shea wants to see this. Like we're at the kind of apex of us, maybe make it in this business like it's over. So, come Monday, we said read it and he cried. And he wants to make a movie he obvious already saw that America was wanted. So we got over that hump. And that's how that's how it started.
Alex Ferrari 28:31
That's awesome. And then I know, I know, from my research, I found out that you guys were gonna have to pocket it at one point. Right? And then it kind of
Albert Hughes 28:38
Yeah he was he was actually casting it. He was actually casting
Alex Ferrari 28:41
and then it kind of went apart.
Albert Hughes 28:44
Yeah, he was disruptive in casting now, excuse me, um, rehearsal. And my brother had had, you know, a few confrontations over it. And you know, you know, this is before. You know, the thing about Tupac to be fair is that he never, he would never threatening when he was by himself. You know, he was a buck 50 we were about 200 at the time, right? And, you know, contrary to popular, you know, opinion over what happened between us. Well, he buried the hatchet with us, you know, surely before he died, but it never there would have never there was never a beat down by him or nothing. Like it was 15 guys, you know. But my brother, my brother was ballsy with him, my brothers stood up to him. And you know, at a certain point when he confronted them, he said, You know, it looks like you You want to knock a lot. And my brother always gets a smile on his face when you know, something's about to go down. And my brother is also confronted each and every one of our bullies in childhood at one point or another. He just stands up to him. So let's go. Right. So he saw some bullying going down and he just like, oh, you tried to knuckle up. And my brother stood up into parks like now call my manager. So my brother called his manager so I don't know what to do. You know? We've been very disruptive we think part of the reason was disruptive is because he wasn't in a starring role at the time and he just come up with juice and he was doing Johnson. He finished john Singleton's a poetic justice. And he just wasn't happy with the role that he accepted that he was supposed to do, which was the Muslim role, which is a very small role, right? Bob Shea numana told us that, you know, we need Platinum rappers and the movie, Tupac wasn't necessarily a platinum rapper at the time, but we had to short and other people in the movie. So we were scared of losing a movie if we had a problem with Tupac in one way. But my brother knew that it was like a situation that could be resolved because he was so disruptive, partially because he didn't know his lines. Partially because he wanted all the attention on himself. Which a true star. That's how they are and either true star or deny that. So my brother had to go tell Bob Shea at Glengarry Glen Ross premier. He goes to this Premier, Bob, we got a problem. And he tells him about this buyer. And I was like, really? Will you allow us to do that? He's, uh, yeah, he probably called up the manager, yo, it's over. We got it. We got we got a movie to make. We can't be fucking around this shit, right? It broken MTV News. And, you know, it just became this wild story. But it there wasn't it was it wasn't anything we would we would have done differently. The way my brother handled it, because again, he was more of a producer's social type back then. He couldn't have handled it better. You know, the way Tupac responded to it was, was not a good thing. You know, in we To this day, we make a project and we see something disruptive. You know, it's one thing I always tell young filmmakers, like, Don't let the cancer grow, whether it's a crew member, whether it's a cast member, amen. Whether it's you, you know, if you let that cancer grow, it will fester. And in fact, it will perfect everything. It will affect In fact, everything, kill it in the crib.
Alex Ferrari 31:56
No, without question. And it could be as something as simple as a first ad, a camera up. And all the way to the left lower. Even if I've even had me I haven't had sound guys who just had such a bad attitude. You know,
Albert Hughes 32:11
I've had that I've had, I've had operators. Yeah, well, when I didn't know how to deal with it, like me and my brother both he was more vocal, but we would both bury it and basically let it fester. And then it would explode in a different way that's not healthy, you know? Right. And as I older I will and you know, you'd learn how to be a leader of 150 people, you know, if you're paying attention, you learn how to be better at that, right. And, and what I've learned is like, you got a ball, you know, grow a pair of balls or fallopian tubes, whichever, and go corner, that person is go Yo, what's up? Because if you fuck around, you're gone. Yeah. And then the person, you know, if they're real dicks, they're gonna keep backing up. And then you got to make an example out of them.
Alex Ferrari 32:56
I had a first ad man, day one, he was older than me, obviously, a frustrated director started giving me crap. And I was paying him. I was the production company doing the TV show. And I'm like, after day one, I'm like, dude, I'll do this without you. Like I can, I can run my own set. I don't need you. And then after that, you're talking about the age thing is something we ran into a lot. Oh, I'm sure yeah, of course, cuz you were like, especially back then, like nowadays, it's even a little bit more accepted. Because not every like, you know, if you're 20 something you could be directing Black Panther, you know, or, or something like that. Were back in the night, then that old school mentality, man was, if you had a 45 year old or 50 year old, and had 22, and I'm working for a 21 year old director. Oh, man.
Albert Hughes 33:44
I mean, we we there will be several occasions where you walk into setting grips ago here, kid, put that sandbag over there, not knowing we were the director, and then launch it, but we're so sorry. We sit down like man, whatever we are meaning on a movie. There are actors talking shit to us in our fourth movie, like this movie and shit. It ain't gonna be shit. You guys aren't shit. Like we're like
Alex Ferrari 34:07
This is rough. I just want to tell stories.
Albert Hughes 34:10
Yeah, this is rough, but the one thing we had was each other.
Alex Ferrari 34:15
Yeah, man, that must be awesome.
Albert Hughes 34:18
If it was just one of us, and you're getting picked up like that, and you don't have a partner to say, you know, compare notes. It would have been wrong, you know, and my brother was a really great fullback, you know, for me, you know, because I was quite sensitive and you know, inward and all that other stuff, you know, and it took me a while to grow into expressing myself and learning how to lead a crew and and in doing the right thing, you know, and, you know, we also don't like screamers and yellers and tension. Yeah. We just don't we don't deal with that. You know, you know, we've had our little outbursts every once in a while, but we're usually going against other dickheads you know, like, if there's a ticket, we can pull our ticket card out to you. No. And we also learned, we learned about ego. And this business too, which is, you know, you hear stories about, like, directors having an ego or, or an actor having an ego. And then you may meet that person that the story is out about. And you're like, Oh, this person is actually a cool motherfucker, right? Is not the traditional horror story that you've heard about. And then we realized that that person probably used their ego to suppress another ego. So the horror story about them was about suppressing another ego that was out of control, right, which you have to do sometimes, like, and I think that's the only time it's healthy to, in a collaborative sense. Use your ego is, you know, mine only comes out when I feel like somebody's acting out. And their talent level is not at the same level as their ego. You know, the skills of a talent, just, this is a way out balance. And I'm like, well, this MMA fighter right here, and these get verbally smacked, you know, and then my ego comes out, like, why are you wasting my time? You know, and that's a healthy way to use it, you know? I don't know, they're just all these little tricks you learn, you know, people and groups, and, you know, group group think too, it's like, you know, a production is like an organism. And it it thinks in this one way, right? And it doesn't matter if you're Tom Cruise, or Tom Hanks, if they hate you, they hate you. Oh, yeah, they're not going to go, they're not going to bend over backwards for you and go an extra out for you. If they if they as a group think don't like you. You're done.
Alex Ferrari 36:33
Just ask George Lucas. On the original Star Wars. Like they. They're like, no, it's the time we I don't care about your damn big gorilla thing over there.
Albert Hughes 36:43
And they always every all the American filmmakers are always quick to talk shit about the British. Yeah, those are some of the hardest workers on the planet. You give them their tee time. They don't one thing they don't do those Brits, it's they don't come to you pushing scripts on you and shit like that. They're like, well, you went to Catholic camera. gov, you know, and they, they're, they're specialists at their job. And I take pride in you know, the grip is going to be a grip, the operator can be an operator, right? They don't have ambition, delusions of ambitions beyond, you know, they're just professionals,
Alex Ferrari 37:11
Also, in other words, so you mean to tell me that occasionally, the grip will bust out a script to go, Hey, listen, man, I know, I'm here to scripting.
Albert Hughes 37:19
Or, you know, the American way, the American way, of course,
Alex Ferrari 37:23
It's like that great movie living in Oblivion, where the where the DP is always walking around with a script in his back pocket trying to trying to cast the star of this.
Albert Hughes 37:30
Or the, or the American actor and a British actor who was an American actor will come up to you and say, you know, it might be a bit player, he might just go or she may go, you know, I'm standing here on the street corner, and I'm looking at that window over there, I think, I think you should get a shot at a window, and then turn around and get a close up on me. And I'm Samaritan, alright, and just walk away. Right? A British actor would never do that. He just they they know their lane. You know, it's one thing to be collaborative. And like, you know, my character, I think needs this or whatever, right? You're telling me which way to put my camera? There. We got a problem.
Alex Ferrari 38:09
Trust me I know that. But isn't it? Isn't it funny that everything we just talking about this is not a chapter in, in film school. Like this is not something that's talked about ever about the politics, it should be a course called the politics of the set. You're so right, you know, the politics of the set. Like, you know, being a younger being a younger director. I mean, I've had experiences where I've had older DPS, I'm sure you've had this two older DPS who come in and you're like, I want to move this camera over here. They're like, you know, you don't understand like, I'm gonna, and they'll fight you or, or or an established production designer, and they don't collaborate. They just push their egos up, because they're 25 years in the business more than you. They don't talk about that stuff.
Albert Hughes 38:52
It's interesting. Yeah. I think we should wallow in this for a second. Sure.
Alex Ferrari 38:56
Absolutely. Oh, absolutely. This is gold Oh,
Albert Hughes 38:59
Oh, oh, I dont want to name names, but there's a dp we work with a very experienced, he's a dear friend of mine now. But we had a rough go on one movie, right? A guy a white man. And we can go through the catalog and figure it out.
Alex Ferrari 39:11
I think I know who it is. I think I know who it is. I won't say that. But I think he would.
Albert Hughes 39:15
And he's a dear friend of mine. No, I love them. But we had a rough go. And it was, it was a territorial thing. And with a white man thing, you know, you know, and I hate to bring the race thing into it. Right. And then I want to talk about something that backside about what you said the politics of a crew. That's very important. Um, and I would say, Okay, I want this wide shot. And by this time, I'm well established as firmly, you know, entrenched in the visual style of my movie with my brother, right? I design them top to bottom, I draw every shot, right. There's no mistaking that. I'm not handing off that baton. And I said, You know, I need this shot because it will get me excited for the rest of the day. And he's like, No, I think it should be over here. So I let them have it the first day, right? And then he does something in front of, you know, a really big actor. Remember that we're setting up a shot and he kind of pushes aside he goes, that's what you guys think, Well, here's what I think. And he puts his hands out and starts in the big, big after, take a step back and just watch us wait for what we do. And my brother is so bold, sometimes he just goes, that's what you're gonna do. Well, here's what we're gonna do. And steps out does that right? Meanwhile, I'm having like, my costume designer, my production designer and a few other crew members come up to me like the second week and say, you know, this guy's being very condescending to you. You're realizing Oh, it's uh, yeah, my chair. Another person completely. You know, he'd been very upset yet. Yep. So I go up to the guy. I said, Come here. And this is when I learned to really check someone really, right away. I said, I have ever brought ego to you. And said, No. I said, Have I have ever disrespected you? He said, No. I said, Well, why the fuck are you doing it to me? And he goes, Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't realize it. I'll work on it. I said, Yeah, you do that. And I walked away, right. And that day moving forward, you know, we had this weird relationship. And I understand, you know, part of the things you got to understand where they're coming from, and you know, in their insecurities, or their egos or whatever it is, right. But what I learned in that particular movie, which started on from hell was, you've got to get the crew on your side, forget about the DP for a second, right? I'm talking about the collective organism I was talking about. And the way you get them on your side is partly through. You know, it sounds manipulative, you know, it's not meant to be is that you have to be kind to them, you know, and you have too many eyes. And, and the biggest thing is, you actually literally have to touch them, you have to pat them on the shoulder, make eye contact with them, you know, let them know that you feel them. Right. Watch out for them. Make sure they're not being abused. Make sure they're not going over an hour's, which I don't like doing anyways. Right? And it's, it's, it's crazy what can happen if you just do a few things to make your crew like you. If they love you, they will do anything for you. You know, if you need that 16 they will do it for you. If they don't forget about it, but it was easy for me because I was growing also into being more verbal and being more extroverted because of the job. And I loved and I thrived off of like taking care of my crew. Because I knew if I took care of them, they will take care of me and they're in and in the end. They're taking care of your baby. And you don't want your babies that are just disgruntled.
Alex Ferrari 42:28
No no that's imagine imagine you piss off your babysitter's taking care of your babies as you walk out for dinner with your with your wife. Listen, bitch, I need you. And like and then take care of my kids bye
Albert Hughes 42:42
You'd be like Hannah walk the cradle. Next thing you know you're babysitters breastfeeding your baby.
Alex Ferrari 42:48
Oh, kickin it old school in Hannah That Rocks the Cradle reference. I like it. You only I was like the extra. Rebecca de mornay I forgot who the guy was. But that was 1990 because I was working in a video store in 90. And that was one of the films that went through my my perfu there's like always still another one.
Albert Hughes 43:10
Which one was your was it somebody else was the other? Who was Amanda Annabella
Alex Ferrari 43:14
Shira and Alicia. Okay. It was
Albert Hughes 43:16
Alex Ferrari 43:17
Yes, it is. Yeah, it was if gas good movie man. That was a lot of fun. That was a good that's a nice 90 I don't
Albert Hughes 43:23
That was a Hollywood pictures movie.
Alex Ferrari 43:25
It was a Hollywood. It was a Hollywood pictures movie, man. She's like, like I said, there's like a certain frame like 87. And like, 93. I go toe to toe with anybody on on studio direct. When it came out? Yeah.
Albert Hughes 43:40
I mean, look what Goodfellas was 90. Yeah, but developers 90 Yeah. Warner Brothers. 90. Yeah. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 43:47
Yeah. And that that that movie had a real big influence in you guys. Right?
Albert Hughes 43:52
Yeah, I was in film school when it came out. And I strangely enough, you know, the girl I brought up earlier who was girlfriend, boyfriend, girlfriend with Tamra Davis, with her and a few other classmates. And I hated the movie at first. Like I was like the pocket Scorsese doing because I was such a Scorsese fan from like, all his older stuff. And I'm like, this is unwieldy the cameras and I didn't realize what I was saying. Until like, a year later, I got an A video. And me my brother and our friends. We were just like, you know, like everybody, you know, it was like scope, the second Scarface. We knew everything. And I learned and we learned so much from that movie. And you know, there would be no voiceover in minutes. If it wasn't for Goodfellas. You know, that the the kind of techniques that we were using were directly grabbed from from that movie. And it was interesting. There was a I mean, it's always nice when you're coming up and you see like two of your, you know, favorite filmmakers talking about you. And there was a New Yorker piece between Woody Allen in Scorsese in the early 90s. Like after we did menace and they're talking about us, and Woody Allen's like black kids, black kids in LA you know, those black kids and Scorsese is like, Oh, you mean the Hughes brothers? There's like, yeah, yeah. Well, you know, they did that movie. And you know, I think they're really influenced by you know, your movie. Goodfellas, and you can see it it was it was all in the movie and what he was absolutely right, right? And Scorsese says, No, no, I don't see it at all. I think they did their own thing, basically, right? Scorsese was wrong. He was just being modest.
Alex Ferrari 45:22
That's, that must be an amazing experience having Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese having a conversation about your film.
Albert Hughes 45:29
Oh, yeah. No, it was it was mind blowing. It was almost like, you know, my hero was always Scorsese coming up, you know, you know, from age 13 through 18, or 20. Like he was the god he still is, you know, yeah, um, but to see Woody Allen, who you love referring to you as the black guys out now? Like, like, you know, fuck off you. Go further with your daughter. Keep your mouth shut,
Alex Ferrari 45:53
Ohh!!. Exactly, exactly. So now minister, society comes out. And it's a hit. And people and it's critically acclaimed, and it makes money in the box office. How I want you to tell people in the 90s like we were talking about earlier, you were in that crop. You were you were in the early crop of the early 90s. have all these, you know, directors that came out during that time. How did the town treat you after that came out? Like it cuz I always love asking people when they have like a big hit. You know how the town reacts to them. So I'd love to hear those stories.
Albert Hughes 46:26
It's crazy. It's like, it's one thing you know, you're Cuban. I'm biracial. You know, you run into racism in Hollywood, right. But what we learned off of a successful movie, whether it's critical or financial, is that Hollywood actually doesn't see color. You making a money?
Alex Ferrari 46:43
Only green, it only colors green. Oh,
Albert Hughes 46:46
Yeah. And then, you know, they'll see black after that. But if you put green in front of it, we were getting offered, like, you know, Batman and Superman, all the big studios were off. And I was like crazy movies that we knew we weren't capable of making. Like, at that time, we didn't have the skill set. We weren't really pop filmmakers, you know. And we never accepted those those kind of offers. We got generous on offers, you know, so much so that we were like, it made us blush. Like, we just, I mean, we just did a movie, like one movie. Like, there were heaping you know, everything on us, you know, like, the label of our tour, you know, all this stuff that it was the
Alex Ferrari 47:21
It is the 90s to mid 90s. They were doing that stuff, man. Like anybody that had it was a little bit remote successfully. You're like, Oh, I just made like a how much was I was? How much was menace? The budget? 3.4 in the end? So 3.4 $3.5 million. Right? So Oh, here, here's 100 million. Go do Batman like, that's insanity?
Albert Hughes 47:41
No, we knew that. That would be the end of us. If we did it. I mean, I want to tell you about the Cisco neighbor moment. But first I want to tell you about this agent who, who pulled us in a room one day, I think we were at ICM. And he was a big agent of time. He's like, Steven Seagal was big at the time. And you know, back then $5 million paydays for directors weren't weren't that common. No. Steven Seagal wants to meet with you guys about his next movie. And we're like, No, absolutely not. No, no, you guys got to take this seriously. Like, absolutely not. When I'm when I'm making a Steven Seagal movie. He's like, well, what if I told you that we can pay you five? Me and my brother? And I'm like, No, because Are you guys crazy, you're gonna turn out by me like, yeah, we'll turn on 5 million, because that will be the last 5 million we ever make. So we have to live off that for the rest of our lives where our career will be over. We cannot we're not capable of making that movie. Right. So those kinds of things. And then if you roll back to before the movie came out, we our third game in shooting, we said our career was over. We just didn't understand the nuance of film day and how you know, ebbs and flows. And sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose, you know, it's a battle. You don't win enough battles. If you want enough balance, you might have a good movie, right? When we thought the movie was was shit, we thought it was terrible when we got done with it, right? And then these early press screenings started happening where they give you the bird from the press, and they're watching these dirty dupes. And it was glowing. fuck is going on here. Like we think this is terrible. And next thing you know, we're in Cannes Film Festival, we're walking down the promenade. And our publicist gives us a transcript of Cisco neighboured. And they're going about the movie saying it's top 10 of the year. And we're reading the transcript as we're reading the transcript and we're our minds are blown because we remember them reviewing Scarface, only we watch Cisco, religiously, right? As we're reading it, there's a tap on our shoulder. And we turn around on this Roger Ebert. He's like, Hey, guys, I just wanted to meet you. Is it okay? If I take a picture? And we're like, Yeah, sure. Let's go. You know, our minds are blown because the thing that we haven't talked about it much when we do interviews, it's like, thinking that you have something that's not great. And then it responses which you would hope for is if you did something You intended to do basically right? And and and how it took almost five years for it to sink in with us. Like what actually happened in that movie? What is it people are seeing. And I remember, I think three years after it was released, or four years after it was released, I had a new house and LaserDisc collection and, you know, 35 inch screen back when they'll go popular. And that's let me just watch this and try to understand what happened. And then I put it in, and I was getting, like chills. And the only thing I could come away with as I go, Oh, it was a certain energy. Because that movie, you know, it was directed by 20 year olds acting 20 year olds acting in it, it was, you know, 20 something year old writing it. It was a youth movie made by us, but you know, they were in it there behind the seat. And there was just this weird, wild kind of naive energy, you know, not that that's what other people see in it. But that's what I saw on it. And I said, it was an undeniable, you know, youthful exuberance, danger. You know, when you're young, you take stupid chances, you know, like those kids in the movie, the same thing as a filmmaker, you know, it's like, you're, you were talking about it earlier, before we got on, it's like, you know, you don't know what you don't know. Oh, no. So you're like, Okay, we can do this, we can do that. And then, and that, partially, that's a really great thing. And then, as you said earlier, it's like, you know, you see these kids coming in, like,
Alex Ferrari 51:26
No, and this is the thing, and this is where the balance is with, with, you know, filmmakers who have been around for a bit is, you know, especially if you live in this town, you become cynical, and you're like, oh, that can't be done, or that can't be done, or this can't be done. So you've got to balance reality with that complete naivete of the film, still, because I remember walking into film school for the first time, and going, Oh, I'm gonna do this Scorsese shot, I'm gonna do this Fincher shot, I'm like, and you, but you don't even know how you even can get there, where you can't see you can't be all the way over there. But you can't be all the way to that will never work, you'll never be able to get anything. Like you've got to balance that out. And that's really hard to do. But my job is I see my mission in life is to let filmmakers know, you're gonna get punched in the face. Everyone gets flushed in the face, you're not going to dodge it. We all everybody from Scorsese to Spielberg to Kubrick to lean, everyone got punched, and you're going to get punched a lot. It's how you prepare yourself, how you take the punch and how you keep going. And maybe, maybe occasionally, you'll dodge a punch here or there. Because that's experience is that fair. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Albert Hughes 52:43
So you're you're saying getting punched in the face. It's like, you know, my analogy always to people I talk to about filmmaking is like, it's, it's, it's a love hate relationship that I've always had with it right. And you wanted to get into more love love, right. And if you use the example of being in a relationship with a woman, or a woman being in a relationship with a man, it's like, you're gonna get your heart broken, of course, you are right, you're going to have really, really low days, you're going to have really, really high days to write. But if you learn how to take care of that partner, and you learn more about her, if you're a man, you can do the vice versa for the female. What she needs, what you require is to be taken care of if she's a healthy person you're in a relationship with right, she will give back to you, right? You can't go into this as a mass mass but a masturbator filmmaker, a masturbatory best? What's the word mass? But the story? I can't say
Alex Ferrari 53:35
It's not one we use every day.
Albert Hughes 53:37
Yeah, if you're if you're like self pleasuring, and there's some filmmakers out there that do it, you see them all the time, when we're very popper, makers, right? And you're like, this person doesn't give a shit about the audience. The audience is also your lover of filmmaking is your lover, right? And they're kind of one in the same, right? You have to please the audience, okay? And you have to please the filmmaking gods or goddesses basically, right? And the Lord, the more you learn about your audience, and the more you learn about filmmaking, the more happy she will be. And, you know, as they say, this old, like, it's probably not a sexist statement, you know, happy wife happy life. Right? That that's my bad analogy, basically, is like, you know, you there are certain things you can do to get yourself off, you know, in any relationship, even when you're making love, like, you know, of course, there are things you want that, that, that please you right, but ultimately, you have to please her, you know, and and yeah, even if you have the best relationship, you're gonna get punched in the nose, you know, you're gonna get your heart broken, right? You just have to get to the point where you're, you're giving up yourself, and you're also open to listening, you know, and that's one thing I've learned over the years, too, is like, especially in editing and you know, this too, I'm sure it's like, if there's a certain point when a project comes in, it starts telling you what it wants, you know, when the Edit kind of settles down, and it's like, no, don't lie. The same don't like it don't like it, it's kicking something out that you love, right? And it's like, No, I don't want it. And then and then it's telling you something else like, I, but I do need this. So go pick up this shot, go pick up this line of dialogue, or go get this insert shot, right? And then you sprinkle these little things, these macro or skinny micro nuance things in, in the complexion of the whole thing changes. Because you listen to her, you know, and they're there. If you're not listening to her. It's not going to work.
Alex Ferrari 55:31
Now, I know I have a feeling that you've had this happen, I think I think it's true that so many times I've seen filmmakers, and I'm guilty of this as well. And maybe you will, you might have been guilty about this in your career as well at one point or another with a project. Whereas you walk in with that analogy of the of the relationship, which is great. You walk in going, what can you do for me? So what can this movie? For me? It's all about me, like, I don't care about the audience. I'm like, What can this do for me for my career for what I'm doing. And I walked in a lot of times doing that. And I noticed that the projects I walked in doing that with generally didn't do what I wanted them to do. But the ones that I walked in being more of service, not only to the project, but to the audience that I was trying to serve. Man that opened up a whole lot more doors. Is that is that also fair?
Albert Hughes 56:21
No, I mean, completely. It's like, you know, I still suffer from what you're talking about, or nowadays, but you know, there's also like, this is where you have to have a long talk to yourself about what you're capable of, you know, in the Oakland A's with mine, a woman's got to know his limitations, right? what you're capable of, and what your ambitions are. And they're wrapped up in the ID and ego and all that stuff, right. And then there's also the personal kind of inward ego, which is like, I just want to flex on this to tell myself I can do this. You know, like you said earlier, the Scorsese shot at a Fincher shot, I just want to let myself know, I can do this shit, right? No, you know, no, it's not gonna, it's not gonna, it's not gonna work out. But everyone, every project, whether you're talking about the exterior thing, which you're which is a bigger point, like, if you're coming to something for the wrong reason, that's a massive thing, right? Then once you're in it, even if you're in it for the right reasons, right, trying to impose your certain desires that have nothing to do with it, every single thing I've done has that in it there, there are moments in everything a single movie, or music, video or short film, or I've imposed something that that shouldn't be in there. And so it's still a process for me of trying trying to work on that, you know, the kind of selfishness and some of the stuff I do, you know, or the self consciousness of some of the trickery I'm involved in, right. And in the style is changed because I've gotten older, which, which means become a little bit more conservative. And use a boxing analogy, like, you know, there's, there's filmmakers out there who are just coming out with the right hand, not stopping upper cuts, and they're not setting you up with the jab. The jab is, is key to setting up a knockout, you know, you're lowering your opponent to sleep, you know, you setting them up, and that's the light punch. It's not really meant for the knock on then you hit them with the right hand, or the right upper cut or right hook to the body. Right? Those are your explosive filmmaking storytelling moments, right? Whether they're visual audio or acting, right? If you just come out of box like this, some filmmakers You see, I mean, these big budget movies, they're just like, right hand at the right hand at the right hand, and you're getting desensitized, you know, and they're, you know, they're, they're using 10 shots in 10 seconds when they can be using one or two, you know, and conserving their energy. The other analogy is, you know, as you get older, you're, you know, we talked about we're in the same generation, it's like, you look at early Muhammad Ali, you look at Michael Jordan, lamb dunking in for like a butterfly sting like a bee. as they got older, they work harder, they work smarter, which is okay, now I'm gonna Rope A Dope you because I can't go around the ring as much, right? And I'm gonna, I'm gonna use you against yourself, right? And then Jordan was more like, I can't slam like I used to fadeaway jumper, same points, right? just as effective. Kind of pretty, you know? in filmmaking, it's the same thing. It's like you're when you're young, and you're doing all that goofy shit. You're like, a might be effective. Even our first movie, we did a lot of goofy shit, right? It might be effective, and it worked. But you could do the same thing with more efficiency. And, you know, you know what I'm saying? It's funny, you know, the thing you brought up earlier bill, but you know, it's like, you do have to have some that youthful ignorance a little bit. I think that's a little bit but it can't go into that point you were talking about?
Alex Ferrari 59:38
No, absolutely. And it's so so true. And this is this is from you know, two guys who are you know, knocking on the door 50 soon that it's very different than 20 something guys and you from this, this point of view this at this point in our lives, you look back and now like when I walk on set, before it was just like I gotta I had the energy or I had the strength or had to force to do a lot of stuff where now you just got to be like, you know what, man, if I do that I'm gonna burn myself out in two hours, I got to be much smarter about how I approach everything. And I'm actually doing that right now with a bunch of my projects that I'm working on right now. I'm like, you know, I have a natural, like hurricane wind force, is why I do so much what I do with all my, with all my websites and companies and podcasts. And now just gotta go, you know what, man, I can't keep this up, man, I gotta, I gotta be smarter about this, I got to like, not, you know, let's do this. And let's do that and build this over here. And you systems and all that kind of stuff. And that's not what young young filmmaker just is, like. This is like, it's like, you know, it's like Tyson, Tyson at 21. And Tyson that, what he what we just saw.
Albert Hughes 1:00:49
But I mean, it's also like, when you're in your 20s, you notice too, it's like, you can get by three hours of sleep or five months on end, show up and still do the job quite effectively, right? No, not not no more. But one thing I did I didn't learn was the cancer that is video village and sitting in a chair. You know, I learned my last movie, before my last movie I actually started doing it's like, do not sit down, do not can't do that monitor, go stand next to the camera, and have them bring a handheld to you. and engage on on every aspect of that frame. Or performance. or however you direct right? You know, if it means you're picking up a sandbag and putting it next to a dolly to stop it from rolling. If it means that you're moving something on the table, the more you hand over of yourself to that frame or that performance. And the more engaged you stay. You may be exhausted by the other day because you're standing to write. But your mind plays a trick on your on yourself. It's telling you that you're you're in this kind of days, because you're not disengaged from the process now, back in a model. Yeah, you're definitely in a zone. And I realized in my last movie, I was doing it and I loved it. I really loved that. I would just up there like constantly active never wanted my trailer to don't ever go to your trailer or my ship to pee. Right? And, you know, these bad habits you pick up from you know, our elders, you know, like people that showed us the way we're like, you know, you see like a nice shot of Coco Scorsese at the monitor, you know, nice big Italians, you know, you know, they've enjoyed their pasta and are watching a performance. They're doing their thing behind the monitor, like, I'm gonna be like that. No, no, shit.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:39
No, look, you gotta work you gotta if you're gonna study Coppola study him on the hearts of darkness, the documentary about Apocalypse Now. That's the key, he didn't stop. He was thin as hell in that movie, you can see him he was like, just
Albert Hughes 1:02:52
A bipolar Episode The whole time.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:54
And isn't it true that like, when you because I do that, too, like, I generally always walk in always moving. But the moment you sit down, the body shuts down to like, Oh, I can rest out like, Oh, I can't get it. But if you just keep going
Albert Hughes 1:03:09
At our age at our age, it's like a it's like an old car in the winter. You know, once you sit down, you get up, you start hearing all the cracking and, you know, you got to rev your engine back up, you know, like you can't, you know, be trite, where you have to go out and scrape the window, you know, shovel the driveway, shovel the driveway, you know, start the car a few times, you know, like, you don't want to restart this old car. Keep it moving.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:32
Keep motion is momentum is built up by emotion. It's funny, and everyone listen to like, these are just too old. Fuck just talking.
Albert Hughes 1:03:41
People can use it too. It's like, you know, if you're 20 or 25. And you're hearing this, it's like, yeah, engaging in the process by standing. It's a big deal. And now you're not going to your trailer. There's a lot of nuance about this meaning that we were talking about the crew earlier. It's like your crew knowing you're there. And you're not checked out in the trailer. Well, yes, he called and said, Oh, man, it does wonders is unsaid thing and like we got to get this moving. Basically, if it just like especially goes on our dp who takes on the role of, you know, this is why DPS have tremendous egos I've noticed is that they
Alex Ferrari 1:04:18
Albert Hughes 1:04:22
I didn't know that. I didn't. I didn't know that too late in my career. I'm like, oh my god. These markers have awesome egos like Jesus Christ voices come from. It's the control. They were the controlling factor on the set when the director was in his trailer. And also they had the power of magic. Back when there was film like people didn't know they're like Houdini like how did they do that? You know, it was a mystery. That was not a mystery or you see that should an HD monitor. It's like, dude, the jig is up. You got you got your 2.8 stop. Let's go to tell us.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:51
Will do that in color grade man. Let's move it along. Let's move it along.
Albert Hughes 1:04:55
It was an old reference. There you go.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:57
Yeah, I remember. Oh, geez man. I'm actually yeah. I'm transferring some old 35 I shot back in the day now to 6k just to play around with it again and this author is cross river is I shot it reversal stock. Yeah, I love working with that back like old school reversal stock and then cross processing like you know what spike did and and what MC g did back in the day. That's where I was like MC g back and then those those like, big mouth music videos and big mouthless Smash Mouth Smash Mouth music videos, and yeah, they were like super colorful and all that stuff.
Albert Hughes 1:05:33
ektachrome Kodachrome Yeah, yeah, you know, yeah.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:36
Albert Hughes 1:05:38
I had more fascinating stage on that.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:40
Yeah. And there's something to be said still, man, like, and I don't want to get into the weeds of film, man. But film film, you could do stuff in film that is still very difficult to do digitally. And it's there as its place without question. But that instant gratification, man, it's like,
Albert Hughes 1:05:57
I mean, no, like, I can't I, you know, there's a debate, you know, rage of this debate is pretty important. But really, it's like, you know, you have five these big directors that swear by film, and I was one that was very, you know, dogmatic in that to do, I'll never leave film. And then book of Eli was shot in the first red one, because I did all these tests. And then I got to the point where, you know, I love control of the image, you know, and I also real much, I also realized that I can emulate film, you know, you'll never come up with that magical thing right out of the gate, you can emulate it, right. And there's a lot of cool, cool stuff you can do with in digital games to the point right now, where if you really, really want to push it, you can get pros in the same room, and they won't know the difference, right? Oh, yeah. If you really know what you're doing, okay. My thing is, I don't want to wait overnight to see if we fucked up the exposure, you know, and I don't want any of that bad stuff. Also, like, people forget that, you know, you got guys like, Christopher Nolan talk, you know, he's hardcore in the film thing. And it's like, dude, you're going to die anyways, even though he doesn't really do a DI he actually just, you know, it's, it's going through that process to be, you know, delivered digitally, basically. Right. So it's already in a in a digital form, you know, in the final outcome, and I want to go see was that war movie, he did Dunkirk and IMAX in a proper IMAX theater, right. And the first five minutes, my goal is pretty cool. You know, two stories, you know, and you know, the images like, long I'm pretty cool, whatever. And I start seeing like, this looks like the be a bird in the sky or plane. And no, it was lint, it was here in the gate and lint, it was sticking in there for two scenes. And then I saw a talking scene between Kenneth brown on somebody else. And he shot with blue and a close up, his shot was pink, he shot was corrected, you know, it's back and forth, all the color grading was going all over the place, right? Because this is the print, and the print is very unstable. And it depends on the light in the theater, how many showings are going to show the power of being grap if a theater owner is not, you know, putting a lower wattage stuff in there, you know, that the bath that it went through at the particular time at the lab, you know, it's it's such an unstable medium, and it's so archaic to it's like, even when I was in film school, we're told that earlier, I will go over almost 120 years old, maybe more. Where we were literally using technology, every other field that you're in, whether you're building a car, or building a computer has advanced. For some reason, Hollywood is using this tool that came from 35 millimeter still film photography, right, which a lot of people don't realize. And they turned it the other way or whatever. They were doing it we're still using it. Right. And we've not modernized it. Right? And the control that comes with modernizing, I've completely let go of film. I don't even have like I don't even daydream about it. I don't have a nostalgia about it at all. I'm like, it's it's dead to me. I never want to go back right? I like the when you talk about the finished product, you know, I always add green and do stuff like that to give you the I want to emulate film. And there's a few things that filmmakers should know that gets you to that you know, it's not just grain it's the 24 frames it's the stop you use whether using shallow focus or dropping out the focus in the background right it's the shutter you know there's three or four things that you're that are going on that create that feeling with it with the audience considers film because the audience natural caught up like we are the technicals like you look at like an episode of Handmaid's Tale, you know, that shot digitally it's very filming because they want to look filmic, you know, and their their use of shallow focus is like incredible Night Show, you know, the depressing fucking show, but
Alex Ferrari 1:09:55
I can't, I can't I can't watch it anymore, but I can't like I said he was maybe Maybe now I'll go back to it. But I just like it's like it was a very difficult like we're going through enough stuff in our world right now. I can't, I can't
Albert Hughes 1:10:07
go into this now. Okay.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:09
We are living in a dystopian world with the pandemic and politics and craziness. I don't need to go watch TV about it, though. It's amazing. But I got to a certain point in that series. I was like, I'll go back but I can't No, no, I started I stopped second sits. Basically when she escaped. Spoiler alert. When she escaped that she was like running around in that like news news factory or whatever, that the newspaper factory and they got her again in the airplane. I'm like, I'm done. I can't I can't go back. I can't I can't. I can't go back.
Albert Hughes 1:10:45
You know what? That you know what that speaks to though you know it. I love the show. But what it speaks to is something we said earlier, it's like, that really isn't satisfying the audience to me. It is satisfying critics and you know, filmmaking people. As far as technique they're using sheesh, it's a self flagellating show. It's basically like your, your dish, there is no hope there like you, you want it, you want to if you want some dubs, you want some wins. And she's not getting enough wins for me, you know, to make me feel good about this whole thing. If I want to live in this dystopian society, in this show you it's depressing that I had to sit through all this shit. Like, you know the stuff. They're doing the women in there. It's very depressing show.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:22
It's a rough show. And look, I left walking dead because of it. Because the second that neguin showed up. He just started like, there was a whole season that there was no wins. There's just no wins your character. The characters I love were just getting killed and beaten. And it was just like, no, that's not good drama. Like you need to have the mouth. You got to go like you got to give them a shot. It's like when that when the when the bad guy is so overpowering, that they're just barely, like, barely can get anything. It's just like, well, what's so impressive. It's impressive.
Albert Hughes 1:11:53
It's like there's film, there's some great films that are really impressive, right? And then make no doubt but then we're talking about this thing filmmaking in the audience and the analogy of, you know, being in a relationship, it's like, you got to give us some dubs. We're gonna feel good about this relationship.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:10
Just just just a little bit. Not man. I've been always flowers on Valentine's Day. Now, always wanted to ask you, man, your second film, dead dead presidents, you know, which I absolutely loved. And, you know, was a really kind of ballsy second film, like you were saying, you were getting Batman's and superhero movies and, and things like that. But you guys wanted to tell this story. And the cast was great. It looked great. But man, the visual of the ghost mask was so powerful man. Where did that come from? Because that was like all over the marketing. Like it was just like, I can't believe no one had ever done that in a bank robbery before, you know, like, or in a heist situation before and you see it in Halloween every Halloween it still comes out. Right like so. So what so what so what
Albert Hughes 1:12:55
It was simple, it was simple. It was like it was based on this book called bloods. And it was short stories from from Vietnam from different bets. And in the kind of like, large story points and their presidents were based off of this in a certain point in that story. He was talking about the face pain. And I had I had, I forgot how he described it, whether it was white, or black or whatever. But I've been doing all this research in the Vietnam era. And I also noticed that there were protesters that were using the skeleton face, you know, they do the skeleton thing. So I combine that with what the guy was saying in the book and protest the paint and in this kind of disguise. And, and we came up with that. And then the marketing. It was Disney at the time, through Hollywood pictures, they glommed on to it. The first stuff they were showing us was like, Oh, yeah, that's it, right? They knew what to do with it right off the bat. But that movie in particular is not my proudest moment. It's like the thing I'm most embarrassed about, because they rushed us into it. Because we've got this great new deal. And this goes to something you were saying earlier about, you know, kind of, you know, for lack of a better description, like imposing your wants on a movie, right? Or even sometimes imposing your insecurities is that we knew that it was a Disney movie, right? It was being financed by Disney. So we were doing stuff like, I forgot to ask you if it's okay to curse on your show.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:17
We've been cursin quite some time. So it's okay.
Albert Hughes 1:14:21
We were so we were 22 years old or 21 making that movie. And we were so insecure about Disney funding us that we you know, we did the thing with the guts hanging out in a dig in the mouth and, you know, the pistol whipping of the guy and you know, you know those guards. In hindsight, those guards that were guarding that Federal Reserve did not deserve the beatdown that they got. Okay. And if I had it all over again there's a lot of first of all would have gotten the script right. I don't think the script was ready, right? We we were ready to make movie just barely. I'm talking about capable to clean directing to make that movie just barely. We got we got by But it goes to show it's like one of my hardest lessons is that movie, like don't run into anything just because you're hot and they want you to put this movie out. And they're just like, go, go, go, nobody's questioning the script. You know? You know, when people come up to me and talk to me about the film, and it's, it's strangely in Europe that movies above menace like more, more people, and my friends or whoever extended friends, they talk about that movie, you know, I don't know why. But I'm almost embarrassed to engage over that movie. You know, interesting, as I say, the sophomore, the sophomore Jinx, right. The sophomore Jinx was gonna hit us no matter what, okay? Because we came out so high flying. And if you look at dead presidents now, in some unknown filmmaker did it, they would be he prays will be heaped on them. But the standard for us was so high, that there was no way we're going to meet it. And, and deservedly so we shouldn't have met it, you know, but it shows you like, the dynamic you have as a new filmmaker is like, if you're unknown, and you do something halfway decent, you're gonna get wrecked. If it's done with skill, you're gonna get recognition, you know. And that's my only thing about like, you're the face painting is probably the only highlight for me.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:18
Is the movie poster. Really. I mean, it's as it as basically it's movie posters.
Albert Hughes 1:16:22
Or seeing like, Floyd Mayweather, or Puff Daddy dressed up on Instagram every Halloween like, Oh, that's kind of fun. You know, to see that.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:31
Now, as an artist, man, as directors, we are very unique and artists, because as artists, because we rarely spend time actually doing our art. Directors don't spend a tremendous amount of time directing. Unless you're Ridley Scott. That's a different conversation, because he directs before he did his first movie.
Albert Hughes 1:16:52
Oh, this question about the ask is really, I know where you're headed. But
Alex Ferrari 1:16:56
So so. So you know, we're always trying to prep and get the money and get the financing and get the scripts, right, and then gather the actors. And this takes gears, but then we get, we get 40. If we're lucky days, you know, if you're in a big studio, maybe 60 or 90 days if you're a big, big studio, but generally, you know, independent filmmakers get three weeks, four weeks if you're if you're fat. Yeah. How do you deal with the time in between because like a guitar, like a musician, just picks up a guitar, or writer just starts writing, but we need hundreds of people. Lots of money to do our art man. How do you do that, man? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Albert Hughes 1:17:44
Up I think this is the one of the most important questions right here. And it's something to take the most pride in, in answering. Because since I was 12, it's been my hobby, right? I've always been doing it in my off time. Right? in Prague, I have my camera, I have my editing system. In fact, it's behind the computer. I'm on with you right now. The new cheese grater Mac right. Now, I've always like Final Cut. I've always had Premiere Pro. I've always had an avid around me since the mid 90s, right? And I go to work on these experimental films by myself or with a few friends or I take my camera and shoot. And I'm constantly exercising that muscle that muscle has not been exercised is dealing with 150 people or studio, whatever, right? But the technical muscles constantly being worked on. And this is why this question you said is so important. To me. It's like, yes, you're 95% accurate. In that description. There's a 5% of filmmakers probably out there working filmmakers that actually love to do with and around all the time. You know, you can use your guitar analogy. Like it's like, if you're a guitar player, you're going on stage every night, right? But if you're a great guitar player, you're actually practicing at home. Right? So why should it be any different for a filmmaker? Right? And my brother me, this is where we diverge, you know, I would set you know, years back, he doesn't have the same kind of thing in his off time. He doesn't do it in his off time. And I would say let's just go out and I've been doing this for years. Let's go make a really quick short, you get your note off. Now, man, I only do for the big spring. I only do for the big screen. I go well, how do you work out? What you want to only do for the big screens? Okay, right. So for me, it's like, you know, those moments we were talking about earlier with the kind of masturbation moments of the filmmakers selfish moments for a filmmaker. The time to do that is your off time. Okay, so I'll create a short that may be completely experimental could be two minutes could be five minutes long. And, and I'm building basically a sweater, right? But I want to actually focus on how to make those buttons, right, but I got to build the sweater which is the short, right? But I'm really focused on those buttons, which might be transitions. It might be a camera move. It might be an editorial flourish, right? It might be a color thing. It might be anything write shallow focus, practice, you know, insert practice, wide shot practice, called sub practice, right? And I'll develop, I'll make this short, that if I showed you like, I can send it to you, like a couple of me like, none of it makes any sense to me. Hey, nobody's looking over my shoulder, I've got a studio. I'm gonna Becker financer nobody, right. So I'm able to get my nut off, right in my own private time. And I'm also exercising this muscle because here's the other thing about filming that nobody ever really talks about, right? He's the only art form that ever existed. That is the umbrella over every other art form. Every other art form is inside of filmmaking, you know, writing, you know, photography, sculpture, construction, texture, everything destruction. You know, there's this the traditional Seven Arts in France, like there's shooting the original Seven Arts definition that, like photography is not included in the original Seven Arts photography is an art form. Right? Music, okay, like, there's everything, there is no other The only thing that comes close to stage, what stage doesn't have cinematography or photography? Right, but it couldn't have a photo on the wall. Right?
Alex Ferrari 1:21:18
No, you're right.
Albert Hughes 1:21:20
So inside of this V seven, RG, you're only going to be you know, if you're lucky, good at that there's 10 points. You only got to be good. I mean, like Vinci was probably, you know, the seven range out of 10. You know, he knows how to do this, this, this this? Right? That's very high, basically. Right? But in your off time, why not practice these, you know, editing, photography, lighting, you know, writing, you know, these are things you can do without money. You know, that's the other thing that's going on said here is that we couldn't do this. Back in the 90s. It was too expensive. I tried. You know, I had a 16 millimeter camera even though I had money. It costs $150 for a low film, right? 16. Right. That's another 150 the processing costs another 150 an hour to transfer it right.
Alex Ferrari 1:22:07
Did you tell us to transfer the tape for debate off
Albert Hughes 1:22:09
Cost a ton of money? Yeah, cost a ton of money to have those three gig drives on my avid, you know, like, it was an expensive proposition. Now it's not. So why do we have to wait to get to the next movie? Like, since I was 12, I've never stopped.
Alex Ferrari 1:22:25
And so so then you so that was so I wanted to go into the book of Eli now because you did you read? Well, I remember when I was I was here in LA when red one hit. And it was like I got here in 2008 around. And I remember, I remember walking into photochem with a red drive. And and they just like what is this? Like, they had no idea how to workflow it like at all like I was one of the few freelance editors in Los Angeles, who could get the workflow from red to Final Cut to color Apple color and get it outputted Wow. And I started doing music videos like constantly because I was like I would they would bring me all that because it was you remember man, the workflow for rip was horrendous.
Albert Hughes 1:23:12
Nobody had a we had a DI key before there was called a DI t at the time, you know? Oh dude, it was it was it was I was crazy if I By the way, they didn't help themselves like you know as a company they just weren't really yeah Hollywood savvy you know?
Alex Ferrari 1:23:24
No. And then on top
Albert Hughes 1:23:25
They were great because they kicked all the they kick the ass of the other companies like you know panda vision and airports had to step their game up now.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:32
Right now we have to get away from this film thing we have to do 4k. We got it like you know, you have to you have to you have to go to another another place tactically No, I used to get projects that were mastered in the master output was proxies. And they're like, Can you color grade this I'm like, No, man, I can't call the Create proxies. There's no color information in there. Why is it pixely? Cuz you're using proxies brother Lincoln like and I would like okay, how do I how do we get to recut this? How are we going to like and I would try to reconnect them like look, dude, I'm gonna have to do an over cut. literally go in and I go Do you have burnin? Alright, frame by frame shot by shot over cut it. I'm like it's gonna it's gonna cost you 15 grand,
Albert Hughes 1:24:11
Your from what the Wild Wild West was the wild wild west
Alex Ferrari 1:24:14
It was it was insane. And I but i'd figured out a system I got it to technically able to do it and I was working non stop. So when I remember when book of Eli showed up was like a revelation because I was one of the first early read movies and because they promoted that like that was bad. And the che che was another one with Steven Soderbergh.
Albert Hughes 1:24:33
Well do. What could be like what's the first full fledged studio release that we shot on red? Right che was a few art house theaters right there was at Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick Cage movie that came out that was shot on the phone. Right? The following? I think so. I think Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:24:47
Yeah. I had Alex on the show. Yeah.
Albert Hughes 1:24:49
But that, again, those weren't major studio releases. So what happened with us was the bond company wouldn't bond us unless we can prove that this was a stable system. You know what those flashcards those compact flash cards right? And yeah and and and Don Burgess who was a DPN book of Eli was tasked with doing a side by side film versus read so he went out to the New Mexico desert and did all these shots with actors faces. We come back to it was technical or Deluxe September I forgot the one that's nearly universal building. And Joseph was in the room, the Warner Brothers people on the room the bond companies in the room, the icon guys in a room, my brothers and my brother don't know his elbows. So when it comes to this test, like I know what's going on. And on the right side was film and on the left side was red. rejecting this thing is like five minutes. And Joel Silver keeps nudging me like tell me which ones don't tell me which ones to just watch it. You know, halfway through the five minutes my brother goes, you know, the film sides the right side, my brother goes well, the one on the right side of the little more grainy here, which should have been detailed, right. We get to the end and we say okay, with show of hands, which which is film right side or left side. It was unanimous. They went for the red side as being film. Why? They didn't no one picked the film side. No one picked it. Right. He said I go I go well, I guess it's a wrap on that conversation. Moving on now. Like we've crossed that barrier. Then when we were shooting we did this long scene with Denzel in the house. We wanted to use their red dry that early version of the drive.
Alex Ferrari 1:26:23
If you but if you bumped it it skipped. Oh, no. Yeah, yeah. To get the the shock absorbers.
Albert Hughes 1:26:30
Yeah, we're shooting this. Like we're gonna roll this camera for 20 minutes. So 30 minutes, whatever. We have the other I'm rolling. Two other cameras. I'm operating one with a compact flash. We get we get to the end of the scene. That thing just conked out. It didn't capture anything. That's it. Well, there goes that experiment. We're not fucking with those drives right? Now the interesting thing is that Don Burgess tested the slow motion back then, which was a went down to 3k or something. Okay, yeah. Yeah, he's like, this is not ready. This is not any projective. For me, I'm like, it looks good to me. You know, he's like, Nah, dude, we got to bring in the film cameras. So on the slow motion days, bringing the film cameras, and I gotta tell you, man, we have more problems with those film cameras than we ever had with a red camera. Registration problems, scratches? Oh, yeah, you know, all kinds of stuff.
Alex Ferrari 1:27:20
Now, l didnt mean to interrupt you. But you had run in that film so fast. You've learned that sounds like that sound. Scary. But that, you
Albert Hughes 1:27:29
That know, you like money's on the line, you got to get this right, you got to get this right, the pressure of slow motion basically back in the day, you know, but what it showed me was, you know, the whole Nolan Dunkirk thing today is that film was completely unstable. It is the most unstable thing. I mean, in fact, it goes back to the days of what you know, nitrate. And you know, you can burn a whole building down behind film. That's how dangerous and unstable film used to be. But yeah, that movie movie was an eye opening experience for me, because it changed my game again, in a way, which was like, you get real time results, which you know, about, you know, and you're able to play with it on your system. Now.
Alex Ferrari 1:28:06
It's the onset onset,
Albert Hughes 1:28:08
Onset onset. And and you know, you've got this whole dlsr game going down. And the crazy thing about the dlsr game, and in these young filmmakers is like, they had something we never had, they're able to deal with similar lenses, depth of field, everything you're dealing with in film is in that dlsr. And in that you said 2008, right? So red came out. 2009 or 10 was when canon came with that first five D right? From that moment. Now, I learned more about photography, in the technical side of filmmaking, because I was able to access it quickly. I learned more on that 10 years. The first five years of that did I did the previous 20 you know what the turnaround of you being able to do something, you know, speaks to your earlier question about you know, waiting for a film to do your your art or whatever it is right. You know, your turnaround now is like, dude, if you're inspired to go shoot some shit, that just looks pretty. You can do it now. Yeah. And then the other thing I tell the young filmmakers, too, they don't have no money. It's a little old filmmaking trip. For me. It's like, if you have no button, no budget, just make sure you photograph in one scene or two scenes or three scenes, a large body of water and the sunset view of a sunset and a large body of water. And if you have them both at the same time, your money because it tricks the mind you think oh my god, that's pretty that's expensive. Ain't expensive.
Alex Ferrari 1:29:32
I get I get you. I get you 100% Man, I got to ask you though, man. The color grading on book v like that blew my mind when it came out. Like the colors and the way the DI was on that man. How did you guys come up with that look, cuz i was i mean for a studio Denzel movie. That was a pretty ballsy creative choice.
Albert Hughes 1:29:55
Yeah, and I look back on it now and I go I'm proud of it. But there's some things I went too far. On and that's a partnership between me and my color is Maxine Gervais who works at Technicolor now, which now got bought out by another company. And I was influenced by this Czech photographer out here named goddamn Yan Southwick where he he saturated color and he'd add color where you wanted, right the veins of a woman's breast, you know, the rouge on our lips or cheeks. And and he would do this thing with clouds, you know, like he would offset the color. So we did all these tests on it. And I knew the look I wanted from the get go because I had all these references basically. Right. And when I you gotta remember like, that movie came out when D eyes were in full bloom, right? The book could be lighted, right? Our movie Previous to that from hell was 2001. The I started coming into being around 2000 2003. And then it kind of took off, right. So we were doing a photochemical coloring process, which is, you know, yeah, it's crazy. I get it. Okay. And then I'm, for the first time in in this room with Maxine, doing the DI for the, for this movie. And I'm depressed the first two weeks because I don't understand what it is. And I'm not even using my mind. Like this is basically telephony from the 90s. Right? I'm not understanding what it is. And I'm just moaning every day and moaning and moaning and then she starts to show me these tools, you know, the power windows and you know, taking that red dot and bringing this over here. Now we're not using traditional vignettes, we were sculpting our vignette, we're doing all this crazy shit. And I go, Oh, this is Photoshop for movies. And then it just opened up everything for me. And now me and her. We spend like my last movie alpha, which has some similar stuff in it you know, the this bison Hunt was it looks a lot like some of the ELI stuff we spent hours and hours and we had to record at the time for Eli with it record hours in town, right and then and then somebody came in knock it off. It was like in your ear to come and knock it off with with the what is it called that miserable slog for this? No. Oh, yeah. reverent. repping Revenant. And then I and then I took it back. I took it back with alpha. But we spent more hours on that more months. And then and then I'll font Alfonso came with, with that Roma that up my hours, right. But now that you come like a source of pride for me, it's like the time that I spent on a DI. Because it's almost like it's almost like editing or directing. It's like, you know, or painting a photo when somebody says how do you know you're done? How do you know when you're done? You know, when you edit? How do you know when you're doing? I go when I have no more thoughts left on it. When I have no more left to go? No, no, it's like, you know, I have all the things around my desk, like little notes. I do. Watch it. Note it up note, when I'm done with I can't do any more to that space. Right, right, right. It's the same thing at the eye. It's like we wash over we wash over it, we start doing it. We started with a headroom check because I shoot now with a tutorial with top bottom space outside of the frame. So I repo all the frames and posts I stabilize everything and post. And then my final thing is making sure all the head the headroom is the same. We have a ruler up screen, and I go through every close up and do that. And it's driving her crazy. She goes like Albert, this is not creative. I go. No, actually it is because if you don't have a pretty stage, you're not gonna have a good show. And yeah, this little aesthetic, this little aesthetic. You know it totally, you'll fill it overall subconsciously, you know, because she does think she's, she's like this really spunky, French kubecon woman right in Montreal, wherever, with thick accent. And she's feisty as hell. And I'll say, okay, we need to dissolve. We did like a 96 frame dissolve from from that scene to that scene because it's been built for this kind of match this match at it, you know, and she'll go. I thought you wanted something more creative? I think we can talk more. Because we would do these power window dissolves.
Alex Ferrari 1:34:05
Albert Hughes 1:34:06
Well, it comes up first. Then we started it on Eli and, and she's really into doing those kind of painterly kind of dissolved, like custom dissolves, right? And when I tell her to do a strict dissolve, she gets offended. And in the end, that's the kind of person I want to work with is like yes, she she's, she's special like this, this woman is an artist and that form that new medium of digital intermediates, right? She's an artist, you know, and she taught me so much. And I'm sure I've taught her a few things but not nearly as much as I collected. She's given to me, you know, like opening my world to the possibility like we were talking about control, controlling the image right. And what that can do to an audience how you focus on audiences I you know, as I get older you start there's you say you don't know in your 20s or 30s man, you know, about imaging.
Alex Ferrari 1:34:57
Oh my god.
Albert Hughes 1:34:59
Want to talk for hours about that?
Alex Ferrari 1:35:01
I mean, I have to ask you, man, because by the time you did book a V lie, you know, Denzel was Denzel. So how, like, how was it working with a legend like that man? Like you just like, how do you direct the legend like that? Because I love always asking people who work with this caliber of actor, like, how do you do that?
Albert Hughes 1:35:20
Well, you have, you have two guys on the move that work in two different ways. You got one of the greatest Gary Oldman. And they have two different ways of working, like, first of all, Denzel is almost undirectable. Okay? He, he, he knows what he's doing. He's, he's one of the smartest people I've ever met and prep, he's, he's great in in post, he's great. When he's an accurate mode. Sometimes you don't want to be around him, you know, he's in, he's in a different, there's a different animal there, right. And there's a contrary in there, you know, which is contrary to who won't do something. Because you want them to do it. He wants to know why. And you know, even if he agrees with it, he sometimes might not do it. He knows his lane. And he's kind of, you know, like a swing and he's sticking in his lane. And he's, he can be difficult, it can be very, very difficult, right? But again, once you get the camera on him, you look at him, you go, oh my god, he just loves them. And he's wonderful at performing. So, you know, you got to deal with the 800 pound gorilla, you know, and a lot of these guys that are at his level, are 800 pound gorillas and they kind of want it their way and you got to compromise and, you know, find ways to kind of work with that and not get your ego bruised too much. And you know, it's a dance, you know, it's to find dance now PCC can walk over you. It's over. Oh, I can't
Alex Ferrari 1:36:44
Yeah, I was gonna say, look, I was gonna ask you this, too, when you're a young director, or even if you're not a young director, if you're just you know, if you got an 800 pound gorilla, they are going to test you day one, to see if they're sick. And the way I always tell it, and you tell me what you think. But I always say is like, they're going to test you to see if they're safe with you. If you're going to protect them. If you're going to guide them. If they feel unsafe, their defenses will go up. They're like, Oh, this motherfucker is not gonna he's not going to protect me. So I'm gonna have to protect myself. And that's when the ego comes out. That's when
Albert Hughes 1:37:16
That's it. You're absolutely right. That's what the smart 800 pound gorillas do. Yes, you know, and then there's the ones that are not smart, like Enzo, who just are just shitting all over the place and peeing on the tree. Very on the other hand, because the thing with Enzo is he has one foot in method and he has one foot out of method, which is a contradiction in terms, right? Gary comes from method but he's he shed it. Somewhere along the way. He shut it. And Gary, it just, I just love love the way he works. You know? He said to us one day, we're like, this line is not working. It's badly written. He goes, No, listen. It's my job to make that line work. I don't care how badly written it is. That's my job. Right? And you know, we were shooting the first week of shooting before we shoot me here on walk around the soundstage repeating one line like it's a Bible, it's a weapon. It's a weapon. He did it the different octaves different ranges. Right. He was finding the voice of his character, right? Didn't once he got into it, and he found his like, he did the skin stuff like bad skin and found his glasses and his wardrobe. And he would never direct his anger towards the directors or the crew. He would if he got frustrated, he would scream at the clouds. And this is from years of him being you know, you know, an alcohol abuser, you know, method guy, you know, sleeping at the grave of James. What do you call it? The JFK shooter assassinated.
Alex Ferrari 1:38:41
Oh, yeah, he
Albert Hughes 1:38:45
Alex Ferrari 1:38:46
Hinckley. No, no, no, I know what you're talking about the assassin.
Albert Hughes 1:38:51
Yeah, I forgot his name. But anyways, you know, back then he was sleeping at the guy's grave to soak up the character. Like he was crazy into the method stuff, right? So by the time we work with him, he was just lovely, you know, and they had two different styles of working, you know, Denzel in Gary. Now Denzel is a true star star, you know, which is a question you're asking about. And Gary, Gary's considered a character actor who is a star, but not a movie star, basically, right? He's a very hard working constantly working actor. Whereas Denzel maybe does one movie a year, you know, kind of thing. Right? And there was like, growing pains and learning how to, you know, we dealt with Johnny Depp, you know, Yeah, I was gonna go Who was the star? And he was, he was, he was a dream. But sweetest man, you know, he cared about his crew, you know, cared about, you don't, he didn't like bullies. You know, he'd go out of his way to fucking hunt down a bully and make a lesson out of a bully. You know? He was. He trusted us inherently from the start. And, you know, he had some back issues and we'd have to do a scene where he you followed up a chair, and my brother would like Okay, that's enough, Johnny. Take two. That's enough. He was like, No, no, did you get it? Did you get it? And we're like, Johnny, you know, we're gonna look out for you. He's like, No, no, no, I want you guys happy. Let's do another take until you get it until you feel like you've gotten it. We're not we're not moving on. You know, Gary's like that. But But Johnny's he just completely handed himself over. You know, he would have questions and stuff like that, but he will. He was a sweet, sweet, sweet, white, man.
Alex Ferrari 1:40:25
Yeah. And that was from the movie from hell, for people who don't know the movie from hell with him and Heather Graham, based on the jack the Ripper. The theology without mythology actually happened. But off the graphic novel by Alan Moore. How did you guys approach from hell? You know, you taking a really popular graphic novel, and then taking those aesthetics and trying to bring it into the screen because that's, that was a very visual movie, if I remember correctly, it has been it's been a minute since I'm watch from hell. But it was a very kind of graphic visual movie. And this was Johnny. Is this pre pirates or post pirates?
Albert Hughes 1:41:01
Right here before he did pirates? Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 1:41:03
So it was just like, right fresh, like it was right before you explode. Because Johnny was still Johnny in 2001. He's still a star. Yeah, but he wasn't. Pirates.
Albert Hughes 1:41:13
Jack Sparrow Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:41:14
He wasn't Jack Sparrow just yet.
Albert Hughes 1:41:16
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. No, the, you know, that's a case where a studio kind of meddled with a movie too much. You know, the, the graphic novel was very dense, it was a lot of issues, um, come on, how many comic books were in the graphic novel. And, um, we had a lot of keyframes I copied, you know, it wasn't black and white, it wasn't in color. So I had to make up the color palette, you know, and our whole thing and that was more a Hitchcock thing is, like, let's use the color red as a replacement for showing a lot of blood. And a lot of people that came away from the we thought it was graphic, it really wasn't, there's only one or two moments in movies that are very graphic, it was the use of in learning how to use color, that was the first time I actually use or learn how to use color effectively, you know, and also phallic symbols. And, you know, we started really getting to that, like, you know, every movie has to have, like, you know, a decade or a vagina in it in a symbolic way. And we did in a book of Eli did an alpha, you know, it just a running kind of gag. But it started on January, because it was sexualized, you know, this whole the, you know, the press and what they made of it prostitutes and whatnot. But we did have the original panels from the comic, and they're huge like this, right? Um, The unfortunate thing about the movie is that the grittiness and grime Enos of the graphic novel was hindered by the studio, you know, they wanted kind of a love story, we weren't really into that, you know, they wanted, you know, certain number of actresses were only allowed to play the role, you know. And that's the regret of that movie. Outside of that, I'm proud of it by way of like, my relationship with Peter demming. dp worked with David Lynch a lot. I found Peter damning by watching Lost Highway a couple years before that, and, you know, brought him on three years before we shot because we thought we're gonna shoot it that year, and then went to another studio went to another studio. And by time we shot me, and Peter had this groove. And, you know, we were using tricks that he had learned with with Lynch. And, you know, that was shot anamorphic with film, you know, we did some reversal stuff in the dream sequences. Yeah, I remember, I remember that. Yeah, yeah, we had a lot of fun. It was like, that was my time as a filmmaker to learn about color. Because I'd always been scared of color. And in the early music video days, if you look at the catalog of the stuff that my brother and I did, a lot of it was black and white, because I was petrified of color. Because I came from art like, like drawing my mother was grooming me to be like the so called artist, and I never used color. I would sketch with pencils. And, and when when I lean towards filmmaking, I still at the same insecurity. So that's what that film did for me.
Alex Ferrari 1:43:56
That was That is awesome, man. I remember I remember when I came out, man, I was like, that's pretty damn cool, man. It was just a cool note.
Albert Hughes 1:44:02
I'm still stuck. I'm still stuck on what's the name of the assassin of JFK,
Alex Ferrari 1:44:07
Albert Hughes 1:44:08
It's not Hinckley that was not Hinckley that was a John Lennon or somebody.
Alex Ferrari 1:44:12
Oh, that's right. Yeah, no,
Albert Hughes 1:44:14
That was that was that. That could have been a Reagan Yeah, it is James in the name?
Alex Ferrari 1:44:22
Hold on. Okay, hold on. We got a follow me Hold on Everyone stand by. Thank you. Thank you. I'm sure people were in there like it's a rvr as well. It's like listening on the podcast crazy.
Albert Hughes 1:44:36
Talking about Dr. Goldman sleeping on the man's Raven. I can't even his name right.
Alex Ferrari 1:44:41
Um, one other thing I wanted to ask you about your your fight sequences are really interesting in like book of Eli. Like, I noticed that you love doing these kind of circle, like half circle or like surrounding moving the camera around. I said you did it in menace. You did it in. You've done it a bunch But I remember in those fights, especially in the bar sequence in Book of Eli, yeah, you're cutting from this beautiful like half circle or or actually, I think you probably did a full circle and your inner cutting, which is difficult to do.
Albert Hughes 1:45:13
Well that that shot in particular was weird because the studio and Denzel interfered with the original vision of that shot, their original vision of that shot, as was the fight in the underpass with Enzo in silhouette, right? It was all meant to be done in one, because I got tired of Hollywood doing these like action movies, this handheld stuff where you can see the guy fighting, right. And you know, Paul Greengrass is a little guilty of doing this, like you think something's going on that you're actually seeing that we're using sound effects and shaky camera. And I'm like, let's just see what they're actually doing. So we started on that underpass, biking silhouette. And then I brought in a side there's some salon saloon. And we did we put a motion control, circle track up for that fight. And we did a pass of people for the foreground, we did a pass for tables, we did a pass for the fight. And we had a lot, if you look really closely, there's heads being locked off in that and then shot by VFX. Okay, now danzo in the studio were a little precious about like, well, he's done all this training, and we want to see his moves. And I was running a, b and c camera just for safety. And it was a hard lesson. And unless you have complete control of your film, do not run the BNC camera, because they will use it okay. And that was one of the few times in my career where the studio and the actor interfered and broke into a shot. And it's one of my biggest regrets of that scene is because it was meant to play out as one. It didn't matter the intricacy of his handwork and how long he took the train. Again, that's an exterior motivation coming into the shot. I was seeing the overall picture was like, real time violence. For an audience subconsciously, if you don't break it up with edits, and you play it at 24 frames, it feels real to them. The minute you hit an edit you they do not engage in the same way unless you're like masterful at what you're doing. You know, cuts are beautiful. Don't get me wrong. But when it comes to violence, that's one thing I learned over time to from minutes. Till now. It's like, as much as possible, don't you slow motion like I used to do? Go 24 frames and play it out all in one. Because of what it does to the audience's make them feel it, you know. And so what happened on that shot, even though a lot of people pointed out, you know, cinematography circles, right. It was a disappointment to me because I should have stood my ground and said no, like, Don't cut into that shot. It's this has been planned for a year, you know, and that one got sacrificed.
Alex Ferrari 1:47:40
Albert Hughes 1:47:41
Punch in the nose. There you go.
Alex Ferrari 1:47:42
You got and look. And listen and listen. For all the kids listening right now you at that point had done a couple of movies. You were working with one of the biggest stars in the world. And you a lot of people think the myth is like once you will arrive at a studio movie with Denzel and Gary Oldman, and Mila Kunis and like this big, big thing that you have like complete a tour control and you could do anything now you get punched in the face even then.
Albert Hughes 1:48:12
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And I mean, there's there's lessons to be learned on both sides. Because there was some times I would have, like, with Denzel would play this mind game with me where I storyboard the show out of the same show up because like, where you want me, I go over there. And he goes, Okay, well, I'll be over there. And he goes all the way across the room like fuck, man, like he just threw up 15 shots by just, you know, standing 10 feet away from where I want, and this constant game would be going on with me and him, right. Three weeks in, he learned to trust me. He said, What do you want me? I said, I want you were there but you're gonna go with there he goes, Well tell him to go there. And I'll go here. I said do that time for I don't got time for my games, man. Just tell me we want to hear he's like, Okay, cool. And he did it right. But on this one particular scene, it was him on the mercy killed and the underpass. Yeah, silhouette bite, right? We cut the guy's arm off. I had like 10 shots planned. And he got on the ground and just started like, you know, hugging the guy and putting the knife into him. And once he knew he threw out 10 of my shots because I had a whole moment plan. And I was crazy. Because at that point in my career, also, I wasn't a jazz player. Every shot had to be designed,
Alex Ferrari 1:49:21
Right? Oh, hitch cocking. hitch cocking.
Albert Hughes 1:49:24
Yeah. But this is also with the lesson of doing it in my off time I go out without a shot list. It's just ideas. I've learned to play jazz right? At that time, I didn't really know how to play jazz. I didn't think I did. Um, so he made me create another shot. And all I did was simply put the camera lower to where he was and do a slow push in him. At the same time. There's a wind storm coming towards us. It wasn't like an effect. It was like a real windstorm coming up towards towards camera. And in post, I realized, you know, that was better than what I had planned. And it was all by accident. You No, I just had to think on my feet and adjust again sales. Kind of, you know, he went he went into this blocking that I had no idea who would do you know?
Alex Ferrari 1:50:08
Right exactly. Yeah, that's it. Sometimes you just gotta roll with it, man, you got it, you just gotta roll with it. Now, what is honestly, man, what is the most frustrating part of this film business for you, man? Out of all, your
Albert Hughes 1:50:24
That thing you said earlier, that thing you said earlier? You know, keep going back to that it's like the waiting between the projects. Got it? You know, and then not knowing, you know, what they say you're greenlit, you're not, you know, if they say you're not greenlit into your rolling camera, you know, we know the casting battles, you know, the, you know, the people you have to worry about that want to pee on the tree, you know, executives that just want to make a name for themselves inside the business and the puffery that goes on around the project that has nothing to do with the project, you know, sometimes dealing with with actors and their agents, and, you know, there's cool actors or not so cool actors, there's cool producers, everybody, you know, Director there. We're all on this scale of like, you know, the the asshole school school Hill chart, and you want to, you want that number to be closer to zero than to 10. Right. Right. And, you know, it's like, you know, you're dealing like you said, again, you know, the personality things, you're dealing with all these personalities. And, and that's sometimes frustrating for me, because in my off time, I'm not dealing with personalities. And then you get thrown into this, this chaos and because productions chaos, and you're, you're required to focus in chaos. And you know, one bad apple, whether it's an actor or crew member, producer, or studio can really make life miserable. Now, outside of that, the most frustrating thing is like the wait.
Alex Ferrari 1:51:48
Yeah, the way the way it is, it's, it's brutal. It's absolutely brutal. Can you talk a little quickly about Alpha Man, because I think that's that was that that's, that's cool, man. Like, I love alpha. And the story you guys were trying to tell, or you were trying to tell him that it was an event kind of film, like the visuals. It's a grand movie. It's a grand visual, the visual effects were very big. But again, it was a small story. So it was really interesting, like, what you were trying to do. So can you talk a little bit about how that came to life and, and your experience directing that. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Albert Hughes 1:52:33
Like the apple thing, it's interesting, because it's actually like a cautionary tale. It's everything you were talking about with these young filmmakers. They're getting punched in the nose, heartbreak, compromise, underhanded kind of stuff up everything bad about Hollywood happened to me on that movie. And yet, it was my script that I had in my mind for 1015 years. And I developed with this, this guy who never wrote a script. And I didn't expect it to get made at the time it got made. And, and this guy started a studio with Chinese money. And I'm not gonna mention his name, because he's not worth it. And I've known for a long time, he used to be my agent, he used to run Warner Brothers. And I didn't realize at the time that he was a complete sociopath. And he got ousted from Warner Brothers years ago, over some internal stuff. And he finally got some money together. And he wanted this to be one of his first movies. Meanwhile, I hadn't shown it to anybody in my agents that even seen this script, right? In the simple thing I wanted from this film, it's something you talked about earlier to where you're saying, You're bringing in this external reason for wanting to make a film. And the external reason was, I wanted to make a film that appeal to everybody in the world. Right? And it wasn't meant to even be subtitled. It was going to be like a quest for fire. If you remember that movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:53:56
Yeah, well, yeah. Back in the day. Yeah.
Albert Hughes 1:53:58
Hey, yo, yeah, John's Raka no movie, there was no subtitle, but it was just made up language, a prehistoric movie. And, um, so long story short on that is that this guy bought it. wine and dine me made me feel great about my creation, and slowly went about fucking with me in the script. You know, after he said he loved it. Eventually, it all settled down. I got to make the movie. I did three things you're not supposed to do in cinema, which is work with a kid and animal and weather water. We're all in the same movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:54:33
At the same time, at the same time.
Albert Hughes 1:54:35
Yeah and one of those animals was like a hybrid Wolf and you can't train him like a normal dog. Okay. I had a great time doing it because it was the first time I'd done a movie for him by myself, you know, outside of film school and some beauty videos right? And it exponentially made me grow right. And visually, what I wanted to do with it was tell a simple story, a parable right? An image was first in my mind, you know, because I get tired of, you know, because you've got a podcast and you're in the film business and you're, you're kind of a sinner, like, kind of a cinephile. You are? Definitely, yeah. You read these articles and you heard at film school that people say, you know, the edits are supposed to be invisible, nobody should know, it was beautifully shot. Nobody, you know, this is that I don't subscribe to that at all. I feel like it is an audio visual medium. And somehow throughout history started out as an visual medium, completely a visual medium, right, there was no audio, there is an orchestra at the bottom right. And somewhere along the way, they cannot be stupid rules where they said, you know, you can't focus on visuals, or, you know, it's all about acting and story, which it is, there's no doubt, you know, but I disagree that you can't tell a story, which is pure visual, you know, and that was my my thing and that movies like, again, your external want it there was a few external ones. One was to tell a story visually, a simple story visually, without the use of subtitles or dialogue, the subtitles later came and dialogue later came, we made up this language, and to also position myself in another area in the business. So again, that's another external want that I'm putting on a film, you're putting too much pressure on this film already, you know, in the end, there was some there was some bad decisions made by marketing. It was Sony marketing, and God bless them for doing normal Hollywood shit, right. But they they were so scared that it wasn't an English that they started chopping up these Disney like fucked up family trailers, you know, with, you know, a narrator in English and in the trailer doesn't reflect the movie. And now there's also a director's cut, as opposed to with the studio put out, which I've never had before, I've had Director's Cut, but it wasn't because a disagreement in the studio was more like, a little bit more bloodletting in because it's more marketing angle, you know, whatever. This was like the movie started out differently, then what my script was, and the movie ended differently than where my intention was. And it was this long protracted battle with this guy that's fighting cancer. And what bothered me so much about it as a filmmaker was, you know, if it's your material that you created, and you still got treated like this after being in the business for 2726 years, and you still get treated like this, like, this is a problem. You know, I just had a moral issue with that guy fucking with it, because he was scared. It's like, dude, you took on this project, you know, you knew it was in a made up language. You know, I I compromised by giving you subtitles and making these made up. Language makes sense in a dialogue since I compromised by doing this stuff, I compromised by doing that, like, now in the end, you want to put this bison hop out front. And you want to make this happy ending with the dog, which I understand now I understand happy ending, right? Mine was more my ending with more European in vague like, if you look at my version of that movie. Some people think the dog died. Some people think the dog live No, the dog died in my version. If you really pay attention right now it's on iTunes, my version and it's on blu ray and all that stuff. But you know, it's not First of all, but it was a bitter, bitter experience. And and because I had to do battle with some guy who was off his rocker, who didn't morally do the right thing and do right by the filmmaker. And you know, it's his choice. He's bought the property. He owns it, like, legally, he's, he can do whatever the fuck he wants to do. Right? It was a moral question for me. In the end, I don't regret doing it. There's some days I wake up, say, I wish I hadn't done it for him. You know, but you know what it did? It actually killed his his he tried to get back into business and it fucking back. You know, it got really well reviewed. It didn't, you know, made 150 worldwide, which is not no gangbusters nowadays, right? It didn't set me back, you know, it partially did what I wanted, which is, you know, if you look at my brother night, it's like, you know, this kind of urban violence, you know, whether even if it's the 1800s in England, you know, it's urban violence. It's underclass, it's this is that like, now, let me just flex something different over here. Because I think I know I'm capable of doing this. And I want to be now over here. No, and it wasn't the thing you brought up earlier with an optics decision, you know, now, I wasn't ready for the optics decision at that time. Like, that wasn't in my plan of going up the ladder to where I want to eventually be be. I thought that I was ready to make that movie. Five years from when it came out whenever. Because after book of Eli, I said, I don't want to do another VFX movie. Like, I can't stand ish, you know. And here I am, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:59:52
I see more visual effects, you see more visual effects and
Albert Hughes 1:59:57
That's also the lesson of like, you know, when you Thomas, you said something earlier about like, you gotta wait to your next project or something like that right waiting thing. My plan was to make it five years from now, somebody came and said, I want to give you some money to make it now what are you gonna do say? No?
Alex Ferrari 2:00:13
No, you gotta roll you roll. Did you know that as well as I do, man, someone shows up with a check. You're just like, well, do I want to sign the damage? devil?
Albert Hughes 2:00:24
Yeah, any shut up with a big check to was like, you know more money than that than any other studio would give that kind of movie. Right? In today's world. It's a risky movie. It's like no star, no English, you know, kind of esoteric, you know, culture from 20,000 years ago. And had they had they marketed it more as a mystery. I think they would have had they leaned into it. That's part of the problem with Hollywood was like, you got to lean into your weakness. If you think that's a weakness that there's no dialogue in this movie. Why don't you lean in to cut a trailer that's quite an interesting like Baraka, you know, that movie? 90, yeah. Okay, that's not even a regular movie. It's like, that's an experience, right? Why don't you guys cut some shit like that? Okay, and let people know, they're going to experience something differently. You guys are cutting a Disney trailer trying to fool people and think it's a Disney movie. It's not a Disney movie. You know, just because a boy and a dog in it. It's not, you know, so it was like they were doing this, they were changing the kind of DNA you know, optically of the movie in a marketing sense, you know, right. And people's preconceived ideas of what this movie is supposed to be, you know, it looked like a Disney movie, you know, from marketing materials. And it's not a Disney movie.
Alex Ferrari 2:01:37
Well, first of all, I'm, I'm, I'm shocked in that do you had dealt with a sociopath in Hollywood? That's very unheard of. I've never, I've never heard of a story of an egocentric.
Albert Hughes 2:01:50
What is the difference in this sociopath, but he comes off as a mild mannered,
Alex Ferrari 2:01:55
they always do
Albert Hughes 2:01:55
No meat. Okay, because I was I was doing research and insights, some of them are gregarious, they can win you over with their personality, you know, like that, or that he was the complete opposite. He was just doing stuff that didn't make any, you know, rational sense, right. And then it became a big dick waving contest, you know, and, you know, once you get into a big wave contest with somebody, all bets are off on anything making sense at that point, you know, especially if you think you're gonna moral, moral morally right place, you know,
Alex Ferrari 2:02:25
And you know, that's and this is the funny thing about that, because I've had, I've had very interesting experiences in Hollywood, coming up, and I've been close, and I've had deals and I've had studio deals and coming off and on. And when you're starting out, Dick waving is it's hard because not to be crass. But it's not that large. You don't have a lot of weight behind you. You don't have a lot of weight behind you to do it. But yet someone like yourself, who has a heck of a filmography you've worked on, you've had hits and things like that. And having to deal with it at that at this point in your career is is sad, but it's the truth. And I want people to understand that that is the raw truth. And you're not the only director. Look, Mick Spielberg couldn't get financing for Lincoln. Scorsese couldn't get financing for that other forgot that. That's that's what we did. with Liam and Liam Nelson, Liam Neeson, and somebody I forgot that the priest movie, I forgot that one he could have the one that nobody saw, because it was like a $200 million movie that was basically an experimental film that he'd been wanting to tell for 30 years. And Marty, I love you, brother. But you know, you know, I understand.
Albert Hughes 2:03:33
I thought the first five minutes I'm I'm good. I'm good.
Alex Ferrari 2:03:35
Yeah, exactly. But it happens to everybody. So I just want people to really understand that. Again, this is a wonderful, beautiful business, man. It really is. It's crazy. When it works, when it works, but when it doesn't.
Albert Hughes 2:03:52
And then more times than not, it's not going to work. So we're trying to everything, everything is clicking, you know, and or you might have to pick up the slack for somebody else. That's bringing you down. Right? And, you know, with that battle did to me and we get into the details of it, it's not even worth it is like, that was one of the most devastating wars I was ever in this business. Right. And it took a lot from, you know, it took a lot from me, it was like being in an abusive relationship. Once you get out of it, you just go Wow, man was it was all that really worth it? The fact that he's not really in the business like it used to be? Yeah. I'm almost vindictive in that way. Because at a certain point, and you know, this is a shocking part of that story is like he was editing the movie behind my back. Oh, which, like, Listen, we've dealt with new line 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers, you know, I've got Disney, they never would dream to do something like that. Unless it was a really extreme case of something going on. They always want the filmmaker on their side getting to the finish line, right? And the filmmaker wants them on your side, basically, right? This guy was starting wars. was everywhere you know, with marketing with 20th Century Fox with me. And I'm like, Whoa, didn't he not learn a lesson from history? Like you can't fight a battle on two fronts like Hitler? You can't. You got the Allies coming for you and the Russians come before you and Lord knows who else coming for you like you got to put out one of these fires. And one of the fires he could have put up with me. But what he did is when he edited behind my back, you know, this is the most devastating feeling as if you're creating something it's like, it's like someone literally took the kid out of your house, your kid random Street, right? And you get a phone call to go like, yo, we got your kid. We're not gonna tell you what we're doing your kid, right? Well, you don't know where the kids get molested, fed right with views. You don't know. Right? But we're going to return your kid to you in a week and we want to know what you think about your kid. So then they return the kid to you my brother's got some Oshkosh shit on some hush puppies, you know, backwards as had an ill fitting shirt. His arm is lopped off his ears all the form got teeth missing his shit. Like what the fuck did they do to him? Like I don't recognize my own kid. I got his teeth, patches, Airfix clothes, it's easy thing, right? So part of that battle was I had I had almost gone to arbitration. Yeah, with the DGA? Sure, no. And that gets into like, you know, the pseudonym. That's a really?
Alex Ferrari 2:06:19
Alan Smith. Yeah. Oh, no, no, I get it
Albert Hughes 2:06:21
Yeah, it's really devastating, you get to that point. And slowly, I started to see what power I did have on power I didn't have you know, in dealing with a sociopath. And it was a slow drip drip process of restoring my kid back to what I intended, even under the compromise of the beginning being different in the end being different, which I wouldn't do, you know, I didn't want to do you know, so that that was the lesson for me was like, Oh, my God, and then there's this underlying racial thing. And then I want to say, I know probably a lot of white white listeners don't want to hear this. Even liberal white listeners probably don't want to hear this is that the stuff that we all have to deal with? And I know a couple people of color, it's like, you know, there's a finite number of directors around town that have Final Cut. We had it at one time, you know, after madness, right? And they were quick to take that shit away. Right? There's, there's this rarefied air that only white men are allowed into, right? That, you know, Steve McQueen belongs in, you know, I'm sure he's partially there. You know, Alphonse Corona is kind of there is a person of color. He's there
Alex Ferrari 2:07:31
Guillermo del toro,Guillermo del toro,Robert.Robert Rodriguez
Albert Hughes 2:07:35
There, you know, rare occasions, right? But it's something you know, at this stage of my career, I'm like, I shouldn't have to deal with this shit. Right? You know, I it's not ego talking. It's like, you know, even when I go into a film, and you know, one of the producers once called me and like, we want to hear in detail what you're going to do with this movie visually. And who are you hiring as a dp? I'm like
Alex Ferrari 2:07:57
At this stage.
Albert Hughes 2:08:00
You can fuck with you about store you can fuck with me about actors don't fuck with me when it comes to this visual shit. like, Yo, I don't want to hear it. I'm not having it. You know,
Alex Ferrari 2:08:10
You at this stage in your life in this career. They're asking you from hell, dead presidents, you know, you know, Book of Eli.
Albert Hughes 2:08:21
Like up the gate. We didn't we never had a problem with the visual side, right? So on book a be like, they call me up and they said, and I'm not gonna mention a dp I wanted to use they're like, we're not cool. What do you use that dp? I'm like, What are you talking about? They go, here's a list of five names. You can pick from these, these five names. I'm like, excuse me. Like, you guys have bigger concerns. Like, I got this over here. Like, even if the movie sucks. It's not gonna look bad. Okay. Just what are we doing, man? No, I had that. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 2:08:52
And it's, I can only imagine how frustrating that is. Because, you know, I had that I had to deal with that. Coming up. And and now I work at budget levels that I don't have to deal with that anymore. But I'm assuming when you're at that level, those larger budgets, but like, I mean, I know someone like Robert Rodriguez, you know, he just built he built his whole little, his little industry himself. And he's like, I don't care what you guys do. I'm gonna do my thing over here in Austin. And that's it. Don't worry about the deal. Don't worry about the DP because I'm gonna be the DP
Albert Hughes 2:09:24
I'm gonna score and I'm gonna do this.
Alex Ferrari 2:09:27
He has control. He controls the Yeah, he does. And he controls the whole process. But he's written him. He's an anomaly in the industry.
Albert Hughes 2:09:34
His movies also paid for it, though, to be honest, his movies pay for the fact that he's taken on all those hats. Because I think it's a collaborative thing. And you do need an outsider, like an editor looking at it. You do need it. You know, you can be your own cemetery. Sure you can. And sometimes it can work out. You don't wonderfully like Roma, even though I don't think as a movie. it's mind blowing as a story, right. He did a great job as a cinematographer. And then we put more More times than not you want someone who has perspective. You're not wearing all those hats. Even David Fincher, who's completely capable of shooting his own movie, and everybody knows that
Alex Ferrari 2:10:09
Everybody so well Kubrick to Kubrick was the same way. Yeah,
Albert Hughes 2:10:12
Yeah. Oh, they hired a cinematographer for a reason. You know, and if those guys are doing it, that's that's what I you know, Robert does some amazing things. There's sequences in that first with said city, no, what's that thing called? city? city? There's the Mickey werkstoff is like, fucking awesome. Okay. Like, there's the El Mariachi at some amazing stuff, right? But you can't score your movie, edit your movie, shoot your movie and expect to have the movie. Hold up. It just, you know, I wouldn't suggest that for a filmmaker.
Alex Ferrari 2:10:46
No, no. And I agree, but that works for him. And it's just the way he likes to do things. And that's, you know, you know, the same thing. Look, same thing with I've talked to a bunch of people work with Fincher over the years. And, you know, I talked to him he was a he was, um, UPM on on a seven. And that was Fincher second film. So spinner wasn't Fincher, yeah, I mean, he, he was but he wasn't. And they told he told me stories. He's like, oh, Fincher, lit that movie. Like he he was on every like he.
Albert Hughes 2:11:19
Oh,i heard crazy stories about him.
Alex Ferrari 2:11:20
Yeah, like nothing. I'm not taking anything away from Africa was a kanji who was it was, I think was kanji. Right. The dp?
Albert Hughes 2:11:27
I think so on that one. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 2:11:28
And that one is, I'm not taking anything away from him. He goes, but no, but David was all up in his business telling him exactly what
Albert Hughes 2:11:35
He thinks he was on my hair subbies business too. You know, it's like, the thing about David Fincher, you know, his, his look, his his look, period, he can put the guy he put another dp in there, he's going to get his look, you know, and that's the lesson of David Fincher. And also the fact that he's, he's so meticulous in the craftsmanship. And the technical side is like, yes, he can literally do that job. And he can probably be the gaffer, he can probably be the grip, he can be the VFX supervisor. He could do a lot of cool jobs, probably, you know,
Alex Ferrari 2:12:07
Yeah. It's like simple. Like, same thing with Cameron. Cameron is one of those guys who could arguably do every job and do it better.
Albert Hughes 2:12:18
But they know like, the smart thing is like new I gotta delegate this shit. You got a bigger picture, I got a bigger picture look at and he still is a no, I think Fincher is very smart. And in one way, it's like, if he was in the weeds, with the cinematographer, as a cinematographer, he can't take that step back. And he's now in the weeds from a step pack position. You know, he's able to like, orchestrate it.
Alex Ferrari 2:12:41
Yeah, I mean, I dp, my first feature, and I was like, No, I'm good. I want to do this again. I want to give it I'd rather be that
Albert Hughes 2:12:48
I don't know what to do it and part of me that doesn't want to do it. And then I always fall on the side of not doing it. I did one American pepper documentary. Yeah. Which is a documentary I can get. I can get away with mistakes, you know, right. And I do my own personal projects. And I'm very happy with the work I do. Personally, you know, I'm all time, right. But then I go on a movie. Now I'm good
Alex Ferrari 2:13:08
Now I did that for and I've been a colorist for like 15 years. So I was like, What all I got to do is get it down. I just got to hit hit the ball down the street, just throw the ball right down the street. I'll fix it in post and trust me, I spent like six weeks, eight weeks just color grading, everything power windowing? Like, I was doing digital lighting. But after that, I was like, Yeah, I just, I watch and I'll be that one step back, like you say, and I'll get into the weeds because I know I can do it. But I'd rather have somebody else doing it without without question.
Albert Hughes 2:13:36
Yeah. What's amazing is that there's sometimes like, I would see with Peter Deming or, or, or Don Burgess like they liked something. And there was one little note I had, you know, on the lighting, and sometimes I was too shy in my early career, the tele dp like, you know, can you just change that one thing, right? And then change that one thing changed the complexion of the scene for me, you know, not that they hadn't done a great job watching it. And already they had. But there was one thing or comedian that comes from like this, this thing that we didn't talk about what's like, his aesthetic, you know, as a filmmaker, what, what's your aesthetic, and you know, that can be an external thing that you talked about earlier, where you're imposing your aesthetic. But to me, it's more like a what you hope your aesthetic to be because of your influences, right? But to me, it's more of an internal thing as you get older. It's almost like a sifter of gold. You know, there's only certain things that fit through that hole. And the stuff that remains in the top is, you know, you're editing out stuff you don't like, and the stuff that remains on the top is your aesthetic, right? So when you're looking at a frame, you're looking at the performance, and you're thinking about it from your gut and your heart. And you go Oh, there's something bothering me there. That's your aesthetic talking to you. something bothers me about that frame. It's not like your influences that are talking to you. It's your gutsy move into inches to the to the right, drop that like move that actor over there. And it's it's all coming together because you're not intellectualizing it basically. Right? So that's something that you have yet to learn.
Alex Ferrari 2:15:06
Yeah. And that's the other thing that they don't tell you is like, when you hire a dp, a production designer, a composer, an actor, you're looking for taste and taste is something you can't teach. And that's what like, you, we talked about Fincher,You cant buy taste, but you can't teach it and there's something about it. Like, if you've got good taste, and no money to make a movie, your movie is gonna come out, I it's gonna, it's, it's gonna get I, you know, it's gonna be I, it's gonna be solid, but you can give someone $50 million with bad taste. And we've seen those movies. You know, it's just, you've totally agree.
Albert Hughes 2:15:52
It's not that's something I was dealing with. On my last movie, I constantly had this problem, because there were certain departments that weren't up to snuff, or one department in particular, I'm not going to bring out that wasn't up to snuff. We were able to Band Aid over it. So nobody realized what it was. But halfway through the shoot me and my was it, me, my crew, you know, cameraman and whatnot. And producers, we realized that this person didn't have taste, you know, and we're like, it's true. It's got a problem. We're halfway through this movie, and this person doesn't have taste. So that means you guys all got to step up. And I got to step up, we got to level up to make sure that the audience doesn't see that this person's non taste is coming through. You know, and that was a lot about By the way, it cost us it cost us dearly, you know, how to pay year to cover up that mistake, basically. Right? And you look at a guy like Robert Richardson.
Alex Ferrari 2:16:49
Yeah, yeah, sure.
Albert Hughes 2:16:51
I have a taste of the wazoo. You said, um, you said, you said I'm free to do his thing you can put on with uh, you can put on a director that's not visual. He's gonna get you that.
Alex Ferrari 2:17:03
He's gonna get deacons like deacons. Yeah,
Albert Hughes 2:17:05
Like the biggest guy get you? Where you're gonna get you there. Right. Right. There's other DPS and I'm on that mentioned the name. There's a couple DPS. I've worked with pincher when I don't work with them. You don't see it. Right? when they when they do work on them. You're like, interesting how this guy looks dope as fuck when he worked with venture, pinnacles and other non moving like, it looked like a what would you call it a one light path from the one light path.
Alex Ferrari 2:17:28
Oh my god on one life path. For the kids listening a one light pass is what a tell us any artist will just throw the film up and just basically get whatever image they can get that you can visually see it and they just run it without anyone supervising. That is a one life path and no corrections.
Albert Hughes 2:17:45
No correction correction. It's whether the sun is out or whether you're in the shade, it's gonna be the same look.
Alex Ferrari 2:17:53
Now, looking back, man at your career, brother, if you had if you had one thing to tell your 20 year old self about great questions. Thanks, man. So if you have, if you could tell yourself one thing, your 20 year old self go back and go, you know what, man? You're gonna go. I'm not even gonna tell you the adventure you're gonna go on for the next 25 years. It's gonna be a ride and a half. But man, just, this is the one thing you really got to keep in mind. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Albert Hughes 2:18:32
Jesus, man, that's a tough one. Because I actually came up with the answer a year ago, because I asked myself that same question, and I forgot what the I forgot what the answer was. But Jesus. Man, you stumped me. Because that's a question. I've been asked before my career and I've been easy, it's easily easy to rattle it off, like dismissively.
Alex Ferrari 2:19:01
But if you but if you want something deep, like I mean, I've asked myself the question, and like, when I look back, I'm just gonna go under the biggest the biggest lesson for me is you got to be patient, because it's not going to go as fast is not going to go as fast as you think it's gonna go. And I don't care how big you are, how much money you make, how big your budgets are, who you're working with, it's not going to go as fast as you want it to go.
Albert Hughes 2:19:25
Well, that's a that's a really important thing because I'm my brother's is way too. We're extremely impatient people. And I did learn to become more patient on the set. And well, here's one thing I would tell myself and I learned a lot of the things I would tell myself already learned the hard way, right. And this thing that I told you about earlier about editing, you learn your hard lessons, your most punches are going to take in the face of probably going to be in the Edit to me, okay, because you learn like got a call cut too early. I got late in the day, I only did two two shots instead of five shots. I should have stayed for that fifth shot that I really wanted, you know, And the result as a person is always something your cutscenes straight in do this extra shot for state and this extra thing. Yeah. And you know, I'm guilty of being lazy, right? Sometimes, you know, but I've been burned so many times from my own fuck ups in the Edit, that I learned this thing about being patient on the set meaning like, you fuckin absolutely get what you need to get before you leave, okay? Because you're going to pay for it, and it's going to be burned and film that's going to be on your catalogue, and it's gonna be embarrassing to you for the rest of your fucking life. So why not deal with a little uncomfortable day to get it right? rather than a lifetime of embarrassment that you got it wrong, right. And that made me patient. So I guess I would say to my younger self, it's like, it's, it's tied to the editing thing. It's, it's, you know, practice your craft. One, one, right and in your off time, and learn how to edit. You know, which I already kind of did. But you need these experiences falling in your face. No, of fucking up a scene, you know, because every movie has fuck up every movie it's ever been made head fuck ups and I've had several movies, I've been lucky enough to be able to cut them out some of them right? What to glaze over with another creative fix. But there were times even on my last one, we often was like, Alright, I fucked up a whole day. You know, like, I blew a day budget. Not doing it right. You know, it's gonna happen. It's always gonna happen. And not to get frustrated by that. But here it is. In a nutshell. I said I found the answer. The answer to my younger self is embrace the scars of battle. Because of scars, those scars are gonna teach you more than the victories that you went unscathed.
Alex Ferrari 2:21:44
Yeah, like preach. Preach. Preach. Preach my friend. I feel like the testify right now.
Albert Hughes 2:21:51
Dude. It's like It's like PTSD. It's like you you know this when you run into another project. There's something in the back of my mind Don't do that fucking thing. You did a fucking you fucked up like a year ago you do this thing? Don't do it. Right. You really paid a price for doing that right so all my scars are right up like a crown like a thorn crown of Jesus around my head right? Just dripping in my everyday like the blood reminding me not to do it every year. There's another Thorn added to that crown. You know, that is a painful reminder every day I woke up onset. Now what a hell because you get to a point as a filmmaker. If you're not careful, you got to start fooling yourself here and there. You know?
Alex Ferrari 2:22:34
Bro, Listen, man, you you guys had like a hit a studio movie at 20 or 20 2020 years old. 2021 did. I was I was out of control at 2324 and I had done crap. I had done like some commercials. I was editing making some money as an editor like I was really high paid editor back in Florida back in the day. And my ego. I would have self I would have completely imploded if I would had your kind of success. I was just not prepared for I did not have
Unknown Speaker 2:23:02
What brought you back down, though. What brought you back
Alex Ferrari 2:23:05
now? Oh, oh, I'll tell you the story. The story is I almost made this real real quick. I wrote a whole book about it. My first book I wrote was about me almost making a movie for the mob. And I was hired to do I had to do the title myself. Wait a minute. It's called shooting for the mob. It's the book. And that the story this I'm not joking. This is a story. I'll tell you real quick. Everybody who's listening knows the story because you probably follow my podcast. So this is a story. I was hired by an ex gangster. A real dude who spent time in prison. I checked them out Italian guy. I was hired to do a $20 million movie about his life. And I was 26. And I was just like I you know, I was I was green. But I wasn't that green. So I was like, this still sounds a little fishy. I was in Florida at the time. And it's like it's a little grit seems a little fishy. But it kept going. And he offered it to me and I got stuck. And this is something you didn't have to deal with. But I did my generation did. My generation of filmmakers who didn't have your success dealt with what I call the lottery ticket mentality of Robert story of your story of Kevin's story, like all I need is that Tarantino story in all those stories that came out in the early 90s we all kind of wrapped up into this. When's my shot? When's my mariachi when's my clerks and when this guy showed up, he fed into that and I was like, Oh, this is my mariachi maybe I should take advantage of this. So he hires me on then we open up our production offices in a racetrack from the 50s so our production offices are in a racetrack in the 50s No, it gets better. So then he's like, you know, I shoot a sizzle reel shot at in 35 it's all this kind of you know, great stuff we I paid for half of it. He pays for half of it. It's all Kumbaya then, you know, Joe Pesci shows up now I'm not talking about it, he turns into Joe Pesci from Goodfellas. If you remember Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, he, what he's fun man, do I want to party with Joe? Like he's the best. But in a split second, I'm going to kill you and throw you in a ditch. I dealt with that daily for a year. So that so then so that's the story of the filmmaking of the gangsters. Not cool enough. Hollywood took him seriously. And I was flown out to LA I met the head of CIA. I had met billion dollar producers and they're freaking nuts. I'm I'm getting I'm at the Chateau Marmont, I'm at the ivy taking meetings with stars. I even went to go meet Batman I met I met one of the actors went Batman, Batman's house for a day. Like, dude, I'm 26 from Florida, bro. Like, I'm like, never had anything like this happened to me before. And that beating have a year of being so close. Like, dude, when you're sitting and you know this, when you're sitting three feet away from a movie star like that you grew up with watching. And he's like, I want to be in your movie. And I want you to be my director. And then a few days later, because of the agent, because it's something else happened because it's scheduled. It's gone. That happened to me probably four or five times in that year meeting these kind of, it's kind of like that boondock Saints story.
Albert Hughes 2:26:17
On the same project,
Alex Ferrari 2:26:18
same project I was doing it was like the hot project in town because everyone's like, Oh, where's the money coming from? Is it the mob money? I had actors meet with us because he was attached to my hip. Because he was the gangster had to be there because he wanted all that action. They just met with us because they just wanted to see him. They wanted to have a story of talking to a gangster. So that was that. popped my bubble and gave me a lot of shrapnel a lot took me three years like
Albert Hughes 2:26:44
How long did it take you? How long did it take you to decompress back down to earth?
Alex Ferrari 2:26:49
Oh, no. Oh, no. I was I was deflated within a few months of working with this guy. I had no dude, I was not. Dude, I was I had no tools. I had no armor. I had no no weapons to defeat my. I'd never met anyone like that in my life. So I couldn't I couldn't defend myself. So I was just I just I just like I was just holding on for dear life. During that process.
Albert Hughes 2:27:13
What did you did you did you come out a bit lower than you were when you came in. And you had to build yourself back up baseline
Alex Ferrari 2:27:18
Three years, three years before I did anything else. I never I almost went bankrupt. Wow. I almost file bankruptcy. I lost my girl. I almost lost my house because I wasn't paid. He owed me. Lost my dog came in later. You know, it was like it was a really bad thing. I couldn't even look at a movie like thinking about shooting I didn't shoot for two and a half three years. I just couldn't. Couldn't I was destroyed. Imagine getting so this is hard for you. Because you you had early success. I had been chasing this since I was in my video store days when I was 1516. When I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker. I was chasing it. And then these stories of like, you know mariachi and clerks and she's got to have it and all these stories you hear
Albert Hughes 2:28:03
You bringing that up? I don't I don't even like that's a fascinating angle. Right? Because with the lottery,
Alex Ferrari 2:28:10
No, it's a lottery ticket. No, it's complete lottery ticket meant to have been talking about the lottery ticket mentality for such a long time, because filmmakers get caught up with like, well, I need my Reservoir Dogs. I need you know, I need to do this. And they they they gamble everything on, on the one shot you got. And this is the thing I always talk about, like filmmaking is the only you like I think you've said in another interview is like, you don't need any degree to do this. Like you don't need any permission to do this. So that brings in all sorts of crazies into this that like a doctor, like surgery surgery. Like if you're there with a scalpel, you have to pass through some stuff to get to that point, filmmaker, they could literally be off the street, you just hold cookies. And now you want to set like directing an actor like that's, that's the craziness of this film of this business.
Albert Hughes 2:28:57
Alex Ferrari 2:28:58
It's Yeah, it's it's somewhat, so I lost my train of thought because I was going all over the place. But know that a lot of you take mentality. So then you you constantly are rolling the dice on that one shot. And it's the only place where I've see filmmakers go, I'm going to take my shot and I'm going to spend $100,000 or $500,000, I'm going to mortgage my house, I'm going to risk my relationship I'm going to risk my for the one lottery ticket shot as opposed to it's the equivalent of going into Yankee Stadium, coming up to play it against a major league hitter and expecting to hit a homerun on the first swing of your first bat ever. You should focus on you should not focus on homeruns you should focus on first Netflix, dude foul ball, foul balls. Let's talk about like let's, let's kiss one two ball man this let's just let's connect, then start working on singles. Then start working on doubles.
Albert Hughes 2:29:54
But that goes to. But that goes to the point of like maybe you should be working this shit on your off time. You know, the old rap Go back to the studio and get your shit tighter man.
Alex Ferrari 2:30:02
Go back to lab. But but that's the thing and that's what I try to break that false hood in the myth that has been created and filmmakers because you hear it like in every year or every few years you hear a story you hear like Shaun Baker with tangerine. Oh, we shot a film on an iPhone. You know, I had Sean on the show I talked to shot. It's dude dude had shot like three films on 35 prior to doing iPhone film, project I love the projects amazing. He's a very accomplished, but people all they hear is he shot a film on iPhone, the gunner Sundance, so if I grab an iPhone to shoot, I'm gonna get a Sunday. No, that's not. That's not the way it works. And I try to break that down
Albert Hughes 2:30:41
Your perspective there is interesting because I've never heard that before. That what happened in the early 90s and even trickles out to now you know what tangerine is like how it affects filmmakers coming up. Okay, never saw it from that angle like Jesus Christ. That's that it's fucking weird because I didn't feel that because, you know, it's like Spike Lee came out, you know, hollywood shuffle with Robert Townsend. You know, like people of color. You know, like, because when we were doing it at age 1213 1415 before we had an conception that it would be a profession. Subconsciously, we're thinking there's no fucking way we're blank. Subconsciously we're thinking oh, we see Spielberg and Lucas and Coppola and Scorsese. Dude, I don't look like us.
Alex Ferrari 2:31:23
I didn't see any Latinos but Robert, Robert showed up now you guys are running.
Albert Hughes 2:31:29
You guys are running the game now. Okay, like he fucking wants a more tougher one. Three Oscars back the back. Okay, back to back. It's never gonna happen again in light but then you got fucking Alfonso. I think it's a fucking rock star. Okay. Yeah, no Mexican game is front forefront, right? Yeah. Last one. You know, there's no disputing them. Right? Yeah. Right now. They were around when when you were in they were but they weren't to this degree. You know,
Alex Ferrari 2:31:58
Robert Robert Rob was Robert. mariachi was it.
Albert Hughes 2:32:05
And he was for us to that story was big for us were like this dude did what $7,000 like, so we didn't think it was possible. You know, it was a hobby. And then and then we saw Hollywood shuffle. Oh, I love that movie. I love it. Love it. Okay. And then, and then she's got a habit was in our video store. And we took it home. And you know, first few minutes. We're like, it's black and white. We're too young. You know, like, it's like, fuck this movie right? Later. We appreciate it. And we got older, but it told us something. It's like, Oh, we can actually do this as a profession. We can actually do that. And it was like the power of ignorance to the, you know, the power of naiveness. You know, and the thing that you have when you're young, it's this brashness, this kind of the stuff that me my brother did when we were young, like just the bulk of showing up somewhere and just almost demanding that we were going to be heard, you know,
Alex Ferrari 2:32:58
Stupidity, ignorance and stupidity.
Albert Hughes 2:33:01
Oh we knew that there was without a there was no doubt in our mind, once we put our mind to the filmmaking thing. Yeah, that not only were we going to a film that everybody would see, but that we would be known filmmakers, we knew that there was no, there was no question. Because our whole life had been groomed to that point, meaning that we were these oddball biracial twins that were born in Detroit, that were always looked at as outsiders. And our life was built for Hollywood in a way because people were looking at us already, because we were twins. So we already got that salt. Like, it's not weird that people are looking at us anymore, right? Or somebody wants to talk to us or come up and because we're a freak show on wheels, you know, twin biracial twin. Then you add in there were 18 years old directing, then we're 20 years old, right? So there's no a whole nother freak show element coming to fight here. Right. And the the most important thing and this is me talking to the young men out there is that we weren't distracted by pussy. Never like that I've seen you know, the distraction of sex. Throw away so many careers. And men sometimes are like in this in this mode of like, you know, that Scarface line first you get the power and you get to push it and you get it. And they and they feel like once they get to women, they've made it basically right. It's like No, that's not what making it is about is if you truly love this game, you're not in it for the awards, you know and for the sex you nominated for the five star hotels. That's why I actually disagree with award shows. I don't think that there should be any awards given to anything having to do with film at all. I think it's it's so ridiculous that this industry is awarding itself for for for this art form. Okay, if it's considered an art form first because it's not like 100 yard dash we all start up the same, you know, same muscles, and we're running the same race. No, we're not running to say how are you who's to say that after it's better not after this year or that directed by Mr. Rector, it's it's silliness, right? That five star hotels you got for Damn, you got you get to have sex with people you got no business having sex with right? That you want You've got your old motherfucker, you're getting treated special, you're a rarefied air. Even if you're on the lower end of the business, you're in a very privileged, entitled position. Okay. So why would you be entitled to a fucking award for doing that? Like, no, I'm sorry.
Alex Ferrari 2:35:30
And I just want to go back to one thing you said, Man, can we just sit for a moment and appreciate Robert Townsend? I mean, oh, man, can I just I because and I've said this a bunch on the show because it because Hollywood shuffle was the first credit card independent film. It was before it was before it was before Kevin and clerks and all that stuff. And people don't know about it, because they don't take it seriously because it was a comedy. But what Robert said in that movie, talking about how African Americans were being treated and actors, it was so biting man, it was so perfect. It was such a such a well crafted film. And
Albert Hughes 2:36:10
By the way, Peter Deming shot most of that, that no videos
Alex Ferrari 2:36:13
that Peter Deming shot that
Albert Hughes 2:36:15
He shot most of it.
Alex Ferrari 2:36:17
And let me know
Albert Hughes 2:36:18
About the process was like you'd shoot for a weekend, and then you wouldn't want you to get for another six months. Because you have to get the money doing the whole thing together.
Alex Ferrari 2:36:24
Right? And he put the whole thing together. And he did. I mean, from what I understand he did very, very well because it cost like, I don't know, like 50,000 or 100,000, whatever it costs. It didn't cost a whole heck of a lot back then. But it was incredible, like 100 100 and something but no credit card, but he did very, very well was a big hit at the time
Albert Hughes 2:36:41
People that were in the movie. I mean, the actors that were in that movie went on to have careers like Kenan there was a couple actresses that broke out of that thing, you know, like, and I remember singing in the theater with just me my brother and our friend and we were laughing hysterically. It was because it was just so like it was fighting.
Alex Ferrari 2:36:57
It was so it was such a satire and so beautifully crafted, and he doesn't get the credit. He should get
Albert Hughes 2:37:05
No he doesn't from in the army because I bring him up sometimes. I bring him up sometimes that people like huh, like, could they say somebody will say like, oh, that we're going into a debate about like, what's a hood classic? Or like what's, uh, you know, somebody will say, oh, like Friday or this or that, you know, some of the smaller films that kind of became became cult classic like, no, Hollywood, I'll pick Hollywood shuffle over Friday, any day of the week, because of also how eclectic It was like it you know, with that whole like detective story in black and white for a moment, right?
Alex Ferrari 2:37:34
Albert Hughes 2:37:36
It was all over the Cisco neighboured spoof, right you know the Winky dinky dog. Like, you know, like there's so
Alex Ferrari 2:37:44
I love the part what he's what he's the classically trained British actor. And he's trying to like they're trying to and then the white guy is trying to teach them how to talk hood. And now I'm more basic
Albert Hughes 2:37:59
You know, for Murphy like more more phonic.
Alex Ferrari 2:38:03
Albert Hughes 2:38:05
Which goes back to the story about Denzel, it's like, the story of Denzel is in that movie, I won't tell you that this stuff I've heard it's, it's like Denzel was going to auditions being told to be like Eddie Murphy. And he grew a chip on his shoulder from years and years and years of being told how to be black. You know, if we go back to carbon, copy the whole movies about that basically, right? Remember, carbon copy, and he still hasn't let that go. didn't sell that era in Hollywood of what he had to go through. And that's some of the reason why he he moves away he does on the set, you know, is that he has those battle scars that we talked about earlier as an actor of being rejected, because he wasn't Murphy, like.
Alex Ferrari 2:38:48
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Albert Hughes 2:38:58
So I'm telling my Harvey Weinstein story, because you were just telling me off the record about your book and one director that we won't name. But this is this goes to your overall point about getting punched in the face in your career. Right, right. And we're doing American PAMP. And we decided to do this documentary about pimps. And we start by shooting, I shot some separate footage on a couple of Pimps and edited together like 10 minutes of it, right. And we started showing it to like, distributors like, you know, we have Miramax and a couple other companies out there and people are biting they love this little 10 minute tape we have in it right? And they're offering us like, you know, two or $3 million at the time and back, you know, when documentaries weren't big, you know, only Michael Moore was big, right? And we go into this hotel room and we hadn't met Harvey and Bob before but we didn't know them that well. Right. And you know, in Harvey's in their chain smoking we show the pimp thing. They're over the moon about oh my god, we gotta have this we gotta have as Harvey we gotta have this will give you 2.5 for right now. Like this hold off, hold off, right? We eventually finished American Pam, with our own money. At one point, you know, Jimmy IV, and it helped us because it was originally supposed to be a showcase for Dr. Dre given the soundtrack. And Jimmy Ising had my brother, Dr. Dre, and American camp was involved in it. So we finished this thing. And we have these, you know, illusions or delusions of Granger, that we're gonna do what everybody else does with Sundance, and we're gonna go sell our doc at Sundance, right? The day they put the the thing on the market for screening, which was that they put it in these shitty theaters in the outskirts of town, not saying it's sold out every time, right? We get there, and we're in a hotel room, you know, almost counting our money, you know, like, we did it. You know, we did when your tickets come to Sundance for sell your movie, right? We didn't realize at the time the backlash that we would take. They were writing pieces about us real time that week about like, how dare they think they come and sell a movie at Sundance. I mean, literally like the point because white boys could do it,
Alex Ferrari 2:41:06
Because you arrived. Because you already arrived you shouldn't be there
Albert Hughes 2:41:11
I didn't realize what the Animus was, there was a few things going on. Okay. One thing was, they were saying how dare they do that? And how dare they even make a documentary. Like they just thought we shouldn't even be fucking in the dock space, right? It's close on the dock space, right. And then there was this other element, which was this unsaid kind of racialized thing where they were just destroying us over the kind of content and we realized halfway through what was going on, they didn't like the fact that black men were pimping white girls, right? Even the liberal mind couldn't take that he was slapping white ass everything. It just was too much for them. They can watch a kkk documentary, they can watch a mafia documentary with 1000s of people get murdered. They just couldn't take the content in this one, right? Even though it came because our plan was in that movie was let's go on the front door and 500 700 screens and make just pop eventually would happen with that movie. And I'll get back to the heartbeat thing. What happened with that movie was it came up from the underground and seep its way into hip hop culture on our records and stuff like that. And it became a college thing and you know, it the culture. But if it went to the back door, our dream and the way we saw it, we got punched in the nose by Sundance, we went there writing high thing went to sell the same book 567 million dollars. And what happens if they have a screening, all these distributors went in with their Fast Pass. Got it, the people that had actually bought tickets or got tickets early, and the whole screening room was filled with distributors, and they were snickering the whole time. And they were kind of like, you know, we had reports of people that were with us like, you know, they're like, Yeah, fuck these guys. We're not gonna we're not gonna bid on this. And they stuck it to us right? Meanwhile, we're like thinking Harvey and Bob we're gonna watch this thing. They won't return our agents call. They won't say anything. We hear a rumor that they sent a prank to themselves watched it and not one person hit okay. We got this like to lower the distribution distribution bill MGM eventually came in video. And it was a low point of our career because we're coming in thinking we're going to, you know, be gold. And they they hated us for a lot of reasons. One was, we did sell it to him a year earlier.
Alex Ferrari 2:43:18
How dare you held off? How dare you?
Albert Hughes 2:43:20
How dare you? How dare you? And they were so offended but so that was the first low point in our career. We got punched in the mouth, right? Meanwhile, we're like whatever the Harvey like. This is fucked up. Like, at least call us up and tell us you don't want to do it right call our agent call up somebody. CUT TO we make from hell. We're at the Venice Film Festival premiering it. And we're with Johnny. We're doing a red carpet. It's a big rollout. And Harvey is there at the premiere. He's sitting with a member of the royal family from offshoot who's snickering out from hell because through the whole stream you snickering because it's the world theory in the movie right? About the jack Ripper is actually a royal royal doctor. The movie ends Harvey looks at those. Oh my god, that was fantastic. I got something great for you. You guys gonna show up? We're gonna have this get together with Johnny whenever dinner was celebrating the movie. You know? They didn't have a party for you guys. So we're going to hold a party just come over to this place. I'm gonna have guys come here we go there. With the big tent dinner table set up. Everybody has a seat. Johnny has a seat. His agent has a seat. 20 other people have a seat. We don't have a seat. And our own so called party that Harvey throwing for our movie, right? And it becomes up to us and he pulls out his wallet goes here, take my wallet. wanted to have a movie. It's gonna take you all the way to the Oscars. That's gonna take you over to the Oscars. Right? So really, that's interesting, Harvey I mean yeah, Harvey that's really interesting. Um, what happened on American pimp? Dude, we had a movie for you. You never called us back. Did it? I just went off right? And he started sweating profusely to start beats sweat going into it. Well, you got to understand. We could release an NC 17 film, motherfucker who said it was nc 17 was a rated R movie we're talking about man said my piece turned my back, walk away. My brother walked away to right. Next time I see him as literally I think it may be the screen of Stanley Kubrick so eyes wide shot at the Academy. Right. I'm walking in with Brett Ratner wall people. Okay. And he goes up to Harvey starts hobnobbing with them. I'm standing there, Harvey won't even look at me. Doesn't even acknowledge that there's only three of us. Right? Those are the breaks man. Right? Leave that situation. Knowing that Harvey's gonna get his one day. So we all heard the story. We didn't know they were as bad as what they were. But proud of the fact that I actually stood up to him. And kind of funny shit. Right. Good. Yeah. It's not a great story. But it's a bunch of a no story, you know, and it also involves, you know, arguably to the biggest douche in the business. Sorry, I'll say it.
Alex Ferrari 2:46:09
I think that's, I think I think that's safe to say, sir. I think that's safe to say. on both counts, sir. I don't think anyone's gonna argue too hard on defending.
Albert Hughes 2:46:19
There's a huge gray area, you know, like when I'm lowering the grayscale one? completely black? Yeah, it just switched on, but
Alex Ferrari 2:46:28
On both of their parts. Thank you for that additional story, sir. Jesus, man, what was about I'm gonna ask you a last few questions. They're gonna rapid fire that I asked all my guests. What advice would you have? If you were a tree? What kind of tree? What advice? Would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Albert Hughes 2:46:54
That's something I expected that question. And what's weird about the answer is like, you're talking about how you came up. And I was talking about how I came up. And when we came up, there was no Instagram. There was no Vimeo, there was no YouTube, there was no Twitter, there was no this. It's, it would almost be presumptuous for me to know how to answer that question for somebody because me and you didn't come up in this climate, right? And the question is, how do you break through all that noise? Right, you know, like, like, I always do believe that the cream rises to the top, and eventually does it even if you're in your basement doing some genius video, you're gonna have someone like I had my brother who was like, No, let me get your number. And Vova you know, someone's gonna help you get seen or heard. And I remember talking to a film school about a year ago, and I had to have the hard conversation about this. It's like, figure out if you have talent or not, and figure that out really quickly. Because it once you figure out if you have talent or not, you can move on to more realistic goals. If you don't have talent, you can be a grip, you can be a gaffer, and even some of those are talented people, they grow into talented grips, or gaffers, but it's not the same required talent. As a filmmaker. A lot of these people are under illusions, delusions, and everything in between, that they got something that they don't have. They have to find out first and foremost, do they have talent? And if you have talent, are you willing to nurture and go through with that talent and fucking fully go full ass? You know, put the blinders on and keep your head down and go, right,
Alex Ferrari 2:48:32
Put the work in.
Albert Hughes 2:48:33
If you don't put the work in if you don't have to get the fuck out the way man.
Alex Ferrari 2:48:38
Amen. Amen, brother. Amen. We'll put that on a T shirt. Find out if you got talented if you don't get the fuck out the way.
Albert Hughes 2:48:49
No, wait, man, you're just wasting space man. Like, you're just, you're just, you're just fodder. You're fodder now.
Alex Ferrari 2:48:55
Right? And I would add to that, find out if you have talent and taste. And I think they go hand in hand. But taste.
Albert Hughes 2:49:01
Alex Ferrari 2:49:02
Yeah, but that tasting is a big.
Albert Hughes 2:49:06
It's a massive thing. It's definitely a massive thing you can get by with talent and no taste. You can't get by with tasting no talent.
Alex Ferrari 2:49:12
That's right. Like, I can paint a beautiful picture. I didn't know how to paint. All right. So what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life
Albert Hughes 2:49:33
The thing you brought up, I think the patient's thing, right? And, and to also, what I've learned recently is don't engage in get you, you know, putting your stick and everybody's peanut butter, meaning that when you're making something and you think that you need to get involved in a dp and a production designer talking about some intricacy of something, or there's some little battle going over here between two crew members and you think that you're your master diplomat and you're going to show up in salt Every you gotta be step Captain save a ho. You're not okay. When when you're when you're older you learn in a roomful of 20. People when you're at a board, boardroom table. Yeah, dude, you gotta you got to zone out. And let let let them do what they got to do, it'll forward me. And you may need to step stepping in, stir, stir the pot, right, but don't engage in every battle. You exhausted Ah,
Alex Ferrari 2:50:23
You'll you'll be exhausted.
Albert Hughes 2:50:26
Because in the end, you can win those battles. If you just take yourself out of those battles, let them let them eat at each other, you know, whatever things going on between them, but you think it's affecting your movie, it may be is, but let them exhaust themselves. And then you step in, if you have to, you know, that took me a long time to learn that because I was wasting a lot of energy, putting my stick in other people's peanut butter, it was my jar of peanut butter. But, you know, within that jar with a bunch of little jars that I shouldn't have been even engaging it.
Alex Ferrari 2:50:54
I agree with. That takes time. And that takes time as a director to learn that because at the beginning, you're just like, Well, why is the PA not happy? Why are these two PhDs fighting? Like maybe I should get into them? Nah, man, that's you got bigger fish to fry on
Albert Hughes 2:51:08
And push, you know, you don't have the energy used to do the thing now I'm in a room with with the crew. And I just find myself with someone like a daze like a daydream. I just like it's almost I hear a buzz. It's like, I hear the noise of them talking. And I think I know what they're saying and everything like that. But I'm like, I'm actively engaged. It cerebrally like it's a river away. I'm like, No, whoo, whoo,
Alex Ferrari 2:51:32
Not good enough? Nope,
Albert Hughes 2:51:34
Nope. sit there and smile. It was it was an old thing I read. And you know, this is a terrible example. terawatt, you know, I'll preface it by saying I was reading some book on Hitler. And he basically, in Donald Trump did the same thing. But I don't think knowingly, he encouraged infighting amongst his, his men, you know,
Alex Ferrari 2:51:54
Amongst his own, amongst his own men.
Albert Hughes 2:51:56
Yeah. That's his own man. Yeah, he liked the competitive nature, because he felt like in the end, the best thing was gonna come from a lot of creative people do that. That's why I hate bringing up the Hitler thing, because he doesn't deserve credit for, for this technique, right. It's a leadership thing. It's like, a lot of infighting can be useful. You know, if it's healthy infighting, and the best idea can come from it. But sometimes you got to know like, stay out of that fight. Because survival of the fittest goes on inside that organism called the crew. And sometimes it's the VFX supervisors fighting with a dp over something, you know, the best will come out of that, you know, hopefully it won't be like an overbearing personality that that's winning a battle. He shouldn't she shouldn't win. But
Alex Ferrari 2:52:42
But that's your job to keep an eye on that really,
Albert Hughes 2:52:44
Really fucked up. I brought up a Hitler reference for that, but
Alex Ferrari 2:52:47
No, but and that's any any, you know, I'm sure Attila the Hun probably did a little bit of that as well.
Albert Hughes 2:52:52
Yeah. Oh, yeah. A reference game.
Alex Ferrari 2:52:59
What was the biggest fear you had to overcome when you made your first feature?
Albert Hughes 2:53:06
That imposter? Yeah, the imposter syndrome, the imposter syndrome. You know, my mom has this, this thing you heard before was like, fake it till you make it. And I never understood she really met. Right? You know, there's those classic books or movies where the person doesn't think they're a superhero, or they don't think they're King Arthur. And, and all of a sudden, they find out they grown to that position of like, like, I deserve to be here. And you share the imposter syndrome. So be when you're involved in that imposter syndrome. And everybody is unless you're a fucking sociopath, right? Everybody, everybody would be the very early on is that we because everybody doubted us, my brother and I would walk over to part of the set and we start putting our hands up like this, like we're designing a shot, we weren't doing shit, we were just like, let's act like we're, we're directors. So that they think we're really moving this shit over. We're really not moving. I was super prepared and still had the imposter syndrome. And slowly through acting, like being a director, you know, or what I thought a director did, I became one, you know, and I shed all that, you know, you know, the fake stuff. Basically, it wasn't nothing to do with ego or, you know, my personality was off the charts or anything like that was like going through the motions of acting like a leader until I learned how to be a leader, basically. Right. And then you know, you're gonna always feel you know, even today, I gotta say, sometimes when you're in a low end of getting punched in the nose in this business, the imposter stuff starts to rise up. Yeah, you know, I like but I want to know, your darkest hours when your heads against the headboard. You just like, Do I really have what it takes?
Alex Ferrari 2:54:53
And I want everyone listening. You know, you Albert Hughes, who's done as many things as you've done your career still Deal with it. And I've talked to a lot a lot of people on my show, and every single one of them thinks at any moment, they're like, is Spielberg gonna just come in here and go, what are you doing here, get out of here.
Albert Hughes 2:55:13
But you got to also know that if you deal with depression, which, you know, the situational depression or clinical depression, both suffer from the same thing. Just be because everybody can deal with depression in one way or another, you know, meaning, you know, it might be a small case, you know, it's a very human thing to deal with the depression spurs on that insecurity. So while you're depressed, you have to tell yourself because you may have lost a project, you know, you may have gone through what you told me what that gangster film right on the backside, that you may have been in a funk, you couldn't believe right? And and that will make you more insecure. Oh, and you're not going to look at that like reality. Like that's not reality. That's not baseline, you're not at baseline, right? They don't judge yourself off of you. Depression is another big lesson, you know, and don't judge yourself off when you fill in yourself either. Because sometimes when I was filling myself, after I've been through all those battles, I kept in mind like, dude, negative, stop fooling yourself, because you're gonna get punched in the mouth tomorrow.
Alex Ferrari 2:56:09
But he was, I think George Clooney said it best is like, when they write the best things about you in the press don't believe it. And the same thing goes when they write the worst things about you don't believe it? This?
Albert Hughes 2:56:18
Yeah, but the thing I totally believe in is like, what I was another thing people when they get in this business, if they start getting written about, you know, having to deal with that in this new world, right? Is I will read, let's say 10 reviews, and seven of them are positive, two are mixed, and one is negative, right? those seven positive can't make up for that one negative. That one negative is hanging with me, right? And that one negative, especially if it's something I believe is true, if I believe it to be true, oh my god, like why don't working on my head,
Alex Ferrari 2:56:52
But why? Like I you know, I have books out and I've had my movies out and now you it's not just like critics like anybody, any time they can, Harry can write a comment about something. Anyway. Right? So you get like 100 positive reviews, you got four and a half, four 4.9 stars on something, right? And there's that one dude is like, this is a shit. This is crap. And you just like, and you only remember that one you don't remember the 100 before? Why?
Albert Hughes 2:57:22
The two step the two things you have to separate with a negative review is if you believe it or not, it used to be even if I didn't believe what they were saying it affected me it doesn't affect me anymore. If I don't believe it, like I'm dead presidents a review came out it was really interesting. It was like we had an actor in a movie who was staccato in his performance to say the least, and he had to be sculpted in editing. And you know, my brother would pay close attention and underline every part he got before we wrap that actor up. So in this review, they said basically me My brother was shit. And this actor is marvelous and should have never been in the movie not realizing the filmmaking that went into making that actor marvelous. Okay. They also said that last firefight in Vietnam looked like a good shot in my backyard. Now that one particularly hit me hard, because I remember it was one of those times I was being lazy. And we were shooting in the swamp and they had to put these floorboards down of wood. And you know, I just don't want to you know, we weren't moving camera just like you are right. Like, I don't want to move this fucking camera does I gotta slug through that fucking swamp like, it affected the look of this scene is very static, right? So that piece of criticizing, or critical analysis of that scene was spot on. Okay, and it was the only person that ever picked it out. And that one hurt me for years.
Alex Ferrari 2:58:43
Albert Hughes 2:58:44
Talking about it. He still still hurts. It's like, do not fucking settle. Doesn't matter if you're in the fucking swamp. Get your fucking shot, man. like nobody cares that you had a trust with god damn swamp. They don't give a fuck. And I didn't see what was going on. It was tough, man. It was tough. Like that. Yeah, that that was one lesson. That was one lesson and content, condensing my laziness over time, because it took many years to get rid of some of the laziness.
Alex Ferrari 2:59:11
And last question, sir, arguably the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.
Albert Hughes 2:59:19
They changed but Midnight Cowboy is my number one choice because Scorsese used to have the top three but as you get older, you change. Yeah, so mineka wages excellent movie. I just love it to death. manbites dog movie.
Alex Ferrari 2:59:36
You're the first person that knows about manbites dog, dude.
Albert Hughes 2:59:41
That's number two on my list,
Alex Ferrari 2:59:42
Dude. manbites dog Criterion Collection. LaserDisc
Albert Hughes 2:59:47
Came up the same year with menace.
Alex Ferrari 2:59:49
It was so good. Oh my god. It was so good.
Albert Hughes 2:59:54
Listen, I guess pause and just let me talk about that real quick. And I'll give you my third one is the reason why I love it. Because it has a lot of insight filmmaking stuff going on in the movie, right? Yeah, but halfway through, be I drew the line, solid limb leads and sunset five or whatever, with my brother in the 90s. And I walked out and that particular scene, the rape scene, you know, halfway through the movie Yeah, and I went home I'm like, why did I walk on that movie? Like, I got laid off later on LaserDisc and finished it right um, I said that movie says more about me than it's saying about anything because I didn't have no problem killing majors a lady you know women you know, children like I didn't draw the line on that I was fine and laughing my ass off because it's such a dark comedy right? But I drew the line at the rate and and it made me question myself so that's that's one of the reasons why I love the movie right really made me question myself you know? That my my own moral kind of compass.
Alex Ferrari 3:00:46
Can I think it's fine. Can I Can we just for anyone listening there it's basically the movies about a documentary crew following a serial killer. And then they the bat, my favorite part of the whole damn concept. It's and it's and he's a lovable serial killer. And he's killing people like it's he's a lovable serial killer. And these guys are following with a film camera. My favorite part in the entire movie is when they run into the another dog when they run into killer
Albert Hughes 3:01:19
Same cameras,as you
Alex Ferrari 3:01:20
know, they were shooting video, and they were shooting I think they were shooting a video like video.
Albert Hughes 3:01:27
Camera like you the killer says, Look, he takes the camera from the other crew who says Look, he has a camera like he goes No, that's video three drops the camera on the ground and shoots the guy in the belly. Like that's such an inside film
Alex Ferrari 3:01:38
thing right? Oh my god, it was so poor when I saw that I was fell out of my chair. That movie doesn't get the respect it deserves everyone listening man bites dog is still available on criteria collection.
Albert Hughes 3:01:48
If the other reason why you should get credited because those guys showed how lack of money created a an atmosphere for the movie that is part of a story that they didn't they're the small budget documentary film crew following a killer because they couldn't shoot like a normal movie, right? And then they add into the story that the serial killers helping them fund their movies. And then the and then the crews complicit in some of these crimes. Like why only four people want to go to the rich neighborhood right? Like it's almost like a snake eating its own tail. The movie
Alex Ferrari 3:02:23
is what it is, but it's so it's
Albert Hughes 3:02:24
incredible. It's either by the third one so used to be taxi driver, Raging Bull, you know, kind of those are my
Alex Ferrari 3:02:34
Good fellas. Yeah,
Albert Hughes 3:02:35
That connect. Goodfellas. Goodfellas came later though for me because you know, I've been on taxi driver and Raging Bull for years. But I got a slot Scorsese I gotta give him love. I gotta put him there. And I don't know which of the I would put there. I would say I'm leaning towards taxi driver. Yeah, because of how personal The movie is and how intricately designed it is even though it doesn't feel that way. It's It's It's subversively, like it's subversively intricate the way you design that movie, although it doesn't feel like this is what's great about Alfonso Corona is Alfonso korone. Got style and taste right. The average AUDIENCE MEMBER doesn't realize what his style is the average AUDIENCE MEMBER right? We know he has style. He has a loose style that if you're a film Insider, you go oh, my God, that mafia style is crazy. Oh, right. But if you're the average girl, we're like, I don't feel the camera. I don't feel any style at all. Right. Right. Right. That'show that's how good
Alex Ferrari 3:03:32
Without, without question, and can you imagine taxi driver coming out today, man? Like if it was fresh today, what would?
Albert Hughes 3:03:42
What do you think would be the response today?
Alex Ferrari 3:03:44
First of all, I don't think unless a studio first of all studio would make it so major studio wouldn't make a film like that. So that's the environment we're in. I doubt I doubt that
Albert Hughes 3:03:53
It would be a joker and they basically stole taxi driver,
Alex Ferrari 3:03:57
Which is right. And Marty was supposed to produce that as well. But he ever Yeah, so. But that's different. You couldn't tell Joker without joker? Like the student would not have found is that without a property and IP?
Albert Hughes 3:04:09
Oh, you know that? You know what that movie is? That movie though? You were never really here with Joaquin Phoenix a year before. Joker without the Joker.
Alex Ferrari 3:04:17
Right? Exactly. Movie. Exactly. But a little different budget
Albert Hughes 3:04:20
Another break though. She's a great filmmaker.
Alex Ferrari 3:04:22
Amazing, amazing film. So then he so I What do I think will happen? I think it's so difficult because I think taxi driver when it came out. No one had ever seen anything like that before. And it kind of really pushed the envelope. Where in today's world it would be more blood Xay even though it's still still bite, it still bites. Taxi drivers still bites. That taxi drivers. Like I watched clockwork. I watched Clockwork Orange the other day. Dude
Albert Hughes 3:04:52
That's one of my favorites.
Alex Ferrari 3:04:53
Dude. First 20 minutes of Clockwork Orange today is unacceptable. It's unacceptable. Like no way it would ever be seen like when I watched when I cuz I hadn't seen in forever since like pre film school I was like let me I went I went through a Kubrick phase. So I just watched everything and I went deep dive into Kubrick and I watched I was sitting there watching I'm like, I was in awe of the imagery, what he was saying it hold two data fens meted day, in a great way.
Albert Hughes 3:05:23
I love it. It's it's just changes as you get older to it's like, it's like that film like, you know, sometimes you can like the back half depending on the age or you like the front half right? It's like jackets like that you like to change or do you like to Vietnam section or you know, or you're like it all whatever, right? The The amazing thing about Clockwork Orange is like, you know, he was living in a time where he was able to you know, exercise his his fetish, his some of his fetishes. If you look at his catalogue, now, there's a particular type of women when they're nude, particular type of breast, particular type of pubic hair. Okay. Particular phallic images, right, that he's into, okay. And in today's environment, like, it's like, dude, you're a pervert, you know, but back then, you know, a lot of filmmakers, I think filmmakers should be able to put their own personal kind of fetishes in like even Tarantino's who said that nowadays, you put furniture which, which I didn't pick up on on a big time in Hollywood, that Hollywood film, like, I didn't see it, you know, like everybody else sees it basically right now. And then you got like, like Casper? No. And you know, Nick Rep. And these are kind of fetish filmmakers, you know. And I think it's cool. But you know, you also get an insight into the man or woman, it's particularly men, and how men look at women. You know, because you're able as a director to play God in a way so of course, I want this particular look out of a woman like Hitchcock and a blonde. Like even Spielberg as a Jewish man, he went for the waspy blonde woman and every one of his movies, right? He had a particular type of woman he liked in his movies, right? Which, which says a lot about the filmmakers sometimes. Now if you look at Scorsese, what's interesting about him and I'm sorry to deviate like this. Yeah. His women, his women come and go, they flow they just they just different types, brunettes, blondes you know, not ugly, but you know, not as attractive. attractive. You know, he's a different he's a different animal. Yeah, no, he don't he goes, not.
Alex Ferrari 3:07:20
Jodie Foster. Yeah, his fetishes move. Yeah. 12 year old prostitute and 12 year old prostitute and then you got Sharon Stone and casino. And then you got Lauren brocco and Ellen
Albert Hughes 3:07:31
Burstyn Ellen Burstyn and what was the name of that movie? Doesn't Live Here Anymore.
Alex Ferrari 3:07:36
Yeah, it just it just all over the place all over the place. I have to ask you one last thing because now because cuz I love talking Kubrick. Eyes Wide Shut. That's my favorite Kubrick movie. Yeah, I love my sweatshirt.
Albert Hughes 3:07:47
Oh my god. I've never met a person whose
Alex Ferrari 3:07:49
I love Eyes Wide Shut.
Albert Hughes 3:07:53
I hated it.
Alex Ferrari 3:07:54
Did you hate it? Did you really hate it? Alright,
Albert Hughes 3:07:56
so here's what I hated. Alright.
Alex Ferrari 3:08:00
This is if anyone's still listening. This is now just to film geeks. geeking out. Oh, cool. Breaking up. Alright, so I'm like, Alright, so this is my thing. I went I went in 99 saw it with my, with my buddies. I was what? 20 whatever, at that time. Mid 20s. I think I was at that time when it came out. And I walked out and my buddies are like, so would you think I'm like, I don't know, I didn't understand it. But I'm gonna understand in about 10 years. And that's generally all the Kubrick's films, like you watch it. And you really people, the critics, society doesn't catch up to it for about about 10 years is generally I've noticed like 2001 10 years Clockwork Orange, Doctor Strange love, you know, full metal, like all of those. They it took a minute for people to figure it out. And as my show was, was even to the nth degree that and by the way, Ebert said that is my show was a Kubrick's favorite, his favorite Kubrick film as well, so I'm not I'm in good comradery. I'm in good company. So when I saw it again,
Albert Hughes 3:08:58
I didn't know if I didn't meet him after that. Second, okay.
Alex Ferrari 3:09:02
So I, I saw it again, after I was married 1015 years later, and I was like, Oh, my God, I get, I get a lot of what he's talking about. And it's not the flashiest. And it's not the coolest film of his I mean, the clockwork orange first 20 minutes is just genius. Yeah, but there's just such nuance and depth. That opening shot of Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut. Just that opening shot of her just taking her clothes off, and then cut to the title Eyes Wide Shut, arguably in my view is one of my favorite shots in cinema history, because it just it said volumes about what the damn what journey we're about to go. And now you want to talk about fetishes. Yeah, that movie that movie, he goes deep into those fetishes.
Albert Hughes 3:09:53
And you can go you look at the women in those scenes and you compare that woman, the women and then the orgies. To the women on stage with Alex and Clockwork Orange, it she's a spitting image.
Alex Ferrari 3:10:09
Albert Hughes 3:10:11
Yeah, particularly the thing. You're right. And one way it's like, you know, a lot of people pointed out about the relationship thing, like, you know, if you're in a relationship, which I had been at the time, but not like a, you know, lengthier relationship, the problem I had was more like, you know, sometimes we make a movie, like, Who does this movie appeal to? Like, what is this? What's all this money for? You know, and then and then I started seeing some dissolve in the middle of the movie. And this goes back to the thing you were talking about earlier? It's like what are these guys do in their off time? You know, what? Is guys doing off time? Are we only making movies when we make movies? Are we making an off time? Now he was such a brain that he's making movies in his head all day, but he wasn't necessarily exercising his talent and in a real filmic way in these 10 five 720 year gaps between making all those films right. So the this was the biggest gap between this movie an
Alex Ferrari 3:11:04
It got longer and longer 13 years yeah 30 Well, actually 15 years beginning of production Yeah.
Albert Hughes 3:11:09
Was it was a full metal jacket
Alex Ferrari 3:11:11
Right with a full metal jacket was 87 and then 99 is when eyes wide shot but that was also in production probably for about two years because the world record holder every one of it but
Albert Hughes 3:11:22
But if you look at one thing in the film, it's there's a few dissolves he does in the film that irked the shit out of me right and this is not me. I'm not trying to be sacrilegious. I don't want any fucking feedback and comments. Like I said this book, tubers like Yo, fuck you guys. Like we're having an open honest discussion about what we like. Even if we love these these filmmakers, they're not flawless. You know nobody's flawless, is I saw two dissolves in that movie. I go Ouch. That's a 16th dissolve. That's a dissolve a 60s movie. Meaning that those two images were not meant to go together. When I see a dissolve randomly use in a movie or TV show. No less capable directors, I let it go by right. But when it's a capable director, that's a juggernaut. And I see a data dissolve like that. I go. He's starting to show signs of his age. You know, he's, he's not a young man anymore. His taste is not you know, the word taste okay. His taste is that of an older gentleman. Okay. And I don't know. And even though I'm fixating on a dissolve, it's a fucking dissolve. It's not going to change the tone of the movie. But it just made me perk up in the womb. Like he didn't have to do that. You know why? And I didn't I didn't care for the movie. I thought it was indulgent. I thought the fact that they were in a relationship was indulgent. I thought the fact that Tom Cruise and it wasn't it was indulgent. I thought the whole thing the fact that even though the new york city streets in like New York city streets at all, they had dead ends in Michigan, some pine, whatever the fuck they shot that like, he got away with it full metal jacket, it was great. The way they designed the Vietnam sequence in that it just was a full, you know, man, you know, at that stage, the wonderful jerk off amante he was doing he was doing the format. Film for himself. No. audience of one.
Alex Ferrari 3:13:05
Yeah. And you know what? That's basically Kubrick did a lot of that he but he was but he was smart enough. And God bless him for doing it. But he also was smart enough to always cast like the biggest stars generally speaking, like, like, like jack and, and, and Tom and his films. He he he used to do stuff like that. But anyway,
Albert Hughes 3:13:30
Well, the last left is that you look at Spielberg who doesn't like doing that? Right? But from time to time, he does do that. And then you look at Scorsese, whose career revival is insane. Because he latched on to you know, Lille. Like he was really smart about that like, like he has this relationship with is this hot actor been hot for a while one of the biggest movie stars in the world. And it was a very good strategic move as a filmmaker at his age is like, this guy's got to get my movies made because even Scorsese to your point earlier about the shit I go through on my level. It's like, scores no way I was wanting to make a movie with him. They know it should cost money. And you know, he's gonna go over and days and, you know, these pressures as a filmmaker in a good way, right? Leo gives you that cover. It's very smart of him to do that. Not to say that Leo doesn't deserve the penis cortex. He does. But, you know,
Alex Ferrari 3:14:18
No, no, no question. No, no, no question. And then I always and I think Tarantino said this is like, as old as directors get older. He says they lose the lead in their pencil, you know, and you start seeing it and you can I get that I get that. But Scorsese he hasn't man like when I saw the party that was he was like, How old was he in there?
Albert Hughes 3:14:38
But that was that was him phoning it in to By the way, right? That's Scorsese phoning it in. Right? Then you look at Wolf of Wall Street, you see a 70 mid 70 year old man in the same year or around the same year as George Miller doing that fuckin
Alex Ferrari 3:14:51
Oh, Mad Max.
Albert Hughes 3:14:53
Okay, here I've got these two guys. And if something's like just shitting on young directors like this energy of these movies and like the pure kind of audacity and irreverence and both these movies like just a plan boasting like just crazy don't making flex, right? Yeah, these guys are in the 70s doing this right? Like Wolf of Wall Street impress me more as a Scorsese fan into departed, departed. I was like yeah, he's gonna do and he's gonna his Oscar right? You know? Yeah, good movie great performances here and there but I'm not I'm not feeling that Scorsese because if you look at it visually, it's not a Scorsese movie
Alex Ferrari 3:15:29
But when you watch Wolf of Wall Street is like his like, man, Jesus,
Albert Hughes 3:15:34
That's just like and there's something to be said for even though I can't believe vouch for this last thing he did for Netflix,
Alex Ferrari 3:15:42
Albert Hughes 3:15:43
Irishman there was some really cool slow burn Old Man game and that shit, right? Like, he did some shit. Like he was basically like, these dudes are old. My style is gonna reflect that right? And, and, you know, awesome stuff I don't care for but the one thing that really tickled me pink was the way dinero did his vo was like, oh, man, he was like, he would throw out food like, you know, and then we went to the cafe and you know, I'm like, Oh my God, that's genius. Like, even the vo islike, is an old man. You know,
Alex Ferrari 3:16:16
Brother, man. Listen, I appreciate you taking this obscene amount of time talking to me, man, we could keep jamming. But
Albert Hughes 3:16:24
You know, we all have.
Alex Ferrari 3:16:26
Exactly right. I appreciate you taking the time. Man. This has been an amazing conversation. And I hope it helps a lot of filmmakers out there. It's inspired me and I'm in the conversation. So it's been it's been it's been very cool, man. So thank you so much for for being on the show and also doing what you do man and and and just just being an artist, man and just fighting the good fight out there with the films that you have made in Hollywood, bro.
Albert Hughes 3:16:51
What Thank you, and thank you for having me, you know, and I enjoyed this kind of talk. And I'm glad you have this show. Because even the questions you were asking, you know, they're they're really, you know, you hit me with three or four I've never been asked before.
Alex Ferrari 3:17:06
That's it. Wow, that's humbling,
Albert Hughes 3:17:09
No. Now, there's some great, great questions there. And some of them stumped me, you know, so thank you for I love talking film, even if it's like separating what I do in film. Because I think the one thing I say before I go that's important for people to realize before they get in a car with keyboards and start bashing me for saying some of the things I say is that you have to separate what I do from me as a fan. You know, I'm sure one influences the other. Sure. But I like to talk about movies as a as a fan, too. And like, I want to be exempt from being picked on just because I make film. You know, just because I make film doesn't mean I think that my shits great No, I you can shoot on my stuff all day long. Like, you know, I'm not pumping my, you know, off of my chest up over my own work. But I would I love a show like this because I like to go into like uncharted territory of like, Yo, this is why I didn't like that called Kubrick movie even though I love his catalogue, you know? And, and for people to be more honest, I think nowadays, these podcasts are great for one reason and a lot of reasons but yours in particular is like podcasts, at least are more honest. There's wrong traditional like, entertainment show, so hopefully, you know, hopefully it helps. What you what you do on what I do I don't I just don't i don't think it's cool that the times we live in right now people are just quick to like, pick on opinions, their fucking opinions. People keep moving. I'm like assholes. Everybody has one.
Alex Ferrari 3:18:36
Amen, brother. Amen. Thanks again for being on the show, bro. I appreciate it.
Albert Hughes 3:18:40
All right, thank you.
Alex Ferrari 3:18:42
I want to thank Albert for coming on the show and sharing his knowledge bombs with the tribe. As I promised you it was epic. If you're still listening to this podcast, thank you. And I'm so happy that you made it all the way to the end. You know, I generally don't go three hours on a podcast. But when you're flowing, he got to keep flowing. He's got keep that engine going. And that's what exactly what we did. So, Albert, thank you again, if you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash for 35. Now guys, I'm gonna get out of here because if you're still listening to me, God bless you. You're still listening. So thank you so much. As always keep that also going keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.
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