IFH 565: Inside Creating Top Gun & Writing in Hollywood with Jack Epps Jr.

It is an absolute thrill to have Jack Epps Jr. on the show today. The award-winning writer, USC Cinematic Arts professor and filmmaker is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He’s best known for writing Top Gun, The Secret of My Success, Turner & Hooch, and Anaconda 1997 screenplay

Jack first became involved in making films while doing his undergraduate at Michigan State University. Inspired by a student film festival, Epps made his first film the following semester which became Pig vs. Freaks that was later titled Off Sides.

Top Gun was Epps’ big break. He partnered with Jim Cash who was his screenwriting professor at Michigan State University, to write several projects and Top Gun was one of those screenplays. Top Gun’s success was seismic. It became a box office number one grossing $ 357.1 million on a $ 15 million budget while also stacking several accolades including an Academy Award, Golden Globes, and a number of other international film awards. 

As students at the United States Navy’s elite fighter weapons school compete to be the best in the class, one daring young pilot (Tom Cruise) learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom.

Epps is credited for the original screenplay in the sequel, Top Gun: Maverick which will be released this November.

Epps shares co-writing credits with Jim Cash and Hans Bauer for the screenplay of the Anaconda adventure horror film series of 1997 and 2004. The first story follows a National Geographic film crew in the Amazon Rainforest that is taken hostage by an insane hunter, who forces them along on his quest to capture the world’s largest – and deadliest – snake.

While the first film did not receive critical acclamation, it grossed $136.8 million worldwide against a budget of $45 million.

In the second film, Anaconda: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, the premise is quite similar. A scientific expedition team of researchers set for an expedition into the Southeast Asian tropical island of Borneo, to search for a sacred flower for which they believe will bring humans to a longer and healthier life, but soon become stalked and hunted by the deadly giant anacondas inhabiting the island.

Here is a clip of Gordon (Morris Chestnut) after being paralyzed from a spider bite, who comes face to face with death.

These are some classics and I couldn’t wait to chat with Jack about his creative journey—from his work as a cinematographer and an assistant cameraman on various local productions, to his love for writing or reviewing romantic comedies films like Viva Rock Vegas, and Sister Act.

Let’s dig in, shall we? Enjoy this conversation with Jack Epps.

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Alex Ferrari 0:04
I'd like to welcome to the show Jack Epps Jr. How you doing Jack?

Jack Epps Jr. 1:01
I'm doing really well. Nice to be here. Thank you!

Alex Ferrari 1:09
Thank you so much for coming on the show. Um, I'm excited to kind of get into the weeds about your career because you've written some of some of the some, you know, classic 80s and 90s films that I grew up with. And again, the audience will get tired of me saying this, but you had an impact on my video store days when I was working at the video store. Great days. Oh, those. Exactly. So all of all of your films and your especially in the 80s and early 90s, all the stuff that you wrote was like I was there moving the boxes, rec recommending them to the customers got me good. So. So let me ask you, how did you how did you get started in the business?

Jack Epps Jr. 5:41
Well, you know, it's one of those sort of long stories in the sense of, I became interested in film as an undergraduate at Michigan State University. I'm from Detroit, Michigan, moved out to California because I just fell in love with movies. And I said, this is what I want to do with my life. I actually came out to California be a director, because I was making short films, had no money, virtually no contacts, and the best way to direct was on paper and started writing. And in through a friend I met at Michigan State Anderson House, his dad knew the producer of Hawaii Five O and said, If we wrote a treatment, he could get it to him. So we actually put together treatment called the capsule kidnapping, sent it to his dad who sent to the Phil ECOC, who sent the the showrunner, who then called us and said, We love this idea. So quickly, I sold it exact. So we sold this script, and and had a Hawaii Five o produced very, very quickly, I mean, and then we worked together for a couple years trying to get other things produced. And we sold a Kojak and things like that, but didn't really move forward a lot. At the same time. I had to pay rent. And so I was because I was a filmmaker. I was actually an assistant camera man. And so doing a lot of work on stuff like that. I actually worked for Orson Welles on the other side of the wind. River, what was that? Like? You know, it was really great because it was there is Orson Welles. In the story. How it happened is my wife was my girlfriend at the time. She was working as a typist. And so she got a call from her temp agents agency and said, Orson Welles needs somebody and she she was in Peoria now to film family. So she goes Orson Welles, I know the name but don't worry, just go meet him. Because I knew the less she would know the more he would like her. And so he hired her. And then I said, he got to get me on this film. You got to get me on this film. So I spent a couple months with Orson and Gary Graver on the piano was great because it's Orson Welles omit really nice. I mean, he didn't throw a temper tantrum. He wasn't like this big. He was just Orson Welles. And there's the guy and you some pitching myself. I said, I cannot believe I'm pulling focus on Orson Welles here.

Alex Ferrari 7:58
That's, that's amazing. And that booming voice that he has,

Jack Epps Jr. 8:01
And the whole persona.

Alex Ferrari 8:03
Oh, my God, that must have been amazing. So yeah, so and everyone listening, when you're starting off as a screenwriter, generally it works out that you write a spec pilot for a television show or a television show, and it gets picked up right away and then you start making lots of money just like yourself, correct?

Jack Epps Jr. 8:20
Absolutely not. What happened is I then my my college screenwriting teacher, Jim Cash had contacted me and said, We should write together. And so Jim and I went back to Michigan to pick up my motorcycle to drive back to California. I looked him up. We sat down at the school union, and we pitched out eight ideas. I didn't think anything work. We said, Thanks, goodbye. I was riding back cross country. And I said, you know, this idea actually works. And Jim and I spent the next two and a half years doing about five different drafts and figure out how to write together long distance because he was in East Lansing and I was in Santa Monica. We wrote a script finally, that I felt was ready to take it to go into the business to let out because I had learned enough through internships and things to know that you really have to enter the business at a high level, the script has to be very, very good read. It's got to be a good story and show off your work as writers and storytellers. And that script was called Izzy and Moe. And we got representation to major agency through a friend who recommended us and it got optioned by Bud Yorkin of Yorkshire and Lear. And so suddenly, we were paid some pretty good option money that may both of us say we should stay at this. So we were lucky that our first spec actually got options.

Alex Ferrari 9:47
That right and again, a lot of in a lot of times when a lot of screenwriters think that just because you get the option, it's an automatic production, and that's not the case. At all, most most option scripts don't get into production is that is that a fair statement?

Jack Epps Jr. 10:00
All right, is that the truth? I mean, it's what it what it does is what it puts it. So yes, no is emo never got made, but Yorkin, who was a European leader could not get it made. And so but what it did is it put us on a spotlight, people knew we were there. And then we did a second script, a second spec script, which was called old gold. And that was a sort of Charmin Chase adventure set in San Francisco, about a fortune 100 looking for lost gold from the Nazis that ended up in San Francisco. And then that got that got bought on an auction. And so we earned good money and he was like, Okay, this is now we're throwing ourselves into it. But that didn't get me

Alex Ferrari 10:46
I've spoken to so many screenwriters over the years and known many during my time in the in the business that sometimes you look at an IMDB filmography, and you're like, oh, They've only done three movies. I'm like, Yeah, but they've been working steadily for a decade. And just because they haven't been produced. I mean, they're still pulling in six figures a year, and working on major projects that just either they're rewriting or polishing or Script doctoring. And don't get don't get made. Is that your experience as well?

Jack Epps Jr. 11:16
Absolutely. And what I learned very quickly is that if a studio has a choice between their idea or your idea, they're always going with their idea. So why not develop their ideas, which they already invested in. And SmartKey has yet been tricked into your idea. You have to you have to make it, you've got to own it, but realize that you're writing for them, and you want to make the producers in the studios happy. So we then started writing an assignment. And we had six unproduced screenplays and then yeah, we did Dick Tracy. For four directors that got shelved wasn't kidding me. We then Simpson Bruckheimer. We actually through Jeff Katzenberg was involved in Dick Tracy because it was actually owned by Universal and Paramount. So as a joint production, they had international and domestic rights. And so Jeff Katzenberg liked our work and wanted to hire us after Dick Tracy and I had a breakfast meeting the famous ADM breakfast meeting with Katzenberg. And he rolled out six ideas of which I thought this really interesting idea be stood out to me. Yeah, based on this school pilots called Top Gun. And I thought, wow, I actually got my private pilot's license at Michigan State, they had a flying club. So I thought, Well, if the movie doesn't get made, I'll get to find a navy jet. So okay.

Alex Ferrari 12:46
It's a win win win,

Jack Epps Jr. 12:48
That one get made. So why would this one get made but flying a navy jet? That's a hard thing to get to do,

Alex Ferrari 12:54
You got to go through, you have to jump through a few hoops to get to that tough life to say the least. So So okay, so the original idea for Top Gun was basically it was Jeff Katzenberg, kind of throughout the like, hey, there's a school pilots figure something out.

Jack Epps Jr. 13:09
Well, actually, it was actually, Jerry Bruckheimer, okay, we found an article in a California magazine. Based on that there was a school and there are these pilots, and they were having fun. There was no story, no characters, but it was a potential world. And so Jerry brought it to, you know, the producer will do product to he was had to deal with Paramount, but Don Simpson and Paramount want to develop the idea. And so for for us, it was like, Okay, we had just finished a Tracy and that was not going into production. And so

Alex Ferrari 13:42
This is at 84-85 for Dick Tracy?

Jack Epps Jr. 13:44
Actually, if Dick Tracy was actually in the early 80s, right, I went in for directors on that project.

Alex Ferrari 13:51
And we'll get to that we'll get to Dick Tracy it a little bit down the line. But so so with Top Gun so you're basically on assignment, essentially you you got it was an open assignment. Jerry came up with the the concept of just the world and you guys came up with Maverick and Iceman and the whole thing. I mean, so Okay, so when you're writing this, it's another assignment. You're like, this is not going to get me both hell, we'll have some fun. And we're getting paid to do it. So you didn't think it was Did you have any idea that it was actually going to go into production? Did you feel something?

Jack Epps Jr. 14:24
Well, so basically, sips and Bruckheimer when I met with him, I said, Look, guys, I don't want to do this unless we can actually get the planes but I really don't want to have these like little CGI is not what it is today, right today. Hold off, but then you could not and so they agreed. We went back to the Pentagon. We got approval by the Pentagon. They gave me a technical adviser but even Pete Pettigrew. I went to doubt the NAS Miramar and I got to fly jets and

Alex Ferrari 14:57
you and you were in the back like you The Oh absolutely. Oh, absolutely.

Jack Epps Jr. 15:01
Yeah, that's amazing. A couple of things happen. One is the f 14. Wow, I fell in love with the plane. I really didn't know about military planes at that time. And I fell in love with it for one or two reasons. One, it looks incredibly cool on the ground. It's like, wow, this thing is just the fastest, most beautiful thing ever designed. And to it had two people flying in it a front seat or in a back seat. And I didn't really know about that. And that gave me a relationship. So I already went, Yes. I don't have to have guys going from plane to going on Maverick are you doing in Qatar? Are you so I can actually have these two people and form a relationship, which gave me a core to develop in the story. So I said, Great. We've got a relationship. But I'm looking for all the guys there are great. Get along. And I'm going for where's the conflict? What am I writing here? I've got to look for the conflict. And then it came to me, like one of those bolts of thunder. Lightning is what if one guy doesn't get along? What happens if you got a guy who sticks out like a sore thumb? What happens to this environment? Maverick is born. So I had the conflict. And then we just start building out the story from there in a sense. And I pitched the DOD and Jerry said, Look, we're gonna do a school movie, but it's kind of a real fight in the end, guys. We're not going to have a school. It's got it. He said, Yeah, like Star Wars at the end. Absolutely. That's what we're gonna do. We're gonna do Star Wars. You know, the big dog fights for real stakes at the end. So I did all this research, Simpson Bruckheimer. Great. I said, Look, guys, you got to leave us alone, just let us go away, we're gonna have to find a story. I can't pitch it to you, you got to trust us. And if you don't want to trust us get somebody else because we just can't go through this development process. We have to find it. And they were great. They said guys go away. Afterwards, they said they will never do that again. So we're at able to just find the story, you know, and that was a hard story to find this set in the school. And I mean, so yeah, it's a school guys flying around. What's the story there? And so for us, that was the big thing, breaking that story, finding what that art was, and who those characters were in the relationships and what the whole, the drama of it was.

Alex Ferrari 17:09
And, and I mean, obviously, the top cons of a classic film, and you know, when I was when I've seen I've seen it a million times. But that whole movie is all about character. It's like, the plot is the plot moves things along, but it is about character so heavily as opposed to like, Sherlock Holmes story, which is all plot and character kind of rides along. It. Would you agree? I mean, this is the Iceman and Maverick and his interest and his father and that, that baggage that he's carrying and, and the conflict between him and Iceman, which is just amazing. And we'll talk about all the stars aligning in a minute, but as far as the character, do you agree with that?

Jack Epps Jr. 17:52
Oh, yeah, I mean, I think that that's why we couldn't pitch it. It's almost unpickable script, because it's like, well, what happens? And it's like, because so much came out of the research, I did about 40 hours worth of interviews with pilots. But first, the Pentagon had insisted in there with me, and they wouldn't talk and I said, Look, you gotta get out. I'm sorry, I got to talk these guys alone. And they know I won't, and then they call the Pentagon. So yeah, leave me alone. And then the guys opened up and you know, learn about their lives and met these guys. So they were inspiring as people. But also Gemini were athletes. So we knew what it meant to be on a team and to and to try to make sure you're, you know, the sense of being, you know, one of the stars on the team, you know, you got to be the best, you know, that's part of what sort of the drive for excellence is. But it's a long way to get to your question. We had in the script shift, since the break ever loved it. They loved this movie, but Paramount said, I don't get it. I don't get it. Of course, it's all these planes in the sky. It's like this. So they said no. And they put it on the shelf. So there's number seven unproduced motion picture and so we thought we had something we believed in and so so did Simpson Bruckheimer but not going to happen. So we want went on to a next project Legal Eagles with Ivan Reitman.

Alex Ferrari 19:15
Not a bad, not a bad

Jack Epps Jr. 19:16
project. Not a bad thing. And Ivan was great. And it wasn't until the studio changed. It. You know, the executives and new chickens came in TrackMan cuzzo, who called Simpson Bruckheimer. I said, Guys, we have nothing in the cupboards Do you have anything you want to make? And they pulled the script down and said, Yeah, we got this project we'd like to make and they say go do it.

Alex Ferrari 19:37
That it's just just like that. And then what I find so fascinating about that film specifically is it was a perfect alignment where Jerry and Don where we're coming up they had they had already started building from Flashdance. I think it was in probably a little bit before, but they started to build but they weren't yet. Jerry and they weren't Bruckheimer Simpson company. pletely yet that Top Gun is what took them to the next level. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So you have young producers who are about to explode, they bring in a commercial director who had done one other I think he did what did he What was the other film that he did? Oh, hunger, the hunger. So, vampire so in brought him in, and then this young actor who had been had success with risky business, but yet wasn't Tom Cruise. All these things aligned. And it exploded into this this supernova, essentially. And that movie was a massive for people understood triple net wasn't around at that time. It's a massive hit. And one of the best recruitment tools The Navy has ever added probably still as to this day.

Jack Epps Jr. 20:59
We wrote the movie for Tom, yet we wrote it with him in mind from the very beginning, when we gave the script to Don and Jerry, I said to Don says Jerry, I said, think Tom Cruise when you read this? And and they said Yep, absolutely. And that was the only person that they they went after Tom. Yeah. But Tom, but the ability factors. Part of it was because because of character. You know, Mary is a bit of a jerk. And so he's, he's really arrogant. So you've got to have an actor that you're going to like that you're going to stay with, or else just going to go after this guy. I'm out of here. And so and Tom did that he was the young American, so to speak, and he represented that sort of this bravado and, you know, pushing it at the limit. And, and, and, and they nailed it. They got him and that was in he was great. He actually he understood it. And he's played Maverick for the rest of his career.

Alex Ferrari 21:49
It's such a Top Gun in the car and Top Gun. He said that's well, he developed who Tom Cruise is and Top Gun basically. And he's, I remember some comedians like I love that movie with Tom Cruise with these young cocky white guy. Oh, you mean every movie? Got it? Okay, got it. All right, great. Yeah, I got it. But but but to be fair, though, that is a very slippery slope as an actor and a character to play because you're right. He's arrogant as hell but yet for some reason. You love him. What do you think about Mavericks character? Is it partly how it's written? And obviously how Tom performed it. But I think there there was meat in the script that allowed you to feel empathy towards him. And I think it might be the father baggage that you kind of, because if you don't add that baggage, I don't think he's as there's no empathy there. I don't know. What do you think? Yeah, no, I

Jack Epps Jr. 22:45
think that's all part of the story. And I'm part of it, we made him a second chance character. He was the underdog. Remember, he didn't have he wasn't going first. He had to win. A Cougar had to hand in his wings for him to get in. So he was he was always the underdog. And we tend to root for underdogs. And Iceman, of course, immediately is is a is a great counterpart. And, and that rivalry makes your root for Tom, you want that you want him to stick a nice man's face and you're rooting for him. And and, you know, you also feel for him, you know, he's he wants to do it, right. He's got some stuff. He's got to work out. Hopefully you can work it out. Right. And

Alex Ferrari 23:22
he put but at the end of the day, he's a good guy trying to do good work. And you know, he's trying to be all you can be, as they say,

Jack Epps Jr. 23:31
we've got some things to learn.

Alex Ferrari 23:32
Yeah, no question. And and I mean, how were you excited to know that they were breaking making a sequel?

Jack Epps Jr. 23:37
Yeah, yeah, I was excited. And I was happy that one times involved and Jerry is doing it because Jerry be true to the to the movie. And I know that he'll keep the continuity going with that. And so I think, you know, I'm excited to see it. I've read it. I know, I know what they've done. I can't talk about it, because there's any talk about it, but I think people will like it because it is a continuation.

Alex Ferrari 24:01
It's a true sequel. It's a true sequel. Yeah.

Jack Epps Jr. 24:03
Yeah, it is. It's a continuation. It's it's not just a different movie. It's the characters come back and there's some there's growth and development.

Alex Ferrari 24:10
That's amazing. That's amazing now, so you're ready. Are you worried working to Legal Eagles when before Top Gun gets into production?

Jack Epps Jr. 24:19
Yes. So we went from having seven unproduced screenplays to three films in production in 11 months. Jesus, that's unheard of. It was insane. It was insane. Because suddenly, you have Tompkinson production legalese in production. See for my successes in production,

Alex Ferrari 24:35
she's so so and for people again, that weren't around at the time Legal Eagles will start obviously, Robert Redford, Daryl Hannah and Debra Winger. That was a massive hit. It was and then and then secret of my success, which by the way, personally, one of my favorite 80s films of all time, I watched that. When I was a kid I watched I must have watched that story in that film 100 times because I was I was Michael J. Fox. I wanted it you know, it was During it was during the Wall Street day. So yeah, I wanted to make it in business and all of that kind of stuff. And it was just such a wonderful film. And that was a huge that was a massive hit as well. It was it was Michael J. Fox at the peak of his powers.

Jack Epps Jr. 25:14
Yeah, right after back to feature one. And he was great. I mean, Michael was fabulous. We wrote it for him, we were brought into a rewrite. So basically, it was a screenwriters dream. Frank Price, who was the executive of universal new as well, like, at work? I pitched him an idea. And they said, what if we took that idea and put it into this movie we have wasn't called secret of success, success at that time, something else? And they said, Yeah, sure. So we did a page one and just went through the whole script. But it was great. As they said, We have to start on June 1, because we have Michael J. Fox, and then we have to end by August, something because he's going back to his show, family ties. And, and so they had to shoot what we wrote.

Alex Ferrari 25:56
Oh, so there was no chances to rewrite. So it was perfect for you guys.

Jack Epps Jr. 26:00
Exactly. So we just we just bust through it had a great time. And really, you know, no, you don't you write from Michael J. Fox gives you a lot of fun in the script. And we also wanted to not demonize business as it always is. But as you were saying, people with ambition, and that character, I have a you know, coming to want to make his place in the world. And also, I wanted to do a, I've always wanted to be a big Billy Wilder fan, and wanted to do a, you know, a character who's assuming an identity. So a guy who's playing two identities, I always want to work that and that's really difficult to write that and, and but it was fun. There was a lot of fun to do it. And we were really pleased with the outcome. And Herb Ross, who was the director was a Broadway director, so he liked the words. He wasn't one of your Broadway direct, you direct the words and he wasn't playing with him and was really just going for it. And I thought I thought the movie really worked out well.

Alex Ferrari 26:57
Now with those three films, I mean, it's kind of unheard of for a screenwriting team, a writer screenwriters in general to have that many hits back to back to back in such short amount of time as well. How did the town treat you? I mean, after top gonna loan? I mean, I'm sure your phone was ringing off the hook at that

Jack Epps Jr. 27:15
point. Well, in my as my agent would say, at that time, don't ask they're not available.

Alex Ferrari 27:22
Everybody was reaching out to you at that point. It was you were the belle of the ball, as I like to say,

Jack Epps Jr. 27:26
right, it was that stuff. And because we knew Katzenberg and liked him. We worked at Disney worked on SR act. You know, he did a major rewrite on that. Turner and Hooch You know, Jim, Jim didn't want to write Topcat originally, because he didn't like planes, like flying planes. So he had a phobia. I said, don't worry about it. We'll do it. So he did it for me. And then he wanted to do Turner and Hooch because it's a, you know, he's has dogs. He's like four dogs, and I want to write a dog movie. i Okay, I owe you one. So we sort of traded off it, you know, things just came our way. And so it was it was it was fun. It was different. Because we were unknown people left us alone. And and the more unknown, you got the more of a looking over your shoulder. And that was a very different experience in terms of just how that could change a little bit.

Alex Ferrari 28:15
And for people listening, especially young screenwriters coming up, I mean, yeah, you had a lot of success in a short amount of time, but you had been putting in the years of work. Prior to that, like you said there was seven unpaid or six unproduced screenplays. Yeah, you had representation? Yeah, you'd optioned a few things. But you would have been, it's not like you just woke up one morning and like, Oh, here's Top Gun, like it took you years to get to that place. And I think screenwriters young screenwriters need to understand that you've got to put in the work, and it's not gonna happen overnight.

Jack Epps Jr. 28:45
I think we were actually fortunate that we didn't get our first movies produced, I think we would have grown as writers. No, you're right. You're right. I think we have tapped ourselves in the back and say how brilliant we were. And we would have been very happy at that level. And, you know, first movers are fine, they're good reads. But we had to grow. And we had to work harder and dig deeper, to basically teach ourselves how, you know, just because they were trying to figure out how does this thing work, and to basically, and the more and more we got to character was was really, really the breakthrough, you know, telling stories about people lives in crisis. You know, rewriting is a big part of what Jim and I did together. And it you know, we just realized you had to dig in. I mean, like I said, for Dick Tracy, we went through four directors, and for each director, we did two drafts

Alex Ferrari 29:33
now, so let's jump into Dick Tracy really quickly. So I remember 9090 Very well, it was right smack in the middle of my video store days. So I was it was in the heat and that was Dick Tracy, I think and please correct me wrong. This is my assumption. Dick Tracy got greenlit and got fast tracked into production after Batman came out in 89. Because that kind of just changed. It just changed the landscape. All of a sudden superhero movies. Were it because Prior to Batman for people not understanding because now every week there's a new Batman or Superman or Marvel film coming out, but there was a time there was a time where there was one maybe and it took every two, three years before you'd get orders something like that. Before Batman, there was Superman and Superman had pretty much petered off after Donner left. So when Batman came out, which was a absolute insane, massive hit, Dick Tracy showed up and then Dick Tracy, I, you know, watching it, I mean, it had Danny Elfman music, it had a lot of tonality. From Batman, it was a dark Dick Tracy was, you know, that the world was so it was that way just so beautifully constructed. And the colors were so vibrant, and the PErforM I mean, you had to look at a cast, but Donna ALPA Chino will enforce I am Warren Beatty, it's just amazing. Was Am I Am I correct in saying that? That was the reason why I got fast tracked?

Jack Epps Jr. 30:56
Yeah, I think so. I think it was the, at that point, looking for something to the big superhero type movie like that, and it was ready to go. The script is ready. And in Warren, people saw him as the only that was one of the problems getting that movie made is that Warren was who everybody saw is the Tracy. There's nobody else. And that becomes a problem because we only make it with Warren. And when we start we first started the script with John Landis, who for my business would have been probably the most interesting, wacky, crazy. Tracy. John had that terrible Twilight Zone accident. He exited. Then we got Walter Hill, who was who taught me a lot. Walter was a screenwriter editor. Oh, a good director. Yeah. And he basically taught us a lot. He was funny, because we're a little arrogant, you know, you know, we've been doing really well. And Walter SS do a fix on the script. And we push back to No, we don't want to do this. And he said, Well, okay, I'll do it. I'll write it, don't worry about it. And we went, Oh, hold on a second here. You know, that's not a bad idea. We'll do it. Because you don't want to direct your writing. You want to stay the writer. So we said, oh, I think I understand what you mean. So you know, Walter taught us a lot how to hang in the game, and also how to focus the characters. Well, I mean, you know, and then, Walter, the, as I understand the story, you talked to Warren and Warren said, Can I watch the dailies? And Walter said, No, I never let actors walk daily watch dailies. And Warren said, Thank you, God. Movie crashes, Dick Benjamin comes on to do a cheap version, Dick Tracy. We cut the script down for budget. That doesn't happen. And then Warren ends up after a couple years, languishing, walking over to Paramount and getting the rights and moving the rights to Disney. And then once he's on board, he's driving I taught him we met, you know, more and more. I went met and talked and he's a good director, you know, I mean, so he was should I direct this? I said, Absolutely. You know, we're doing better than you.

Alex Ferrari 32:55
Yeah. And it was it was, I think people wanted it to be the next Batman and I don't, but it wasn't it was a hit. It didn't didn't do good business, right.

Jack Epps Jr. 33:04
It could business it wasn't quite what everyone wanted it to be. It didn't it didn't get the debt super numbers in there. There was to me, there was a lot of things crammed into that movie. Like me, it's even Stephen Sondheim songs. You can't complain about that. But they took up a lot of space. A bit of a musical. You know, Madonna's done. Yeah, I'm surprised no one's done. Dick Tracy, the musical so far since it would work?

Alex Ferrari 33:30
Yeah, Madonna was at the height of her powers as well. So they had to put there has to be a couple of you know, song and dance numbers Madonna, and it has, that's why we're hiring her. So and that's another thing that screenwriters and filmmakers sometimes don't understand is that there's there's just politics involved here. There's a lot of politics involved. And there's a lot of not only egos, but you know, agendas that need to be cramped like you said a lot of things were crammed in because there was so much pressure on that film I'm surprised that it did as well as it did because of the amount of pressure you they were they were hoping for another Batman and that's like that's you know, lightning in a bottle that doesn't happen very often. And it's still it was still good enough that it did do good business but obviously didn't you know break out into what what Batman was but it still holds up very well today. I watched it the other day it was it still holds up very well.

Jack Epps Jr. 34:21
Or the look is great. Richard silver did amazing art direction let's say the colors and Warren was working to create a sort of a comic book structure if you look at the setups are almost like it's by panels comic panel. He was trying to do that specifically. And you know, you've got great roles with with Dustin Hoffman doing mumble Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 34:38
Forgot definitely, of course.

Jack Epps Jr. 34:40
Yeah. No, he's all in everybody come in and do this little stuff.

Alex Ferrari 34:44
Like, exactly. He's just like, hey, can you just come down to do this character for us, please. But when you're Warren Beatty, you could do things like that? Not but I have to ask you though. How did you convert or adapt a comic strip to Twitter? feature film. I mean, it's not like a comic book, if I'm not mistaken. Right? It was mostly comic strips right? There wasn't like this all comic strip was just comic strips like you would read in the Sunday paper. So how do you take that and adapt it into a major motion picture?

Jack Epps Jr. 35:14
I'm a big believer in research. I did a lot of research on Top Gun secret success. We had a technical adviser from business so I could ask him questions about business because I didn't really I didn't want to make stuff up. I wanted to, you know, to, so I could put totally could feel like it's based on something for Nick Tracy. I asked, universal Can you get me all the comic strips that Chester Gould wrote? Like, can you get them and they got me from 1932 The first one Oh, all the way up into the mid 50s. So I sat down and read it like a book. I just literally read every comic strip. And I felt I could I want to understand Chester Gould's writing style, his intention, his storytelling, I want to know his characters. Because I had to be true to this. And I was, I was not the fan on the strip the gym was but I became a huge fan of Chester Gould, the creator, because He created all these wonderful characters. And I fell in love with characters, all that all his ghouls characters, and my favorite being the blank. I just thought the blank was so interesting. So it's like, okay, we're going to construct your own story, because I can't do none of the strip stories at work, but I can take the characters. And at the very beginning, John Landis said he wants to set around big boy Caprice in the roaring 30s, so to speak, 20s 30s. And so that was our original walking orders. That big boy Caprice at the center of the story, so we had to figure out okay, what can we do? And then once I found the blank, I said, Okay, now I've got a character I love. Let's figure out what the story is. And we and we started building that out with the blank at the center of the mystery. And then telling basically, you know, a basically prohibition style type story, which is sort of funny, those tropes and reach out and do those things.

Alex Ferrari 36:52
And the funny thing is now that, you know, Dick Tracy, always just speaking to his watch, and now we speak it to our

Jack Epps Jr. 37:00
exact Yeah, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 37:02
It was pretty rare. It's taken. I think that was even part of the Apple ad campaign. They put a little bit of Dick Tracy in there, I think was even the Warren shot of him talking into it as part of the that's part of the ads. Now, you when you did Legal Eagles, you worked with Ivan Reitman, who's, you know, a legend in our business? What was it like working with Ivan and Ivan right after ghostbuster. So he was he was on fire and Fago as they say,

Jack Epps Jr. 37:31
Well, part of that was that our agent was frustrated too, that we didn't get anything made. We didn't get Top Gun produce. So he said, Look, I'm gonna put you in. I'm gonna put you with Ivan Reitman, because they'll make anything he wants to make. At that point, Ivan was the hottest director in the world. And so he had this amuse his idea. He wanted to do a thing about the art world, and why to do sort of a romantic comedy set in the art world and so is up for us to once again, figure out you know, what's the story? Who are the people? You know, it's like, okay, that's the assignment. Now, let's go figure out what it is. So again, I went to New York, went to the pace gallery, interviewed people, you know, just to figure out the environment of building building out the story. He did originally this this is one of the funny things originally he wanted to take the characters from Tootsie, the Dustin Hoffman Bill Murray characters and and that was the original cast idea, and wanted to put them build a movie around those guys. A whole different story, but that's what we got the district attorney and then we got the, you know, the whole the fleabag sort of guy, which gives us the relationship that I've been wanting to explore. Well, he said he we had half a script, he said, Look, I can't wait. I gotta send it to these guys. They won't sit around. Wait, I've been to half a script notes. Give it to me now. So yes, sir. You know, exactly half a script. They said to Dustin Well, Warren had just, you know, talked him into doing what's that crazy movie where you know, that horrible film?

Alex Ferrari 38:54
Which one? Oh, God.

Jack Epps Jr. 38:57
Oh, it star. It's just all right. The Tyson needs to do a star. So yes. So Dustin was available. A Bill Murray said I hate attorneys. I'll never play an attorney in my life. So suddenly, that idea crash. We've got half the script. So either goes, what about a romantic comedy with Robert Redford? You think you could do that? I said, Yeah, we can do that. I can do that. So we got to fly in the Columbia plane out to St. George, Utah, meet with Bob hung out for a couple hours into that world. And, you know, found out that he was, you know, sort of self deprecating guy and make jokes about himself sort of clumsiness, which we Yeah, exactly, really, and, and we see that and said, Well, Bob, we would love to make that as part of the character, which we did. We wrote it with that sort of character. Although when it came to set, he wasn't quite thrilled to play that character. So we got a couple beats of him, you know, dancing to singing in the rain in his apartment chewing on ice cream, so we got a couple of beats out of them. They're sort of out of character, but not as far as we want to go.

Alex Ferrari 40:04
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Now with the thing about Legal Eagles is in those kinds of films. I remember them so clearly where it's a romantic comedy, but there is act, there's action and there's like thriller esque things in like, there's danger. There's real danger. I like remember, like movies like stakeout. And those kinds of that kind of time period. There were a lot. They don't make these films anymore. They're not really made anymore. And they're so wonderful.

Jack Epps Jr. 40:41
Yeah, they are wonderful. I mean, they get made us you can make a thriller like that, right. Hey, you can cope with a good idea, your thriller but but romantic comedies Gemini call them charming Chase movies, right? We were really influenced by North by Northwest in the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks started, Preston Sturges. And then these sort of big romantic comedies were something that we did well. But now they don't make those anymore, and they sort of fell out of fashion. You know, a lot, I have to do with the Apatow comedy, and how that came in and changed the whole comic tone. And it just, they became dated, in a sense, I think that's why they've ended up on lifetime. And you don't see those movies anymore. It's just it's it's sort of comedy changes a lot. And in the comedy and and so those will be just sort of went away. I mean, you can still do the biggest action movies like that you should do them in action, and create that the fun. I mean, I think it's Tom's done Mission Impossible. He created that sense of that.

Alex Ferrari 41:41
But those are those but those are mostly action with some humor, as opposed to romantic comedy with some some really thriller esque elements and real danger elements. But it is a romantic comedy. But yeah, action films with humor. I mean, that goes yeah, even bit Beverly Hills Cop, you can argue is it's more of a comedy than it is an action film, but it's pretty even keel as far as thriller and comedy. It goes. Without question. Now, when do you when you start working on a script Do you outline?

Jack Epps Jr. 42:17
Well, you know, the greatest, the greatest piece of advice I got was from a writer I was doing an internship on a movie called Hearts of the West was Jeff Bridges. And the writer was really great. I Tony, Bill gave me the job. I have six months, three months of pre production, three months of production, which really showed me what a movie is. Not not a screenplay. But here's what movies are. And Rob Thompson gave me a piece of advice. I was talking about how you know how he does scripts and all this stuff. And he said, I used the card method. I said, What? Yeah, I use index cards, I break each scene into an index card. And, and that was like a light bulb within on my on my head and changed my life. Because from that moment on, I've been using index cards. So I, I beat out a story, not an outline, because an outline to me. I want I don't start on page one, I don't start the first scene, I start with scenes I like to see. So what's what is the scene I like to see. And then I'm going to look at that scene, it might be a middle scene might be the ending scene. And so I don't work in any linear map method, I basically start to visualize how I see the movie and start to fill in the pieces. And for me, that allows and I also have to see my movie, if I'm doing an outline, it's I'm looking at one page, what's on page four, or five. So by laying it out in a big table, and I married the right woman, she allowed me to have the dining room table for 20 years filled with guards. Wait the small table. And I basically I'd have i movies about 55 cards, something like that. But I go through literally hundreds of them trying to figure out the movie and I replay them. And I use colored cards to code relationships. So the main characters, the white card, and then different colored cards for the relationships to show. So I can track my relationships and subplots through the movie. But I'm able then to read them in columns and see my movie in one glance, I can sit down and I can show before I work in a scene, I can get the beats the character development, and I got a hole here, I can work on the hole and fix the hole. And I also can change cards around it will because there's no it takes a couple seconds to write a new card. There's there's no like resistance to making a change. Right? And when I feel I'm ready, I've got it, then I've got something to write.

Alex Ferrari 44:26
Do you do you start with the scenes or plot? Or do you start with the character first?

Jack Epps Jr. 44:33
Question. The biggest two things I'm looking for is one, what's the story? What's this about? What's the movie? What's the essence of it? And two, I'm always looking for where's the conflict in the story? Because I learned early on you write the conflict. I don't have the conflict. I've got nothing to write. So and then I'm looking for who lives in this world. Who is the person what is their story? What do they want? What are they trying to achieve? What's what I'm looking for? What are they pushing against what's the antagonistic force? What's the opposition? So I'm trying to find whose story it is. I'm looking for major relationships. So I'm looking to build all these things and understand it before I start going to cards. So I have to pretty much know whose movie it is and what I'm trying to tell. And, and that's something that I work out well in advance of beginning to plot the movie. Now, I pretty much know the story. It is.

Alex Ferrari 45:24
Gotcha, gotcha. Now, another film that you did in that time period, which I literally just watched with my daughters, who are young, Turner and Hooch. And I am sorry, I'm

Jack Epps Jr. 45:37
sorry. I always apologize, because I held back, show it to my kids until they were like, a 12 and 13. So to break their hearts,

Alex Ferrari 45:47
it was like, so we watched it. And that was the other thing, dude, like, by the way, spoiler alert, something happens at the end. But but the thing is, but the thing about that is that they were concerned about the ending when it was happening, because they were just like, Oh my God, oh, my God, is he is he? Yeah, but the way you were able to just bring in that light at the end with the puppies was absolutely brilliant, because I hadn't seen it. Since my video store days, I really hadn't watched in a long time. You know, like, sat down and watched it all the way through. And my wife and I both were just looking at like this so much. And Tom Hanks in the 80s was just so brilliant. And that huge. Oh my god, that dog was remarkable. How would it turn around who show up? Because I know Tom. Tom loves to make jokes about these like, Yeah, I did the doc movie. I don't know why did the duck. But he always jokes about it in interviews.

Jack Epps Jr. 46:41
No, no. All the time. Good. Saves money except his academy word Philadelphia. Yeah. That's right. Better accurate. Exactly. I know. I know. Well, it was it was once again, we're working with Disney and Katzenberg, these things go into production. And they literally didn't have things for Tom to play, Tom, you know, because what we what we became known as the guys to come in and bring character to it. Bring story. We're really good. We're good at fixing things. Like I can read the script and say, Okay, I like this. But this, here's what it needs to make it a movie. And so that was they had the dog but we just double down on the world's messiest dog, and we double down on Tom being the world's cleanest guy, and letting that sort of OCD character sort of, you know, be a problem for him and creating a love story and creating a relationship in there. So

Alex Ferrari 47:29
conflict, a conflict was in there just from the beginning.

Jack Epps Jr. 47:32
Right? Absolutely. And, and also, and making you fall in love with hooch is just this grisly, the worst thing that could happen to the character is the best thing to happen in the character. And what was so much fun about that project is that Tom was involved in development. So I would meet with the director and Tom would be there, and he'd be thrown out lines, I'll be writing all these lines out. Thank you. No doubt, you know. And the thing about Tom Hanks, he is who you think he is. He's a remarkable guy. And great to work with as generous as can be. And it was just such a pleasure to have somebody like that in a development meeting, just just helping develop the character because he and his concern was his relationship with OCE, he wanted to make sure that relationship was solid, because that's the core of the movie. And and we worked on that.

Alex Ferrari 48:17
Now the one of the one thing I really think is a learning moment here in the in the in the conversation is conflict, and how perfectly you know, Turner and Hooch were the conflict was self evident. There's no working for the conflict, like you just put two forces on complete opposite sides of the spectrum. And you just threw them together in a room. And it writes itself almost because of that. And I think that is something that screenwriters writing screenplays now are in their stories. I've read so many screenplays, and you know, you're doing coverage and things like that, where the conflict is almost forced, like, it's like, I don't buy that, like, oh, that there's no motivation there. You know, like, the bad guy has this motivation. And the good guy has this motivation. And it's like, really like convoluted. But the core of conflict from just something as simple as Turner and Hooch. It's built in. And I think as you if you're writing a story, having two characters who are just completely on two opposite sides of the spectrum, without any major details, but it's it's very basic, I'm clean, you're dirty. Oh, my God, we've got to live together. It's the odd couple with a dog and a guy is actually do we agree with that?

Jack Epps Jr. 49:32
Oh, absolutely. And it's one thing I learned early in, you know, figuring out how to write and what's what screenplays are about, is using relationships to produce conflict. And I'm a big believer in having multiple layers of conflict. I call them opposition forces. I want to make sure that my characters have a lot of opposition. And no matter where they turn throughout the story, there's a point of opposition there. And there are different degrees. It's not like it has to be everything's huge. It doesn't matter the main character is going on a journey. And the journey is fraught with challenges of different degrees. And what that character is is trying to do is get what they want, but ultimately what they need at the end and in the process trying to get what they want, they bump into opposition characters and opposition situations, which, which helps define the character because we see who is this character? Who is this person? Why do we root for them? What do we want? Are they you know, what's their growth arc through the story, and by using plot and relationship to help tell the story and create conflict. It allows me to explore the character from from multiple points of view, and allows a character to express themselves to different people in different ways depending upon the relationship and a lot and then I'm a big believer in in you don't want to rely on plot all the time. It's just plot. Because what I say is curiosity. Oh, what's gonna happen but emotion is character. And character is about relationships. It's not no no character exist by themselves. I mean, you know, a castaway. They had to create Wilson, because he needed somebody to relate to so what does he do? He creates this character Wilson, who I don't know about you, but Wilson falls off.

Alex Ferrari 51:13
Oh my god. Oh my god, volleyball. Oh my god. It's a volleyball.

Jack Epps Jr. 51:17
Used emotion to it. I'm going Wilson though.

Alex Ferrari 51:21
And you're like I'm Why am I crying for damn volleyball? Like, what? If that's the brilliance of Tom Hanks. That's the brilliance of Bob Zemeckis. It's just the built brilliance of all of that. I mean, that. I mean, how he did not win the Oscar for that before. She's it's great. It's, it's remarkable. And I have to also ask you another great 90 film that you made Anaconda. I mean, where did that come from? The giant snake movie. It's like, it's pretty sharp, NATO. And it's not nearly as bad, by the way. So please, I'm not I'm not comparing them. But the big fun, there's so much fun. There's so much fun. It's fun. But Anaconda. I remember when it showed up. And we're like, Well, this is genius. I mean, this is like, why hasn't? Why hasn't there been a giant snake? Where did that come from?

Jack Epps Jr. 52:09
You know, it was once again, the agents call and said, By the way, you know, Sony is looking for rewriting this. They said, Yeah, you know, whatever, you know, so we just sort of dropped in our laps. And it was a very interesting, it's very different than any other film we've done yet is there, all the CGI was already being done. So the graphics were already being worked on. So we could not change the basic graphic attacks of the snake. But the story from our point of view didn't work, the characters didn't work, there was no antagonist in the movie. And so our job was to basically rethink the story of the characters. So we came on board and recreated, who the characters were all new story of why they're going up to the Amazon, what was happening, all the relationships and people, we created all of that material, and had to weave it around all the CGI effects.

Alex Ferrari 53:02
It's because the attacks were already that's when you have your cards up on the board, like, yeah, these are the 10. We got to we got to navigate this.

Jack Epps Jr. 53:11
We got to make those things happen. So we had to create new characters, and new relationships and new problems and different characters being caught by obviously, because that's not a problem because it hadn't been cast yet. And so that was sort of a fun thing to do. And it's just sort of fun to you know, to kill people. The way I read

Alex Ferrari 53:33
is, yeah, it's Yeah, it is. There's a bit of humor in it, but it is definitely not your typical, you know, as far as your filmography is concerned, it's definitely not secret of my success.

Jack Epps Jr. 53:43
It is yeah, but I'll tell you, it gets from residuals, I can see how many people watch it and it's still one of the most watched movies. So that it was actually during the pandemic. It was a top 10 of Netflix for one week. I was going through my list. Yeah, I'm going down. Oh, what's the top 10 ago? What? Anaconda is number nine for the week. Okay, so that's like

Alex Ferrari 54:02
23 years old. How is that?

Jack Epps Jr. 54:05
Well, it's cast I didn't have any to do with casting. The casting is

Alex Ferrari 54:08
remarkable. Oh, yeah. Ice Cube JLo JLo

Jack Epps Jr. 54:11
Ice Cube. I got to beat Ice Cube years later. And I said by the way, I'm the guy who stuck you in that swamp with the camera. He goes oh, man, he did that.

Alex Ferrari 54:21
He did okay. He did. He did okay. He did well, he did fine. Now one thing you you've said a lot of that you do a lot of rewriting and you worked on on you know massive hits like Sister Act and diehard three and now that I know that you had a hand in diehard three. It makes sense because there's a lot of my two favorite diehards is diehard one and diehard three with four coming up and then two is the last one and I don't even consider any of the other ones. But three was such a wonderful buddy and talk about conflict. I mean, Sam Jackson and John McClement and Bruce on that was great. How do you approach rewriting a script? Because you've done it so often in your life and you have also have a book, called screenwriting is rewriting. So I'm sure you have a couple things to say about that.

Jack Epps Jr. 55:11
Well, you know, rewriting is the key, every writer is going to tell you that, in screenwriting is rewriting is where the title came from. Because you have to be willing to dive in, you've got to be willing to take notes. And you know, we become very precious with our material. We don't want to, we don't want to, you know, make changes. But when you're a professional writer, and the studio tells you, here's what we want, you can't you can argue and get thrown off the movie, that's not going to help you. Or you can stay there and try to protect the movie. And that's, that's what basically my approach is, let me work with and not everybody's an idiot. Let me work with the best I can let me work with their ideas. And the key is trying to figure out not just the specific notes, but what's what are the notes saying in general, and trying to work on the bigger notes, which is the response you're getting from from people. We always were pretty lucky that took the notes we got were brought to one, we're never huge. The biggest note we ever got was John Landis. When we do the first draft of Dick Tracy, we didn't put Jr into the movie. And his first note was Where's Jr. Tracy? We went, Oh, yeah, right. Okay, we have a junior Tracy, in which we had to actually start all over again, because that's the core relationship of the movie. So suddenly, we can't just what you can't do in writing is just plug things in, you have to realize that there's a cause and effect of everything in the screenplay. So if you put something in this scene, it's going to relate to scenes later. And part of that is realizing the way the puzzle fits together and the way that everything sort of works. So we're always approaching, I'm always approaching rewriting, as, you know, while I'm trying to figure out what the assignment is, to figuring out what the notes are, three, getting a game plan, I'm going to address this in a certain way, I'm just not gonna have at it. As a professional writer, I'm trying to save every bit of work I can. So I don't want to rewrite the whole script I love people throw the baby out, and they start all over again. No, I'm gonna try to preserve everything I can, and try to weave it in the new elements into this existing story if I can, but also, I've had words changed all the time. So I'm not precious, super precious on things. I'm only precious on things I know the story has to have. So what's the heartbeat of this story? What's the core emotional moment of this movie about? How does the audience relate to this movie, I'm not going to give that up. Because that does get damaged story. So rewriting is about figuring out what's a game plan and then going at it my approach is to do a series of passes, not to try to do everything at once I like to do character. First, let's make sure we get this character story. Really well told we know who this character is. I like to know what the theme is. And then I thematic balance, I want to make sure that I understand the plot elements are not only telling a good story, but they're helping reveal the character. And this is really important plot reveals character, how our character responds to the plot. Problem is what tells us a lot about the character. And so using my storytelling techniques to tell a story about a life in crisis is what I like to say movies are about lives in crisis. So is my character in crisis is the crisis substantial is enough to motorhome movie.

Alex Ferrari 58:32
Right, exactly. And well, let me ask you a question, though, when you're working on projects, like SR act, and diehard three, I know a lot of a lot of screenwriters don't understand why some people get credit and while others don't, you know, Lee, you know, technically on their name on it, how does that work? And can you explain a little how the DG that the BGA kind of, you know, police's, that situation. Sure. Well, the

Jack Epps Jr. 58:56
WTA was founded basically, for to to award credits, that's what went on strike for because in the 30s, you know, the studios would give credits to their brother in law and whoever it was, and so writers had no say in what how they were credited, and that's what the original one of the original strikes was for. So the DGA, WGI handles all of the credit determination. There's a a anonymous arbitration panel that is convened, and they basically read the materials and there's rules that the guild is laid down and how credit is determined whether story credit screenplay credit written by credit the different layers of different different credit and depending upon the work that you've done on the script depends upon what credit you deserve

Alex Ferrari 59:43
so it so that all right so that makes perfect sense because obviously Sister Act had and diehard three both have a lot of your touches, I can sense a spirit

Jack Epps Jr. 59:53
is there Yeah, they definitely do and sister acts as sort of a sore point with me because we were advised not to see credit because The movie was a disaster on the set.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:04
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:00:13
And, and I always felt bad about that, because I really liked the script. And so then of course, we went to well, you know, but we went to the premiere and I went like, Well, that was unfortunate because it there's a lot on Gemini in that movie, and we we feel a kinship to it. But you know, that's when they got away. So we're glad that we could basically put so much into it. It

Alex Ferrari 1:00:34
was it was it was there. I didn't I never heard that. I mean, I think I might have heard something in regards to the being a disaster onset and in nobody I knew no one was expecting subtract to be a monster hit.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:00:46
No, no, but I think any. Right and then from the first I was sitting at premiere for the first note, I went on it. And it was, it was not read for whipping Whoopi Goldberg. Originally, she was at Les cast, who was the winner for I'm trying to think of the actress to Broadway actress. I can't think of right now.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:08
Okay. Oh, she did. She did other movies. Yeah, yeah.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:01:12
I can look it up.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:14
Because now I'm fascinated because I cannot see Sister Act with anybody else other than the will be called her.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:01:18
No, no, she was the perfect cast. Absolutely. She was a perfect cast. That Midler.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:24
Oh, that myth. That would have been an interesting Sister Act. It wouldn't have been the same by any stretch. No, but it would have been interesting.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:01:33
Yeah, that was for bet Midler. And she didn't want to do what she said about two rows in front of me at the premiere. And I could tell that she slouched I think she even knew Oh, I you know, but what the was the perfect cast? Yeah, I think I think we bet I think she was in a good job. She's a talented actress, it would have been funny, but what the elevated that movie and made into what it was, what it is. And I think that was a brilliant casting that made it as a standout film and still is.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:57
And where can people find your book screenwriting is, is rewriting.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:02:02
It's on Amazon,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
it's on Amazon. And you run and you run it basically, because you want to help screenwriters, I wanted to kind of help them in that kind of process. Because rewriting it's hard, especially when you're not a professional writer, and you're like, become precious, and like, I can't do this word. And I know Stephen King's, like, just kill your babies.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:02:20
Well, it is you have to let go and letting go is really hard. And also how to approach it is hard. Because people get overwhelmed by notes, they get overwhelmed. They don't want to do it. They tend to take it personally, they tend to feel they've lost. You know, part of things about being a writer is the creative, creative people, we have a lot of insecurities, we there's a lot of imposter syndrome. And so now you're rewriting Oh, they found me out, and all this sort of stuff. And it's important for writers to know you're not alone. All writers virtually feel that. And that what you have to realize it's a process and that scripts don't get, you know, oh, I've written something. It's brilliant. Well, maybe there's some brilliance in there. But right now you got to get to work and make it into a movie. And be willing to let go of your darlings. And and realize that notes and feedback are what help you to write a better script. But my book is about how to approach it. How do you approach a rewrite, and it's not easy. And I tell you that you get 100 screenwriters in a room together, they all do it differently. So there's no one way to do it. This, this book presents My Way, which is really about organizing, I believe that you organize a rewrite and prepare for a rewrite. If you organize it, then all the sort of the right call the circle confusion of these notes, what should I do? Where's the answer? I don't know I'm doing it, you're gonna find me out. If you start to put it on paper and you start to organize it into categories, character plot, theme, scene structures, you know, just relationships, if you start to break those notes down and then address the notes that you're going to the most important for you. Oh, okay. These are the ones that start first to lay this thing out. It will get better over time, if you're willing to give yourself time which it's, it's, you know, it's the process, not the product. And that's where we're young writers have had, they want the product. And I can tell you that what was what the advantage of Gemini having seven unproduced screenplays is it became the process. We didn't believe there was a product

Alex Ferrari 1:04:24
right? Apparently our career is just gonna be writing stuff that never gets made.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:04:28
And there are guys who have as you say, you've earned a good living and never gotten a single thing made right. But are super talented writers. Absolutely talented. And there's no good reason that and my favorite script is never got produced. And it just Well, there it goes. That's just how it happened yet got close, got close and never got got done.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:47
I've read I've read script by by scripts by screenwriters that I'm like, This is awesome. This shoulder masker like this. This is amazing. This is remarkable. And there's tons of those scripts scattered on shelves and how Would from decades and decades, I remember when Billy went back and got the body guard and Unforgiven, out of the archives, and they brought it back out and look at turn into two hits, there's always these two. So it's about not only the talent, and the skill, but luck being at the right place at the right time.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:05:18
There's a lot of luck, but I also think it's staying with it. Right? Just you know, Damien Chazelle, said he had he had no the plan, you know, there's only a plan. And that's it. If you're in for it, you're in for it. Which means that you've got to be willing to dive in, do the hard work that has to be done. I also any writer listening to this, find yourself a writers group. Don't be out there. There. No matter where you are, what city you're in, there are people doing what you're, what you're doing, find them get together, give each other feedback, you're writing support group, it helps, it helps to get feedback. Secondly, you need people just to help keep you in the game. And realize that you will get stronger, the more you stay at it. And if you want to become a better writer, learn to be a rewriter because that's where you get stronger, because it teaches you how to be a better writer, because what you find out is I want to rewrite, so I'm gonna make sure I have all this shit down right from the beginning, so that I don't have to do this next time. So I'm gonna make sure my characters have a really good story. They have a really good strong one. I'm gonna make sure that I have great opposition in my story that I understand, you know, what is what is driving this movie and what the emotional stake is for the reader in the audience. I mean, those things you've got to have.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:35
Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What are three screenplays every screenwriter should read?

Jack Epps Jr. 1:06:41
Chinatown. Robert Towne who I basically interviewed my book, which was great talking about his rewriting process, and I think it really was because everybody's different and but Robert, it's he's really opens up and he's honest guy. It's, it's really amazing. I think that's a great script. And not on old script, but I love it is the apartment. Yep. Oh, yes. Come up a couple times here. Yeah. And I say that because to me, that script had a huge influence and Gemini because the character development, the storytelling, the emotion of it, Billy Wilder and Aiello, diamond are amazing. Just amazing screenwriters. You and I don't, it's always hard to say what is that other one? I'll tell you what's a good one to read? Okay. Read go look for the first draft of goodwill. Honey. Not not the one that got produced? Yeah, go read the first draft, or the first draft of Back to the Future? Hmm. Okay. Because what you see there are two scripts that that don't work too well, they got some real problems, especially back to future. And then you see what they ended up doing through a series of rewrites and needs. It teaches you that, that those guys you know, they didn't hit the ball of the park in the first swing? You know, they barely got the first base. And and it's it's I think the port is read scripts and didn't work. But the movies did because it shows you okay, they really work this they took the idea and and built it out. And they see what works. Oh, I see why this movie works. Now of course. Yeah. How could why were they it seems obviously to have those elements that they weren't there. And that the back the future off? You know, it is the the ending takes place. They had to get to a nuclear power plant to power the car back to get back to the future. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. So it's this whole big thing that goes through this news. There was no clock tower. But But universal said, Guys, we don't have the funds for this. We can't do this. You got to do we got to do it on the standard lot. So they looked at the clock tower, and they said, alright, well, we'll have lightning hit the clock tower. You can't imagine the movie without it. I know that but he wasn't there. And they basically, you know, they just they just were okay, here's how we made it work.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:01
And it gives us hope. When you read when you read scripts like that gives us hope as screenwriters and filmmakers. You're like, look, they look like geniuses. And they are in many ways, but they don't not everyone hits it out. Like no one comes out of the womb, and writes the great American novel or the great American screenplay. It takes work, and even the best ones. I remember Casa Blanca, they were writing it on the on the set,

Jack Epps Jr. 1:09:23
writing on the set. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:25
And it's one of the best screenplays ever written. And it's like they were just trying to figure it out. You know, what looks like genius to us was some some screenwriters in there going, I don't know how we're gonna get to next.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:09:37
You know, I asked Robert Towne. I said, Does it ever get easier? And he said, eff No, no, and he wrote to me is one of the great screenwriters of all time and Robert, you've written all these great things is never easy. You know, it's so I mean, and that's the truth. It is a hard thing to do. But the most important thing is, is that one you're telling a story you you're passionate about. You have characters that that have a story to life going On a crisis at the heart of your movie, and or your TV show, why do we care? What's our emotional state? What does the audience care about? Why is it important for this character to basically achieve their need at the end of the movie, what it is emotionally that they need not only just the physical thing that happened, but what does it mean to them emotionally?

Alex Ferrari 1:10:20
Now, what advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business

Jack Epps Jr. 1:10:23
today? I would say that don't be frustrated, it's going to take time that what you need to do is to read a lot of scripts, see how they work. Make sure you have a support group writers group so that you know you're getting feedback as you're going along. Know when your script is ready, that's a question I get a lot is, when do you know your script is ready? You know, because there's a thing of, I don't want to send it out, I don't want to send it out. I don't want to send it out. Eventually, you have to let it go. Which means that you're telling your story as best as you can, or the feedback you're getting from people and you do need to get feedback. Is it you know? Is it not like to the heart of the story, and then send it out, take the bumps, whatever happens and then start another one? You have to continue? It's not it's not? I've seen so many people I have this one idea. My one idea. No, no, my pitching story is so I go, you know, you try to go pitch ideas, right? So I got the pitch I want to sell. I walk in there, it's my you know, my eight minute pitch. I've got my song and dance routine of doing the whole thing and they go, what else you got? Alright, now I got my three minute pitch. Alright, here's this one. I really like this one. They go Alright, what else you got? I get my thumbnail is 20 seconds ago. I love that one. I mean, so you just don't know what is going to hit. You don't know what's gonna strike the chord. Right? But if you write from your heart, and you write from your passion that will come through as a writer, and it's got to be a good read. This is a reading process. It's got to be a good read. And again, Damien Chazelle is listening to an interview he had on on fresh air. And Robin, I think it's Robin grosses and said, Damien, you did all these sort of horror movies and all these rewrites. What did you learn from that? He said, I learned how to make them turn to the next page. Credit. Is that to me, I CIA? Holes. I got chills because I think he's a cool character. And no, he learned how to hold their attention and make them read to the end. And I thought that's just brilliant and simple and honest.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:31
That's amazing. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Jack Epps Jr. 1:12:39
I think understanding character, understanding what character was and I had a tough stay ahead. here's the here's a story how I learned the meaning of what how to write character and what true character was. This, Andy and I had sold a Kojak and we pitched the idea of a cop who shoots his partner. And we want to get the script screenplay. So we sold the idea for it. Right? Okay, they bought the idea. So we kept going and pitching to the showrunner. Okay, here's what the show is. He goes now I don't like that we can't came back and came back. We never got the script. We didn't get it. We watched Kojak. I watched the hired somebody watch the episode. And it blew me over like like a bolt. Okay, we were pitching plot. This veteran writer wrote story of a character. And the whole episode was about this character, and about his life and about his wife who was having a drug habit. And she was chained to a bed, and he was out there and he kills a partner and his whole life is falling apart. And all we were doing was doing people chasing running around shooting is like, no, the emotional core. That's what character is. And that taught me that I needed the center of my stories to have stories about people and lives that we relate to.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:48
Yeah, and I think and I've said this many times on the show before is that you remember character, you remember Indiana Jones, you remember James Bond, you might not remember all the details of the plots of those films, but you definitely remember those characters. And that's, that's what we're not emotionally attached to plot plot is just a vehicle in my opinion, you're attached to the you're emotionally attached to character, what happens to them, if they're going to make it if they're not going to make it, they're gonna find love, they're not gonna find love, or they're gonna beat the bad guy, or they're gonna beat are they the bad guy, whatever that is. That's what you are attached

Jack Epps Jr. 1:14:21
to. But you still have to have a good plot.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:24
Again, it's a vehicle. It's a it's a vehicle because it's

Jack Epps Jr. 1:14:28
what it's what pulls us through it. But you know, and you have to have isolated you know, cool shit happens. You have to be a part of it's a piece as well, it's sort of it you know, I'm good at set pieces. I love writing set pieces. They're fun to write, I think it's one of the joys of writing action movies is creating thinking of big set pieces. And it's hard to think they're really harder to write than people would think of, because it's all been done. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:49
it was a lot easier in the 50s 60s. To come up with these kinds of things.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:14:53
It's really hard to write something new and so but but if there if we don't care about that person at this center of it. It doesn't matter what happens. Um, it's not about the explosions. It's about the person in the explosions. And we're worried is he going to get out of these motions? and at what

Alex Ferrari 1:15:09
price? Right I mean, drastic Park is about dinosaurs. But we're not emotionally attached to the dinosaurs were emotionally attached to the characters and running around in that park. It's yeah, and I think sometimes I think some sometimes screenwriters get a little bit too uppity when it comes to plot. Like you were just saying with your when you were pitching Kojak.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:15:30
Yeah, yeah. Well, that's it. I mean, you have a tendency to Well, it's funny because you actually have to pitch plot, it's very hard to pitch character, because character development you but you have to have it there. And you tell it, and then you guys say, Okay, here's the story, because I'm looking for what are the events, and then how this person was woven into the story. But it's, that's that's pitching, which is a whole different game in itself.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:51
I've had many episodes about pitching just on pitching alone. And it's always tough. It's an art. It's an art form. It's an absolute art form. And last question, three of your favorite films of

Jack Epps Jr. 1:16:01
all time. Oh, three are favorite films of all time. Okay, well, we already mentioned one, which is the apartment because it just, I saw that when I was really young, and I never could forgive Fred Astaire no matter what made me Fred. About Yeah, no. Okay. All right. So and so I love that movie again. I like Chinatown for how it works and how it weaves? So isn't it? Yeah, it just is one that is, you know, you it's got a great sense of place. In the end, I'll tell you a movie that really had a huge influence on Gemini was the sting. Oh, that makes him ID that makes sense. I mean, yeah, it's because it totally kept you off guard off balance expectations. And the movie just it tricks you so many times. It was really and David S word want to wrote a wonderful script that basically I went to school on June, but we broke that script down every line every just the way it was done.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:59
And do you do you advise that to screenwriters to actually like take structure from other other screenplays and just maybe use it as inspiration to, because if it's been if it's been not storyline, but structure of like, this happens at this point, this happens at this point, and kind of start off, it's kind of like a roadmap a little bit. And it's gonna probably change obviously, as you write it. But I've seen a lot of I mean, if you look at I've said this so many times, if you look at Fast and Furious, it's Point Break, it's Point Break with cars. I mean, that's exactly the same story.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:17:27
Yeah, no, I think the danger is make copies, right? The danger is, I'm going to make a copy of something because I really liked a lot, doing homage to it, you can love it, and have a feeling and tone of it. But you got to tell your own story. And yes, you can learn how we structurally put this type of movie together what have successful movies, I mean, I I'd like to break down and understand how movies work. And and you know, what the core of the storytelling is? So yeah, I mean, absolutely. You can go in I mean, every all art is referenced from something else. But you want to make it yours. And yours is who that character is, what is the story? What's that emotional relationship going on? Because that then makes it yours. I'm not a big believer that this things have to happen on page 30. And page 40. In this sort of, I'm a big, I don't believe in that. There are there we definitely have a three act structure and culture. So as a beginning, middle and end we'd have we definitely have coming out of a first act where a character is thrown into a situation. I believe that I've learned that a mid mid term midpoint Plot Turn is really good. If you have something happened in the middle, it makes your second act easier to write because as a writer, the hardest place to write is the end of the second act. That's that's really hard, you know, easy. First acts are easy. endings are fairly easy. If you know if you set it up well, you can edit. But that big middle is really where it's hard. So you got to keep that middle moving. And that's where that's where I use relationship to keep that middle moving.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:56
But Jack, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to the tribe today and in sharing your knowledge and experience in in your screenwriting journey with us today. So thank you so much, Jack. I truly appreciate it, man.

Jack Epps Jr. 1:19:08
It's been fun. It's been fun chatting with I feel like we've been chatting for a long time. Like, I've known you for a while.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:12
Thank you my friend

Jack Epps Jr. 1:19:15
Pretty comfortable to do.



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IFH 367: Is Die Hard The Greatest Christmas Movie Ever – Yippee ki-yay!

Right-click here to download the MP3

I’m here to finally put to rest one of the greatest cinematic arguments of all time, is Die Hard a Christmas movie? I thought I’d tackle this epic question with my good friend Stephen Follows. In this Special Christmas Edition of the Indie Film Hustle Podcast Stephen and I use data to finally put this debate to rest.

I believe without a shadow of a doubt that Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie of all time. Stephen is not so sure so we go to the data to find out. Stephen wrote an EPIC article about this a while ago where he does what only Stephen does. Below are some of the graphs he created for his dissection of this issue.

“Ok, enough bickering and fighting. Let’s settle this once and for all in the only way I know how – going into a topic in way too much detail. As we prepare to enter the year 32 ADH (a.k.a. After Die Hard), the world is gripped by a constantly nagging question. No, it’s not “Why does everyone call Hans Gruber and his gang ‘terrorists’ when they were clearly bank robbers?” – Stephen Follows

From google trends to actual frames from the film that we see actual Christmas references. We leave no stone unturned in this debate. I promise you after this episode you will be armed to debate and film nerd at the next Christmas party. I wanted to create a fun episode for all the film geeks out there.

For a deeper dive into the data read Stephen’s excellent article: Using data to determine if Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

Enjoy my ridiculous and entertaining conversation with Stephen Follows. And don’t forget to have a Yippee-ki-yay mutha f**king Merry Christmas!

Alex Ferrari 0:04
Now today we have a special special Christmas edition of the indie film hustle podcast because I am here to put to rest once and for all the greatest debate in cinema history is diehard. A Christmas movie. I say yippee ki yes, I believe that diehard is by far the greatest Christmas movie of all time. But other people out in the world. I don't know who these people are. But they believe that it's not even a Christmas movie movie, let alone the greatest of all time. So today we brought on a guest returning champion Steven Follows who if you guys know from my past episodes with him. He is an insane man from England who loves to dig into film industry data to find everything out you can about what's going on in the film industry. So he put this lens this data driven lens on to Die Hard to truly see if the data proves once and for all. That it is a Christmas movie we can debate whether it's the greatest Christmas movie or not. That's another question. And we might talk about a little bit of in this episode. But in this episode, we're going to check the data and see once and for all if diehard is a Christmas movie. Now this is not my normal episode. But I thought it'd be good to have a fun episode every once in a while because there's been a lot of heavy stuff going on over the course of the last six months to a year with the distributor debacle and all sorts of other things going on. And I just wanted to put a little levity into the holidays. So this is a super, super fun episode we are going to geek out so sit back and enjoy my conversation with Steven Follows. I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion Steven Follows How you doing sir?

Steven Follows 4:46
Very well. Thank you. It's nice to know I won on my previous appearances.

Alex Ferrari 4:49
You are. Yes you are. You are a returning champion sir. There's there's a handful. There's a club of guests who get to come back in multiple times on the show. It's a small club, believe it or not, there's not many people that I bring back on the show even after they've been on. But as as continue to grow my numbers as far as episodes are concerned, I gotta keep finding people to come.

Steven Follows 5:12
You've got to find people who want to come back on as well. Because remember, there might have been people who've been on the first time who've gone. You know what? I'm not doing that again?

Alex Ferrari 5:21
I haven't. I haven't I haven't I have not heard that yet. Sir. I hope that never have give you a list. They email me. They email you. Who's this guy? I swear to God. So I wanted to do this kind of special Christmas episode. This is something I've never done in the history of the show before. And it was when we actually came up with this idea. The last time you're on the show after after we were done recording your last episode, which I think I don't know whose idea it was yours or if it was mine. But it was like, Hey, we should do an episode on why Die Hard. argue the point that diehard is the greatest Christmas movie of all time. I'm like, Yes, we need to do this. So shall we? Shall we jump right into it. So what is your head? What is your thesis? In regards to die hard being? The best? I mean, arguably, I mean, I'm not even. I'm not. I mean, there's elf. There is it's a wonderful life. There's many of

Steven Follows 6:15
you jumping in as in like, you're already sentencing the person assuming they're guilty. And yet they have to put up a case there has to be a prosecution. There has to be a defense. Absolutely independent witness and you are absolutely not an independent.

Alex Ferrari 6:29
I'm an independent filmmaker, but not.

Steven Follows 6:32
Yet, Indian indie film hustle has nothing to do with your independence on this topic. Yes. Okay. So Alright, well, yeah, let's not run before we can walk. Is it a Christmas movie? Let's, let's figure that out. And then let's talk about how we might figure out if it's the greatest Christmas movie, if we indeed decided is a Christmas movie, okay, because, believe it or not, that is not the most obvious thing in the world, or at least there are many people who do not believe it is a Christmas movie,

Alex Ferrari 6:58
Including Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis says it's not a Christmas movie. But

Steven Follows 7:02
He says it's a Bruce Willis movie. So I don't think he's he hasn't got a deep thesis there. He doesn't have a very independent point of view either. Talking about Bruce Willis in Bruce Willis movies, yeah, independent isn't the strong word that comes to mind.

Alex Ferrari 7:17
I think I should start. First of all, I think I should start talking about myself in the third person more often. So like, I think Alex Ferrari believes that this is an allegory podcast. So Alex Ferrari believes that it's the best Christmas move for Alex.

Steven Follows 7:29
You're the one person in the film industry who has not been a guest on your own podcast?

Alex Ferrari 7:33
No, I actually, I actually have been a guest on my own podcast I had. I had one tribe, I had a tribe member interview me on my show, because they request he requested like, Can I interview you? For you For the tribe on your show? I was like, Okay, if you want to. So I had Rob Alicia. Come on. And he interviewed me. So yes, I have been a guest on. Alex Ferrari has been a guest on Alex Ferrari.

Steven Follows 8:00
I've been a guest on your show more than you've been a guest on your show, at least. Yes. Yes. Iranian champion. Well, okay. Let me let me start it off by asking you what, I'm assuming you think it's a Christmas movie? Why do you think it's a Christmas movie? What makes it a Christmas movie?

Alex Ferrari 8:13
Well, before we start, I wanna I want to ask you, I want to I want everybody to know if you do not know Steven follows is Stephen. Just because somebody be like, what? Who's this Stephen guy? Was Alex talking to him? Excuse me? Why is Alex Ferrari talking to him? So. So I just want to know Stephen is is probably he is a unicorn in our industry. He there is nobody else like him. There, he does something that nobody else wants to do, nor has the ability to do, which is dig so deep into data for films, that I mean, he's a data cruncher for filmmaker for filmmaking in general, and goes into just obscene minutiae. These reports he puts out on these amazing, amazing reports about filmmaking and horror reports and all this stuff. So I thought that if there's anybody who can put up an argument for this topic, I thought, Steve, it would be a perfect guest. Did I miss anything? So would you like to represent yourself in this nation?

Steven Follows 9:15
Well, you know, normally, my British sense of sort of self effacing ness is just making me go No, no, no, I don't go too deep and stuff. But I'll be honest, even I think I went too deep on this topic. Last Christmas, I kind of got carried away what was was meant to be like, my articles take me half a day at most, maybe some take longer. But then sometimes I build up databases that I can use multiple times. And it feels much more like a hobby. It doesn't take crazy amount of time. This one took a crazy amount of time, because I kept thinking of new threads. And also because I happen to be I don't do huge amount of teaching just because of time, I'd love to do more. But I was talking to a group of ma students in Birmingham. And I had to come up with a topic to talk to them about film data and I wanted to get them interested And I thought, oh, his diehard Christmas movie was the topic, I thought that'd be great because it will allow me to think about movies, as we'll talk about later on in different ways. And so I asked them and then they brought up loads of good threads. And then I've talked to other people. And every time I answered one part of the questions, I'd come up with two other threads. And the only reason that I published the articles in the end was because it was coming close to Christmas. I could still I would still be working on it today if I could, like a year later, so yeah, this time, I did go too deep when I went.

Alex Ferrari 10:32
Okay, so So your first question is, is diehard a Christmas movie is your mission? Alright, so for everybody who is listening who does not know the movie, Die Hard, it is a film that was done in 1988 is an action thriller with starring the legendary Bruce Willis. And arguably This is the movie that made him the legend. This is the one that pretty much launched his career as a action star as as the movie star that we, you know, we know who he is, at this point. He's done other movies, but this was the one that really put them on the map, because he was a romantic star right? He was in before this TV, lighting and also blind date with Kim Basinger in 86 if I'm not mistaken 8687 so he he already kind of started doing some feature work but he was known as a TV actor for for moonlighting. I think he did two or three episodes of that when when that that show was like the show everybody was watching and that's kind of where we were introduced to Bruce. But diehard like I still remember going into the theater in 1988 I'll never forget it and I and I came in late and it was a it was it was already a big blockbuster at the time that I went to go see it was probably a week or two and and everybody was talking about it. This is pre internet pre everything Of course. And I went to the I got in late so I had to go to the front of the theater so I sat like I think in row one or row two, and I just sat there looking up at it which probably affected my impression of the film. And when I saw it I'm like this is like the greatest thing I've ever seen in my life it was just like such and it is it is spot that movie spawned every other kind of movie when it's Die Hard on a ship Die Hard in a plane Die Hard in the sub Die Hard in a hockey rink, Die Hard like if they just use the concept of terrorist taking over something and the lone hero prior to to die hard. I don't know if there was a a film a film a film about something like this specifically with the the you know, the smart cracking detective who was extremely human. He wasn't like, which was also something that stood out about that movie at the time was you know his contemporaries Stallone and Stallone john Claude Van Damme shorts negra these were all muscle bound hyper real human beings they were not the everyday man where Bruce wasn't particularly you know, a huge dude by any stretch he just looked like an everyday guy. And that's also something that stood be stood made this film stand out even more but there's multiple reasons why this film stood out even more so to go back

Steven Follows 13:10
It was it was one year after Lethal Weapon so Lethal Weapon had a very similar vibe a different movie because that was more on the comedy side less on the action in my opinion, both action comedies but this one putting more emphasis on the action and the comedy being important but not the essence isn't this isn't a comedy it's a funny Oh, no. Where is a lethal weapon you could argue is more of a comedy with action. I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 13:32
It's it was a good it was a good run there have amazing films in the 80s that were just some of the best action movies predator diehard Robocop Lethal Weapon lethal weapon to you know the other mother. Welcome, welcome. Well, Kate, let's Okay, let's just calm the hell down here for a second. The other films I listed off in that list were there they're actually really really good films that actually hold up their stories are good. Their commentary like Monday, Okay, stop it. But I my friend, he's dead tired. Oh my god, it was so good. But commando is good for it's kind of commander was good. Like, the room is good. Like it's it's so like, there was cardboard cutouts of people being blown. You know, so it's, it's, it's very interesting. And it's so funny. I actually met one of the stunt guys from Commando. He lives in he lives in the in my area. And I met him on the street. And he's like, yeah, yeah, I've been doing stunts forever. I'm like, well movies up and I was like, Commando. I'm like, Where? Where? Where are you in commando? He goes, I'm the Mall Cop that gets elbowed. And it was a great shot. It was a really good shot. And he's like, yeah, that was me. I'm like, Oh my God. And then we start talking about Fall Guy and all the other shows and movies he did. But anyway, I would. I just asked them about all sorts of stuff about commander. But anyway, this is not the command Yo Yo, this is diehard so.

Steven Follows 15:02
Okay, I have a trivia question for you though Alex. put you on the spot. Go for it. You know what die well the origins of the diehard script?

Alex Ferrari 15:10
Yes, it's it is from a movie adaption from the 1968 book The detective

Steven Follows 15:17
Which is a sequel to what?

Alex Ferrari 15:19
It is a sequel to it was actually wasn't that a movie with Frank Sinatra?

Steven Follows 15:24
Yeah, so the originally there's a book called nothing lasts forever. And then there's a follow up called the detective and then a detective was made into a film with Sinatra. And then Sinatra had the rights to play McClane. And they had to offer this to him. He was 73 at the time, and he turned it down, but there's a part of me. I mean, I want to see that as well as the as the Bruce Willis version. Not in today's please. Yes, please. Yeah, I also we're now in the kind of era of you know, older audiences and movies being remade. Why can't we have the version where we use the technology from stone? You know, you see people but we use a 73 year old Sinatra who's drunk through most of it and we really

Alex Ferrari 16:03
My god, yes. And we have savages. We have Do we have Dean and Sammy in it too? Oh, it'd be fantastic. A Rat Pack diehard fantastic.

Steven Follows 16:11
We can make this between you and me.

Alex Ferrari 16:14
That would be amazing. But yes, that Yeah, that was and that's the funny thing about this movie that that book was no like, it wasn't jaws it wasn't the Godfather. It wasn't this big, best selling situation. There was a specific magic that happened in diehard where the director who arguably for his time was one of the greatest action directors ever john McTiernan who who made diehard and also made the predator or brachyury predator which I still argue is one of the greatest art one of the greatest action films especially that easily in the top three action films of all time. And then you know he made I think that hard three as well which is you know, the next best one I think in the in the in the run to was to was horrible. We don't talk about too we don't talk about too I enjoyed for though I did enjoy for it that that was an interesting an interesting submission into the but then it would completely went off the rails,

Steven Follows 17:12
Which is the one where he takes down a helicopter with a car

Alex Ferrari 17:16
that would be I think that might be four but I know he took down a Harrier jet in fourth with a car I think that was one of them. And so yes, it was a little but the but the script was so well written like it was a really good script, and they just threw john McClane in it like it was it was a pre existing script that they rewrote as a die. Whoa, yeah, it was cool. Like it was something that was a meltdown wasn't it? It was Yeah, it was attack it was a cyber attack. Yeah, so it was it wasn't an official diehard film but they just like well, this is a die hard when this pajama clean in it and that's the end of it. So that was a really good one as well. But But back to the original back to the original on on diehard. Why do I think it is a Christmas movie? Well, first off, it takes place during Christmas, which does not automatically added into the into the list of Christmas movies. But that helps. Because could you kiss Kiss Bang Bang? Is that a Christmas movie? You know any? Basically it's Lethal Weapon a Christmas movie? Because it was during Christmas? There's still the 80s Yeah, because I think there's a lack it was seemed like he did mostly

Steven Follows 18:22
Exactly. I think it's kind of I don't know, I don't want to be I don't mean this in a mean way. But it's a lazy irony, you know, the happiest time of the year where the status things are happening. It's got a natural ticking clock. It's got like something visual. So the reason for choosing Christmas is not inherent in the story. It's inherent in the medium. It's you know, action films work better at Christmas. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 18:42
there and I think you know, I think lethal weapon was one of the I don't know, it's I can't say it was one of the first that was one of the first times I remember Christmas being a thing. But even then Christmas was not a main focus of the lethal weapons stored. I mean, there was is elements in the background while diehard has a lot of iconography. That is really Christmas. There's dialogue. Whoa, whoa, whoa, there's the Christmas tree. There's the Christmas hats. There's it was just there's a lot more Christmas in diehard than there isn't a movie like lethal weapon. In my opinion, though,

Steven Follows 19:18
You'd have to worry about your opinion, because I actually counted all the references and I'll talk about that, of course. You just sort of remembering things. I've got the stats. I've even got the timecode anyway, do you see?

Alex Ferrari 19:29
Do you see it? Do you see what I'm talking about people do you see what

Steven Follows 19:31
I'm talking about? I want to interrogate this further. So your argument it's a Christmas movie comes down at least in one part that you said it wasn't the whole argument but there you get some points some Christmasy points. Yeah, that being said around Christmas and having some Christmas elements All right, what else makes it what what tips over the edge and actually makes it a Christmas movie rather than just a movie that happens around Christmas time?

Alex Ferrari 19:52
Well, there is a there is a redemption of of the main character. There is a there is a I feel that redemption of the of the main character with the relationship with his wife, which is really kind of brings a family together at the end, where at the beginning, there was no family. So like there was they were divorced, they didn't like each other. But then past all of that, it was this experience that brings them very close together. And it brings the family back together, you know, so I thought that was a really nice way of

Steven Follows 20:25
That's nice. But come on, let's do that. We need to be a bit more empirical about this. Like, there are so many movies that do that. I mean, and there are so many movies where people do get together and it could have been a Christmas movie. They didn't they, if they hadn't got together at the end, it wouldn't be any less of a Christmas movie with it.

Alex Ferrari 20:40
Well, no, it wouldn't be of less of a Christmas movie. But you know, there's also that whole, you know, okay, Christ like and then oh the Christ Christ like sacrifice, if you will that john McClane by walking on broken glass. And, you know, if you want to start going deep into it, we can go deep.

Steven Follows 20:57
No, no, if we're gonna go deep, I don't think the Passion of the Christ is on a par with that bit where she says shoot the glass. Like, I mean, I like the scene. The level of suffering, can we at least agree is not comparable?

Alex Ferrari 21:12
No, obviously, obviously. But I would argue that diehard is much more of a Christmas movie.

Steven Follows 21:19
Now listen, look, we're gonna we're gonna take this seriously enough, so far, you've only got one reason I'm willing to even allow in, which is it has Christmas elements, the other reasons to generic assistant, you know, but also

Alex Ferrari 21:31
But also, there's a very heavy use of Christmas music in it, which is something very, very heavy use of it from the end that from the opening to the end through I think throughout a little bit, they there's some sort of, but there's like, a god, there's so many different, like, you know, like, Whoa, whoa, whoa. And it's like the, when they when they kills the one on the terrorists, it puts the Santa hat on them. And there's just so much of that kind of like really, really tipping their hat toward the Christmas thing that I found it, you know, it just makes okay. That's that's one elements of it.

Steven Follows 22:09
So you've got Christmas songs, and you've got it being set at Christmas. All right, is that the is does the prosecution rest or if you have other evidence?

Alex Ferrari 22:19
Well, so I'm gonna say, I'd love this. This is great.

Steven Follows 22:22
I'm not letting you get away with this. Because I'm not saying it's not I just want you to make a cogent argument so that we can

Alex Ferrari 22:27
Okay, so there's Christmas on its merits. Alright. So there's Christmas music. There is a lot of Christmas references in the movie. There's a lot of tips of the hat to Christmas, regarding dialogue regarding action in the movie that is around Christmas. So it's not just a background element, like a Christmas tree in the background. So there's, there's a bit of that there's a bit of that as well. And it and then there is the whole, I mean, just to add it on as a cherry on top, this kind of bringing together of the family after added out of it as well. So I think that, in my opinion, and then also just the bottom line is I enjoy watching it at Christmas time. So there's a lot of Christmas movies that people watch at Christmas time that aren't particularly Christmas movies. Interesting. Interesting. So, so it's

Steven Follows 23:17
Talking about the perception of it as well then. Okay, that makes sense. Okay, I have a couple of questions. I would like to ask the witness. Yeah. I love it. So we've established that the film came out in 1988. What month did it come out?

Alex Ferrari 23:33
It was I think was September was it? No, no was it was it September around that time?

Steven Follows 23:37
July? It was July. Summer in February in the UK February 89. So not Christmassy. Now, obviously you can get from Christmas. The poster? What Christmas Christmas Christmas elements were on the poster? None. None. Okay. And the tagline Well, you know, like okay, so you've got the Polar Express the tagline is this season believe, you know Krampus You better watch our elf this holiday discover you're an elf. What was the tagline for diehard

Alex Ferrari 24:05
40 stories of sheer adventure, sir. So not very Christmassy then Well, no, not very Christmassy at all. But that's the thing that is so wonderful about it because if you sold it as a Christmas action movie, which I don't think I don't remember of a film being sold that way you lead with the action and the Christmas is a bonus sir.

Steven Follows 24:27
So hold on, hold on. You've gone from the definitive Christmas movie two Christmas is purely a bonus.

Alex Ferrari 24:33
Oh no, no, no, no, no wait a minute. Don't use my words against me sir. Do not use my words against me sir. I do still believe it is a definitive Christmas movie because for me, I watch it during Christmas. So a lot of people can watch predator during Christmas and my find it to be Christmassy I don't know why but they might. There is certain elements with it because of the music. So the music and the in the kind of call outs to Christmas in the movie. During Christmas time make sense this movie gained its real popularity on home video. It did not. It was a big hit at the theater. But where it really took off, because of the time period that it came out in was rentals, video stores, and cable, just like Terminator and Lethal Weapon and those movies of that time period. That's how it became such a roaring success just because of that.

Steven Follows 25:27
I thought for a second that you and you didn't. So I'm not accusing you of this, but I thought for a second one of your reasons was going to be the people gave it to each other as Christmas presents.

Alex Ferrari 25:35
No, I don't think I don't think I think it's one of those. I think it's it's not it's not an overtly Christmas movie, meaning that it's not going Wait a minute. Wait a minute. No, no, no, no, no. This is for me. I for me, it is a it is a definitive Christmas movie for me. And for many people that I know of, because it's obviously a thing because we're talking about it. But it is not. I mean, maybe you give it as a friend a gift to a friend at Christmas time and only somebody that understands the inside. You know, joke a bit of it will go Oh, I get it. This is of course a Christmas movie. It's not so. So it's a secret Christmas movie, but it's clearly it's a secret. It's a It's a secret Christmas movie. That is the definitive Christmas movie, sir.

Steven Follows 26:25
Wow, I do hope you are never defending me in court. Oh, boy, this horrible. As a Christmas present to you, Alex. Yes. And assuming that you may get into further debates, because I get the sense you are the kind of person that has these conversations. Off mic as well. Oh, yeah. Let me help you. Because there are a few things that you perhaps could have

Alex Ferrari 26:47
Used in my defense?

Steven Follows 26:48
Yes, brought into the record and you haven't. Okay, so let me help you. This is my present to you. And then maybe at the end, we can we can test your argument for other people. So, alright, so this is I love this, because this is such an interesting question. Because it makes us think about what is a movie? Like? What is the concept of a movie? Like? And also you touched on it before? Like, is it the cultural understanding of it? Is it we're in it? So I think there are three different ways that you can think of a movie. It's our, to like culture, you know, like it's, so it's a it's a creative thing. It's a it's a piece of art, the visual the audio, the 90 minutes, or however long it is that that's something we could look at. And that's what we talked about. There's secondly, there's the commercial side of it, like, how is it sold? How is it marketed? You know, what, what is Fox? Think of it? And then the last one is the cultural one, where it's the movie is the story of the story, if you will, like it's what we think about it and the perception. Exactly, and and that can shift like the movie can't shift, because it is a fixed movie, unless you're George Lucas. But other than that the movie is fixed, right? But the commercial side of it that shifts but then again, we all know that they'd stick anything I mean, you can get Whoa, whoa, hold on T shirts for Game of Thrones. So let's not, you know, the Christmas side of the commercial part is not the definition. But the cultural stuff shifts. So um, let's let's start with easy one. Let's start with the one that you were talking about before. So I counted all the words in the script. Take a guess how many times the word Christmas comes up?

Alex Ferrari 28:17
Christmas comes up? I don't know. Let's say 20 times maybe

Steven Follows 28:25
18. Okay, yes. Okay. So that that is more times than the words explode, Die Hard, shoot kill or blood, but it is fewer than the words gun, the word gun comes up 73 times that makes sense. And also interestingly, if you want to talk about like how the how you could look at a script and determine the genre, the word suddenly comes up 45 times so it shows that there are reveals and you know moments and it's not a slow pace drama, in other words, suddenly is quite important to it. Anyway, okay, so yeah, Christmas is quite a lot. There's a lot of Christmas in there. There's also a matter of reference where they're talking about whether the song Christmas and the holidays by Run DMC is Christmassy enough,

Alex Ferrari 29:06
but it's another argument to be had I actually believe Yeah,

Steven Follows 29:10
yeah, Christmassy it's matter. Okay, so, the one of the writers Steven D'Souza said it is it is awake is a Christmas movie. He said, if it's if this isn't a Christmas movie, then White Christmas isn't a Christmas movie. Which by the way, if you've ever re watched is absolutely horrific, like Holiday Inn and movies like that, that we think of as classics. I went to go and see one years ago like they did a rerun in theaters a Christmas and so as they mulled wine and mince pie, and I'm sitting there watching those on a day I watch this like old classic Bing Crosby Christmas movie. And then there's a sequence in it where they all black up and dance. And you're like, yeah, wait, what? Yeah, what what's going on? Like I didn't and you just, I was there on a date. I brought wine. It did not look good. Anyway, so yeah. Official References 21 distinctive Christmassy elements, Santa hats, Christmas trees, a piece of Christmas greetings tape, which, I mean, I was about to say spoilers but if you're listening to this, I mean you and you haven't seen it. We haven't spoiled your life. You've sport your life. The tape with the gun on his back? Yeah, yeah, yes. Okay, so that helps, right.

Alex Ferrari 30:27
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. You mentioned

Steven Follows 30:38
songs. So, I, I used this is where I'm embarrassed the level I did go to so I looked at a database of, of songs that are in movies and references and I pulled loads of different databases together. And I tried to look at how many movies have Christmas songs and how much don't and, and but 95% of movies don't have any Christmas songs. And so between you know, the diehard is more Christmassy than something like 99.2% of movies released over the last 30 years just from the music alone because he got Christmas and the holidays winter wonderland Jingle bells, let it snow, all that stuff. So as a piece of art, yeah, probably quite Christmassy. Probably quite Christmassy. Although that said, Do you know the number one song cross all movies know the number one Christmas song that's in the most number of Christmas movies.

Alex Ferrari 31:31
I'm going to guess Jingle Bells.

Steven Follows 31:34
It is jingle bells. Jingle Bells is not a Christmas song. It was written for Thanksgiving.

Alex Ferrari 31:39
Yeah, it is. You're right. Absolutely. There's nothing Christmassy about it. Exactly.

Steven Follows 31:43
And yet, that's the most Christmas song. So we're already discovering that. Every time we when we lose, there is an underbelly of lies among.

Alex Ferrari 31:53
So are you so arguing that point that there's so much Christmas music and music is such a very powerful indicator of the tone that you want to set with a movie? Can we agree on that?

Steven Follows 32:06
Well, I would go one further, I'd say it's more deliberate. If you sent a movie at Christmas time, you have to have Christmas decorations in the background, because that's just the nature of it. Right? If you have more and more of them, it doesn't mean it's more Christmassy it just means it was set a Christmas in the same way. He's wearing the same, you know, trousers the whole time. He that doesn't change because it's set on the same night. But the songs that's deliberate. And that's very thought through and it's done in the edit, and they have many more choices. So I would argue as evidence of art, it's a stronger piece of evidence than the set dressing.

Alex Ferrari 32:37
Yeah. And there was another movie of that time period called Cobra, starring Sylvester Stallone, that also took place during Christmas time for no apparent reason. And you watch that movie, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas or Christmas time. And like even though there is a Christmas element to it and everything. It was just kind of jammed in there for no reason it does not incorporate in the story. I don't even think they make a reference to it in the movie. I was just actually watched it the other day. And I was just like this is well, first of all, it's absolutely amazing. But secondly, I mean, it's no commando seriously. I mean, come on. Listen, all I got to do is when I saw commando, how many of us went out and just I mean, it was just such a cool movie. I can't say I'm sure it does not I'm sure it does not age well. And if I watched it today, I'd be going What the hell is this? So there's certain movies, like Bloodsport, I can't watch. I don't want to watch Bloodstone watch it just remember it is your version is so much but my version of it is fantastic. I might want I actually fast forward to some of the action sequences. I'm like, Oh my god, they're just so lame. Or tame comparatively to what is going on today, but at the time, Oh, fantastic. Anyway,

Steven Follows 33:52
let's move on. Alright, so So talking about like the second way of thinking about movies as a commercial product. And as we talked about, it came out in July it's got nothing Christmassy on the poster. Nothing Christmassy on the on the liner and it basically Fox clearly did not think it was a Christmas movie at the time. There is absolutely they didn't and the fact that they're selling Christmas specials now it says more about their marketing opportunity marketing opportunity opportunism than it does about anything inherent in the movie. So if our Yeah, probably a Christmas movie, cult crate. Commercial? No, definitely not. So not looking good for Christmas, right? So we've got this last lens to look through, which is culture. So I thought about this and I was trying to think about how could you measure our perception of the movie and I came up with more ways and actually came up with another one that after I published the article, which annoyed me because I could have made it longer, but anyway, maybe I'll do a director's cut another time. And so I thought okay, why don't I look at IMDb lists. So any user for free who's got an account with IMDb can set up a list and say in Name the list anything they want, and then link any movies to it, right? So you could say, favorite action movies from the 80s or whatever. So I found all the lists that had anything to do with Christmas, which is just over 2000 and I looked at all the movies that were on these lists. So my question to you Alex is what movie was the most cited movie on? lists about Christmas?

Alex Ferrari 35:24
I mean, either like l for home alone or something like that. I'd imagine Oh, yeah, home

Steven Follows 35:28
alone is number one. elf is number two. Okay, that's pretty damn good. It's funny because home alone again very Christmassy but not so much like the core story is not about Christmas. It's obviously made the ironies made stronger that he's lonely at Christmas and he hasn't got his family and whatnot. But it's not like alpha alphas are really quit or the Santa Claus real Christmas.

Alex Ferrari 35:48
Those Yeah, those are specific you know, mythologies of regarding Christmas and stuff. So home alone, I'm this is an interesting, this is an interesting topic now. So home alone, which is I also consider a very high list Christmas movies, something I watch every year. My other favorite is family, man, but we'll get into that later. But Wow. Yeah, we haven't got time to get through all your issues that I said that I love. I love the family, man. I was Nick Cage at Christmas. I mean, come on. Boy, you can cut you can cut this out before it goes. No, no, no, no, this is good. This is going in and I had the writer so I had the writers of the family man on the show, sir. And I just geeked out for 30 minutes. But that's all Oh, I didn't realize they were writers. I thought it was all improvised. Oh, wow. Do you buy Do you buy the haterade by the case or the pallet sir. So um, so this is an argument to be made with home alone. Home Alone is your right does not have a specific story specifically does not include Christmas as far as like you could take that story and put it in the summer for a summer vacation. And it's in the movie plays. But because of the Christmas because of the the left at home at Christmas time with the snows out. There's not a lot of people. And then also all the Christmas imagery and all the stuff that regarding Christmas in that it is considered a Christmas movie and sold as a Christmas movie. If I'm not mistaken. It was sold as a it came out of Christmas time. And I think even the poster had he was wearing a Christmas sweater. So it was a Christmas movie were diehard, obviously was not in that sense all that

Steven Follows 37:26
way. Oh, in that sense. You're right. I mean, I think you're right. If you took home alone, and you made it into a summer holiday movie, I think he would be less effective, the story would still hold up but it'd be less than it would be less dramatic because the irony wouldn't be there. Whereas diehard set in July, you wouldn't miss it. You wouldn't think of it. I mean, obviously if you've seen the motion Now you might say it's missing that extra little touch but I still think diehard set in July would still be a damn good movie, whereas I think home alone is set in July's is.

Alex Ferrari 37:54
Right. So and then let so let me let me throw this argument out at you. Do you believe that if you take Die Hard out of the Christmas time, because of our cultural attachment to Christmas, what that means culturally to us family, which means about family being together. And the two main the two character the main character and his wife are separated at the beginning and are brought together at the end. Does that have the same emotional impact that it would in July then it would that it would have in December? Maybe not

Steven Follows 38:29
July? But let me make you two counterfactuals one it could happen on Valentine's Day. That would be more effective.

Alex Ferrari 38:34
Because you know for romance, yes, but I'm talking about family there's a difference and that's true. It's I'm not talking about romance. I'm talking because there's no romance. There's very little very little romance in that movie, they kiss at the end and that's pretty much it. But he buys her a bed I mean what's more romantic than he does by her bear but that's the end you know, but in all honesty though, it's about bringing a family back together. And I think that family aspect of it means a lot more because it's Christmas time there is a there's a basically I feel that Christmas is another character in that movie without that character I don't know if it's as impactful is a still a kick ass action movie absolutely but there's this this layer it's a kind of like a tapestry diehard where it just you know that Christmas layer really just adds to the flavor it's a seasoning that makes the movie all the all that much better. I mean Same thing with I mean arguably Same thing with Lethal Weapon lethal weapon in the summer like obviously I think in lethal weapon to what didn't they didn't take place at Christmas time did it and might have I don't remember that's not a good side. But Lethal Weapon one did take place during Christmas. And it added a little extra something at that time, even though it's not as nearly as heavy handed as it wasn't diehard.

Steven Follows 39:52
Well, what I think is pretty sad is that you know you can talk about families and obviously there are literal families but then there's also you know, friends, you could argue that The limo driver and they all become like a fan. Yes about the group again. They might have been literal family, they certainly would have planned this. They've been through lots of things before this. Like that's the movie I want to see diehard from the group his point of view, like a sad story of lack of redemption. It's like conair you know the story. What's, what's his name Ed Harris's character plays. I want to see a version like

Alex Ferrari 40:24
Aaron's man, first of all, Ed Harris is not in there. It's the rock, sir.

Steven Follows 40:30
Sorry, rock, the rock. I'm thinking of like the beginning opening scene where he's putting a medal on the rain on it.

Alex Ferrari 40:36
I'm gonna, I'm gonna divert for Chuck, because you brought it up. I'm gonna divert for one second from our diehard conversation because I need to put this out there. Do you agree with this thesis? I believe that regardless, do you like Michael Bay or not? I think he's still one of the one of the great action directors of the modern era. Without question unquestionably.

Steven Follows 40:58
I mean, it doesn't mean everything he's done is perfect. No, he definitely has defined a genre. He's defined a style. He's got a very clear, visual way of telling a story, which isn't everybody's taste, but it is. It is our it he is he has a voice.

Alex Ferrari 41:10
Now, would you? Would you agree with my thesis that after the rock came out because he did bad boys first, and bad boys had elements of it, but I think he really honed into something with the rock, and then Armageddon afterwards, which is kind of like the commando of it's dead. But but not the rock, the rock is and actually, the rock is an actually fantastic, wonderfully Active Directory is written with the 90s. It was wonderful. But do you agree that that from that point on every other director, action director was chasing Michael Bay Area, you could start seeing a shift in the way action movies were directed and produced after the rock and you could see it clearly with films right after the rock because everyone started doing that same thing happened with Tony Scott. When Tony Scott showed up, action movies changed like when when Tony Scott started doing action movies, everyone was like well, I guess this is the way we do it. And Tony and Michael have that you can see that they went to the same school but they have different different flavors without question. But yeah, we're just going down we're going down a little rabbit hole I don't want to go too deep but I just wanted to kind of bring that let's let's Yeah, let's

Steven Follows 42:21
go let's get back on track. Let's talk about this. Let's not talk about frivolous things. So I talked about how diehard shows up. Also, I didn't tell you where it shows up so diehard shows up in the like some of the most cited movies, it's the 22nd most cited Christmas movie, but what's interesting is I haven't got the data of when people added it but I would guess that if I did the research again this year or in a few years time it would be moving up the list and I don't know if it'll ever knock off home alone or elf but there are loads of movies in there that I think it would it's become more Christmassy.

Alex Ferrari 42:58
So then in time as time has gone on it is that in that concept of it being a Christmas movie it is actually becoming more of a Christmas movie purely by the culture society and the fan actually.

Steven Follows 43:10
And that's and that's what's so fascinating is that the movies themselves the actual movie that they've celluloid the images in the audio don't change but our perception of them change massively and so there are movies that you know whether it be Birth of a Nation some of our minds you know, things that we push away and there are other things that we pull towards us and they got undiscovered classics you know so I had a look at you can anyone can have a look at the page views for any Wikipedia page so I went and had a look at like the page views for films like Lethal Weapon Raiders The Lost Ark Seven Samurai aliens, and they've got they're all their views are spread out pretty much evenly across the year. And then I had a look at films like elf Home Alone Love Actually the Polar Express and almost, you know half of all their views are in December. So then that where does diehard fit so what was so fascinating it's it's it's almost exactly halfway between the two, about 25% of all the views to the diehard Wikipedia page are in December. So it does have that skew. By

Alex Ferrari 44:11
the end January I'm imagining as well in

Steven Follows 44:13
January as well, which is unusual because most Christmas movies January's is really not important. But for diehard it actually kind of is. But then the big one, the one that kind of nailed it for me where I was like, Okay, I can see what's happening here is I looked at the Google Trends data for the word diehard. And so over the last sort of 15 years or so you see these big spikes, when they have 4.0. And the good data they have came out that's not relevant. But other than that, if you look at the spikes, you can see an increasing spike around Christmas. Each year. It's growing in size. And so what's happening is if regardless of whether you think diehard, a diehard was a movie, a Christmas movie when it was made, maybe you do today, but it almost definitely will be in 510 years, maybe two years to the speed the culture changes. So Die Hard. is becoming a Christmas movie, regardless of whether it was or wasn't. So it might have been, it probably is now, but it definitely will be in the future. Which is amazing because we're living through this cultural shift. And even the fact that this is a legitimate question, you know, no one's asking if Alien is a Christmas movie. It's not taking up anyone's time. No one's doing podcasts about it, no one's doing data analysis. So the very fact that we're talking about it proves that it's culturally relevant to Christmas, which I think is amazing. It just really shows you movies are what we think they are, when and like you said, actually, one thing she said the beginning, which I gave you some stick for, but actually is a pretty solid answer, which is, it is to me, and that's what that's how culture works. You know, culture is, can be defined as the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves. And so if that's a story that you tell yourself about Christmas for you, then it is true for you and increasing numbers of people are doing that. So that's brilliant.

Alex Ferrari 45:53
No without without question, and as we continue to go through if you go throughout cinema history, there's movies that find their audience or find their thing later in life. I mean, Shawshank Redemption, which I've I've in nauseum have spoken about on the show, being one of the greatest movies I've ever seen. It's probably in the top of my list is my favorite movie of all time. And we could do an entire podcast about just the structure contemporary, which I'm not sure if there's a there's a Christmas movie, that's obviously it's a Christmas movie. No, no, but that but how a movie like which is the worst marketing of all time called The Shawshank Redemption, how that still gets for like, I don't know, seven Oscar nominations. It did horribly in the movie theater. But then all of a sudden, over time, it overtook the Godfather on IMDB is the greatest, most highly rated movie of all time. And how is that happened because of perception over time. Same thing happens with the room when the room first showed up, you know, Tommy was so his masterpiece. He, you know, that showed up? And everyone's like, this is ridiculous. But slowly the perception of it was like, This is so bad that it is genius.

Steven Follows 47:03
And yeah, sorry. Go ahead. Go ahead. Well, I think this is because we're living in this age now, where social media and all this stuff is we get so much more news, so much more culture, we're living in a time where we're seeing cultures shift in a way that they always shifted. Obviously, we don't not still living in the Victorian era. But they did it sort of imperceptibly every now and then there'll be a moment a war, or a particular event or something that would remind people things have changed, you know, but actually, we're seeing it almost in real time. If you think about me, too, and things like that. You think about how people look back. I mean, what people were doing in the past, there was a defense that someone had on the news recently about Boris Johnson was accused of touching the knee of a journalist, and his defense was it was 20 years ago. Well, that's not a very good defense. But what he's saying is the culture has shifted, I'm not defending him at all I'm saying we can feel it shifting, and diehard. Using the example of Shawshank and the Godfather. Both those movies were locked in time, By the mid 90s. Both of them have not a single frame has changed. And yet the the general agreement about which is better, although, obviously a false binary choice, because they don't, they don't have to have a winner. But if we, you know, in the sense that we have to, then that's changed. It hasn't got better, it hasn't got worse, our understanding has changed. And I find that absolutely wonderful. I find it was so interesting, because it keeps movies alive, you know, and it also says that no one person can decide, you know, as much as we're joking, no one person gets to say it is or it isn't even Bruce Willis doesn't get to say it is or it isn't we we dismissed his opinion pretty damn quickly.

Alex Ferrari 48:41
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Steven Follows 48:42
Because it's about shared culture. And I think that's the joy of movies is that we can share the same experience we can share different experiences of when we saw the movie and how we saw it. And also, like we said, going back and watching old videos in the 80s perhaps don't do that other movies you overlooked and I mean, I remember as a film student, skipping out of being very sort of not so much smart but very pleased. I had got an afternoon off because I snuck out instead of watching brief encounter, and then as an adult, discovering it re watching it again, this isn't one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. This is beautiful, and then realizing that the film hadn't changed, but my readiness to watch it, my understanding of it. And perhaps if I had been forced to watch it, maybe I never would have rediscovered I would have remembered it as something different or whatever. And so that's fascinating.

Alex Ferrari 49:27
Well, it's exactly what happens with every single Kubrick film ever made. When it first comes out people don't understand it or don't accept it or every single one of his movies had some sort of real negative you know, attachment to it like when they when Eyes Wide Shut showed up. Everyone's like this is the worst of his career, blah, blah, blah, then 10 years later, oh, it's a masterpiece. Because of perceptions because of the way things are look like for me personally when I saw Eyes Wide Shut. When I first came out in 99. I walked out of the theater with my other film my film snob for And then go, what do you think? And I'm like, I don't know what it means I will in about 10 years, I had enough self awareness to know that like, I don't get it right now, but I will in about 10 or 20 years. And that's exactly what happened. 10 years later, 1012 years later, 15 years later, I watch it again after I was married, man. And I was like, Oh, I understand what he was trying to sit here. Like, oh, I guess.

Steven Follows 50:22
So what movies of the last couple of years do you think to for either a revival? Or? For a? I mean, like at the time diehard came out, it would be kind of laughable. In fact, I think it would be incredibly incredulous to say, it's gonna be on people's list of Christmas movies, correct. Whereas now it doesn't. So what movies in the last couple of years, do you think a Jew for a reimagining?

Alex Ferrari 50:41
Jeez, that's a great question. Um, it's like, there's certain there's certain, you know, there are certain films that hit you at a certain time in your life, where there's a nostalgia to it, you need to give the time you need to give it time to marinate over over minette over a few just a couple years, I would have this argue maybe 510 years later, where you can go, oh, there's a nostalgic aspect of it. So you know, someone watching lethal weapon or Die Hard for the first time today would not have the impact of me watching it in 1988, before any other media had done anything like those two films did at the time. You know, when predators showed up, there was nothing like that. When aliens showed up, there was nothing like that ever made prior. Now, it's been like the matrix when you watch the matrix for the first time in 1999, in a movie theater, your entire right now you're talking

Steven Follows 51:43
like if I didn't understand. I mean, it wasn't that I was confused. It was like, What was that?

Alex Ferrari 51:49
No, it was. Okay. So that's, that's a movie that, you know, that's an argued argument that needs reimagining which they are actually going to go back into the matrix world. We'll, we'll see what happens with that. But, you know, when I saw the matrix in 99, when it came out in the movie theater, your mind explodes. Now you sit there today, and you show it to somebody who has never seen the matrix, it doesn't have the same impact, because it's been ripped off so much, that it seems tame. But at the moment that it was released, it was so powerful, that those vibrations are still hitting us today. The waves of that, that, that that movie still affect cinema into until this very day. So that's there's a difference between I think, you know, pulling going back in time, like you watch Pulp Fiction, I saw Pulp Fiction in the theater while I was in film school, and said, Oh, my God, what the hell just happened, as most people did when they saw that movie, where now you go back to it, like it's a good movie. But it doesn't seem as powerful as it did then, because it's been so ripped off. And now we have so much more reference to Quentin Tarantino. And his dialogue and the way he did it, but at the time, that was mind blowing, The Exorcist when it showed up. People were fainting in the theaters, people were being pulled out. Well, there's a there's a really good example, because I saw the exorcist when it was released must have been late 90s or somewhere that and there was a lot of talk at the time about it being a very scary movie. And yes, yes. Loads report about that. And I was going to see it in the cinema. And I remember my mum saying something like,

Steven Follows 53:31
she wasn't exactly warning me and she she's not at all prudish. She was just making sure that I knew it was a really scary movie. And I and I was like, Yeah, I know. And I watched it. And I remember thinking, what is this? I there's nothing here. And then when I re watched it for a few years later, I was like, this is a piece of art. This is a brilliant film. Oh, it's so the problems. The problem was I was I was queued up for it to be a terrifying thing. And and to me as a teenager, it just it wasn't because that wasn't what terrifying was at the time.

Alex Ferrari 54:00
Yeah, but in 1973, or whenever it came out, it just it broke every single, you know, cultural Moray at all. I mean, it was just completely like a little girls pea soup. It's all this guy. Yeah. It was exorcism. It was it was much simpler time that movie is tame in today's world

Steven Follows 54:20
complete. Well, this would be my this is my argument why we should ban trailers. Hmm. Well, I mean, obviously, that listen, it's not an exact plan. It's Christmas. No, but genuinely, I used to watch all the trailers I used to read all the film magazines. I was really kind of a film geek and certainly as a kid, but it was there was the internet but not really in certain not the way it is. Now. There's certainly no kind of community that the way you have now. And I stopped doing it very consciously in my late teens, because I realized that every bit of the best bit of every movie, every joke, every explosion, I already saw. And so by definition, the only things that were left were less than that, you know, by deftly Initially, I can only be disappointed. So I stopped watching them as much as I could, you know, which pretty much meant just not, I don't close my eyes when they're in the cinema. But that tends to be pretty soon they're going to they're going to be out, as opposed to these long lead times you have nowadays. And it massively improves my understanding of movies, I don't know what quite what to expect. And obviously, I still pick up the hype, and I still get a sense of the reviews without reading them, because people put the stars in the headlines, but you still, you feel like you're keeping the best of it. So you can discover it as much as you can for yourself.

Alex Ferrari 55:32
I do that I do that every time. There's a huge movie that I want to see like Avengers end game. I didn't watch any trailers for that. I don't think the star the Star Wars movies, like I try not to watch anything of it purely because it was just like, I just want to, I just want to be surprised when I'm in there. And it's, you know, and you have to rush out opening weekend. If not, you can't go on social media, because everything's gonna be ruined for you within a matter of minutes after the movie. But like, you know, to argue about, like the exorcist, because I remember watching The Exorcist when I was in high school, as well as in the in the 80s. And I watched it. And I watched it with the lights on in the middle of the day. Because I was I was I was told it was so terrifying. And I mean, it is a scary movie. No question. Oh, yeah, no doubt, I didn't know that. It's a scary movie. It's not like terrified, like the movie that terrified me. And still, like, I've watched it a million times. So it doesn't have the same impact, but still gets under my skin is the shining. Like you watch. You watch the shining. It's the music. And there's a specific reason why there's those four notes. I saw a whole documentary on just the four notes that he uses, and why to use and everything that regards to death and everything like that. But that the music, the environment, the performances, it's just eerie. It just gives you like the Emmy jeebies on a psychological level, not on a because arguably, the imagery is not terrifying. No, it really isn't. It's like it's the suspense. It's the, you know, at all. It's everything all thrown in together. It's Well, let

Steven Follows 57:12
me let me ask you, then I think I've missed this is just a personal theory. You'll be disappointed here. I have no data to back this up. I maintain that there are only two films, a horror film is made for children. And I think they were made around the similar. I don't know the exact time but there's similar sort of time certainly in the history of film. What would you say? horror films made for children? Oh, God. It's not like Hotel Transylvania. It's not anything that uses the Halloween aesthetic, because that's not horror.

Alex Ferrari 57:41
No, no, no. What age group are we looking at? Oh, I

Steven Follows 57:45
think children I think, you know, sort of five to 12. Wow. Man, I

Alex Ferrari 57:51
mean, other than maybe some Harry Potter films that are you can argue, oh, that dog the last couple with so many children died? Well, I mean, it's a prisoner. Prisoner of Azkaban still my favorite of all the Harry Potter films. And that's a pretty dark I mean, that's when the the soul sucking guys. I forget what they're called. They come out. Yeah. dementors. I mean, it's pretty intense. It's an intense.

Steven Follows 58:13
That's not what I was thinking of. But you're absolutely right. That stuff is meant to be for kids. But I mean, I don't know how kids can maybe kids are completely fine and was just as adults. But yes, you're absolutely right. I take your point that that's certainly a darker series than I think anyone would have expected. For me, the two that I was thinking of are Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And actually Chitty Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, because I will agree with Willy Wonka. So Willy Wonka, they increasingly get they get killed in a way that you would in slasher horror, one by one. The foreign ones get first, you know, first, creepy and weird and then there's that tunnel sequence with the rival. And then there's the just like, the whole thing is just that basically they're in the woods with a mad person they think is killing people and people are dying one by one. And then they're these weird small people who seem to be like one of us, one of us, but two different lyrics. Like Yes, that's a horror movie. And then Tennessee's you. Bang Bang. The child snatcher is the most terrifying concept for children. Yes, he actively hunts children. And he tricks them with the things they want and then kidnaps them, and does it without any sense of humanity. Like there's no purpose to it? And obviously, you you imagine, I mean, as an adult, the idea of a land without children sounds pretty damn good. But as a kid, it's like you're being hunted and there could be anywhere.

Alex Ferrari 59:39
Well, I would argue to other movies I could throw in there before I forget Matilda. Oh, yes and no and and Pinocchio

Steven Follows 59:47
Roald Dahl I mean, if you read the the witches the raw books are dark, but the witches like they, I mean, again the spoiler, but they die on the roof like they and also um Danny, the champion of the world. That's quite Dark like there's a lot of darkness, in in Roald Dahl stuff that like it's not Spielberg or my dad passed away in the past, Donald like kids are killing people and they and the adults are genuinely evil. And like, Matilda is a great example.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:13
Yeah. And that's it. It's scary or having a set of parents like that. And the school that she goes to than anything else is much scarier than a ghost or anything like that. But we I mean, obviously, this podcast is about diehard being a Christmas movies Oh, sorry. we've, we've, we've gone off the rails a bit, because this is what's happening when Steven and I get on a call to start talking movies, this is gonna happen. But I think I think that the, we've wrapped our case that it is a Christmas movie and will become more of a Christmas movie as time progresses. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. The key,

Steven Follows 1:01:00
I think the key thing here is that you, if we start if we were to argue, or you would argue with anybody else about the content of the movie, you're never gonna win, because you're both seeing the same movie. So unless one person is really not paid any attention, like you're arguing over money shy, but the point is, that's not what movies are really there for. It's there for. Yeah, it's about stories. It's about culture. The reason that we all win, we love the same movie, and we have the same feeling. And we share that. And it's incredible, is because it brings us together, and it unites us. And so our understanding of movies is the definition of a movie, and so, diehard if enough people think it is then it is

Alex Ferrari 1:01:36
exactly and you know you you watch Birth of a Nation now and you're just like, I can't believe these people did this like this. It's so for our culture and our time period. That movie seems so racist. So everything is clickable. It's like this, how did this and and not only how did it happen? But how is it held up as one of the greatest, you know, movies of its era? If you pass beyond the concept of the movie, what dw Griffith did with the cameras and so on. You know, he was one of the founding fathers of cinema language. Unfortunately, it's with a film like that. That's why Citizen Kane is really taking up that mantle much more than even when I was in film school, my film teacher in film history class where like there was Birth of a Nation. And and then let's just fast forward to Citizen Kane. So then that's basically the way it was. But that's a perfect example of a film of its time. That meant so it did so well, at its time, because that was all completely acceptable. There's things that were done in the 80s. And in the 70s, that you would do think Blazing Saddles would come out today.

Steven Follows 1:02:49
They actually Mel Brooks said that recently, he was being interviewed in Britain, this is killing comedy. I don't know if he if it is or not. But his point was, it is. And he was saying that would never get made today,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:59
there would be no way in hell like when I saw Blazing Saddles for the first time I said this movie would never get made today. But then board I came out. And I was like, Okay, well, boy, that was a movie that she you know, you look at board, and you're like, how in hell did this get made? But boy, it was one of those films in recent years was just I don't know how lisec 10 years. 1015 years old at this time, I don't even know how old it is now. But when it came out, it was still we're still in a very politically correct time. How that movie got through was fascinating. But Blazing Saddles. I mean, can you imagine Can you imagine that coming out today?

Steven Follows 1:03:34
It would be impossible. I there were other things that are shifting. And we talked about this a bit earlier on today. I mean, I can remember with what you and I talked about this on the previous podcast or not, but there's a movie from the mid 80s called blame it on Rio. It's starring Michael Caine. Yeah, I just I just looked it up on IMDB and the plot the one the one line sentence summary is best friend's and their daughter's vacation in Rio de Janeiro only for one of them to fall for the other one's daughter. And so basically, Michael Caine falls for an 18 year old or 17 year old she is she falls over him. He's obviously a grown man with his own teenage daughter and and also the two actresses in a topless within the movie. So not only is the plot wrong, it's also got a male gaze to it. It's got a very kind of, well, oh, you know, she's attractive and young, so that it's all the definition we need. And I do wonder what other movies that we, perhaps our children will look at us and go, how did you watch that? Now? We're probably we're not people that went to go and see blame it on Rio. And I'd like to think it wouldn't get me today. But there must be movies out recently that we'd all go and maybe Brad's the one or it's probably something more innocuous because when a movie is trying to be offensive, it's it's almost more okay because he by definition, you're trying to push boundaries. It's the boundaries that we're not challenging the ones that we think this isn't an outrageous statement. This is fairly normal. That's the bit

Alex Ferrari 1:04:58
when if you're terrified. If you Want to see films that are completely out of date in many ways just go to AFM go to or go to the Cannes Film market, go to those places and you you walk around and you see these movies which have exploitation of women exploitation of action and violence and it's just this kind of like primal kind of cinema which was made famous in the 80s You know, this kind of primal muscle bound guys and TNA and you know, I still have conversations with distributors like is anybody naked in it? If they are I can sell it to Germany reconcile it to this country because of the nudity involved in it. So there that's still going on very much so today throughout the world, and it is still in films like that are being made are they made by the studios? No, they're not made by the studios anymore that studios have figured out that R rated movies of that matter, it's not something that the culture here at least is really looking at and they also know they can make more money in pG 13 films. That's why it's so difficult to get a really adult film made in the studio system things like Logan or even Deadpool for that matter even in the in the superhero genre. You know, those are those are you know, hard are movies.

Steven Follows 1:06:16
Well thank god Deadpool made so much money because that's kept it alive for another 510 years and it will constantly try and kill that but thank God there was one that got through and Logan they don't look like Yeah, but they've all performed the way that Hollywood thinks they have they just will become received with wisdom that they can't make it anymore. So okay, bringing it back on topic. Is there anything in diehard that you think wouldn't get made today? If diehard was a script in development and obviously diehard in the original didn't exist, but everything else is the same? Do you think it would get made who would get cast like how would it get changed? I mean, the idea of him rescuing her surely That's very kind of male male

Alex Ferrari 1:06:53
male he there is there is a male gaze to it. There's no question about it. Would that movie get made today in the way that it's written? I don't don't i don't think it especially would have get done in the in the in the Hollywood system because first of all, a movie like that with a star of his caliber. You have to remember this is a star of his caliber at the time. Bruce Willis was nobody. He was just like a TV actor. And he had one you know romantic comedy. With Blake Edwards called blind date with Kim Basinger. If I'm not mistaken. I don't think there was anything else. diehard is what made him so to release a studio movie with an unknown or very mildly known actor. That's not going to happen today. So you would need a big movie star would a big movie star let's say we throw Tom Cruise in it we throw Will Smith in it right there. Okay, now the rock or the rock? Yeah, but the rock did this movie. It was called sky sky sky sky. Right. But yeah, right. And it was horrible. It was horrible. So the the rock is a really interesting character because I'm a huge fan of the rock. I'm a monstrous fan of the rock. I love what he does. And I just all his films, even though some of them are really, you know, like, I didn't like the earthquake film or whatever that thing was called. And yeah, there's certain films that I watched was like, Dude rock, really. But there's other times he's like, Oh, well, that was genius. He's a really great performer great actor great personality. But he's one of the last kind of like you couldn't throw the rock in into the heart and make it work because they tried doing that with skyscraper and it didn't work and the reason why is because diehard makes works because it's Bruce Willis is the every man. If you throw Stallone in that you've got daylight you've got, you know, because daylight was Die Hard in a tunnel. And you know, you know where you've got Swartz negar, you can't throw sreekanth throw Arnold in that movie. It doesn't have the same energy Bruce brought this every man aspect to it. That made john McClane what john McClane is if it was a hyper real human being like the rock is the rock is a hyper real human being. He does not represent the mass audience by any stretch. He is a superior physical specimen. Bruce was not. So do you think it has to be like Paul Rudd? It has to be like it would. It would have to be kind of you know, if you would do it, it would have to be someone like Paul Rudd. You know, because look, they did look, Paul Rudd came out with Ant Man, and he was in great shape because nowadays you can't release a movie like a die hard with a dude that's out of shape, because then it becomes humorous, and people don't buy it. People are way too savvy nowadays. So it would still have to be a dude that works out like you know, Paul Rudd. He has a six pack. Chris Pratt, you know, he's a beast now.

Steven Follows 1:09:38
Okay, okay, so here's my here's my studio pitch. diehard remake, but with all the gender roles flipped and Anna Kendrick is the star.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:46
So you see now that's a comedy to me, because I don't see Anna Kendrick being able to pull off the the action aspects it's she's not believable in that point, though. You just said but it's a comedy. Let me know. But there's a difference. But there are women actresses out there that I would by doing that like you give me see sir at least Sharon is just she's too beautiful. You know or Angelina Jolie as well? Yeah,

Steven Follows 1:10:14
I think we're getting there eventually. I think if we just carried on this conversation long enough we'd end up where we all know we'd end up which is Meryl Streep.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:21
Now Meryl Streep, I would buy in diehard. Why? Because Meryl Streep can read a telephone book and I would buy it. It doesn't matter what salutely By that, I mean, it doesn't matter what Meryl does, she can do no wrong. But with that said, Could Meryl pull off diehard? I think she could. I think she I mean she's a little she's the crowdfund. I mean, she is a bit she is a little bit you know, older now. So I'm not sure but maybe Merrill 10 years ago 15 years or no, she's timeless it's a role she's playing. I there is a physicality to it, but you know what? Okay, Helen Mirren let's throw Helen Mirren in there let's I mean, I think Dame Dame Helen Mirren. Let's put her Maggie Smith Mikey Smith could do okay, you see now we're just going off the rails. There is a point where Yes, the talent is there but the body just as a carrier, you can't

Steven Follows 1:11:09
physically carry this this you know, computers and stuff. You just you get some people to press some buttons on the box, and then they make the body Okay. All right. So

Alex Ferrari 1:11:19
let's I think the bottom line to a remake of diehard is like the remake of any movie. There is a magic that happens at the time that it's released with a group of people that are putting it together that cannot be recaptured. There's never been a remake that is as good or even then than the original. It does. Disagree Just give me give me give me a remake. Thomas Crown Affair. Oh yeah, gotcha. Well, I'm in the gym and there's there's James Bonds as well. But okay, but yes, that's a remake but Okay, okay. But first of all, Thomas Crown Affair, which I love Thomas Crown Affair. The new one the one with Pierce. The difference is that the Thomas Crown Affair there was such a long time I like him look at look at the stars born. You know, I love the recent remake of that. But something that's so iconic because you could argue the Thomas Crown Affair is not as iconic as a diehard. It's not as I you can't remake the Godfather. Okay, I'll give you another you can't remake Shawshank Redemption like it's not possible not in the way it is.

Steven Follows 1:12:23
I love Infernal Affairs. It's a great movie, but the part that is a better movie now maybe it's my cultural understanding that maybe the subtitles and yes,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:30
but it's also but it was also it's a remake from a foreign film. There are many foreign films that had remakes that mean look, the entire Sergio Leoni run with the man with no name is a remake of Yojimbo, which arguably to me is a better film than Yojimbo, because of just Leoni and Eastwood at that time it appeared, though I do love I'm a huge Kurosawa fan as well, so they're just different. They're in front of affairs and departed are completely different because you've got the energies of Scorsese in that movie made Mark Wahlberg I made mark warner and word see Mark Wahlberg stole every scene he was in that movie. How was that humanly possible?

Steven Follows 1:13:11
Okay, I got three, three other I'll give up if I can't convince you with these three. last ones. The one I'm going to get you on so Okay, my next bet to see if a sequels better Ocean's 11

Alex Ferrari 1:13:23
Yes, of course it is. But that was a bad movie to begin with. I didn't like oceans. The original Ocean's 11 I thought it was just it's just not well done. So they just took the concept and remade it into much, much better.

Steven Follows 1:13:34
Okay, all right. Okay. Yeah. Number two. I'm going to get you on this last one. But number two, the mummy.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:40
What that again? They're just, you could say me, come on. The original mummy was made 100 years ago, literally. So you know when they remade the mummy. With Brendan Frasier. Is it a better movie? No. I thought those movies were the only thing that was redeemable about those movies was Brendan Frasier. At that time in his career, he made them fun. The director Steven whatever his name is. He's a horrible director. I'm sorry. He destroyed he did Van Helsing. He's done a good director. He's not a good storyteller. In my personal opinion. Are they fun movies? Yeah, the mommies fun? I wrote the writing universal. It's great. It's like in the new mommy. Oh, god, that was just Oh, it was.

Steven Follows 1:14:21
Okay. Here's my lesson. Here's my final final offer. Okay, so you were saying how some of the film was like, Ocean's 11 just took the concept and changed it. Yeah, you're not gonna get away with this. This last one. Go for it. Go for it. Gus Van Sant psycho.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:37
Well, that's a that's a literal frame by frame remake. It was. It was not good. No, it's not. It's not good. It's not that it's not good. You know, cuz it's literally the same movie with updated accuracy that he understood that you can't remake psycho like you can't remake psycho. It's, it's, you

Steven Follows 1:14:56
would acity to remake Hitchcock but then the humility to appreciate You can't improve it. So you're just going to shoot it in color

Alex Ferrari 1:15:03
in color with it with these new actors. But you've watched both of those movies and you just can't recreate the magic. Like, can you remake Star Wars? No. Can you remake Rocky? No, like creed is a fun movie. But it's not rocky nor will it ever be because rocky was the first of its kind back in 1976 when it came

Steven Follows 1:15:23
out. Well, okay, then let me take that this let's make this the final thought for this Christmas podcast because I want to make a suggestion that next year, in 12 months from now, we have not the topic of is diehard, a Christmas movie or the best Christmas movie? Yeah, the thesis I want to put out which I don't have the data for yet is that Rocky is a love story.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:42
It is a love story. It's a it's absolutely a romance film. Are you kidding me? Of course it's a romance Where's your data, my data, the whole damn thing revolves around him and Adrian, the background is the fight. The fight is the background that which he doesn't win. So that's a subplot. The main plot is rocky finding love. And finding that whole relationship with Adrian, the second movie has to do more about Rocky and his fame, and then eventually beating Apollo. But then he it the without without Adrian, it becomes a very different movie. Like the whole movie. Look, they spent, they spent so much time like in the ice rink at the pet shop. That's not an action movie. It's their dates. This is a date movie, Rocky is a date movie with a question. It's a romance film I want I would completely 110% argue with that. Now is rocky three and four date movie apps a frickin movie? Not they're not they have now then,

Steven Follows 1:16:41
I think to was that little transition before it became the hyperreal you know, amazing films that they were in the A isn't this some kind of really clever meta comment on relationships, that when you first meet somebody, you're excited by them, you go on dates to the ice rink, you know, bad things happen in your life, but you don't mind but then very soon, life starts to feel like rocky three and rocky four, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:17:06
and then the divorce happens at Rocky five. But then but then 10 years later, but then 1015 years later, you find yourselves again and then Rocky Balboa comes out. So it's like, because Rocky Balboa i thought was a fantastic film. I couldn't believe that it was just it had no business being as good as it was. It really did. I mean, seriously, it was outrageous. But what Stallone did with Rocky Balboa, the the actual movie called Rocky Balboa was fantastic. You know, and then what they did with creed, because he had read put it he put rocky to bed. And then what's his name came up. The director of Black Panther I forgot his name. He came up with creed and said I want to do this in Rockies. Like, I mean, still, I was like, Okay, and now they've created a whole new generation of people following creed, which is a great story in its own right. But if you remember Rocky Balboa was not about Adrian's Adrian's past at that point. So she's not with him anymore. So now it becomes a story about his own redemption with his own son, and it becomes all this kind of stuff. But a side note, a quick note. Do you remember in Rocky that

that rocky had a pet two pet turtles? Yeah, they're still alive.

Steven Follows 1:18:20
Whoa, so you're saying we could make a note with the same actors? No, no,

Alex Ferrari 1:18:24
no, no, wait a minute. They're still alive. They're 44 years old. I just read they're a bit old for Hollywood them Yes. The younger ones. We have to obviously have to go for a younger turtle because on this on this shelf, yeah. Yeah, like but the point is that they're still alive and they they live with Stallone and they were both in creed he brought them back on the set he put them in the in the in the thing he's like, yeah, keeping them around for 44 years. It's it's I when I saw the picture of it, I was like, I can't believe those things are still alive.

Steven Follows 1:18:54
So are we not giving him enough credit if this like boyhood, were

Alex Ferrari 1:19:01
okay, I want to just talk about boyhood for a second because guys now we're going full full film geek. So if you're still listening, please just just endure it.

Steven Follows 1:19:09
If you're listening to this on Christmas, gave the Christmas day go and talk to your family.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:13
Yes. Bobby's around forever. Yeah, exactly. I Where are you boyhood? If you take the elements of what Linkletter did over the course of how many years he did this, if you take that out and just shot it normally, with different actors. It's not a good movie. It's not a good movie. But because of every scene that you watch, you're like, I want to see what the kid looks like. I want to see what Ethan Hawke looks like I want to do a purchase. Like that is what kind of carries it for me. At least I didn't I'm never gonna watch boyhood again.

Steven Follows 1:19:49
Yes, evil can evil basically. It's not that you want to hear what he's got to say but you want to see if he makes the jump. That's a

Alex Ferrari 1:19:55
great analogy. That's a really good there are films like that there are films like the one like I I'll watch Birdman again because I thought Birdman was fantastic. But you want to see like, how did he pull off? That the technical as gravity? You know, you watch gravity like how did they pull off avatar, or you know, like these technically insane films you're like, I just got to see how they did it, you know. And then if you're lucky you find a movie that's technically insane and also has a good story that you could watch again and again. Like I'm fascinated to see what James Cameron does with his next four avatar films that he's doing. From what I'm hearing through the grapevine. It's it's something that's so insane that we can't even can't even grasp at this. Well,

Steven Follows 1:20:35
I hope that our grandchildren who around when they come out, will enjoy the movies. And I know I really appreciate

Alex Ferrari 1:20:41
your my I'll be 70 when that comes out Jesus Christ. I mean, you look, you're rebuilding technologies, just what he does. I mean, he's he's what he did an avatar worse, not worse that we started using, as you know, like the capture in the face for visual effects and stuff that that's a standard now, before then there wasn't like nobody had done that. I can't tell you a quick Can I tell you quick Cameron, your avatar story. Alright, so I had a friend of mine, who was he, he was shadowing Cameron on the original avatar. And he walked on the set, and he was there for a few days. He's a jerk. He's a DJ director. And he asked to be on the side, it's like, she'll come over and see what we're doing. So it gets to this soundstage that has, you know, it's just, it's the mocap stage. And behind camera, there's literally 60 to 70 people in this kind of arena style seating arrangements with 1000s of 1000s of computers and cables and everything. Because the technology was literally being designed as they were doing it. And he had this one camera that he saw everything. So in that one viewfinder, he saw everything the entire world around him rendered, rendered. So he could just move the camera to the left and whatever is supposed to be there would be there for us to, you know, a tree or whatever. So there was a scene where he's jumping off a helicopter. And then he you know, like when they when they land like with the avatars land and they jump off and they run a little bit. He does that. And then he runs into a tree. Like he literally runs into a tree. There's no tree there. But he runs into a virtual tree. And he yells, cut, cut, Jimmy, Jimmy, move this tree over 30 feet. And you see this mouse come in from the heavens, grab the tree, lift the tree up with roots and all and moves it 30 feet the other way and plants it and you're just sitting. We are in the presence of somebody who's playing at a completely different level than pretty much anybody else on the planet.

Steven Follows 1:22:48
You're absolutely right. Although I have a gentleman and what I'm about to say might sound cheeky or deliberately rude, but I mean, it is a genuine, genuine question, given the huge amount of money and the fact that he had to invent entire departments technology. Why didn't anyone work on the script?

Alex Ferrari 1:23:05
Oh, Jesus. Here we go. Anytime I hear it, but I saw ferngully I didn't need it. I wasn't missing a dimension. Okay, I saw Dances with Wolves as well. Listen. Okay, so so this is the deal. Well, I'll let me finish the story. And then I'll tell you my my feelings. Oh, sorry. I thought okay, sorry. No, that story's not that. The other story. The rest of the story is that he walks up to Jim James Cameron afterwards like, hey, Jim, you know, it's pretty impressive, man. Yeah, it's pretty, pretty cool. What you got going on. And James Cameron turns in, well, you don't wanna be effin amazing. Is everything to have this damn cable? That would be impressive. This cable that's always hooked up to my camera. I don't like that. And that's, that's the mentality of someone like James Cameron. He's like, for us. We look at a going, Oh, my God, you've got godlike technology. And he's like, Yeah, but the cable.

Steven Follows 1:23:57
You know, I don't know how true this is. But I heard a story and not through someone who was there. But there may be apocryphal, but I understand that to be true. When he was planning Terminator two. He was he went to the chat to the VFX people. This is in the planning stages. And he had all these ideas. And he was like, Oh, can you do this thing where you don't like this? And they were like, yeah, we can do that. And he's like, Okay, can you do this thing? where like, we did that? And they were like, yeah, yeah, we can do that. And he's, and then he said, What if it was like, I don't know, liquid metal and it was walking through fire. And they're like, we don't know. How did he I want that. I want that. I want the thing you don't know how to do figure it out. And you can kind of see that like it but that's him. He didn't do anything that's been done before because that's

Alex Ferrari 1:24:36
boring. Right, exactly. And now to answer your question in regards to the script. I don't care what anyone says about his his writing his script. Every one of his films is I mean Titanic included in carrying an avatar avatar may two point some billion dollars at the box office. It wasn't from marketing. It wasn't from you don't make a movie that big. On a franchise that is not afraid. franchise you have to educate the people about it. So it's a non existent IP. And he was able to do that purely on spectacle to a certain extent. But in the world that we live in spectacle only takes you so far, if the visual effects that we are, it's not like Jurassic Park, where you were like, Oh my god, there's dinosaurs like, we're past that stage at this point. So for whatever reason, and he might be tapping into something that we don't understand, maybe never will, that hit a chord internationally with so many people that have generated 2.7 billion or whatever, it doesn't make it

Steven Follows 1:25:36
it doesn't make it a good script. It means he's a good director, and he's very good with concepts. He's very good with the two

Alex Ferrari 1:25:41
in it, but now it's perception. But no, listen, I Agreed. Agreed it whether you agree with it or not. Excuse me, I don't agree. The thing is this. Is it. Look a Shawshank Redemption a better script and Avatar? Absolutely. There's just no question is the Godfather a better script and movie than avatar? Absolutely. It is his Sausage Party a better script and Avatar? Yes. Yeah. Okay. But the point is the point is this it is the perception of the audience. He does not make movies for you to or movies for me specifically in regards to like, is this a perfect script? If you go back and look at True Lies, if you go back and look at aliens, if you go back and look at the Abyss or even Titanic people will like crap it on Titanic people still crap on Titanic, but I can watch that movie anytime of the day I watch it because of

Steven Follows 1:26:32
but my my genuine question is honestly I mean this is a real question considering the unbelievable lengths he goes to in the way that he films them the the unbelievable brilliant visual storytelling, the the the digital stuff, so much of the his movies are pushed to the most the absolute limit. And then the script is written on a Thursday afternoon because he had nothing else to do and then locked. Like, what on earth? Why aren't you putting it to Why isn't he got teams of writers? Why isn't he because why isn't he doing what Pixar does to a script

Alex Ferrari 1:27:00
because he the way he makes his films, he's able to tap into something that audiences react to whether you agree with it or not. He doesn't he doesn't have to make look our Pixar movies, arguably most of them amazing. Absolutely. Some of them are just, I mean, just Masterworks, their Masterworks, the way he was able to, they're able to write their scripts and the system that they write it in. But James Cameron writes it, you know, writes avatar, the way it just it just touches people, in a way that's unexplainable. If you look at the script, is it the best written script of all time? Absolutely not. It is why not? Why not? Because it is ever he doesn't have to. He doesn't have he doesn't have to know Wait a minute. He doesn't have to because he knows. Because in his mind, he has beaten it up. And in his mind, it is aiming at the audience that he wants to tell the story that he wants to tell and react to the message that he wants to get out is exactly what that script was for him. I don't think he's lazy. I don't think he's not doing the job. It's a perception issue. That's all it is just like the guy Hardee's I want the only

Steven Follows 1:28:11
reason he made Titanic was they could get in a ship and go down and look at the real one. And he loves playing with toys. You know

Alex Ferrari 1:28:16
what Michael Bay plays with a lot of toys in his films can't hold a candle to any of James Cameron. Sorry, sir.

Steven Follows 1:28:21
Also, I'm enjoying this. So okay, listen, we're coming to the end of the podcast, because it'll be it'll literally be Christmas Day at some point. Some people, maybe just three or four people and maybe one person who left it running by mistake, or listening to this right now. an hour and a half in, we have to give them something special. I have no idea what but thank you. I don't know what's going on in your lives that you have dedicated two hours to this and I'm sorry, but I am appreciative. So we have to bring it back to die hard. We have to say a thank you and Merry Christmas to the people listening but what can we give them? What can we what wisdom Can we give them that they no one else is going to get this is exclusive to them?

Alex Ferrari 1:28:59
Okay, so this is the this is the this is the order of which you need to watch diehard films if you're going to watch them 11131113 Okay, so obviously, one many times, but 1342. And then if you want to keep going down the path, you watch the other two at your leisure. But that's, that would be where I would that's how I would watch.

Steven Follows 1:29:26
Okay, I would I would suggest that you watch them in American, that you drink heavily. And you go 13452 because by the time you get to five and two, you'll probably be in the right state to watch them.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:39
And every time every time he says every time they say the word gun, you you take a shot.

Steven Follows 1:29:46
Exactly. And the second one starts you take three shots. Yeah, exactly. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 1:29:52
God, but but arguably one and three are there Masterworks. I love three I think three was fantastic.

Steven Follows 1:30:00
Three is a great movie, I really enjoyed it as a kid, I've watched it now and it's good. I do enjoy it. It's it doesn't transcend that so few films do. And obviously, that's not the criteria for a good movie transcendence, but the idea of MOOC book, you know, stepping out of just being a good time into something.

Alex Ferrari 1:30:17
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Okay, so I mean, I'm gonna give you I'm gonna ask two questions of you, and then I'll answer them as well. And this is where we will leave it for your top five Christmas movies of all time. And your top 580s action films of all time.

Steven Follows 1:30:44
Well, diehard is topping both those lists, but that's cheating, I guess. I think elf is an unbelievably brilliant movie. Like, I watched it. I think I avoided it when it first came out. I just don't think it was for me. And the first time I watched it, because I think I'd watched it after reading screen, screenwriting books and things and thought, okay, I should watch it. And I was like, This is so good. And he even has a moment where it looks like he's going to kill himself. And it's so universal, it's so quotable. You know, and it's, you know, Hi, I'm, what's your favorite color? I actually, I want to answer the phone like that everyday. It's got two stars in it, who were both brilliant, but weren't as well known as they are now. Right. And I just, that movie hits me every time. And I sort of keep it back. I don't watch it too often, you know, maybe once a year, just so that I can really, truly appreciate it and not make it too familiar. I think home alone is is as a kid, you know, I had it as a video as a VHS and I loved the idea of it. I think it's not aging too well, insofar as it's as a kid you just go with it as an adult. You know, the violence is slightly shocking.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:51
But yeah, well, I mean, it's, it's, it's it's it's cartoon violence. It's it's Yeah, it's there's no real damage done. So it's kind of like, it's kind of like Marx Brothers or three stooges kind of violence.

Steven Follows 1:32:03
Yeah, although it feels slightly more real just because of the deep, powerful performance Joe Pesci gives.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:09
And Daniel stern. Both of them. Yeah. Hi. Yeah, he's in it. Ah, come on that scream. Ah, that's amazing. Come on, hit scream is the best.

Steven Follows 1:32:20
Okay, I'll give you that three seconds of screen time. I think I tell you what I think love actually isn't Oh, you think oh, excuse

Alex Ferrari 1:32:30
me. I'm sorry. What was that? It's an awful movie. It's okay. Okay. We're gonna end this right now. I mean, if you can't Love Actually, I mean, come on.

Steven Follows 1:32:39
It's cheating, because it's got loads of half stories and moments, of course, you're gonna like little bits of it. Because it's the best bits. It's like going, instead of having a proper meal. You're gonna get sick. At the end, you're eating all the sweets and all the candy. Like, it's just No, it's lazy. Because it's got no through line. It's just loads of fun things like, here's the thing. Here's the thing. Here's the thing. And then, and some of them are just, I mean, also this the the column first story is just a bit weird. But I tell you what the Laura Linney thing is some of the best story and performance I've seen in such a long time and moment with Emma Thompson. And the question, ah, justifies the entire movie, and is just the most hot, you know, I saw her on a plane. Not too long ago, I didn't talk to her obviously, because I'd be really mean. But when I saw her and the first thing I flashed in my head, all the things she's done, and I think she's terrific. As a writer. She's incredible. as a performer, she's brilliant. She seems like a lovely person. But the thing that came to me in my head was just that moment that one shot where her performance destroys you. And yet she does it. And I just that will. I mean that for that moment alone. Obviously, there's loads of fun things in the movie as well. I do like the bit on the bench where I sort of, you know, I'm in love. Oh, that's fantastic. Wait, Didn't you hear what I just said? Oh, yeah, good point. That's terrible. That's kind of sweet. I mean, an unnatural, but also that thing with Keira Knightley is just creepy talking about aging poorly. That's that's that is stalkerish. That's just yeah. Also, it's all done as a cute thing. Like, it's like, Oh, don't worry. It's your man. You're allowed to be like this. Like, no.

Alex Ferrari 1:34:20
Okay, okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay, so, what are the next ones?

Steven Follows 1:34:25
So I think bad centers kind of incredibly Christmassy. I think it's kind of fun. Okay, I think it's a muscle. I'd watch it many times, but it's certainly fun. And then the last one, you have to go with the Muppets Christmas, Carol? Because, like anything better?

Alex Ferrari 1:34:42
Obviously, if you add them up, is there anything it does make it better? I mean, there's no question. All right. So I will I will, I will concur. That diehard is on the list. In no particular order, I would say scrooged with Bill Murray. Very good, fantastic film. I'm gonna say, I'm gonna say the fit. I'm gonna say the family man. I love the family, man. I don't care what you say. I love the family, man. And I'll say, I'm so proud. This is being recorded. Alex, I understand. I'm very proud of it. I'm gonna be on the record at the moment. I've been on there. I was on the record when I interviewed the writers. Yes, there were writers on that movie. Yes. And it did very well. It's a nothing right. There's nothing wrong even though even though it was directed by Brett Ratner, which I still think it wasn't I think it was somebody else who did it. Because there's way too much heart in that film that Brett Ratner would direct it. But anyway, that's a whole other story. I would say. So was that three? I would say love actually would probably be another one on that list. And I would say it's a tie between elf and the holiday because I love the holidays. Well, I've never seen it. I know. But I have never seen it. It's a it's a one. It's really wonderful film as well. So those Oh, it's a wonderful life. No, I don't I don't like I don't like I don't like it. I don't like it. I'm sorry. I don't like it. I watched it. I recently watched it again. I was like, I don't get it. I'm sorry. Everybody waits. It hates me for saying that. I just don't get it.

Steven Follows 1:36:07
I didn't think anyone hates you for it. I think everyone just feels for you, Alex, you know?

Alex Ferrari 1:36:12
I'm very depressed. I'm very happy that we can get them. Don't worry. We can we can. Maybe we should have a session about this later. But yeah, definitely talk to somebody. Maybe I shouldn't watch it again. But I've watched it twice. And both times. I was just like, okay, okay, sure. Sure. It just doesn't. You know, I would rather watch Nightmare Before Christmas or home alone. Without question.

Steven Follows 1:36:37
Yeah. Okay. But that's, you know, there's there's very few things in the world. I would like to do more than I'd like to watch home alone. So that's, you know, it's whether you'd watch nothing, then anyway.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:46
Yeah, I would watch nothing. I would watch nothing rather than watching.

Steven Follows 1:36:48
Okay. Your question about at the best 80s action movies. I have a process question. Do you count the two Indiana Jones films as one choice or two on my list?

Alex Ferrari 1:37:00
Oh, I'm gonna give you I'm gonna give them to you as a winner. Okay, I was a winner cuz that because I know because there's, well, alright, so hard.

Steven Follows 1:37:09
Because they're, they're a marathon. You know, they are a movie together. And yeah, and also because you said 80s we don't have to include the Crystal Skull madness. So that's good. That's a really, I'm glad you added the timeframe because that's

80s 80s 80s.

Alright, so obviously, Die Hard. I think the original Terminator is just so much better than it needs to be. Like, it's just such a slot schlocky idea to schlocky time with a low budget and it had nothing going for it and it everyone involved made it so brilliant. It's just terrific. I think you're talking before about john McClane being Jesus, I think you meant Robocop?

Alex Ferrari 1:37:53
Obviously, obviously, Robocop?

Steven Follows 1:37:55
Yeah, I think the because I rewatched that. I didn't realize how good it was because I saw it as a kid. And I obviously I really enjoyed it. But then I rewatched it when it was I was released, or I saw it in a cinema. I know I saw it at like Soho house, one of those screenings that was just like, Do you want to come along? And that Alright, fine. And I took a friend of mine who is someone I've worked with before, who's sort of in his late 20s. And he had never seen this version. And both of us came out for obviously, he'd never seen it. So he was like, Oh, well actually, that's really good. And I came back I Yeah, actually, I I thought it would be sillier. And actually, it was really quite profound.

Alex Ferrari 1:38:31
It's It's It's such it is such a social commentary with a hidden inside of an insane action film.

Steven Follows 1:38:40
And then I think the best 80s action film better than diehard better than the Anna Jones better even the commando has to be The Empire Strikes Back.

Alex Ferrari 1:38:52
I'm gonna I'm gonna disavow about I'm not going to allow an empire strikes back because that is a sci fi action. So because then you could throw aliens in there as well. As but I would say you have another choice it I agree with you. It's on the list of the top five films of the 80s without question, but let's let's keep keep this genre as pure as possible. The predator I would argue is much more action than it is a sci fi film. But that's just makes sense.

Steven Follows 1:39:25
All right, well, Return of the Jedi no I'm joking. will ignore deathwish One, two and three. And also raw deal and

Alex Ferrari 1:39:36
Wow, invasion USA Jesus. What are we doing? American Ninja American Ninja. What are we going let's, Blood Sport?

Steven Follows 1:39:43
The wolf McQuade No. Yes. I'm gonna go for Batman.

Alex Ferrari 1:39:48
Okay, okay, the Tim Burton Batman. Okay, all right.

Steven Follows 1:39:51
Shit. I forgot one. Can I have a bonus one please? Sure. The Running Man. That was so good.

Alex Ferrari 1:39:57
So good.

Steven Follows 1:39:58
It's a good movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:39:59
That's such a great Basically basically predicted the reality with reality genre in general, and it hasn't gotten too far away from killing people on screen. So I would argue that my top five is diehard predator. Lethal Weapon Terminator two. I'm gonna say it's I feel it for Don't forget 84 I was in fourth grade 89 I was in cotton in high school. So arguably Terminator two, how are you? Doing film numbers with me? I am I'm arguing it from the point of view of when I watched it. It had much bigger impact on me in 89 when I was working in a video store than I was in fourth grade in 84, which I didn't see it so

Steven Follows 1:40:49
Well. I was born in 82. So I haven't seen any of these films in the 80s.

Alex Ferrari 1:40:52
So you're much younger than me. So thank you for Thank you sir. You have an old soul.

Steven Follows 1:40:59
That that is because you brought in Terminator two to a list of 80s movies and just made the whole mockery of the whole concept.

Alex Ferrari 1:41:06
Okay, so it's Terminator so there's four of them and I said Lethal Weapon right so the lethal weapon predator diehard and I want to say I mean, the Indiana Jones is are good. Always a good, always a good pick. But you know, I'm gonna go off genre a little bit and you could kind of argue it's still a little heavier on the sci fi but I'm gonna say aliens, man, I think aliens is so so so so good.

Steven Follows 1:41:35
That it is good. But if you're gonna start picking films that you have disavowed yourself I think this has been a supreme waste of your time and mind. I think we're playing so disingenuously maybe the reigning champion but I'm not coming back. Oh yes. Don't do this. This is outrageous.

Alex Ferrari 1:41:58
To me. How dare you Sir, how dare you? I shall now go drink some tea. So

Steven Follows 1:42:06
Film tribe, please email Alex and inform him when the 80s ended. And also what?

Alex Ferrari 1:42:14
Well, first of all,

Steven Follows 1:42:15
It's not an action film.

Alex Ferrari 1:42:16
First of all, okay, now we can have a whole other episode about aliens actually being an action film. But secondly it is I mean it is it's it's it's Rambo First Blood part two, basically, well, that's you know, that's why there's Marines and aliens. Yeah, that right? Yeah, because he gamelin Cameron wrote Rambo. I don't want people let people know that Cameron wrote Rambo. Part Two, which is also arguably an insanely wonderful action film. And we could just start going down the line of revenue. We haven't got time for that. No, we don't for next Christmas. Next Christmas. We'll do it'll same bat time. Same bat channel. We'll we'll find we'll find we'll do another Christmas special. Maybe we'll start doing this yearly Steven. I think

Steven Follows 1:43:00
It'll take the full year for me to do the work and then for us to talk for three days but all jokes aside, Merry Christmas Alex Yeah. Merry Christmas. It's been really fun and to everyone listening thanks for you know supporting Alex in the work he does. And also for just joining us on a rather mad ramble which had very little to do with diehard but

Alex Ferrari 1:43:22
That's not true. If we if we go back to the tapes we can actually if you want to do the stats on it we spoke about diehard most of the time.

Steven Follows 1:43:29
My memories that you spoke mostly about your inexplicable love for the family man, but you know what? You're gonna see it's not too late. Just cut it out. No one will no

Alex Ferrari 1:43:38
No, no, no, no, no, I stand by my stand by it sir. I stand by Nicolas Cage a Christmas stuff. Well, first of all, did you hear about that new Nicolas Cage movie what's called pig. Where he he's chasing? He's He's in search of a truffle pig that someone stole from him.

Steven Follows 1:43:56
Let this be a career be a lesson to anyone who thinks they can evade taxes. Wesley Snipes, this pay your taxes ladies and gentlemen. Otherwise you will have the same fate.

Alex Ferrari 1:44:09
Yes, thank you, Steven for coming on. Merry Christmas. Anyone and for anyone listening. Stop listening to us and go talk to your family.

Steven Follows 1:44:17
Yeah, you may not like them, but are the only ones you go. Thanks. Bye bye.

Alex Ferrari 1:44:23
Well, the verdict is in and Die Hard is in fact a Christmas movie. It's undeniable. You can't argue the facts. And now you have so much ammo to debate anybody at the next Christmas party on whether diehard is or is not a Christmas movie. I hope you guys really enjoyed this episode. I truly like to geek out every once in a while I always talk so much about business and the craft and and you know doing all the serious stuff about filmmaking and building a business and being a film shoprunner all of that stuff but you know under all of this, guys after on All this shrapnel their lives, a film geek, a 15 year old kid who worked at a video store and has seen 1000s and 1000s of movies. I am a film geek. I am a cinephile. And I like geeking out like anybody else. So every once in a while, I'm going to bring somebody on. And we're gonna geek out about stuff. But I hope this episode really was enjoyable to you guys. I really hope that this Christmas gift to the tribe was enjoyed by all. Now if you want to get links to anything we talked about in this episode, including, including that insane article, proving all of this data and breaking down all this data for diehard as a Christmas movie that Steven wrote, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/367 for the show notes, and for the members of indie film hustle TV. We have brand new courses that I just uploaded, including story blueprint, the heroes two journeys, an hour long breakdown of the story and script of Erin Brockovich by Michael Haig and Chris Vogler. And it's available for purchase or part of the subscription. And if you want to check all that out, plus a bunch of new stuff that I have coming up, including exclusive film shoprunner training that I am working on right now that would hope hopefully it will be done by the beginning of next year. And I'm going to be adding new courses and new mini courses on filmtrepreneur on micro budget, filmmaking and a whole bunch of other stuff that I'll be working on on indie film hustle TV. So check it out, head over to ifhtv.com. Thank you guys so much for listening. Merry, Merry Christmas. Have a great holiday season and I wish you and your family a fantastic new year. Thanks again guys. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And you become Yippee ki yaayyy Mother!



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