fbpx

IFH 264: Shooting an Improv Feature, with Movie Stars, in 5 Days with Jamie Adams

Right-click here to download the MP3

As promised today’s guest is Jamie Adams, the writer/director of the new film Alright Now starring (Cobie Smulders, “How I Met Your Mother, Avengers”)You can listen to her interview hereI wanted to chat with Jamie because he has made a career of shooting feature films fast, cheap and completely improv.

As you all know I shot my first two features, This is Meg and On the Corner of Ego and Desire, using the same style and techniques. They’re not a ton of film directors shooting features films like this, let alone films with major movie stars in them, so I had to have him on to discuss his process.

in this interview Jamie breaks down:

  • How he was able to cast Cobie Smulders
  • What his process is when writing the scriptment
  • How he works with actors
  • How he covers a scene
  • and much more

Here’s a bit about the film:

ALRIGHT NOW follows Joanne (Cobie Smulders, “How I Met Your Mother, Avengers”) a rock musician who drunkenly enrolls in college after she breaks up with her boyfriend and her band falls apart. Convinced she will give the youngsters a run for their money, Joanne is shocked to discover that no one knows who she is and they could care less about her rock star past. Completely improvised and Directed by Jamie Adams (Black Mountain Poets), ALRIGHT NOW is a feel-good comedy about love, life and the search for new beginnings.

Here’s the trailer for his award-winning film Black Mountain Poets.

Claire and Lisa Walker are neurotic sisters on the run who assume the identities of Internationally renowned poets The Wilding Sisters to take refuge at a Poetry Retreat for the weekend; spending time in the black mountains of Wales amongst poets and the inspiration of nature leads to a new beginning for our heroines.

Enjoy my conversation with writer/director Jamie Adams.

Alex Ferrari 1:58
Today I have on the show Jamie Adams, who is the director of the new film, all right now starring the lovely Colbie Smolders, who we had on the show earlier in the week. And as promised, Jamie is on the show today to reveal all of his secrets on how first of all how he got Colby to be in his small budget improv based film being shot across the world over in England. And I want to also talk to him about his process of how he casts how he works with actors. How he develops the scene, how he writes, The the project, how he covers the project, technically, with cameras, what he's doing one camera to camera, what's his whole process, like, because I've had my experience, obviously, with my first two films, this is mag and on the corner of ego and desire shooting in a very similar style. And I know how I do it, but I wanted to hear how he does it. And he's been doing it longer than I have. He's done about four or five features, plus tons and tons of shorts. So and he's really has embraced this improv style of filmmaking. And the one thing I also wanted to say, and I say it a little bit in the show, but you know, there is not one way to make a movie. You know, Hollywood and film schools teach you that this is the only way to make a movie. But if you look at the Masters in painting, you throw a canvas, paint and a brush, and you give it to Van Gogh, Dali, and Pollock, you're going to get very different styles very different ways of doing the exact same thing putting paint on canvas, and there is no reason why filmmaking can't be that way as well. So without any further ado, please enjoy my enlightening conversation with Jamie Adams. I like to welcome to the show Jamie Adams. Man, thank you so much for being on the show, brother.

Jamie Adams 3:48
No, no problem at all. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 3:50
You are where you're in London at the moment, correct?

Jamie Adams 3:54
No, I'm in a small coastal town called Porthcawl, which is near Cardiff in Wales.

Alex Ferrari 4:01
Nice. Nice to see that I know nothing about what you just said. Because I'm I am. I'm here in Los Angeles. I just know. That explains everything. Exactly. It's like if I tell you Yeah, I'm in Burbank, over over here by this corner in the valley. You're just like, I don't understand.

Jamie Adams 4:19
Yeah, but at least I know where Los Angeles is.

Alex Ferrari 4:21
You know what Los Angeles don't even know my country. You know, barely enough. I am a typical typical American. I apologize.

Jamie Adams 4:30
It's expected. Wait, when I say Wales to people, they go, Oh, that's London right?

Alex Ferrari 4:37
I know that much. I do know.

Jamie Adams 4:42
It's Britain. It's next door to England.

Alex Ferrari 4:45
Yes, yes. Yes, of course. Anyway, so I wanted to get started. How did you get into the business man?

Jamie Adams 4:52
I'm not really in a business. I...

Alex Ferrari 4:55
Just make movies on the side?

Jamie Adams 4:58
I essentially Just started. Oh God, Jesus Christ. I'm 38. Now I guess I went to film school when I was 18 in London, Royal Holloway, University of London, and met a fantastic filmmaker that called Gideon Kapil. And Gideon made a really just fantastic award winning documentary, think about 10 years ago now called sleep furiously. Which, as an aside, you should check out because it's absolutely just a beaut, beautiful, beautiful film. And he was just kind of looking at my short films and going, you know, working whales working with, with crew and cast and whatever. And I was getting quite frustrated as an 1819 year old. And he said that perhaps, you know, I was getting too attached to what I had going on in my head in terms of the way in which I would visualize what it is that I wanted. And I was getting frustrated with people because they weren't able to do what I wanted them to do. So he said, maybe we'll find a different approach to making your films. And, and but at that point, I was, I'm from a very small town in South Wales. So I would just go to the video store and see like all the police academies, and and Back to the Future, all very sort of commercial comedy type stuff. Really.

Alex Ferrari 6:20
Now you speak. You speak of video stores, what are those? I find it like iTunes, it's on iTunes, and you actually go right into it. And you see all of the covers around, you know, making this up. You're making this up? I don't believe I know.

Jamie Adams 6:37
Exactly. And you get to take it actually physically home with you and study that anyways for dangerous and fee and you get if you don't rewind, you get charged. Not in Britain, not in Britain, they were just happy if you returned it in Britain.

Alex Ferrari 6:51
Good to know.

Jamie Adams 6:53
He was he was I still got a couple anyway, that we'll talk about that.

Alex Ferrari 6:56
Sorry.

Jamie Adams 6:59
But yeah, so I just said, Look, you know, this is what I this is what I'm into. And he said, Okay, well, maybe you need to be watching some other things. And so he introduced me to Mike Lee, the work of Mike Lee and Peter Greenaway, because he p degree is from Newport, which is in Wales. And so yeah, I kind of just, I stopped going to lectures really, and just started watching. Wake up as that watching as many films as I possibly could play and catch up with the rest of the people that were on the course that already knew about all these great movies, and, and the European cinema as well in terms of like French New Wave and all that kind of stuff. And I started to appreciate that. There's not there's not that one way of making a film, like whenever you see any kind of movie as a kid, like whether it's Jurassic Park, or Back to the Future, Pulp Fiction, whatever, you always think, oh, there's a way that you go about doing this, that is the same, because that's how you direct as a job. And I think I just kind of learned that that's not the truth of it, the truth of it can, it's very much an expression, an individual expression. And that's where the real great movies come from, whether they're commercially minded movies, or whether they're, you know, artistic expressions. So bear with me, I just realized, you are all now realizing I mean, my laundry room.

Alex Ferrari 8:17
Well, that is why it's, that's why sounds so fantastic.

Jamie Adams 8:20
Let me go and turn that off. I will be thanking my wife. But anyway, yeah, so as I was, so yeah, so I went and looked at all this stuff. And, and that's when I started to appreciate that, really, it wasn't about trying to be like these other great filmmakers. It was about finding my own voice. And so that's where the improv started to come from, I started to realize I really loved working with actors, specifically spending a lot of time with actors talking about the stories that I wanted to tell and, and making them more and more involved in the creation of the stories. And the one thing I discovered, actually, the last couple of years is that I feel that Mike Lee is a bit disingenuous, because he then goes away and he writes the script, and then they follow those. And that's that confused the reader, excuse me, then Excuse me. Now when I've got actor friends who work on his his films, it doesn't if you're going to start with a collaboration where everybody's really kind of invested in their character and invested in creating the story, it just felt like to me that you just carry that on into that. And I didn't know quite how to do that. And so yeah, so as the years go on, and on and I, I worked as an assistant editor, this is a really long winded answer.

Alex Ferrari 9:35
No, no. Well, let me let me ask you as far as because I come from an editing background as well. How did it help you transition from being an editor to being a director? Did it help you? How did how did that help?

Jamie Adams 9:49
Yeah, it really helped. I mean, this is the thing is I kept on making these short films in trying to figure out how I was going to use this, this sort of using the improv method that I I learned from watching the Mike Lee films and from hearing from people like Dominic savage over here. And I had time because I was able to be involved in seeing these incredible editors put together. I mean, I worked on state of play, which was a Kevin McDonald movie and Justine, right. They were like an Oscar winning documentary team who were making this film with like Russell Crowe. And last was in that I think Ben Affleck was in it. And it was this huge film, and I'm in there in the Edit. And I'm 2324. And it was just, I was able to be a part of these environments where I wasn't being bossed around on set, because I did try being a camera system group. And it wasn't the most awful experience my life, realized the only time I ever want to be on set is if I'm the director,

Alex Ferrari 10:49
Yes, that's generally the best place to be. Yeah, as a director, I agree with you 100%, I hated P.A work, I could not start.

Jamie Adams 10:56
I mean, you've really got to want to be like, work your way up to be a cinematographer or something. To do that kind of work, I don't understand how they do it. I didn't last very long. And I ended up going to the cutting room. And that's where I discovered that I could do a job as the assistant editor, which it really is a specific kind of, you know, data orientated job really, and, and that suited me because then I could still be having these great conversations with directors and editors that I had no right to being able to be involved in. But because you're in the edit suite, and as much karma, they're much much, you get to, you get to help, you just get to have lovely conversations with incredible creative people that are making things that you want to go and make. And the one thing they kept saying would just keep going, you know, to keep to keep writing, then making the short films on the side. So that's what I did every year, I'd find the right people and, and have the money to go and meet these guys that have the money. I mean, they only ever cost about 50 quid or whatever. But you go and shoot movies on TV. And I think I just happened across something when I started to go into teaching, because my wife and I got married and very young, actually. And we were 25. And then we had our first child at 26. And I was able to ask them, I better make sure you know, I'm working class that I don't have money in the bank, my parents can't pay for me, I need to need to have work a living out here. So I became a teacher and lecturing in film studies. And I was acting out a role, really, because I wasn't ever really fully invested. I just wanted to be making the things that I was asking them to go and make. And so that was another jolt of, you're on the wrong path. Now that you're on the right path. Now you haven't made. I haven't I didn't make a short film for three years. My wife could see I was getting a bit depressed. And she just she just went, she just went okay enough. You have to go make a film. And when I say go make a film. I don't mean this European. Finding your soul kind of news. What did you sell

Alex Ferrari 13:04
The seven seal?

Jamie Adams 13:06
Because that's the thing is that is that you know, ultimately, she was like, I'm happy for you to go be a filmmaker. But please, what did you love when you were when you were younger? Because that might lead you to a place where you might make some money out of this. And

Alex Ferrari 13:18
Very wise, by the way, very wise.

Jamie Adams 13:20
Well, she's still waiting. Yeah, exactly. I mean, always waiting. But I was like, of course, I love comedy. And I love you know, she's go to a comedy. And I was like, Well, okay, this is where the improv could work. Because I think I think I know what's funny, like, I'm pretty confident in, in what in my knowledge of what is funny, but to actually sit down and write. I mean, I got a now I've got so many friends that actually, you know, they're great comedians, and they sit down and they write, and I'm just in awe of them. I have no idea how that, you know, they're able to, I know, kind of stories I want to tell that might be funny or whatever. But to actually get the joke out of that to actually get the punchline out of that is, is a is an incredible skill. And something I don't have to worry about. I did have as I was like, Well, I think I know what situations could be funny. So I just started at that point. And then of, Okay, forget this European cinema stuff, but use the improv nature of working with actors. And if you get the right cast, and put them in the right situations, then together you should be able to, you know, Jamie's laughing then hopefully, that means it's gonna be funny to other people. So that's where the feature from the first feature on my deck came from, which must've been about five or six years ago, and I can't really remember it was should have been a short film, like literally the cast that got involved thought it was a short film. That's always the best. It was so funny, though, because I remember Craig Roberts, who's, you know, he's from Wales, and at the time, he done the film submarine. Did you see that? The rich Yeah, I've heard of it, but I've not seen it. He's so he was so good in it and, and so he I had no right having him in my film. But he literally told his agent, it's a short film we don't need to worry about. Like, we're on set, and we're only shooting for five days, this seemed to be the thing that I thought that if I made 12,000 pounds, I could go make a film in five days, and we would be able to give people at least quiche for lunch, at least. You know, maybe maybe maybe some gas money, maybe maybe focus Well, yeah, exactly. It's a virtual but and then, you know, I just got loads of really great enthusiastic graduates mostly to be in the crew. Apart from my do p I still work with now. And yeah, we just started to amble along from I made it like the worst choices. Is that okay, so we've only got five days. So what I want to do is I'm gonna start in London, travel to Cardiff, sure enough to travel from Cardiff into North Wales, and then back to Cardiff. And now look at me again, you're just going to be on the road, most of the time, you're not actually going to be shooting much right now. No, no, no, cuz we're going to carry on filming whilst we drive. And they're like, well, that's against the law. All right, well, not, is this what we're gonna do? It's gonna be fine. And literally the first time we set off in, in, we were not in an RV, we couldn't afford an RV. Bring out these really small motor homes. They're like, think of the smallest caravan you can ever think of. It's basically that on wheels, right? And we got a couple of those. And we were just setting off. Just before we were just sitting off just literally the camera guy made up, Ryan, literally would just get a shot of us pulling away and he steps on a rusty nail. Oh, and then a couple of the older heads in the in the cast. They were panicking. They were like, No, no, no. Now what happens is, is you go straight to hospital and you get a job. And Ryan was like, No, I'm fine. I'm fine. I can just wipe the blood away. It's no problem. And, and I was like, Oh my god, I'm all about like, guerilla filmmaking me but I don't want you to die.

Alex Ferrari 17:14
I don't want your foot to fall off by the end of this film.

Jamie Adams 17:17
Like this is I'm not sure this is a good idea. But he just carried he just carried on. And and then when when I was like, yeah, we're just gonna, we're gonna shoot Now guys, so don't get up and move around. Because obviously it's a moving vehicle. But we're going to carry on shooting you whilst you know you're talking in the motorhome. And literally that the the oldest cast member that was with us just as soon as you were about to turn over, he went No, stop. No, there's gonna be no filming whilst we're driving. I was like Jesus, I was like, there goes, there goes the film. This is your first and this is your first film and this style is the Yeah, it was the first one with this style. It was the we literally had 10 pages of scenes that I thought I needed to get to tell the story. And already I was being told that like half of what I had, which is essentially I find it hilarious. Like all journeys, I think of funny, for various reasons. And due to like anxiety reasons, probably for me, and you know, I always imagined the worst is going to happen, that kind of thing. And, and so everyone's trying to keep everyone busy. So I thought that was a fun thing to try and capture. But but he wouldn't allow that to happen.

Alex Ferrari 18:25
It's funny. It's funny that I mean, I've had this, I've had some experience with that. But generally everybody I get on board with my films they are. They're all on board. They're like we're all going on this crazy journey. I never had an actor stop me. But I have had conversations with people who just don't understand what we're doing. Let me I'm assuming you have to have because it's just not the way you officially make a movie. You know, you need to do things a certain way, according to the dogma of filmmaking. But when you like, you know, like my last film, I shot at the Sundance Film Festival, like I literally ran around the festival and shot an old movie, a narrative.

Jamie Adams 19:05
That's incredible. That was actually one of the ideas I had a couple of years ago was that mine was South by Southwest because that's why I've had experienced though,

Alex Ferrari 19:12
Right! I've had experiences Sunday and so I literally ran around about about three filmmakers trying to sell their film to a producer and they're hunting down our producer at Sundance over 24 hours. And, and I literally would talk to people and they would just look at you with like deer head deer like like deer in headlights. Just Yeah, we blank. What's your I mean, I'm assuming that happens over there. For a minute. I was imagining people with deer head. That's a whole other that's my third movie. That's, that's another movie. That's a horror film. But you have a comedy with a musical twist now.

Jamie Adams 19:49
Yeah, let's not get into conversation about pitching because then it gets gets ridiculous.

Alex Ferrari 19:53
Oh no. Can you imagine I can only imagine it's amazing. But no, but I'm assuming you have this kind of process even when you're pitching actors. I'm assuming you have this issue of like, what are you doing?

Jamie Adams 20:05
Yeah, no, I mean, the first film, it was interesting is all I had to go on my short films and my short films were much more structured than the feature was going to be. Because just naturally, obviously, you can spend two days on a five minute short film, you're going to be more structured with it. But with this first feature, I was trying to figure out how we get a feature film out of five days of shooting. And then especially when one of the actors turns around and goes, No, you can't do that. Alright, became, it became an interesting sort of thing to deal with, to be honest. And I was one of the first lessons of not everybody, Jamie is going to be as excited about this as you are. It's scary. Absolutely. Everybody that people are getting involved initially, like, we're gonna make a movie, that's the own, I think that's one of the primary things they have in their head, is we're going to make a movie, we're going to make a movie. And obviously, in Britain, and especially, you know, in this case, most of the cast were from Wales, you don't really get a chance to make films. Full stop, you know, we hardly get any television programs made locally, regionally. So for them to get offered it, they were like, well, this is good. This is amazing. We're making a movie. And then they get them they, and they look around, they don't see anything that's familiar to them. So they're not they can see the camera. That's the one thing but the camera looks different. It's not the same camera that they used to see, right? Correct. The sound guy is actually standing up and holding the boom, as if it's a documentary, which is confusing to them, because they used to see in sound recordings sat down at their mixing desk, and they have their boom over. So everything's very different. And the directors not saying, you know, this is your mark, walk to their turn around, say a line. That's it. So it's, it's, it sounds exciting. But then I realized in that first movie that, you know, actually, for the I think the key to making a film like this successful is to get the right cast. And so casting becomes very important, because you're not just casting for great actors. That would be great for the role, you're actually casting for the the way in which you're going to go about making the film. In that style. Yeah, so that was the key lesson from that first movie.

Alex Ferrari 22:17
Now, we'll be right back to the show in just a minute, but we got to pay some bills. So I'd like to thank today's sponsor, black box, black box is a new platform and community that is all about financial freedom for filmmakers like you, if you join black box, you will be transformed from being a worker to being a maker of your own content. And you'll be making steady passive income from the global market. Black Box currently allows you to upload your stock footage once, get it to many global agencies, and then allows you to share that passive income stream with your collaborators, whether you want to submit old footage that's been sitting around in your hard drives, or create brand new content black box is for you. It's really quite revolutionary with black box, filmmakers can concentrate on making great content, while black box takes care of all the business BS. Just visit WWW dot blackbox dot global to find out more. And now back to the show. Now, what is the process when you're developing a film? What is your like? How does it start? How do you how do you move forward to the whole through the whole process?

Jamie Adams 23:20
And I should have a really strict answer for this. But I think that the thing is, it's very, it's different with every story. Because I've been that's the one thing I definitely don't want to do. I'm 38 now I've been you know, making films for a long time. I don't want to start restricting myself. In fact, what I what I do is I let myself have more freedom every time. So because it's about the story, it's about being true to the story. So for example, I'm just about to head into a movie now. And I've been wanting to tell this story, it's a really personal story is one about my mum passing away when I was 19. And I haven't been able to deal with that over the course of you know, so now I'm ready. You know, I've done the comedies, I'm ready to tackle this. So I can see myself spending much more time prepping it. Like I'm being much more kind of nurturing it be much more conscientious with it. And I think that's because it's a drama and because it's personal. And I think with the comedies and it depends which which one of the comedies It is so for example, with all right now, that was such a fun idea to come up with. You know, I spent a bit of time back in a university environment and I was like these, I'm not really that old, but yet these students seem so alien to me about how how conscientious they are, how they're all about the schedule, they're all about, are they getting enough out of their classes. I was like I was only interested in where the party was going to be that night. And you know, it's not really they'll have a couple of beers, but then they know any more than that and it's bad for you. I was just like, what? I don't understand what's going on with, where's all the promotion about we've got this party going on, we've got, you know, come and join us for this social event and I just didn't get an eye. They're not eating pizza. They're eating, you know, kale. I just found it fascinating that I didn't get it. And I was just like, oh my god, Am I really that old? And then the idea of I've met a couple of my Britpop heroes over the last sort of couple years. And they it's so funny meeting your heroes when they're not in their heyday shows. And, and I was like, they're beautiful people, but like, why are they still doing this to themselves? They are literally they are literally compelled to, because it's their favorite thing to do. And so I was like, right, okay, this is this is the story. This is a fun story about a rocket or failure, rock and roll stars told they have to stop and they don't want to. So they think they choose the next best thing to go to spend time at university and carrying on the rock'n'roll lifestyle. And, again, life is telling them that, you know, it's not 1990s anymore, things have changed, and you've got older and you need to deal with that. And thankfully, I found the right cast. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 26:12
That's fantastic cast, it was a fantastic, yes.

Jamie Adams 26:15
Yeah, how does it that's different thing, I prep for that in a different way. Because it's such a fun thing I left, I let it be very much. We had, we had the scriptment, we had the 30 page, the scene outline. But I was much more looking for broader comedy with it in places that I would normally do

Alex Ferrari 26:33
As the as the nutshot shows.

Jamie Adams 26:35
Yeah, yeah, exactly. There, there are a lot, there are a couple of cliched moments in there that are just fun to play around with. And whereas actually something like you know, another film of mine that came before that called Black Mountain poets, that's a little bit more serious, because it's about sisters kind of figuring out how they're going to move on with their lives without being so connected. So it's a little bit more dramatic. And so yeah, I was a little bit more kind of focused on what I definitely needed to do a scene, whereas with all right now, I really loved the idea that Coby would come up with just such great sort of moments and, and looks and ideas. And I was just like, you've got to follow that you've got to let that happen.

Alex Ferrari 27:21
Question, how do you work with actors on the set? What is the process of like shooting a scene? So people who are completely foreign to the way that you're doing this? How would you approach a scene with a group of actors?

Jamie Adams 27:36
And, again, that changes with each scene? But I imagine on all right now, that's what we're talking about. Yes, it's a case of this. There's lots of different personalities going on as well, within the cast. And so it's, it's, I like to approach a scene in, you know, keeping the individual in mind. So you look at who's leading the scene in a way. And to be honest, you know, right now, it's always pretty much always Joanne is pretty much always COVID. So, so me and Coby would just walk around the, the set as it were the location, and we would just have a brief discussion as much as she would need to, I never lead it as as much as she would need to talk about what she thinks I wanted this scene to be. And then I will, you know, agree, or maybe bring up something else that was on my mind about this scene when I was thinking about it. And then she'd go, Okay, okay. And then she'd kind of have our own thoughts about how she thought was gonna play out. But we don't really talk about that too much. I always just kind of go, I want to see it, I want to, I want to, you know, let's play it out. That's why we've got this whole freedom to be able to do what I call the first pass where anything's allowed where it's open. It's absolutely, as long as you're listening to the other actors, as long as you're being considerate of everyone that's in the scene. And then then, then it works really well to just let that first pass just happen. All of us knowing cuz I've had the individual chats with, with all of the lead people within that scene about what I feel it is for their character, perhaps what do they need from me that they want to know? And then we play it out. And I love I love it before they go into the scene. Because invariably, if they haven't worked with me before, they'll go, oh, but I've got to talk about I've got to talk about my dad in this scene. What do I know about my dad that's going to be important for this story in this in this scene, and I'll be like, well, you'll show me play the scene. You'll know you're going to tell a story about your dad, and you will start telling a story. And then if I feel it's not at all appropriately, say hold it there, roll it back. Give me another one.

Alex Ferrari 30:01
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jamie Adams 30:13
There's no time to overthink it, there's no, I never want there to be too much time for because an actor always been told to be prepared, always learn your lines, always know exactly what the scene is where you meant to be where you're going to head, okay, so I start here, I walk there, I turn around, whatever. I'm just like, I'm not interested in either phony. You know, theater is filmed theater, essentially long movies. And that's fine. And I love movies. So that's no problem. But for me, I feel like I want there to be a free song, I want there to be an energy that you rarely see. which some people call messy. But that's because they're relating it to film theater. So in that case, it probably is messy, because life is messy, when I'm capturing is an element of, you know, life in its most real form in a way, and I hope, whether they're comedies, weather dramas, whatever, that's essentially what we're setting up here, because I'm not dictating too much of what's going on in front of the camera, I'm guiding. So once we, once we see the first pass, and we heard a couple of whatever it is the beat of the moment, we've seen how that's played out, you know, we've got the the joke, whatever the normally there's like 10 benefits of comedy, there's like, lots of different things flying about from different characters, different actors, and then in the, you know, in the next pass, we start to kind of mold it into, or what we would then consider to be more and more like a scene that we would see play out on other sets. Now, more, you know, structured

Alex Ferrari 31:46
Now, how many cameras do you use generally, to cover your stance?

Jamie Adams 31:50
But it was interesting, I started off with two cameras, and I found that, that the camera was always getting in the way. And so it was just you feel like it's a time thing where you're gonna have two comments, because we need to move on quickly. Well, I find this actually better with single camera. And I'm generally stood right next to my DLP. And during during passes, I'll be like, you know, got to go in close on Kirby right now, you know, and that was meant to be our wide, but I seeing something that's happening. And I'm like, that might not happen again. So I need to move in now. Right? And then, you know, and then I'll tell them to roll it back. And then we'll move back out again. So I don't say cut necessarily, though. I'll say roll it back. And I'll tell them where we're going back to go and then we'll and then we'll come back out and then then we'll, then we'll continue.

Alex Ferrari 32:39
Good. No, I leave with that. No, no, no, I find it that when you're working with actors like that with this, and generally as a filmmaker as well, when you do this kind of style of filmmaking, you're kind of out there without a net. Like you you are, you are exposed in a way that is terrifying, but yet exhilarating, and wonderful. Because the freedom you feel as a filmmaker is something that cannot explain with words. It is just and I think actors when they jump on that bandwagon, that freedom in that terror works so wonderfully. And if you can combine the two, it works wonderfully. Do you agree? Yeah, I really want to see your films. I will be going down. We'll exchange information after the interview doors.

Jamie Adams 33:29
Yeah, absolutely. I yeah, I totally. I mean, I don't, I think I think one or two crew members who've been with me for a couple of films, feel that I revel in the chaos that I really find a lot of it funny. And so I'll be they think that I do things like, I'll turn to the art department during a shot during a pass. And so the cameras rolling. And I'm like, you've got to get me a trampoline right now. And they're like, they're like, Jamie. And they think that I'm, that I'm, I think that's funny. But it's not I don't think I mean, of course, I can see it's funny. But, but at the time, I'm deadly serious at the time. And like, I've had a great idea. You know, they're in the house, say, I want to get them out of the house onto a trampoline, you know, in carrying on the same movement. And that would just be funny. And actually funny, because I try to have a conversation on a trampoline because it's what happens in everyday life. I've got three kids, you know, serious chat with them, and all sudden they start doing something else. And it's just a car. Get involved in the comedy of all

Alex Ferrari 34:32
Yes, it's infuriating.

Jamie Adams 34:34
Yeah, this is really So anyway, so i think i don't i don't think it is. I don't think it's without a safety net. I think for me, it's the natural way of making films for me.

Alex Ferrari 34:45
It's excellent, right! No, I mean, yeah, cuz if you look at it from the normal way of or the dogmatic way of making films, it is working without a safety net. The safety net is the script. It is the full blown screenplay. And again, there are those places For those kinds of films, but for me, I'd love it out there, it's just I love being out there on the edge, it just, it's because you don't know what's going to happen next, which is something, you know, generally, as a filmmaker, you kind of been taught that you need to know what happens next. But that's where the excitement is. And that's where the, the magic is. So I always say there to capture the magic.

Jamie Adams 35:22
Absolutely. But they all know that, I mean, as they as in every storyteller, that kind of does any kind of, you know, even a guide on the bar telling a story. They know, it's the bits that they start to go off track where they're making stuff up, where, you know, they start off with a real story, and then they're just like, Okay, this is, again, as much interest as I wanted. So I'm going to go off track a little bit, and then they're feeling a bit of the energy of what it is to be involved in improvised ation, you know, where they're just like, finding they're going, what am I gonna say next? When I say And next, whilst they're saying what they're saying. And if it lands, you know, then that's the best thing in the world, that they're, they're the hero, that they've just created something out of nothing. And in fact, that's what any art is, is you're creating something out of nothing, whether that's a planned situation, or not, I mean, look at them, I was talking to somebody the other day about what they were in. I won't say which actor it was, but they were in the mummy. And obviously, massive studio movie and whatever. And they were saying that, you know, Brendan Fraser wasn't too chuffed with learning lines. And so it was a case of, and this is this. I don't know if this is true, by the way. Please do not try and sue me I was literally some kind of example of many situations in which blockbuster movies still have this magic, they still have this element of people going down their own path. And I think, in fact, forget Brendan Fraser. That's Al Pacino. That's Bill Murray, that, you know, Meryl Streep, there's any great actor will always bring a lot of themselves and a lot of their thoughts and ideas and whatever else during moments. So of course, they might be sticking to lines that they're meant to be sticking to, but they are bringing something new and different. And sometimes they will stick to lines, they'll do something else. And I think that's where the great moments come from. And it's kind of funny that when you look at, you know, top, your top sort of film moments over the years,

Alex Ferrari 37:21
They've been improv, yeah, a lot of the times they're, they're improvised. Without I'll give you a better example to or another example, Iron Man. Iron Man was a lot of that was improvised to the point where Jeff Bridges came out, like we were making $100 million indie movie, because we would just show up on the set. It was me, Robert and john, the director, john favor of Robert Robert Downey, Jr. and Jefferson, we'd like to sit around before we shot and like wrote out scenes, and wrote out dialogue. And I'm like, I can't see at that point. It's one thing to do this on a small budget, but when you're at the 100 million, you got to roll a little bit differently. So it was a fascinating to hear that story. I disagree.

Jamie Adams 38:04
I don't I mean, I hopefully I get to keep making bigger and bigger, and we've all agreed just to have more resources. But I don't necessarily think that that will change. I love the fact that we recently with Jeff Goldblum and God was it thought

Alex Ferrari 38:23
I thought there was a ton of that, in theory, you could see it.

Jamie Adams 38:26
I mean, what you just got to be a confident director confident in terms of but that that has to mean, it has to be right for you. So whatever it is that you're confident with, like, you know, for example, Hitchcock was obviously very confident with his storyboards, finishes are that mature as well? Yeah, yeah, exactly. There's not one way of there's no one way of how this works, it's all very much an expression and that's where the best movies come from, is when you're able to be in your comfort zone and tell films with your own voice. And that's what I've been able to do so far.

Alex Ferrari 39:00
But you know, what's fascinating is, I've never thought about it this way. But if you look at the masters of, of painting, of just of just of just painting, you know, Jackson Pollock was Jackson Pollock, Van Gogh was Van Gogh, Monet was Monet, they all had their unique way of telling their story on canvas. It was painted with the same same material, same exact paint Canvas, and an idea and but they did it differently. And I think that's and I think what we've been taught so long for so long is that you have to make a movie the same way you have to do A, B, C and D to make a proper movie, when that's not the case with art Same thing with music and so on.

Jamie Adams 39:41
Is to shoot but that's what takes me back when you say where did it all begin or whatever else is like that's what when you get into this business and whatever, which is interesting term as well which are full we struggle with. It is the truth of it, but it is that it is that lecturer is Gideon Kapil, the filmmaker lecturer who you know He was trying to just make me understand I remember when he said the words you need to find your voice. I was like are you pretend what Albert Tennessee you What are you talking about? No one told Tarantino to find his voice. You know, it's like you make films. And that's all there and I pletely as soon as I got into the, as soon as I got into my groove into the way in which I like to make films, I was like, Okay, if I'm a voice well done. You're right. You're right.

Alex Ferrari 40:29
Now I have to ask one, one question that filmmakers listening will will die if I don't ask, How the hell did you get Cobie Smulders in your film?

Jamie Adams 40:38
I'm giving away a lot of secret. So

Alex Ferrari 40:42
You have you have I mean, you don't have to give exact details but and by the way, everyone because we just said we You and I were both saying Colby Colby Colby smoulders is the star of all right now. Who was in obviously some of the biggest movies of all time with the Avengers and Captain America and and all those kind of films. I just want to know what were at what point did you go I'm going to pick up the phone and call cobis aid. How did it How does it work? How did you do it?

Jamie Adams 41:10
It's funny, you know, because even before all right now though, my dear three other films before that. And in the in the as I said in the first movie, Craig was in there people like how did you get him? In the second one? It was Laura Haddock who is in the Transformers movie recently. Like the last transformer movie, Laura Haddock was in. And she was in Guardians of the Galaxy as well.

Alex Ferrari 41:37
Another smaller film. Yes.

Jamie Adams 41:38
So So yeah. So Laura Haddock? Isn't that new? Like how do you get her to come to Porthcawl and be in your film. And then again, in black mine poets, we had some great British. Well, we had Alice Lowe, who I think you guys know now from Provenge and sightseers. But anyway, so Alice Lowe is in, it's always the same question. And like the answer is, is I'm just really honest, I think you probably tell from this podcast, I'm pretty honest and open as a person, and I'm not trying to do a deal. I'm not trying to you're not that way. Yeah, I'm in a small town in Wales. I am literally like, I just love making films, this is how I make them, I would love you to come and join me to make this next one. And this is how you know how much fun I think it will be. And you know, you, you've got to do your research, you've got to be able to, if I remember Kirby saying to me, I think it was like the third day of the shoot, she's like, you're like, you're like some of my husband's friends where you literally spend all your time, like knowing what's going on in the film world. I don't see it that way. I am always on IMDB. I'm always kind of I mean, that's you need to be really to know, to appreciate what's going on out there and what opportunities exist. And, you know, it's not hard to discover if somebody like COBie. Smulders really wants to try new things. They're pretty open in interviews about stuff that they would like to do. And I stumbled across the fact that, you know, she was looking to, to make something in England and, and to do something completely different. And that's what, that's what the film offered, you know, the idea of making a feature film, in a week improvised in, in Cornwall in a small area of England. It was just like, Oh, my God, this isn't saying that you don't have to do this. I'm not being offered this again, sort of thing.

Alex Ferrari 43:40
Right. And that's, and that's, and that's, I've heard the same story from a lot of other directors, when I asked them how they get some big stars, is you offer them something, that they're not being offered something that they want to do something that excites them and challenges them? And in a lot of ways, if they're looking for that?

Jamie Adams 43:54
Yeah, it's not it's not it's definitely not for everyone. And believe me, you know, I've approached many people that it's not for them. But that's, that's, that's a great honesty on their part, to be honest, there's, there's it, it would be, it would be terrible, it wouldn't be great for anybody, if somebody was like, Oh, this is different. I'm going to do it, you know, without really investing themselves in really thinking about what story we're telling, whether it's the right tone for them, whether it's all of that kind of stuff. And I could tell from Kirby's independent movies, that she was always looking for interesting characters to play and interesting ways of doing that. And I think for us, it was the fact of playing a such a character like Joanne normally, normally that's your will Pharaohs of the world. You know, normally that's like, that's your leading comedy man. And we just like the idea that was you know, Joanne was this kind of she had a similar she had similar issues to like somebody like did, how do you do that through A woman in mind or whatever, and I'm like, I don't understand really what the act of brings that sort of femininity with them. Like the actor brings that with them anyway. So I'm not going to change how I write the character. I mean, men and women experienced the same things, just in slightly different ways. And that I need to write because I'm not writing a screenplay. I'm writing scenes, I'm writing, you know, situations and writing situations. And so it was, it was a great exploration of, like, when we said she was going to get drunk at the bar and cause a scene, how does that work for a woman? And it was very similar to how it worked for a man but you know, she, when she jumped on his back, it was like, okay, that's a that's a new thing. That's a woman thing to do, you know? So we discovered it together. It wasn't ever it wasn't ever do this, you know, I'm never like that. I'm like, you know, look, this is what we're doing here. And we'll see where it goes. And she was just just incredible in the way in which she threw herself into it, quite literally.

Alex Ferrari 45:59
That's awesome.

Jamie Adams 46:00
Well, I mean, I guess people, just be honest, be passionate about your project, and go to their agents. Don't be afraid of agents and managers and whatever, they're all they're all trying to, you know, do that do make the best work. That's all anyone really wants to do, or will do something that's different, you know, so right.

Alex Ferrari 46:16
Well, I mean, I love the film, and I will put links to the film and where people can get it on on our show notes. Now, I have a few questions. I ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Jamie Adams 46:32
Don't think of it as a business so

Alex Ferrari 46:34
Good answer.

Jamie Adams 46:34
Stop.

Alex Ferrari 46:35
Okay.

Jamie Adams 46:36
That's probably it

Alex Ferrari 46:37
okay. Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Jamie Adams 46:48
That was definitely Rebel Without a crew. Are you guys Yes.

Alex Ferrari 46:53
What an amazing

Jamie Adams 46:55
Which I lent to a friend of mine University never got back but I I remembered it I remember many parts of it.

Alex Ferrari 47:00
It's it's a fact that's that book you what you read it and you just I saw I read it in college. And I was just in all of it. Now what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Jamie Adams 47:15
to be grateful for where you are now and the opportunities that exist for you in that moment.

Alex Ferrari 47:21
To be in the right to be in the now is basically

Jamie Adams 47:25
Always trying to be in the future. You're always trying to be ahead of yourself like, Oh, I'm gonna be this next year. I'm gonna do this nation. And it's like, well, just be thankful for where you are what you're able to do right now. That's Yeah, be present.

Alex Ferrari 47:38
Because next year is not guaranteed for anybody. No, not at all. No, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Jamie Adams 47:46
It changes daily, which is probably why everyone says but right now, top of my head, it will be a Buddha souf which is breathless by God. lyin which is the Mathieu Kassovitz well with Vincent caselle. Just get the humor really in that film. And just oh my god, there's so many incredible exploration of filmmaking. And in that movie, as well, Vincent. And then when you choose, oh, my God, this is too hard. Probably. Just to start us memories. No, that's great movie. That's a great Yes. Well, I, I mean, how it's, it's so funny in places. And so just obviously a great satire on on what it is to be a filmmaker. But then also the fact that it's complete ripoff of eight and a half. And then it doesn't really doesn't really care about that. And then also, you have this moment with Charlotte Rampling, and it's just like, What now? How you just decided just that jump cut in her face expressions, and that was completely fine. And yeah, so it was also made during the year and my birth. So I think that's probably part of it.

Alex Ferrari 48:59
And there's any Is there anywhere online that people can follow you and follow your work?

Jamie Adams 49:05
I don't like people following me. I mean, we generally call that stalking in Britain. I try to I try to stay away from that as much as possible.

Alex Ferrari 49:14
Fantastic then.

Jamie Adams 49:17
I mean, just just go find my films. You'll have fun with them.

Alex Ferrari 49:20
All right, Jamie. Man, thank you so much for being so honest, and candid and candid with us and dropping some knowledge bombs on the on the tribe today, man, I truly appreciate it.

Jamie Adams 49:29
No worries mate. Thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Alex Ferrari 49:32
I want to thank Jamie for being on the show and sharing his process and how he makes films. And I hope it inspires you guys as well, to just grab a camera and go out and tell your story. Don't be don't think that you have to do it the way that everybody else does it don't think you have to do it the way that film schools tell you or that books tell you or anything like that there is many different ways to skin that cat. And you just got to find the way that makes sense for you guys. Hitchcock like, like we said, Hitchcock has his way. Fincher has his way Nolan has his way. Spielberg has his way and the duplass brothers have their way and so on. So there's not one single way to make movies and tell stories. So find that one for you. And I hope Jamie inspired you guys to go out and find that way for yourself. And also, don't forget to check out his latest movie. All right, then, that will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and everywhere else, you can rent or buy your films digitally online. And it comes out September 9 next Tuesday. I'll leave a link to that at the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/264. And that's the end of another episode. guys. Thank you so much for listening. And thank you for all the support. I truly appreciate it. I hope I've been a value and service to you guys today on your filmmaking and or screenwriting journey. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

LINKS

SPONSORS

  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

IFH 263: From Avengers to Shooting Improv Indie Films with Cobie Smulders

Right-click here to download the MP3

Today’s guest is actress Cobie Smulders. You may recognize Cobie from blockbuster films like The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Winter Soldier and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. She’ll also be in the new Spidey film Spider-Man: Far from Home. I’ve been a fan of Cobie’s for a while now. Her ability to jump from mega-blockbuster to ultra-low budget indie film has always fascinated me.

One of the main reasons I wanted to chat with Cobie was to discuss her new film Alright Now. What makes her new film unique is that it was shot 100% Improv-style, just like I shot my film This is Meg and On the Corner of Ego and Desire. I wanted to see why an actress used to shooting big studio tentpoles would be attracted to making a low budget improv indie in the UK. What was her experience being out there acting with no net. Also what it was like working with Jamie Adams (who will be a guest in the show soon), the writer/director of Alright Now. Here’s a bit about the film:

ALRIGHT NOW follows Joanne (Cobie Smulders, “How I Met Your Mother, Avengers”) a rock musician who drunkenly enrolls in college after she breaks up with her boyfriend and her band falls apart. Convinced she will give the youngsters a run for their money, Joanne is shocked to discover that no one knows who she is and they could care less about her rock star past. Completely improvised and Directed by Jamie Adams (Black Mountain Poets), ALRIGHT NOW is a feel-good comedy about love, life and the search for new beginnings.

Enjoy my conversation with actress Cobie Smulders.

Alex Ferrari 1:36
Today on the show, we have actress extraordinare Cobie Smulders from the new film all right now now, I generally don't have actors on I have them every once in a while and of over 260 episodes that I've done. I've only had a handful of actors on and I wanted to bring Colbie on one because I am a huge, huge fan of cobis ever since how our our met your mother, where she was one of the stars of that, as well as because I'm a comic book geek. All of her work on the Marvel films, as well as Jack Reacher and other amazing projects is done. And she's generally known now for doing a lot of big blockbuster style movies. But this movie all right now was a small indie movie. And I wanted to kind of go inside of her mind of how she chose the project, what she was doing. And the cool part about this project was that it was shot in five days, completely improv by director Jamie Adams from the UK, who is going to be a guest on the show on Thursday, actually. So we're going to be bringing him on as well to discuss his process. But I wanted to hear what Cobie had to say about being an actress of her statute to be out on the edge that way of being completely free and scared to death because there's no net to catch you out there as an actor as a as a creator, when you make films like this, because that's my first two features are made were made the exact same way. And I wanted to hear her point of view of how she felt as an actress, what drew her to the project, and if she would do it again, so I can't wait for you guys to listen to it. Now. One little side note the audio pops in and out a little bit. We had a rough connection with Cobie but overall you're going to be here most of everything she has to say. But there will be a little bit of issues with the audio. So just wanted to make that perfectly clear to everybody listening. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Cobie Smulders.

Cobie Smulders 3:39
Hi!

Alex Ferrari 3:40
How are you?

Cobie Smulders 3:42
I'm doing so good. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 3:43
I'm fantastic. I literally just finished watching all all right now and it was really great. You did a fantastic performance.

Cobie Smulders 3:49
Oh, that's very, very kind of you. Yeah, it was a it was a fun little passion project. Tiny little movie.

Alex Ferrari 3:57
Right. And I will Yeah, considering that you used to you know, work running around with Thor and Hulk. I mean, I'm assuming

Cobie Smulders 4:05
That's a slightly different film and that kind of stuff.

Alex Ferrari 4:08
And when I when I first saw the trailer reminded me of your, your character Robbins alteration ego in How I Met Your Mother.

Cobie Smulders 4:16
Yeah. As I know, it is a little bit about like, if if Robin daggers had been, you know, more successful, you know, she might have gone on to just milk that and turn into Joanne Skye. Exactly. So what? So what drew you to the project? Well, we don't know each other very well, but I like your challenge. And this movie certainly presented that in the sense that it was going to be shot in three days or three days, five days. It was completely improvised. We shot it in Cardiff and England. Nice and Yeah, it was just this like, weird little It was almost like acting camp, we would all we all slept in the same house together. It went into work, we had breakfast together, right right upstairs. And we kind of discussed, okay, these are the things that we kind of need to get done. Like I said, there's this script. So we would sort of generally know what we had we like, information we had to give the audience and each scene. And that was the only guideline we had. So it was just wild and wacky and I'd had never done a completely improvised film. And I'd seen some of his Jamie Jamie Adams, our director, I'd seen some of his other films. He's just finished this movie called Black Mountain poets, which was completely improvised, and it just looked like so much fun. And I was like, You know what? I'm going to go to London. I'm gonna go to England for a week, just shoot this movie and have this like, amazing, fun experience. And see what comes of it.

Alex Ferrari 6:02
That's amazing. Yeah. I kind of felt that because I had a little bit of a sua Swanberg and duplass. Brothers. Yeah. style to it without question. And you worked with Joe Swanberg, his wife on x unexpected? Yep, exactly. And that was that that was an improvised that was more scripted. No, that was scripted. That was scripted. Yeah. Yeah. But that must have been so much fun. It just going out there. And just like it well, first of all, how did how did you get pitched? Like, how does someone pitch you a film like this? How did this come into you?

Cobie Smulders 6:36
Because I mean, I don't know. Jamie is like Jamie is kind of, like, he's very, he knows so much about movies, and actors and performers. directors like I don't know exactly how I got on his radar for this. But he just kind of came after me. And, and since then we've become really great friends. But he just kind of comes up with these ideas. And since our movie, I mean, he's got to shoot like four more other four other ones that are completely improvised as well. So we just kind of gets an idea. And you just really see that through. So he just pitched it to my agent. And when I sort of heard about the parameters, all the things I just went through with you, I was like, this seems like totally insane. And I'm in

Alex Ferrari 7:35
it does take a brave actor or actress to to go down these roads, because it you're out there without a net.

Cobie Smulders 7:42
Basically, you got to do it, you know, and I I am all always trying to challenge myself. And I live a very simple, boring existence. I'm a mom. And I get to do some amazing projects. And I get to do some crazy work, but nothing where it's like, Alright, so in this scene, you are mad because of this, go and you just say whatever you want, and you can move wherever you want. And you can wear whatever you want. And you can be drunk or you don't have to be drunk. I mean, it's just like it. It's fun. It's just it's kind of like it reminded me of my youth, you know, like, doing like weird Improv Theater, you know, being like on some weird, small stage and in Canada just making up shit. And I was just so happy to like, be in that place. Again, everybody was just so lovely that we just saw on your blog,

Alex Ferrari 8:39
Like when that first pseudo lovemaking scene that you had, where it starts doing the dancing and the stripping it Yeah, that's that energy was so visceral. You could feel it come right. That was happening into the moment. It wasn't taped to it.

Cobie Smulders 8:54
Yeah. No, no, it will be time to meet him. For Richard do that. But we, we did it a few times. But it was with this medium, I think the way to do it. First of all, I learned, you know, toward the end, which was unfortunate for me that you don't ever want to do your coverage first. Because you kind of you find out what the scene is sort of toward the end of your coverage. And then so the person who goes next knows exactly what the scene is going to be and what it's about us. But when you go first, which I always did. It was really you just didn't know what to say or do and then something magic would happen. And then you try to recreate it but you couldn't and it was really, it was interesting, but you would have to do see quite a few times to go. What is as exactly and we're okay, so we'll do it again. But I won't go on to the bed. I'll come over here because it's like It's a group effort, right? Not only are we improvising, but the cameras improvising, and poor, you know, the poor boom operators, just out in the middle of the sea just doesn't know where he's going to be going next. And, you know, maybe departments all does, you know, it's all everybody is sort of, like, doesn't know what's what's going to happen next. So it's, it is very much a group effort. And it felt really cool to be a part of something where everybody was, creatively involved moment to moment. Yeah, you know, like, obviously, on a set, everybody is involved creatively, but this is like, we're all fully focused, everyone is paying attention, cuz we don't know what exactly is gonna happen.

Alex Ferrari 10:45
And where we're gonna end where it's like, you really are out there without a net. And it's a wonderful idea. It's so wonderful. It's like, You're, you're out there on the edge. And it's a wonderful place to be creatively. As an actor, as a director as everybody, even a camera guy. It's like, I don't know what's gonna happen next. It does keep me engaged.

Cobie Smulders 11:03
Exactly. Yeah, definitely.

Alex Ferrari 11:05
Now, your film filmography is pretty diverse. How do you pick your projects?

Cobie Smulders 11:13
I like to try to switch it up, I like to do different things. But I do get blessed a lot of the time, with playing strong female roles, which I definitely enjoy putting more of them out into the world. But I've been, I think it's it for me, it comes down to it's sort of like a checklist now, or it's like, you read a script, and you're like, oh, the writing is really great. Or this character is interesting, I haven't done it, or this character, like, is another version of something I've done, and I could kind of do it in a different way, and whatever it's going to be, and then you go, like, who's the director that? Who else is involved? And now because I have two children's, like, where does it shoot? So there's sort of a, there's sort of a variety of, of things to think about, but really what it comes down to it, you know, if I gravitate towards a character, um, and I can see myself playing it, or I go, what is this character, I've never done it before. I'm usually drawn to the character that I'm playing. I also like, it's hard to find a very well written script. And especially in this day and age, I mean, we're talking about a completely improvised movie right now, you know, you know, going into every project, that the words that you're reading on the page are are going to change. And there's, when you're on set on the day, things do change. And but when you read a script, and the story is so clear, and you see it visually, in your mind, as you're reading, it means it's a good script, you know, you're not focused on the bits that are happening, or, you know, where everything is set, you're not focused on the little things, you're intrigued, and you want to know what happened. And so when I read a script, and I'm, and I'm already fully immersed in this world, with these people, it's usually a good indication that I that I want to do it and then I just have to make sure it's okay with my whole family.

Alex Ferrari 13:18
Life balance, life, work, balance,

Cobie Smulders 13:20
Life balance, man, it's tough.

Alex Ferrari 13:21
It's tough. Now, as an actress, what are you looking for in a director?

Cobie Smulders 13:26
I know that I'm a very detail oriented person and a very light focused thinker. And I'm not very, my mind doesn't work in a being able to see an entire story in one piece. So it's really helpful to me to pair with the director who's like, who can watch a scene and go, you know what, let's not play that now. Because remember, that scene is cut, there's this scene that's going to come up. And that's the moment where, you know, this should be coming up, or this kind of emotion should be really coming to the surface. I'm sorry, I'm very sort of focused in what's happening in that present moment. That it's helpful to, to have somebody to help me sort of widen my my blinders and, and take a take a greater look at what the entire storyline is about and what we should be focusing on. It's also nice, it's like, I'm not I'm not self directing. I'm not good at like, you know, because it is it just like people, you're sort of thinking about what you should be thinking about, and you think that it's coming off, right? You think your face is saying that it's always helpful, and I'm not good at watching myself. So it's always helpful to have somebody behind the camera to try again, and maybe don't push it too hard, or, you know, let's, let's, let's push it harder, you know, whatever it's gonna be I do need a bit of a cheerleader involved.

Alex Ferrari 14:57
And I have to ask this question, how Is it working with Marvel and being part of the MCU? One of the most successful series in film history?

Cobie Smulders 15:09
It's crazy. It's, you know, I, we started this I was trying to think of when it was now was 10 years ago off of my kids ages. Well, not for me, but it was 10 years ago for everybody, because I know they just the 10 year thing. But for me, it was like seven

Alex Ferrari 15:25
When the Avengers came out, right?

Cobie Smulders 15:27
Yeah, exactly. And it was so exciting. Like, and quite frankly, I didn't know anything about the world. And my husband was more excited about the job than I was. I mean, I was very excited because it's something new and different for me that I didn't understand what it all meant. I didn't have a childhood connection, like a lot of people do. And, and it's been such a crazy journey, I mean, it. So we just like we just said, we just did the 10th anniversary, and that day where we get to sanity camp photo shoot, and like every actor, writer, director, producer, that had been involved for the 10 years, and just like looking around the room, I mean, I'm very, very mellow, and I'm very down to earth. And I'm not just saying that because you're interviewing me, but I don't ever consider I'm like, What am I doing in here? What am I doing why I feel like I've accidentally won. And I just don't, I'm in the wrong place, they're gonna get, they're gonna, they're gonna kick down, I'm gonna keep my head down until somebody realizes what an imposter I am. Right? It was like, she, she's not, but it's like, it's kind of the perfect outside role where I've been upon that. But I've also been, you know, on the outside to watching it develop and being able to be a fan as much and not be like it every day for the 146 days of shooting a movie. So I'm still excited about it, and not burned out by it. But it's wonderful. It's a wonderful job. And, and, and I'm just thrilled that that I that I get to now that I get to suit up every now and again.

Alex Ferrari 17:10
And I have to just two questions left of that ask all of my guests, what advice would you give an actor or filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Cobie Smulders 17:22
I think that it is, there is a change that's happening right now, which is speaking to what I'm about to say, which is, I think when I started out, I was pretending to be so many other things, like pretending what I thought you were supposed to be as an actor or pretending to not realizing that I had my own points. And I had my own story. And now I think just because the way the world is running, where it is so self focused, and everybody has a social media account, and they're constantly presenting their own story, it is gravitating towards that. But it is exciting to seeing seeing more diversity within that. And really getting to hear people's personal stories from other countries, from other religions from just other other sort of points of view that you what you hadn't been open to. But I think that that is the important thing is kind of doing what you love, and how you want to present that story to the world and make it personal. I think there is some sort of like, I think marketing gets in the way, maybe what I'm trying to say, you know, like, well, maybe if I make a horror movie, and it will make a million, you know, 100 million dollars don't get to make whatever movie I want. Like Yeah, but if you don't like to make horror movies, then you're gonna be miserable when you make horror movies, you know? So it's about sort of finding the story you want to tell and working my couch just to get it out there.

Alex Ferrari 18:52
And finally, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Cobie Smulders 19:00
Great question by the way. I think I feel like I'm constantly I tend to be my own worst enemy, and a lot of ways where I force things to happen, you know, where you go, okay. Well, I if I want this project, then I, I'll do this, I'll do that, which is it's wonderful to be proactive. But what I have learned is that, I don't know if there's any sort of preordained path for all of us, but I do think that there is synchronicity. And I do believe that like, if you were to do that role, that it will come to you and some things just happen easier. And that's sort of what's meant to be anytime I find myself like pushing to make something happen or what I do a lot of the times I I help too much, it ends up like making things worse. Instead of just like being calm, and chill, and just let it happen, you know So I've had to, to to learn patience. But it's the it's the balance between being patient and patient and proactive that I've that I've had to really, really dial it.

Alex Ferrari 20:14
Cobie, thank you so, so much for being on the show, It was an honor to speak to you

Cobie Smulders 20:20
It's fun to talk to you too.

Alex Ferrari 20:22
And it was. I've been a big fan since 10. Since I Met Your Mother, and when I saw you show up on the Avengers, I'm like, that's awesome. So

Cobie Smulders 20:31
Thank you so much. It was It was lovely to speak with you too. Thanks for talking about our little movie.

Alex Ferrari 20:37
No worries. Thank you. I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Colbie. She is just a saint. I love her to death. She's She's wonderful and she was so kind and giving in our interview. So thank you Cobie, so much for taking the time out, and for giving us the actor's perspective on shooting a movie, an indie movie in five days, which is totally improv. So thank you again. If you want links to anything we spoke about in the episode, please head over to indiefilmhustle.com/263 for the show notes and the movie that we've been talking about all right now will be available September 9, on VOD, on iTunes on Amazon on VUDU, Fandango, and everywhere else you would like to purchase your or rent your films. So thank you again, Cobie. And as I teased earlier, the director of all right now, Jamie Adams is going to be on the show on Thursday. And we had an amazing interview about his process of shooting, shooting improv kind of style movies, the way he does it, how he works with actors, how he pitches, the actors, how he got Cobie Smulders to be in his movie, and all this stuff. He's done about four or five of them, I think, at this point, and has become his style of filmmaking. And I'll tell you from someone who's done two movies like this, I really do like it as well. I really, really do. And I think it's a wonderful way of making films. So check that out on Thursday, guys, and as always, keep that also going, keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

LINKS

SPONSORS

  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)