Have you ever thought to yourself as you were watching a movie
“I’ve seen this somewhere before.”
Well, today’s guest Chris Vander Kaay, breaks down the formulaic and predictable glory that is Hollywood filmmaking and how to avoid it.
His new book Spoiler Alert!: The Badass Book of Movie Plots: Why We All Love Hollywood Cliches takes 38 mainstream movie genres, from ‘Teen Sex Comedy’ and ‘Buddy Action Comedy’ to ‘Film Noir Detective Thriller’ and ‘Alien Invasion Thriller’, and through detailed illustrations reveals what makes them so hilariously recognizable: the key lines of dialogue, the essential visuals, the crucial characters and the indispensable cast, scenes, and props.
So grab some popcorn and buckle up for a laugh-out-loud ride through the wonderful world of cliché!
Please enjoy my conversation with Chris Vander Kaay.
Alex Ferrari 6:05
I'd like to welcome Michelle Chris Vander Kaay How are you sir?
Chris Vander Kaay 6:07
Not too bad. Thanks so much for having me on the show Alex.
Alex Ferrari 6:09
Thank you for thank you for being on the show. Man. You have a really cool idea for a book and and it's really beautifully laid out. Can you tell the audience what the name of your book is?
Chris Vander Kaay 6:20
Yeah, it's called spoiler alert, colon, the badass book of movie plots. And if I had to sort of encapsulate it, I guess I would say that it's sort of an infographic style template that walks you through the tropes and the cliches and the the framework of a lot of well known sort of popular Hollywood genres.
Alex Ferrari 6:39
Now, in the book, you talk about the good bad film, can you can you give me your definition of a good bad film?
Chris Vander Kaay 6:48
Yeah, the difference I guess the difference between a bad film and a good bad film is that both of them might not be great movies. But the ones that are good, bad films are still enjoyable, even if they're not particularly excellent that we wouldn't necessarily necessarily reward them with awards or anything like that. But they're still fun to watch. We kind of call them comfort food movies, you know, you kind of go in knowing what you're going to expect. And as long as they don't just horribly insult you, or if they do insult you, it's it's fun, and they're aware of it, then there can be a fun to it. We Kathleen and myself and Steven Kathleen Fernandez and Steven Espinosa, my co writers, we're big fans of horror films and an awful lot of horror films, or what you would consider comfort food movies. They're not going to win any awards. But they're, they're fun. And even if they are sometimes riddled with cliches, there, there's still a blast to have. And so the reason we wrote this book is it's kind of lovingly pointing those out and having fun with them. But at the same time, hopefully also being instructive. In a sort of a, I don't wanna say like, in a negative, instructive way, but in a way that we're saying, watch out for these traps, it's easy to fall into these, you know, take an extra, you know, take an extra pass at your story and see if there's a way for you to avoid some of the pitfalls that a lot of these movies have fallen into.
Alex Ferrari 8:02
So as far as good bad movies are concerned, I mean, my favorite of all time is the room. Because it is I mean, it is as perfect of a bad film as you can get. And I always I always tell people like a good bad film is it's if you try to make a bad film, like, like a cult favorite, like a being and I've seen those movies that they try to do something like they know, they have the intention of making a bad movie, kind of like Sharknado, which kind of which kind of took its own that just, I mean, you can't really be tornadoes and sharks. I mean, I mean, it's such a bad concept that it was, they knew exactly were self aware. The best good bad movies are the ones that are not self aware that authentically feel like they were creating cinema. And the room is the pure ation of that.
Chris Vander Kaay 8:51
For sure. I mean, one of the things we always talk about when we talk about these kinds of movies is that there needs to be some level of sincerity into the badness in order for us to be able to enjoy it. Because when you are cynically making a bad movie, in some ways, especially to you and to me and to other filmmakers. It feels insulting because it's like there are a lot of people out there trying to make good movies. So when you're taking up money and time and resources and intentionally making something that you think is Olafur, throw away. It, it feels kind of hostile to people who are working so hard to try and make it in this industry. But when you get a sincere filmmaker who was trying and just it's there's something about the way that they made the things there's there's a humorous ineptness sometimes that but but it's never cynical, they were really trying and they really love movies too. And there's something endearing about that. This was
Alex Ferrari 9:38
like one of my favorite movies of all time. It filmmaking movies of all time is Ed Wood. Because you watch Ed Wood, which is not a it's not a bad movie. It's a movie about Edward who was considered one of the worst directors of all time. But the sincerity, the love, the cluelessness that he had in the filmmaking, the way he made his films is what matters Plan Nine from Outer Space. So pleasurable to watch, because you watch that you're like this, like the guy took two Styrofoam plates, spray painted them, and put them on a string and expected us to believe that that was a spaceship. Like, but he wholeheartedly did like it was amazing.
Chris Vander Kaay 10:18
Yeah, well, and it's funny because one of the things he said in the in the movie that I think is really funny is he said, if if you're noticing little things like that, then you you missed the point, right? You missed the point of the story that I'm telling. And that seems funny. But then at the same time, I was literally just watching a documentary yesterday or the day before, where George Miller's cinematographer on Fury Road, was talking about how they shot on very different days, weather wise, and the cinematographer kept saying, We can't shoot this to match with what we just did. It looks completely different. And George Miller kept saying, if people are noticing the sky, I've already failed as a filmmaker. So when you look at like Ed Wood doing plan nine, and then you're in real good Fury Road, it's like it's not all that different and ethos that they're talking about. It's not
Alex Ferrari 11:01
that different, but yet it's miles apart. Like IQ shoot is everything. Yeah, my last, my last film that I directed, there were scenes where there was, there was no, there's no snow on the ground. And then there was snow on the ground. And not one person has ever called me on it, because you kind of just roll with it because the story moves along. But it's also not an element that's strict, like the sky, and the snow are nothings in your face their background elements where a spaceship is where the camera is looking.
Chris Vander Kaay 11:36
Right? Yeah, or a an orthodontist that's a foot and a half taller than your lead actor who died. And so you have him walk around with a cape in front of his face the rest of the film.
Alex Ferrari 11:46
It's just anyone listening, you have to watch Edward Snowden, the room and the documentary, The best worst movie ever made about troll two, which personally I can't watch troll to because I feel troll to suck. I think I died a little bit after I watched that movie. But the documentary about the making of the movie, and the fandom after is is brilliant. But I'm sorry, we went off on a tangent there because I don't get to talk about good bad movies very often. But so you you really break down, you know, from what I saw, you really break down a good amount of plots. But there's always so is there a number of plots that you feel that's like this is a good core plot, and then you could obviously, you know, mix them in left and right all over the place?
Chris Vander Kaay 12:30
Well, when we originally did, when we originally pitched the book, it was actually going to be 50 genres that we were going to cover. And we brainstormed out God, almost 100 I think total. And what we realized was that there were certain ones that overlapped on each other a tiny bit. And so we would start to eliminate the ones that were going to be a little too close to each other. And once we started doing that, you know, there's there's certain horror sub genres that will we'll touch on each other a little bit. And so we were like, well, we don't know which one is going to be the most fun of the two of these to do what has the most the cliches that are easier to exaggerate or to get jokes out of, because we want the book to be entertaining at the same time that it's, you know, helping someone to learn about the structure of a story. But and so we ultimately settled on 38 Out of the 50 that we constructed. And for, you know, page count and cost count issues, were the other reasons we decided on that. But the 38 that we came up with, were the ones that we thought for volume one of a book like this, and hopefully, fingers crossed, we'll have a second volume, depending on how well it sells. But for the first volume, the goal was pick the big ones. These are the ones that hopefully everyone will recognize at least a few tropes from every one of these movies, because they've seen at least a handful of these movies. And so that was sort of our guiding light for the first book was, even if you haven't seen a bunch of heist movies, it's well enough known culturally that you'll recognize some of these cliches. Yeah, and
Alex Ferrari 13:51
I find that a lot of first time screenwriters and myself included when I was starting to write, I would fall into the as Robert McKee says the dreaded the dreaded cliche, the dreaded dialogue, cliche or story plot cliches, and you are pointing out every one of these cliches in these genres. So it's a very valuable book to have on the shelf just to kind of skim through maybe you maybe you're writing the cliche, you don't even think you're writing the cliche, and all of a sudden you're like, oh my god, is this a cliche you like, you might not even be aware of it, because it's something that you might like, no one's ever done this before. I'm like, No, everyone in this genre has done this before. Which is which is really interesting. And I think it is one of the really, I mean, I've read a lot of scripts over my in my years. And the biggest problem is cliched dialogue, cliche story plots, cliche characters, especially in every single one of these genres. So like, when Lethal Weapon came out. Every everybody was about the buddy cop movie. You know, it was like, it was like, I think 48 hours came out first. I think if I'm not mistaken. 48 hours came out before Lethal Weapon it was like 85 it and that was kind of I don't know if that was the birth of the buddy cop movie, but it was that kind of comedic. Well, I'd never seen anything like
Chris Vander Kaay 15:13
that before. Yeah, I mean so far as I know Walter Hill is generally credited with sort of creating the buddy cop not that there haven't been movies with two characters before. But that specific dynamic of the of the either the the straight laced cop and the wild card or the the cop and the criminal partnering up, that is pretty much Oh, to Walter Hill, and in large part, not that it's never been done before, but he really codified it, so that it was clear what the elements of that sub genre were going to be moving forward.
Alex Ferrari 15:41
Yeah. And then Shane Black took it to a whole other place with lethal weapon and then, and it just kept going. And then red heat. I remember right, he came out a little while after that, with Arnold and James Belushi and, and then the buddy cop movie was like a trope of the 80s Like, it's, you still see it nowadays, but not as much as you did in the 80s and early 90s.
Chris Vander Kaay 16:00
Yeah, it's kind of moved into TV. Now, TV is kind of the place where you have the it's almost sort of like leaned into that the first iteration was the the straight laced one of the wildcard. And now they're sort of The X Files dynamic, which is the believer skeptic dynamic, right? And that's sort of become the new trope for the two person team of investigators.
Alex Ferrari 16:19
Right so yeah, in the the CSI style worlds or or the SVU style worlds right out there, they have those kinds of dynamics. I still like the buddy cop movie I mean, it's a good buddy cop movies never can know for sure
Chris Vander Kaay 16:33
was a nice guys, another one from Shane Black, you know, 30 years removed from it's a, you know, probably it's the era it would have done great in, but you know, just a few years ago, again, really, really fun. It's so it's such a simple construction, but if well executed can be so fun and super entertaining,
Alex Ferrari 16:51
and it didn't do as well as it should have. I mean, it's just a different time. This this time is not for that kind of film as much anymore, unfortunately, but I think you're right TV is the place for genres like that. And I think writers in general, understanding these tropes. That's why I think your book is so valuable, is because you like you just don't analyze you generally not you, but like, writers don't go into a genre and start analyzing the bad stuff, the tropes, the the cliches, you don't do that. But you have this like little guy that can kind of go in there. By the way, guys, I make no money by promoting this. I just think it's a cool idea. Because I'm like, Oh, this is this is kind of spying the way you did it with the infographic kind of ways even even so much cooler, because you're just like I looked at, I was looking at I was like, that's that's just kind of cool. The way you laid it all out.
Chris Vander Kaay 17:40
Yeah. Thank you. I appreciate that know what one of our goals was, there are filmmakers who do what you're talking about, which is that they work in film and television. Ryan Johnson is the first one I think of but then J Michael Straczynski, and, and I can't think of his name who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
Alex Ferrari 17:56
just just me and Justin. Yeah,
Chris Vander Kaay 17:57
they both studied very strongly the genres that they worked in specifically, so they could figure out how do I create something that seems like it's heading in the direction I would expect, so that when I do something completely different, it totally catches you off guard. So in a way, they were very smart, because instead of just trying to do something different, they knew what was already expected and sort of headed in that direction so that when they finally do take that surprise left hand turn, it's that much more powerful. Because you'd already been roped into thinking you were going down a specific path. Brian Johnson doesn't knives out.
Alex Ferrari 18:29
Right, exactly. And the which was so great. I love knives out. But let's analyze Buffy for a second which you know, I love I saw Buffy in the theater. I'm a little older. So I remember seeing Buffy when it came out with Luke Perry and Christie Christie, Christie Swanson. And then when it really took off when he had control complete creative control with the show, but he I saw many interviews with him about that genre, which is like oh, the Vampire Slayer is usually then Hellsing it's usually some big muscular dude fighting Dracula or fighting you know these big things. And he's like, what if it's the victim that usually they're say being saved from how about the victim is the Slayer, which is an is a and they made it somewhere ridiculous calling her Buffy the Vampire Slayer which, in general is just a weird, wonderful name. And then it just created this whole this whole world and he did keep turned it on its head. And I think good. Good creative writers can turn a whole genre on its head. I mean, Tarantino's made a career out of that. And Josh as well,
Chris Vander Kaay 19:35
well, and Josh Sweden and Drew Goddard teamed up to do it again, with the cabin in the woods. That is a fantastic example of a way that you take not just invert the tropes, but actually use the tropes as the central premise of the film in sort of a meta way, like really pointing out that they're there to the degree that actually in the movie, a lot of those characters don't fall into the tropes, but they're actually being forced into them by external circumstances. So that's a really clever way of pointing out the problem with these tropes and these cliches these things we come to expect. So two,
Alex Ferrari 20:06
so two, two examples I can think of right in the horror genre that I think one of the first guys to do it was Hitchcock with psycho. He completely took that genre of film and completely changed the killing office. Sorry, spoiler alert, guys.
Chris Vander Kaay 20:22
So I think we should be saved by that. I
Alex Ferrari 20:23
mean, if it's, it's 70 years, what is it? 60 7060 years. 60 years ago, guys, if you haven't seen it's not on me by killing off your main, your main movie star within the first 20 minutes. And then your audiences like who? Who's? Who do I follow? Who's the protagonist? That was great. And then Wes Craven did it again, and scream, which was an homage to what Hitchcock did with Drew Barrymore. I mean, and Wes did it with Drew Barrymore. Again, so the audience had no idea and that was another scream completely flipped all the horror tropes upside down.
Chris Vander Kaay 20:55
Yeah, well, because that was the first time that people in a horror movie had ever seen a horror movie. And in a way, they were armed with the weapons that they needed to survive. And that's sort of the humor of the film is in watching. Some of them figure it out, and some of them not.
Alex Ferrari 21:08
And the ones who didn't obviously ended up where they end up, dead.
Chris Vander Kaay 21:11
What it's funny, you mentioned Tarantino a couple of minutes ago, in the way that he reinvents genres. And I think it's interesting, you can draw a direct parallel between the original Psycho and from dusk till dawn because they both do the same thing, which is they start as a crime film, and then they become a horror film at the halfway point. Yeah, it's a crime film about her stealing money. And is she going to get away with it? Until he kills her? And then from dusk till dawn, it's are these guys gonna rob the bank and get to Mexico safely. And then at the halfway point, it becomes a vampire film,
Alex Ferrari 21:38
right? So I want I want to talk to you about this, because this is this is a pet peeve of mine. I'm a huge Robert Rodriguez fan. I'm a huge Tarantino fan. I completely understand what you're saying. I feel that psycho did it. Right. And I don't know why he did it. Right. Why that worked? Or I feel that from dusk till dawn did not work in many ways. And Robert and twitten both are they've come out said you know, like, we made two movies. There was not even a sense of vampire anywhere, anywhere in the world of the of the heist film. So when it came out, it literally comes out of left field it literally it just comes light and I knew what we were all knew what was going to happen. But a lot of people were like this just felt it felt weird. We're in psycho. It doesn't feel weird, maybe because it kind of fit. I mean, everyone knew was called psycho. So there was going to be someone who died. So I guess people were kind of waiting for something to happen. It was shocking the way he did it. But from dusk till dawn. I don't I don't know. And I don't know if you're the first to ever hear this an animal analysis of from dusk till dawn. But I when I was watching it, which I'm a fan of the movie, I do like the movie, but it literally just felt like it came out of left field and a lot of people were turned off by it.
Chris Vander Kaay 22:48
Yeah, for sure. I wasn't I enjoy. I mean, I'm one of those people that I would rather a big swing and a miss in a film. That's an interesting try. Yes, then a success at doing okay, so when a movie even if a movie is not super successful at something, if they tried it, I'm happy that they tried something wild and different. I do think one thing that might be the difference between Psycho and from dusk till dawn. And I think because you and I are similar ages that the difference is that there was a psychic awareness in the world about psycho by the time we even became aware of it. Whereas from dusk till dawn was birthed within our lifetime. Right. Right. So I do think that there is to some degree, a level of us whether we're doing it consciously or not recognizing that generations have already accepted this as the thing that it is right. Whereas from dusk till dawn, we were the ones that are actually making that decision, you know, when it was happening in the moment. So I actually think I would have been more excited. Had there been no mention of vampires in the in the trailers, in the same way that there was no mention of the murder in psycho show that I did go in thinking that it was a Quentin Tarantino crime drama, and then have the rug pulled out from under me. The thing that I thought was kind of sad was that you did know it was coming? Yeah, I would agree with that. I probably would have upset more people.
Alex Ferrari 24:03
But no, I would. I would agree with that. And I always find it fascinating because that was the time right after that was such a very unique time in history, because Robert had just finished this Desperado, which was a big hit. And Pulp Fiction had just came out. So basically, the studio said, Hey, guys, what do you want to do? And turn to us like we're not going to get a chance to do this again, let's just do from dusk till dawn and they just had carte blanche to do whatever the hell they wanted. And and you could kind of tell like the first part of the movie is more Tarantino on the second part of the movie is more Rodriguez.
Chris Vander Kaay 24:33
Yeah, for sure. Well, and I it's funny, you said they have carte blanche, which I think is mostly true. But the one thing they didn't have control over is actually the marketing, which is I believe Tarantino even said that when he originally when they came up with the idea, he wanted to only market the first half of the film. He did want it to be a surprise. But I think in the day especially, you know nowadays, maybe you could do a stunt like that. But in the mid 90s You're spending a lot of money to put a film out in theaters. It's risky and These guys have been big hits, but within the indie industry, you know, they're gonna try and mark it the old fashioned way, you know, they're going to tell you everything that there is to know about this film. And so I would be curious to know, you know, what the thought experiment would be of how the film would have been received if everybody went in not knowing that it became a supernatural horror film at the halfway point.
Alex Ferrari 25:18
And to be fair, I mean, it did spawned two sequels and a show on El Rey so it's done. Okay. I mean, it's, that's not that it's not done. Well. It's done. Okay. Without without any questions. So, I wanted to kind of go over some of the tropes of certain genres, I saw the list of, of genres and I want to hear some of these in there and they're not the usual ones, but the first one obviously, is the slasher film. So the slasher film which was birthed in the in the late 70s, because when Halloween is the is the is the birth of the slasher film, right? Well, there's,
Chris Vander Kaay 25:51
you know, depending psycho, psycho age, you want to get into a psycho, you could say, beta blood by Baba.
Alex Ferrari 25:58
I mean, you've exchanged a lot of
Chris Vander Kaay 26:00
text. And I think the big dispute is that actually, people think Black Christmas is really the birthplace more than Halloween because it came out, was it a year or two earlier? Yeah. And it has the point of view killings and the, you know, the girls in the house. And so while Halloween gets the credit, because it is a world class film, and it is like unbelievably good at creating tension. There were a few films that were sort of proto slashers around before that one really sort of coined the phrase.
Alex Ferrari 26:24
Real quick. On a side note, this is some useless trivia. Did you know that John Carpenter was going to USC or had just graduated from USC film school at the time, and used some of us er C's film equipment to make Halloween? Then USC sued John Carpenter for that, because it was a huge hit. They wanted money. And John Carpenter never forgave them for that. That was because you know, can you imagine like a student all of a sudden, it was a monster hit. I mean, it was. It was a monster hit. But that's just a little, little ridiculous, useless trivia?
Chris Vander Kaay 27:01
Yeah. I mean, it doesn't surprise me because he made him a dark star at school. So obviously, you still had the connections. But yeah, I mean, Halloween, I think was the biggest independent film until was it either clerks or Blair Witch came along? I mean, so for years,
Alex Ferrari 27:14
I would I would say, I actually know that the answer to that it was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles released in 1989, which made 120 million domestically for a eight $9 million budget at that point. And it was in 19. Whatever. 91
Chris Vander Kaay 27:29
It can't hurt it. That's a good that's a good long run. 12 year run that it was the most successful independent release. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 27:35
yeah. Without question. Now. So what are some of the tropes of the slasher film? So you know, so we can kind of go into it?
Chris Vander Kaay 27:41
Oh, for sure. I mean, obviously, the one of the biggest ones is that there almost always is an opening set piece that not only that, we see characters die, so that we know what the stakes are. But also usually we're seeing some sort of origin of the slasher. Oftentimes, it'll be something that happened in the slasher, his childhood, or some person that was connected to the character that will eventually be revealed as the slasher, so that later in the story, we get the big reveal of, oh, it's the sister of or the child of or their mother or the mother of Exactly, yeah, yeah. So that's a big piece, right? The opening set piece, there's the one we always laugh about, which is that there's always a scene where somebody is playing strip poker or skinny dipping or some other way in which you can make only the female cast member take off their clothes and the the guy maybe gets naked, but it's always hidden by strategic shrubbery, right? And then, and there's a few of them, you know, there's the cat in the closet, right? That mean that how many times has that been done that the noise that someone hears and goes to investigate by themselves? The funny thing is, we only had room for six tropes per act. Oh, wait. There's so many tropes, and especially in slasher film we could have filled, we could have filled the whole book with the tropes of the slasher film, but we ended up with about 18 Plus our splash page. And then, of course, at the end, the fake the fake out death.
Alex Ferrari 28:59
That's a big one. Right? Oh, when they come back to life. Yeah. When they get back? Yeah.
Chris Vander Kaay 29:03
Yeah, in Halloween, it was she sat down on the floor with her back to him. And he sat up slowly. And, you know, or, you know, Jason jumping through the window after we think he's already expired or coming up out of the lake or whatever, you know, whatever that final jolt moment is, which all of them are really sort of playing off of, well, Halloween, and then Friday, the 13th was sort of ripping off the end of carry. And so that's kind of where that tradition comes from.
Alex Ferrari 29:25
Yeah, when Karis hand comes out of the grave, back, yeah, that was 76 If I'm not mistaken, so yeah, that was yeah, that was that was another one. I'm sorry. Let's do another one. This one. I'm actually curious about the creepy kid movie. Yeah, that's not as John that's not a genre that's been abused as much.
Chris Vander Kaay 29:44
No, not so much. It's interesting because a lot of these genres are cyclical, right? They'll be super popular for a short time and then they'll vanish and it'll be gone for a while and then something resuscitates them I mean, we were just talking about knives out when was the last time we saw like a big budget of star studded Murder Mystery, you know, like one of those men are home stories like clue. It had been years. And then this one comes out. And I think the same thing is true of the creepy kid movie because they were big in like the 50s in the 60s. And I think a lot of that had to do with sort of the symbolic struggle of the breaking of the home, right, because of the the war effort. And then father's coming home damaged. And then, you know, a divorce becoming a thing in American culture. And so I think a lot of that was speaking to that.
Alex Ferrari 30:26
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Chris Vander Kaay 30:37
But then they did start to pop up again in the 80s and 90s. You know, films like the good son and things like that. And then I do think we had a couple years back, there was a short time where we're getting a chunk of them again, we got an orphan, which was pretty fun. And then I think Vera Farmiga was in that and I think she was in one other one too, maybe with Sam Rockwell where they were parents.
Alex Ferrari 30:56
Oh, God, what was that movie?
Chris Vander Kaay 30:58
Joshua, I think, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, but every once in a while, you'll just get like a sort of a small batch of them sort of popping back up, but for whatever weird reason that that's the way that the systems work, you know, we're, we're cyclical, and then suddenly, this thing sort of organically just resurfaces. And that's
Alex Ferrari 31:15
another that's a genre that isn't, like I said, is not a genre we see very often so that is something that could make your story as a screenwriter pop out a little because if you make a slasher film, you know, there's a million of those, and, um, they're not as popular anymore. slasher films are not as popular anymore unless you make a self aware ad slasher style film, which is something that be a lot of filmmakers do another that pay homage to the 80s slasher films. But the creepy kids genre is not. It's not done very often. So if everyone listening out there, if you're making a horror movie, a creepy kid, you know, a creepy kid ghost story would probably not be a bad thing to do.
Chris Vander Kaay 31:55
Yeah, for sure. And one of the things that's good about the creepy kid genre is that it just has sort of built in creepiness. Because if you catch the right child, oh, a lot of your work is done for you. You know, yeah, well, like
Alex Ferrari 32:05
six cents, which was like a twist on the creepy kid movie. Because he Yeah, he wasn't the bad guy. But he was still kind of creepy. Yeah, for sure.
Chris Vander Kaay 32:13
Yeah. You go back and forth for the first act of that movie about what's what's his kids deal?
Alex Ferrari 32:17
Okay, exactly. So what are some of the tropes of that of that genre
Chris Vander Kaay 32:20
up so one of the one of the big tropes that comes up is oftentimes it's a childless couple, right is going to be part of the center, because they're going to be bringing a child into their life, right? Either we beat them before they'd had their own kid, and then they have a kid, Allah, Rosemary's Baby, or like, or I guess the Omen, too. But then you have other movies where you're adopting a child, right? You're bringing a child that didn't, that does not your child, and you're adopting them, bringing them into your life, and then realizing that because you didn't raise them, there are secrets that this child has, that you didn't know about. But it's almost always that there's some sort of secret about your child, right? In Rosemary's Baby is that it was the son of Satan in the Omen, same deal. But in in orphan actually, I don't want to spoil orphan. So I won't say what the twist is in that one, because it's pretty fun. But it's almost always there's some sort of secret Revelation, we don't know. And when we find that out, you know, it hits the fan. It's either that or the other cliche sometimes is that one of the parents seems to know that something is going on with their kid, but nobody else believes them, because it's just an innocent little child. Right? And so there's that element of like, oh, you know, Susan couldn't possibly be doing that. There might be something wrong with you, dear. Right. And almost always, it's the mom, right? Because we're gaslighting the mother for having any question about being a loving mother. You know, that's where that sort of 5060s ideal comes in.
Alex Ferrari 33:34
And there was that movie that came out a few years ago, which was the combination of the creepy kid superhero genre. What was the name of that one?
Chris Vander Kaay 33:42
Yeah. brightburn Bright burn. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 33:44
that was like when I saw the trailer, I was like, that's a pretty good matchup.
Chris Vander Kaay 33:48
Yeah, for sure. I mean, if What if Superman was a sociopath, but what would happen to him as a kid as a kid?
Alex Ferrari 33:53
Yeah, it's like that. That's insane. Yeah, and then, and we'll talk a little bit about that. Because I think one of the ways that you can create new twists on these these older genres is to combine them, you know, like to combine like, obviously, scream, added a level high level of comedy and self awareness, to a horror film, essentially. And it is a fairly bloody, brutal horror film. But there's a lot of laughs in that movie,
Chris Vander Kaay 34:20
for sure. Yeah, I mean, I feel like oftentimes horror is the genre, with the most experimentation gets done. And then it just sort of filters out eventually into other arenas. And I think it's because you're allowed to get away with a lot more in horror. But definitely, I mean, one of the things we've always talked about, I've been a screenwriting professor for a few years, and even before that, when I was just a writer, I would always talk to people about the idea of the power of crossing genre means you had expectations but now that you've joined those expectations with an arena that has other expectations, you've now created a circumstance where your audience doesn't know which set of expectations to look for and that's powerful because it means now you have the element of surprise back In a way that you didn't view, we're just working in the one,
Alex Ferrari 35:02
right? So it's like the comedy, The comedy buddy cop movie versus the a little bit more serious buddy cop movie with some comedic elements. So like Lethal Weapon, arguably has some funny scenes in it. But it's pretty dark. I mean, you meet Martin Riggs, and he's got a gun to his mouth. I mean, it's, it's a it's a fairly dark film. But then you got 48 hours, which is a straight up comedy with action elements in it. With that.
Chris Vander Kaay 35:26
Yeah. And I think the genre obviously goes, it's flexible. Most genres tend to be kind of flexible about what you can. And so you'll have ones that go to the more dramatic and the more serious or the more action oriented, the more comedic. And I think that's one of the great things about genre is the elasticity. Like how far can you take the framework of this one kind of thing that we've already codified? How far can you stretch that before it snaps? You know, before it becomes another thing, like I used to joke about the problem with drama is it's the most recessive genre, right? You put enough jokes in a drama, it's a Comedy, Drama goes away, right? You put a time machine in a drama becomes a science fiction, film drama goes away. So this is this running joke that like dramas, the least interesting genre to work in, because it's so easy to turn it into something else by just adding one thing, you know,
Alex Ferrari 36:11
right. So yeah, I mean, Back to the Future is a sci fi i It's funny, I wouldn't call it a comedy. But it is funny. And it's heartfelt. And there's, there's a, there's drama in it. And but it's a it's a sci fi film is the site. Well, how would you jump into that? Well,
Chris Vander Kaay 36:29
for sure, it's science fiction. But if I had to stick it in another genre, I would say at the coming of age comedy, for sure. And it's it's almost sort of 5050 Because there's a storyline with him and Doc Brown, that's almost all science fiction. And there's a storyline with him and his dad and his mom, which is almost an all coming of age story, you know, obviously with the thread of the the time problem within it. But that's one of the things I loved about it. And it was the 80s was really where the idea of cross genre or cross pollination of genres kind of came in. Because you have all these film students who were coming out having studied genre for the first time, it's like the 60s and 70s and 80s. These filmmakers were going to film school for the first time. So they're the only ones that ever had the conversation about what genres are, what what elements codify them, right? The generation before them was the ones that were actually inventing them, right? Your John Ford's, they were building genres. They weren't defining them. They were just making them. And then after,
Alex Ferrari 37:21
and then also this, the film school generation didn't really cross genres too much Spielberg, Lucas. I mean, I mean, look, it's it was sci fi, sci fi action adventure. And Indiana Jones was kind of like that serial adventure. But like, you know, taxi driver, pretty straightforward Raging Bull. Pretty straightforward, right? Godfather pretty straightforward. You know, they weren't as cross genre ring. They weren't combining genres, much in the 70s. I agree with you in the 80s.
Chris Vander Kaay 37:45
They debts. Spielberg is interesting, because he kind of has a foot in the 70s in the 80s, right? Most of the other guys you mentioned were late 70s, right? You're Coppola's and your Scorsese. And those guys are more sort of traditional in the shape that they put their story in, where Spielberg while he came up in the same era and did some stuff early on, that maybe falls directly into genres. I think, you know, JAWS and duel are pretty clear what those are, but close
Alex Ferrari 38:09
encounters close at but at his upcoming coming of age. Exactly.
Chris Vander Kaay 38:14
Yeah. And for sure. And I think it was it was Spielberg's influence both as a as a director but mainly as a producer, working with guys like Robert Zemeckis, Joe, Dante, big in a big way. has a huge love for film, but also understands the ways to play in different sandboxes I mean, Gremlins is a perfect example. It's a horror film. It's a Christmas film. It's a coming of age film. It's a comedy, right? Yeah, it covers a lot of ground
Alex Ferrari 38:39
Goonies. Yeah, I mean, Goonies is an adventure coming of age comedy, as well, if you just don't, I'm trying to think of films in today's world that kind of does that. I mean, they're not a lot of our there. I mean, maybe I'm wrong, but like, it's from the studio system. Everything's so homogenized right now. And it's all based on IP, and they pretty much staying strict to, you know, I mean, Avengers and Marvel movies have just, they're basically action comedies, with adventure comedies, with some dramatic elements drizzled on top.
Chris Vander Kaay 39:11
Yeah, I think all of the adventurous stuff that's being done it sort of the nebulous edges of genres are mostly being done in the independent arena. Horror used to be the independent arena. It has, you know, since the late 80s, I would say become more respectable and become more of a studio thing. But horror has always been sort of toying around with that stuff recently. other genres, like especially the I guess you'd call it, the indie drama world, or the indie world has sort of taken on that mantle now, because when you're spending at least $150 million on a movie, you're not allowed to experiment the people paying for it won't let you, you know, and the mid budget movie is gone. So it's only small budget movies that can have the risk of doing something daring anymore,
Alex Ferrari 39:52
right in the days of the 18 to $20 million. Goonies is gone.
Chris Vander Kaay 39:58
Yeah, it's unfortunate because It's now the $80 million Goonies is now a $40 million season of Stranger Things on television. It's like movie at all.
Alex Ferrari 40:06
Right? And that's where you can make the more money. I mean, in all honesty, you'll make more money on that and that button business model than you will and more creative freedom than you Oh, for sure. We're just shifted
Chris Vander Kaay 40:17
now. Yeah, that there's more there's more creative freedom in television storytelling than there is in theatrical storytelling to a degree.
Alex Ferrari 40:23
Now, the Christmas film, we were Christmas film has a lot of tropes in it. And I love to talk about because it's a genre I've seen grow exponentially in the in the last four or five years, or I'm seeing because Hallmark and was a Hallmark and lifetime have their, you know, they just they just spitting these things out all day and on Netflix as well. It's putting these things out well, perfect example was the Gremlins, which is I forget that is a Christmas movie, arguably, arguably diehard is the greatest Christmas movie of all time. And we can have that conversation. I did a whole episode on that. But we could talk about that later. But the book The Christmas film is, is a genre that there's there being made more and more because there is so much more need for all the streaming services to have Christmas films. So what are some of the tropes of a Christmas?
Chris Vander Kaay 41:12
I think the strongest central trope of any Christmas film is the massive conflict that's going to ruin the holiday. Whatever shape it comes in. That's always the element, right? You never get a movie where it's like, where it's a straightforward drama where you like it'll say, romantic comedy. I know there's romance in the Christmas films on Hallmark. But there's almost always some enormous hook in the center of it. That's going to ruin someone's Christmas, right? It's funny because almost all Christmas movies are actually about how someone's Christmas is going to be ruined. And it's kind of funny because the the goal of the movie then is to just solve how do we not ruin Christmas and almost every single one whether it's the Gremlins are ruining Christmas, or Tim Allen accidentally murdered Santa Claus on his roof during Christmas, you know, there's always some element where the the holiday itself is at risk. And we have to save it in some way. Whether it's on a small scale the family, right, everybody's coming together, like in home alone. It's home alone, right? Yeah. Or whether it's on a cosmic scale like Santa the Santa Claus with an Allen there's always some existential threat to the idea of the holiday of Christmas. And I think it's it's funny that no matter what genre you put it in, whether it's a romantic comedy, whether it's supernatural, like Santa Claus, or Krampus, or you know, any of them, they all seem to fall existentially into that same thing, which is like save Christmas, it's gonna die if this thing happens, you know?
Alex Ferrari 42:30
And I always I always, I always joke, but it's not. It's not too far off. If you've got a dog saving Christmas, it's pre sold. Me. It's not. It's it's that if you got a dog saving Christmas, or better yet, all the litter saving Christmas like there's puppies involved? Oh, yeah, it just it's presold.
Chris Vander Kaay 42:47
Even better if you want to have a kid from a family whose parents are about to divorce runs away to save a dog. And then the parents have to get back together in order to save the kid not dog.
Alex Ferrari 42:57
Stop it'll stop it stop it. We're just spitting out gold here all day guys. This isn't this is these are free to take them and do with them as you wish. And one others honor I wanted to talk about which is a newer genre. The young adult dystopian romance, which is it is a 2000 Beyond 2000s genre. I don't remember seeing my I've seen dystopian before, but the young adult dystopian is something of the 2000s Am I wrong?
Chris Vander Kaay 43:29
I think in film, it is of the 2000s it was I mean, if you can go back to the I think the giver is probably the most famous example is a film that was wrapped up in you know, production staff was for 25 years before Jeff Bridges finally got it made. But that was a book that came out before the millennium. So I think yeah, it came about in why a fiction first, you know, young adult fiction, and then became a genre because they started adapting the books. Interestingly, we sort of oh, why a dystopian romance in some way to Harry Potter because Harry Potter was a why a series that became so successful that everybody just wanted to adapt the next popular why a series because if you can find a franchise and the first one does good money, you're set for a few years at least you know, and that's when they started rolling in right we got our hunger games and we got our turn remember the one about the divergent divergent
Alex Ferrari 44:14
Yeah, that died the die that that the last one they didn't even release? Yeah, the Maze
Chris Vander Kaay 44:19
Runner right? Yeah, people were finding and what happens is and you the industry will sort of write which books it wants, right? Because somebody immediately tried to make one that was much closer to Harry Potter, which was the was the one about the gods.
Alex Ferrari 44:35
Oh, yeah. Percy, Percy, Percy, Percy Jackson Verstegen, I actually enjoy the Percy Jackson
Chris Vander Kaay 44:41
and and there was two of them and they did fairly well but in the scheme of things the YA dystopian romance you know like the the self sufficient girl who has to choose between one of two guys right that sexy punk rocker or the you know the straight laced whoever that really connected with broader audiences and also the the big hook about the world, the crazy world that they live in, those really seem to connect with audiences. And so that became a thing. Obviously, I listed the three that I just mentioned. But then there were ones that popped up on TV as well. There were TV series that were clearly influenced by it and you'd find on places like ABC Family. And so yeah, it became, it became its own sub genre to the degree that it definitely felt like it belonged in the book.
Alex Ferrari 45:20
Yeah, it is a it is an interesting genre. I mean, Twilight, let's not even get into that. That debacle. I'm sorry. Everybody out there. I'm sorry. I saw Twilight and I mean, you don't introduce the villain to the last 20 minutes. I'm sorry. You've lost me. It's just very upsetting. You're staying quiet. Do you agree? Do you disagree?
Chris Vander Kaay 45:39
No. I always I always say that there there's an audience for every movie Fair enough. Just because I'm not it. So to be clear, I'm not but
Alex Ferrari 45:49
you know your closet in your closet a Twilight fan let's just admitted here on the show. Now,
Chris Vander Kaay 45:53
I'm not gonna lie. I've seen all the movies but to be fair, the reason I watched them is because as a screenwriter, you have to know what everybody else around you is watching for sure. That's the reason I watched one of them because because the my one of my favorite directors of all time, David Slade, directed one. Oh, yes. Great director. Yeah, he's fantastic. I couldn't believe he directed the Twilight Zone. But turns out he's the smart one because he laughed all the way to the bank. And he has a fantastic career now. So
Alex Ferrari 46:18
yeah, he did. Okay. It okay. And I think the genius of Harry Potter, obviously, among many things, it's generational. You start with the character when he's when he's what at first grade, essentially. And then you take them all the way through high school or the equivalent of So, I mean, that was just a money making money printing machine.
Chris Vander Kaay 46:36
Yeah, I Well, in the film smartly learned to mature along with the viewers, right, because the first ones were much more sort of, I don't wanna say cartoonish, but
Alex Ferrari 46:45
Goonies more, more, more Guney asked like they're going on an adventure. And it's more innocent, like when you get the prisoner Aska ban for just gets dark.
Chris Vander Kaay 46:54
Well, I mean, the smartest thing they ever did was to hire quadros, to take them from childhood to adolescence, because he understood how to sort of muddy the waters of the world and make it feel even though it's fantastical, it still feels there's some sort of realism to the way that he photographed it, you know, so it starts to become higher stakes. And then in the fourth one, a character actually dies. And we have to see the ramifications of that. And so the film sort of matures, the franchise matures in the way that the people reading them would be maturing or watching them.
Alex Ferrari 47:20
And fun fact, the guy who dies in the Goblet of Fire is now our new Batman. Yep.
Chris Vander Kaay 47:25
He died in Goblet of Fire and then he went to be an immortal shiny vampire.
Alex Ferrari 47:30
But to be fair, and I'm gonna get on to this too much, I think. I don't know. He's a fantastic actor. He's actually got a bum rap because of the Twilight films, but he's actually a really, it'd be interesting. I'm interested to see where this goes. Every time they've ever cast a Batman or a joker. They always crap all over it. And people all the fanboys come out and just like this is horrible. And then yeah,
Chris Vander Kaay 47:49
that is how fandom works, right? People get mad about stuff. It seems like a weird, you know, a weird moniker but it did come from the word fanatic. So I guess it does make sense to a degree
Alex Ferrari 47:59
I mean, I mean, you and I are both have similar vintages. So you remember when Michael Keaton was cast? I mean,
Chris Vander Kaay 48:04
oh my Yeah, the comedy guy from Beetlejuice. Really, Mr.
Alex Ferrari 48:07
Mom, Mr. Mom is gonna be Batman. And now they're talking about bringing them back to play the old like, like an older Dark Knight kind of Batman?
Chris Vander Kaay 48:17
Wouldn't that be amazing? Fingers crossed? I want to Batman Beyond for sure. Oh,
Alex Ferrari 48:21
that would be amazing. Alright, so I'm gonna ask you a few questions ask all of my guests are? What advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?
Chris Vander Kaay 48:29
Um, I would say a, you're lucky that you decided to be a screenwriter instead of any other job, because it's the only one you can do from almost anywhere. So good choice on that,
Alex Ferrari 48:38
and essentially free and essentially, almost free to do it doesn't cost?
Chris Vander Kaay 48:43
Oh, for sure. It's one of the only ones that doesn't have any overhead for you to have to do your supply your trade? You know, if you became a drummer instead of a guitarist, that would be a bad idea for investment purposes. I think writers are the same way. But my advice would be well buy this book. But um, no. My real advice would be you have to you a you have to watch a lot of stuff. But you have to you have to actively watch is it's the thing that most people don't do when they watch something. They watch something and they're entertained by it. And then they emulate the things that they like or, but they don't, they don't dig further into what it is that they like to understand what that thing did in order to be effective, that made you like it. You have to be able to watch actively. And that's one of the reasons why even though I don't tell people to go to film school, I don't tell people necessarily to take screenwriting courses. I do. Tell them read books that can teach you how to do what I'm talking about. And it could be in any way you can learn how to do analysis, from reading books about literature and things like that. But learning how to do analysis of a film is super important for writers. Because you have to you have to be able to create a thing that will capture the spirit of a movie in the heads of every single person who wants to make the movie but hasn't made it yet. And that is a very difficult task. So you have to understand how to be able to push all the buttons in someone's brain, so that they get a sense of the movie in their head, and it's excites them enough that they want to go and make it. So learning how to do the deep dive on a film, watch something, enjoy it the first time, but when you watch it the second the third time, watch it with an eye towards how is this film doing what it does not just I like this film. And that's not always a tough thing to do to separate yourself like that.
Alex Ferrari 50:20
Wouldn't you agree, though, that it is tougher than ever to be a writer in the sense that we as an audience are so much more savvy, so much more educated in what story is like things that I saw in the 80s You know, when Bloodsport came out Bloodsport was the greatest action film ever made for my time and my age. But now, you know, there's you got another 30 years of just story story story. Now kids coming up are literally got every film ever made every TV show ever made on at the tip of their fingers. So as a writer, you've got to be so much better and so much sharper, to tell a compelling story that people will not just go, Oh, I've seen this 1000 times,
Chris Vander Kaay 51:03
for sure. But I will also say that all of those, say when we're talking about the movie from the 80s, right, we're talking about an action film, everybody watching, it wasn't exposed to the entirety of the action canon that we've seen. But neither were the people writing it. Right. Right. So the idea is that writers have the same responsibility now that they did then, which is to know what's already happened, and how you can move it further down, right, but how you can take it to the next step. The thing I love about Ryan Johnson is that he's really good at that he understands where he doesn't just write stories, he understands where the framework for the story and the understanding of the story exists in society now, so that he can use that to further what it is that he's getting out with his story. I mean, they were doing the same thing with the the film, the I guess you'd call them the what the film Brad's right from the 80s of Spielberg, and all of them, they were making their own marches to 50s films in the 80s. Right. That's what Star Wars is. That's what Indiana Jones is. But they were they were taking that and then they were turning it into something that would come out from the 80s. And you just you have to be able to do the same thing now at Yes, it's more work, certainly. But in a way, I think in some, in some ways, it feels more rewarding. Because when you think about oh, no one knew anything in the 80s going into a movie, right? So I can impress them pretty easily. You can impress them now. It means you're pretty good.
Alex Ferrari 52:18
Yeah, yeah. I mean, exactly. If you're, if you're really good now you would have killed in the 80s.
Chris Vander Kaay 52:26
You would have been so ahead of your time that no one got you. I mean, if that happened to John Carpenter more times than I can count, everybody thinks that the thing is a classic now it bombed when it came was horrible.
Alex Ferrari 52:35
Yeah, it's, it's a delicate balance.
Chris Vander Kaay 52:37
Alex Ferrari 52:38
And yeah, exactly. You don't want to be too ahead of your time.
Chris Vander Kaay 52:41
Yeah. Doesn't do him any good. Now that clap that it's a classic, because he still didn't make any money off of it, you know?
Alex Ferrari 52:47
But he's not bitter at all. He's not bitter at all. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life,
Chris Vander Kaay 52:56
um, the tear is gonna sound crazy for a writer, don't be taken in by the tyranny of story. And I've watched this happen in the in the fan community, which is the demand that everything in a story be answered. It's the death of storytelling in some ways. They're not to be able to be question marks at the end of a story. Everybody wants everything answered. And that in some ways kills the interest that you could, like, the best example I can use is, the best way to explain it is to say, when something isn't answered in a film, it doesn't mean it's unanswerable. It just means it wasn't answered. Right. And that sense of mystery needs to exist to some degree for people to want to revisit something, if I can watch a movie. And then by the end, everything has been handed to me in a neat package, and there's nothing for me to pour over. Why would I bother revisiting that? And the thing that that made me realize that was actually sort of watching the career of David Lynch. And as it sort of culminated in Twin Peaks, the return that show so brilliantly, gave people answers that only revealed more questions that they thought they wanted. answers to, yeah. And and what was powerful about that is he did answer questions that he started asking in the late 80s, with the TV series, but more importantly, he had a conversation, he gave you an emotional experience. And he asked you a few more questions. And at the end of the day, that is what art should be doing. Right? So don't feel so paralyzed by the need to answer every question about your story, that you lose the emotional impact that's going to make it powerful. And that sense of mystery or ambiguity that allows that thing to keep its life and vitality past the point that someone's even seen it once.
Alex Ferrari 54:32
Yeah, I when you said unanswered questions, I just the first thing that popped in my head was inception. You know, then the the that the ending you just like waiting in waiting, and he cuts him like, Oh, my God, it was so good.
Chris Vander Kaay 54:45
Yeah, and in forever, even if people think they have theories about what the movie actually means, because of that ending image, it will always be discussed, right? If we've been given the answer, find that would have been satisfying in the moment maybe, but ultimately, would that have been the best decision For the life of the film past the first time that you've ever seen it, and when the next generation of film gets to filmmakers gets to watch it, or critics get to write about it, you know, that's where it's fun is where there are holes left for us to participate in that.
Alex Ferrari 55:14
And, and Kubrick was pretty much the master of that, for sure. And every single one of his
Chris Vander Kaay 55:20
films in 2001 is in microcosm, you know, that's but almost every one of his films leaves that beautiful ambiguity in some way for you to be able to have to be in concert and in conversation with the movie.
Alex Ferrari 55:32
Yeah. And not to not to jump on on Kubrick, but like, every time his films are so in his stories, because he was the writer for most of those. He was either the CO writer or the writer, the screenplay, as well are adapted from a novel. They age, like all art does. So like good art will mean different things to you at different points in your life. So I still remember watching Eyes Wide Shut in 99. When they came out, and my friends came out, we can't I was a film geek and my friends, like, what do you think of like, I don't know, I don't understand it, but I probably will in 10 years. And, and then, you know, once I was married and had kids, and I watched it, I was like, oh, okay, I kind of get what you get. And then in about another 10 or 15 years, I'll watch it again and go. Okay, Stanley, now I get what you said. It's like great art. Does that great stories do that?
Chris Vander Kaay 56:22
Oh, for sure. I mean, I think 2001 doesn't really hit home for anybody until they've either had a massive loss in their life or they've had a child. The idea of the cycle of human life doesn't mean as much to you in its profundity in that film until you've witnessed one end or the other of it.
Alex Ferrari 56:36
Yeah, it's and we could I should do a whole episode on just Kubrick. I haven't never done that. I'm just such a maverick fan.
Chris Vander Kaay 56:42
Let me know because Steven Espinosa, my co writer would love to join you for that. It's his favorite film of filmmaker of
Alex Ferrari 56:47
all time. Oh, yeah. I mean, I I've gone deep down the rabbit hole on Kubrick more times than I care to admit. Now three of your favorite films of all time.
Chris Vander Kaay 56:57
Okay, so my three favorite films. It's funny, anytime somebody asked me to come on to do an appearance on a podcast, if they're discussing movies, they'll say what movies you want to talk about. And the first thing is the first three movies I asked him if they've covered because they're my three favorite movies are Magnolia by Paul Thomas Sanders. Sure. The documentary American movie grand. And this is the this is the one that always throws people a little bit. The other two are like okay, I get that there is a, a small Canadian horror film directed by Bruce McDonald called Pontypool from 2008. And that is my third favorite film. Many people have not seen it, those who have don't understand my love of it. But I think any great enterprising independent filmmaker who watches that movie will be deeply inspired because it is a film that cost I think, right around a million dollars, maybe it basically takes place inside of a radio station in a basement, in a tiny church in the middle of Canada. But it is one of the most beautifully shot films, it does so much with the budget that it has. And it's just endlessly clever. One of the things I always say as a writer, is ideas are the only thing that you can continuously produce for free in a film, everything else costs money. And that movie had great ideas, crazy ideas in spades. And that's one of the things I always point out, like, especially young filmmakers are trying to put a film together, they got almost no money to scrape together I say, Well, you know, the idea is where it's at, right? That's the thing that's free, find the thing that's going to get people talking, usually it's in the idea phase, that doesn't cost you anything.
Alex Ferrari 58:19
Now where can people find the book and and pick it up.
Chris Vander Kaay 58:23
So it will be available to like, it'll be shipped to you on March 24. It's already available for preorder. And you can either get it from the publishers website, Lawrence King, which in fact, if anybody wants to see what the book looks like, if you go to Lawrence King, I believe there's an entire genre available that you can flip through on the pages there. So you can see the style. I want to say it's the Western revenge film, I can't remember for sure, but I think that's the one. So you can go and you can get the tone, you know, and get a sense of whether you'd like it or not. But you can pick it up from the Lawrence King website and get it from amazon.com. And then once the actual street date hits, you'll also be able to get it at brick and mortar stores. If any of those still exist, you'll still be able to pick them up there.
Alex Ferrari 59:02
I appreciate it. Man. Thanks so much for coming on the show. It's been an absolute ball geeking out with you about genre, and about the different kinds of plots and tropes that we have to avoid. So thank you so much for being on the show, brother.
Chris Vander Kaay 59:14
Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me.
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