IFH 520: Making El Mariachi and Troublemaker Studios with Elizabeth Avellán

Elizabeth Avellán, Robert Rodriguez, Troublemaker Studios, El Rey, El Mariachi

Get ready to have you mind blown. If you ever wanted to know the TRUE STORY on how the mythical El Mariachi, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, then this is the conversation you want to listen to.

Today on the show we have producer Elizabeth Avellán.

Elizabeth Avellan was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where her grandfather, Gonzalo Veloz, pioneered commercial television. At thirteen, she moved to Houston with her family and later graduated from Rice University, where she had her first behind-the-scenes experience working as stage manager and prop master for several student productions.

She moved to Austin in 1986 to work in the Office of the Executive Vice-President and Provost of the University of Texas, continuing her studies in film production, art, and architecture. There she meet Robert Rodriguez – cult filmmaker and her husband to be.

Avellan worked as an animator on Rodriguez’s award-winning 16mm film, Bedhead, which aired on PBS after gathering acclaim on the festival circuit. She and Robert co-founded Los Hooligans Productions when the two began work on El Mariachi (1992) in 1991. Since then, Avellan has co-produced Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Desperado (1995), The Faculty (1998), and upcoming Spy Kids (2001).

Besides she developed several scripts and produced with Pamela Cederquist and Rana Joy Glickman, Real Stories of the Donut Men, a dark comedy written and directed by Beeaje Quick, which premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March, 1997. Additionally, Avellan served as producers’ rep. with Rana Joy Glickman for Love You Don’t Touch Me, a romantic comedy premiered at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.

She co-founder Troublemaker Studios with Robert and have been causing “trouble” in Hollywood ever since. Elizabeth and I have an epic two-hour conversation spanning decades in the history of her, Robert and Troublemaker Studios.

We did a bit of myth busting on the now legendary indie film El Mariachi. Elizabeth also discussed what it was like working inside the Hollywood machine, the moment she introduced Robert to Quentin Tarantino, the uphill battles she faced becoming a producer and so much more.

Get ready for one heck of a ride. Enjoy my conversation with Elizabeth Avellán.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Elizabeth Avellán. How are you doing, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth Avellán 0:16
I'm doing great. Alex, thank you for having me come and share some fun stories with you.

Alex Ferrari 0:23
Yes, absolutely, it is. I'm a great fan of the work that you've done over the years. And I mean, you know, as a Latino filmmaker, you know, you and Robert and what you guys did together with El Mariachi and Desperado. And everything that your your giant filmography? Is, is remarkable. And I mean, I can only imagine the the struggle that you had not only being a female producer, in the studio system, but being a Latina, female, you were like, the one right, there weren't many in the 90s. I can't remember. But one of the few, one of the few. So I mean, it is an inspiration to see what you've, you've done, specifically as a producer. But before we go down this road, what was the thing that made you want to be in this insane business?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:16
Same, you know, I try to be go back to a little bit to the beginning. Because that encourages people, they themselves go back to that moment, when you're a kid. And you're starting to see what what your talents are. Little things inform that. You know, even when you're seven, even that was a huge film lover, as a kid, my parents loved going to movies, it's been a lot of time in theaters. And I, you know, I recognized good writing, I could tell that I recognize why isn't good, movie Good? And why some of it is kind of like bad, you know, because they will take us to all kinds of movies. And some of them, Are they fun, you know, like some sort of pulpy kind of your Lawrence of Arabia at six years old, that you're like, Okay, this is amazing, you know, like, you realize, you can't handle the contact, but you see the shots, and you're like, Whoa, and they don't my siblings didn't really in this early, you know, especially my, you know, just in general, at least I didn't realize they were noticing anything. And but I did, I noticed I noticed Peter tool, I noticed every nuance moment of you know, his blue eyes. And you know, when to close David Lee, I mean, just all those shots. And then the next week we went to see, I think it was A Fistful of Dollars, you know, part of the trilogy so it just kind of like game to the Yang, you know, very fun that way. My father loved all movies. So when they played on TV, you have watch this, you know, and he was not at all my mom's side of the family in Venezuela, are the ones that were in the film business. Well, in the TV business, my grandfather was panning of commercial television on Salloway lozman. Sara, the pioneer of commercial television in Venezuela, and but by the time I was born, he had sold what is now when we assume and moved on, you know, he was getting older. He had done he had been a groundbreaking guy. And he was ready to move on and had grandkids and his, you know, his, his daughters and sons. And so I didn't really grow up in it. But my father was very much against showbiz, and never allowed us. I mean, we were set, we were seven kids, my parents had seven kids, I was a second of seven. And we were asked to be in commercial because we have a few kids, you know, and my cousins were all in commercials. And we were not allowed, I mean, not allowed. And that so but I always had this yearning. And when I turn 40 We moved to the States when I was 13. And I started watching TV, I love seeing the pilot to things, because from there, I could see there was a seed of something or not, you know, I could tell, but I was like, how do you make money doing that? You know? And, you know, I was very, very studio so I went to rise, my father wanted to be an architect. And yet, you know, I there was the seed inside me that I got my car, it wasn't to go hang out with my friends. It was to go to River Oaks theater in Houston without anybody knowing to go watch all the, you know, high end film, it was the art house theater, and all in Houston, Texas. And that's what I wanted my car for. I just kind of plot it out and go see a movie there. And so I grew up doing that. I you know, my sister went to see Saturday Night Fever, it's 10 times I never saw it. You know, I was not that girl, you know, like whatever,

Alex Ferrari 4:40
John Travolta

Elizabeth Avellán 4:42
What I've chosen not to watch whatever, right? But as well as what I've chosen to watch. And so you see that and you don't know what it is, you know, and it's not until you piece it together. I freshman week I went to Rice University as a 16 year old, because I studied so much to learn English and I didn't want to go backwards by not taking summer school that I ended up graduating early and ended up at Rice University. And this senior girl said to me, you know, come on be come down to with me to the rice players, you know, I'm part of the rice players, it was the theatre group. I was like, I never had a chance in high school to do any of that I was studying, studying studying. So I mean, I just focused on learning the language really getting it down. And so I was like, okay, so I went. And of course, I mean, I knew that if I ever got involved in theater, because I love going to theater, I would be hooked. And it was always behind the scenes and never auditioned, it was always for me behind the scenes. So that's when you start kind of putting things together while you're going to architecture school. And you see a perfect marriage of Gosh, you could be designing sets for theater or, well, and rice at that moment, I think it was like one of the top five architecture schools in the country. And you got accepted into Rice University, and then you get accepted into the architecture school, they didn't see it that way. They were like you're wasting your time you you're the slot we've given you is precious, and you're not appreciating it very down, grading me. And at the same time, I thought I was working for an architect and I hated it. And I love working. So it wasn't the work part of it. So I'm like, this is definitely where I need to be. But my father's like, if you don't study architecture, I'm not paying for it. I got to be a little sneaky. Because so many athletes, so many art classes and the film classes, and the theater classes were all under under art, because it was such a small Rice's a very small school. And so I just knocked them in there without him, I need to take this for this, and I'm doing this for that, you know, so I kind of got them in there. And, and then, you know, it was the decision of, I really don't want to be an architect. And it's very painful to have to, you know, I was daddy's girl. And yet I knew that I needed to work. So I worked in medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, then I moved to Austin. And that's where things kind of shifted for me because I started working with executive vice president Provost at the University of Texas, and about three, four months in and my new my film, you know, reading all of that stuff is still in full growing mode, you know, and yet, I know I have to have a day job, you know. And in comes this young man, he wasn't even a sophomore in college had he just finished his freshman year thing, Robert Rodriguez, he was going to be our file clerk. And I was the youngest in the office. So and Latina Latino, you know, I was the only end of the night. Yeah. And, and he so we hit it off, you know, and he had done like, 20 short films, 20 Something short films. And he showed me one of them. That was a you know, we all got together and and, and I was so blown away. I was like, Whoa, shoot, he's He's like, he's really bugging me. He's like real, this is real. And and he hadn't even turned it into a film festival. You want to contest with it or something. And, and I and I thought, so I started talking when we started talking about all this. And I started telling him pointing out Film Festival. So that's how it started. He couldn't get into the film school because he didn't have the grades. I'm very academic. So I would we took some classes together so he would get his grades up. You know, even though I didn't need to take any classes I did. They wouldn't allow me one to take the hardest biology or things like that to get him through the gauntlet. You know, I think I got him through all his science.

Alex Ferrari 8:43
Science and Math right science and math. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 8:47
And so but by the way, he became an all a student thing. And and he got into the film school because he also knew the new chairman of the film's called Tom shots because I worked for the second vice president problems and he was young and hip and cool. And he let Robert in because Robert one, the film festival that was a precursor to South by Southwest, the student films that were there with just Billy you know, and this little he grabbed three of his short films he's already he already made and put them together. And that's how it all really began to take off. And then mariachi you know and then he did bedhead first year his his production class so I was like whatever he needed, you know making a dummy so you could drag his brother to the ground you know just ways to do things without need because I need a dummy so you don't need a dummy. So we went to Walgreens grabbed a bunch of legs panty hoses and some stuffing from Michaels and I made him a dummy you know ever dressed it up and it set itself you know

Alex Ferrari 9:46
I remember I remember that dummy very well I remember that dummy very well i

Elizabeth Avellán 9:51
Im sure you've used that dummy

Alex Ferrari 9:54
I'm sure No,look

Elizabeth Avellán 9:54
Legs pantyhose

Alex Ferrari 9:56
Legs pantyhose and a wheelchair for a dolly. I mean, that's that's pretty much That's a that's a precursor.

Elizabeth Avellán 10:02
So So you know, it was really a beautiful thing because I also loved working at the university. So there was always an a plan that I would go get my Master's become a, you know, Vice Prez executive, but not exactly but never an executive, because professors do that, but at least an assistant vice president and had wonderful relationships there and, and Robert, they loved him. And he was working on mariachi, you know, just, you know, writing it there, you know, the computers there because nobody had computers at home

Alex Ferrari 10:31
89 - 90

Elizabeth Avellán 10:33
The rice at home, you know, I mean, I was a sugar mama the most cheap sugar mama you could ever have, you know. But, you know, I paid the bills, and I paid the rent, and I was really good with money, I had been able to be that person in my life always. And, and I, you know, so so as a result, we got all of that off the ground and things took off from there. So all of that. So the big question was, are you coming with me? Or are you not, you know, and it was a very Crossroads moment. For me. It's a very, like, and I thought that business is so hard, you know, we all know, and, you know, what context Do I go in? You know, how do I do this? I need to be thoughtful about because I'm a very, since I was very young, very thoughtful about when I saw broadcast news, I knew that too. I was, I mean, I was Holly Hunter. I was either going to go into news or I was going to go into into film, you know, or TV. I it was like, clear, crystal clear. For me. It's like that up. There it is. That's what I am a producer. Okay, got it. I understand now what I am. And I had been doing that with Robert all throughout. And so I really, really thoughtfully Alex, I didn't want to just do it because I want fame. I didn't want to do it because I wanted anything I wanted to do it because it's where I was supposed to be a my real destiny of life admission, you know? And I thought, you know, how do you guess who figured that? Well, you sit still. So I had already quit my other job. We had insurance. And I sat still for about a month in my in Houston, Austin, Robert was gone a lot of the time. And, and I was really, really, for the first time in my life, I think I was able to sit still. And try to listen to where I was supposed to be if I was supposed to do it. And it was. And, you know, it became very clear to me that I was supposed to. I didn't know why though. You know,

Alex Ferrari 12:47
That's the way the universe works. The universe. Yeah, the universe doesn't do that. Oh, yeah, no, no, no, no, no, that's not the way it works.

Elizabeth Avellán 12:56
You know, like, you know, because, because if somebody tells you the why, or the universe, God, whatever you want to call it, it may not make sense, you know, or it may, you know, it may not make sense until you are practicing in it, you know, so I did I, you know, I started began to work. And it's an interesting thing, because, to me, the reason I am in this is for the crew, and the cast, to be there as a person that tries to be and by the way, I haven't necessarily been this person every time because you know, life goes like cyclical, but consistently, I try, you know, to be that person, including in this last movie, where the needs what are this? Because once you prep the movie, the producer is just what is it that my other person does, I'm just going to spare change on the set, you know, if you've done it, right,

Alex Ferrari 13:52
Sure, if you, if you built them, if you bought the machine, the machine runs,

Elizabeth Avellán 13:56
You build the machine. And by the way, you just keep adjusting you make sure it has oil, you make sure that it has what it needs, you do all that. But really truly at that point is where are the potholes that you need to be fluid to fill so that people have a smooth ride? We all give up our lives, you know, for a moment of we're making a movie, or we're shooting a movie especially everybody puts their lives on hold or so they think but things happen every time you know, it never ceases to amaze me the how something to a crew member or cast member. And then do you have the wherewithal and the compassion to be sure that that person if they if they can continue the film great if not, I mean I've had, for example, you talked about John Sayles, Felipe Fernandez, El Paso was our set decorator industrial Don, he went to do a movie with John Sayles after that as a production designer, the one he did down in Chiapas.

Alex Ferrari 14:57
Oh, not that long star. No Was it was in Lonestar

Elizabeth Avellán 15:01
It's down in Mexico

Alex Ferrari 15:03
Yeah, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes. I remember that movie. Yes.

Elizabeth Avellán 15:07
And my brain is going to come to me. But anyway, but Philippe's mother passed away, but we're in the middle of shooting Dusk Till Dawn in Mexico and and he had been my my set decorator also on Desperado that was the movie after Desperado. And he was like, No, I'll stay. I'm here, you know, we're in the middle of a dry lake bed in Barstow in the middle of August. And I had to sit with him and say, No, you have to go see your mom, we will do all the work. And if you want to come back, open the door for that, you know, if you need to stay, you stay, if you want to come back, your your step decorate, right. So thank God for those moments, because everybody was going so fast, it was a really rough shoot in that dry lake bed. And to be able to, to do that, for Felipe. And throughout I mean, Felipe is just one example. So life continues, you know, and you were laughing about how people are like, oh, you know, movie, the film business. So exciting, you know, and kids are like, I don't want to work. Why do you want to be in the service, I don't want to be in a job eight to five. And I'm like, so you want to be in one from 7am to 7pm, or from like noon to like midnight or more? You know, like,

Alex Ferrari 16:21
I was about to say those were very slow days,

Elizabeth Avellán 16:24
In the cold in the past in the whatever, you know, in the whatever. With the movie, you know, that's where you really, and that's, you know, there are some that that is their passion.

Alex Ferrari 16:37
It's I call it I once you get no, yeah, no, absolutely. And I've I mean, I've obviously I've talked to him a million filmmakers throughout my career, and worked with tons throughout my career as well. And I've just realized that there's an insanity. There is an insanity to being a filmmaker, I literally was having a conversation with with a guest yesterday filmmaker, who lost everything lost their home with six kids moved in with their parents, because the movie failed, because they didn't know what they were doing. And their ego was out of control. Because when you're young filmmaker, your egos out of control. And his only thought was not that I can't eat not that have no roof. Not that I've had to move back in with my parents for eight months while they come back out of this. Oh my god, I might not remember the movie again. And that was the only thought in his head. And I'm like, do you understand? And I stopped him. And I said, everyone, I want you to listen, we're insane. We're insane creatures. As artists, we're probably one of the more insane artists, because it's the most expensive. It's one of the most expensive art forms on the planet. And you can't do it by yourself. You need a lot of people.

Elizabeth Avellán 17:47
You need I mean, you need a good crew. I mean, you need crews to sign it with about 40 something. And let me tell you, that means the producer is Lord have mercy. Everything No, absolutely not being fluid. Yeah, but it's true. It is insane. And you know, it's always interesting to me when you have new people that are PhDs or you see which ones haven't mean they're, they're innate, you know, they have the innate passion, that they're so good that you're like, This guy's never really been on a real movie set. That's amazing. Because, I mean, we had one pa in our group, this last movie that was this kid, you know, that came to we're in a tiny town in Oklahoma. And he came because his parents were moving. So he came to help them. He did you know, he's doing a little theater, but he's doing visual effects mainly. And this kid the woman? I'm talking about town the most Oklahomans don't know. And this kid named Johnny Juanito. One that that I call him, Johnny, because, you know, he spoke English and Spanish. Sure. And he was our intern. His mom was, you know, because they're in that town. She was a dishwasher in the, and she told me, Nancy, what's her name? She told me about him. And then I met him and I was like, great. Oh, you can be standing as an intern, whatever, right? Oh, my God, that kid was like, a rock star. Everybody wanted to take him to the next thing with them. I mean, incredible. And it's an intern, you know? And then you have others and you're like, Okay, do you not understand that? People walk through, like hot coals to do have the job you have? Do you understand that? How many people would like do anything to replace you? And here you are, like, 111? You know, it's it's hard because at the moment, I'm like, and what I always try to get across is like, this is a very short intense time. The shooting part of it is very short and intense time and you if you're not loving it, don't be in it.

Alex Ferrari 19:54
Oh, no, no, no, it's just and I've told people that so many times if you don't absolutely love what you're doing in this business, You need to leave because it will eat you alive. It you it will eat you alive. And I've seen a few bitter Oh. So this is

Elizabeth Avellán 20:08
It because you're like, Yeah, you know, the best situations, you know,you're, you know,

Alex Ferrari 20:16
If you're angry and the one thing I always tell people when I speak when I speak sometimes to film students and stuff, I'll go How many of you guys here know one angry and bitter filmmaker, and then handful of people who raised their hands on like, Whoever didn't raise your hand, you're the angry and bitter filmmaker that everybody else knows. And because it's true, because we all know an angry, bitter filmmaker, an angry, bitter screenwriter. And if you don't know them, it's you. It's you know, a lot. So I wanted to go back a little bit to mariachi because mariachi is it? Well, first of all, for me, it was again, an integral part of my growing up. I mean, I was working at a video store in 91. When that was released. I was in high school still,

Elizabeth Avellán 20:59

Alex Ferrari 21:00
Yeah, very Quintin. Very Quintin, very Quintines yes. Yes. That was my film school as well.

Elizabeth Avellán 21:07
I love it.

Alex Ferrari 21:07
Yes, I was working at a video store. I still have my El Mariachi video. So poster by the way. I've never I've got two copies of I stole two from the video store. I've never gotten rid of them. And my wife's like, what are you gonna do with those? I'm like, don't worry. One day, I'll put them up. And I have the but I always have them always, always ask them. And I remember when it came out, and it blew my mind because it was the first time to be honest, there was the first time I ever saw a Latino filmmaker. It was at a at any at any level in Hollywood, really. And there obviously had been Latino filmmakers before. But no one that really took the stage like Robert, and what you and Robert did. And obviously and I talk about Robert, I talk about El Mariachi constantly throughout the years of the show purely because I go look man, you guys are people still talk about mariachis, it's an urban myth at this point. It's an urban myth. They still talk about mariachi like, oh, you remember like mariachi, if he could do it for 7000. I could do my it was 1991. It was a very special time. It was the birth of the independent film movement, the Sundance independent film movement, you know, with Rick and, and Edward Burns and Kevin Smith and Quinton and Stuart, a Bergen, that that those that decade? Very specific time is a very specific time. And I always tell I had I had Edward Edward Burns on the show. And I asked him Oh, wow, yeah, I had Eddie on the show. And I asked, Ed, if if Brothers McMullen came out today, would you what do you think it would do anything? He goes? Probably not. And I'd argue that if mariachi showed up today, it'd be difficult to cut through the noise. Because originally from what I heard, and that's nothing against the movie, because there's a lot of no I agree with it's, it was just that time and then of course, all the blocks that hit you know, Robert Newman and, and that whole thing, but it was it because you can come on, of course, the story of mariachi, he was just going to do something for the Mexican video market. It was never actually supposed to ever be released in English. It was just as like his practice, film, all this kind of stuff. I have to ask you, what was it like being in the center of that hurricane? Because that was like, that must have been a world when? Because I mean, I read the book, obviously have it back there. It's it's it's a Bible for any filmmaker to listen to, to watch. And but what was it like being in the center of that? Because Oh, my God.

Elizabeth Avellán 23:34
No, it truly, I'll tell you, and let me begin with the fact that the seed for it. You know, one of the things that Robert was always confounded by was that people he would hear people say, Oh, well, if you go to film school, your short film and film school will cost $100,000 150 to $200,000. And, you know, it comes from a family of 10. We had, I mean, I barely we bet you know, we were it's not like my job paid a lot of money. But we we were able to stay out of debt, you know, which is a big one. That's a big one. Tell people out of college debt. And I talked to young kids about this, you know, it was a Tovar. But to say we can't be in debt, because you won't be able to be free, you know, to go do and take what you need to take. So my most important thing for Robert was that he continued to go to school and to get a camera. So when he did Bedhead, his first semester of film, was to get a hold of film cam, as he thought without a film camera. You know, I can't go to festivals, it's kind of thing, you know, without it being on film, really true to the bigger festivals, and so when he was able and everybody else was spending 1000s of dollars, you know, 2000 and he's, we don't have that kind of money. So because of his abilities, you know, and his siblings, he wrote Something that he already was just like my it, why do I have my kid my little siblings? I can do something interesting with them. And, and he had the film camera, which was an MLS film camera. You know, it was just a 16 tank tiny one of those crank up once

Alex Ferrari 25:18
Oh, well it was oh, so it wasn't even it wasn't even crystals. It was just a crank. So your production was probably was a ball either Bolex or an airy one of those. It was a fireball is one of those old ones. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 25:31
So he ended up spending, including transferring the film editing the film and everything. 800 bucks, which he had gone to paramiko to get lab tested. So he had a little money to do that way. And you know, you know, in the meantime, I was helping with whatever pay per semester or whatever needed to happen. And he was doing a comic strip that he got eight bucks a day whenever he did that comic strip. So he made a little, a couple 100 bucks a month. And so that started sort of like his ability to go, okay. $800.08 minutes, $1,000.80 minutes, that was the see. Wow, from there is when he thought I can make a feature for like, I don't know, 8000 10,000. So he talked to Carlos Guyardo. And this is he and I got married in January 1990 got married. And so this is a now a year later, when he's already that the film started going to festivals and started winning things. So he was like, okay, okay, this is possible, you know? Oh, and he also did the animation. And interestingly, that his professor at the time was like, Robert, you already have an A. And Robert looked at him. And he was like, Dude, this is not about getting an A, you know, this is? So anyway, and I, you know, I help them with I helped with whatever I filled in the little cockroach wings on the animation like, oh, so great. Yeah, one of those, you know, very, it was a very sweet time, you know, for us. And then, you know, so he had some friends that borrowed a 60 NES. He had been writing, and they've been talking about it. So some guys he'd met at the access channel, you know, in Austin. And so those guys said, yeah, we can let you borrow it. So you can go shoot my edge, but he'd been writing it. He'd been doing, you know, taking sophomore year semester, but he was kind of like, and let somebody else write that movie, and I'll be a part of it and blah, blah, blah. So then a, he was writing in, in the computers at the office, so he would stay there longer. And we work together that worked in that office still and, you know, with everybody was so kind because he loved these people to just like me. So it was a wonderful group of folks that loved him and loved us, you know, and what he was doing, you know, they saw the passion, they saw that and how much he gave to the office. Anytime there's a birthday, he do a beautiful put, he's an amazing artist. So do a beautiful little poster in full Prisma color. You know, like really funny stuff, caricature but funny. Most people in the office were part of his comic strip, they started getting in there as characters, including the executive, Dr. Funk. So, you know, so for him, if it hadn't been that we worked in that place, it would have been harder, because no computer, you know, no free time in between classes to sit there and answer phones while we were doing other things. So he could continue to write a script. And then it was ready, he was ready to go, you know, and then he went to farmaco for a month. And that's where he finished reading, writing the script. So it all kind of converged together, the right combination of having the right people around you that are supportive. And so and then Carlos, and he already had done so many short films. And Carlos was dialed in that shoot that shot there before many short films. So everybody knew them as his kids, I'd love to do this stuff. So Carlos had a lot. So they wrote everything around. Robert wrote everything around what he knew he had, that is really what he did. So went down there. And then he gets a phone call about 10 days in and the guys need the camera back. So they're under the gun. There's like we got and he didn't answer the phone, you know, it was a no cell phones back then. So you could pretend it in here that like they're calling me and they're asking for the camera and he goes okay until the weekend. So the 14 days of shooting. Thank God he was able to kind of stretch it so that he could do that and then drove back with all the film, transferred it to three quarter inch, and you know, and then edited out the Austin axis. So all of that together is what leads to if I tell people if Robert got $1 paid for every hour, he's mariachi, forget me forget Carlos forget anybody. It would have cost

Alex Ferrari 29:58

Elizabeth Avellán 29:58

Alex Ferrari 30:00

Elizabeth Avellán 30:01
Easily I mean easily the budget would not be what it is. Plus he also did not make a film print. So that's why it's not 30 some $1,000 people he didn't make it for me stills, you know, urban mess. Oh no, he didn't make a film print. Hello me pictures made a film print for him. You know what the sound is? The sound guys in this plasma. So I heard the Columbia spent $200,000 in sound, because it sound Oh my gosh, is it? True? Not true.

Alex Ferrari 30:27
So what's what's the Okay, so this is the this is the urban myth that I've heard about this, like, okay, everyone's like, because I have I've had to defend Roberts honor many times at at film festivals, film festivals and things like that. They're like, that's all BS. That's all pressed at Columbia. He never made a movie for 7000. And I'm like, Look, he made the movie for 7000 He transferred the movie onto three quarter inch tape because I remember because I used to

Elizabeth Avellán 30:54
That only the film and then development of the film will release what cost 7000. and transferring right to 7000. restaurant was his own time.

Alex Ferrari 31:04
Right, exactly. So then he from what I understand he transferred it to three quarter ranch. He cut it, he cut it at the access at the access. You know, tape the tape? No, I did. That was my first job. I was cutting reels for a commercial house in Miami. And I know the Sony I know the Sony very well. So I edited on the exact same machine he edited on on three quarter inch, three quarters because you couldn't afford beta that was really expensive. So you couldn't do beta, you had to beta stuff dispelling the you know it's not true because it is true. So it's all so all of that. And I mean, and of course in the book, like he stayed overnight, and he couldn't leave because the alarms he had to he had to pee and in a jug of water, like all these stories, so you hear all this, but then they go so and then. And so they always talk about well, how about the audio and I go from my understanding, and this is this is what I understand. And I've done. I've read all the books and I've done that I've done all the research. I've I've studied Robert in depth, especially during that period of time. It was of course, he's wonderful. Yeah. To to so to my understanding. When Columbia got it. They obviously remastered the they went back to the print or to the not the print, do the negative remastered it all that stuff. But the sound is what cost them a good amount of money to redo cuz you have to be done everything.

Elizabeth Avellán 32:22
I'll tell you why. So he had him. It was as 16 escenarios 16 S No sound, right. So he had a Moran's tape recorder and a $50 mic and a box of TDK tapes. Same as that. Hey, the other kind that

Alex Ferrari 32:40
No, no, no, no old school with a pencil the pencil Pencil. Pencil. You're good.

Elizabeth Avellán 32:45
Those very much. Yes. And he since these guys were not actors, they kind of set things up the same rhythm so he could match the mouth, you know pretty well. So he would go through the paces all the Foley like they put the glass down. Like they think about the scene in the in the, in the bar, those three guys, you know, the beer, the thing, all the sounds is sound so he would go up and redo the whole scene for sound after after we shot so it's that so after you're done, and by the way, and he would grab when the beer was being poured. So he grabbed that kind of stuff, that glass hitting that same table. So he was kind of doing Foley slash down and they would go through say all the words again, you know, because he didn't have a sound guy with them.You know? None of that.

Alex Ferrari 33:33
And it wasn't it wasn't as cheap as it is today because now you now all this equipment is super super cheap, though Yeah, it's super affordable.

Elizabeth Avellán 33:40
So so that's why I was flipping through my sound guys this past movie. Let's it so what happened is so Jimmy Andre from Columbia Pictures that post production guy comes all the way to Texas to pick up the elements quote unquote Yeah, so he goes away with like, he brings us big bag. I mean the the film didn't even the TDK tape, just like you know the little box here it is. And Jimmy is sitting there in our apartment going Hello CUDA, by the way really good sound because he took the time to get so much stuff clean. Now, mind you, you're never going to be able to project this movie with that sound necessarily, necessarily. Unless you transfer it. And they didn't. They only sweeten things you can talk to Sergio antennae. They can tell you there were mixers at Columbia. And yes, they spent money in order to put something on the big screen like they were planning on it. You know? You can't show something that's in cassette tapes, of course not sleep, right. So, but they used all that sound. There was no ADR man There was none of that.

Alex Ferrari 35:01
When so there was no way so there's no so there's no ADR for sound but how about but for how about dialogue?

Elizabeth Avellán 35:07
No idea for sound. There was some Foley I saw that Foley happen. But Robert had gotten so many of the sounds in place they used whatever they could use it just wow. Oh, by the way, I mean, we're talking Columbia Pictures. Sergio antennae their biggest. Oh, no, no, no, no, they're just Latino. You know, antennae is a cool guy. They're like, we'll do this is we fun? You know,

Alex Ferrari 35:28
Nobody would nobody wanted to do this

Elizabeth Avellán 35:31
Sergio just passed away. He has been our mixer. All of these years. Oh, pretty much every single movie. He even moved to Austin. So he has mixed everything Sergio has So okay, so so he can tell he's passed away with all the you know, the truth which is this is the truth. I know it because we've talked about it so much.

Alex Ferrari 35:51
So So still think it's bullshit, you know? So, so then so then basically it was all sweetening there was there ADR that that all the talent have to come back in? And so all the all the dialogue

Elizabeth Avellán 36:01
All from the TDK cassette tapes,

Alex Ferrari 36:03
No hold up no hold up

Elizabeth Avellán 36:05
All of it

Alex Ferrari 36:05
So the dialogue the dialogue as well

Elizabeth Avellán 36:08
The dialogue all there was never ADR man. Never. Never no

Alex Ferrari 36:15
So they just so they just basically put it in their system sweetened it up, made it professional surround sound and did did as best as they could.

Elizabeth Avellán 36:21
Everything they needed to do. Yeah, exactly. And then then Robert himself and cut the film and a film print from his cut three quarter inch, they sat there with a camera looking at it.

Alex Ferrari 36:34
So they read Okay, there was no EDL there was there was no

Elizabeth Avellán 36:38
Self literally did this. And

Alex Ferrari 36:41
He did a frame he did like an old

Elizabeth Avellán 36:45
We created. That's what I'm talking about for every dollar. Mike. Yeah, if the amount of time Robert gave to this is pretty incredible. So then, so anyway, when I saw the film, because I'm I'm a critic, you know. Normally I said Why put as a film person, you know, I love I love film, you know? And I said to him, when I saw Moriarty in the three quarter inch version before he went to LA with it. I said, You know what? I give it three out of five. For the movie, I saw this movie is that three out of five? I saw it knowing rough, rough audience, but knowing the story of how you made this and how much it cost. This is a five out of five, you go out there and tell that story. You know, I mean, we agreed that that was really the thing. By the way, what he wanted to do also was, you know, he was a kid that never thought he could do it, because he heard there was so much cloak, you know, like these huge cloak curtains that you just did not touch as a Latino as a kid from a family of 10 or a family of seven. Sure. I know. You you financially know, you know, and to go to a family. We are in awe of like Rick Linkletter and your cantina who dared? You know, who dared? You know, but Robert decided to go open the curtain. And the wizard behind that is who exactly let's let's look at the wizard please. Okay. No, okay. There's no wizard is just keeping people up. So that's what he felt he had to do, which is why he convinced Columbia Pictures. It was laser discs. But back then.

Alex Ferrari 38:31
Oh, I know. I I had a laser disc

Elizabeth Avellán 38:34
That for the first time a movie like Omar Yeah, because it was all criterion. You didn't get to have

Alex Ferrari 38:39
Audio commentaries. You know, your your right, your right nobody

Elizabeth Avellán 38:46
It was criteria. And it was like

Alex Ferrari 38:48
$125. And it was $125. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 38:52
Absolutely. Or Exactly. Or Robert convincing, this amazing guy named Clint Culpeper, who was so full of joy and, and enthusiasm for what was going on, you know, and he's still a dear friend. And Clint, and Robert. He was like, we're doing this and he convinced Clint Culpeper. And Robert convinced Columbia Pictures to do a laserdisc with the commentary. So to dispel the myths, but you know, people still think that is not true. And it is, it's, it's so beautiful, because it is all really true. So I'm so sad. You know, people were really angry some of them at Sundance that he had been. He had been a what do they call it media trained? No. By the way, Robert is one of the most shy humans in a lot of ways is very quiet. Very shy. You give him a microphone is the opposite of the of the states right? Yeah, the frog from Warner Brothers you know, hello, my baby. That's Robert backwards. You give that man a microphone, because he got so much sited about taking all that cloak and dagger stuff of filmmaking you know? And that's been his life you know?

Alex Ferrari 40:08
Oh he's been he is a troublemaker troublemaker Studios was and that was the thing that I and that's one of the things that I mean obviously found an immense inspiration for mariachi and Desperado and Robert and years career moving forward. But I've never seen the amount of hate bitterness of people that like when all he got him because of this or that and I got it because when you see when you see someone who has Oh, he got lucky Mita lucky and lucky no okay, look at the look look Lucky is lucky buddy man. Listen, Lucky will get you in the door, but it doesn't keep you there. And, and, you know and and yet there are certain certain things that the universe put in place, you know, that got mariachi? There's no question. The timing was right. I always tell people Robert was there with the right product at the right time. And and it just so happened that it went got to Robert Newman, Robert Newman said hey, let's do this. And and then it kind of took off from there. By the way,

Elizabeth Avellán 41:14
Robert Newman had no clients, right? He wasn't this big one was in ICM, right? I don't want a new one had that other people didn't have Robert Newman, Robert was given that name by a guy named dunk dominant. Robert Newman was coming down for a party for the film commission here in Texas. And Robert Newman, was the foreign sales guy at ICM he had no, he didn't represent anyone. He represented films that needed to have foreign sales. Sure that they had filmmakers that they were represent.

Alex Ferrari 41:46
Oh, by the way, just real quick, everybody. Robert Newman is Robert

Elizabeth Avellán 41:50
Robert's agent. Yeah. Yeah, he's that William Morris Endeavor, Robert Newman. And he has been from the beginning. But Robert was his first client, just so that you people know that, you know, but Robert Newman had been trained, he was the fourth person at a place called Miramax. And he worked for the Weinstein Brothers. Basically, when before they were an actual studio, or any kind of any kind, they were just, they would buy foreign films. So they went to festivals, and they physically take them to the Angelika theater to the laemmli in LA, all that stuff. They, you know, they, they, and they worked on campaigns for those little films to get them foreign, you know, Oscars if possible, you know, that kind of thing. But lots of Robert Newman was very used to foreign films, he was trained by the, you know, I hate to say not everyone's gonna is a genius of sorts in that realm, you know, and, and so that's who he, he was the fourth person, it was Bob Harvey, a British guy, I can't remember his name, and then Robert Newman. So he came from a training that he was really, really ready to see mariachi, with a different pair of eyes, timing agents would imagine, there could even if we just did the serendipity that the blessed sort of path, and by the way, and then it takes an assistant to an agent that is willing to open that door. So when Robert made that phone call, that assistant truly opened that door, so it is you know, I mean, I'm always very that person, you know, I try to be that person. So and I knew I knew who Robert was, and and I knew the purity of what he was trying to do too. Because it was it was pretty rough for people you know, you could not get it even if you were passionate and love the business you couldn't be in the business you know, you would never dream of assuming you're gonna be in the business

Alex Ferrari 43:53
Let alone Latino, let alone a Latina, let alone a Latino. Latino,

Elizabeth Avellán 43:57
Yeah, exactly. So so it was. It's a very opening of a world. So many people, you know, that. But it was also funny because Vietnam toto had done a lot of films Cronos you know, and we all were in festivals together with a mariachi, you know, and we went around the world with them. And lucked out to be as Quinton was finishing Reservoir Dogs. Last place that showed was Toronto and we were there. That was the second festival we were in. And when I met Robert not a person with a lot of friends. You know, he's shy. So he just works on his thing very obsessive and he has 10 siblings, you know, I mean, I understand it on my you know, you become friends with your loved ones in your house, you know? So, you know, you don't have time to go party. You don't have money like that. So, so a when I met Quinton, I was like, like I felt this immediately. I found a friend. I swear to you in the lobby of the Toronto hotel, we were staying. And I looked at him, because somebody introduced him to me. I may have been Robert Newman. And I said, it was oh my gosh, oh, wow. You know, and I was like, I want you to meet Robert, I want you to meet my husband. And he was like, Let's go immediately, like, let's go. And I was like, okay, so I took him up to our room, and I opened the door. I said, Robert, I have somebody for you to meet. It was like, magic. It was magic to find this.

Alex Ferrari 45:39
Brothers, brothers brothers.

Elizabeth Avellán 45:41
They've been that since you know, yeah, it found each other and they could understand each other. So well, you know, the same thing with em. There's just been certain people that Robert has done this with, you know, like, very, you know, I clicked into it. Yeah. And it's beautiful. Bizarre, you know, it's, it's not easy. This business bunch of fancy ones. You know? We're live in LA, we've never wanted to live in LA, you know? So it's been a beautiful, I mean, Jim Cameron. And Robert always hit it off, like, boom, you know, like, very close knit. So people are like, how did I leave that happened? It's like, they've been friends for a long time. Robert had been friends for a while, just like the emulator and Jim Cameron, you know? Yeah, he's his own person, you know, very close, tight knit people. They don't really hang out with a bunch of, you know, Hollywood types. Right now. So, so yeah, so it's beautiful. You know,

Alex Ferrari 46:33
It's kind of, it's kind of like, you know, we can smell our own. When you meet someone like that. It's like, oh, okay, I find it looks growing up you, it's hard to find other filmmakers that you can can or other people that you can connect with at that level. And that's why a lot of times when I'm when I say my passion, the, the that level of passion, the level of skill, and like all of that kind of because there's a lot of people who might be passionate, but that can actually pull off what you're doing. That's a very small group.

Elizabeth Avellán 47:04
That passion, though, leads to everything. I'm doing it because for example, in film school, it was hard for Robert because the other people that he was working with to make bedhead. You know, okay, get a party, I gotta go to you know, I gotta hurry up. We're gonna happen then to get tivity is a very interesting thing. It was hard for him, you know, and he just kind of went, you know what, it's okay. And he did all those films by himself. He didn't really need people to, to do that. You know? So so, you know, it was like that,

Alex Ferrari 47:35
I'm glad. I'm glad that we were able to put in the public record the story of mariachi, because it's been such an urban myth about so many things about mariachi through the and and yeah, and it's, it's beautiful.

Elizabeth Avellán 47:48
And the way that with my heart full, I can tell you and the writing of the book, I mean, that's his diary. Right? Look, his diary. He entrusted it to me to edit it a little bit. I was the pre editor before the editor got it. You know, just I just, you know, made sure that it made sense, you know, because it's just his stream of consciousness. And I admire that I don't write a diary. I don't. I'm not I'm not that person. You know,

Alex Ferrari 48:14
I've I've tried, I can't journal. I'm not. I've tried. I've sat down. I'm like, do we

Elizabeth Avellán 48:21
Yeah, it can do a greatfull list. That's about it.

Alex Ferrari 48:26
No, I'm a and that book. And that book, Rebel Without a crew is still to this day. It's a seminal book in independent film. I've, I remember. I was I remember when it came out. I was in I was in film school in Orlando. I picked up the book and I read it in one sitting. I just sat there just in awe. Because you again and for people listening you have to understand and 9192 I was in film school. I was 9494 95. I picked up a first edition. I still have my first edition of Rebel Without a crew. And wow. Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, no, no. So I said you said you. And I remember reading it. And for me, you people have to understand in the 90s there wasn't this. It wasn't cool to be the filmmaker just yet. The Rock and Roll filmmaker, the Rock and Roll director, which I think Quinton and Robert kind of created that kind of persona, because Spielberg had been around and Scorsese and Coppola, but there wasn't a rock and roll kind of like, present this kind of person. And so but there was no information there was no YouTube there was barely any making offs. There was like you had LaserDisc with commentaries. If you were lucky. There was nothing tense in that book for me when I was reading it. It was like a portal into Hollywood, which seemed like a world away. And I was being taken on a journey with a with a filmmaker, a Latino filmmaker, like so you have to understand the power of that for Latino reading. It was so influential and so powerful for me and I such reverence for that book that I always tell people, I wrote a book called shooting for the mob, about how I almost made him was made a movie for $20 million movie for the mafia. And I always tell people, oh, yeah, and then I was and then in many ways, so. So that what happened was, I made this book. And then, in many ways, because of the mariachi story, a lot of the stuff that happens to me in that book, I got flown out to LA, I met the biggest movie stars, I bet I met big power players. And I'm like, Oh, my God, this is my mariachi, but I got this psychotic gangster behind me threatening my life on a daily basis. So I always tell people, if you want to read two books in the film business, you read Rebel Without a crew. And that's the way that's the positive side of how a career could go and that you read my book is the opposite side of the coin, where I went into complete depression and almost got myself. So it's like the complete opposite.

Elizabeth Avellán 50:59
Yeah. I would say that.

Alex Ferrari 51:03
Like that book says, like, you could go off and have Roberts career, or you can go off and like, oh, you almost got killed. Almost this almost did that. It was it was a remarkable story. But anyway, but yeah, but

Elizabeth Avellán 51:16
He loved that. It was love that it must have been hard.

Alex Ferrari 51:20
No, hold on. No. I mean, it was it was

Elizabeth Avellán 51:22
No, but you know what I mean, I think that the negativity that came from it was harsh. I will be really honest, there was a lot of you either hate or hate, oh, God, a lot of hurtful things said. And Robert was really clear, he would even say it at the same Sundance where the other guys were, they're the ones that had a $38,000 movie. Howard said they did the same thing I did. It just made a film print. I didn't realize that's what a $30,000 is, you know, so that's the difference. I you know, I ended up going and shopping it around and somebody else made a film point for me. Because he was trying to encourage people that, yeah, you could do don't necessarily have to make the thumbprint. You know, so think about that, you know, he was already helping people think of it a little different, because it was like, I'm no different than a $30,000 movie. He was very clear in the panels. That probably wasn't even filmed at that time, you know, and saved. Because it, it really, but I just love that people like Kevin Smith saw that. And it. I mean, he was like, Okay, I gotta I gotta store that I work at a convenience store. I got some friends that are hilarious. You know, there it is. clerks. You know, I love that. I love that. And it keeps, you know, repeating itself. And, and by the way, I don't know if you know this, Robert, with some of our kids made a film called Read 11.

Alex Ferrari 52:47
Yeah, I'm dying to see it. When is it coming out?

Elizabeth Avellán 52:50
I don't know. I have to find out. But it is. It is a visual of how to do a $7,000 movie today with what you have. And exactly the mariachi styled but somebody, he had an actual crew film with him doing it.

Alex Ferrari 53:08
Oh, God, please, please release this

Elizabeth Avellán 53:10
So Luca fesi. resists. Latino also is the guy that filmed him doing it, but they were doing it, you know, exactly. The actors themselves. Were the ones. You know, my son rebel, is in it. And he also is the composer of the movie, I pay no money. But now he's composed to other movies. He hadn't paid for it. You know, he made the sacrifice for Cena, because he's a really good composed. You did we can be heroes for Robert. And you know, he's just a 22 year old kid. But man, he really is good. So you. And by the way, and he was buoyed by people like Don Dabney who, you know, wanted help to help them succeed, because we have had other people like that. Their kids have wanted to be filmmakers, and we've had them come and be interns with us or working on movies. You know. I mean, James Spader son, Sebastian worked with us for a whole year and a half, as you know, behind the scenes, because he loved and he had been working since he was amazing. You know, what I mean? We try to help mothers, you know, to for their kids to come in. It's and, and that they want something they want to learn from someone else.

Alex Ferrari 54:20
What I what I found amazing about what about what we've talked about so far, and just from what I've studied over the years about what you and Robert have done, is that you really did pull that curtain back for a generation of filmmakers, because they're, I mean, everyone on everyone listen, you have to understand before before mariachi before what Robert and, and honestly a lot of that generation, you know, Eddie and and Rick and all those guys. It was closed. There was the door was closed. There was no opportunity to do anything. And Robert was

Elizabeth Avellán 54:56
That glimmer of light it was one of those like thick blackout curtain. Yeah, you couldn't see. Yeah, it wasn't curtain but you thought it was a wall. You know it really wasn't curtain, but not one ounce of light came through it to help you nothing might nothing.

Alex Ferrari 55:12
Yeah, it was all you would see is I always say like there's there's gods and there's Demi gods of film industry and you would look at Spielberg and you would look at Coppola and Scorsese and and then Hitchcock and Lucas and Lucas and all these all these guys and and they would they just seem so far away the stories you heard that they were almost like you know, Stephen had his his mythical urban myth of him jumping off the trade off the off the tram and all that stuff. One day when I get him on the show, that's the first question I'm asking him. I'm like that Steven, please. Is this true? I just need to know. But, but it was so far away and when the story of mariachi showed up, and that's what I love about about one of the many things I love about mariachi is it was the first time the making of the film was in the marketing. Prior to that, no one ever led with I made a $7,000 movie. By the way, everyone listening don't do that anymore. You don't that's it's gone, because everybody can do that. Now. Stop Don't lead that you like I shot my movie with an iPhone don't care. Is it a good story, but back then, it was extremely impressive for him for Kevin, for even Rick and all those guys. It was extremely impressive.

Elizabeth Avellán 56:32
Nicholas Lopez, Lopez from LA you know, he He came with his little first film and and I love that he said he came all the way from Chile wrote me letters letter, you know, inspired. There's a character in Brasilia Rocco called Roberto Rodriguez. They lead characters named Robert Rodriguez, and he loves to draw and all this stuff. And, and he looked around at all Maker Studios and said, and I love this. He said, I'm going back to chillin to do this. And he has, you know, and that's beautiful. You know, when somebody gets inspired like that. I just heard while I was doing this movie about a, another filmmaker. That literally said, you told me to go home and create this at home. Sterling Sterling Harjo the Native American filmmaker, he, you know, he was like, I'm gonna move to Austin. I was like, and he told somebody that said to me, that I was the inspiration because I said, No Sterling go do and for your farm. That's what it's about in with your people with everything. And now he's working with Taika Waititi in reservation dogs. That's amazing. You know, and I love hearing stories of you said a little something that planted a seed and now it's giving, you know, it's growing and really going out there. And so sterling is doing it in Oklahoma man, and now they have 35% tax rebates. That's amazing. Amazing. That's amazing. Amazing. You know, so in Oklahoma,

Alex Ferrari 58:14
In Oklahoma, no less.

Elizabeth Avellán 58:17
So very cool. You know,

Alex Ferrari 58:19
So as so as a producer. Alright, so you go through the mariachi and and the whole world when and they go okay, Robert, we want you to make another movie and it's Desperado. And they give him more money. Then I kind of well no, no, no, actually it was road racers are road racers first

Elizabeth Avellán 58:37
I know about the road racers, but it was like, once they won the Audience Award, they were so confused as to what they wanted. They didn't know if they wanted a sequel. Or if they wanted to remake it reshoot redoing of it. They it was so confusing, because it won the Audience Award. That's what you're getting at Sundance. Yes. Before it was cool, just remake, you know,

Alex Ferrari 58:59
But then be like, wait a minute, people actually, like, reward people like this people like this movie. So it was Oh my god. So I good man, right. Originally, it was a blessing of a mess. Because originally it was not supposed to be released widely. It was like, okay, so obviously, we'll do this. We'll do that. But then Cool. Interesting. Cool. All right. He's got talent. Let's see what we can do. But now like, wait a minute one. Oh, my God, we're gonna have to put this out there. Like what do we want?

Elizabeth Avellán 59:26
By the way I mean, people are like, Oh, he just was media train and he was able media trinken media training tell you but let me tell you that that's not true. Because I'm gonna tell you right now, I'll tell you, right. It's not a competitive Film Festival. That was our first film festival. And, you know, we had the blessing of somebody like Chuck Jones, you know, from bunts money fame. Yeah. You know, John Wiley Coyote, who has a house intelli, right, and he had come to UT When lava was a cartoonist, and we love chuck a monkey. So he signed the book for us and everything. Robert always said the mariachi was kind of like a cartoon movie, you could turn off the volume and you knew exactly what was going on. And that his hero was Chuck Jones. And this man showed up. At a screening, we ended up with five screenings in, in Telluride, which is pretty unheard of. Yeah, like, huge films get by Sure. Sure, sure. Um, you know, movies that have done extremely well, but everybody wants to see it, because Robert got out there, and could explain what he did. And so it's really interesting. It's not, you know, Oh, he got a media train between, you know, but for Sundance, no, he went to Toronto, he did the same thing. He already been doing it, but he already knew what was important. Robert always knows how to, when you give them a microphone, he knows when you interview him. He knows how to get it's just natural with it really is.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:58
Yeah, and the thing, any interview. And I want I want everybody listening to understand that there was so many people and I was there. I wasn't there with you guys. But I saw it from a distance. How many people tried to tear him down? How many people try to break them down? Whether for whatever reason, there was so much jealousy? Oh, my God, I can imagine the amount of jealousy, even jealousy from like,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:01:22
If a lot of it from him, because me being people didn't know my face. Right? Here. These, you know, for example, somebody said, How dare they give him you know, go from the 7000 to $30 million talking another filmmaker that had been at Sundance $30 million for Desperado after tonight 30 million I went, No, it's not. I mean, it sounds like a lot. 7 million, but we had full actors full every day.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:46
And oh, no, no, no, it wasn't a lot. It wasn't no,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:01:49
It wasn't a lot. So and by the way, he'd done a $1 million movie called road racers. In the meantime, he did as Roger Ebert always said, the best room out of four rooms, they all have the same amount of budget. They all had Iraq, right. Yeah. And by the way, and that poor rooms is the seat of small kids. Yeah. When he says people, you know, it was like one of these people. Hmm. And then he thought, keep your mouth shut. Don't even say that word. Say it to no one, keep that seed, start writing it, start doing it. So when Bob needed somebody to do the faculty, which was a Kevin Williamson script, he had overpaid a lot of money for Robert it was like, okay, but you can't tell anyone this name until we got a deal where we could do spike ins and we could do other things. So, but we know it's like, okay, you do this for me. I'll give you five picture deals, you know, because already, you know, we had done though still done, you know? Okay, so now you want us to the faculty, okay, we'll do that. You know, you paid a lot of money for that. And nobody really wants to direct this thing. And we had fun with it. We had a blast. Yeah. And it but it helped us. That's when we began to work in Austin with our crew. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:54
In the family. We're building. Yeah, the family

Elizabeth Avellán 1:02:56
It's literally with the people that we've created as a film family here. So all of that the faculty was a really important thing for us to do to come home. We always kept our apartment here in Austin. It was just that, you know, just they didn't let us edit Desperado. Here. So in Austin, I'm in Austin. And it but so he had to go to LA to edit it in the meantime, does still don't happen. So while we're there, we would come home and we had our stuff here. So and but yeah, so that's how that happened. That's a progression of things.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:30
So we

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:31
Were like, how did he get all that? And how did he you know

Alex Ferrari 1:03:35
Again Oh, my God, it was so much hate so much. Eight. I just remember so many filmmakers

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:40
In hate it's sad. It was suddenly we quietly and by the way, we also had it from the Latinos, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:46
Oh, no, I know. Everybody

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:48
Knows it was pretty. It was pretty astounding. You know, when your own people, you know, crabs in a bucket, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:53
No, it's crabs. It's crap. It was because

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:56
By the way our leaving, leaving, being at home is part of the reason that we just got really out of the way of everybody and just made our thing happen here, including the studios little by little, you know, they were close. I love it to get for a short time to film spike, it's one you know, and then lobby for keep it for longer than lobby to get the big deal that we got to be able to keep it and put money into it. So we've invested a lot in ourselves and just quietly got people to shut up. So and then whenever anybody of those people that were so negative wanted to glom on to anything, we just kind of went, we're okay here. Maybe I don't want to bring that.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:41
I don't think you guys would have been able to do what you did in LA. There's just no way. There's just no way. There's no no way.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:04:48
They amount. Yeah, because when you when you're in a place where people are. We just kept doing that thing. We just kept doing our thing and Bob was not in LA Bob Weinstein and who we worked for Bob, you know, that's what we have. They're up doing the rest of the movies for a long time for. And it was wonderful because I love Bob, I love what Bob Weinstein is, you know, hobbies, you know, whatever, you know, but Bob Weinstein was always a fair. And very, I just call Bob, I never had to call anybody else. It was just right. And so I got to the, you know, the buck stops here, kind of So, and, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:23
So as a producer, when you were working on Desperado, this is your first big, you know, you got 7 million obviously, you're not the only producer obviously on that project, but

Elizabeth Avellán 1:05:31
Oh, no, by the way, I was just starting, like, nobody, I took no money. I was the wife, you know, like people are like the wife of

Alex Ferrari 1:05:39
I guess, if we get robbery I think that yeah,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:05:42
By the way, no. So I looked at them. I said, I'll tell you what, I'll be the producer intern that takes no money and I will work from beginning to end because I do want to learn so you know, people like Tony Mark who was our UPM really admired that because that person maybe that busted a move the people my the other line producer from Mexico, you know, they're still dear, dear friends, you know, cuz I passed the move. And I worked all through post production, nothing and learned so much. And I'm a studious human being you give me something to learn, I want to learn whatever it takes, you know, and, and you know what, so it didn't take anything from the movie. And I just was, you know, I was able to really navigate those things. Because nobody could say that I was being paid in right out of my art, you know, so, and I'm glad that would make it's not global was making a ton of money at that point, either. You know, that was the first film that was his first look film for Columbia Pictures. So it wasn't like, you know, oh, yeah, like, you gotta have a match check. Apparently, I'm going to put it all on the screen. I mean, we and by the way, and it was beautiful to be able to go back to that Konya where we shot a mariachi, yeah, actually pay people. You know, that's what we chose to shoot it there to go back and really pay people, because mariachi, there was no money. $7,000 What can you pay? So it's a beautiful way to bless a place that had been a blessing already to us, you know. And you had that back, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:08
And you had that in your head that young, young to two unknowns, here in the States, Mr. Antonio Banderas and Miss Salma Hayek and Mr. Danny Trejo, for that matter,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:07:19
Which, by the way, everybody wanted Antonio Salma, it was hard. Oh, no, it

Alex Ferrari 1:07:25
Oh, no, it was a first it was a female, first female lead Latino

Elizabeth Avellán 1:07:28
Road racers with her to give her one screen title on a movie in the United States. That was for Showtime. And that was strategic, you know? And he put her in there was actually that movie is David Arquette. Yeah. And it's tama, and it's John Hawkes. Yeah, on hawks, burst. I mean, he's such an incredible actor jaw. And David, it was really his first real lead, you know, like three of them leading and a million bucks. And the thing is interesting. So this is what sold Columbia Pictures. Finally, because Robert wrote 13 versions of the script. They can rewrites and more rewrites and more rewrites while he's doing road racers. Well, when he came in, it was 10 films for rebel highway series. Yeah, for sure. Right. It was me John Melius was one of the directors I mean, big time directors were doing this. And so many fell out. And they needed Wes Craven was doing one. I mean, people like that, you know, be and Robert was like, Oh, my God was Craven. And the reason why Robert did is because Deborah Hill was producing John Carpenter's. Sure. So by the way, she became one of my big mentors. Even before I did Desperado, I was able to take classes at UCLA Extension, because she called in favors for me to go into the higher level classes. And she let me sit not in Roberts part of the film, but in the other films, because I had nothing to do with those. And I was able to sit in budget meetings. So you know, I got a lot out of that, you know. And so it was a real blessing just to be humble. And somebody say, what are you when another woman says to you, what do you want to do? Me, Pascal pulled me into the office one day, I was just Roberts, white, you know, I can write and she pulled me into her office. She was not President. Back then. She was one of the executives. What did you I want to I want to get to know you. Tell me what you want it. I mean, how beautiful that is women, unreal. And so I've been blessed with having really amazing mentors that took me seriously, but also lovingly, you know, and so so that's the reason and Salman was able to get in because of that movie, but also because Robert really, really leaned in to get her to be the actress that he because that's what he wanted. He wanted some there was no option and I think it was that. There wasn't even a screen test, you know, and Robert just literally he coached some Yeah, he goes yeah. He would get it, you know, because he was like, hell no, that's what I want. You're not gonna give me some non Latina because there was some in the bunch that were non Latinas? Sure, that would have been testing, you know? So, you know, I was like, No, you know, this is who I want. This is the star that I'm going to put in my movie. This is the person, she has everything that I need for this movie. And she's going to be a huge star.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:25
And the chemistry and history. Yeah, and as we're speaking right now, Marvel Studios, the Eternals is opening. And she's, and she's one of the stars. She looks amazing and so proud of her. She done okay, she's done okay.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:10:45
Now, when she's such a dear, dear, dear sister, you know, I always, you know, just, we, we've had a great relationship throughout and I read act in love.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:55
I read somewhere I read somewhere that Salma called you like the best kept secret of troublemaker. Like, it was a very, like, like a really best kept secret of troublemaker

Elizabeth Avellán 1:11:05
She knows me because it's so weird what I do, you know, as a producer,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:10
so what is? So what is a producer? What is the definition of a producer for you,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:11:13
A producer is a person that, you know, in general, you know, gets the story of his book, or, you know, an article and puts together the development to create that script. And the filmmaker as a typical producer, the money sure brings in whoever the studio, you bring in, you start creating the creative group that will decide what the actors are you trusting who but the the director that you choose, or if it's a writer director that wrote the script and all that stuff, that's what I produce. And then you start, you know, in my case, I worked very closely with my line producer, UPM, and a man named Bill Scott to create the budget and to create, you know, we literally, that's what we did here, starting with a faculty and we did it for 17 films. So A, you just create all the synergy that has to happen, then you begin to choose the crew members, you know, and the teams that are going to come in. And like I said, All that happens in pre production, you're making it all work so that it is you have a schedule that matches what your budget that you know, that you know, that you're going to shoot, where are the locations that you you create all of those things along with the director. And, you know, with your, you know, with your first ad and you know, you you work in teams, you know, that's what a producer does. And then you you know, make sure that the everyday running of the movie as is going and you fix on and by the way, you make the deals with the actors, you so you're dealing with the agents, and then making sure the actors arrive and everything that's contractually theirs is there. And, you know, and happens and all of the the fun stuff. And you know, and you also, if you're a good producer, in my opinion, you make sure that they all feel, you know, safe and warm and cozy, you know, in a way.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:04
Like mother like a mother, like almost a mother hen in many ways, in a way.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:13:08
Yeah. And in some ways, you're also the principal. Yeah. Very much. And he comes in and it's when he has the gas here, so he's like, all bloody. So is this the principal's office? Am I Am I in trouble? Yes, it is. But it depends if you've been naughty behaved or not. What how you how we deal with you. It was so great. I love and he's always so funny. Oh my god. Hilarious. So i By the way, what a gentle way he was raised by his mama. Right? Let me tell you that guys like bad manners out the wazoo for women. But just in general, you know, like people just like, you know, very attentive, you know, very Latino that way people are nice, you know? Yes, he's and I'm like, noticing, look at that guy. Nobody else got up on him. When an actress came in, we were all at the pool. He noticed when she came in not because he didn't have any other reason than a gentleman you know. And he found a chair had a chair for that person made sure that he didn't just sit around and keep chatting, you know? So for that actress because she was just arriving into the fall. We were having a little party here at the house and I was like, man watching you and he's Yeah, I'm watching Yeah, that's good. Brownie points. So anyway, so So at the same time for me, like I told you from the beginning, there was a way bigger way bigger call for me. And it has to do with building something. It has to be with do with building. Even if I've never worked with a crew, how do you to help everything work? How do you become fluid or have the assistance so that you you foresee situations, you know, yeah. gonna happen or you see it. You know, most actors are in, you know, like, incredibly and very few that didn't feel the love that we create with it with a family we created in Austin with our crew. And, and it's a joy for anyone to come into that group and, and be received and then become part of the family if you had never worked with us and, and enjoy that it's a really beautiful way of working, you know, and I couldn't again, couldn't have done that in LA. No way we wouldn't have never had our own stages, you know, they're just angers nothing magical, just dumb boxes, that's all stages are. But to create a real place that you know, you're gonna be something happens, somebody cares, in your family in your life in, you know, in real life, you know, like real life always intersects a world of madness, you know, yeah. And I've had situations, somebody whose daughter, all of a sudden, I'm a big crew member, the higher up echelons overnight, all of a sudden has is in a in a coma because type one diabetic and didn't nobody knew a nine year old, you know, things like that have happened during my movies, and to not be able to cover for that person, so that their real life can be truly dealt with. And we create a bridge for that person. You know, it happens on everybody. We all are going through things, you know, oh, and then somehow, and if you don't have those eyes, and that heart, yeah, you can make movies. But you also don't. You know, I just I just finished a movie on Friday. Right? I told you, friend, it's not Saturday, Saturday, actually Sunday at midnight, one o'clock in the morning. And I never worked with this crew. In Oklahoma. They're mostly Oklahomans. And but it's a director I've been working with for a long time, who is a dear Lance Larson, writer, director, and a couple of other people that I've known for 20 years. Two of them were my breaking grips and the the faculty and inspire kids. And now all three were producers with me, and another produce for an entire period. But three, the three of them, one of them had been a first ad in a few movies for me, but he was a rigging grip 23 years ago. Another one is a big time DP he just finished crater. But he had been a rigging grip back then and went to UT. And the other one lands that writer director, and that the DP had gone to UT together. So it's these three beautiful humans that I have been around for many years. And then to be able to produce this with them, and then to, to let them do their job to you know, of being but Bobby bass thrash was, but he's Bob basta Raj producer, Bobby is the first ad guy back then. But now he was able to really be on set. And I knew that this set was taking care of, you know, we could you know, we had planned everything, so that he could be the producer there with his two buddies, it was their dream to do this together. But you know, the interesting thing is, you know, it's hard. It's hard. 99 degrees, but it was really cold one day, it was Yeah, you were in West Texas, and you know, a lot of stuff. And to be able to be so fluid as to make sure that you could take care of their wants. And it was only a 40 Something people crew and cast. And for me a movie making a movie. It's like going to summer camp and going to war.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:50
Oh, God. That's that whole lot. stop after stop there a second. That is the most perfect definition of going to a movie ever because it is a summer camp. But it is war at the exact same time. What a wonderful quote. Oh,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:19:04
It's war. Oh, and, and my job. I see my mission. My job as a producer is to make it more summer camp than more. And that's, that's why that whatever it takes, whatever it takes the fluidity of that. I mean, for example, we lost our caters. When we were going down to West Texas for reasons you know. They were they were great, but they couldn't come down to wisdom. So the Terra Pyrenean I decided, you know, we had to feed people a second meal. We're in the middle of nowhere in Westchester. I mean, like no cell reception, nothing. So we decided, You know what, we'll take care of the breakfast part of it get tacos and whatever from the businesses there. And you and I do the second meal because we have to provide a second meal for everyone before they go to bed, you know, and came all the way to us and we plotted it out so for six days She and I cooked a second meal a proper second meal for crew that was delicious, nutritious, yet nutritious. And you know what they felt so loved by what we did. So we would do everything we needed to do producer wise. And then we jumped in the afternoon to create a second meal and said, serve something, you know, that was that was that that helped them you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:20:27
And they would and when you as a producer, and as a filmmaker in general, when when the crew sees that, they will go down the alley of hell for you, they will walk right into it with you. Because you don't I've look, I've been on 1000 sets. That doesn't happen often. Unfortunately, unfortunately, it does not you don't you don't get to work with people like that often. And that's why when people do work with people like that, they're like, oh, no, no, no, I'm not gonna let you go, Oh, we're gonna work. That's why Clint Eastwood has the same team for the last 40 years. Like, and Ron Howard doesn't do a movie without his first ad. Like, and he waits for his first ad to be available and things like that. Because when you grab on, yeah, when you grab onto it,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:21:09
Emily is a family you begin to create. And by the way, just because I had never worked with them doesn't mean that I'm not gonna be the same person, you know, and be present for them. And by the way, it was not an easy shoot. But even though it was the first time these guys are just on a huge Martin Scorsese movie there in Oklahoma, the flower Moon something

Alex Ferrari 1:21:33
Yeah, they're posting that now. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:21:35
Yeah, exactly. And that he, so you know, it so big. Lots of crafty, lots of them?

Alex Ferrari 1:21:43
Of course. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:21:45
And this was a little movie. And so the ones that did decide to come play with us. I wanted to make sure that it was as good in other ways. Sure. The Independent to set a standard for what an independent film should be. Yeah. For them. And the Choose carefully in their life. You know, they want to continue in movies to find a way it's hard. It's not it's, it's hard making movies is art. It's not easy to never is lovely. And it was beautiful. Because Tyra Pyrenean, the other producer that she had interviewed me in spike, it's one. And that's what inspired her to want to be a producer, she was a journalist. And this was kind of beautiful, you know, because I got to take her by the arm, and she's a badass producer. She's worked for BBC, she lived in London, and you know, did all those royal, you know, documentaries, and that and I was like, Okay, in this one, we're going to be, this is what we're doing. And she goes, Okay, so we can't have any ego said no, actually, it's the opposite. It's very healthy ego, because nothing we do. Even if it's picking up trash, doing whatever we do, doesn't take away from us, and who we are, as producers, it's actually seen as a higher calling, in some ways, because most producers won't do. So all of a sudden, you are creating a situation in which people go, you know, what, if someday, I'm a producer, I want to be like that producer, versus that producer.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:19
And I hope everyone listening takes this everything that you're saying Elizabeth to heart, because these are the kind of words that I this is one of the reasons why I do the show, is to get this kind of information out into the world. That is not something you hear often, the things that you're saying are things we want to happen on a set I want people to act like, but often is never really, like I said, you've been around. I've been around, you don't see it often. You've created your own world. And you've had the privilege of being able to do that. And I think you you and Robert both understand the privilege that you've have in the youth that the universe is giving you and you've taken that and really done something pretty magical with it. I'll tell you one of the things I just recently moved to Austin, and I I'm Yes, living here. I live here. I live in Austin You're kiddingme. I live in Austin. Yes, I

Elizabeth Avellán 1:24:09
Do we get to hang out. We get we should definitely hang out to me, your wife and your daughter.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:13
Absolutely. Absolutely. But the reason the reason I brought that up is because I moved from Miami to LA because it was LA like you do you have to do. I was there I was there. 13 years, I met our common friends draw there to a month after I got there. And I haven't been able to get rid of him since I've tried many times. I can't get rid of him. He's like a dirty Penny. He's like a dirty Penny just keeps it all

Elizabeth Avellán 1:24:37
Wiseman is he's a patron saint of filmmakers he really is

Alex Ferrari 1:24:41
No no, no, no, he's it's one of those candles. Oh my god, that would be amazing. I should get that for his birthday. Oh my god, that would be amazing. No straw straw has been on the show. I had him on the show years ago to talk about what it's like to to what he does. Straw is a whole other conversation. But But I was there for 13 years. And I finally got to the point where people were like, Why did you move to Austin? Why did you leave la like the dream is to be in LA and, and to do all that stuff and I said to I said to everybody, I go I, I reached the limits of what I could do in LA, not in the business, but what I wanted to do for my family, or what I wanted to do for my company. Just like you guys couldn't have build troublemaker in LA. I can't build what I'm building with indie film, hustle and everything. I couldn't take it to the next level there. So here there's there's nothing but land. I just realize there's like

Elizabeth Avellán 1:25:38
A frickin

Alex Ferrari 1:25:39
There's nothing but land out here. Like I'm driving around like oh my god, like I cuz I live in bro. I lived in Burbank, so I lived in Burbank. And Burbank was awesome. I agree. I mean, it was just like, we're houses were on top of each other. And don't get me wrong. I love LA I love what I did. I love. I love going to LA I love LA I love LA not crapple that I love there. It's amazing. It's amazing. But But like, you know, I was right down the street from Warner Brothers. And I found out that my house actually was originally on the Warner Brothers ranch studio set. And they picked it up in the 30s and moved it to where it sat. I was like, What is going on? But you drive around a lake there's just there's no there's nothing there's no land. I mean, you got to go far out before you start seeing real land. And here the second I got here I was just like, oh my god, there's nothing even I mean obviously in the city it's the city but like it

Elizabeth Avellán 1:26:35
Yeah, the city is the city.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:38
The the smoke from Willie's 28 years does this smoke from Willie's house come over, you get a contact high or not?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:26:50
I can go visit him.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:54
But anyway, but that was one of the reasons I moved here in a lot of people have to understand that as you get older, you realize that there's things that what's important to you in life? You know, and where do you want to go? And it's a lesson for filmmakers to do as well. Because a lot of filmmakers think that you can only make it in LA and that's not true. I do do I think that filmmakers should go to LA for a short amount of time, you if you can get the experience that you get in LA I learned more in one year in LA working with straw. Then I did five years in Miami. And there's because it's just so much stuff going on there. But at a certain point you just go where do I go? What do I got to do?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:27:37
Where are they? Where are they openings to to? To grow to? To to expand to to allow the next set stage? Because you go in stages you know?

Alex Ferrari 1:27:49

Elizabeth Avellán 1:27:49
Let me tell you a I'm at a place right now. Where I am extremely picky what I do and how I do it with Yeah, I know the feeling it's especially things that I've been working on for a while this particular movie and it's called dead land I Lance and I have known each other like I said I've known these guys so long loved them they're good people they've developed their talents to a point that man they can ask for money whatever money Lance has been an editor for a long time for Disney for people like that, you know like big studios and but they're all from around here you know that when T T and and I've known them so long and they've always proven to be these incredible hard working talented humans that love film that love movies love storytelling, great writers, Lance and jazz Shelton that up wrote the script with a couple other people David Elliot of people like that so so you know so to be able to now work and by the way the movie is 75% Latinos because it was written as a beautiful story of not about it by the way when Lance said it was a movie as a border movie I was like I don't do border

Alex Ferrari 1:29:20
Yeah, I'm good I'm good

Elizabeth Avellán 1:29:21
You know me it's not really a border movie takes place in the border. I said I said it wrong. Okay, Lance because I love Lance Larson

Alex Ferrari 1:29:29

Elizabeth Avellán 1:29:32
Spiritual open human that I loved working with just the crew just adore he and jazz. I mean, they just spirit in that set was so cool, you know, and I, but it's just how, you know, you think your personal history is a certain you have on pathology. We're talking about mythology about your family and what it is and What do you think it is, and the thing you've written into it yourself from things you heard as a kid, you know, and then there's the mystery part of it, you know, there's certain things that nobody talks about in your life trying to figure it out, or things like that. So, and it's a movie kind of like that, you know, that has to do with a, a guy that thinks his father never showed up for him is a border patrol guy. And yet the story's not that simple. And, and so the beautiful in development of what goes about because he's about to have a baby, you know, so that he can be more of a complete man is the story of this movie, but we had a productive Vina and Juliet Restrepo. Both of them are Colombians. We had Manuel Luisa, who is Mexican and Mexican American, but he's amazing. And then we had Julio Sileo, who has been a ton of stuff really was amazing. And also Luis Chavis. That is this wonderful. Young man. I don't know if you remember in in Ocean's 13 He's the guy in the truck with Casey Affleck. He's the Mexican guy. That's that's Luis. Oh, Elise is this incredible? He comes from from Michoacan indigenous comes from a little, basically Adobe. And just to hear, we drove together from West Texas, and I said, I want you to tell me just like your first question. I want you to tell me, what's your house? What was the seed? Oh, my God, what a trip that we took across the Texas landscape, you know, hearing this amazing story of how he got to where he was, you know, and so much of it, you know, the steps sometimes of what we made happen, or if somebody like the Capitol Montalban Foundation, to create a space for Latinos to train in, you know, acting and film and things. That's incredible. You know, it's all in values, you know, little little stepping stones, and that's

Alex Ferrari 1:32:10
Yeah, and that's the thing that people also listen, they have to understand, if you guys didn't do what you did, like in a year, like it, it's step by step, step by step, piece by piece patient by patients. And when opportunities present themselves, you take advantage of the opportunities and you keep moving forward, and you just, and you keep going, and you don't let the haters in. And that was one of the things I admired from a distance about what you and Robert, were doing, because you just kept doing you and you're like, you know what, the hell with everybody we're going to set up in Austin, you know, we're going to build up our own thing here. We're going to keep our doing our thinking, and we're just going to keep going forward. And I don't care what anybody else says. And that is something that because I mean, the amount of pressure that that you guys have been under. And that just with mariachi, it's continued and still probably continues to this day. Yes, it always is.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:33:02
By the way, sometimes Robert doesn't choose to do Latino centered films, you know, he's done. I mean, yeah, lead was a Latina girl.

Alex Ferrari 1:33:12
Of course it was. And there was a couple other Latinos in there. Of course, of course, it was a couple of

Elizabeth Avellán 1:33:16
Michelle Rodrigues plays a huge part. But people are like me and believe me, it's a term drives bad but I didn't produce Alita of a John Landau came and just loved working with our family. Yeah. Brew. You know, that was beautiful for me. Because I know that John understands. That wasn't built overnight, either, you know, Oh, no. And that love he found in a tiny state because by the way, our green Queen strange, it's like 9000 square feet. It's not big, yet, we were able to shoot everything and create that backlog. On it's insane. We're in this, you know, I used to be airport hangers, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:33:51
Right. It know. And working in. I've heard stories of Jim and Robert working together and, you know, just talking together about stuff. And when I heard that this movie was gonna come out. I was like, That makes all the sense in the world. Because if not, Jim is never going to make it because he's an avatar world.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:34:07
He's busy. He's so my job. We know. Well, he has avatar 2 3 4 and he has Titanic 2

Alex Ferrari 1:34:15
And there we go. Is that an insight is that a scoop? No. It's called Titanic 2 Jack's back

Elizabeth Avellán 1:34:26
Somehow found something amazing but yeah, so So you know there's been that friendship for a long time you know between those two and and a beautiful one you know between Robert and Jim took him under his wing in some ways you know, and then and encouraged him go

Alex Ferrari 1:34:43
When did they meet when they meet when did they meet

Elizabeth Avellán 1:34:45
Long I mean long like this Mariachi time Desperado times. A we probably met him blabbered got to spend time with him. What was the name of that movie when Robert really got To hang out a little bit back in so excited was way back. I mean, oh, it was a after Desperado, I would say also,

Alex Ferrari 1:35:07
So it's around there.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:08
We're living in LA. Yeah. What was the it was? It was with Arnold Schwarzenegger the one with that. Jody Curtis. What's

Alex Ferrari 1:35:16
True Lies True Lies 94 True Lies

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:19
Around there. Exactly. When we were living in LA to live in LA, so he got to hang out. We went to the premiere. And,

Alex Ferrari 1:35:28
And he was just, he was even in it for Jim was Jim like,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:34
Anyway, you know, this is one of the things people blah, blah, blah with Jim Cameron. And, you know, my oldest son is someone that pointed this out to me a while back and this continues. He goes Mom, what other filmmaker Do you know, that has never in his life made a flop ever.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:49
Like, amen. amen,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:52
Like never had a movie that didn't perform and made money. And it's like Jim Cameron's.

And at a high level No, and I always tell people I always I loved and I also defend Jim not that he needs my defense. But anytime. I'm always out there. I know. Jim. Jim is Jim is one of one of the on the Mount Rushmore of filmmakers for me, Jim, so Jim and Pete because he's such an underrated writer. And he's such an underrated, you know, a lot of times people like because everyone's like, Oh, he's direct. He's very direct. Like you read aliens. Are you kidding me

What he'd already done. Character, by the way, the character was the one that told me is Elizabeth, the character. But I've learned so much just receiving this treasure to direct. Because it taught me the character break. I mean, he knows who these people are. Each one of them is fresh and fully out, you know? And he said, It is such an incredible joy. And trust me that He has given me to do this, you know, and I hope we get to you know that the studio gets to make a second one. Oh, no. Has to because it's definitely part. Yeah, I'm praying hoping for that. Because they're incredible stories, you know, that? Truly, I mean, the father daughter story is just

Alex Ferrari 1:37:17
No, no, it's it's, it was beautifully shot. And what Robert did was amazing with it. But what I always also say with Jim ago, who else what other filmmaker on the planet today, can walk into Fox Studios and goes, Listen, I've got an idea. It's about a bunch of blue people, it's based no IP, there's a new technology that I'm going to develop, I'm going to need 200 million to develop the technology. It's gonna take me justice, just to see if we can make it happen, then there's going to be three years to three years of me, you know, messing around with that twiddling around with that, then I'll probably need to probably a couple 100 million more to finish it all up. And and we're going to do all that and it's going to be probably about good five, six years. Before you see anything. I challenge anyone who who will not any of the other gods that we've talked about filmmaking gods like that Scorsese and that Spielberg no one else has that. There's nobody else on the planet that can do that.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:38:13
It my, every day, I take my hat off to it can't really do it. sounding. So I'm going to ask him love the relationship with his brother to find Yeah, synergy of, you know, creating, I mean, we were able to do a 3d movie because of what they had done. Yeah. When we did track reliable girl 3d I love that movie came from, you know, on a spike. It's 3d. It came from the rig. They had an event, you know, and they have created so it's such an insanity. So much. I mean, imagine I mean, he's creating equipment, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:38:49
He's like, he's like, creating equipment. It's like, it's, it's an insane,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:38:53
Unbelievable, designing a little submarine that can go down to the friggin Titanic. I mean, that's a shoe. That's some high level stuff. But that's high level, that people from another planet know. And that's how I, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:39:08
And you start looking and you see, like, people like people, aliens. They're literally I think they're from the abyss. No, and people always talk to me, like, you know, a lot of people I know have worked with Jim. And they go, Jim gets frustrated on set when you can't do things the way he wants to do it. But the thing is that he can do your job better than you and everybody else is better because he's, he's not. He's, he's not. He's a completely different level.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:39:35
No, no, he's a tough guy, by the way, but John Landau was so yeah, he's moved things over. He reminds me, you know, he's a great example of being that person, you know, that can help smooth things out. You know, you know, Robert can get frustrated at times. Because, by the way, everything nobody else in that set. If Robert doesn't wake up and get that thing moving and tells them where to go. Nothing. Nothing goes. That's the director. And that's what I try to impart into directors. It's like so you and I also even tell them it's like you need once you're finished, I told Lance, I said, we was finished shooting, and I said, I need you to take the week off and cool your brain down. Feed your brain. Relax your brain. Because you have been on a daily calm, let for months now. You know? Yeah, and you have to, and I'm glad that Jim takes time in between things. That helps him

Alex Ferrari 1:40:35
Too many too many too many years, though. I mean, I mean, he's, he's, he's bordering Kubrick now at this point in the game. I mean, it's like, yeah, Jim. It's enough, Jim. Let's Can we just get them out, please?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:40:49
That's one of the things I love about filmmaking. And by the way, one of the most generous human beings is Quentin Tarantino, who I adore and winner and Desperado. He said to me that somebody asked him, you know, again, people throw in trash, you know, oh, God,

Alex Ferrari 1:41:01
I'll talk about hate

Elizabeth Avellán 1:41:03
And Quinton said, you know, they asked him so what are you gonna do next? He just finished Pulp Fiction won the Palme d'Or, the thing was going on in theaters. And and he was acting in Desperado. And they were sitting around, he goes, Do you have no idea? People ask me, What are you doing next? And I tell them, I'm gonna take a couple of years off. And this person goes, you can you can afford take a couple years off. And Quinton looked at them and said, because you're a filmmaker that was actively making films. Yeah. And he says, You can't Quinton lives. So simply, and it still does, you know. So simply, you know, he still was renting the apartments where he would have been living forever and present it you know, at that point, and driving in the little Geo Metro that he got from the money he got for Natural Born Killers, you know, 30,000 He got for that. And so when he said those words to me, he goes, Nick, people go, you know, oh, they've throwing trash with people. And he goes, I want my friends to make great films, because I can only make one every two or three years. So and I love going to the movies. So why wouldn't I want my friends want to support my friends in making good movies? You know? Yeah. That was, that was back in the day. And he still has the same ethos. He's still that person. And I love that, you know, he still loves going to the movies. I mean, seen him stop for a moment with a bunch of kids, when he's coming out with the, you know, the Arclight or whatever, you know, and talk to them. They're just standing around, and he just came out of a movie. And they're like, we'd known to just talk to us like, yeah, that sorry, did some, you know, awesome, that see that person still great. Clink laters the same way?

Alex Ferrari 1:42:49
Oh, Rick is Rick is. I love loving.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:42:53
I would i By the way, that's whether it's funny because I don't get to choose. I didn't get to choose with Robert, what themes? Movies I would make. I would dream to have been the producer of the before trilogy.

Alex Ferrari 1:43:07
Oh. boyhood or Yeah, no, no.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:43:11
I think those that by the way. He gave me original posters and sign them and everything because he knows how I feel about his movies in general, but also about that trilogy. To me. It's just

Alex Ferrari 1:43:22
Oh, it's Oh, it's beautiful. Oh, it's beautiful. And talking to Rick when I'm boyhood. Yeah. No, when I had Rick on the show, and I had the pleasure of talking to him for a couple hours. He was so generous with his time. He's such an artist. He is just such a. He is like, he's a consummate artist. And the one thing he said best advice I ever heard one of the best pieces of advice. I always ask people, what's your advice? And he's like, however long it's gonna take, you think it's gonna take it's gonna be twice as long and twice as hard. And it was like, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:43:59
And even for him, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:44:00
And it's still it's still struggle. He says I was talking to him the other day.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:44:03
And the movie is I tell people don't think that because you've made all those movies and you now have a studio do whatever the hell you think you have. No, it's still going to be hard. Still hustle? It Right? It's still hustle. Exactly. Right? Nation of, and by the way, and with me, I'm one of those people that I'm always bringing the ones I'm supposed to be here and take the ones out that are not supposed to be I'm in that process the whole time. So I'm never like, sad when an actor can't or decides not to or whatever says not for me. I'm always like, that's not the person that is supposed to be here, you know? And so they come in and out and then it begins to shape up. You know, Lance, we've been working on dead land for a couple years cuz you know, they got jobs. I got job. I mean, I got stuff to do too. You know, and so, someday we all had our jobs, you know, being the peas and things and editors and stop First Ladies, and you know, and I was always kind of the one there making sure that we were trying to get the right cast, you know, as the cast had to be just right. And and then Lance said to me, back in April, he said, Elizabeth, so, because he said, Oh, we're gonna start such a tilted date, and it never felt right for me. And I was like, okay, okay, perfect. Sure. And then he said in April, he said, So Jim is going to go off and do crater, jazz Shelton as it and then after that, he's going to free himself up, and we're going to go do the movie. So we're gonna start September 27. And I can't tell you how it was almost like, oh, just hit me. Just hit me like, This is it? We're moving? In? And it's been a couple years, you know, COVID kind of stopped the flow of Sure. You know, when it's September 27. That's what we're doing. That is exactly what that's what we're, we got to pull toward the scope, you know, and then, at one point, you know, we're running a little behind and some stuff happened. And I, you know, they were like, well, maybe we'll push and I said, if we don't start September 27. It's gonna fall apart. You gotta go. And we started September 27. And I'm so glad we did. Because none, by the way, is the first day of Mercury Retrograde, which is hilarious. By the way, the wireless thing is Robert, with hypnotic, which had fallen apart because of COVID. Last year, started September 27. Also, there was something about that date. Really important. Good, if not extend that day to, you know, at the studio. I was up in Oklahoma doing it. But But yeah, so there was something about that, you know, how you know, that, you know, you have this have the wish, that that's going to happen, and you have to have the faith that's going to happen that day, moments gonna come when it all coalesces. And man, when it does is like lightning in a bottle.

Alex Ferrari 1:47:06
When can I have to ask you, you I mean, you seem like a person who really listens to their instincts, listens to their gut a lot. And it and as I've gotten older in life, I've realized how important listening to my inner voice is. And and those feelings and especially like what you just said, like not September 27, like hot? And when other people don't understand what's going on. You're like, no, no, no, no. That's when this happened. The importance of understand listening to your inner voice as a creative and as a producer is so so important. Would you agree?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:47:39
Yes, by the way, it's truly what has guided me. And it's a thing that is elusive. Because it's you know, because sometimes you question it. Sometimes you like throughout the process with LANSON and COVID happens, and then No, no, this happened. You're like, that moment? You have to know that that moment, unless we like, okay. You know, because as a filmmaker, he's trying to lift it up as hard, you know, as he could. And it's funny, because we talked about it. And he goes, Elizabeth, when you said it's September 27, back in April. That's when I knew. I know. Because I knew that you knew, you know, and so you're like, No, yes. It's a it's some moment of like, the synergy of it. Yeah. I don't know why I thought September 27. Would be the moment. But we had no way we would go into a whole new wave of COVID. I mean, Jesus, I mean, it just got thick, man. And so you're like, No, no, we're gonna I did a movie during COVID with no vaccines the year before. And totally, but we really really became like a bubble. Yeah, camp, a real bubble. Nobody left. You know, it was a very simple movie with six actors total that four of them were the adults and that was it. And so the blazing world and I so a and that one was filmmakers that I didn't know I met them along the way but Carlson Young is just a beautiful writer and a beautiful young woman and a really great director that is sure she's gonna have a beautiful career. And so anyway, I but with Lance's we've been together for 10 years and the couple of scripts that you know, several things that he's written, and just a friendship and that's a real real connection, and his wife from Panama, and she's hilarious and they used to live in Santa Clarita, you know, until about about nine months ago, Ted no beginning of year, so about a year ago, and he decided he was coming home and she's from Austin. She grew up in Austin, her mom's Panamanian Rose, Rose Larson, and she She was like, I'm not coming back to LA, done. I'm not. And, you know, talk about the gut, you know. And she, and he's still working at Fox, and then everything shuts down. So he's working out of his house. He's like, What am I doing here? My family's back there. I'm here, you know. And so, so he moved this way. And by the way, but before that, Rose had said, No more brighter kids. They were in Texas, and the school that their son was going to start freshman year in. There was a shootout, puncher shooter, an active shooter. first week of school, oh, my God, so many of their little friends. And that's when Lance realized his wife had a gut, too. And was like, she knew something I didn't know. You know. And so I have to start listening to God, you know, really listen, so he moved. The funny thing is, I called her from Austin, I won't tell them what to do you know what I mean? And then, so he finished, he moved in. And I was like, so what did you move to? And he goes, Oh, and we ended up in Lake clay rough house, and like, You're seven miles from my house. Down the street. And so the house is pretty funny, you know, that people you just let them be. And so it's been fun, you know, because we could deal with things, you know, from here from this side of the town. No more cars, you know, and his kids are doing amazing, like, Travis and you know, cuz they have programs that they don't have in Los Angeles. So

Alex Ferrari 1:51:25
I know, I know. I know, I know, the so I'm gonna ask you a few questions, because I know we can keep talking and I please, I want to invite you back in a future time to keep talking to I absolutely adore talking to you. I'm gonna ask you a few questions, I ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:51:45
Start with a great story script, don't tell me you have a half written script. And I have an idea,

Alex Ferrari 1:51:53
I have an idea, an idea

Elizabeth Avellán 1:51:56
Everybody has, we all have stories, we all have ideas, we're storytellers by nature. And so put it down on paper, even if the then you write write a memoir, write something, put it together have an IP that you can leverage as a filmmaker, because that's the best way, you know, or, you know, that story has to be something that you can make for very little money. You know, if possible, and let's say 7000, but something that you understand and can carry out to get that first movie out there, you're going to learn a lot, in the process, make a lot of short films, maybe even make a short film about that particular subject matter. That's what Carlson Young was able to show me that she was a filmmaker, you know, she had his short, based on the movie, a little piece of it, that then when I read the script, it made sense. And it had gone to Sundance, so she already had made some. And that's how you start. And that's, I really believe that if you don't really learn those lessons, by making shorts, getting in there, knowing how to tell stories, in in moving pictures, no matter what format it is, it's animation, if it's whatever, then you're going in a little green, you have to have that as a filmmaker, if you want to be a filmmaker, and director, you know, even a producer, you have to understand how to do that. So that's my biggest advice.

Alex Ferrari 1:53:32
Great advice. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:53:43
To trust that something above you will guide you and really truly be able to give that over. And in Spanish we say something, don't put a coupon you know, I'm preoccupied. I'm used to always say not apropos pay the pay the preoccupied, don't do that. That let let go let thing let the universe move it let let have the the knowledge and confidence that if your heart you're in your passion you're in you're in you're you're you're developing those talents that are only you were like snowflakes when it comes to the combination of talents and what we love we that's how we are snowflakes. So if you are a person that is following that with their heart, I really believe that the universe God whatever you want to call it won't say no. It'll either happen or it will be not yet. Or it will be I have a better plan. Oh so Be open to that.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:02

Elizabeth Avellán 1:55:05
That's a hard lesson, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:06
Oh, tell me about it. You know how many of us listening? How many of us listening are always thinking like, I want this to happen this to happen to this to happen. And from from my experience, and I'm sure yours as well, first of all never happens how you want it to happen. Most of the times it happens in a different way that's better. And it might not be it might not be apparent when it happens. But in hindsight, you're like, Oh, I didn't get that job. I'm just I'm devastated. Like I got I was in. I was in Project Greenlight. In season two, I made it to the top 25. But I didn't get onto the show. And I was devastated that I got to very like right there. And I didn't get in I was devastated. And then after I saw what happened on the show was like, Man, I dodged the bullet. I'm so glad I didn't become that director because I didn't want I didn't want to be that person. So there's things that happen at a moment in time that you think that oh, God, it's the end of the world. But really, it you know, it happens. So plan, there's always a but there's a better plan. And that's what you have to kind of trust

Elizabeth Avellán 1:56:11
To trust that, you know, to trust that I think, you know, I always say I both my parents went away and each one taught me a huge lesson on their way. My mom, just she was 58 years old. 96. And she it was the process of the last seven weeks of her life. Were so hard and so beautiful. That she gave me the gift of not being afraid to die. Like be able to just go, Oh, it's just okay. And then that year, a movie, again, a movie, called Antonia's line gave me the language of what I had been at won the Academy Award that year for best foreign films and Dutch film. And this woman called it the miracle of death. And that's what I had seen a month before. Wow. So you know, so to to experience that and know that it's just a change of status. Because my mom's been in my life. Unbelievable. I mean, people can tell you the stories from this past movie, my mom shows up as a skunk. In this movie, the past three or four days she transmogrified herself. I literally go around. I'll show you one second. That's amazing. I carry around every movie every time I travel. Yeah, I got in Paris a long time ago. I have two of them. One travels, one stays on my desk, just in case you're my kids. Yes. And I'll tell you, it was insane. The last the last year, so the last two days, it was insane. And then my father passed away in 2018. And I took care of him the last seven months. Very interesting. My mom was seven weeks. And so now seven months were seven kids. And the last seven months, my father had a very, you know, difficult time it was it wasn't it was a heart failure, but just odd and all that stuff. But I was a person that handled in meditation, you know, yoga meditation as I do it, you know, but because of my dad, and I was the only person at that point, taking care of him a lot of the time by myself. I woke up early every morning to be able to be present for him. Whatever was going on with him, I had to be ready. And so amazing training for seven months, anything you do for seven months and consistently is going to, you're going to see a difference and feel the difference within you when you don't have that when you haven't done that. So I do that no matter what's going on, no matter what's happening. I wake up a couple of when it's called time, I wake up a couple hours before, so that I can do that and then be present, you know, and that's a huge gift. So those are the lessons that I learned lessons there. But it's, um, from that place, you know, you have to be present for a whole crew, no matter what happens because some stuff goes south man sometimes. And that's producer if you don't have the wherewithal to, to to be center right there. You know, like just and be able to handle in the comment. It's it can be hectic

Alex Ferrari 1:59:18
I've been I've been I've been telling my audience for years that I've been meditating heavily to two hours a day, at least every day, and it changed my life. It changed my life when I start meditating. It's

Elizabeth Avellán 1:59:30
I recommended everyone

Alex Ferrari 1:59:31
If you have if you have a problem, if you have a question, meditate and a lot of times the answer comes to you in the meditation. It's pretty remarkable. It's really, really remarkable. And last and last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:59:47
Oh, gosh. He loves so many of them gosh.

Alex Ferrari 1:59:50
Three that come to mind right now.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:59:52
Three that come to mind immediately, you know Lawrence of Arabia Definitely because I got to see a couple of years ago presented to my kids. And it was a brand new 70 millimeter

Alex Ferrari 2:00:07
I saw it. I saw it in LA. I saw it in LA I saw that print the 70 millimeter print in LA at the end. Oh my god was gorgeous

Elizabeth Avellán 2:00:14
Here at the Paramount on believable marches. It was him again, transporting yourself back to the child in and then another seminal seminal moment was a movie that could kept me standing as a little girl. This is when I really fell in love with movies. Oliver. Oh, yeah. All over you from based on the Oliver Twist. I remember. So I mean, being a little girl and seeing this kid go through this journey. And being so moving Rex Reed and it was so heavy. It was a heavy film. Yeah. If you think about it as a kid, and I hope I mean, the image is still Oh, yeah. And I think I think I'm gonna mention Well, the trilogy from Rick, those were given already mentioned those. But I think one that I just thought Chase man has something else. Waking Life.

Alex Ferrari 2:01:10
Oh, Rick. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:01:14
That movie. It's one of those you know? Yeah. Watch it again. You're like, wow, what I thought your facts, I think different, you know, such a weird dream, like, and I just thought what the guts to do that?

Alex Ferrari 2:01:31
Oh, no, it's the guts that he has to do anything. All the films that he does like

Elizabeth Avellán 2:01:36
Boyhood, oh, my god, like have the foresight to do something like that.

Alex Ferrari 2:01:40
I mean, and that there was there was a

Elizabeth Avellán 2:01:43
He's one of my favorite human beings. Let's just begin. He's a sweet, you know, like, he's humans. And she's such as one of my favorite filmmakers and to for it to be in, in this person that I mean, I love Bernie. It depends on the person we recommend. Rick's over to the sheriff in the little town in Oklahoma. You gotta see Bernie man. Bernie's great, you know, so. So yeah, so you know, there are filmmakers out there that are just transcendent and I thought I think I have to say Django have to kind of go by and filmmakers Django is one of my it's my favorite. Winton's. Is it my it used to be my dogs believe it. Yeah, Django Django for me. So like, crazy. Like wow, what a yarn for me. yarn

Alex Ferrari 2:02:31
For me. For me. And for me for Quinton, I have to say it's once upon a time in Hollywood, but it's just because it's it is it's everything as a filmmaker, it's everything. It's just like he's it's his love letter to La it's his love letter to Hollywood. It's totally and it was just so great. It was just this and that and it was those two probably. Yeah, and Django is not too far behind. Yeah, and then Inglourious.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:02:55
Inglourious was great anyway, there's so many but I mean, I love so many films and so many filmmakers I just admire the form and I'm part of the academy so should have signed up and I signed up again this year to to judge the to be the one that takes on like the task of the foreign films you know, to to nominate I'm proud of the producers brands and that's just something extra you can do as and let me tell you the best thing of all was knowing that filmmaking and storytelling was alive and well. I still films and most incredible if you haven't seen this film neon bought it. It's called the night of the kings by Wow from Ivory Coast. And instead of a prison movie, like again, like border movie, so not a prison movie.

Alex Ferrari 2:03:48
Yeah, watch. Okay, watch. It's like Shawshank looks like Shawshank Prison movie.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:03:58
Exactly. So you know, I just I love I love. I'm one of those people that the thing I miss the most from COVID From the whole period of this situation has been I go to the movies, lunch in a movie by myself at least once a week if not twice. Yeah. Alamo Drafthouse violet crown, I just literally make it. I'm going to a meeting so I schedule what's what's playing, and then I kind of make afternoon I miss I miss doing that, you know, and I love that, you know, by myself by myself. Yeah. And Tuesday afternoon, one o'clock, whatever, you know, and, and that's been the thing I missed the most. And I also think, wow, but I saw those foreign films. Each one was magical My God, like your honor from Guatemala.

Alex Ferrari 2:04:47
Oh my god. I can't

Elizabeth Avellán 2:04:49
By the way from Chile. That documentary. How the hell did she do that? And oh my god, I can't wait to see these things. Trade in this manner. I mean, it's just amazing. I mean, I saw incredible movies that I was in awe. I mean, like, Oh my god. So anyway, so filmmaking is alive and well,

Alex Ferrari 2:05:13
Thank God for that because we need stories now more than ever forever. Honestly, it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you today. It has been so wonderful, the energy and the words of wisdom that you've you've dropped on on the audience. And I really hope that this helps a lot of people out there listening to it and gives people hope. And everyone and of course, we set the record straight into mariachi, which was very important. But really the inspiration that that you and Robert have given generations of filmmakers over the years has been it has been remarkable. So thank you so much for everything you do. And you will have to come back because I know we could talk for another five hours. But thank you so much for being

Elizabeth Avellán 2:05:59
We'll talk some people that you should interview that I really like my one of them is Jeff Fahey he's one of us, my brother. Oh, no, he was just here in Austin doing doing hypnotic. He's the I love Jeff. Jeff. I love adore him. He's such an amazing he's his brain is just, it's so interesting. You know, we brought him out of Afghanistan when we were doing Planet Terror. Yeah. Rebel Without a crew. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 2:06:28
Thank you. Thank you, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:06:31
Thank you so much.


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IFH 375: Making an “El Mariachi” Style $7000 Indie Film with Josh Stifter

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Today on the show we have writer/director Josh Stifter. Josh was chosen as one of the directors to attempt to make a $7000 feature film using the El Mariachi style made famous by legendary filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. The show was called Rebel Without a Crew: The Series and it premiered on Robert’s network El Rey. If you’ve been following me at all over the past three years you’ll know how much of a fan I am of Robert Rodriguez (check out How to Make Rodriguez’s Guacamole Gun). Here’s some info on the show.

Armed with a ridiculously low budget and just 14 days to shoot his movie, Robert Rodriguez created El Mariachi an award-winning film that changed independent filmmaking. The 12-part “Rebel Without a Crew: The Series” follows Scarlet Moreno, Alejandro Montoya Marin, Bola Ogun, Josh Stifter, and Bonnie-Kathleen “BK” Ryan as they shoot their own feature-length film in 2 weeks with a budget of only $7,000.

At the age of 11, Josh knew he wanted to do one thing with his life: make cartoons. After convincing his dad to let him use the family video camera, he learned how to create simple, homemade stop motion animations. That was the beginning of it all. He started taking classes and learning everything he could about animation.

Cut to a few years later: Josh graduated on the Dean’s List from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with a degree in Media Arts and Animation. While working a series of boring, overnight jobs, Josh continued to animate and eventually began working with Kevin Smith and Smodco creating cartoons based on the Smodcast podcast. It was only time before Josh started creating and pitching his own cartoons. His company Flush Studios has created multiple short films, animations, pilots, and even created a scene for the movie “TUSK“.

Josh’s film is called The Good Exorcist. Here’s the skinny on the movie.

A socially awkward but reliable exorcist attempts to remove a difficult demon from a ranch owned by an eccentric family in Texas. However, the demon proves to be more difficult than the priest assumed it would be.

The Good Exorcist is a feature shot in 14 days with $7k, the same way Robert Rodriguez made El Mariachi. The film will be premiering at the SXSW Film Festival! I thought what Josh did was so cool that I have made, not only the film but behind the scenes and director commentary available on Indie Film Hustle TV. You can rent, purchase or watch it as part of your IFHTV subscription. Click here to check it out. 

His new film is called Greywood’s Plot. It’s about two friends go into the woods hunting for El Chupacabra, only to find that the land they are on might be more sinister than they ever knew.

Josh and I talk indie film shop, what it was like working with Robert Rodriguez and his adventures making a $7000 indie film while cameras were capturing every single second of on-set action.

Enjoy my conversation with Josh Stifter.

Alex Ferrari 3:35
So today, we have an awesome guest to celebrate our 375th episode, Josh Stifter. And Josh is a writer director and was featured on the show, Rebel Without a crew the series on El Rey network. Now many of you know that Robert Rodriguez owns El Rey network. And his the series is actually based off of his book Rebel Without a crew, the legendary independent film book on his exploits when he was coming up with El Mariachi. And Robert decided to put together a show to have filmmakers use his techniques and methods on the mariachi style of making movies and giving filmmakers 14 days and $7,000 to make their feature film and Josh was one of those filmmakers and he made the movie The good Exorcist, which obviously it's a romantic comedy. No, I'm joking. But it was I love the movie. It was so much fun to watch. And it premiered at the South by South West Film Festival and I wanted to talk shop with Josh about how He did it, how he used his visual effects skills, his practical effects skills on set, kind of the crazy stories of what happened behind the scenes of the show what it was like to work with. Robert Rodriguez talked to him how them as a mentor during this process, which I think is a dream of many independent filmmakers out there. And I was so impressed by the movie and the making of the movie that I am now offering it on Indie Film Hustle TV, So Josh, allowed me to put it up on IFH TV, and you will be able to get exclusive content, like the director's commentary of how he made it, including behind the scenes tutorials, and all that is available on IFH TV, all you got to do is go to indiefilmhustle.com/goodexorcist. But before you watch the movie, you got to listen to this epic episode. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Josh Stifter. I'd like to welcome the show Josh Stifter. Man, how you doing, brother?

Josh Stifter 6:00
I'm doing great. I'm so excited to be on the show.

Alex Ferrari 6:02
Oh, man. I mean, it's the least I could do. You had me on your show. You're amazing shows. So I appreciate I appreciate you coming on man. And we I've been wanting to talk to you a little bit about obviously your experience on Rebel Without a crew and all these other cool things that you've been doing as well, your unique filmmaker and the way you do things. So we're gonna get into all of that. But first, man, how did you get into the business?

Josh Stifter 6:28
Yeah, so this is kind of crazy. So I thought I was like a big film geek as a kid. Like we all all of us filmmakers are, but it came down to like, I love to steal my dad's camera and run around with it. So I've been making little movies with my friends. Since I was younger, that six, five, I don't even know when I first grabbed the camera and dad was like, bring it back. Um, but it was always a challenge of finding friends to work with finding the right equipment to make it look like a real movie. So I ended up going into animation. I took the Tim Burton route. And I just thought, you know, if I can learn to draw pictures, and at the time, South Park was huge. So I was kind of just aping that cell Park style and stealing like what they did, and trying to do my own little cut out things and whatever. You know, kids getting hit by cars or whatever gross thing I could do. And from there, I after I graduated a whole bunch of shorts in high school and stuff like that. And then I went to animation school, and they push they push kids towards 3d. Right now, it's all about video game design, because there's so much work in video games, right? And it just wasn't for me. I graduated with a degree in animation. But all of the jobs that they were trying to place me in were video game design, just did nothing for me. I can't tell stories in video games as an animator, like there's other people telling those stories. So what I did was I just hit the internet, I started sending things out via Twitter, the early days of Twitter and Facebook, there was no Instagram at the time, you know, there's probably still a MySpace at that point. And I just started sending it to anyone who I've respected in the industry. And Kevin Smith picked up my animations and dug them. And I started working for Kevin Smith, like right out of college.

Alex Ferrari 8:11
That's that, that that amazing

Josh Stifter 8:16
Sounds of just putting myself out there and not being afraid that what I made wasn't good enough. Because it wasn't it wasn't great. It was it like if I look at it now I'm like, Oh my god, how did Kevin Smith pick up this garbage. But I think there was just something about the the drive that I had to just show it and then he was able to like go okay, I can do something with this. I can figure something out. And I did some automations for a while then I worked on his movie task. I did like four animations all altogether for task. I helped out with some website stuff and just a bunch of random projects. And after that was on my resume, then I was able to get jobs working for other animation companies. I worked for CNN I work for troma I and that is how I got the animation done that ended up getting getting me in front of Robert Rodriguez.

Alex Ferrari 9:01
Yeah, so that was the so yeah, how did you get you know, how did you get involved with whole Rebel Without a crew and explain to people who have not heard the other episodes? I've done a rebel group. What is Rebel Without a crew? What was the whole thing?

Josh Stifter 9:13
Yeah, so I always wanted to be a filmmaker, not an animator. Like that was never my plan. It was just the only thing I could do by myself that I could get out there to people and seemed monetizable you know, filmmaking. It's awesome. Great to tell stories, but when you've done hundreds of episodes on distribution alone, like it's not an easy game, where you gotta hustle your ass off and I I struggled to figure out how I could make something that would be good enough to show to people and also and also monetizable that I would make money off of because I knew my little no budget movies weren't gonna get distribution right off the bat. So I did the animation for that. And but I was a filmmaker at heart. I wanted to tell stories and Roberts book Rebel Without a crew was my Bible every most of the time. Listen to this have probably read the book but if you haven't, just read it every day, just read it. I it. It really is like my Bible. I've gone through four copies like my grandma went through the Bible like I just constantly I'll flip the pages at night before bed and like I need some inspiration, telling me something Robert, and read it. So I I did an animation with my buddy Josh Roush. It was this weird little art house animation called other fish. It's available on YouTube, and a bunch of other stuff. But Josh Roush was assistant to Michael Parkes on tosk. And he asked Michael to do a voiceover for the animation or for this animation. And he we barely knew each other at the time, but he got this voiceover. And Josh and I started talking and we were talking about animations. And I got this voiceover we should do an animation with Michael Parkes. So we had a couple of the voice actors come in and do their voices. And then Michael Parkes passed away. And we finished the animation. And then I had Michael Parkes is essentially his last performance. And I felt like people needed to see that because Michael Parkes was a legend. Yes, and yeah. And I thought of Robert and I, you know, I, we showed it to Kevin and we showed it to people who would work with Michael. But the only way I could get it to Robert was through El Rey network. So I just I sent it to El Rey network. And they were like, Hey, we really enjoyed this. But it doesn't fit on our programming at all. But we're running the show called The People's network, where we're going to show short films. And we saw your Tim the terrible animation as well can we use that will buy it from you for a year and we'll put it on our network, we'll fly you out to LA and you'll come on the show, and do a little introduction or whatever. And then you'll you'll be a part of this people's network thing that Robert wants to do. So I flew out to LA. And while I was there, sitting in waiting, I opened my backpack because they wanted me to put on a different shirt. I was wearing some death metal shirt or some shit like that. So they wanted me to put on a different shirt. And while I opened my backpack, they saw that I had like two copies of Rebel Without a crew. And they're like, Whoa, you are dedicated to it. I'm like, Oh my god, I am so dedicated to it. You guys don't even know. This is not a rare thing for me to have this book in my bag. I'm not doing this because I'm here for Robert, or because this is Roberts network. I've always got this with me. And the showrunner of that show was like well, we're working on this other show called Rebel Without a crew. Have you ever done any live action stuff? I have. But it's all like shorts with my buddies and stuff like that are literally shorts I've done by myself. I've done a whole bunch of shorts where I set up cameras on rigs with tripods with wheels, and I use fishing line to make the camera move and stuff like that. So I showed it to them. And they're like, Oh, we got to get this for Robert. So they sent it and they they sent my little pitch that I put together. I literally sent this page that I put together on the bus going to work. Like I did my three act structure of the good Exorcist. I put down a couple scenes and a couple characters, and I snapped a photo of a bunch of random items I had laying around my house. And I put it on this little table, this little artsy table that my wife has. I put it on there snapped a picture made a quick logo. That poster was the poster that still got used for El Rey network. The logo is still the logo for the good Exorcist like everything. The outline still plays pretty close to what the movie turned out being. But yeah, they then they just asked me to send a script and Rebel Without a crew was a series that was based on that book where Robert hired or hired had for have me and four other filmmakers come out and make a feature film for $7,000 and shot in 14 days. And then we had like, two and a half, three months to edit, do visual effects, do sound design, do everything.

Alex Ferrari 13:35
Nice. And then you were in part, you were part of that.

Josh Stifter 13:39
Yep, I was one of the four filmmakers and I made a feature called the good Exorcist a silly little horror comedy. That you know, I I went into it going like, I think on reality TV is probably going to be miserable. I am not a reality TV guy. I'm I'm a dad from Minnesota, like I do not fit the mold of reality TV. And I know they're gonna be like trying to work in these stories for me, and there's going to be a script, there really wasn't a script at all. I was blown away. This was not this was way more like a docu series than a reality show.

Alex Ferrari 14:09
Yeah, so the thing, the thing I love about the show, because it was someone who sent me a link to it. I'm not gonna say who, but there was a someone who sent me a link to the show. Oh, really? I really like handsome, smart man, with maybe glasses and a goatee, but I actually watched the entire thing. I just binged it because I had been dying to watch it and I didn't get la at the time. And I watched the entire series. I mean, literally, I was like between I knocked the whole thing out in a day like I remember you messaged me I was like I'm done. This is amazing. Because I was so addicted to it. And and knowing some of the players knowing you and knowing 100 in it as well. Was was fascinating to watch that I called you up I'm like, so really what happened here? It really would have it here. And so what was the thing happened here, but what I love About the show, honestly, is because I was a part of the process of Project Greenlight. I made it into Season Two just in the opening credits. Very, very horrible experience. But I did go through Project Greenlight, and then I also got to the very end of the Steven Spielberg reality show called on the lot. Oh, yeah, you did. I didn't know that. I watched it. My buddy Andy Hunt was on it. Yeah, well, I got to the i was i was the final I was one of the final guys that, you know, they, you know, I flew in, and I did the interviews and everything like that. So and that was, so I had always, I've always Dad, you know, kind of like, passed by the reality show thing. I would have killed to be on something like this back in the day. But what I loved about it, it was there was no drama there. I mean, there was a little drama, because it's filmmaking. But there was no drama for the most part. Yeah, it was not. It wasn't like designed or like, Oh, I'm gonna backstab you or this or that. You know, there was there was a little bit of storytelling, but generally speaking, it is a love letter to filmmakers. It was a wonderfully, wonderfully put together show. And you guys were awesome. And you could just see that just stress on your face.

Josh Stifter 16:09
Yeah, it's funny, because like some of the things that like the things that are shown aren't maybe necessarily exactly how it played out. It's still reality TV, they're still like coming up with concepts. I thought it was really funny that my sort of story element was Josh's cast is having too much fun. And he's getting mad about all the fun that they're having, which is like, okay, I don't that's not really how it went down. There wasn't like a split second where I'm like, you guys, we got to go to lunch in five minutes because of union rules. So let's just get this knocked out of the park. But there was no like face that I'm making. Right? Like, that was just a random face.

Alex Ferrari 16:45
Yes. Because Because the film is called a good exercise. But yet we can't have any fun. So it doesn't really play. But generally speaking was a very well put together show and

Josh Stifter 16:54
Oh my god, and I still love it. I love when people watch it because I think it's a blast to watch. I didn't it is a love letter to that in the process of just running and gunning and getting shipped.

Alex Ferrari 17:03
And it's so fun. Because when you watch it and like when Robert shows up, it's literally like God, like you know, it's like it's like a god from Mount Hollywood. Indie, indie Hollywood, if you will, shows up and it's like, he's so chilled. He's so mellow. He's because he's seen it all. He's been through it all. And he was he really cares at least at least that's the perception that we got. I got from watching it that there was oh yeah, he cares about you guys, and cared about the process. And anybody who's listened to the show knows that I'm a I'm a fairly big Robert Rodriguez fan. And I'm a bit older than you so I was around. What How old? Are you? 34 Yeah, so um, yeah, so let's just say I'm a little bit older. Let's say that I was around when mariachi hit. I have I have the first edition of Rebel Without a crew. And I and I studied Robert constantly. I even mentioned him in my book, The shooting for the mob book I actually do a whole Robert Rodriguez story of how I called him when he was at Columbia. Nice as a Columbia Columbia Pictures and pitch and pitch and pitch myself as a result do anything for you. But anyway, that's an embarrassing story. But I'm a huge Robert fan. So just watching that and I'm watching how you guys interact with the boys Just so

Josh Stifter 18:21
You know, he was a guru and as much as he still is like no he's the thing about Robert Is he really is like the sweetest dude in the world and really cares about filmmaking and indie filmmaking and trying things and just going for it he doesn't want to play it safe ever and he pushed that on us like don't play it safe go for it go for it. Um, but I do love the scene where he comes into my my sat as I'm shooting and you can just see on my face where I'm like, oh man, I'm really trying to get done today.

Alex Ferrari 18:51
Like I can't I love you Robert. I just can't I don't have the time for this right now.

Josh Stifter 18:57
I love it and I hate it and you can hear in my eyes someday I'll release this but in my footage as I'm filming I go I guess we'll cut and then under my breath you hear me just go why fucking now. I wanted to hang out with Robert I love talking to Robert and one of the one of the beautiful things about the behind this or the one thing I can say about the behind the scenes that you don't see on the show is Robert is a film geek and he and I would sit and talk about like the nerdiest stuff Yeah, they had an eight they were running a drone on an a 60 or with an a 6300 which is what I shot my second featured Ray Woods plot with and or 6500 whatever the Sony with the amazing you know the the amazing autofocus so that other drone, it does look amazing. And Robert asked what it was and I was like Oh, I know. I know. I know. And I just like went on this tangent about the a 6300 and how I used it to film gray Woods plot and all this other stuff which I had started filming before we went to Rebel Without a crew failed miserably at and then as soon as Rebel Without a crew ended. The first thing I said to Daniel was, dude we've got and he goes, Yeah, I know we got to finish great ones plot. And we've right as soon as the good Exorcist came out we were waiting for to get the rights back and waiting for everything to go down. We just went made another movie for $2,000.

Alex Ferrari 20:17
Yeah, so so that and then for everybody listening, he made his movie the good exorcise for seven grand, which was the, that was the part of the show because Robert Rodriguez, you know, legendarily are almost a mythology. It's a myth at this point. It's like mythology. He's like, was is that Bunyan, the guy who's shut down, cut down trees, and he's become a mythical person. He made his female mariachi was 7000. That's what the show was based around. So what did you learn from making a $7,000 feature film, and it was a true $7,000 feature wasn't like, oh, and they kind of helped you here. And they kind of helped you there. There were rules to this engagement, if I'm not mistaken, correct?

Josh Stifter 20:52
Yeah. So we had a credit card with $7,000 on it, like we could only spend that much. Now, I will say that the seven $7,000 now is very different than when Robert did it. And it's very different than what we have for equipment. Now what you can do with very little and, and the the world that has opened up to independent filmmaking, for better or worse, where there is so much independent filmmaking that you have to be a little more conscious about who your audience is, you know, making a $7,000 movie now people will instantly go like, okay, so you didn't have a budget? Who cares? You know what I mean? Like, it can be a challenge. Now, what impresses people is when you show them something, and you go, I always have my trailer on my phone, so I can go check this out. I made this for $7,000. I made this for $2,000, because they see the trailer and they go, Oh, I'd watch that. That's you made that for $7,000. That trailer cost you $7,000 I'm gonna movie cost me $7,000. Um, so one of the big things I learned is, number one, no, no one cares that it's $7,000 until they care at $7,000. So until they see it and go, how did you do that? For $7,000? they don't they don't know. They don't care budgets mean nothing. So. So trying to sell your movie on the budget means nothing until you get eyes on it. It's a great story for your q&a afterwards. It's a great thing to build towards. But it isn't your sales pitch your sales pitches, I made this kick ass thing. Now. That's what Robert did back in the day. It's not really any different. Robert didn't go to the studios and go when he was going door to door in Hollywood over Christmas. And go, Hey, I made a $7,000 movie. Do you want to buy it? He went there. And he told them he made a $30,000 movie or a $20,000 movie, he tested the waters. He's showed them his trailer and hope in hopes of getting more money for his next movie. It's the same thing. Now.

Alex Ferrari 22:45
It's a whole it's a whole different world when he did it. No one had ever done anything like that at least and they actually use that $7,000 price tag as the marketing campaign back in 91. Because in 91 videos, the studio didn't that Robert No, because nobody would show up to a studio meeting go, I made my movie 7000 he was a I made a movie for 50,000. I made 60,000, which is still an obscene number back in 1991. Because it was shot on film and everything. But then later the studio is like wait a minute, we've got something here and they marketed it as $7,000 film. And nowadays a lot of filmmakers, I've talked to them all the time. They're like, Hey, we shot on an iPhone, like I don't care, hey, we shot this movie, you know, for three grand I don't care. Like it's not no one cares. It only they only care once they care, which means they watch it and they go wait a minute you made this person. Now all of a sudden it means something. But to lead with that, like, you know, there's filmmakers that I'm like, Oh, we shot a movie in two days. No one cares. I shot like, I know somebody who shot a movie in 90 minutes. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter. It's all about the story. But back then different conversation. You could use that as a marketing ploy.

Josh Stifter 23:54
Yeah. And then seven grand, he spent like six grand a little over six grand on film stock. Like in the actual movie. If he says he put the key tells this to like I was just talking to him the other day because he saw Gray was it was talking about the fact that he was impressed it was done for $2,000 or whatever. I mean, he asked and then I told them up. It's a bogus number. I have no idea. Because I did the editing, I did the directing, I ran the camera I did the visual effects, there's a visual effect in almost every single shot of the movie. If I paid myself, this is a $300,000 movie, but I'm not paying myself same thing so that that number is just a bogus number. Because I would never do that for someone else's movie. I'd make them pay me for their movie. So if I really want to boil down the budget, I don't I don't count my computer. But on a normal budget, you would count the computers that you bought for said film. There's all this stuff in

Alex Ferrari 24:49
Gear and stuff like that. Yeah, of course.

Josh Stifter 24:51
I own all the gear. It's all stuff that I bought over the last 20 years of filmmaking and you know, upgraded as I went and whatever but I just you don't count that Unless you're not, you know, putting in a Hollywood film, like in a big production, they come to all of that they rent it all or they buy it all the studio house has it all, but all goes towards a budget. So the big thing that I learned from, like, the biggest thing I learned was just shut up about the budget. No one cares, make a good movie and show them your good movie. And the other thing I learned is, there is no such thing as a good movie or a bad movie, there is just a movie, and you need to put yourself on the screen and get it to the right people. Because the right people will care about it. And every movie is someone's favorite movie and the Li and someone else's least favorite movie so sitting and pontificating about how you're going to make your masterpieces your first movie who's quit it, just go make a couple movies, figure it out and find your audience that's going to dig it.

Alex Ferrari 25:47
Yeah, no, there's there's no question about it. Like I anytime I ever got a negative review, I would always just go and look up. A Star Wars, Star Wars negative review or a Shawshank Redemption a good review or a godfather negative review. Because there were people, people that wrote bad reviews and you read them and you're just like, oh my like, Rick, let's just type in anyone listening right now go to Google type in Shawshank Redemption, bad review. They're hilarious to read. They're just epically hilarious to read. I remember I saw a picture with George Lucas. He had a T shirt with his bad review. On the T shirt. It was like this long block of text about how bad Star Wars was. I was like, that's meta. That's so awesome.

Josh Stifter 26:31
And the thing was panned by most critics when it dropped the movie tanked. I think the thing might be the only like, flawless movie that I wouldn't change a single frame of wouldn't add a minute wouldn't cut a minute. It's a perfect horror, psychological thriller in my book, like, there will be a panda when it came out. Some of the reviews are hilarious. And with especially with indie filmmaking, you're definitely going to split the audience, you're you're you're making something that is intentionally not made for everyone. If you're making a movie, that's for everyone, as an indie, no budget filmmaker, you were doing a totally wrong and you are going to fail. You need to find your market niche and figure out and figure out who you are, who you are as a person and what kind of films you can do that are different than anyone else that are going to build that audience and you're just going to improve treat it like film school, treat your first movie, like a learning experience might not make the best thing you can make. Don't go out and try to make a piece of crap. One of the things Daniel and I really pushed Daniel was on the good on the good exercise set with me. We were allowed to bring one person

Alex Ferrari 27:36
He's the he's the giant man next to you.

Josh Stifter 27:39
He is a very, very he's a very short man. And he is a very tall man.

Alex Ferrari 27:43
I'm not a short man, but I'm still not as tall as he is. He is a giant, he's a big

Josh Stifter 27:47
He's. And he we've always been like this. So I am screen. Watch it.

Alex Ferrari 27:52
It's great watching you two together. It's just funny as hell.

Josh Stifter 27:55
I'm five, four on a tall day. And Daniel is six, seven. So the two of us are he's he's a fee over me. 6667 something like that. He just towers over me. And that's honestly that's one of the light things. So our friendship is based. We became friends in kindergarten, literally the same year, literally the same year that Robert made El Mariachi Daniel and I were meeting in kindergarten I kid you not crazy.

Alex Ferrari 28:22
I was in high school. Oh, okay, go ahead. Sorry.

Josh Stifter 28:26
So yeah, Daniel and I were in kindergarten meeting and Robert was filming that. And then 25 years later, we were out making a movie with Robert Rodriguez. Isn't that mind blowing? It is ridiculous. And so Daniel came out with me as my bus one, even though technically he wasn't a plus one. Because he was an actor, and we could have actors work on our set as well. And he's in every scene of the movie except for one. And he even whistles in that scene. So he's in every scene in the movie basically. Um, and one of the reasons why I think we we became such good friends and continued to be friends is we both love filmmaking, but he was so tall and I was so small, he always just look epic in every shot. I filmed them in because I was always getting that as low angle.

Alex Ferrari 29:11
And that's not by design. That's just by necessity. necessity, right.

Josh Stifter 29:17
In fact, in the good exorcise there's a scene where the priests gets sent to hell. And I wanted Daniel to number one, we filmed it on troublemaker studio at the same spot where they filmed planet terror. I wanted Daniel to be kneeling in hell in the same spot that Bruce Willis stood. Now I removed everything from the shot like I've digitally changed everything, so you would never know that, but I just thought that'd be a cool story to have Daniel be kneeling and how where Bruce Willis stood for planet terror. And then on top of that, one of the reasons I wanted him to be kneeling in hell was in hopes that I could finally fill it filled him from a tall angle from like my normal angle and get a shot of him and I could not I had to stand on a bunch of chairs and get the tripod off. high up, he's that tall that he was kneeling and I still couldn't get a low angle or a high angle down on him.

Alex Ferrari 30:07
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So I want to I'm gonna geek out here for a second because there's been a lot of talk about Tyler Perry's amazing sound, you know, facility, soundstages production, epic Mecca that he's built in Georgia. But talk to us a little bit about troublemaker studios because that was kind of like the first indie. You know, he had like, again, we and I'll say it again, Robert to God. And you know, he's a mythical guy. And what he was able to do with creating what he's created over in Austin is pretty mind blowing. So can you tell? Can you tell us a little bit about what troublemaker studios is like, and how it's worked in with El Rey and everything. I just want you to tell the story because I really want filmmakers to understand that it is it's a possibility you can take your your your stuff to the next level.

Josh Stifter 31:09
You can so here's that was one of the things I wanted to bring up is you can dream big. Like, legitimately. I have no dreams are the kind of filmmaker I am a $250 million movie doesn't sound fun to me to be a part of that sounds really, really, really, really hard and a lot of pressure. Sitting on the alita set, editing my $7,000 movie in a $7 million, like, area. So this this like section of the alita set cost $7 million. I don't know if I'm supposed to say this, but I'm going to anyway. So I snuck onto it a few times with a director's chair and would edit my movie on the alita set, even though I wasn't supposed to be back there. Because I thought it would be cool to have this memory of making a $7,000 movie on a $7 million set. But what Robert has is it's it's an old airport, you can look this up. You can see it on Google Maps or whatever. It's this big airport that he's turned into a giant green screen. He has all the studio space. He's got everything there. He makes his movies there. They shot predators there. If you look at the behind the scenes on predators, you can see predators Yeah, that's what it's called. Right. Okay, and they they set up instead of filming, you know, in the rain forest, they created a rain forest in his back lot and there was still pieces of it while we were there. In fact, I was hoping to get that lot for predators in the background of the good Exorcist, but I was just too far away and too dark. Um, they filmed planet terror sequences there they film the green screen is where they filmed all of Sin City. Alito, you know, as they had the big soundstage there for alita. And you can actually go and watch a behind the scenes. I think it's on maybe on l Ray's YouTube page, or maybe Roberts YouTube page. It's on someone's YouTube page. But there's this really, really great behind the scenes that Steve Joyner put together Steve joiners, like Roberts. He's his prop maker, but he's also just, I never felt even talking to Robert. You know, I talked to Kevin Smith, I talked to Robert I never felt like I was in the presence of someone that was bigger than me. Like not not like, everyone's bigger than me. But like, that was doing things more important. I always feel like we're all just kind of filmmakers doing film stuff. There's a moment where I was talking to Steve joiner in his office will making the good Exorcist and I was holding a hood. And talking about how you

Alex Ferrari 33:37
I'm sorry, you were holding what you broke up for sending you were holding What?

Josh Stifter 33:40
A Hattori Hanzo sword from Kill Bill, literally holding a hatari Toronto sword because because Joyner made them so I'm holding one they're all over the troublemaker studio holding one of those eating a salad while Steve joiner is telling me how they use methylcellulose in the alien movies and how I could use that on my monsters. And I was like, this is the most insane I'm in presence of someone who has done things that I have never trumped up like it was just a crazy moment. Um, but that's the kind of stuff that troublemaker studios are the Steve joiners, the the people that you just are like, Oh my god, Robert surrounds himself with the Masters like the best people in the world who can do things where you're just like Nina Proctor who is the his costume designer, she was in the show. She's the one who kind of walked us through wardrobe and folks the one the other thing you'll learn is when you go into make a feature film and you're under pressure to make a feature film, there are things that you do not know and you will rely on anyone who can help you in any way. I do not know wardrobe at all. I literally wrote the movie The good exorcise because I could put my best friend in a priest costume and he'd never have to change I have wardrobe every day, it'll end up stinking after two weeks, but I don't have to change him out of it at all. And Nina helped me through all the other characters and what they could wear. Um, and I relied on the, the actors, they'll they will read the script, they'll figure out what their character would were better than I could because I just did not have the time or the patience to sit down and go like what shoes would Stanley wear? And Avery figured it out and showed up to set Stanley is kind of a goofball in the movie showed up the set one day with one pant leg rolled up. And I was like, That's funny. Why? Why do you have one pant leg rolled up thinking he was just going like, I don't know, I figured a character in Dumb and Dumber would do it. And he's like, Well, here's the thing. I figured Stanley works on a ranch. Okay, he'd probably ride like a little motorized bike around the ranch to get around. So he'd roll up his pant leg. And then he'd have it up so it wouldn't get caught in the chain. Right? And I'm like, No one is ever going to get that every no one is ever going to think about that. He's like, I know. It just looks stupid. But at least we have an excuse for why I would look stupid when I wear this like Dude, dead on go. Do you? Do you, man? You do. Exactly. I did that. And it looks awesome. I've only had one person ever watched the movie and go like, why was his pant leg rolled up. But it that one person caught it and then thought it was funny when I told the story. Now,

Alex Ferrari 36:16
you've made your first you made a good exercise for 7000. But now you've decided to go down and budget on your next films. Why is that? Because most people go up. I'm a proponent of going down my second film I went down. I love doing that. I think you get more control and all those other things. But I'm curious why you did.

Josh Stifter 36:33
So and it wasn't like we ever thought about it. So we again, we wrote around what we had, and most of my budget for the good exorcise went to paying my cast. It went to I paid my cast enough for gas and for dinner every day, like just enough to make up something Yeah, make it worth coming out. Like for real. I didn't want them to go go away with nothing. So I think I paid everyone everyone who was like more than a day player. I paid a couple $100 you know, just something and then day players I'd get $50 um, and and then they'd get lunch While they were there as well. I didn't give anything to Daniel, Daniel got nothing, because he's a friend friends work for free. That's not true. At the end, I had 400 extra dollars and I gave Daniel 400 extra dollars. That's why my budget says $7,000 but I was like dude flew himself out. He came out left his newborn boys. He had two newborn twins at the time. They were like three months old. He left for three weeks to come to Austin to help me on my silly movie. Um, so I paid them we had to rent our camera equipment. You see that on the show, we had to rent the location we had to pay for, you know, just a bunch of things that all added up. So when it was I rented a slider a $500. I saw I saw how stupid It's so stupid. But I just in my head. I was like, I'm never gonna be able to afford to rent a $500 slider. So if Roberts gonna pay for it, you know what I'm going to go for it was the best thing I ever did. That saved my that $500 slider was used in every shot and it made my movie looks so much bigger budget than it was because I could constantly have the camera moving. So get a slider. Now with that being said you can get I have a $70 slider that I use that does that work. It works totally fine. Yeah. Um, so when we came back and we went to do Gray was plot we just started writing around things we had and I already had a camera and at the rent any equipment we wrote around locations we had we filmed it on the fly, most of my budget went to getting a hotel room for a couple days, booze, I put boobs in my budget, because keep my friends happy. But I didn't pay my cast. So because they were all my friends, I cast my two best friends. And then a guy that just kind of showed up one day who was a friend of Daniels and then he and I became best friends and he ended up there's a dog man mask. There's a bunch of practical effects ones from monster effects that we learn how to make ourselves. And we just learned from YouTube and we made this mask that we were quoted to have someone a professional make it they quoted us $6,000 and then I got them down to like $3,000. And then I was like, What if we just do it ourselves. I don't have it costing us a couple 100 bucks to make it work. And it worked. It was a lot of work. And it looks gorgeous in the movie. It's totally fun to look at. and it cost us next to nothing and it works. It tells the story. So it wasn't it wasn't a matter of going like let's go down and budget. I honestly don't know what we spent. When is all said and done. Because it just it was $100 here that we just 200

Alex Ferrari 39:36
is there 500 bucks there it just it's not it's not enough to take a hit. You don't. You're not feeling it. In other words,

Josh Stifter 39:42
it cost as much as a vacation would have cost, right? That's what I say like it cost as much as a vacation and that's what it was. It was a vacation for me and my buddies to go in the woods, me to get down in my underwear and film a scene with my friends. And like I said, we just had fun.

Alex Ferrari 39:58
So one thing I am seeing That you that you're doing. And I'm asking certain questions very specifically, because I'm leading up to this, you are, you're very, you understand who your audience is. So you're creating product for that audience, you're doing it at a budget that that is doable, and that is accepted for that audience. So you're basically creating an MVP or minimum viable product for your audience. So if that budgets low, great, the lower the budget, the better you're gonna chances you're gonna have a making your money back. And in the genre that you've chosen, which is kind of horror and in my Am I wrong because I

Josh Stifter 40:34
sort of, I'm kind of like in the comedy horror, right? Okay, so I'm kind of like falling into this weird place of the Evil Dead tos and stuff like that, where it's But still, Horry

Alex Ferrari 40:46
still say, and you could sell it to a horror fan all day.

Josh Stifter 40:51
I can sell it. So it's fun, because I can sell it to horror fans. And I can sell it to people who want to get someone into horror, because modern horror is very, very gory, or very, very scary. And modern horror fans like that. And that's great. I like that I am a horror fan. But my wife isn't. So I've set out to make things that I can watch with my wife, or you can watch with friends, or you can put on in the background at Halloween. Or you can you know, it's it's sort of its light genre. But also, you know, I'm a big fan of like, drag me to hell, I'm a big fan of these movies that are like they're fun. No, watch their goofy horrors Ghostbusters. Like, it's Ghostbusters. While it is more of a comedy has a lot of fun horror elements to it still. And I have a lot of people who watch the good extra assist and go like, I can't wait till my kid is 12 because this is the movie that I'm going to show them when he or she is 12. Because it's our but it's a light R and it's a fun r it's not too bad, right? And then you're creating this kind of portfolio of films that you're putting under your company name and you're starting to build a brand. And you know, and you've LED is that is that fair to say? 100%. And part of the brand is the data down and dirty. Go into cons and selling my own movie directly to the audience talking to people about it not being afraid to talk about what it is not being able to talk about the negatives of the film and the positives and hear people out on their opinions and have people talk about it. I make these these first three features that I'm working on. I call them my Rebel Without a crew features because they're literally just taking what Robert taught in the Bible of filmmaking and putting them to practice and seeing what happens in this era, which is it's very similar to what the duplass brothers did in the 2000s. It's very similar to like, there's a lot of indie filmmakers, they're just finding this way to build off of it. And there are a lot of horror movies coming out right now. And they're very, very, very good. I never I can't do that with no budget. So what I have to do is find a specific audience for that this type of horror movie. The good Exorcist is a comedy horror. It's more comedy than it is horror. It's a very watch. Gray was plot is more of a body horror, mixed with comedy, but it's still it's fun for the independent film audience to watch. It's black and white. It does weird stuff. It's the kind of movie you can watch and go. You'd never call it an arthouse movie but you never you'd never go you know this is a blockbuster hoarder, right it fits into this weird mold of not quite David Lynch in but not for you know, it's something you really want to you know, you wouldn't show your mom this you you kind of if you're a filmmaker, you'll get it more than anyone else. Um, or if you're interested in film, especially older films, it's sort of that thing and then scumbag my third movie that I literally went into production this morning on is I mean it's I've been in pre production for a year now I'm finally getting going on it but it's a movie I'm making 100% by myself, I've set up camera rigs all over my basement so that I can have cameras on you know, motion sliders that are like timed and stuff like that. So and this is kind of more in the it's more of a horror straight a horror movie, but it's it's very still very strange. Obviously I'm making it by myself. So it's gonna be strange, but it is these three are Rebel Without a crew movies that I I know my audience and my audiences the people who want passion.

Alex Ferrari 44:27
Yeah, and the one thing but and you're also I've saw some pictures I don't think you posted or something on Facebook, where you're at the Comic Cons. You're at the condo, Hong Kong, right and yours and you're selling your wares you're selling what are the products that you have for these for these films other than just the films or do or is it just the films

Josh Stifter 44:45
on so I like to make stuff I love selling t shirts, I love selling everything because people like to be a part of the brand. They like to be in on something and I'm not making something that is going to go out to Walmarts and red boxes, necessarily You know, I'm going through Different film distribution many of which I owe to you, man, you have helped me more than any you've helped me probably in post production more way more than Robert Rodriguez did in post production or in post post production, like your podcast, the things you talk about, like learning about AI Dude, it's been so helpful hearing your talks with with Linda and all these other people. It's just it's been crazy helpful. And so I, I've been able to take that and sort of figure out what my way of selling it is. And I realized I love marketing it. But most filmmakers hate that part of the do my favorite part is sitting behind a booth and having someone going up to me and going like, dude, I love this art, what's the good Exorcist and then walking away and tweeting at me the next day, dude, I watched the good Exorcist. It was everything you said it was or it was, you know, I, we loved it. My wife and I sat down and we cannot believe what you were able to make. That's amazing. Or the people who go on IMDB and are like, what a piece of garbage. I love that too. Because they just they sat down and watched it. And I tell them, if you you buy the movie, if you like it, amazing. Show your friends. If you don't like it amazing. Give it to your friends. Like just give it away, like do something with it. Like, I don't care. Like just put it out in your in your garage sale and sell it to someone else find a way to get it around. Because that's, to me, the fun of it is hearing what people think of it later. So I didn't specifically own the rights to an exorcist for about a year.

Alex Ferrari 46:29
Yeah, exactly. Because I'll read it was l rated?

Josh Stifter 46:32
Yeah, there was this weird middle ground where no one was really saying who owned it. And the paperwork was kind of fuzzy, because, you know, they've made the reality show, but they never really thought that much about what the movies would do. When it was all said and done. That's a weird thing to make for someone else. And whenever we knew to err on El Rey, the whole point was to have it on go 90. Like we thought it would be out for free for the world to see. And we can market ourselves and whatever. Go 90 went out of business. And that never happened. So then it was like, well, what's going to happen? Where does this go? So I went and just made bootlegs of my own damn movie. And I just made DVDs. I put a audio commentary with Daniel and I on it some behind the scenes that I made out of footage that I had, and you were selling them at the cons. And I was just selling bootlegs of my own movie at the cons. Well, at first, it was very, like, people who were interested in the movie, I was like, Hey, man, I got I'm selling it here if you want it, because I didn't know what was gonna happen. I went to galaxy con this last week. It's a Minneapolis, Minneapolis con. And I just I put them out on the table, because now I have the rights back and I can sell it however I want. So I'm like, I made 100 of these bootlegs. If anyone wants to buy it, this is your one chance to buy this version of the movie, I'm I'm going back and I'm cleaning it up now that I have the rights. And I'm going to put it out on you know, the CD on VHS. Although I am I'm doing we got to do the VHS to VHS and you know, film hub. And with you know, we talked to indie film rights and trauma now. And we've talked to all these people that you've sort of kind of put me in contact with, because I never would have heard of indie film rights, I probably wouldn't have heard of film hub, I had worked with distributor. We all know how that went. So now, I haven't heard what's going on. That's literally that's the only person that's the only group I've ever worked with was dis reverse. So and that was a pain in the ass to get the stuff that I had done with other companies now off of it. So you've helped me with that as well. Great. But so you know, we've got filmhub at our at our disposal, we've got these other things. So everything's sort of, I don't want to say like, you can see, I don't know when this episode's coming out, but I don't want to say you can see it on Amazon Prime yet because we're in QC processes and all this stuff. And you never know when things are going to come out but hopefully very very, very soon. Okay. And that the good Exorcist is there but I put this 100 copies of the DVD out on the table and it was like, anyone want to buy this thing I made like I had the Rebel Without a crew poster. But I

Alex Ferrari 49:03
saw and I saw the pictures. And I'm gonna I'm gonna have you send that picture to me. I'm gonna put it on the on the show notes. I want to put I want people to see this. Dude, I sold out of 100 copies for sure. How much did you

Josh Stifter 49:12
sell these for? bottom. So I was selling them for just $10 which is a DVD $10 is not it's a lot but it's not.

Alex Ferrari 49:19
It's obviously you made a grand off that

Josh Stifter 49:21
I made a grand off of it. And here's the thing as people bought it, they ended up buying t shirts. They ended up buying patches and stickers. They end up tipping me they were just like $10 is too little man. You should this is a limited edition thing. If you autographed it I signed the DVD was just like literally a white DVD. So I draw a little picture on it and sign it and stuff like that for everyone. So they'd give me a little extra. I ended up making a little bit of money that I didn't spend anything on the movie like it. The movie is a $7,000 movie out of Roberts pocket, not mine.

Alex Ferrari 49:52
So he's not but he's already monetized it through. Yeah, yeah. He's already monetized it. He's Robert It's not in the business of holding down the five $7,000 films and locking him up and distribution. Hell, I don't think that's really what he's about. So I was assuming at one point or another those rights, I mean, I understood that there was probably a windowing, it had to be on air, and they still probably own it for life to be able to be broadcast with which makes five fabric sense. But if you can explain,

Josh Stifter 50:23
it was my student film, that I get to make money on my student film anything. If I make 20 bucks, that's better than most students, I want a student film and I want

Alex Ferrari 50:33
I want, I really want people to understand this, because this is what I'm preaching in my new book, The rise of the film shoprunner, I'm really preaching your You are everything you just said, as a film intrapreneur method without question, you identified your niche, you've made the product for low, low money, you're actually leveraging press and attention that you would have not gotten in a normal $7,000 movie. So you're still you're leveraging that you've created multiple ancillary product lines that you can sell at these places. And now you're actually exploiting the rights of that film and exploiting that product and other multiple avenues that are non exclusive. So you can continue to spread those revenue streams, hopefully passive revenue streams that you'll keep coming in for years to come Is that a fair statement that covers everything

Josh Stifter 51:15
is 100% a fair statement. And on top of that, because I've done all non exclusives, after, you know, a year here and a year there, and whatever, I get to go back to it and see where it's at. So it's the long game of like, well, if the good Exorcist builds an audience great. But I can always just keep going with this sort of self distribution or with these little non exclusives that will help me get more and more eyes on it throughout the years. So that's the beauty of this movie is and I still retain the rights to sequels, I still retain the rights to do an animated merge, I plant March lunch boxes, you dude, I'm literally doing a lunchbox Of course,

Alex Ferrari 51:54
I literally do it dude, in my dude, in my book, I talk all about the horror niche, because it's such a lucrative niche for for independent filmmakers, and they love physical media, they love merge. And if you love what you're doing, I mean, they can smell a money grab. So don't try to do that. But so you really do not love what you're doing. But if you do that, as an audience that can sustain you, if you want to put the work in, if you want to go and hustle, the cons, and also build up a brand and do all you can make a living at it. And you can actually, I was gonna ask you, like you have three movies and two movies, now you're making your third now. So in three or four years, you might have four or five, six of these movies that were done at a very low budget, that you control the 110%, you have complete creative control. And now you have multiple revenue streams coming in from all of these. So every time you go to a con, all of a sudden you don't have one movie, you have multiple movies, and multiple merchandisers. And then of course, you could be selling this online, you could be doing other different ways to create more. And I'm assuming this should be an online course somewhere coming online, where you're teaching people how to do all these things. Because you know, you've established yourself as an expert or thought leader in this space based in the horror, horror movie space and show them how you're doing it. So that's another revenue stream, you can create all of this stuff, but you're not look, the thing is I'm trying to make a point here is that you're not going to become a millionaire right now off this, you might, that's great. But you're doing what you love to do. You're putting food on the table, a roof over your head, and you get to be an artist to do whatever the hell you want while you're still providing a service to an audience. And that to me is the dream. Sure, Robert does that on a much larger scale that both you and I put together, but that's okay. It doesn't have to be all don't have to be multimillionaires, working in that sandbox, we can work at smaller sandboxes my sandbox is different than your sandbox. You know, we all are creating different worlds for ourselves. And the tools are around today that we can do that. So I first of all, I applaud you, sir. I play golf, golf. A golf clubs are a golf club.

Josh Stifter 53:56
I love the golf club. Yeah, and I mean, and with animation and stuff like that. I've also found out that, you know, one of the things that I use these movies to do is build up. Number one my skills as a director to learn, like, I put myself in the movie in the second movie, because I wanted to learn what it's like to, you know, be covered in fake blood or wear a mask or have that process done. So when I'm asking a actress or actor to do that, it's not weird for me. I've lived through the process and I get it. So I've tried to build myself as a director, but then also finding like, I've gotten good at visual effects. I've done visual effects on Roberts movies, I've done visual effects on trauma movies. Now I've done visual effects on all sorts of movies coming in and you've talked about Jeremy wanek. Before a few times, right Jeremy wanek. Is has like he has been a total inspiration to me and as much as dude is one of the hardest working people you'll ever meet in your life. He is so hard working and we worked at a full time job together for like 10 years. So we've been we've worked together for a while just branched off from that to start our own businesses. I literally had lunch with him this morning and We talked about the movies I'm working on. And we talked about some of the things I'm doing with trauma and full moon features. And all of these other kind of like be movie companies full moons still around is phones. I'm literally working with full moon this Tuesday. So our next two on one

Alex Ferrari 55:15
On Puppet Master 75, which one of you were

Josh Stifter 55:18
There, they're they're doing a puppet master movie, there's this thing called the dead, they're doing this thing called the deadly 10, where they're showing the behind the scenes of 10 feature films being made. So there's all these feature films being made. And they're like, live streaming the process, and I think it's deadly ten.com or something like that. And I'm gonna be filming the behind the scenes for one of these movies. And just because I love doing behind the scenes stuff, and because of Rebel Without a crew, I've kind of worked on the reality stuff, so. But I learned from these small companies like these big movie companies, and they're kind of like, where my mind is going as well, because they've done the they did the Empire thing that got them into making a whole bunch of crappy movies at the time in the 90s. They built this thing, this empire of it, and they're still able to do it today and make a ton of money off of it because of, you know, building all building this empire in their own way in their time. Um, anyway, long story short,

Alex Ferrari 56:11
Like trauma, like Robert like all these guys.

Josh Stifter 56:15
And talking to Jeremy, I, we he taught me sort of this work ethic. And we were talking about how visual effects has been able to wait and been a way for us to both build our brands and build our companies. And I've used animation, visual effects and just learned over the last 10 years. And now Yeah, now I'm getting to the point where I can direct my own movies and tell my own stories. And in five years, who knows where I'll be as long as you don't rest too long. take breaks, meditate. Figure out how you can survive on getting, you know, kicking ass and hustling. But you need to find your way to do it that specifically works that doesn't let you be lazy and lets you continue to just kick ass and work hard.

Alex Ferrari 56:58
Yeah, and just so everybody knows, Jeremy worked on both This is Meg and on the corner of ego and desire doing visual effects. For me. He's a great, great guy and did some amazing work on both those films for me. And he just reached out to me, he like he was just like, I really was like, Hey, man, if you ever need any help, let me know. And I'm like, Well, I you know what, I need something. And

Josh Stifter 57:18
Calling back to the beginning of this episode where I said, I just reached out to Kevin Smith and was like, Hey, man, I did this animation I like, you know, I like your stuff. If you ever need animation, I'm around the same thing. Jeremy does that with people as well, part of it is just being in the right place at the right time and not afraid to say that your services are available, and proving that you have services that they're going to want.

Alex Ferrari 57:39
Yeah, and you also you've also not been able to, and you did, I did this too. For a long time, I've used most of my career where I was able to build a post production company to be able to sustain my filmmaking habit. So it's kind of like you in that's how and by building that company up, I was able to put a lot of tools in my toolbox that allows me to make a $5,000 movie or a $3,000 movie, because I've had all that education and experience over the years, and you've done the same thing. So you're, if you're not making a movie, you're not making your money off movies you are making off, you're making money off the filmmaking process in one way, shape, or form.

Josh Stifter 58:19
And you're learning every day, that's the biggest thing is you got to take, you know, when you get that job and where you're like, Oh, I do not want to work on this project, but you need it, you need to take it to pay the bills. Don't think about it like that. Take it in and be like what can I What can I actually learn from this? What's something that in this process that is going to help me in the future, because you're going to have to take in a lot of jobs that you probably don't want to take it's just a fact like that's that's it that's three and a filmmaker that's part of the life is you're gonna have to do stuff that you don't want to do, and use that to make the stuff that you do want to do have so sweet. Oh, it's so much better than the days like today. In for this movie. scumbag I'm doing I'm turning my whole basement into a it's about a guy who's trapped in a basement during a mutant apocalypse. It's my omega man. And so it's me at a gas mask the whole movie folks, it is going to be a weird movie. And there are mutants that I play and there are stop motion monsters and my hand monsters and all sorts of weird stuff. So

Alex Ferrari 59:20
200 $250,000, right. As much as the class.

Josh Stifter 59:22
Yeah, it's like, well, no, we're like, we went over and we're at like one, we're just under 1.5 mil.

Alex Ferrari 59:30
And that's a that's a we laugh. But that is a lesson that everyone needs to understand. That movie you just pitched me. There is a budget threshold. That makes sense. If you're paying for it yourself, because there's a limited audience for that film. I'm not saying it can't blow up and turn into Napoleon Dynamite or a big huge monster hits. sure everyone could win a lottery. But the point is, this is a small film that's experimental. I look I shot him 100% I shot a movie at the Sundance Film Festival.

Josh Stifter 59:56
You know that's experiments I version of ego and desire man. What I saw Ego I was just like, Okay, what how can I do this for MMA fans that I've built and push myself to the limit. And the limit I realized is, every time I said Rebel Without a crew, every time I say that, that thing Rebel Without a crew, it feels tainted because your your cast is your crew, your friends become your crew and my like, friends are better than any crew I've ever worked with. I've worked on some relatively big projects, you know, especially corporate stuff where you're like, how, how the hell do they get a budget for this is big.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:36
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Josh Stifter 1:00:46
For a Best Buy commercial, you're just like, Oh, my God, this is my next seven movies in this budget, and the crew is massive. And so working with my friends, they become a better crew than any of those productions. They're just amazing. So my only real way of making a movie without a crew is to get rid of everyone. I just have to work by myself. And I know that I'm not going to have a big I'm not going to have an audience like a Star Wars would have. That's just not going to happen. But what I will have are filmmakers who are interested in the process. People who are going into going like he net there's no way he accomplish something. He couldn't do it. The naysayers, the people who just want to see a fun, weird little no budget horror movie, and people

Alex Ferrari 1:01:32
who know who you are and want to follow you.

Josh Stifter 1:01:34
And people who see the trailer and go, Oh, that looks cool. Because in the end, I hope that the movie is able to just be watched on its own. I want to make something that if you don't know what you're going into, you'll watch the trailer and you'll be like, Oh, this looks interesting. I'll check it out. So if I can get to a con and get the trailer in front of people and sell it to them, I'm gonna make money off of it. Yesterday I was at Home Depot. What I assume Home Depot is all around the US but

Alex Ferrari 1:02:01
I don't know. Yes, it is.

Josh Stifter 1:02:03
I was at a Home Depot. And I was like, oh man, I'm I'm my basement has like this little window at the top that I wanted it to look like it got, you know, metal sheet metal over the top with wood planks, like he's locked himself in. And I was looking at this sheet metal, I'm just like, oh, man, $12 Oh, like, that's I'm keeping this budget as low as I can. Like, I just want it to be nothing I spent, you know, a few bucks on sliders that are on there, they're up time to sliders. And you know, they're like, I think they're like 400, I think I spent 400 bucks.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:38
For your iPhone, you can use that iPhone to connect to exactly

Josh Stifter 1:02:41
that's the kind I got the iPhone kind. And so you know, I spent when all is when as I'm going I've spent maybe $1,000 on new stuff, which then I can use on my next movie, so it's justifiable in that way. And if this movie ends up being a $3,000, movie, great, like I can make $3,000 back on this idea. But it's, it's a matter of getting out there and getting that $3,000 back. And then after that finding a bigger way to you know, more money to make. But with that being said, it's also a tax write off, because it's my movie for my company, it's a passion project, I could go on vacation for 3000 bucks, or I could do this

Alex Ferrari 1:03:22
and you're gonna invest in something that can generate revenue for you moving forward. And once you build out these systems, though, once you build out the systems of like, I can go to the cons, I can set up, you know, my website, I can set up an email list to get and just it's it you can build a business this is you're building a business, you're building a business around your art around your films. And that's what we all should strive for is to do that. I mean, look, again, I'll bring Robert backup, Robert built a business off of his art. It's a massive business and he was many, many ways he was at the right place at the right time at night in the 90s when El Mariachi showed up when the opportunity for El Rey network showed up he was at the right place at the right time and had the right you know, it was everything fell into place. But he's been able to leverage those great opportunities and his great talent and business savvy to be able to build an entire business around what he does and also helps other filmmakers do the same thing through his through troublemaker.

Josh Stifter 1:04:21
He also doesn't say no, like that's the beautiful thing about Robert is when an idea pops up or when something comes to be he's his reaction is just do it. And I learned that from him when I would ask him questions and I'd be like, do you think I could and he's like yeah, you could if you think you can you can you just start with the idea don't make it happen. Like stop questioning it, just do it. And that is the Robert mentality is like someone could go man, should I make a PG Spy Kids movie after I've made Desperado and all of this other stuff and Robert he easily could have said no to spike it it's I still think it's his highest grossing film. Oh

Alex Ferrari 1:04:56
no my kids, the again being a Robert Rodriguez you know, Robert file he his empire was built on the back of spike it Yeah, well, I mean that that's what built troublemaker that's what built the studios all of it it wasn't you know later on Sin City showed up but it was spike it exploded him into a stratosphere

Josh Stifter 1:05:22
and Spy Kids 3d was massive people don't remember that that was like the first 3d project that was the first thing shot on those 3d cameras, because essentially they gave him the technology to just mess around with and he just had a blast with it. He still loved like when you talk to him about Spy Kids, his eyes light up.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:41
There's so much fun. There's so much my kids have seen all the Spy Kids, they love them and they're so powerful. And they're they made he made so much money Spy Kids. I think it's Spy Kids wonder Spy Kids three is his highest grossing film. I don't know, maybe at bat, maybe alita alita. Might have

Josh Stifter 1:05:59
i don't know i'm not sure if Alito passed it up. But as far as like grossing, like, return on investment Oh,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:05
no, no ROI, ROI spike, he made the first one for 30 million, if I'm not mistaken, was like 27 million or 27 million, something along those lines and then grossed just domestically like 140 or 150 million, but then the merchandising, as as Mel Brooks says, and Spaceballs merchandising It was so much the tie ins with McDonald's. So much money, so much money.

Josh Stifter 1:06:30
I know we got to wrap up, but I got to tell one quick story. Yeah, go ahead. So Rebel Without a crew. I, we, we were like doing between the making our movie, the reality shows stuff, everything that happened. We were just like, working 22 hours a day. Like we weren't sleeping. It was just so much. And I was trying to edit my movie as we went as well. So it was just like crazy stressful. And after we wrapped we had this Sunday where they put us up in a hotel and they were like, shut your brains off, like, do nothing. And I had bronchitis. I was dying. There was a moment on the show where Robert light gives me the fist bump because I got sick two days before the movie was both before we were supposed to wrap the good Exorcist and I quit. They didn't show this on the show. I quit. I I called my wife and I'm like, I'm done. I can't do this. I was like, I hopped up blood in the shower. And I was just like, I'm done. I am done. I am sick. I can't move on. I cannot finish this movie. And I had scheduled all of the fun stuff, all of the bloody stuff in the movie, all of the stuff that makes a movie mine in the last two days because I'm like, well, we'll get through all of the story. And then in the last two days, we're just gonna spray gallons of blood we're just gonna go for it and I was so sick. I didn't want to do any of that. So I was dying and they put us up in this hotel on a Sunday and I walked into the hotel and I just like crashed on the bed and they brought us food they brought us Pete Harry's which is the best burger I've ever eaten in my entire life. Pete Aires and Austin Texas get it they're not I'm not I'm not getting any money back from them for saying this Irish mom used to be there is and they brought it to the door and I sat down at lay down in the bed and I'm like, I think I cried. I honestly think I laid in the bed and I just like tears you know that cry when you're so tired that it's just like tears is like rolling down my face. I just laid there looking up at the ceiling feeling miserable. And I got the strength to grab my P Terry's and turn on the TV and I am not joking. I this is 100% swear to God. I turned on the TV. Spy Kids was on. I just turned it on and Spy Kids popped on. I didn't move I set down the remote. I watched Spy Kids and AP Terry's in my underwear.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:42
Nice great image by the way. It's fantastic. Is it that

Josh Stifter 1:08:44
it just oh I loved I probably I it was easiest I've ever been and I'm a skin guy to begin with. Because I've been working so hard. I hadn't eaten because I was so stressed. I had I just laid in that bed in my underwear. And when like the film gods are smiling down at me with Spy Kids right now and I just laid in bed and watched it and felt like a child like 100% like a kid on a Saturday morning in my undies eaten food that I like like it's like the equivalent to my bowl of cereal and just watched by kids. It was amazing. That's That's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:17
And I'm assuming you finished. Oh, I did. I watched the whole thing I did. No, no, you finished. You finished the show.

Josh Stifter 1:09:24
Oh, yeah, I did. Yeah, this was this was after we had wrapped in everything. Honestly, the second we wrapped the movie or the Rebel Without a crew, the good Exorcist. I walked into the front door of the mansion that they had put us up in and one of the producers was like, What's wrong with him? And everyone was like, he's been like this for two days. She had been on a music video shoot and came back and she was like, he needs to go to the hospital. You guys. This isn't Josh. This isn't the guy that we had on the show. My face was green. My skin was nasty. I was just like, well then she Get me to the hospital. So I literally wrapped my movie and instead of like celebrating I went to the hospital

Alex Ferrari 1:10:05
as a true indie filmmaker sir

Josh Stifter 1:10:08
it's finished it and you guys can see the good Exorcist I don't know when this episode is coming up, but it will be on Amazon Prime soon it will be on trohman now it'll, it's on iTunes, but it's kind of a different version that El Rey network put out. It will be if you want to, you can subscribe to my Patreon, I run a Patreon where I show it's my like, I like the Patreon because I loved the behind the scenes on DVDs back in the day layer number Kevin Smith put out that Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back like three disc edition that was just filled with fun behind the scenes stuff. That's what my Patreon is. It's my like, second DVD for everything I post behind the scenes for everything. Um, and I just constantly am making new stuff when I see something that I'm like, Oh, I never posted this or someone asked me like how did you blow up the teddy bear and the good Exorcist or kill the teddy bear, I just make a behind the scenes on like how I talk about it. So you could subscribe to my Patreon right now, anytime that this is coming out and you will get the good exercises sent to you immediately a screener of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:11
That's awesome, dude. Now, before I end the show, man, I wanted to ask you one question. You brought this up in our pre pre show interview, if you will, your attitude change. I thought that that was extremely important for you to talk about how did you know your attitude change from being the angry, bitter negative filmmaker, which we all like I always say, we all know an angry, bitter filmmaker. And if you don't know when you are the angry and bitter filmmaker, how your attitude change has affected not only your life, but your career and everything you're trying to do.

Josh Stifter 1:11:43
Yeah, so I, I was the pessimist. Like I was the negative guy. My wife still says I'm the pessimist because I am the guy who, you know, when I walk out the door, I'm thinking about what we didn't bring or what could go wrong or what like it's there's like a skill. It's a skill. there's a there's a pessimistic attitude in me that's not looking at what positive could happen, hey, we're gonna have fun on this vacation. I'm like, What did we forget? And but I was that to the ultimate degree, I used to look at stuff and I would get a job. And I would instantly just be like, God, I got to do this work, or I this is not going to be fun, or no one's ever going to like what I make, or I'm always gonna be a failure. And like, just everything was pessimistic, everything was pessimistic. And three years ago. So I'm, I'm 34. Now. So it was four years ago at this point, you know, I kind of just turned 34, though. So it was basically when I turned 31. So it was like three years ago, more or less. I'm in my 30s I or my whole life, I have one thing on my bucket list, make a feature film, that was literally the only thing I ever wanted to do with my life. I didn't care about anything else. And I had kids, I own a house, I have all of this stuff that is stuff that people would consider positive things. But I never finished my feature film. And it like always dragged me down. And this was like, a few weeks. But before I turned 31 in, or before I turned 30 and I turned 30. And I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna make a feature film. That's the only thing I'm going to do. And I turned 31. And I was like, dude, you're never going to do it. Like if you don't just think positive, change your mindset and go, let's go make a movie. Let's have fun with it. Let's do this thing. You're always going to look at things negatively. And Daniel, me, Keith and Strauss went out in the woods, and something flipped in my brain where I'm like, we can have fun doing this. And you can be happy about every project you bring in. And you can think positively about stuff. These last three years have been the best three years of my life. waking up in the morning. And the first thing it's it's a challenge for me, I have to wake up in the morning and not go, what's gonna go wrong today. I have to literally think to myself in the shower. This is going to be a good day. Let's do this thing. I'm like that little girl who's like, You are good, you are great. This is going to be a positive day. That's me every day and I have to think positive. Every day is amazing. Now, now I've had my bad days just like everyone else. But at the end of the day when the bad day ends, and I lay down in bed I'm like, Yeah, but you made it through it. And actually, you know what, you finished this animation. You did a podcast, you you know, even if even if it's something small like you relax today, you had a bad day. Now tomorrow gets to be the good one because you got the bad one out of the way like that thinking positive has made my business flourish. It's made my films flourish. It's made everything I do feel like it's all kind of worth it. And it's about thinking that way being positive and not going alright, this is going to be a crappy project or today is going to be a bad day on set. Oh, that guy showed up late on Rebel Without a crew like there was one day where one of the cast members was like, Hey man, I'm my son came into downtown today early and I'm not going to be able to show up today. Set today, I wasn't paying them much. So I couldn't be like, No, you are going to show up to set. Instead I just went, Okay, we're going to write around him today. And then when he's here tomorrow, we'll just film him up against the wall in the corner. And it's like he's angrily standing in the corner. Totally fine and totally worked. And no one ever has noticed it in the movie that he wasn't on set that day, because I found a work around

Alex Ferrari 1:15:21
And you could have lost and you could have lost your every month, you could have lost your mind and ruined your entire day and ruined the shoot that day.

Josh Stifter 1:15:29
If my attitude had changed based on him not showing up, it would have been a terrible day. So I told the story about how I called my wife and I was like, I'm not filming. I'm not like that was the day that pessimistic. angry, Josh showed up. And Daniel said, Daniel, I called Daniel and he said, Actually, I talked to one of my pa on from the reality crew. And he was like, all you need to do is get to Daniel, and you'll change your attitude. And I was like, yeah, Daniel can't show up for another two hours. And I am going, I'm leaving you guys, can't I there's no way. He's like, well, what would make you happy? What? Like, what could you do? Like what would turn your attitude around? He's like, I see that you don't want to be here. What would change your attitude. And I'm like, you know what, I want to go to the Halloween store. And this was the day after Halloween. So it was like the 90% off day. So I went to the Halloween store. And I just bought like six gallons of blood and just walked out of there with like, 90% off gallons of blood. I'm like, Alright, today is going to be an okay day. And I just found that thing to turn it around. And then I got to set and Daniel was there. And he was like, Alright, you want me to roll around on the phone with it on the floor with the telephone. And I was like, Oh, that sounds like fun. Yeah, I guess I'll stay. Let's do that. And that's when we filmed the scene where Daniel rolls around on the floor of the telephone.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:41
That's awesome. Dude, that's awesome.

Josh Stifter 1:16:43
Well, I'm all about, it's all about that positivity. Man. I think there's so many people who don't make anything because they think about what bad could come from it, or the fact that someone's not going to like it or the fact that, you know, it maybe didn't turn out the way they wanted it to or whatever. Get rid of that

Alex Ferrari 1:16:58
That's got to go, you just got to go.

Josh Stifter 1:17:01
That's gonna hold you back every day of your life. Think about the one person who's gonna like it. Think about the fact that you finish something that no one else will ever finish. Think about the fact that, you know, tomorrow's another day and you never know what's going to happen. So keep pushing forward. Fantastic advice, sir. And I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:19
What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Josh Stifter 1:17:24
Just start right now start. Like right now you you are sitting here thinking as young filmmaker, you don't think how can I break into the business? You're never gonna break into the business. If you're sitting there thinking, stop thinking and go make a cartoon or go shoot something in your backyard? No one has to see it. Just go do it right now. The End, show it to your friends show it to your significant other, like, so many people that I talked to I did a high school, like a q&a at a high school for this like film, all these film students or these students made films that they showed on the big screen. And there's one girl asked like almost this exact question. And she was like, now that I made my short film, I don't know what to do next. Because I don't think I can do a feature or I don't think I can. I was just like, why? Like, I'm no better than you are like, you've got you can get a camera from your school. That's better than the camera I had at the time filming this, like you have equipment. I know that schools have them. Like, just go do it. And if film school is your route, go for it. Like that's great. If you feel like you'll learn more in film school. Totally Go for it. If you feel like you'll learn more just going out and making a feature film. Go do that. Do what you feel is right for you. I wasted years because I tried to listen to what people told me I should do. You know, I asked my dad every day, right? ask other people who have no idea how to get into the film industry. They know how to do something else. That was the worst advice I could give worst advice to myself I could give is listen to other people. Because it didn't work for me. What worked for me is the day I got up and I just went Screw it. You and your buddies are going in the woods and we're making a movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:03
Good for you, man. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Josh Stifter 1:19:10
Um, be positive. That was the hardest part. I mean, I like looking back at my 20s I can't believe how angry I was about everything. I bought a house. I had kids. I did all this amazing stuff that you know, is very cool. I've worked with Kevin Smith. The irony being I was working with Kevin Smith and I would sit there and go like, Kevin isn't gonna like this. He liked everything. Except for one animation he thought was too dark, which I find now I look back I'm like, that's so funny that I was too dark. I think that's amazing. And I just had to change a few things and then he was kind of cool with it, but I just I like bloody gory stuff. And Kevin didn't like bloody gory stuff. So we found a happy workaround for it. Um, but my my the thing that took me the longest to learn was just be positive. Stop worrying about what other people think. And be self aware of what you think of yourself. Like, got a look, take take yourself outside of your body and just look at like, would you be proud of you? Or would what would you do? What would you tell yourself? I saw this, there's this meme going around. That's like, be the be the person. How hot fuck I mean, I totally am screwing it up. But it's like, be the person to your stoop to others that you would have wanted to be screwing it up.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:34
I know, I understand what you're saying.

Josh Stifter 1:20:36
And but I think that same thing goes for yourself. Now think about yourself in the future and what that future self would say to you at this moment, like, if you are the if you can get to the place that you want to be, like 10 years from now, I hope to have five films done five features down that I can have on a table little little mini Empire now. I'm shooting realistic and small with that. I think I think I can do more than that in 10 years. But what would that guy say to me now? And he would say go make scumbag go make that movie that you're gonna make by yourself in your basement? Don't be afraid to do that. Because every day I wake up and I'm like, I can't do this. This is how am I going to keep things in focus? How am I going to get good audio? How am I going to do this with a gas mask on? But that guy would say go do it. I know he would like because I wish I could tell myself 10 years ago to go do that movie right now.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:28
Oh, God, I would have said that so many times, Jesus, I wasted 20 years waiting to make my first feature because it was an idiot. But anyway, that's another story for another day. Three of your favorite films of all time, sir. I'm gonna go with American movie. Have you seen that documentary American movie, or it's one of the greatest filmmaking movies of all time?

Josh Stifter 1:21:48
I seriously put it out in the background while I'm working. And I get so inspired by Mark Burchard. Now I know he's, they're playing it up. Like this dude is kind of, you know, Goofy Mark Burchard. He's talking about all this crazy stuff. And he's, you know, frantic and you know, he can't finish his feature film and makes a short film instead. But I watch it. And I'm just like, this guy is the most passionate dude I've ever seen. He wakes up every day thinking about filmmaking, he can't get his future going. So he goes back and makes a short film and finishes it and gets it seen. How many people would have just let that short film die? I mean, it's not even that short. It's like a 30 minute short film. And like, he could have easily just been like, I can't finish this. And he's working on 16 millimeter, which instantly I'm just like, oh my god, I can't imagine working on 16 millimeter like that in your basement in your house. Going to the school days. I love that movies, too.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:43
Yes. It's like, it's like watching Ed Wood. Like when you watch it would people like Oh, he's crazy. I'm like, no, it brings a tear to my eye every time I see it.

Josh Stifter 1:22:52
Oh, he it's exactly that. It's like a it's a documentary being able to see that kind of meant tality I love it. So American movies, my number one. Number two, I'm going to have to go with the shining. Saudi got me some hard times like I when I was in that pessimistic mood, and

Alex Ferrari 1:23:11
she turn the shining on to raise your spirits or I would,

Josh Stifter 1:23:15
I would turn it on because I'd be like, well, at least I'm not as crazy as jack homeruns like wow, I was working like 50 hour weeks and then coming home and animating for Kevin Smith, which was also taking me like 40 hours so I was working like 90 hour weeks. I was so tired. I wasn't sleeping I was losing my mind and I wasn't able to work on any of my own stuff. So while I would work on Kevin's the animation for for SMA automation or for tosk I would put on the shining and I would put on the shining in the background and just feel like okay, just don't go full jack Torrance, you can make it and it really helped me a lot. I'm a third and the thing The thing is just it's a masterpiece. It's it's horror. It's fun to watch. The characters are amazing. It it's just gorgeously amazing. I love it. And where can people who are not putting Beetlejuice on that list Beetlejuice is my fourth. I gotta just shout it out Beetlejuice.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:11
I had I had the guy who wrote Beetlejuice on a while ago and it was great to hear the how that Did you hear that episode? I don't think I have you missed it. You go to button bulletproof screenwriting. So it just sits there. And he just talks about how it came just how it came along. And the whole the whole concept how it was originally going to be something else. And then Tim Burton showed up and it was just Oh, it's a great it's a great, great episode. I can't believe I missed this. And where can people find you and your wares, sir?

Josh Stifter 1:24:46
Yeah, so I'm I'm right now in the process of updating my website, because plush studios.com is basically just two trailers right now but you can find me on all the social medias. I love social media. I'm a total. I'm addicted. I said So I don't, I don't even feel bad about it. I love it because I love talking to people. So being able to like, get on social media and chat with people and use it as like the modern like the old Greek forums. I love that idea of the forum. And each social media has its own little way of being that. So I'm on Twitter at Josh stifter. I'm on Facebook. It's just me, come find me. And there's a four studios, Facebook, Instagram is at flush studios. You can find the good Exorcist on father guild calm, gray Woods plot is out and about hitting up festivals and stuff like that. I'm gonna have a panel at there's a long ways out, but I'll be at South by Southwest. I just found out today doing a panel for Rebel Without a crew and some other fun stuff. And I'm all over the place. I yeah. And on my podcast is the flush studios podcast. I also have a podcast called the escalator pitch that I do with john brennan from trauma and yeah, all over

Alex Ferrari 1:25:57
That's awesome. Dude, Josh, man, thank you so much for coming on, brother. I truly appreciate it. Man. It's you're an inspiration, sir. to too many indie filmmakers out there, myself included. So thank you so much, my friend.

Josh Stifter 1:26:08
Thank you for everything I said earlier, you have been a guru to me over the past few months, they'll probably the reason why I missed that bill's use episode is because I'm too busy listening to all your episodes with indie filmmakers where I'm learning so much. It's so awesome. Being able to learn this part of the process that they don't teach in film school. They don't teach anywhere. The film sharpeners stuff just helps me like all of the distribution stuff has been amazing. So thank you, sir.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:35
I want to thank Josh for coming on and inspiring the tribe and dropping those knowledge bombs. Thank you so much, Josh. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including the link to watch the Good Exorcist on indie film, hustle TV, just head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/375. Now really quickly, guys, I know a lot of you have seen on the corner of ego and desire and I've gotten a lot of great response on it, if you happen to have watched it on Amazon, or have watched it somewhere else. But can you just please go to Amazon and leave a review. And also head over to IMDb and leave a review there not even a review but just like give us 10 stars or nine stars or whatever you'd like. But give us a review. It does help us out with the algorithm and helps get the movies seen by more and more people. So to leave a review for Amazon just head over to egoanddesirefilm.com click on Amazon and leave the review. I really really appreciate it guys. Thank you so much for listening 375 episodes, that is insane. I cannot wait for Episode 400 which is just around the corner. Thank you guys so much for making this possible. Thank you so much for listening, and spreading the word about what we do at indie film hustle. I truly, truly, truly appreciate everything you guys do in the tribe does for me, and for what we're trying to do the mission that we're trying to have here and help as many filmmakers as humanly possible. Thanks again guys. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 116: Fast and Cheap: Lessons Learned for the No-Budget Feature Film

In this week’s episode, I go way back to a simpler time, the 90s, and discuss the lessons we can learn from some filmmaking legends. I’ll discuss films by Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Christopher Nolanand Richard Linklater to break down and learn the techniques they used to make awesome, no-budget feature films with limited resources.

“In no-budget filmmaking, your limitations are your guide.”

If you take note of what filmmakers did before you, you can jump-start your filmmaking career. Enjoy!

I also included this killer video by The Royal Ocean Film Society. In the late 1980s and 1990s, there was a great movement indie cinema of no-budget filmmaking that was the beginning for some of the most successful and popular filmmakers of the modern-day. Let’s take a look at five features from that movement and see what lessons we can learn on how to make a great film with as little money as possible.

Here are some key points discussed:

  • Shoot black and white
  • Be disciplined
  • Try not to use guns
  • Film something that hasn’t been seen before
  • Take stock of what you have and make a movie about it
  • Don’t take things so seriously

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 2:26
So guys, today's episode, I wanted to go back a bit and talk about a time of a much simpler time a lovely time called the 90s where a lot of indie film guys got their start. And I wanted to kind of talk a little bit about the lessons we can learn from a lot of these guys who started their careers back in the late 80s, early 90s. And what they were able to do, and how they did it, and I've studied them over the course of my career, and just started finding similar themes and similar things that each of these guys did, to kind of get out there to get a career started. So why don't I go over, go over individual filmmakers as well as movies and concepts as well. And I hope you guys get a little something out of it. Because I've been I've been getting contacted a lot by filmmakers who you know, are trying to get their first movies made. And I see they tell me like, Oh, I'm going to do this kind of movie, this kind of movie. And it's going to cost X amount of dollars. And I'm just thinking to myself, I'm like my god, you know, the chances of you actually making any money back is going to be very, very difficult. And I wanted to kind of give a little bit of a helping hand if I can with this episode. So first and foremost, guys, when you're going to go into making a movie, your first feature film, do it as cheaply as humanly possible. Dirt Cheap, okay, I mean the bare minimum of what you can do to get your movie finished and made, because a lot of filmmakers will show up and go look, I've got $200,000 for my first movie, I'm like, Well, if you have $200,000 for your first movie, you better pick a genre that's really marketable, you probably better pick a couple stars that are going to be involved. So you can at least get some basic sales off of that. And if you don't do that, you're going to be destined for failure. Because even Sundance winners and big big movie, no big fan of Sundance Tribeca, South by Southwest, full blown winners in audience winners and best of shows, you know, for you to read, read, get the $200,000 back on a let's call it a drama, or a comedy or a drama at or something that's not genre based. extremely, extremely difficult and I think a lot of filmmakers make that big Mistake right up front. And when they finally do do that, and they completely fall on their face, they're discouraged. And never make another movie again. And I don't want to see that happen to you guys. So try to make your movie as cheap as possible. And you know, you could take Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, rich, Richard Linklater, Spike Lee, all of these guys, all their first movies were very inexpensive. But obviously the famous one, which is Robert Rodriguez, a $7,000, Kevin Smith at 30, or $27,000, he put on his credit cards, all that kind of stuff. And I'll use this as magazine example, use myself, you know, we made the movie for under $25 million, we'll release the final budget once the audit is done. But we made the movie at a place where we feel comfortable that we can recoup our initial investment. Now that could be half a million dollars. That could be $5,000. Nothing Meg in general, but just a general statement. Because if you have a certain star, or a certain genre or a certain thing, and a half a million dollars, and you know you can pre sell or sell certain territories and things like that half million dollars makes a lot of sense. If you know you're going to probably get 1.5 back for it. But if you're going in with a drama with no stars at 100,000 200,000 $500,000, budget, good luck. It's, you'd be one of the few and when I say few, I can count them on my hands. If I could even think of movies, that blue out of the water at that kind of budget range when they're first starting out. But what you need to do is embrace your limitations. Do what you can do very well. So again, I'll use Meg as an example. You know, my limitations, which were and limitations I set on myself. I knew what I had, I knew what kind of cast that can get. I knew what kind of locations I could get. I knew what camera I can afford that I could have complete control over as opposed to getting a free Alexa, which would have brought all sorts of, you know, headaches of financial headaches, as well as technical and logistical headaches for this kind of movie. And I just, I just fell right into what I had access to. You know, I'll go back to mariachi, you know, Robert had access to a full Mexican town. So he made a movie about a full Mexican town. Kevin Smith had access to a convenience store. And he made a movie about a convenience store. Richard Linklater made a movie called slacker. What did he have access to Austin Austin back in the 90s, which is not the pool hip Austin, that it is today. He just made a movie about his backyard. And that's another thing you guys have to understand. You should make a movie that is close to you. That is your experience your perspective on something. There's been a lot of convenience stores and movies in the history of film. But no one has ever done it quite like Kevin Smith. It was his perspective, his rawness of what it's really like to be a clerk. And that was his that was his truth. Same thing goes for a go to Richard Linklater and slot and slacker. He wanted to show what these people and this town was like, from his perspective, his voice. And if you start going back and watching all of the first movies of a lot of these great directors, they're going to they're going to a lot of them are going to be very close to home. They're going to be you know, I'm sure there's an there's the occasional, you know, oddball out like the following, you know, by Chris Nolan. But it was still something that he had, he used what he had access to, which was a 16 millimeter camera, and he shot it on weekends for a year, you know, so he definitely embraced his limitations, and tried to make the best thing he could, with the limited tools and an experience and locations and everything yet, but a lot of these other people who really kind of break through, they are telling a story that's very true to who they are, and where they come from. And that unique voice is what people are looking for. They're not looking for an eye. Like if I went out right now and make clerks no one wants to see that movie. And that's what happened with like when Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs came out how many rip offs of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction came out after that. I mean, it was ridiculous how many tried to be hips, the hip, kind of movies came out, but it wasn't authentic, and audiences can smell that. And when you find something authentic, something with some heart, something that that rings true. That's when you break out man. So that's why clerks My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you know for you know, which was one of the biggest independent films of all time. Sure, it wasn't done on a little low, low budget, but it wasn't a studio movie by any stretch. That movie made to $300 million. Why? Because Nina the director, writer wrote from Her heart from her experience from her voice. No one had ever done a movie like that before. But then of course, everyone could relate to that movie, because of the story and how she was able to write it. But again, it came from her life experience. She's got to have it Spike Lee's first movie was all about his experience in New York, what it was like to be a black woman in New York in the late 80s. And that whole experience something that no one had ever seen on screen before. So boys in the hood, another one john Singleton's first movie, is a masterpiece. And it was it completely rings true to the experience he saw that he grew up with, and no one had really talked about it, you know, they did collars, you know that. That movie by Dennis Hopper, and Sean Penn, about the gangs in you know, South el, and you know, South Central and all those areas, but no one was really, it was kind of very Hollywood II, as opposed to boys in the hood, then when you watch boys in the hood, you will tear up, you will go Holy crap, it was so powerful. It was like an atom bomb going off in cinema when that came out, you know, from a 23 year old Why? Because he was authentic to who he was, and his experience. And that's what I want you guys to kind of look for when trying to make your first movie, find something that's authentic to you, that only you could tell that story in mind you. You like, Oh, well, you know, I work in a in a video store. Well, you know, nobody works in a video store anymore. But you work at a convenience store, oh clerks has already been done? Well, maybe you could tell it in a different way from your experience, from your place where it maybe has not been told in that way. You know, there's been a lot of movie, there's been a lot of action movies in the world. But it all depends on the kind of perspective you put on it. And what your voice is, what your your message your theme is. And I think as when you're first starting out, it's the easiest thing to do with a feature. You know, I've done my first shorts were very ambitious, very action packed, very true. But I'll be honest with you looking back at some of those movies, I'm like, you know what, there's just something missing. For me as an artist and being critical of my own work, I'll go back and go, you know what, there's something missing there. Maybe I was onto something, maybe I wasn't, I don't know. But Meg, for, for what better or worse, I really love this as Meg, because it's a really authentic view of what I was seeing through the eyes of Julie, you know, and what she was going through as an actress in LA and I had been very close to that world. And we've all seen movies about actresses, and actors trying to make it in Hollywood. But I don't think anyone's seen one like this before, because it's a very unique perspective, a very unique, authentic view of this world. So that's what I was trying to do. And I did it again, on a budget that I feel comfortable, I can get a return on. So look around you and find out what you have access to. And then you start building your story around that. That's exactly what we did. With this as Mac, we started looking and taking inventory of everything we had. So I'm like Alright, we have an edit suite, there's going to be a scene with an edit sweeten it, because as good production value is the edit suite that we added to the movie in you know, we have houses or you have your house, my house, how many rooms can we do how many things we could do great. We have a car, we have these cards? Great. I have some friends with houses. Great. And then I have all these actor friends of mine. Great. That's a resource. Let's use that. Okay, then I have all this that I bring all my camera gear great. And then that's how we were able to construct the story of this is Meg within the limitations of what we had access to. And clerks did it. mariachi did it. slackers did it. And a lot of people will go well, how about like district nine? You know, Neal cams, a great little short, that got him his first feature. Now, I'm going to argue with it and have a paranormal activity. Okay, great. So I'll argue with you that those two movies were not, quote unquote, from, you know, like a little personal movie. But if you look at district nine, what did it do? Neal set the movie in South Africa, an alien invasion kind of movie in South Africa. I've never seen that before. Have you know, now would have that movie still had the same impact if it was set in Chicago? or New York or LA? I don't know. I personally don't think so. I think one of the charms of that movie is because it's set in South Africa. And why is it set in South Africa? Because guess what, Neil South African, and he felt like he wanted to put something from his experience. So he melted his experience with a really cool sci fi story. Now that was the other thing I'm saying the kind of stories I'm talking about are either going to be dramas, comedies, dramas, even actions but And sci fi, if you look at some Sundance winning movie called sleep dealer by Alex Rivera, that's a movie about basically immigration. And, but he threw a sci fi twist in it. He's a Mexican filmmaker, and he decided to throw his experience, as you know, day laborers and not his experience. But the story of day laborers, but he threw it in with an insane sci fi twist to it. And again, he just twisted it, but used his original and his authentic experience to tell that story. And it's his voice. And that's well The other thing I want to tell you guys, I'll argue that district nine, sleep dealer, paranormal activity, those also are genre movies. So genre, kinda is different than what I'm talking about the drama is the comedies that even the actions but action, sci fi, Hor, those, those are genre genres. And because of those, those are much easier to sell and don't need as much of as an authentic voice as a drama or comedy does. Now, look at district nine. District nine had a very authentic voice mixed in with a sci fi movie, and it was a huge hit. So we mixed genre with authentic voice. And that's something that you guys could do as well. genres are going to be much genre films are going to be a lot easier to sell a lot easier to get out there. And it all depends on what you want to do with your filmmaking career. If you want to go down the festival circuit, you want to make personal films want to make big blockbusters, I you know, it's up to you. Robert Rodriguez made mariachi which was an action movie, which is a genre movie, but was very authentic to his voice, which is in his backyard, which is a Mexican town. He's a Mexican American filmmaker, and he was using his authentic voice his experience to make his genre movie. So to review a little bit of what we just talked about, make your first movie is dirt cheapest possible, the cheaper, the better. Because if you're able to make a movie for 15 grand, you should if you know even remotely what you're doing, make yourself 30 grand off of that. And then the next one you can make will cost 30 grand and then off that 30 grand, maybe you can make 50 or 60 grand off of that. And then you can start growing and growing and growing. And then you can start jumping budgets, once you start figuring the process out a little bit. But trying to jump in right away with a huge budget when I say huge budget $100,000 for someone's never directed a day in their life is a lot $200,000 that's a lot of fucking money, excuse my language. And I know a lot of filmmakers just want to like oh, I'm got my big budget, I'm gonna use all these tools and stuff like that Don't be idiots. Try to do something small First, if you can, if you can execute something on a smaller scale, tell a good story on a $20,000 budget on a $15,000 budget on a $10,000 budget, then you have a much, much better chance of telling a good story and making it look good. When you have a bigger budget. There's a lot of things that you don't think about when working on a bigger budget. But if you do something small, that might work better and I'll use myself again with Meg as an example. You know, we raised a good amount of money to make the movie but it was a number that we felt very comfortable with. I could have easily tripled or quadrupled that kind of budget and made a much bigger movie. Because I have 20 years of experience under my belt. I've directed four or $500,000 music videos and commercials and things like that in my career. But I decided no I'm not going to do that. I'm going to strip it down to the bare bones and Mike look this is about story. Let's see if I can tell a story that I'm proud of before I start jumping into the next big project. Don't be in such a rush to jump into these bigger budgets guys all right, learn from the lessons of Robert Rodriguez Kevin Smith, Spike Lee all these guys that started Richard Linklater that started out with smaller smaller budget selling very personal stories because that's what will take you to the next level and the next level and the next level after that. And again, there always are those people who who are the exception but generally speaking, I don't know of any examples of people who who made a drama or a comedy or a drama at at a very you know, it robust budget with no stars or anything like that involved and was able to be very successful with it. I know of many people who did genre movies, horror movies, action movies, I mean, Eli Roth, Peter Jackson, all these kind of guys. They did genre movies and and that's how they got noticed and how they broke out and started their career. I mean, we can go all the way back to Martin Scorsese's first films. Who's that knocking Which was completely from his experience all his short films, most of his early short films were based around his experience, which is his his experience in the streets of New York, in the 60s and 70s. Growing up seeing the mobster seeing the thing that was his authentic voice. And that voice he's carried on throughout his career jumping in and out from that his next movies and other gangster movie because he's so good at it because he understands that world so well, but that's his authentic voice from where Martin Scorsese came from, then he didn't mean streets, then he starts jumping into something like taxi driver. Then he jumps into Raging Bull, and these other movies that aren't his personal stories anymore, but his personal stories are what got him to the next level. And that's what I'm trying to tell you guys. You should look at. And I know a lot of you going well, Alex, I don't have a personal story. I live in Podunk. Wherever. Not a lot of stuff happens here. On mic. Perfect. That's exactly where your story is. What if something happens in that little town with those characters, those people that you know so well, that you might have never seen on screen before. Again, slacker. No one had ever seen that world before. You know, boys in the hood, no one ever seen that kind of world before. Clark's no one ever seen his partake on that world before. Same thing with mariachi. So guys, I hope you learn something out of this podcast. And I hope you take some of the advice I've given you out here. Hopefully it makes sense to you, and will help you along your, your journey, as filmmakers, as an author, and as artists, and I hope you guys can launch successful careers as filmmakers, which is what we're all trying to do. We're all trying to do that we're all trying to make a living doing what we'd love to do. And hopefully we can look at others who have done it and taking their careers to levels that we can only dream of. So I'm going to put links to all of the movies that I've talked about in this episode in our show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash 116. There also be a great little video about 10 minute video on lessons you can learn from filmmakers in the 90s when you're making your first feature film. So definitely check that out guys. And as always, please head over to filmmaking podcast calm, and leave me a good review on iTunes, and really helps me out a lot guys. And I want to get this out to as many people as humanly possible. And also I've got a bunch of great stuff coming up at the syndicate, we're going to be uploading a ton of new courses, as well. So check that out as well indie film syndicate.com. And finally, guys, I wanted to ask you, if you want to ask me something. So I'm going to start creating a little a little section either I'm going to do it in its own podcasts, or I'm going to do it at the end of podcast, depending on how many questions I get. But I want you guys to send me some questions. If you have a question that you're just dying to know. And you really wish you could ask and get an answer to and you think I can possibly answer it for you. email me at IF H [email protected] That's IF H [email protected] And that will just write me a question going, Hey, this question and this question and I'll do a podcast episode, answering those questions alone. And hopefully that will help you guys a bit. So you could either do it, that'd probably be the best way to get a hold of me with it. So ifhsubmissions.com. So keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.



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