Today’s guest is returning champion writer/director Diane Bell. Diane and I go way back. I had the pleasure of working on her first feature film OBSELIDIA, which won two awards at Sundance. The film makes it’s IFHTV Premiere this week.
Here’s a bit about Diane.
Diane Bell is a screenwriter and director. Made for less than $150k, her first feature film, OBSELIDIA, premiered in Dramatic Competition at Sundance and won two awards. The film went on to win further awards at festivals around the world, and to be nominated for two prestigious Independent Spirit Awards. Her second film, BLEEDING HEART, a drama starring Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and is widely available. She is currently in post on her third feature, OF DUST AND BONES.
She has written numerous commissioned and optioned scripts, including two with renowned director John McTiernan (the director of Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October). In addition to writing and directing films, Diane with her producing partner Chris Byrne is a founder of the Rebel Heart Film Workshop program, in which she teaches step by step how to make a standout indie film. She also teaches at Denver’s Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge and honest experiences of filmmaking so that up and coming filmmakers can make better movies and create sustainable careers.
“The biggest advice I can give you for your shoot, if you want to make a standout film, is to be fully present in the moment when you are filming.” – Diane Bell
In her quest to help filmmakers follow their dreams she has written a new book called Shooting From the Heart: Successful Filmmaking from a Sundance Rebel.
If you dream of making a movie but don’t know where to start or you’re afraid that your film will end up being yet another unseen indie, this is the book for you. Based on the real-life experiences of Sundance award-winning screenwriter/director Diane Bell, SHOOT FROM THE HEART will guide you through the process of making an indie film successfully ― from writing a stand-out script to raising finance, from getting the most out of your shoot to planning a profitable release.
Broken down into sixteen essential steps, this book provides you with a clear, actionable, real-world plan for turning your filmmaking dream into your reality. The method in this book is available to anyone, anywhere. You don’t need a ton of money or industry connections, you just need to be willing to do the work of each step.
In this book, you’ll find ass-kicking inspiration and motivational tips for the long journey filmmaking is, as well as the practical knowledge and insider’s information you need to make it happen. SHOOT FROM THE HEART will empower you to trust your creative instincts and leave you with no excuses for not making the best film you can. This guide is the only one you need if you seriously want to stop talking about making movies and actually make a great one. At the end of each chapter, Diane provides a thoughtful reminder to her readers:
“Be grateful for the journey you are on.”
We discuss her Sundance experience, her horrible Hollywood experience after Sundance and so much more.
Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Diane Bell.
Alex Ferrari 1:47
Now, today's guest is returning champion Diane Bell. If you remember Diane, she is a writer, director, award winning writer, director of the Sundance winning obsolete media, which I had the pleasure of working on, ooh, God, like almost eight years ago at this point. And it will be premiering on ifH. TV this week. So look out for that. But I wanted to have her back on the show because she wrote an amazing new book called shooting from the heart successful filmmaking from a Sundance rebel. And in her book, she really goes into and breaks down this amazing workshop that she's been giving for years, that shows filmmakers how to make their movie on a low budget, and how to get the most out of that film. And all of her experiences going through Sundance, going through the Hollywood system with her second film after Sundance, and we just break down what it takes to be a filmmaker among many other things we discuss. So I love talking to Diane, it's always a pleasure having her. So without any further ado, please enjoy my inspirational conversation with the lovely Diane Bell. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Diane Bell.
Diane Bell 3:45
Hi, how are you? I'm good. It's so good to see you. Oh, is it?
Alex Ferrari 3:50
You know, it's been a it's been at least 150 episodes this last time.
Diane Bell 3:56
That's amazing. Congratulations!
Alex Ferrari 3:58
Thank you. Thank you know, and it's been a while since you've been on so um, we have a bunch of stuff to talk about. You've been busy, busy, busy. Since last we spoke. And for those of you did not listen to the first episode, we're just gonna kind of go over a few things that we might have talked about in the first episode. I just think it's, you have such an interesting life. And such an interesting journey as a filmmaker that I think it's worth going back into it. So first and foremost, how did you get into the film business and why did you want to become a filmmaker?
Diane Bell 4:25
Oh, gosh, okay, so how did I get into the film business? I got into screenwriting. And I didn't have like a simple or obvious path into it. Like I was a total cinephile. When I was from the time that I went to university I would say, you know, when I discovered arthouse cinema, because until then, cinema seemed like lesser to me than then right. You know, then books. But then when I discovered how cinema was like, Oh, my God, you know, this is that. And I said, I was a total cinephile. But it never crossed my mind that I could work in the business. You know, it never crossed my mind that I could be a director or I could be a screenwriter. It really, really did. That would seem so far fetched to me, you know. And so, you know, I studied philosophy, I became a yoga teacher, I went to India, I moved to Barcelona, Spain, I was from Scotland, you know, and open a yoga school. So I was doing all these things, but I was always really into writing. And finally, I had an idea for a movie, and came to me kind of out of the blue, which was about an I think I might have told you about this before about Mexican voiceover actor who dubs Mickey works movies into Spanish. So I knew like, this was not an idea for a novel or for a short story or a story. This was an idea for a movie, and I just went, Okay, I'm gonna write this movie. And that's what I did. So I wrote the script, you know, and I just, like people said, How long did it take you to write? And I'm like, well, it took me like, eight weeks over three years. It was a long drawn out process, because of course, I had that thing where write a little bit and then think this is terrible. And who am I, and I can't do this. And you know, and I put it away for six months, but I kept coming back to me. And finally, I was actually in India and a lady there. I was telling her about it. And she said, You have to finish this, like, you just have to finish it. You know, and I went back and I finished it at that point, I was like, She's right. Like, this is like, somehow this is part of my soul's journey to write this script. And I have to finish it. And I'm not doing myself a disservice by, you know, losing confidence or being frightened. And after I finished it, you know, is incredible. It was the first screenplay I wrote, and within a year it was optioned.
Alex Ferrari 6:32
Never happens. It's such a, like, a lottery ticket. A lot of lottery tickets in your life.
Diane Bell 6:39
But it was one of those things like it was kinda, it was crazy, like, from when I finished that script, you know, like I was living in Barcelona, and it was a movie that needed to be set up in America all took place in LA. And I went, I found out that Mickey work was coming to con for it since city so it's 2005. And I just, and I drove up there, you know, I hired a car, I didn't own a car, I hired a car drove to con was my scraps going, I'm gonna find my keyword. And I didn't. I didn't actually meet Mickey at con. But I did meet a producer who then like, emailed me maybe a couple months after con and said, I just had dinner with another producer is working with Mickey and can I show him this? You know, would you mind being in touch, he loved the idea of your movie. And, you know, literally six months later, I was sitting in LA having lunch with Mickey Rourke.
Alex Ferrari 7:32
Oh my god, how was that? What was that was like,
Diane Bell 7:37
Dude is so surreal. Because like I you know, because I been working on that script for that point, like, nearly four years. Right. And I, you know, I'd watched all of Mickey works movies, and really dug into who he was, and he was my character, you know, he's in my movie, right? You know, and so actually sitting with him was completely surreal. Because it's like, oh, my God, this is like, he's a person. He's not just my character. And then he was with it, like, but he was like, my character. He had his two Chihuahuas, right, you know, and, and he talked about himself, I was on the third, like, you know, cuz he talks about his characters. He's like, you know, I don't think Mickey should do this. Like, I think Mickey should be, you know, and it was just, like, completely sitting there going. This is insane. You know, you know, he's, he's a real person, but he's like, it was, you know, he was more he was more, he was even bigger and stranger than my then I made it out on the movie, right? I think that was shot like he, you know, he's a big character. He's a really eccentric character, you know, and he was like, more eccentric than I expected. And it was funny because I made like, one of the things I was really at pains to do in that script, because obviously, it was set during a time that Mickey Rourke wasn't really working right. It was before the race was and I made it about his boxing, and I turned like the original script, he was quite a noble character. It's like he'd given up acting to be a boxer because he thought acting was kind of like, for wimps, you know, and boxing was real. And it was, you know, it was for real guys and all this kind of stuff. And, and I made him quite noble, but he didn't want any boxing in the movie. He just wanted it to be about Mickey has quit acting to hang out in strip clubs and get drunk. Alright, then.
Alex Ferrari 9:18
Yeah, the movie never got made or to get made
Diane Bell 9:20
It never got made. Oh, are you kidding? That movie would have been amazing. What ended up happening? So you know, it was funny. It brought me to LA. I mean, it was fantastic. It was a fantastic experience as long as it lasted. You know, I got paid to rewrite it. You know wg a minimum? You know, it's like, it's, it's I made decent money out of it
Alex Ferrari 9:40
A working writer at that point.
Diane Bell 9:42
Yeah, exactly. That's what turned me into a working writer. Absolutely. And, you know, I learned so much through the process of it. And then eventually it was like, just before that writer's strike. Was that like, six or 7006 or seven. So the company who Had it they wanted to, like lock it all down because they wanted to shoot it. You know, they wanted to have it ready to go if the writer strike happened or not, you know, and just at that moment Mickey got cast in the wrestler. And, you know, these are these weird things that are completely outside of your control. And I can remember that conversation. Mickey Rourke actually called me up, personally, because we, over this time developed, you know, a friendship, you know, like, we talked a lot and worked on the script, you know, a few different versions. I can remember, I can remember exactly the time where he called me up and he said, Listen, I got this movie, and I'm gonna go do that, you know, and I don't think your movie is gonna happen. I don't think I can do it. And, you know, when I saw the wrestler, I saw it, you know, probably less than a year, well, like a year later, or something at a screening, and he was at the screening. And I spoke to him afterwards. And it was that thing, like, watching that movie was so emotional for me, because I went, Oh, it's so beautiful.
Alex Ferrari 11:00
It's so wonderful for me.
Diane Bell 11:03
Also, though, it was, like, in its essence, it was the same as my movie, right? Because it was the resurrection of Mickey, you know, and that, like, there's one speech in that movie, which was so close to a speech in my family, it was just like, it was uncanny. You know, where I was like, Oh, my God, you know, it's just it's the same film is different, but it's the same because my film was about, you know, this guy. like finding his finding his soul again.
Alex Ferrari 11:32
Gotcha. And that's, and that kind of brought you to the world of screenwriting.
Diane Bell 11:36
And so that's what Yeah, you know, it's incredible that writing that screenplay changed my life. Totally. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 11:42
And how did you get involved with this? This this young director of did a movie called Die Hard was a predator. A couple other movies we might have heard of. How did you get involved with john McTiernan?
Diane Bell 11:54
That that was insane, because so after I had just arrived in LA with the movie about Mickey Rourke, I I met Chris Byrne, this guy who is now my husband has been for nearly 12 years.
Alex Ferrari 12:07
Yes. a side note. He wasn't Titanic. Well move on.
Diane Bell 12:09
He was in Titanic. He's the one who drops the he was the guy. Yeah. Famously, the guy who drops the key. they marry the guy who drops the keys.
Alex Ferrari 12:17
Yes. And that's it all sorts of conversations about the making of Africa to make this shit up. Yeah, exactly. Like so I wrote this movie about Mickey Rourke, I drove to CAD met a producer flew out to LA met the guy who dropped the keys of Titanic and married like it's.
Diane Bell 12:34
Met him on the street. And he basically so we'd only known each other for like a month or something. Probably he and Chris worked on basic with john McTiernan. And he did military tech advice with that movie, and also some stunts in it. And so he knew MC T, and was good friends with him. So he said to me, we'd only known each other I'd say for about a month and he goes, Oh, you know, John's coming into town. And would you like to have dinner with us tomorrow night? That was like, great, amazing. Like, you know, I'm gonna meet this director. This is amazing. So we went for dinner. And, you know, John's quite a big taciturn sort of guy, you know, I was like, you know, and but we got on like, no problem. And then he said to me, so I hear you just optioned your first screenplay, and who did you auction it to? And I said, to Peter Samuelson, and he nearly fell off his chair. I mean, I'll never forget like that sort of. He was like what? He said, I optioned my first screenplay to Peter Samuelson. Right? Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 13:33
I mean, seriously, come on.
Diane Bell 13:34
It's so funny. I can't write this. So I know. It sounds like oh my god. That's it. You know, that's crazy. And, you know, we talked about that. And so then, like, two days later, he calls us up, Chris. And I were, I mean, Chris and I, I'm saying we'd only known each other for about a month, but we were already like, in love. You know, it was one of those. We went from nought to 100 and like a week, kind of thing. And so it was a couple days after that, that john called up and he said, I'm at Santa Monica airport. I'm about to fly back to my ranch in Wyoming. Do you guys want to come? Right? And yeah, and you're like, yeah, okay, you know, like, let's go. Okay. Can you get here as soon as possible, you know, and so,
Alex Ferrari 14:20
So Hollywood is like, Listen, I mean, I'm flying back. Would you come like now? I need you now.
Diane Bell 14:25
I know. Like, we're there. You know. So Chris, and I quickly throw some things in a bag and we go to Santa Monica airport. Chris had already been to MC T's ranch. He was like, you're gonna love it. It's amazing. And so we fly on his little private jet out to, you know, to, to Wyoming. Sure. I'd never been on one of those little planes. It was amazing. But you've never been in a minivan. I was like, holy shit and flying out to Santa Monica airport. I mean, like what you know. So we flew there and we went to the ranch and then when we were in the ranch, basically every day make tea would give me a different script to read, you know, and at night, so in the mornings, what is that, like read this, you know, and in the evening or you know, or something, you know, I'd go a horse riding or go for a big hike or whatever, then come back and see him later. And he'd say, Well, what do you think of that, you know, we'd sort of go into his office room and sit and discuss the scripts, you know, I was just like, I like I thought, this is just like, this is so cool. I'm just like, in this, like, I'm on a ranch and
Alex Ferrari 15:25
You have no idea what's going on. Here. This is just like, cool.
Diane Bell 15:31
Like, we just clicked and I was, you know, and I was completely honest with him, you know, because, like, I didn't really feel like I had anything, I wasn't angling for a job. I wasn't, you know, I wasn't in that headspace. I was just sort of like, Wow, this is amazing getting to hang out with somebody who's an amazing storyteller, and amazing maker of cinema. And, you know, and I'm just getting the chance to chat to him about the scripts. And I would just say what I thought about the script, you know, just say, like, I thought was terrible, you know? And then he'd go, Well, why and, you know, to just say, like, these are the reasons and we get into it, you know, and, and with that went on all week, and then we came back to LA and it was like, you know, back for a couple of days. And suddenly, there's a phone call saying, Can you come out to work on a script? You know, and again, it was it was the exact same Hollywood they like, what was funny about that was I was about to go back to Barcelona where I lived before.
Alex Ferrari 16:22
I'm tired in Italy, things not working out,
Diane Bell 16:23
You know, well, I needed to go to like, clean, like, empty my apartment, you know, pick things up, you know, like, close my life. I like I was realizing like, I'm not going back there right now. Like this is I'm staying in LA. So I was like, I need to go back there. And it was kind of an emotional journey, you know? And suddenly, he calls me up. And he's like, Well, can you come and work on this scratch? And I'm like, sure. And I go when and he's like, well, could you come tomorrow? Yeah. I'm like, Well, I'm about to go back to Barcelona. Can we, you know, could come after that. And he's like, Well, why do you have to go to bar I remember going, why do you have to go to Barcelona, and I said, I have to go because I'm like, moving all my stuff out of my apartment. He goes, don't worry, we'll send man. Right.
Alex Ferrari 17:08
Imagine a completely different magical world that we then the rest of us do. Yeah. It's like Mount Olympus. Absolutely.
Diane Bell 17:16
It's so funny, right? Because it's just like, I mean, like, Oh, this isn't like sort of what you said, man. I mean, this is literally me going into like with a couple of suitcases. Do you know what I mean? I don't know. It's so bizarre, right? But I just go, okay. And it's that thing. You know, I was like, No, okay. Barcelona can wait, this is more important. This is like an amazing opportunity. And so I went out to the ranch. I said, Okay, fine. I can put that on hold. You're right. Like, why does this need to happen now?
Alex Ferrari 17:45
And I started writing with them.
Diane Bell 17:48
Yeah. And then we, you know, that he was rewriting this script, it was called deadly exchange. It was the worst script, I hated it. Like, out of all the scripts he'd given me to read the week before, it was the one that I was just like, it's just horrible. You know, politically, it was horrible. It was, you know, it was about like an exchange student coming to America to do a terrorist act. Oh,
Alex Ferrari 18:11
Beautiful. Fantastic. Yeah.
Diane Bell 18:12
Yes. Like really nice politic, like, you know, sort of, like, foreigners are these like, you know, scary, but
Alex Ferrari 18:19
He comes from a different time to
Diane Bell 18:23
What was amazing, so when we, so we got that, and I thought, well, I don't really even know what it means to rewrite a script. You know, like, bear in mind. I've written one screenplay. Right? You know,
Alex Ferrari 18:34
And we written that one screenplay that you wrote originally.
Diane Bell 18:37
Yes, I'd written that. But I had no idea like, what, what is going to happen here, you know, so I just go. And we had agreed a rate, I think I was paid on a weekly actually, to work on it. And, you know, and he, like, we sat down at the beginning, and I was like, I was like, okay, we're just gonna, like, jiggle some dialogues, or you know, what's going to happen. But he wanted to start from the ground up. I mean, we were like, We started from the start of the screen, and we just rewrote it from the ground up. I mean, the only thing that remained was the concept and actually, like, politically, I mean, you know, he went there with it. Like, he wanted to turn it into a Frankenstein story. And it became so interesting to me where it's like this, you know, it was still about an exchange student coming to America to do this terror attack. But he was a sympathetic, we turned him into a kind of sympathetic character, his parents had been killed by Americans overseas. He was coming back to actually get revenge on the CIA operative, specifically, who was responsible for his parents death, you know, and we imbued that character with like, a great deal of innocence and charm and a certain like, he was a monster, but he had been made a monster, like Frankenstein. You know, it was his fault that he was a monster, you know? And, like I loved I loved the script that we wrote. You know, I like it was it was an experience, we the way we would write with, we would get together in the morning and figure out the next few scenes, you know, and like flesh out maybe five scenes or something. And then we would divide them up, he would say, Okay, well you write those ones now write these ones. And he typically would give me the ones that were more like character dialogue he scenes and he would take the action scenes. And, and then we would go back to the ranch and I would go to my little house on the ranch, and he would go to his big house on the ranch. And then he would write, you know, he would write his pages, and I'd write mine. And then he would send me his pages, and I would collate them, you know, and this went on until we got to like 70 pages. And he still had not seen read anything that I had written,
Alex Ferrari 20:43
Resolved based on feeling I've got,
Diane Bell 20:45
yeah, like, he still had not read a single thing. And then when we got to about 70, you know, we sort of got a little bit stuck with the story. And he was like, you know, I think it's time to read back everything we've done so far. So could you print it up and give it to me? And I was like, okay, so I went and printed it. And I was kind of like, I mean, I remember like the feeling I gave it to him. And he said, Okay, I'll see you later. And I just sort of walked out and I thought, Okay, well, that's probably the end of it. Like he's, like, I was so nervous about when reading what I had written. And I thought, this is the point at which he'll just be like, you know,
Alex Ferrari 21:17
I've wasted all this time and money
Diane Bell 21:19
Experience writer, what am I doing with her? Right, right. You know, like, I was so nervous. I was shitting myself. And like, you know, I've been really working hard, like, on my pages that I was writing, like, all the time, I was like, trying to copy his style, you know, like,
Alex Ferrari 21:35
He's a brilliant writer. He's a brilliant writer.
Diane Bell 21:38
Yeah. And like, you know, just like it was such a strange thing. And so he went off, he went off and read it. I was so nervous. And I really thought, Well, that's it, I should probably pack my bags now. But then he came back, and it was the sweetest thing because he I would never forget, he was like, he said, he looked like surprised, you know, he was like, you can nicely, right? And it's like, he goes, I'm gonna let you write more of this From now on, you know? And I was like, Oh my god, you know, that's awesome. What are the best moments of my life probably.
Alex Ferrari 22:08
So you're, so you're on a ranch, working with this ailis, director, all this kind of stuff. And then you start writing a little movie. And sure there's other things that happen before then. But you start writing this movie called up. So Lydia. And this is where our paths crossed. So many, many years ago in 2010, or a nine, nine, I think we did it nine because it was in Sundance in 2010. Right. So we we started making you made this amazing movie. I think you found me on Mandy, or I found you on Mandy calm. Yeah. It was like it wasn't Craigslist. I think it was the mat mat probably did it may produce right? He put an ad out with me the colorist?
Diane Bell 22:51
Yeah. And then I think he spoke to you and was like, yeah, you should speak to this guy.
Alex Ferrari 22:54
This is the guy. Well, I mean, and that was and I was working like in my apartment or my townhome in in Toluca Lake. And I had like the little upstairs bedroom with the the color suite, that a yoga I always have. I always Yeah, always notice been with me. So Yoga has been with me since 99. He's he's actually I've known him longer than my wife. So and So you come up, and you show me this beautiful movie called up solidia. And they said, Look, we don't have a lot of money. Do you mind? Can you color it? And I said, Absolutely. What Absolutely. Because I fell in love with you. I fell in love with Chris. And I fell in love with the movie just was like, oh, whatever you need. And we call them as the fastest color I've ever done. It was a thing. We've knocked the whole color out in the day and a half. And the thing another half day just to watch it. It was because there was like only 700 cuts in it.
Diane Bell 23:47
I think there was less. There's a lot less I think there's like 253 cuts,
Alex Ferrari 23:54
I knew was a really low number because it was just like these long, beautiful like, Did
Diane Bell 23:58
This move shots. So because I remember you saying like, you were like, I have literally cut I've literally colored music videos with more cuts than this.
Alex Ferrari 24:08
I have. There's no question about it. I'm absolutely true. statement. And, and I will be able to do it. And I remember we were rushing to get it to Sundance. And and because of course all of us have to submit to Sundance, it is part of our journey. And I think it was the last day. But 545 the office closed at six and Chris dropped off the DVD. Yep, he went in this motor scooter. And you had a you guys knew no one at Sundance. There was no stars in the movie. And you got it. You got it. And not only did you get in, but you won two awards. Correct. I know what is that about? How was that experience? I know because you invited me to Sundance that year and I was just too busy working on those damn music videos because I would have Feels like going back. And like that's one of the decisions. I regret not going through that experience with you. Yeah, cuz you brought a whole ball, you brought the whole team with you, everybody came. And it was
Diane Bell 25:11
The only people who worked on the movie who wasn't there, like literally everybody came.
Alex Ferrari 25:15
But I actually watched the livestream of the award ceremony. Oh, my, I thought it's on top. Oh my god, it was like, it was like the Oscars for me. I was so excited.
Diane Bell 25:28
I know. I know. It was amazing. I mean, it was so unexpected to win awards as well, like, you
Alex Ferrari 25:34
Know, just to go
Diane Bell 25:36
Let alone to get one I mean, to get in was like to get in was already insane. You know? I mean, that was, yeah, that's, that's one of those things that like, I don't know, you know, in life, sometimes you you'll get into a headspace where you think, you know, I'm just one of those people. It's like, I'm never gonna get the lucky break. Right. Do you know what I need? I think we can all go there. All right. Oh, I'm one of those people. I'm just gonna slog away, and grind. I'm just, I'm never gonna get a lucky break, you know, and it's okay. And I'll make my own luck. And I won't be miserable about it. But I'll never like no one else will ever give me that. I don't know. Like, I like I get in that headspace. And I literally, I mean, the night before the night before I got news that we'd go in Sundance, I had gone into that kind of headspace I had gone I like, and I don't get dark very often. But I had like a dark night. Weirdly. The night before I got the news. And I was really like, I felt really depressed. I felt like I was actually out on the ranch I was in Wyoming, which might have been part of it, because the ranch can be amazing. But also, like when you're on a ranch like that for for me, about four weeks was always enough, like, then I would have to get back to the city for a while because it's just like, desolate. You know, I started to go a little crazy, you know, and I think I think I'd been there for four or five weeks at that point. And I was just like, oh, and then compounded to that there was this feeling suddenly with obsolete idea that, like, I just thought I've made this movie, and it's never gonna be seen anywhere. And I have screwed it
Alex Ferrari 27:10
And it costs $100,000.
Diane Bell 27:12
And I had this one chance to make a movie, and I've screwed it up, you know, I'm never gonna get this chance. Again. That's like, really where I wasn't, I never got like that. But for some reason I had this one night where I really felt that. And then the next day, and it was that weird thing, the very next day, I got that message, an email from them, saying, you know, is this the right number to call you
Alex Ferrari 27:34
Which is always a good sign.
Diane Bell 27:36
Because they don't really call it Chris and was like said, You know, I got this email from Sundance. And, you know, what do you think I mean, and I'm like, they must just be like, gonna call me say thanks. And well, you know, like, keep trying, you know, like
Alex Ferrari 27:51
10,000 subs, you just sort of like,
Diane Bell 27:53
I couldn't even go, they're
Alex Ferrari 27:55
Gonna wrap your head around the concept that I got into Sundance.
Diane Bell 27:57
Yeah, like, it just seems so far fetched, you know. And then when, when I got the call, and it was a programmer called Sherry free Lowe, who actually called me, you know, and almost immediately said, your films been selected. And I just, I mean, I just started crying. I was like, bawling. I was lying on the floor, you know, just couldn't believe it. You know? Like, you know, it's funny, because this, it's coming up for that time of year when people will be getting those calls,
Alex Ferrari 28:24
You know, coming up enough, but yet they do it right before Thanksgiving. They do it right before Thanksgiving. I'm waiting. I'm waiting, waiting for my call.
Diane Bell 28:31
Yeah. You know, and it's like, I just, like, I just know, like this, all these people. But you know, it's funny, too, because I'm, I've been thinking a lot recently about failure and success, you know, and the path that we're on, and I go within failure, there is success. And within success, there's failure. It's like the yin yang thing, you know, and even like, you know, you get it, you think getting in Sundance, that's it, you know, like, it's just, I mean, it is a huge, it's a great thing, there's no doubt about it. But still, like, you know, it's not done and dusted. And it's still it can still be very tough in there. You know, like, for me the experience of going to Sundance with the film, and it was a journey, but I went the very beginning of it wasn't easy, like having the film on that kind of platform, you know, was actually, you know, because some of you guys, okay, we've made it here. But you know, just because your film movie gets into Sundance doesn't mean like, everyone's gonna love it. Right? Doesn't mean it's gonna sell for a lot of money doesn't mean you're gonna get a good review doesn't mean anything. Right. Right. You know, it means it's on a platform in which people are going to judge it at a very high level. Which is, like terrifying, you know, because everybody's like, and they're sharpening their knives, right, like, impress me. If they love it, great, you know, but if they're like, that's a piece of shit, I would have made a better movie and half the people in the audience are filmmakers like I have to say the questions I got it, Sundance, like after the movie, I almost found them like quiet. You know? Because it was always like the very first question after the premiere was, how much did it cost to make your movie? What did you shoot? I was like, really? Like you've just marched, but this movie beat on this journey, and that's the question you want to ash? You know? Yeah, it's a it's an intense experience. It's amazing. Like, I mean, it's beautiful. It's a beautiful, great thing. And it's huge. You know, but I would, you know, I also go, it's just, it's interesting, like, I go, it's not the be all and end all necessarily. And they're like, for certain films, there could be better paths, you know, right. Because that is a very, that is a very noisy, you know, a high pressure path for a film. You know,
Alex Ferrari 30:45
Diane Bell 30:46
Well, my car is, you know, it was like, I mean, it was, I mean, I won't underestimate it was amazing for that film. And, you know,
Alex Ferrari 30:53
It's, like, it's
Diane Bell 30:54
Still like, you, I still just go like it, you know, it's intense, you know, there's, you feel like you're suddenly in this popularity contest that you never chose to be a part of, you know, which is kind of weird. And it's something that Sundance that everybody loves, you know, there's the darlings and then there's the films that are kind of like, you know, it's you know, it's, it's
Alex Ferrari 31:15
Something that they don't talk about a lot when when people like, Oh, you won Sundance, or you got into Sundance or this or that it's not all it's cracked up to be. It's not like you started, you know, did they just come with buckets of money for you, like all of a sudden, to just, you know, your streets were paved with gold? No,
Diane Bell 31:29
I remember. Like, I remember speaking to one filmmaker, before I went, like, after my film had called in, and I spoke to him for some advice. And now he'd had a film there that didn't sell, right. And that never got a good distribution deal. And bear in mind, again, this is like, so his film was probably like in 2007, or something. And, you know, by that time, DIY distribution meant, like, I don't know, selling DVDs from your car. Right? Like, it wasn't like, sort of like, a valid, you know, choice. And his film was like, I loved his movie, you know, but it never got any legs. It never made any sort of splash, although it premiered at Sundance. And I asked my friend, you know, what, what, what happened, like, and what advice would you give him? He said, The thing is, he felt like his film, if it doesn't sell, like, all the buyers know, like, either it sparks an immediate interest and the first night and if it doesn't, they all know, right? And if it doesn't sell by the end of Sundance, he said, I felt like our film had a scarlet letter on it. You know, like, you know, and it's really interesting, you know, like, like, I think, because I think that is true. And I think that does happen, like everybody, you know, so I have all the buyers are interested until they're not, you know, and when they all know, it hasn't been picked up, then they know, you know, it's like, you know, not not a hot ticket. It's, you know,
Alex Ferrari 32:50
And yours wasn't yours wasn't a hot ticket, if I remember correctly,
Diane Bell 32:54
It definitely wasn't. I mean, like, I don't think ours was a hot ticket. You know, it didn't have the, you know, there's nothing about it. That's an easy sell for a distributor. And something that I've learned over the years is what distributors look for is an easy sell, right? And an easy sell is something right? So it's like, either it's got cast that they know how to sell. Or it's, you know, it's got a you know, that's number one job late or concept genre, then if it's a film like my film that like, not only is it you know, a drama with no star, like a drama with no stars, it's just a hardstyle.
Alex Ferrari 33:29
Yeah, no question,
Diane Bell 33:30
Sundance or no, Sundance, absolutely doesn't matter what you know, and if it's not something that they know, and it's not that people don't like it, like, tons of people come and you know, distributors, too. And they say, Oh, I love your movie, but they don't, they have no idea how they would sell it. And so they're not going to talk to you, you know, and so the offers that we got so nasty. Yeah, we're absolutely, like, miniscule,
Alex Ferrari 33:49
So then what was your experience? finally getting the movie out there and distributing it?
Diane Bell 33:53
The experience was, um, I would say not great, really, you know, like, we didn't have a plan. So our basic thing, like, I am not that producer, you know. And on that film, we didn't have that producer. Like, it's funny. Like, I have never taken a producer's credit on any of my films, although extensive way I could have on two of them. You know, because I did a lot of productive, you know, producing work, I raise the money, you know, make it happen, but I know it like as a person. That's why I don't take produces credit. I'm not a producer. That's not who I am. It's not my, it's not my passion. That's not my skill set. You know, when it comes to distribution, that is just so you know, so not me, you know, and so with obsolete media, we ran into that tough problem that we didn't have that producer, that person was not there, you know, and you reach a certain point with it, where you're like, Okay, the only person that's gonna make this happen is me because no one else is gonna do it. Right. You know, so you do it bite because you have to, you know, and with that film, we got lucky in the sense that after being on the awards the festival circuit for a year It played a lot of festivals, and it played very well. And I, you know, and that was wonderful, it was a great experience, you know, because I got to go to places all around the world and, you know, with that movie, and really have an extraordinary experience with that. And by that point, you know, by our measure, I'd already been a huge success. So compared to what we had expected for, like, like, outplayed, you know, by miles. And at that point, we got lucky that Sundance started their artists services, until they helped us with the release, just in terms of it was really just streaming and DVDs, you know, and so it's available, and, you know, it's available, no Netflix, and no, it was available on Netflix, it's not a Netflix anymore, that was licensed for a year or two years or something. But it's available on Amazon and iTunes, and Vimeo, all those places, but, you know, it's it. Yeah, it never got the release that I think it probably deserved. But that happens a lot of movies, most.
Alex Ferrari 35:56
Diane Bell 35:58
Like tons of, you know, tons of movies, like, I mean, is there's a mixed bag, obviously, some movies probably don't necessarily deserve a wider audience, or there's not really a wider audience for them, you know, like, there's those films. And then there's a film like, you know, I feel like obviously, it hasn't reached its full audience. Like, I think there's still a lot of people out there who would absolutely love that movie who just don't know exists. You know,
Alex Ferrari 36:19
There's just so much competition, so much content out there, it's difficult to get through, and even, even for Sunday's winner, you know, you want the Alfred P. Sloan The only cash award. Yes. And you want Best Cinematography. Yeah, and mirrors the colors, a little bit of credit.
Diane Bell 36:34
I know. And we just always feel super proud of because like, and I always use this as an example to people like go like, it just goes to show, we were no doubt the lowest budget movie in our category. And people you know, which was us dramatic feature, you know, so you go like, people always think that, like, if you're a low budget movie, it's gonna look shit, you know? And I go, yes, there's absolutely no reason you can make a film for such a small amount. That can look amazing. And when Best Cinematography was exact same Zack, it was Zach Mulligan.
Alex Ferrari 37:09
Yeah, he was great. He was great. And nvm you use the red camera when it was first coming out. And, and, and I had a ball coloring it. It was wonderful. It's still one of my favorite favorite things I've ever done as as a post professional. So thank you again for including me on your journey in a little part that I added. Yeah, I know. And I love working with you. So fun. So let's talk about your new book shooting from the heart. Now, I remember right before you left, because now you live in Colorado. When you were still here in LA, I remember going to visit you before you left. And you were in the middle of doing one of your workshops, which is kind of the genesis of this book, if I'm not mistaken. Absolutely. And it was a wonderful that I kind of glanced through because you brought me in to talk about post. And I was kind of glancing through the thesaurus and kind of the book that you were handing out to the students. And I was like, wow, this is really, really interesting as like this is really well put together. So talk to us about the book and the genesis of it and what you're trying to do with it.
Diane Bell 38:10
Yeah, so basically, after making my second movie, and so I made my first film, it went into Sundance amazing, you know, then I got into conventional headspace, you know, about how to do things and spent five years not making a movie. You know, because that's what you do. That's, you know, yeah, because you get into this conventional space where it was like, you know, I had another little script that I just wanted to make, and my new manager and agent were like, No, you need to do something bigger, you know?
Alex Ferrari 38:37
Oh, agents. Yeah. Are they still with you?
Diane Bell 38:42
Um, my manager is actually Okay, good. Good. Yeah. And I love them. So, you know, I don't know, like, you know, but he he's not he's not always right. Of course. I think he knows that. And I'm not always right. But he's great. Yeah, I love him. But it was it was kind of fascinating. So I just got into this conventional headspace spent five years not making a film, then made one and it wasn't a great experience. And it was that thing, like before I even made it. This is a film called bleeding heart. Not my title. Is everything about the experience? Yes. You know,
Alex Ferrari 39:14
I saw I saw the poster for it on I was actually scanning through iTunes and I saw it pop up. And I said, Jessica Biel with a gun and everything like that is so not a movie. No. But that's a whole other conference. I mean, you we talked OFF AIR about that experience. And
Diane Bell 39:31
It was you know, yeah, like brutal. But that's what brought me to wanting to teach workshops, you know, because I think like after that I went through a brief period where I felt like sort of creatively depressed and about filmmaking. I was like, do I even want to do this? You know, like, again, I used to be a yoga teacher in Barcelona. Maybe I'll just go back to Barcelona and teach yoga. I loved that. I was so happy, you know, like, like, and just write screenplays because I want to and have fun, you know, like, life's too short. You You know, if you're not loving your, what's the point? There's no point. Amen. And so yes, I really was in that space. And then I thought back Go to how I made Oh, absolutely. And I was like, That was amazing. And I thought, Wait a second, this is kind of weird because I thought most people who aspire to make films would look at what I've done and think of it as like this sort of training film. And it's not, you know, it's a stepping stone to that bigger, better film. Right, because that, you know, the second films, a bigger budget, and it's movie stars, and this and that, you know, and all this kind of stuff, right? That's just like a lie, that we're sort of sold, that somehow that experience is like, the bigger the budget, the more of a film, you know, it's like, it's the same process, you know, like, my second film might have had more than 10 times the budget, but can I say, I got, I got one extra day of shooting
Alex Ferrari 40:51
Across services to have imagining better craft, one extra day. Yeah, right. Right.
Diane Bell 40:56
You know, and you go, like, like, and actually, the whole process is the same, like, all I want is time with my actors. Like, that's what I care about, as a filmmaker, ultimately, you really mean it, I go, like being having a bigger budget just means everyone gets paid more, you know, to be paid more, you know, but it just, it doesn't actually equate, like more of a film a different experience making your film more like it, you know, I always felt like, obviously do the film that it is we could have had a million dollars, and it would really look the same. Yeah, there was, there was the screen, it wouldn't be that different. It's like totally fascinating to me. And so once I sort of like I was having all these like thoughts about this, and I thought I really want to share it. And I think part of who I am is sort of like, I do things that I think are impossible. And then I do want to share them and show to other people, this is not impossible, you can do this too. And that's why I became a yoga teacher, you know, because I was like, the least flexible person ever. I was like the least likely Yogi ever, you know. And then when I started to yoga, I changed my life. And within six months, I could do the splits, right? And it's like, Whoa, you know, and it changed. Like, it blew my mind, because I went, Oh, all these stories that I've told myself that I'm not flexible, you know, that I can do this, and I can't do that. They're just stories, you know, and this is kind of like my, like, my obsession in life, you know, I realized, like the, the sort of through current, you know, the through line between these seemingly different things that I do, I'll go, you know, it's like, you can do anything. And so when I got like, when I sort of had this epiphany for myself about the film's I was like, I need to teach people, I need to share this with people who want to make films, so that they can make better films from day one, so that they can really understand like what it takes to make a successful indie film. And they can set up a situation where they can do it again and again, because one of my big things is you can make your business plan or your career plan, like winning the lottery. Yes, you know, yes. Like, even though we would all like to win the mega millions, you know, we've all bought our tickets, you mean the 1.6 million
Alex Ferrari 43:02
That's available as of this recording? That's ridiculous. That's so ridiculous. It's crazy. It's ridiculous. But like, but but but but schmoes like, you, me, don't win. But anyway, we've got to grind it out, my dear, I will take a shot, why not?
Diane Bell 43:18
We'll take a shot, you know, and it's like, there's no bad thing about having a lottery ticket. That's like making a movie, it's a lottery, you know, like, you just don't know, but I just go like, I want to help people, you know, one, like realize, if you want to make movies make them, there's no excuse not to do it right to share the information and tools that I have used, like real life stuff that can help you do it successfully, you know, and just like, like, there's no bullshit, there's no lies, and what I share those workshops or in the book, it's like, totally, just like, step by step, here's what you got to do. You know, the rest is noise, basically, you know, and, three, do it in a way that sets you up for future success. So that even if that movie doesn't knock it out of the park, you know, you'll be in a position where you can do it again. Because my thing is like, like, it's crazy, the pressure that we put on filmmakers that like the first film has to be this huge success. And we all love that story.
Alex Ferrari 44:10
You meet Reservoir Dogs on mariachi clubs. You're preaching to the choir, I say that.
Diane Bell 44:19
I mean, I call people you have to make movies to like, get better at making movies. You know, that's the way it works. Like, you can think that you can just think about movies for 10 years and then make one is gonna be like, amazing, you know, like, that's one in a million people. And I go, Well, you want to do this, this be really smart, knowledgeable, empowered, informed, so that the movie that you make is the best that you can make at that point in time. But that you've set up a situation whereby you will get to do it again, no matter what you know. And so even if it doesn't set the roll on fire, you get to make another one and apply what you learn and grow as a filmmaker and as a human being as an artist and keep doing it. And so that's like, you know, I started doing The workshops then because I just became kind of obsessed with sharing this, and helping people and empowering them with like what you really need to know, you know, to make a successful movie. And I felt like there's a ton of information out there about sort of how to, you know, like the conventional way of making movies like foreign sales and attaching talent and all this kind of stuff. And that's fine, but it's out of reach for most people starting out, you know, and then there's a lot of stuff about guerilla filmmaking and like, making films for nothing.
Alex Ferrari 45:30
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Diane Bell 45:41
You know, and that's, you know, that's totally cool. I go, there's this spot in between, which is what I did with obsolete idea, and it's $150,000 movie, you know, it was under that was like, 140. But, you know, around that kind of budget where I go, like, you can make a film, which actually can, like everybody gets paid is not like, you know, it's not a situation where nobody gets paid, and you're having to pull in every favor on Earth. It's a situation where you can hire people do all the jobs, you don't have to do everything yourself. So if you're like me, and you know, absolutely nothing about the technology of filmmaking, you know, that doesn't matter. Right? You have a vision, you can make it happen. Could you hire people who know that stuff? You know, and your film can be like, absolutely, like, we talked about solidia winning cinematography awards, you know, like, it's $150,000, but you can like be punching way above I mean, money for that now. It's great.
Alex Ferrari 46:35
I mean, we were beating out million dollar, plumbing 10 510 million dollar budget films,
Diane Bell 46:42
It's like, you know, I just go, there's this kind of, like, sweet spot of like, low budget where you can have a shot at, like having a breakout film. You know, and if you think of movies, there's a whole bunch of movies, like whether it's blue ruin, or tangerine, or all different kinds of films, you know, that are made for like, between 104 100k, you know, that like really can play in a mainstream arena. They're not relegated to being sort of like low budget Indies, even though that's what they are. But, you know, there's enough of a budget there that they're like, their movies, you know, the room, and they really, they really have a shot of breaking out. And so that's, so that's what I, you know, so I started teaching those workshops. I loved it, it was great. And then last, it was just last year, I was pregnant. And I was actually preparing for a workshop teaching a workshop here in Denver. And I was just looking at the materials, what you said, like I had written up this whole workbook that I gave this whole manual that I give to everybody came that was like 100 pages. And I was suddenly like, looking through that, too, as I was preparing to do this workshop, and this would be a great book.
Alex Ferrari 47:43
Written it already. I don't know why I don't publish it.
Diane Bell 47:48
I can't even explain why I hadn't really crossed my mind.
Alex Ferrari 47:51
I clicked and clicked yet.
Diane Bell 47:54
I'm not always the fastest. But I think things have their own time and things come to you at certain rate, you know, like, for whatever reason that day, and it was fascinating, because that day, I said, this would make a great book, I went and looked at my bookshelf, I was like, who publishes film books? You know, this one, like Michael Wiese productions came out and saved the cat shot by shot and I was like, Okay, let's reach out to them. And within two weeks, I had a book deal for it, you know, awesome. I know. I don't know that. Like, I'm just so happy for it to like, I didn't already you know, so it came out on October, it came out a couple weeks ago. And already I've had so many emails and messages from people that I don't know, who are like, this book is so you know, has really inspired me. I feel so empowered. Like, I'm just so excited to make my next film, you know, and I'm like, awesome. Yes, yes. Awesome. And
Alex Ferrari 48:42
That's the end of the day, what both you and I are trying to do is help filmmakers.
Diane Bell 48:46
Yeah, absolutely. I just got like, I want to help. I mean, I always have this thing, like, for so long, making films was cut off from so many people, you know, like, you know, and still, like, to an extent is, but you know, but now there's no reason for it to be that way. No, like, if you want to make a movie, whoever you are, wherever you are, you can do it. Exactly. Make a movie, you know. And there's there's nothing to stop you.
Alex Ferrari 49:18
Not anymore. There's no excuse no more. But I'm a I'm a fan of the book. I'm a fan of you. And I will definitely put links in the description. And of course, it's available on Amazon. Shoot, it's called shooting from the heart. It's called shoot from the heart. And yeah, do you have a copy handy? I do. I'm like, I'm sitting at my desk. So of course I do. Okay, so show What's up, everybody? There it is. Is that a is that a picture of you?
Diane Bell 49:43
It's actually not me. Oh, you know, it's funny because they do the publishers did the cover and initially the the first version of it, you could see the lady's face a bit, but I was like, that is not me. And I feel weird, you know? And we sort of talked about like, because I when people assume it's Me and it's you know, and I found it kind of weird because it wasn't. And so we talked about like me going and doing a photo shoot and like replicating this picture that they had done. But I was like, it's like eight months pregnant.
Alex Ferrari 50:16
So not so much for the book cover at that point. I don't know that that's gonna, like really, you know, shoot the heart while you're pregnant, how to direct the movie while pregnant. That's a niche of a niche of a niche of a niche.
Diane Bell 50:29
So, so we went with that picture, but I liked you know, so we just cut off the face and stuff. I think it works. It works beautifully. I mean, one of my things, you know, obviously, as a woman, if, in case anyone knows why I feel like so I feel so passionate, like, you know, we obviously have this problem in our industry with not enough women directing films, and it's hideous to me that still like every year, it's like, 4% of studio films or something. I mean, really, not even 20% you know, it's like 4%, right? You're like, okay, and you go like, Well, for me, like I never even thought I could make a film for so many years. Like it just never passed like Assa T. I was a total cinephile. But it never crossed my mind. And I think part of that was, obviously the only female filmmakers I knew them were like Jane Campion, Penny Marshall.
Alex Ferrari 51:26
Penny Marshall, she was another Penny bar. She was. Yeah,
Diane Bell 51:30
Yeah. You know, but it was like, there was so few. I was like, obviously more in the indie. Like, I was like, thinking more about, like, indie sort of, and, you know, and they seem like, Oh, they had to be like, super, I don't know, they seem so other, you know. And then the way that filmmaking is often taught is often quite macho, too. And guys probably don't realize it. But you know, it's very sort of, like, it's not welcoming to women, you know? And so, like, I think, like what, you know, like, I really I, you know, this is a very female, it's very feminine in a way I can, even though it's like black, there's clearly a woman's hand holding the camera. Sure, sure. Sure, sure. And I just like I just, you know, what's exciting to me is helping empower women that want to make films, and I'm excited for men to make homes too. And it's not exclusive. And I'm not sort of like, you know, cutting them out. But certainly my workshops, like I've had more women and also people of color, and trans and gay people who have typically just been left out of that, you know, that equation, really. And that excites because they just go, then that's kind of what I'm about, you know, I'm like, I want to help. I want to show young women, you can do this, you know, and people who've typically not felt like I am entitled to a place at that table. You know, we always talk about women like the confidence gap. This is a common theme, you know, because obviously, like people like Brett Ratner or Michael Bay, just feel like, you know, they just won't. Yeah, they walk into those meetings, and they're, like, 25, like, they own it, you know, and women feel like they have to earn it.
Alex Ferrari 53:03
It's, it's a whole conversation. And it's, and I'm glad to have it. And I'm glad that it's happening more and more. And actually, every time I watch a Netflix show, I wait for the directors and I am seeing more female directors. It is Yeah, there is more it's still waiting for it needs to be. But I see more Latinos, I see more people of color, I see a bit more women it is there is a shift happening. But it's like anything, Hollywood is a huge giant danker not a speedboat. So to turn it, it's going to take a while it's going to take a while, but it's turning, it is turning I do feel that I think his turn I hope so. I hope so too. And this book look like you're saying that there's there's millions of other books that are just, you know, dude related. I don't see many of books like yours. So um, and again, it's not exclusive to females or women. But it is, but it has a different perspective. And there's not a lot of Yeah, I've never, I don't remember reading a filmmaking book written by a woman. Exactly. I don't remember. Ever. So Exactly. How can you not have a perspective of over 50% of the population? Correct? It makes no sense. So I know, this is out there.
Diane Bell 54:14
I know. And so like, I feel like it is important, you know, just to you know, just to shift that and to make it seem more possible for for younger women. Absolutely. Because, I mean, the book is not specifically for women in tons people written to me about it so far, guys, you know, so it's all good. Awesome.
Alex Ferrari 54:29
Now, I want to ask you a few questions. before we let you go. What is the biggest mistake filmmakers make on their very first feature film?
Diane Bell 54:38
The biggest mistake that filmmakers make on their very first feature film? Oh, gosh, there's, I mean, there's a few go right before, okay. So it depends on the situation. But one of the mistakes that really breaks my heart is that they really put all their hopes into it in a certain sense and they put all their money into What, you know, they put everything in Vegas,
Alex Ferrari 55:03
They gamble it all, they put it all, they just push all the chips in. Correct. And it's
Diane Bell 55:09
Exactly and then when it doesn't succeed in the way that they hoped, they've kind of like, you know, they crash, of course, you know, like emotionally. I mean, I've met filmmakers who is like their mothers have remortgage the house in order for them to do it. I know, I know. Like, and I'm just in pains, I just go, I know, you know, and you're like, and so you put yourself in so much pressure, you know, and you cannot afford to lose, but you know, you're going to lose because that's like the casino wins. You know,
Alex Ferrari 55:43
What's its equivalent of literally taking all the money in your bank account? mortgaging your house, put it on a bag, drive to Vegas, you've never been in a casino before walk up to the roulette table and put it all on black. Yeah, that's exactly it, because you haven't even practiced playing the game.
Diane Bell 56:04
Even if you've made sure it so it doesn't matter. And I just go like, you know, that's like a big epic mistake that just breaks my heart. Because, you know, I sort of thing like some of those filmmakers, if they had been smart one never use your own money. Okay?
Alex Ferrari 56:18
Something small that you can less small unless it's like money you can afford to lose. Correct. So if you're a multimillionaire,
Diane Bell 56:26
You know, stress, right? Like, it causes you zero stress. Like, if you write the check to make that movie, like whether it's 10,000 100,000 not a card,
Alex Ferrari 56:35
Not a credit card, to track.
Diane Bell 56:37
Yes. Like if, like, if I never do this, again, it's totally cool. That's how it should be if you are using your own money. And if you're using other people's money to and like I, you know, I'm I'm all about raising private equity. And my thing is, even with the private equity that you raise, like, when you're getting money from people for your movie, like making sure that those people are on the same page, they are not investing in your movie to make a ton of money or return on investment, they are investing in your movie because they want to be part of the experience. Or because they believe in the movie or they believe in you or they you know, there's something about it, that's what they're putting their money in for. It's not about making a lot of money. And also with those people making sure that they're happy to lose it. You know, like, I'm always up front. I'm like, you know, like, realistically, 97% of independent movies don't make money.
Alex Ferrari 57:27
What's the percentage? I think it's 97 you're being generous, I think it's like 99. I think it's, it's, it's the worst investment you can make unless
Diane Bell 57:37
You are like, really into it. So I go like what you want to do, as a first time filmmakers set up a situation in which you don't have masses of pressure on you where you can experiment and be free, where you're not worried about that stuff, right? Where you can just like and if you fail, that, you know, it's okay. Right? It's okay. And it's not gonna crush you, you know, so that you can just like, you'll get up and make another movie. And you'll just be like, okay, I learned a ton, you know, because you do. And that's, like, I'll do that again, and won't do that again, and had really like to explore that. And you know, and you learn all the lessons and you get to make another one, you know, and so I think like, the biggest mistake that I see is that people set themselves up so that they can't recover and make another one. And that's why most people don't make more than one movie. If you look, first time filmmakers don't become second time filmmakers don't become third,
Alex Ferrari 58:32
My favorite quote that I that I always tell people, I'm like, follow your dreams, but Don't be an idiot.
Diane Bell 58:41
It's like, yes. And that's the thing, like, empower yourself with the knowledge, like the real knowledge, you know, like get that real tool so that you can make smart choices, right? So that you can so that you'll succeed in the long run. And it's not about one movie, as well as go. And that's the thing about not putting all your chips into wine. You know, like, it's not gonna be one film. It's about having a career where you get to make them again and again, correct, grow and learn and become better and better.
Alex Ferrari 59:07
Yeah, that's what it took me 40 years to learn that lesson. When I finally decided to make my first feature film. I'm like, screw it. I don't care. I'm just gonna make one. Yeah. And I did. And I was like, oh, okay, that boogey man's gone. Now, I could keep making them now and, and you took that pressure off of that first feature. You didn't have that pressure? Absolutely. You weren't expecting it to blow
Diane Bell 59:26
Up to be I had zero pressure. And that's why it goes like perfect. Yeah, because I, you know, like the people who were investing in it seemed like they were just investing in it for the experience. I said, they weren't expecting to make a ton of money and they loved the project. Sure, sure. You know, and it was just like, there's not a lot of money. I didn't feel like oh my God, if this fails, like you
Alex Ferrari 59:45
Diane Bell 59:46
Yeah, you know, it's like it, you know it so I just because I was I never thought that like a ton of people would see the movie. You know, I made the movie I wanted to make, you know, I just like I totally I feel With like, obscure weird shit that I love, you know, and yeah, that's the when you're gonna make good stuff. You know, like, if you're worried about what other people think, or the audience or all that stuff, you know, it's, it's, you're probably not gonna make such a good movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:18
I agree with you 100% I did it now with my second film, the one I shot at Sundance, it was wonderful. It was I had no idea what was gonna happen. We were just flying with it. And if it didn't work, hey, it was only four days, it didn't work exactly,
Diane Bell 1:00:34
Exactly. But when not to like just the process being process orientated. Rather than results oriented. Obviously, we all want things to go well, but actually, with films I go, you don't really control the results. No, you know, like, how your movie lands in the world, how people respond to it, how you don't like it's really outside of your control. But what you do control is sort of like your energy during the process. And I go, just like focusing on that. And just like making sure that you know, you're like, making something you love. Like, if you make something you love, like you have a shot,
Alex Ferrari 1:01:09
Because that comes off the screen, you can tell that there's love there, you can tell it that there's an authenticity there. Absolutely. If you're just trying to, you know, I'm going to make a horror movie, because that's where the money is. You can smell it. But if you make a horror movie, because you grown up loving it, and that is genre you want to express yourself.
Diane Bell 1:01:30
And this is exactly the one that you always wanted to see, you know, you're making the move you want to see. Yeah, and you can smell as essential without question.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:38
Alright, so what advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?
Diane Bell 1:01:42
Okay, my advice constantly. And this is funny. This is the question that I get asked more than anything. Curiously, people write to me, I'm so fascinated by it. Like, what advice would you give me I'm an aspiring filmmaker. My advice is make films, what a shock, right? And it's so simple, right? Like, I feel kind of like, like, a bit stupid. When I'm like, Well, here's my advice, make films, you know, like, you want to direct direct, you know, like, don't spend years doing something you don't want to do in order to do what you want to do. Right? So if you want to direct, like, don't go into my detour, like doing other things, like, if that's like, you're like, I want to make this bill, make this film, make a film, you know, if no one's hiring you, you create a project and hire yourself. You know, like, Do not wait, you know, like, you could wait your whole life for permission to make movies. You know? I don't know. But like, if you want to make movies, make movies, you know, like, there's no, there's absolutely at this day and age, there's no excuse, and there's no reason not to do it. You know, if I done it, you know, I'm like, anyone can do it. Make it don't make your excuses. I don't understand like, Well, first, I feel like I need to learn more about cinematography and cinematographer. First, I feel like I need to learn how to edit first I need to like, you will get the people who know how to do those things, like, you know, like, just do it. You know, and, and you will make it happen. You'll figure everything out and learn tons and it'll be amazing.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:09
Okay, that's it. Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?
Diane Bell 1:03:15
Oh, what book had the biggest impact on my life or career? There are so many books, you know, like, first one that pops into your head? Do you know the very first one that pops into my head? That's gonna make you laugh? This is true. Alan Carr's easy way to stop smoking isn't like that just popped in my head like that when you read like, you know, because I think it's I was a smoker in my 20s. And I read that book when I was like, 26. And I wanted to quit smoking. And I really felt like kind of powerless, you know, because I was addicted. Sure, sure. And I, you know, I, like I tried to cut down I thought, like, I'll cut down for a month, and then I'll quit. And I couldn't do it, you know, and I felt like, Oh, my God, what is wrong with me? And then I read this book. And I think like, one of the reasons that it changed my life so much. It didn't just stop me from smoking. You know, it did do that. Right? Like, he just I read it, it was like, Hey, you just have to change the paradigm in your brain. Like, instead of thinking, this is something you want to do, and you're denying yourself, the thing that you really want, you'll never win that battle. Once you just change the paradigm. You're like, I don't want to do it. Right. Like, you've changed. And so it kind of like it made quitting smoking joyful, like I loved, then I loved it. And I was like, so happy. You know, and I was immediately like a nonsmoker. And I think like, I've applied it so many other things in my life to over the years to you know, it's like the paradigm that your mindset is what creates your reality. You know, when you buy into the idea that it's going to be hard to do something like if you're going, it's hard for me to quit smoking. It's so hard, right? It's hard. It's gonna be hard. It's gonna be painful. It's gonna be tough. The minute you go, it's easy. It's easy. And this is everything, like everything in life is like this, you know, if you're like, you know, if you want to make movies and you're going, it's really hard though, and you have to know this, and you have to do this, you have to get that and you have to, you know, it's gonna be hard. And you are going to need to know that you're gonna have to do all those things. But the minute you change that paradigm in your head, and you just go, you know what, I can do this, you know, there's no reason for me not to do like, I can make a movie, you know, like, and I was like, I remember thinking that with absolutely, even though I didn't expect it, I was always like, the highest and best would be Sundance, I was very clear that Sundance was like, you know, the best, like the best, you know, idea for this movie. And it's go, like, once you realize you can change paradigms in your brain. You know, things can everything in life can be easy.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:50
Yes, I agree with you. 110%. It takes, you know what, you don't learn that in your 20s. Generally, you want to make it hard, you can make it hard, you know, right. So that book that sprung to mind, but I mean, there's so there are so yes. Now what is what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Diane Bell 1:06:14
Probably the ones that I'm still learning. Okay. You know, they say like, you are doomed to the same mistakes until you learn them. Sure. Right? It's like relationships or whatever. So funny thing for me, we touched on this briefly before about like, the distribution of up solidia for instance, you know, I just made the same mistake with my third film. You know, I had two producers on board who I thought were gonna cover it, but haven't you know, and one of I and I just go, I should have, like, has it been nice Jerry still lesson that I should have learned, you know, and so I'm back in the situation with my third film, which is a beautiful film,
Alex Ferrari 1:06:53
But it hasn't been released yet. It has played it a couple of festivals, but it hasn't been distributed yet.
Diane Bell 1:06:59
No, no. And it's just gonna, it's not gonna get like, you know, a big, it's, I mean, it's really a film at this point. I just want to, you know, get it out streaming. But it's that thing again, I've gone through the same thing, right? Where the producers, just, you know, weren't up to that, you know, and it's, it's kind of astonishing to me that I've made the mistake. Twice. Like, once, okay, shame on me.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:29
Shame on them. What's that second time? Shame on me?
Diane Bell 1:07:32
I've made that twice. You know, and I like and I realized it's something for me to really like, look at, like, you know, cuz obviously my next film, there's no way I can do this again, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:07:42
So we'll have a conversation I help you with the distribution.
Diane Bell 1:07:45
I did producer though to like, for my next film I need like, I need a producer who is obsessed with this will give you shit.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:55
Okay, I'll talk to you after the after the after the interview. And then, and then of course, the three, the three the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.
Diane Bell 1:08:07
Oh, my favorite. Okay, this is always changing every day. Of course, I would have different answers. But number one is it's a wonderful life. Always. Okay, I just, I frickin love that movie. Never gets old and everything about it is perfect. Okay, and I think like I teach some screenwriting and my students get totally tired of me talking about it. Okay, perfect. Okay. I love it. Okay, number two today would be keys. loskis blue.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:37
Oh, I like I love red. I love red. But I do love Blue. Blue has been in my mind a lot recently. I don't know why. Yeah, of course. It's like double life of Veronique.
Diane Bell 1:08:47
I know. Jackalope. Maybe that's exactly so I think about the backlog the other day on I think it was on sale for the Criterion Collection. And it got me thinking about the Decalogue but it
Alex Ferrari 1:08:59
Was on sale it's 50% off it was 50%
Diane Bell 1:09:04
Blue is like a perfect movie. You know? And then Okay, I'm just gonna throw like a totally I've never said there's an any list of my favorite films. But the other day, this is like, I love these kinds of movies that my kid was like, about to watch a movie now. I was like, helping him choose one on Amazon and I saw Edward Scissorhands to watch that. I had no intention of watching a movie at that moment, right? Like I was trying to find him something to watch so that I could go and do some work. And then I put that on. And I was like, I just sat down and I was like, Oh,
Alex Ferrari 1:09:35
What a magical. I saw that in the theater. It was so magical. It was something out of left field.
Diane Bell 1:09:41
So like, random movies that I would never like, it's wonderful. Life is always like my favorite movie, but the other two I would never normally say but I have to say like I thought it's, I am so fascinated like is actually an exercise to encourage people to do is like, just write down 10 movies that you like you frickin love, right? That you would watch anytime. Like, you know, like Edward Scissorhands for me. Like I just love it.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:03
Shawshank for me
Diane Bell 1:10:04
Is no, I think I should like or whatever is actually though does a movie The minute comes on I just have to sit down and watch it. You know? Like those movies really are like such great guides for us as filmmakers, because if you like, It's not what you think you should love or your official top.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:20
Or what's supposed to be Yeah,
Diane Bell 1:10:22
Yes. But actually like that movie that you cannot resist watching if it's on, you know what you would watch when nobody else is there to
Alex Ferrari 1:10:29
You know, like everybody will always say like, oh, citizen can I'm like, Look, nobody's sitting down watching citizen can 1000 times it's just like, really acquire it. I get it. It's kind of like sushi when you first try it. You're like, okay, it's an acquired taste. I yeah, I god bless Orson. And what he did was amazing, you know, but it's so much cinema language, but nobody loves it in that way. You know, it's like, really pay attention to the movies you absolutely love that you might not even want to admit to liking to your cinephile friends, you know, because those films can guide you I think, you know, but it was it was fascinating to me the Edward Scissorhands because, yeah, I don't know, I just said, I was like, it's so beautiful. So broad and brave. And like, in a system in the studio system, that was it was made up. It was made up in my neck of the woods in Orlando when I was around. Yeah, I wasn't in school, but I went to school in Orlando, but I remember like, Oh, that's where they shot. It was all shot up in Orlando. It was Wow, that area. It's it's stunning. It's stunning. Now, where can people find you your book and your work?
Diane Bell 1:11:41
So me, you can find me at my website, www.DianeBell.com. And so and my book, from my website, you will find links to the book, you can find it on Amazon or mwp.com. The publishers and the rebel heart. Yeah, I've sort of like winding I'm sort of winding that down. Okay. You know, like so for a number of yours. Rebelheartfilm.com was my was my website, but I'm starting just to Diane just to trim it down. DianeBell.com. Keep it simple, you know, and actually, because right now I'm creating an online course. Nice. Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's kind of epic. I can't wait, if any, like I think, right now, the plan is to launch it early next year. So right now you can sign up to be on a sort of waitlist on the website. And when it when there's news about it, you'll be the first to know and I'm, I'm super excited. I mean, it's gonna be it's in depth, you know, it's like is the book and then some, you know, because it's really going into everything in depth, that it's like, it's like a whole film school.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:53
Diane I it's been a pleasure, one of my biggest pleasures knowing you as a filmmaker and as a human being as a person and I so appreciate all the hard work you're doing out there helping filmmakers and, and just trying to make the world a little bit better than what the way you let
Diane Bell 1:13:09
All we can do.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:10
That's all we can do. So thank you so much for all your.
Diane Bell 1:13:13
Alex I love you so much. And thank you so much. It's always a pleasure for me chatting with you. I love it.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:19
All right, talk to you soon.
Diane Bell 1:13:20
All right. Bye!
Alex Ferrari 1:13:22
I could talk for hours with Diane about filmmaking, it is always a pleasure having her on the show. Thank you so much, Diane, for dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe today. I really, really appreciate it. If you want to link to anything we discussed in this episode, including links to her book, the movie, any of those things, head over to indiefilmhustle.com/281. And if you guys are interested in seeing this podcast, instead of just listening to it, it is going to be available on IFH.TV, at the end of the week on December 1, it'll be part of our December releases for IFH.TV. So keep an eye out for that guys. And by the way, I've got those two big news bombs that I've been promising you guys for months now, coming up in December, and I'm about to sign the deal for the first one, which is going to be a huge, huge opportunity for you guys, the tribe, I cannot wait to share it with you. And to give you guys access that you've never had to Hollywood before. That's all I'm gonna say. That's all I'm gonna say. That's all I'm gonna say. That's it last time. I can't I can't say anymore. And I got another big piece of news I've been working on for the last year. And I can't wait to tell you guys about it as well. So thank you guys again. so so much for all the support. And I and for everybody who signed up on IFH.TV. It's growing daily. Everyone's loving it. It's It's It's just so exciting and I can't wait to share all the cool stuff I have in store for you guys for December and all the insane stuff I'm working on for 2019 help you guys On your filmmaking, and screenwriting journeys, so thanks again for all the support. And if you haven't gone already, please head over to filmmaking podcast.com and leave us a good review on iTunes. It really helps to show out a lot. And I want to get this information out to as many filmmakers, screenwriters creatives, as humanly possible. So thanks again guys. And as always, keep that also going, keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.
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