IFH 106: Directing Actors & How to Become an Actor’s Director with Per Holmes

Directing actors can be one of the most difficult parts of wearing the director’s hat. Actors speak a language that a director must understand if they are to pull and nurture an amazing performance. Unfortunately, film schools do not teach this must need a “foreign language” course.

I’ve worked with every kind of actor there is. From Oscar® Nominated to fresh out of acting class. Pulling a good performance can be tough and I would get very frustrated sometimes because I couldn’t speak their language.

Then I met Per Holmes. Per created a gaming change course years ago called “Hollywood Camera Work: Mastering High-End Blocking and Staging.” I loved this course and it’s a must for any filmmaker.

When I heard he was creating a “Directing Actors” course I was in. I was able to take the course right before I shot my first feature film “This is Meg” and it helped me immensely. I was able to speak the actor’s language and nurture the performance I needed for the story.

Directing Actors, Hollywood Camera Work: Mastering High-End Blocking and Staging, Per Holmes, Visual Effects for Directors, Hot Moves: The Science of Awesome, directing, film director, film directing, actors, acting

I asked Per Holmes to be a guest on the show because I’ve never taken a course where the instructor was so detailed, thought out and passionate about the subject. Directing Actors is INSANE.  Here’s a bit on the course.

Years in the making, Directing Actors is the most comprehensive acting and directing training in the world. Created by Per Holmes, the course teaches a better way to be a Director, by having extremely strong technique, and the right philosophy and personality on the set.

Through almost a thousand examples, we cover literally every acting and directing technique, every interaction between Actor and Director, and we cast, rehearse and shoot 9 scenes.

Directing Actors is the result of Per Holmes’ personal obsession with resolving once and for all the best way to work with Actors. Every known technique has been tested, and the results are surprising, sometimes shocking. Directing Actors has involved almost 150 people through 7 years of development and 3 years of shooting and editing, including almost a hundred talented Actors who have gracefully allowed us to show the process without any filters.

Get ready for some MAJOR KNOWLEDGE BOMBS. BTW, Per has given the Indie Film Hustle Tribe a gift, 30% OFF ANY of his course. Trust me Per does not do this EVER. Just use the COUPON CODE: HUSTLE. The links to the courses are below. Enjoy!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 9:51
May I introduced to everybody Mr. Per Holmes, who is the creator of Hollywood camera, camerawork.com and he is an amazing amazing human being doing God's work. But film but films God works. So Per, thanks for being on the show, sir.

Per Holmes 10:08
Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 10:09
I appreciate so. So I wanted to get started with a little I'm gonna go back deep in your past a little bit you've got started I know it's scary I know when they do it to me I get scared too. When you start you started out in the music business if I'm if I'm correct, I'm

Per Holmes 10:23
Not completely actually I did want to be a filmmaker when I was younger, like in the 70s and 80s. And I want to short film competition and stuff like that. But then music was the equipment I could afford. Feeling. And so I ended up getting into the music industry. And, you know, that was actually that was my Screw you, you know, I'm quitting college and northern High School and, and, and just working in the studio all night. And then I got a record out. And it was actually a hit in where I came from, which was Denmark. And so then I had a music career and learned, like a lot what, what it means or what happens when your medium, I would say medium successful in the music industry. I mean, it was a big hit there. But I think internationally, it was still kind of a blip, right. Um, and that finally became my angle into directing again, because I mean, we're creating all these great music video concepts. And then I was hiring these directors to screw them up, basically. And there was one thing that we did where I thought what we had was really good. And we brought in this director and then he just, you know, not answered great and did something completely different. And I'm like, this is it. I'm directing the next one, right. And so the next one was a like a huge music video like $250,000, green screen motion control, character animation, all that stuff. And that was really my bit. That was that was my Baptism by fire.

Alex Ferrari 11:58
Now this was back in the day when there was money for music videos.

Per Holmes 12:01
Yeah. 50,000 was in the middle there. I mean that Yeah, I say now, I know, tell me about it. But the other half of that is that you can make things that look good on a completely different budget. I mean, the only option then was to shoot at 35 millimeter. Exactly. I mean, just the pain you feel from hearing all that money running through the camera. I mean, you really want to cut as soon as possible.

Alex Ferrari 12:22
You know, I'll tell you what, I remember when I was shooting a commercial back in the day on 35. And I had to do a slow mo shot. And it was a super It was a super slow mo shot. And it was like about 90 frames or 120 frames I think was the fastest the the Aerie could go and all you would hear is that that sound of the film flying through and you're like, Oh my god, all you see is dollars flying. You hear it? It is like nerve racking. And you're like Cut, cut, cut, please just cut.

Per Holmes 12:54
Yeah, and then all you have to burn through like another 1015 meters to stop the camera.

Alex Ferrari 13:00
Exactly when you're going that fast. I know we just did it ourselves. Yeah. So So you got you did you did a bunch of music videos, and then you started becoming I read somewhere that you got kind of obsessed with cinematography?

Per Holmes 13:14
Um, no, I mean, well, so here's the thing. And that maybe reflects to all this stuff that I'm that I'm doing here is that I'm half of my reason for doing it is trying to figure out how to

Alex Ferrari 13:26
Do it. Okay. So you're learning as you're teaching?

Per Holmes 13:29
Yeah, so I did, I did some music videos and commercials. And then I basically realized that this is actually not really my native medium in the sense that music videos, I don't understand why you would edit here and not there in a music video because there isn't a narrative. There's no arc, there's nothing evolving. And then I realized, well, okay, I guess I'm a narrative director then. And then I shot a bunch of short films really, to really to practice and that kind of gave me all the problems that I needed to solve. And I felt that it was kind of pointless to just hammer on, for example, do you know catering and makeup and production if all I'm doing is trying to figure out the camera work, okay. And so then I started blocking in 3d, because then I could just really block a lot I could, I could, you know, block, shoot and edit five, six scenes a day, and that really amped it up, okay. And as I was doing that, I was assembling a reel for myself of everything that I felt I really completely understood so that I could just watch that again again and again and again and brainwash myself with it until it would stick. And I also just, I realized how hard it is to concentrate on acting and visual storytelling at the same time. And, and I think everybody has that experience is that if you want to concentrate on the actors at all, then you have to really let go of the blocking. And unless you then have a dp, you can really pick up that slack for you, you're basically going to end up doing two reverses and a master and a couple of tracking shots, and then you're going to sit in editing and bang your head on the table. Right? totally boring. Right? Yeah. So I realized that I have to become a lot better at this because I feel that, I mean, basically, the way that I divided in my head is that as director, there are two responsibilities you have on the set above all others, and one is working with the actors, because that part absolutely has to be live, all the other stuff, you can you can, you can prep and you can do all kinds of things. But in terms of working with the actors, that's what you're capturing, there is his moments and you can't stage that ahead of time, you have to have more than 50% of your head and that until kind of the actors can run on their own batteries. And I've I felt that it was impossible to do both at the same time. So I set a standard for myself is that I have to become so good at blocking that you can wake me up at three in the morning hand me a new script, new location, I don't know anything about the project. I just blocked the hell out of it in 10 minutes.

Alex Ferrari 16:10
So and So basically, you're you're learning your craft. It's crazy. It's crazy, isn't it?

Per Holmes 16:18
I mean, that's, I mean, I understand that a lot of people you know, like to shoot a lot of things, I felt that the things that I had done, showed me what the problem what the problems that I had were and I felt that it wasn't there wasn't much point in it for me to move on before I I became better at it because it's still I mean, you know, total respect to two people who shoot a lot of movies and build up their skill set that way but I feel that it's a big investment to make a movie besides the money that goes into it. By the time you're done. You've spent years on it and then years going to festivals and getting mark a distributor on everything and I feel that I would rather throw that energy about something where I feel that I'm bringing my a game Yeah, yeah and and so for me, it was simply I you know, there's I don't remember which painter it is. But there was some there was some painter who's who spent 10 years just learning all kinds of different crafts and, and didn't feel like he he needed to paint in terms of having an output. Because what's the point before you before you have a bigger dynamic range, and better skills, so that so that when you have an idea, you can actually make it?

Alex Ferrari 17:35
Yeah, it's the and it's the whole 10,000 hour meaning concept?

Per Holmes 17:41
Yeah, it could be. But that's just me. I mean, I don't want to I don't want to say anything bad about people who stack the bricks in another order and, and, and build up their skill set by by doing and doing and doing, I'm more of the stop and think kind of guy. And I felt like I needed to figure out blocking. And that's where the master course came from. Because I realized that I'm you know, I'm apparently it seems like I'm doing something here that nobody has made for, for whatever reason. And and it could be really useful for a lot of people. So then that that was kind of the last decision really is that this ought to be a course.

Alex Ferrari 18:19
So then so then you put together this master course on camera movement and shot composition, basically.

Per Holmes 18:25
Yeah, and and when I realized that this ought to be a course I also knew how big a project that would be. So actually, I worked all through the night and all through the next day, just to make sure that by the time I felt like quitting, I would already have done too much.

Alex Ferrari 18:40
You're like, well, I've gone down the road too much. Now

Per Holmes 18:42
I can't stop. Now. Now Now I have to finish it. So I

Alex Ferrari 18:45
read somewhere that it took us about 15 months and over over and over 4000 man hours to develop that that course something a lot of

Per Holmes 18:52
that. Yeah, I think it was year a year and a half of desperate full time work to get that to grow together that was just basically squeezing it in between whatever other work that I had. And then thankfully, I got a gig on a documentary that that suddenly, you know, paid well, we're here to all other things where you got paid too little here I got almost paid too much. And that went straight into Hollywood can't work. That was why that this was capable if existing because otherwise I I mean, who can afford to take a year off to do something like that. And so I was just working it in between all the other stuff.

Alex Ferrari 19:29
Now I just so the audience knows I took this course probably about 10 years ago, and it's how you've been doing this for about 12 years now. Right?

Per Holmes 19:38
Yeah, yes. How we can work has existed for about 12 years. I mean, obviously everything else goes back a lot further.

Alex Ferrari 19:45
Of course, of course, but I actually took the course original that's how I discovered purrs work and I took that course when I was starting out doing like really my you know, I started getting into my short film work and all that kind of stuff and it was invaluable. It was so well Well done, and there was just nothing like it in the marketplace and there still is nothing like it in the marketplace. It was the truth. It's absolutely the truth. And I'm not alone. Have you have a nice list of customers Apple, Disney, Pixar, ILM, DreamWorks, Fox, you know, so all the big players take this course and see value in this course. So it's it's pretty amazing what you able to do. And I have another friend, I have another friend of mine who does another course called Apache bird from inside the Edit. Who does this? I've seen that? Yes, yeah, he's about 200. He is going to have 200 tutorials when he's done, he's on 60. Now, he reminds me a lot of you because it took him two and a half years to do the first launch of it. And when you have somebody put so much passion in what they do, it just spills out of the screen because we're so not used to see quality work.

Per Holmes 20:57
And I think it's also it's deciding to solve the problem. Yes. And because there are a lot of these things that have been allowed to stay vague. And for example, there's a lot of there's there are a lot of directing techniques. And a lot of cinematographer techniques, for example, that have just never had a name, it's just, you hold the camera. Yeah, one of these, you know. And and I mean, I have, I have a need to feel that I have explored something enough that I found the outer wall, and I feel okay, this is the area that we need to understand. And it seems like that's what he's doing also with inside the Edit is that I mean, if you really have to describe like literally the whole thing, then how do you even approach that you have to get everything on the table, you have to find enough patterns in it that you can find a way to reduce it, all this information is just something you can actually then work with as an artist. And that means that once you if your goal is to really explain the whole thing, then you also start to have to confront all the logic problems that have always been there, but that nobody ever really went deep enough to solve. And I fell for example, in the master course, for example, there is a there's a move that I call a pivot. And the reason that I'm saying that I'm calling it is because it didn't have a name that I knew of. And basically, if you imagine that you have that you have one character standing still. And then further out, you have another character who's walking, and then you're tracking in the opposite direction to basically keep them in the frame. And then you can do that back and forth. And that shot didn't have a name. And but it had a it had a link to an editing technique where you keep one object fixed, and then you cut around that object to get another object. So that object stays in the same place in the frame. And so I thought okay, well then I guess that's called a pivot, but it's that kind of stuff. That's those are the places where you get stuck for like a week just on that because oh my god, what do I do? There's something there's a logic problem here. And then you basically have to go back to the drawing board and solve those things.

Alex Ferrari 23:11
Well, let me ask you a question. How would you approach this? I'm curious, have you have you answered this question? If you have two people sitting at a table, which is a very common scene in most movies? How would you make that interesting? in your in your, from all of your experience? What

Per Holmes 23:25
would you do? So they're just sitting there? They're sitting there having dinner talking?

Alex Ferrari 23:28
no arguments, and I think just a simple two people talking, having dinner at a table.

Per Holmes 23:34
So this is really hard to do on the radio.

Alex Ferrari 23:40
To the best, yeah, this Yeah, this

Per Holmes 23:42
is what I would say that I would, I would do. I don't think you have that much wiggle room, I do a couple of sizes on each, then. And then I do some tracking shots that go a little bit back and forth. And then I think we're kind of maxing out on on what we can do the moment there's any kind of movement or somebody comes over interrupts them, I might think about what's the mood in the scene. So for example, keeps the shot, keep the shots wider in some parts, but that's actually more I mean, if you're shooting full passes, then that's more of an editing technique than a blocking technique. But why not build some movement into it? Why not have one start away? Why not? I mean,

Alex Ferrari 24:27
you could create you could create other things. But so if it's not just two people talking so it could be somebody walking to the table could be another person. And so it all depends on the scope of the scene before you can actually separate

Per Holmes 24:36
I think I shouldn't take the script too, literally, if it says they sit around on a table around a table. So what what if one stands up and then sits down? I mean, basically, anything you can put in there, so you just have anything to cover besides just to static frames.

Alex Ferrari 24:51
That makes sense. Yeah, that's a great piece of advice, too, because a lot of times directors will read a script and they'll just go see it and they'll just go Oh, it's two people sitting down talking and that's what they do. They Literally just sit down and talk. What's the

Per Holmes 25:01
thing is that the script is like what a court stenographer would write down after the fact. And that can only be the tip of the iceberg. You can't, you can't see in the script, why anybody thinks the way that they do I mean, you can already you, I mean, and that comes especially to acting you're, you're in trouble if you take the script too, literally, because the script, the characters in the script are paper thin, and you some people then do script analysis to try to drag it out. But let's get real, we're inventing it, and that's fine. So we'd let's create all these new layers to it. And then once you, once you understand your characters better, then you could also easily come up with some better movement for them without just having them sitting.

Alex Ferrari 25:43
It all depends on the intention of the character and what they're trying to do in that scene. And that really, that makes it a little hard

Per Holmes 25:49
within a hypothetical scene. But of course, I don't know that you have a million options, if they're just sitting there,

Alex Ferrari 25:56
right? There's there's only and then other than that, then you're turning into a music video, you can go a pie, you can be you know, POV of the flower. And I think a lot of times directors try to be cute. But well, that becomes

Per Holmes 26:07
style over substance then correct. And then it's actually a distraction, or, you know, let's shoot it through the bushes, then suddenly, it feels like there's a stalker there. Or, I mean, the thing

Alex Ferrari 26:17
is, thing is a lot of times I see in, in films, like film that filmmakers do that is when they start making that style over substance thing. And they're like, well, I just want to make this cool shot. But if it doesn't move the story, the story for it doesn't move the scene forward, or doesn't work with the intention of what the scene is supposed to do for the story, then you're just kind of waving, you know, waving your you know what around, and just like, look how cool I can make this look. And that's where it turns into a music video. Yeah, basically, I'm

Per Holmes 26:44
not very good at that. In terms of making style in this, I mean, that's something that I recognized as a weakness. And that's why I choose people to work with, we're stronger than that, because I actually end up being quite boring when I'm directing. And I have to, I have to make myself man up and do some cool shots. Right? Because, you know, once they're talking, then that's, that's the part that I'm interested in. And then I have to make myself make cooler shots is let's let's just put on another hat. Let's say that this was only about style, then what would I do? and get some of that in there as well?

Alex Ferrari 27:19
What would Michael Bay do?

Per Holmes 27:22
Michael Bay do,

Alex Ferrari 27:23
right? Because I mean, oh,

Per Holmes 27:24
and then I would also, I would for a static shot like that, I would really try to get some other movement in the frame, even if it's traffic in the background, or smoke or rain or, or whatever. Because lock shots like that they're really painful in the long run,

Alex Ferrari 27:38
right? And you got to create some sort of interesting things in the frame to kind of keep the energy going, if it's a static shot like that. And then you've got these masters like Scorsese, who can do both stylistic yet works with the story beautifully. And that's what he's built his entire career upon. But let me ask you a question you've seen I'm sure. 1000 first time filmmakers and first time cinematographers in your day, what are the biggest mistakes that you've seen when they're composing their shots? or doing blocking or camera movement?

Per Holmes 28:06
Oh, that's difficult. I'm actually usually quite impressed. Like, wow, that looks great. All right. I think often too many shots.

Alex Ferrari 28:19
Okay, too much coverage. Too much coverage?

Per Holmes 28:21
Yeah, I mean, obviously, you can shoot too much on the set and then not using use it and editing and then nobody would ever know. But I think Well, I mean, here's something that you would notice behind the scenes, for example, I've been quite an advocate against too much storyboarding. And that's something that that has caused outrage places. But here's the thing though, it's, it's objectively true that when you when you block from a storyboard, you're basically breaking your scene into these very little small pieces that you're then hoping to glue back together. And what you're not realizing is that each of these is a new camera setup. And moving the camera is the most expensive thing you can do on the set, because then you have to redo the lighting and then suddenly seems like there's a break, then the actors run off somewhere else, then you have to get them back and and that means that unless it's a small change in setup, expect that you're that you're going to probably blow 20 minutes on not shooting while you're while you're rigging, if not longer. Yeah, if not, I mean, I mean, assuming that everybody's everything is running. And that's not assuming that you're suddenly realizing that you need to change the shooting direction again, because you forgot a shot. So now we need to relate the master as well. But basically, when you block from a storyboard you're doing, you're doing one shot of time at a time basically one piece of actions. Let's get the thing where you pick up the cup and let's get the thing where you get up from the chair. And that is obviously very painful on the actors because it's 123 act and then they can hardly get into it before you say cut.

Alex Ferrari 30:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Per Holmes 30:12
It's really tough on the, on the, on the production itself. And it's terrible in editing because because you really depend on this sequence working. And I've think I've, I've gone more overboard on this than anything else, I did a music video that was completely storyboarded from start to finish and, and my line producer was just having a heart attack all the way through. But I mean, it's just every 10 minutes yours over, you realize that if any of these shots don't work, then the whole thing is shot, right whole thing is screwed. And, and so the reality is that when you then show up for shooting, you're going to realize that oh, this storyboard frame is this place. And actually this storyboard frame is also in this place. And now you start to turn it into real blocking, which is set up based and not shot based. If you're smart, you do that, or I mean, your dp eventually will ask for it, because it would be insane to move the cameras back and forth between all these storyboard frames and shoot three seconds, right? So basically, you should be working for coverage and that it and that means that there's nothing wrong with using a storyboard, you could use a storyboard, sometimes you have things that are sequential in a movie. But most of the things most of the things in a movie are coverage based, which means that you're covering it as though it were a multi camera shoot. And you're, even though you're going to shoot only one or two cameras at a time you're planning them as if all of them are running at the same time. So then you say, okay, so while they're here, I'm in this right angle, master and then I have this over the shoulder and then he walks out, I push down on the character that remains. And and so you have this little dance that happens around the characters and then you can go happily shoot them one at a time, because you know that while I'm in this camera, got that shot that shot and and then sometimes you have some places in the scene like entry and exit and stuff like that becomes very sequential. But if you think if you do a camera diagram, actually, let me let me change that a little bit. If you both storyboard and do a camera diagram, then you get the best of both worlds. Because in the camera diagram, you can't see what the shot looks like. Right? Huge weakness of camera diagrams. But camera diagrams are still the native language of camera work. Right? You can't see height. I mean, how are you going to? How are you going to draw a crane up

Alex Ferrari 32:31
here? Right?

Per Holmes 32:33
That's a little hard.

Alex Ferrari 32:33
Yeah, in a diagram. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, when I do when I do setups, I mean, I'm, I used to do a lot of storyboarding early on, because it was kind of my crutch. So it was kind of like that thing. I'm like, I could hold on to storyboarding. I still like storyboarding, to a certain extent, but not as much, maybe for more complex scenes and things like that. But for basic stuff, I do shot lists, a lot of shot lists, and diagrams. So shot list is like this is kind of what I want to get covered here. And then, and then here's the, the camera dialog, we're at the camera die diagram, where I'll be able to move the camera around a little bit, to show the DP, hey, we're gonna do coverage over here, we're gonna get this, this, this and this shot over here, move the camera over to this side, we're gonna get this, this this over here. And then if we have some time, let's play around a little bit. And then and then also open, keep open to the the cinematographer, because obviously they're gonna have some ideas. If you hire a good cinematographer, you are going to have ideas. Yeah, and I have ideas at once.

Per Holmes 33:23
And that's the thing is that if you if you can take, if you can figure out a way to turn a 15 shot scene into a five shot scene, and usually when you clean up your blocking, you hit almost as good a result and like a third of the setups, there's nothing better than knowing that you're under time, because that's going to be the first time you're actually responsibly allowed to be creative on a film set is when, when you're spending your time responsibly. Don't tell your crew that we're under time, though, because then everybody scales their effort, right? starts. I mean, I think it's probably good for a cruise, if everybody feels we're a little bit behind.

Alex Ferrari 34:01
Yes, apps, apps, apps, the freaking

Per Holmes 34:05
point is that in, in planning a scene, there's going to be stuff that you that you hadn't seen, you're going to be on the set, and then you're going to realize that there's this amazing shot through the doorway. And I hadn't planned for that I have to get that shot. How are you going to work that in if you're already going over time shooting these three second storyboard frames. And so even so storyboarding is not necessarily bad for action for visual effects. There's really no other way to do it. Also, for anything, that sequential action, where things are basically pieces of action that go back to back, you don't have another realistic option. But even if you're doing coverage, the thing to realize is that the storyboard frame is kind of the first time you see anything from the movie, and that means that they're also a little bit precious. And you see, for example, in the matrix, they came up with a lot of the production design in the storyboards, right? I mean, imagine that they had followed this advice, and we're not done storyboards that would have been Different movie,

Alex Ferrari 35:00
but again but that was the kind of movie that was and they were taking it from the graphic novel and the Japanese. Yeah. So it made perfect sense it was such a visual movie that they wanted to kind of they really but also I don't know if you know this they beat that script up for almost three to five years. So they were beating that up so much and then the sequels did not have that much time obviously. But the the first one the first one they beat it up so much that's why it's a masterpiece for what they did it is so yeah, and I have that artifact is great. I wasn't crazy about the sequels. But yeah, yeah, they are the matrix book that I got that I still have has all the artwork, all the storyboards. So it is it is beneficial, but also, they beat they spent so much time pacing all that out. Doing animatics. And what are your feelings on animatics? is a general demeanor like David Fincher? animatics?

Per Holmes 35:50
You mean previous?

Alex Ferrari 35:51
Yeah, previous like, I know, I know. A lot, okay.

Per Holmes 35:55
And actually, a lot of Hollywood camera users, that's probably my most famous audience is basically anybody who does previous uses this. And that means that that, you know, I mean, basically, these techniques, and these ways of thinking about it are basically used on every blockbuster that you see, because I know a ton of these previous people working on on Batman and Avatar, and The Hobbit and, and all this kind of stuff, because it's always I mean, in previous that is what you're doing, you're basically walking. And so you know, who doesn't want more input on that if you're sitting in that role, and right, I mean, the whole course, the whole master course, is really in kind of a previous environment. Yeah, and I just, I think previous is much better than storyboards. It does mean that you have to either be able to animate or know somebody who can animate, but it doesn't have to be hard, you can just have these stick figures floating around. Because the moment you have an actual scene up and running, and you have a character moving, then you very naturally start putting in a shot. And then you start putting in different shots. And then you're basically getting as you would in live action, getting the same coverage over and over from different angles. And then you render out all these pieces and take it into editing and then now you're almost working in 3d the same way as you would in live action that you're working with footage. You're you're working with tags that go along, and have interesting things at the end and all that stuff. And so I think that's a great thing to do, both for regular scenes. And I think for because there's also there's, there's a huge minus that. I think it takes a while to figure out in storyboards, which is that you get timing terribly wrong in storyboards. And I had to think about that for a long time about why that was I done this music video that I talked about that was storyboard, I storyboarded that out and it was edited. I had time codes in the script, I'm not kidding. But then I saw it afterwards. And then I just it felt so slow. And my my editor was hating me because I had left like literally no editing options. He was like trying to just go a little bit back and forth between the previous shot to just get the Edit rate up. But I there wasn't even any handling anything. And I think that the reason is that a hand drawing just simply takes longer to read than a shot. And that means that as soon as you what takes you two seconds to understand in a drawing takes you one second to understand and an actual shot. And that means that if you if you're stuck on your storyboard, especially because in a music video, you're kind of tied, you're tied to your time base, you can't make it go faster, at least you can do that in a movie.

Alex Ferrari 38:41
It was funny that it's

Per Holmes 38:42
just agonizingly slow. And and but in previous you get the timing right. Yes, it's it's much closer to the real thing. You can look at it and understand what it is in a microsecond?

Alex Ferrari 38:53
Well, I mean, David Fincher is famous for that, because he previous is this entire movie. I mean, he does it to the nauseum. He's like, he's basically the Kubrick of our day. In that sense, he's so anal and so technical. But he literally, like he literally says

Per Holmes 39:07
other side. There's another side to that, because obviously, a lot of the scenes that are in a movie like that are not really worth preventing. But if, if you if you literally do it to the whole movie, then you get a new thing that you can do, which is that you can see how your showed a shot. And then you can and now you know that for when you really shot it, shoot it because otherwise, when you see what you shot, that's the first time you realize what you should have done and right, it's painful. You can skip that step, right? And you can because you you're going to find all kinds of story weaknesses, you're going to find pacing weaknesses, you're going to find it suddenly weird that we're cutting back and forth between these two plots. And you're going to I mean, you're actually going to get a sense of the rhythm of the whole thing. And I think anybody who has the resources should do something like that. Oh, absolutely. And by the way, do the straight up blocking I don't think it's an extravagant thing. I just think that if you can't animate, then you need to be able to hire somebody who can animate and previous thing an entire movie is like real work, knows it's a team to suddenly be funded, like properly funded in order to do that. But I think that's a great thing. And there are some programs. There's a shout out, for example, to something called movie storm. Okay, storm co.uk. That's actually made by Hollywood camera users who wanted something to block in movie storm, okay, I don't know what's going on with iCloud. It seems like everything is getting great except the camera work. But obviously that can change on a moment's notice. But there are programs that allow you to do something. And I think even if it's crude, and if the cameras kind of robotic, I still think that's worth, I still think that's worth doing, because you're probably going to learn something about what you're shooting. And then so that's, that's going to be kind of the beta that you do there. And then you can maybe do it better when you shoot it for real.

Alex Ferrari 40:58
I'll definitely put links to those to those applications in the show notes for everybody listening. A quick story. When I was doing my I did an animated Japanese animated movie that I co directed with a good friend of mine who's the artist, and he originally gave me 30 shots, for the whole whole thing. So then I did a scratch track to it, to prove to him like that you're going to need more than this. And he's never edited before in his life. So when I put it together, you just found the pacing was just so slow, and we ended up with 95 shots when I was done with him poor guy took him something that was going to take him a month took a year was done, but you got the pace. And that's something that and that's something else you could do with storyboards if you can't at least previous, if you can do a rough track, you know of the scene and really just a scratch track and then just edit the storyboards. Yeah, you're not gonna get the movement, but it's something maybe a little bit more low budget, which but if you could do other ways, that'd be better too.

Per Holmes 41:52
By the way, this is also another really good reason for, for not shooting sequentially. I kind of hinted at it before but when you're shooting, so what I call it sequentially, basically back to back storyboards, you're really locking down your edit. And I think it's important to realize that you suck as a judge of timing on the set. And the same thing is in terms of how to pace an acting performance, it's important to realize that that pacing happens in editing and that means that whatever floats your boat on the side, whatever the actors feel like doing is fine because if you have concurrent shots and you're and you're working in parallel, then and you know that no matter where we are in the scene, I have two or three editing options you know, you can control you can only control time on the edit point because that's where you can jump ahead or jump back in time on the edit point. But when you have to stay in a single shot, the only way you can make it go faster or slower is to actually speed it up which would be idiotic right and that's why if you shoot for coverage and you just always make sure that no matter where you are in the scene I have two or three cutting options and also make sure that not all your shots are so why is that you can see everybody because continuity becomes harder the more people you have in a shot oh yeah and so if you make sure that you have singles and and editing options then you can make the pacing in editing and that also means that you don't have to obsess over the pacing I mean Okay, so what that there's a little dead air and the acting performance I mean if the actors feel good doing it don't fix that problem. Just speed it up in editing,

Alex Ferrari 43:28
flow just flow with it just flow with it.

Per Holmes 43:31
Well, it means that you can remove a burden and also by the way, I mean when you when you try to fix a technical problem like that, with an actor that's really bad they have to stop almost everything they're doing in order to fix that one problem.

Alex Ferrari 43:43
It's not their job to fix that I think it's that it's the job of the director and the editor to fix that

Per Holmes 43:46
cover you can cover around that but but but the moral of the story is that I think it's bad to assume that you understand timing when you're on the set because when you see it in the Edit What if the scene that you thought was going to be before was like really intense and then this is your landing scene, you're supposed to really come down and then you realize later that that whole scene that went before it's actually gone now. So now we're coming from a slow scene to a slow scene and now I need the scene to go faster or the other way around. You don't really know what context it's going to go into. And I just think it's it's a mistake to assume that you fully understand the timing in the scene when you're on the set you need to block in a way that leaves the timing open enough

Alex Ferrari 44:28
absolutely no question about it. Now I want to to my two other courses you took that you I took of yours, which are awesome. In my favorite is the VFX for directors which I want to talk to you about but then also hot moves the science of awesome. Please tell me how that came into play.

Per Holmes 44:46
Well, which one hot moves,

Alex Ferrari 44:47
hot moves? Yeah, hot moves.

Per Holmes 44:50
Okay, so actually half of the techniques that are in there. I was trying to figure those out while I was making the master course. But I that that was only a hunch at that time. And then I felt it's better to leave it out because it is a separate layer. And because basically, one of the, you know, one of the dogmatic lessons of the master course is that you should try to get your camera work to make sense, don't do shots just because they look awesome. And so hot moves is all the opposite of that is that this is this is just how you make them look nice. And basically there was something that I'd realized, but it took, it took really a while it took me like eight years for something like that for that to really crystallize which things that were that that made, I found a commonality between basically all the shots that people feel like putting in the trailers over and over and over again, because there's a certain dynamic in those shots. And that's, that's what hot moves is it's this. It's, I mean, it basically centers around these things that I call, see if I can remember them. There's there's grid theory, there's angle on a track. There's role and there's one, there's one more that I forgotten now. Right, right. It's me, for example. So grid theory is a kind of parallax that I don't think people have. I mean, I think obviously there are lots of people who do it intuitively. A person like Michael Bay does that intuitively all day long all day, on his face. Okay,

Alex Ferrari 46:22
no, honestly, I just want to say something you know, about Michael bag. I know Michael Bay gets a lot of crap for being Michael Bay. But I have to tell, and this is just my opinion, I think he is one of the most visual and groundbreaking directors in what he does. Because if you look back in every current action film, his language is what has been taken, they're taking stuff that he was doing back in Bad Boys, the rock, and Armageddon, those techniques are what the norm is now and were revolutionary when he started doing them. So as an action director, there is I mean, you could talk about story development, character acting all that stuff, that's fine. But as purely as creating awesome shots, there is probably nobody else on the planet, that does it better than has elevated

Per Holmes 47:10
that to an art form. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 47:12
And if you basically agree. I mean,

Per Holmes 47:15
obviously, I know people who had a hard time working with them. But flipside, there are a lot of actors who say that the details of the awful directing of Michael Bay are greatly exaggerated, right? Because there is also there's also another side to it. Which, which is that if he recognizes, and I think he's pretty honest about where he is, in terms of working with actors, then at least he's not pretending. And then he's not trying to, you know, let me open up your brain and poke around a little bit, and what was this thing from your childhood and all that kind of stuff, you can kind of more stand back and, you know, just make it faster. Right then leaves, then then that leaves actors to figure that out. And that's one of the reasons why. In directing actors, I'm kind of pushing back a lot on this whole thing that result directing is bad, because it's really not true. And I don't know where that came from.

Alex Ferrari 48:11
So explain that a little bit. Explain that result directing.

Per Holmes 48:14
This is a major Change of topic. I'm happy to go there.

Alex Ferrari 48:18
Okay. Okay. All right. Well, I'll go back to let's continue with the science of awesome, but I want to go back to the result of acting. Directing,

Per Holmes 48:25
yes. Okay, so, so that was hot moves, that I didn't feel simply that I was ready to do it, I didn't feel that I had figured it out properly. So it is a separate layer. Although I do think that now that I know how all those things fit together, I feel like they ought to be one course. And I guess at some point, I'm going to do a version of version two of the master course. And then I think one of the I would try to integrate them because there there is still some overlap, because some of the techniques are kind of getting started in the master course. So there's not as good a separation but I mean, if they were to be separate, there maybe also ought to be more separation between them, but I feel that they belong together.

Alex Ferrari 49:07
So that's the basics of basics of so the audience understands is the master course, is kind of like the meat and potatoes of Yes, of camera composition and camera movement. And is

Per Holmes 49:19
that this is stuff that you really have to do be able to do because eventually, no matter how many flying cars on fire, you have, eventually people are going to sit somewhere in talk. And that's the problem that you have to solve. Before it's for free. For example, it's it's I've noticed sometimes that people say, Oh, you should see this camera work. It's amazing. And then I see it. And it's actually a lock shot with a flying car on fire. It's not awesome because of the camera work. I mean, and actually visual effects. People are terrified of doing camera work, especially in live effects like that. I mean, they'd rather have 20 high speed lock cameras from different angles and then maybe Do a zoom push and posts because they I mean it's hard enough to blow up a building I mean let's not have the camera move go wrong at the same time.

Alex Ferrari 50:10
Right It's kind of like if you're a stunt man and you're going to start if you're going to jump off a building you don't want to go to the top floor right away. You want to start dropping off little by little and that's what the original masterclass does, it starts showing you the basics. And then once you master those basics, you keep growing and growing like with any craft, and a lot of a lot of filmmakers are so in a rush to impress people. And I was like that when I first started, I was so in rush to, to impress, like, look how cool my shot is. And, and sometimes you really you don't realize that it is a cool shot, but it might not be moving the story forward, or I might not it might not be in the proper context that I need for my story to move forward. So you really need those building blocks. And it takes time. It's not something you learn over a day or two. It takes

Per Holmes 50:57
that's maybe also that's this is just my personal opinion. I've seen a lot of new filmmakers who, who don't really appreciate the size of the skill that some of these things are and for example, there's one thing that I really like about Steven Spielberg and that is that he's still figuring it out.

Alex Ferrari 51:19
Yeah, he and he's the first one to invent and Scorsese to for that matter. And those that demand it's it's strange, because

Per Holmes 51:24
when you talk to people who were, like, halfway up the ranks, they're like, really arrogant and smart ass is like, Yeah, I know everything, man. Right? And, and those are the people who will, you know, who give you a hard time in order to emphasize themselves. But everybody on the top is extremely humble and are doing it for the right reasons. Because they're doing it because they want to figure it out. There's this whole juicy art form that I can spend a life and lifetime figuring out. And that's I mean, that's my impression a person like Steven Spielberg is is on his what I don't know, 4050 his movie, and he's still there on the set. Oh my god, I just discovered this awesome shot that if he steps in there, and then I rack focus, and then I push a little forward, then this happens, right? And I mean,

Alex Ferrari 52:14
it's a master it's the same thing with a master painter, like they

Per Holmes 52:18
Yeah, but that also means that actually if I mean if you're feeling intimidated about people in the film industry, like they're looking down on you, the ones at the top are not looking down at you know, the ones that the top you would relate to straight out.

Alex Ferrari 52:32
And then in a lot of them are trying to pull them up, try to pull people up and try to show them things and

Per Holmes 52:36
try that that too. But it's it's all this naughty attitudes are somewhere in the middle. Again, they're not that much at the top in my, in my experience,

Alex Ferrari 52:45
and I would agree with you in my experience, I've had a lot of I've had a lot of experience with directors in my day and working with a lot of different people over the course of my career. And I would agree with you the people that are at the top that I've met, that are top of their field are in that area of their of their career, they tend to be the most humble, they tend to be the most kind and the most, you know, open about what they do. Where the the young startup who hasn't had life, smack them across the face yet. Which it does, it does.

Per Holmes 53:16
And it's not being at the top that makes them like that. No, it's just simply the the outlook that they always have. And correct. I think that's great. And it's actually very, it's very disarming. And I think that i think that's great. And I think that's that's how everybody ought to think about it.

Alex Ferrari 53:34
So now your other course which I when I saw it come out I was just like, oh my god, I can't believe someone's doing this the VFX for directors because I'm a Vf I'm a VFX supervisor as well I've done and I'm a director, so I've always been a very technical director so I know a lot about the technical aspects of things. But to explain that to other directors sometimes it's such a pain and just the basics of what like what a green screen is you'd be amazed that the shots that come through my door like oh I shot on a green screen I'm like what I had one day I had one shot you know listen, I gotta tell you this once I once I had a shot come in or group of shots or this director had shot on a green screen and I use the term green screen very loosely, they threw up they threw up four different green screen blankets for and paste them together only normal and paste and pasted them no no but in one shot and pasted them together. So it was like grid, it was a grid of greens, different greens to make the one shot and I'm like you're out of your mind then there's a lot of heavy movement like a sword fighting in the front. And I'm like you're out of your mind. Like like Medicare. Yeah, I'm like, Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? I gave it to my VFX artists and you know, and he's like, You got to be kidding me right? I'm like, Look dude, if you got to do this, we're gonna get paid for it. But seriously,

Per Holmes 54:52
you have to then tell you something funny then because there is if you go on YouTube and look for video about East Enders visual effects There's a joke it's it's a it's from a comedy show in the UK where they're showing this soap opera how they're shooting the beer bottles and the people in the cafe separately and then you're standing there and like a green suits and lifting their beer bottles and it's so idiotic. is so stupid because there's no reason to make it that hard, right? I showed that to a bunch of animators at a you know, a major major major visual effects facility that I shouldn't say what is sure sure they didn't get the job not because this is the stuff that they're being asked to do all day long. Oh, yeah. Haha,

Alex Ferrari 55:38
yeah. Yeah, five shots like that on my computer right now

Per Holmes 55:41
kind of stuff they're being they're being asked to, I mean, because you know, the director will let it run wild and that means that half the scene is going to happen completely outside of the green screen on top of a brick wall and then now somebody has to roto that right of course and and when that goes wrong, then they're gonna say oh, let's just build him in 3d and motion capture it. I mean, just completely not job. It's it's and and then I was hanging, I mean, you could really save a lot of money if you just thought a little bit better about this. And then they're like, what? Nobody here is thinking about saving money. This is that's not even a priority. Some of these places that will spend a million dollars on an idea and then say, Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 56:23
what happens all the time? I mean, I have a bunch of the guys on my VFX team are like, you know, they work at the big at the big houses, and I'm big films, big. tentpole movies, and they, and they tell me the stories of how the directors are like, Oh, yeah, you know, we need to do, you know, like the amount of extra work that they do, because they just don't care. They're like, Oh, yeah, just do that. And then, because they know they have the money to do it, they have a team to do it. And they just do it that is

Per Holmes 56:45
actually unhealthy to before for people to be on to big budgets for too long is that Yeah, sloppiness that works his way into it. Yep. I think, I mean, I'm a nerd. In my spare time, I built electronics. When I was a kid from stuff that I found in a dumpster, I would solder the components out and learn how to build electronics out of those. And I think that having limited resources, I think you've become a better artist, I think you become a you become a better Craftsman than if you just land in the middle of it. And obviously at some point, you have to grow to a level where it's not like every single time you have an idea you hit a wall, it would be nice to get when you get or it is nice when you get to a place where you can all now now there's enough money that we can have ideas and do them. But I mean, I see a space a staggering amount of waste on some of these, I think, what was it I actually I read in cinefex on the watch the Johnny Depp, the Pirates of the Caribbean that you had this African tribe with these stick figures, these these, this, this, this tribes and we're I don't know what Sure, I don't think I remember the movie, but that these spiky plant things sticking out of all their heads, and they had these 100 people dancing, just basically a roto nightmare, and nobody put a green screen behind it. Oh, so they were talking about proudly how they rotoscoped that and somehow dodging the elephant in the room that somebody really, really screwed up on this and that cost like $100,000 because somebody didn't understand that you can't roto stuff like that. It's just such a pain. And that happens a lot. Because I mean, it's also these these big productions. They're really under pressure. And

Alex Ferrari 58:28
oh, yeah, I know.

Per Holmes 58:30
You, you use money as a substitute for concentrating.

Alex Ferrari 58:36
Or for or for skill or for craft or for whatever different reasons. Yeah, but

Per Holmes 58:41
anyway, that's that's where visual effects for directors came from. I mean, I was actually even then I was I was working on the directing actors course. But I felt that I wasn't ready. And I had this other thing that I knew how to do. And so so basically, I mean, I I'm a nerd in my spare time, I grew up on Commodore 64. And making border sprites, I mean, sure, sure, sure. Through the 90s. I sat on my very small CPU max doing ray tracing and character animation and that kind of stuff. Wow,

Alex Ferrari 59:13
I completely understand the language, you're just speaking. So I completely get.

Per Holmes 59:20
And so the thing is that when I got a break, directing, I already knew what I was doing at the visual effects side. And that means that for me, motion control and character animation and stuff like that, that was home base for me, but I could see how a lot of people really struggle with that. And they don't really have to because it's not like Oh, you're stupid. You don't know this. It's just there's too much for any single person to know everything anyway. So the assumption in visual effects for directors is that, you know, you're a smart guy, you just don't know this particular thing.

Alex Ferrari 59:56
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show

Per Holmes 1:00:07
and so I felt that it deserved a proper explanation and what I what I discovered after a while is that I'm actually slicing this in a completely different way than all the because every like a tutorial for example in After Effects will like spend 20 minutes on fine tuning the tracker and then that's what that tutorial is. And this thing your slice is in a completely different way because it asked the question is what what are the key issues so that we can make good decisions on the set? And then obviously in order for you to answer that question, if you're doing match moving, then you need to know enough about photogrammetry that you can either place the tracking markers or see if somebody else did it wrong, right. You need to know enough about keying that you don't bring back these impossible shots were a five minute timesaver on the set becomes they'd like a three week rescue operation and vote because the thing is that at a certain point you can't buy your way out of the problems for example if you have a guy with like big frizzy hair in front of a brick wall and you there is not a roto tool in the world good enough to ever make that not a compromise and that means that you can spend you know you can spend your entire movie budget on that and still not fix it and so and at some point it also means that you know whatever allocation you have for visual effects money you're now blowing it on on on getting up to zero instead of blowing it on making something extraordinary and it's just a terrible investment no so that that was the intention and and so obviously it goes very deep in 3d animation and match moving and especially integration which is putting 2d into 3d or 3d into 2d because that's that's like 90% of all visual effects works with some kind of camera tracking and then putting either people into a virtual set or putting a virtual set around the little part of the set that's real that's that's the vast majority of visual effects and so that's what you need to be able to make decisions about on the set because you need to think about you know, you think you need to think about the shot being trackable at the same time as capable at same time as matching the lighting because that's a place where people go really wrong on green screen if you take the time to either match the lighting or at least make lighting on green screen that has some kind of attitude. What people usually do on green screens like Okay, I'm gonna do flat boring lighting so let's just do even soft ambient light everywhere because that'll fit with everything but in reality it fits with nothing it's Yeah, it's much better if you just say okay I'm deciding now the sun is there and now and then we do some fill in some blue stuff for the hair and then once you're back in 3d you just put the sun in the same place and then you're just surprised at how well it blinds just because you bothered to match the lighting

Alex Ferrari 1:03:03
you know the funny thing is I've I've seen so many the art of visual effects is such a deep and complex art it's incredible it's

Per Holmes 1:03:13
it's insane they're easily the highest educated people on a film set it and there's no question density the people who get the least respect yes and so that's why I think it's it's strange there's kind of a in again, in my personal opinion there's kind of a low grade depression running among visual effects people because they they do get screwed over a lot they pour their heart and soul into making a five second shot work. I mean, they strain their weeks horrible relationships. And then Oh, oh, yeah, no, let's just make the whole thing blue.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:47
Yeah, no, no, no, I look I have conversations with my boys all the time about this specific topic, but it's it's such a deep craft, it's so massively deep that even on a $200 million movie or $100 million movie, sometimes they get it wrong. And I see that bad visual effects shots and those big movies. So when I talked to young directors who are arrogant or cocky, I'm like, Look, dude, you got to understand as much as you can, if you're going to do a visual effects shot and your movie, you better understand what's going on. Because if not, and you have no idea how many times I've gotten shots, that directors had no idea what they were doing and then and then it cost them like you said, cost them you know 1000s of dollars to fix it. Which you if they would have just thrown up the right key or thrown up a green screen or lit the thing right or done or put a tracking marker up or something along those

Per Holmes 1:04:36
lines. Once you get a workflow up. It's actually not that hard to do it right consistently, right? But understand that if you don't know then for example, you'll just have you'll have an intern just put some tracking markers on the background and that's it, not realizing that the only thing that makes match moving work is tracking markers at different depths.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:54
Right. But you know, the funny thing is, and I and a couple of my guys I talked to specifically about this problem is tracking markers. He goes, can you not put 450 tracking markers on the back, we don't need 400

Per Holmes 1:05:05
doesn't matter you actually you can track you can track a scene with like six or seven markers you can get a completely solid track out of that and then track the C stands as well you're golden

Alex Ferrari 1:05:17
right and that's the thing that a lot of a lot of people who just don't know that like tracking markers or lipsticks are good than 45 must be much better. And it's like no no, we got to clean all that stuff out and it's just more

Per Holmes 1:05:27
depends I mean of course one thing that I'm recommending in the course is that if you're going to do if you're going to do a lot of tracking markers do those that are off green meaning that it's the same green pen paper with like a drop of black in it so it just goes a little bit down a little bit up and then you can pepper them in there and you can actually key through them without I mean the the variance between the green screen and the tracking markers is less than the variance in just the lighting on the green screen. Right That means that you're crunching that out anyway and that's actually a nice way of working for from a directing perspective because you can just start shooting in different directions and and you're good and you're ready to rock and roll and now I have you don't have to stop and fix the tracking markers for every shot.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:07
So let me ask you, I want to ask you this question because I've been dying to ask you this question since I've wanted to put you on the show. Can you talk about why you do this because it is an immense amount of work it's a psychotic honestly amount of work that you did for what you do

Per Holmes 1:06:26
I completely agree it is a psychotic amount and there is a difference between having an idea okay it's a little bit big but let's get started to being in the middle of it and just feeling like quitting because and I mean I felt that on the master course not knowing that that would then later turned out to be the small one there and you're like oh my god I made 10 seconds today how and then I mean Jesus you make a spreadsheet and then you say at this rate this will be done in 2024 and it just it just becomes it becomes a matter of just simply I don't know optimizing your brain and what's interesting is that I mean so I've made an observation about why for example TV is often better than films and and one thing that you have in TV is that you have really a pressure to I'm snapping my fingers by the way that you have a pressure to get some stuff out and that means that TV scripts at least I would say often don't get the same endless be getting rewrites that a film script would get and that and for example you can see on The Simpsons you can see that very often somebody had a loose crazy thought and he just wrote it and that's like what's in the script and that's and that was that and the same way you it's you can use pressure to your advantage that you can be under so much pressure that you just can't stop you can't afford to stop and second guess everything and then you actually get into a very interesting song where you just hammering out stuff and you just you can't afford to be self critical because it takes too much damn time

Alex Ferrari 1:08:08
I have the same feeling with what I do with indie film hustle it's such a massive undertaking I mean nothing compared to what you do but you know I run this entire website by myself the podcast the posts, the every the interviews, everything I do all by myself plus I have a post production company on the side plus I plus a director on the side and a half twins so you know a young twin girls as well so on top of all I do it all on my own so I've gotten to that point now where you're right it's like there's so much pressure to continuously I don't have time to stop I have to just keep going and as new things and new opportunities open themselves up to me I have to like Okay, put it in the workflow boom and just and you just gotta keep cranking and just organ I just keep cranking along and you just don't can actually

Per Holmes 1:08:53
do something good for you as an artist and that's also why I'm starting to appreciate the the screenwriting teachers or the screenwriting courses where this is about, I mean writing a full length script in a week because yeah, that does take you to that place where you can't afford to, to second guess everything. And obviously when you're writing at that speed also your your plot and story structure is going to take a hit but then you could also work on that later. But the point is that you actually go to a different place where in and out you are you are more you're more in the zone, you actually get closer to wherever it is those things come from, by in terms of asking and answering your question, why do I do this? Well, I mean, these a lot of these things are things that I would be trying to figure out whether or not there was a course there is actually there's something that's beneficial for me just in making them which is that when you have to explain something to other people, you have to understand it a lot better than then even if you just want to use it as an artist because you get to you get to kind of fun Thinking and that's fine as an artist but if you need to explain it to somebody else, then you have to clean it up a lot more and that's going to confront all kinds of issues that actually force you to go pretty deep down the rabbit hole to figure out that these two techniques are actually two separate techniques and now they go I mean sometimes you take these week long detours in order to answer a simple question but so why I do this is I like to figure stuff out and I would be figuring these I would be working to figure these things out even if I wasn't making these courses, but I would probably not be as thorough there is a satisfaction in in making a model Sorry, I have to cough scheming shisha there there is a satisfaction for me in making a model like you would be you know, like you're a scientist and you're trying to figure out something about how two particles behave and then and coming up with a model that maps to the evidence I think there's something there's something something satisfying and working these things out. While you're in the middle of it, you kind of want some way out because it's really gentlemen especially directing actors is I'm looking around and I'm thinking this might be the biggest training program anybody has ever made of anything well let's bring that inside the Edit is gonna beat me to it but that's fine that's not a competition

Alex Ferrari 1:11:26
exactly no so let's let's talk about that because I'm super excited about your new course directing the directing actors, which is a mystery to most people and what you're doing I've had a chance to kind of skim through a few chapters of it and holy crap you've you've done what you've done with the camera work but now you're beating up act and act this way but in a good way in a good way because you're bidding up that concept of what is it really like you are the most methodical teacher I've seen other than probably Patty and both you guys should get together and have a drink because I'd been I love to be a fly on that wall daddy from inside because you guys are like so methodical about how you break things down and you just are literally just every aspect every component every gear about you know so it's it's wonderful wonderful one thing to do that with camera work and then visual effects and then you know the science of awesome but to do it with such a human craft as directing actors because you are now directing you are interacting with people and emotions and history and attitudes and ego and makes them sound very strange. Yeah, I mean, but that's but that's what but that's what human beings are, we're all that kind of stuff and then you try to pull emotions. So please talk a little bit about what this new Opus of yours is.

Per Holmes 1:12:54
So I do actually have a little bit of a secret weapon which is that to top it all off, I've always been really really interested in in in personal growth and psychology. And I'm, I've done that for so long that I'm not completely incompetent.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:14
Okay, it's a great way of putting it I love that that's a wonderful way I'm going to use that by the way I've done it so long I'm not completely competent by it That's great, great line

Per Holmes 1:13:26
Um, so hang on I just got interrupted maybe we can just make a tiny cut there so so I was this was never something that I was actually bad at I as far back as like as as I go I've always been pretty decent with actors. It was just intuitive and it was my skills were very limited and I also spent all of the 90s producing music and inadvertently I was actually training a lot of the same things but basically I always I mean it's you know you look at you sit and look at how we can work what is that well there really ought to be a directing course and then like oh my god I don't know if I'm the world's leading expert on this of course so I actually that that was a sort of a low confidence self confidence issue that I ended up changing my mind about okay because you know this is kind of touchy I don't want to criticize people and put a name on it but sure no, I I was going to do this course several times with some extremely recognized directors well acting teachers basically directing and acting teachers These are people who probably most people listening have either read their books or heard about okay and and I was completely fine doing that that Okay, let's make a course so we're I'm not the expert. I'm just going to help them structure it. But as I started working Working with them one at a time. Well, I started working with one and it fell apart and then I started working with another eye. I came away thinking, you know what, I think I probably know better than they do. Right? And that's kind of a strange thought to have because still, I mean, I feel like I know better than the experts but I don't feel like I know. Or that there was something that was eluding me there was some pattern to this that I was completely missing I felt and I also felt that they didn't really like me asking questions. I and this is very strange because obviously that's what I would do. I mean, I would sit with them and say, Okay, well so you say that this is a good way to talk to the actor, but I know from my experience that the opposite is also true. And there's this whole tradition over here that that contradicts to what you're saying so how do we reconcile that and they didn't really like that and they're like well, I think you just need to come take my class and somehow intuitively pick up what they had then failed to explain right? And then actually broke off they both broke it off with me after after a while that they didn't like that I was asking too many questions and I was being too creative

Alex Ferrari 1:16:18
and too critical too critical of what they're saying

Per Holmes 1:16:21
well it's not see here's the thing it's not critical it's just that if we're going to explain this to anybody then we're going to have to structure this and the moment I asked any kind of issue that how does this concept fit with this concept and you know, you say this is wrong to do but I have these 100 other people including major directors who do this successfully all day long. So how do we reconcile that and so that that didn't work out and then I said okay, well what do we do now? And then I just started toying with that for for some years in the background I said you know what, let me see what I can figure out and I basically just in you know, I as I said I was never bad at this but I was sort of in the in the middle space but then I started then then I basically got said okay, let's pretend that we don't know anything and let's get everything that anybody knows on this subject here basically anything that anybody has ever realized So for example, if somebody has success result directing somebody then we can't unilaterally say that's a bad technique that'll

Alex Ferrari 1:17:33
stop right there result directing define result directing because that's the first time I've heard that

Per Holmes 1:17:38
result. So here's the thing you know, you have a lot of thoughts going on in your head and the end result of that is some kind of behavior and for example if you're sad then there's all kinds of things going on and then the end result of that is some kind of frowny face and looking sad and result directing is basically skipping the whole inner process and just playing the end result like a mask and that means you know try to make it more sad let's make it more angry let's let's do all these things and so the

Alex Ferrari 1:18:07
way most directors talk

Per Holmes 1:18:11
so that's still bad well it's not really bad to talk like that that's kind of the misunderstanding is that it's not result directing that's bad it's result acting that's bad and basically if you get the actors to a place where they feel like they have to act a result then you've done something bad, but up to a certain point result directing is the most useful thing you can do with an actor because if basically, you have to you have to look at as an actor as somebody who could potentially play every character and that means that we have to make some decisions about what this character is and what it's what this character isn't right and that narrows down the choices so that sorry, I just completely trailed there What was I gonna say? Oh my goodness No,

Alex Ferrari 1:19:01
we were talking about results results

Per Holmes 1:19:03
right so um, no, I completely trailed so well look for your earliest editing point and then we'll say it's okay now I don't even know what the point I was gonna make but anyway we can go back to resolve directing which which is that

Alex Ferrari 1:19:21
it's the thing is that you actually are with result directing you're giving the actor a point and end point I don't know No, I

Per Holmes 1:19:29
know I know what my point is sorry too. Sorry to push you back. The thing is that with result directing you tell the actor what planet we're on. And that means that the first directing that you're doing and especially in rehearsal result directing is almost harmless. Is that if you say and make it more sad or make it more angry? That's or well let me put it another way. Really, that's not really ever a good way of directing because there's nothing an actor really can do with this and say okay, he wants an angry let's see, what could I play that could make this angry. That's the level that we that that we that we have to work from is what you would play in order to, in order to get the end result. As soon as you try to play an end result, then everybody becomes artificial and weird. But that problem is not really the result directing because what you're saying what the results are. And if we phrase that in just a slightly different way, and you say to an actor, I want to find a way to make this more angry, what could we play to make it more angry, now you're doing something else, now you're setting a goal. And the result is is a goal. But we're never suggesting or believing that you can play a result because nobody can play a result. And do it? Well, you take the biggest Oscar winning actor, and make them play a result and they're going to be stinking it up. Because it's just it's it's a complete misunderstanding of what acting is, to a large part acting is recreating a thought process and letting it roll and just seeing what happens. And that means that you can't really ever get the result that you have in your mind, you can you can hold a result that I know privately that I'm trying to get this scene more angry, I might even say to the actor that this is my secret evil plan, I'm trying to get this more angry. But in reality, we're trying to come up with what I call active ideas or active thoughts, which and that then that then we should take a little sidetrack down to what I think acting is so well, to to, to to just jump back a little bit. What I did was I got everything on the table. And to try to figure out is there some pattern here that that would reduce this that would that would make this simpler and easier to understand. And then suddenly, I realized that oh, my God, oh, yes, there is a pattern. How did everybody missed this? It's right there. Right, right. And so basically, that's, that's what turns into the layers of behavior, which is the, which is the first eight, which is the first eight volumes of the course. And so to just explain very quickly what that's about. So basically, the primary thing that you do as the director is that you help come up with what I like to call active ideas, because basically, what we're trying to do is we're trying to trigger some, some kind of behavior without actually micromanaging and strangling the behavior because it's like the moment you touch it too hard, it breaks, but you can you can touch it, you can you can push a little bit, and then and then it works. And basically. So here's here's an idea for what a behavior is, for example, if you're telling an actor on that line, lower your head a little bit, and then blink your eye. That's not behavior that's like an action. You're a puppet. It's a puppet. Yes, well, it's it to micromanage. And that is basically you're you're trying to now play a result without even caring what would naturally lead to that result. But basically, let me give you an example of a behavior for example, and typical active idea would be playing a moment before that I just got, you know, I just got a traffic ticket on the way over here. And I actually I was going so fast that I lost my license, and now everything sucks, go, what happens to you now your whole energy is down your, the delivery of your lines changes, let's come up with another active idea, let's try to Let's Play that you are expecting that's something that goes into the future that you are expecting that she's going to say some really rough comment any minute now she's gonna she's gonna completely shame you. Any minute now. Now you're playing the whole scene with kind of an apprehension. And you're basically recreating the thought process that somebody would have in that you would stand in that situation, you would be expecting to get that from the other guy. And now your whole behavior is different, you know, aligns around that idea. And that's basically this is what actors do all day long. And

that's what I felt that I had to map out the whole thing because there are so many different there, there are a lot of different active ideas. You know, what's another one we can play for example, what I categorize in the present, let's play in as if so let me play as if you are, let's let's play as if you are a police officer, and you don't believe that I'm telling the truth. That now my entire behavior. So look what happened now, I have a completely different behavior, even whether or not I have lines, right? I have the same behavior before the, you know, after the camera starts rolling, but you know, even between my word is when I'm listening, and that's an active idea. It's It's a simple thought that mass produces behavior. And that's the kind of stuff that you can play as an actor. It and that's what you have to do as a director. is come up with a lot of these.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:03
I'll tell you. I'll tell you one story I heard once that and this is not very ethical. But this this director did it and got the performance out of the the actor he wanted he, it was a movie called a tu mama tambien. It was a very famous foreign film, Mexican movie. And there was a scene where he needed a little boy to cry. So he just basically walked up to his to the little boy quietly and said, Your mom and dad just died in a car accident, Roll camera. And that kid was bawling, because he was a young kid, obviously not ethical.

Per Holmes 1:25:35
So too much, because there's too much not meant to get that it's not really meant to get that real, or I think it's not meant to get that real with kids. I would rather Of course, yeah, absolutely. Right. I was supposed to have that kind of a secret from the actors. It's this is supposed to be a game, you know. And once we know that this is a game, then we can go much further out that plank. Yeah. And I'm not crazy about him doing that with otherwise, that's never, that's straight up. That straight up directing. But that really also depends on that person actually having the imagination, right. That means anything. And so that's really, that's the other half.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:13
Again, again, like with camerawork, directing, and directing actors is such a deep and dark craft that goes,

Per Holmes 1:26:21
I don't know, it doesn't have to be I mean, I. I don't feel like that anymore. I feel that I get it.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:29
Well, no, but like, but like you were saying, but like you were saying, with Stevens, a bowl, we always get a bowl, there's no question about it. But like you were saying, with Steven Spielberg, like, there's always something new to learn, there's always something else that you constantly growing and growing as an artist. So it's not something that you learn quickly. It's like being a fine painter, it takes years, it's

Per Holmes 1:26:49
like playing the piano and right so it's a wrong expectation to have of yourself that you're supposed to be able to walk onto a set, and then bam, I can block I can work with actors, because obviously, all you can really do is fake it the best you can because it's, it takes some training and

Alex Ferrari 1:27:07
an experience experience. So So I wanted to talk one last thing, which is really important. And we talked a little bit about this off air is piracy. And I wanted to kind of talk about the I wanted you to kind of shed a light on piracy. Because look, we all know about, you know, pirates and movies being downloaded and courses being stolen and things like that I wanted, I wanted, I wanted a voice. For my, for my listeners to understand what it does to someone like you who's puts, arguably a decade now of work 1000s of 1000s of hours into these courses, and then someone takes it and just puts it out there for free. I want you to kind of talk about what that is like for you.

Per Holmes 1:27:47
Well, that is incredibly depressing. And I have to tell you, I've started changing my mind a little bit, and I have it here in my Evernote, I have a quote that I heard from somebody that actually helped me change my mind a little bit about this. But basically the knowledge of piracy is that that has really knocked me out a couple of times where I just want to go to bed again. And I'm like, I don't even have a chance What am I gonna do? Right? But So the reality is that what I've discovered is that there are enough people who think that it's wrong, or who don't want to bother that somebody who makes, you know, training programs, and we're not a big company, we're like, tiny, and, and we're not rich, we can we can just about afford doing it, and that's good enough. But it's, I mean, I think it's it really it really rubs me the wrong way when the when the discussion about piracy is and all these big evil corporations. I mean, that might be true for Star Wars. But every time you do that, for a web template or a tutorial, you're probably kicking somebody who's already down. And, and that really sucks. I mean, people think that like, yeah, it's Robin Hood, man. And, you know, you know, there's no rich, but there's a rich statement of freedom and autonomy, but probably you're taking it from somebody who's trying to eat buy. And so I just think it's important to get that straight. But, but that said, I mean, I that that also means that I'm incredibly thankful every time somebody buys something from me, I take it totally personally, right? I really do. Because, you know, and even if, if there's like a customer who's a little bit of a jerk, I mean, I really let it slide because I'm so happy that somebody is buying it, because without that I would just have to stop. There's nobody who can afford to stop everything and do this for this much time. Right? But I wanted to I want to read you a quote that I heard somebody somewhere because this was really getting me down so much that I have to tell you the truth when the hot moves was done. I had the master sitting on my desk and I couldn't bring myself to release it. It sat on my desk for a week without me Putting it out because I know that as soon as I put it out, it's going to be torn to pieces by people who feel that, you know, it's not just that they can copy it, but that they have a right to write and and that just bummed me out so much that I couldn't bring myself to release it and it just sat there. And then I just finally asked to think well, what else am I going to do never release it and then, but let me read your quote here that I dug up in my Evernote that says that you are too worried that people will steal what you have. Let this be your wake up call, especially if you're an artist, or a writer, or an intrapreneur, or a creative type, that there's always more to be gained from sharing knowledge than from hoarding it. Don't worry about people stealing your work, worry about the moment they stop, be honest, helpful, and undeniably good at what you do. No clever marketing scheme, or social media buzzword or competitor can substitute can be a substitute for that ever. Whenever people want what you have, regardless of the circumstances, you're doing it right.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:01
That's awesome. That's an awesome, awesome,

Per Holmes 1:31:03
and I felt like you know what? I this gives me some peace. And then let's leave it alone. I hope I hope it's possible to be good enough that somebody will say, you know what, let me buy it.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:16
That's I'm so glad you said that. And I wanted I wanted people to understand what what I wanted to put a face to the to the piracy sometimes because sometimes it is it is bigger, like oh yeah, I just download the latest Star Wars movie. I'm like, oh, they've already made a billion dollars. They don't need my $2 and my $10. But that might be that in the

Per Holmes 1:31:35
next movie over is an indie movie that's getting killed because of that it's an indie movie that doesn't have a chance. And everybody who's behind that movie now doesn't have a chance, right? I mean, I okay. Yes, it has a marketing effort. It has a marketing effect, as well. But I don't know that the that the marketing effect of piracy compensates for the loss, the fact that you've just you've just removed the entire demand.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:02
Okay, so I'm gonna I'm gonna hit you with the last three questions, which are I asked of all of my guests. Oh, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in life or in the business?

Per Holmes 1:32:14
Oh, my God, you should have prepared me a little bit. Sorry. I think Come on. Sorry. You're gonna have to cut there again? Sure. No worries. All right. No, it's just that it's evening here and being asked by my family, and some things I I don't know, I think a lesson that has taken me a long time to learn is to only do big things with people who already have experience being successful, because I've had some of the biggest financial accidents in my life by making some things that were actually successful with people who then tore it apart. Because somehow subconsciously, they believe this is the first and the last success I'm ever going to have. So I'm going to just have to give me give me give me as much as I can. Instead of saying that, if we could make it this big with this effort, imagine what we can do if we keep going. And

Alex Ferrari 1:33:21
that's profound, actually, that's actually an iOS Iser,

Per Holmes 1:33:24
I got really punched in the God from not knowing it's actually in the music industry. I was trusting who I thought was my my, the one person that I could trust and I got completely steamrolled over I lost four years of income. I, I was hammered back to the stone age with $40 in my cupboard, so I could always buy some milk and cornflakes and a half tank of gas. Wow, I got hammered back I lost like, major six digit money. And and that was that was because in retrospect, they weren't ready. And I think for me, it's important to be successful with people who don't panic when success happens and say, okay, that's great. Now let's see how we keep going in that direction. And whoever mord more measured, approach to success and failure.

Alex Ferrari 1:34:17
That is something that I think a lot of a lot of filmmakers should take to heart because I've met a lot of I've heard so many stories about independent filmmakers who they make a big hit and then all of a sudden people like oh, you will you got into Sundance and now like, and then that's exactly they've never experienced it. They've never gone through it. And because of that, and everybody

Per Holmes 1:34:36
on their team, they might have a manager who suddenly inside panicking Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god, it's accessible. I don't know what to do. Let's, let's take something, right. This is this is tearing it down instead of saying, okay, our tree is sprouting. Let's see what happens if we keep watering it. Right, exactly. And let's just pull it just then they just tear it down. And obviously those people who did that to me I mean, I have two big legal I'd spend the last money I had suing them until I finally had to give up but by then thankfully I'd done enough damage. Right right. Right that actually I Well, I guess I don't know. I was happy knowing that they that they were down

Alex Ferrari 1:35:16
revenge is is a dismissive cold sir. So um alright so what are your top three favorite films of all time and it could be just the three films that come up to you at this moment

Per Holmes 1:35:26
Okay, I can I can name two I like Back to the Future and I like the Shawshank Redemption and then I don't know what else

Alex Ferrari 1:35:35
anything else

Per Holmes 1:35:36
I kinda like Titanic I know that's the

Alex Ferrari 1:35:41
I love Titanic I enjoy it a lot. And then what's one of the most under most underrated films you've ever seen? Oh, yeah, you really should prepare I should I should have said to these before I finally I mean, it's like

Per Holmes 1:35:55
you once in a while thing if somebody ever asked me what would I answer and then I have a great answer and now forgotten.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:03
It's okay.

Per Holmes 1:36:04
I really don't know I'm probably gonna have to bail. I don't know. No worries.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:07
It's all good. So where can where can people find you?

Per Holmes 1:36:12
So yeah, search Hollywood camerawork on Google or Hollywood camerawork calm, and that's worked not works.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:18
Gotcha. Gotcha. And parrot Thank you man so much for being on the show. And it's been a great episode. I mean, you've given us so much information about the craft and what you do and that's why I want to join the show man so I really appreciate you taking the time.

Per Holmes 1:36:36
That is awesome. I really appreciate it.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:39
I did I lie? Did I mean seriously the amount of stuff that he dropped all the knowledge bombs he dropped in this episode. were amazing guys. I mean, and I at the beginning of the show, I talked so much about the course and how what what a fan I am of it, so I won't do it again. But if you want to go and get to the course go to Hollywood camera work calm. And the as promised the 30% off coupon code is the word hustle. h u s t e l just type in the word hustle in the coupon code and you will get 30% off not only to directing actors course but anything the Hollywood camera work has to offer. It is it man I'm telling you it is amazing. So you definitely got to check it out. guys. I hope you guys enjoyed my talk with her. And guys, if you have any experiences or tips or advice about working with actors, head over to our Facebook group and give us some drop some knowledge bombs on us, man, go to indie film hustle.com forward slash Facebook. And you can sign up for our ever growing Facebook group, which is almost 6000 members at right now and growing daily. So definitely go and check that out. And of course, if you really want to take everything up a notch as far as your filmmaking knowledge is concerned, definitely check out the indie film syndicate guys, it is something that I'm very proud of, and it's growing all the time. It is a monthly membership, that you have access to all the courses that I do. And it really is full of a tremendous amount of knowledge that they do not teach you in film school. So it's pretty pretty crazy just to head over to indie film syndicate.com and as I said before the show notes for this episode are indie film, hustle, calm, forward slash 106. So as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 087: Into the Madness: Shooting a Micro Budget Feature Film w/ Jill-Michele Meleán

You knew it was bound to happen. Well, the time is here. Please welcome the talented Jill-Michele Meleán to the Indie Film Hustle Tribe. Jill is the star of my debut feature film “This is Meg“. She is one of the most talented actors/comedians I’ve ever worked with and we have worked on a ton of projects of the years.

Jill-Michele Meleán, “Jilly” was born and raised in Miami, Florida (aka Cuba). She declared at a young age that she wanted to be like Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Benny Hill. Jilly started in Theatre and toured with The Coconut Grove Playhouse (which is the Broadway of Miami). In 2000, she moved to Los Angeles and needed to be on stage.

She took her natural comedic timing to the Standup Stage, headlining across the country while continuing her acting career. After many years of hard work, she’s made a name for herself in the Comedy Television world with memorable performances on FOX’s “MadTV” and Comedy Central’s “Reno 911”. However, her first love is her dramatic acting career. As she continues her theatrical Film and Television career, she’ll never stop making people laugh.

Which brings us to This is Meg.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 1:58
So without any further ado, I want you to please have a warm welcome for the lovely the talented, Jill-Michele Meleán. I would like to welcome to the show, Miss Jill-Michele Meleán. Thank you so much.

Jill-Michele Meleán 3:54

Alex Ferrari 3:55
For coming on the show I appreciate a Jill. I know I know. The crowd the tribe has seen your face a lot lately.

Jill-Michele Meleán 4:03

Alex Ferrari 4:05
But everyone wants to know who is the girl behind the poster of this is Meg. So I wanted to bring you on the show. So we can talk a little bit about not only this is mag but you've had a very colorful career and you've gone through a lot of ups and downs and and I think your your whole story is is a wonderful one and hopefully educational for a lot of people trying to get into the business so

Jill-Michele Meleán 4:29
well that's what I love about This is Meg because it's so therapeutic.

Alex Ferrari 4:36
It is it is definitely therapeutic. For both you and I.

Jill-Michele Meleán 4:40
Yeah, absolutely. And it's also so much fun to have these amazing friends of mine that you know via text, I can text them and say I want you to be a part of something really special. And they have no idea what it is and they say you got it whatever you need. I'm right there. It's it's a really wonderful for failing to to be able to have those kind of relationships

Alex Ferrari 5:04
no absolutely absolutely so let me let me Let's start with this take it all the way back to going back walk back into time or how did you well first of all how did you get into the business and what made you want to get into this this ridiculous business

Jill-Michele Meleán 5:20
oh my god we're gonna go real far back i mean

Alex Ferrari 5:23
you know what let's try to keep the whole thing under an hour. So Reader's Digest version gonna have like

Jill-Michele Meleán 5:29
part one part two part three or four um, I was born and raised in Miami and I was that little girl that instead of like sneaking out on my room to play with dolls or to do other mischievious things, I would sneak out of my room and I would watch Carol Burnett and I'd watch Alfred Hitchcock and I my one of my favorite movies was mommy dearest. I loved All About Eve. I love Sunset Boulevard I was such a strange kid and and that was my my thing it was like how do you do what those people are doing in that box? You know, because we didn't have flat screen TVs back then it looked like a box and yes, you remember you know going back and going back and we

Alex Ferrari 6:17
were in a time when there was no remote controls. Oh really? I was my ground I didn't

Jill-Michele Meleán 6:21
have that I had we had remote we had remotes but they weren't they weren't like what the sofas sophisticated as it is today. You know it's now it's all universal remotes and all that kind of stuff in the

Alex Ferrari 6:33
universal remote anymore now it's like I'll just pull up my iPhone and

Jill-Michele Meleán 6:38
bring it up Scotty Exactly. Yeah, let me Bluetooth it

Alex Ferrari 6:42
we're making ourselves making ourselves sound extremely old. So let's move on.

Jill-Michele Meleán 6:46
But thank God for Botox thank God I just want to put that out there. Can that be a sponsor please?

Alex Ferrari 6:53
By the way you look fantastic for 55 I'm just I'm 82

Jill-Michele Meleán 6:56
but it's thank you I appreciate

Alex Ferrari 6:59
it. You look horrible for 20 fantastic

Jill-Michele Meleán 7:03
yeah 108 you're just hi You're so hot Well yeah, I just always kind of dreamed that's where I'd be and after I got my piece of paper from college that my parents were so adamant about I literally gave him the paper and went here Can I go to LA now please and that's when I got their blessing um so I came out to Los Angeles and didn't know anybody stood in line with homeless people for open mics and and then that you know, increasingly I started to get things here and there because I worked really hard I really dedicated myself and focused and didn't i didn't get another job. I know I'm not saying that this everybody should do this. But I lived off my credit cards because that's how crazy I was and how much I believed in myself. But I would cry myself to sleep every night because I was like do you really believe in yourself? Or are you insane? And it paid off though it did pay off from there. You know, I had come from a sketch world and theater world with a theater degree and fell into stand up because stand up was somewhere I could get on stage right away and perform. And that is therapeutic in itself to that immediate gratification of people laughing you're like okay, I'm, I'm validated, which in spirituality you're not supposed to have not care what other people think. But as an actor and performer it's very important that other people like you

Alex Ferrari 8:38
know, that's what I've met very few actors who don't care what other people think. Exactly.

Jill-Michele Meleán 8:42
I'm always like, when I listen to these spiritual gurus, they're just like, with no expectations, and I'm like, but I need them to clap.

Alex Ferrari 8:50
I'm not I'm not doing my job.

Jill-Michele Meleán 8:54
I'm like, I don't understand. No, they need to buy tickets.

Alex Ferrari 8:57
I know. Exactly, exactly.

Jill-Michele Meleán 9:01
So there Yeah, you always you always kind of um, that's one thing with me. It's always this internal Battle of what where's the balance? Where's the balance? And because you hear like the spiritual gurus say that but then at the same time, you're like, I gotta pay my rent. So we're in a different world. So it's tryst trying to find the two things and matching it so you're in I guess the path of least resistance you know. But yeah, so from there I did stand up and then from stand up I went to mad TV they pretty much followed me for about a year and a half the producers I would go back to them like every few months and do my characters and all this and then finally the timing was right. And they made me an immediate cast member and all those bills got paid off.

Alex Ferrari 9:51
So how long about from the moment you Atlanta to LA to the point where you got mad TV? How long was it?

Jill-Michele Meleán 9:57
It was about three years.

Alex Ferrari 9:59
That's pretty fast.

Jill-Michele Meleán 10:00
Yeah it is pretty fast because again, I really focused hard It wasn't like I was waiting on the couch waiting for the phone to ring no one knew who the heck I was. And so I was out every night at the stand up clubs I enrolled in the Groundlings and Second City and improv Olympic and I was thinking oh my god this is like college Why don't you just come here in the first place? You know, but my parents did what they knew and they didn't know about this world so um, you know more than anything they wanted me to get married and have kids and I did the exact opposite. And I also talk about secrets and my family's very loosely you know, they love their their secrets and here I am on stage singing everything and they're like oh my god, what is happening? You're like their worst nightmare bass. Oh, totally. Totally. I mean my father till this day looks at me with these eyes like

Alex Ferrari 10:57
I don't wanna you get it when is this gonna stop?

Jill-Michele Meleán 10:59
When is this gonna stop or he just like I don't understand you at all

Alex Ferrari 11:04
different yeah different we're like listen my father is not too much of a different beast as well and my god bless him I love him to death and he loves me but he's still it's hard for him to grasp

Jill-Michele Meleán 11:15
yeah it's just a different it's a different world for us especially coming from you know Latin family and my father and growing up in South America this is this is so wrong you know what i where I am however a few years ago he had come out to visit me and he gave me one of in his own approving proving Lee way I guess if that's even a word I like to make up words. He says you're a very unique and special girl. Wow. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 11:48
And take in many different ways. Many different ways.

Jill-Michele Meleán 11:51
I chose to take it as something Yeah, so that was in my eyes I was like, okay, he may not ever get me but at least he's accepting me and and that felt really good cuz until this day, he still sees me and that's those big guys it's those I like what is this little thing here? I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 12:15
I'll tell you the the the one story with my with my dad was he didn't understand what it was. I was just editing at the time in Miami. And then one day I said hey, I'm editing a commercial with Don Francisco. And if everybody who doesn't know who don't Fransisco is, he's like, kinda he's like like the Johnny Carson or the Jay Leno or the Dave Letterman all rolled into one of Latin America he's Yeah, he's huge. And I was just doing a commercial with him as an editor and apparently that was no matter what else I did in life I'm like what he worked with Don Francisco he could hold on to the only thing he could grab on to and I guess your dad similar in that way

Jill-Michele Meleán 12:53
isn't so funny I my dad um, and this is just a quick story for the audience. I don't know if I told you this. I'm sure I did. But I have to tell the story. My father when I adopted my dog a Mr. JACK he didn't want me to have a dog cuz I don't know why he didn't want me to have a dog. And I brought him to Miami, Mr. JACK and my father was so like, like, why do you have a dog come on you're, you're never even home, you travel and by the die and all this type of stuff. And it wasn't until I finally said, Dad, do you know who his other grandpa is? And he went Who? And I said alpa Chino. And because I have this opportunity. Yeah. Because I adopted Mr. JACK from Beverly D'Angelo. Oh, yes. And an owl like brought him you know, balloons for his birthday and all kinds of stuff. And even though I physically never met out he brought it to the house because we had a birthday party for the dogs like the first year that I adopted a Mr. JACK and once I told my dad alpa Chino he paused, and he went Scarface. I mean, all that is so good. Oh my god. And then jack is now accepted anywhere we go. So

Alex Ferrari 14:08
he's like to two people removed from Scarface Yeah,

Jill-Michele Meleán 14:12
the grandpa's are alpa Chino, and my father Carlos milyon. So

Alex Ferrari 14:17
absolutely amazing. That is our Latino roots. Ladies and gentlemen, that's and we could talk for hours about our crazy families. So when you were on mad TV, you became a regular on mad TV. And you were the first Latina to be a regular on mad TV. no worse

Jill-Michele Meleán 14:34
than first and only now we're called the classics because now they're doing the remake of of Mad TV for CW right, but there were other Latins that came on mad TV, but they were featured so until this day, I can always say I was the first and only Latina cast member on the original mad TV, which is really a cool thing. Yeah. But again, I was always in wigs. I have this I call myself the Gary Oldman of comedy. Because you put a wig on me or you shoot me in a different angle, and I transform. And so I had that thing where after mad TV was done, I, there was no face recognition. There was character recognition. If I told somebody like, Oh, I did britney spears and Drew Barrymore, and you know, Jennifer Lopez, and they go, Oh my gosh, but you couldn't if I was walking on the street, you would never recognize me. Whereas somebody like, you know, a dear friend of mine, like a sister is Deborah Wilson, and Deborah walk the street, and we cannot go anywhere, because she gets stopped left and right for pictures or whatever. And then she would go, you know, Jill is on that TV, too. And they were like, I don't care. Like

Alex Ferrari 15:46
Yes. So what so what did you learn from that experience? Because I know that experience was, you know, was a very big part of your, your career path.

Jill-Michele Meleán 15:57
Yeah, I have to say this, it was, it was like boot camp, because being on a sketch show is not like being on a regular sitcom, or a drama or anything like that, because you're fighting for sketches to get in, on. So we would read like over 50 something sketches on Monday, and for get picked. So I was very naive. Because this was my first big show that I was on. I had written I did my bump up writing for Nickelodeon live action show prior to that, but this was the first show that I was actually, you know, a cast member on. I was so gung ho, I was so excited. And then it was like high school times 100. And you would just be like, why didn't that sketch get in that sketch got in. That's not funny, though. And this not and then people were like, you know, going back behind your back, this let in, I was not prepared, trained or prepared to be in that kind of world. And I fell really flat on my face. Not as far as my performances are. But as far as my, my social life and my off camera, I was kind of depressed, because I just didn't know what the heck was going on. And so I was in the trenches, and it was like boot camp. And when they didn't renew my contract, I was devastated. I was just because here's a dream come true. Here I am doing what I love, and it didn't feel good. Um, and so from that experience, I could have gone into a downward spiral. But instead, I shifted my focus, and really did the work to pull myself out of it. And I got Reno 911. After that, I was recurring on that. And then from there was, you know, other TV shows guest star here, they're there. But it wasn't the big huge paychecks coming in as a series regular all the time. So it kind of forced me this business forced me to find my balance or quit. And I found a balance. And that's why you see a lot of people drop off the map after a big show, because they hadn't found their balance. And in this business is so hard core. And that's why when I go and I mentor, young teenage girls, and I talked to them, the first thing they say is like, do you have any advice? You know, what's your advice, Uncle, you really got to love it. You got to love it so much, because it is probably one of the hardest businesses to be in because it doesn't matter how talented you are. That's part of it. But it is like having Rhino skin because people beat you up people that you think are friends or not your friends and all kinds of so you just got to love it because that's your what's gonna keep you steady, because everything else comes and goes comes and goes, comes and goes. And you find awesome gems like me, you know, me and you. We've known each other for seven years. But there's times that, you know, I haven't talked to you for months, because I'm on a project, you're on a project, and then we meet back up and we're like, Hey, what's up? So it's a weird world. It's a very straight, it's not corporate by any means.

Alex Ferrari 19:07
Jesus, can you can you imagine being on onset just within the first two minutes of what a grip will tell you? I mean, seriously, you'd be you'd be slapped with sexual harassment suits left to right. In the film industry. I mean, seriously? Absolutely.

Jill-Michele Meleán 19:21
Absolutely. So it's a very, it's a total different beast. So if I had any recommendations for recommend recommendations, you like that word? that's really what's good. Thank you. Thank you very much. But if I had to any recommendations for people that are listening that are in film school, or in theater, getting their BFA, or even in high school, thinking about going into this business is definitely intern intern intern. Yep. Relationships is what this town is about. I find myself always circling back and wanting to work with people that I love that I've worked with in the past that have no ego and that love What they do, and that's what I mean me and you are trying to do is that that whole thing of, you know, our first feature together like this, to create a whole nother group of, and I don't want to use this comparison but it's an example of like Adam Sandler's company where he has all his group of friends or like, will Pharaoh's company where he has his group of friends, and they're constantly pumping out these in the duplass brothers. They're constantly pumping out these amazing projects, and all their friends are cast and they're having fun doing what they love. So that's my hope and dream. And this is Meg is just like the launch of that with you. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 20:39
I hope so as well. I definitely hope so as well. And we met we met almost eight years ago. Now when I first got to LA you when I was 12. When you went obviously when you were 12. But when we met, I think we I met you like three months after I got here. Like I literally wasn't that soon. It was literally like you were I was Fresh Off the Boat. I was still growing green horn in LA and then and then we both got thrown into that short film that we did. Emma Demas and the porno queen. That's when we first worked together. And and then we did we've got we've done we've done a lot of projects since then. together here and there over the years, right?

Jill-Michele Meleán 21:21
Yeah, yeah, that was and that was a cool experience. To work with you. I think it's also because we both we come from Miami, we both come from very similar kind of backgrounds. I and we're both go getters and hustlers, hustlers of hustlers. There you go. I love that we're hustler. I'm a hustler.

Alex Ferrari 21:43
Every day we're hustling.

Jill-Michele Meleán 21:47
Um, but yeah, it's it's it's cool because we know how to, we don't need all the bells and whistles. We can make something look amazing, because we're so I, I don't are we ghetto is that.

Alex Ferrari 22:04
I like to call I don't like to say ghetto. I'd like to say I'm a filmmaker from the streets. Here we go. Yeah. Yeah, from the streets, because you're always hustling, like, you know, like you're hustling on the corner. And you and yours and we're street smart. But we understand what it's like to be up in the up in the hills, and we can hang up in the hills. And we can also hang down in the streets if we have to. And I think the ability it's similar to what Robert Rodriguez Did you know he he was able to create tremendous amount of production value at little cost, because he stripped down the all the bells and whistles. He's like, he looked at these, these huge movies and you're like, why is there 500 people working on this movie? Like, you don't need that many people to make a good movie, like a lot. I mean, obviously bigger the $200 million movies and so on. But I'm talking He's like, he's like, well, I could do this cheaper, and I could do this better. And let's just get it done. And that's what he did. And I think that's similar mentality, at least the way I go at it. I think we've taken it to an extreme level with this as Mike, but we'll get into that later. But real quick, I wanted to ask you, and this is just a question I always had. You do stand up. So I know and I've worked with a lot of different stand ups over the years as well. It takes a tremendous amount of time doesn't it to create even something as short as a 30 minute stand up set?

Jill-Michele Meleán 23:28
Right? Oh my gosh. Yeah. I mean, it's really funny when you have people that are doing it for two years and they're like I'm doing a special and then he just go Hey, more power to you go ahead. And it takes 10 years to get your first hour. You need 10 years because you need to be on the road. You need to know what works in Oklahoma may not work in Miami may not work in Kentucky may not work in Rhode Island you got to travel you got to see what is that universal funny? Where's your voice? You develop a voice and it doesn't mean like Oh, I can't speak I have no voice. No, it means literally like there's something that happens to you in a 10 year mark. Because now I've been doing it for 16 years. But there's a something that just pops that you're now able to write with such a strong clear voice and it's not just jokey, jokey hack stuff because anybody can do that and anybody can do the dirty stuff and the shock stuff so that's like when I would see some specials that are on you know I'm like hey, no and I know it's laughable it's very funny because a fart it's funny it's hilarious that a table you know it Yes of course. But it does that have longevity. Does that is that a TV show that you want to watch a person just farting for 45 minutes or you know an hour like but

Alex Ferrari 24:46
yeah, but you watch something like delirious and it still holds today. It still holds today. Still funny as all hell yeah, absolutely.

Jill-Michele Meleán 24:53
Because that's a strong voice and very strong point of view. And so that's so it takes Yours it takes about 10 years you get one hour and about 10 years if you're working really hard and then from there you're able to develop like Louie ck and George Carlin and everybody they were able to pump out one hour new specials every year because now their voice is so strong and they can just hit the road and just right boom boom boom boom and you're doing they're doing you know how many shows per week and that's like rehearsal for them and then by the time by the time the time the time them the next year comes they got out because they have that entrenched in them now so I always it's always interesting when you when I watch these competition shows and somebody wins because they got a good three minutes and they can't hold it on the road they go on the road and they tank when they're doing an hour because they're not funny for an hour they're funny for 10 minutes but that's what YouTube has done there's a good and bad YouTube is great because you're able to showcase and show off talent that normally people wouldn't see but at the same time three minutes doesn't hold up a whole hour in a theater and you don't you don't want people paying $80 a ticket coming in and watching you breathe for 45 minutes you know

Alex Ferrari 26:11
exactly exactly so so let's get into this little thing we're doing called This is back i what i what point in my sales pitch to you Do you agree to do this as mag At what point when that phone call came? Because I probably when I called you I hadn't I guess we had i don't know if i think we had talked probably a month or two prior to that not about this about other stuff and I just called you and at what point did you say yeah, I think I'm gonna do this

Jill-Michele Meleán 26:41
you know um, or what was it

Alex Ferrari 26:42
in the sales pitch that said yeah, you know, this sounds like a good idea.

Jill-Michele Meleán 26:46
Alex I think it was just all timing it was the perfect timing because we have this thing called pilot season for people that aren't in the industry in for actors and pilot seasons usually like January through April and you are as an actor you're out oh my gosh you five times a week five to six times maybe a couple of times but if even if you're out going out for these new TV shows you're I'm in the level where I'm going in for series regular so the the sides which are the script that you have to memorize for the audition is about 12 pages approximately six to 12 pages and it's very heavy dialogue and you're memorizing you're developing this character you you you do your brain is just working so hard then you go in and there's the the pressure of hitting it and one at one take for the casting director getting that on camera for the producers and then there's all these levels and the next thing you got to go to the producers and the next thing you go to the studio then the next thing you go for a test deal and it there's so much that happens that a lot of people don't even understand to get a show on the air so during this season of pilot season we're doing all these pilots for all these different networks and I had just I was so beaten up because I had done this for how many months and I'm so close so close on so many projects and you know what it was a wonderful pilot season I lost a huge star names which is totally fine got a lot of fans producers and casting directors and it was an amazing pilot season for me but I was exhausted and there was nothing substantial to to go look at this trophy I got from all this hard work I've done and so when you called me I knew that this was something that I could grasp something that I could actually feel attain see a finished product and it was mine and I went oh let's do this yes something that I can actually put love into and then see a final product would be amazing I guess

Alex Ferrari 28:51
as an actor yeah you put your heart and soul into stuff but you never get a final product at the end of the day Oh unit generally you don't I mean you could so many out there I never looked at it that way I guess that's a great point of view because I you know as a director and as a I always create whenever I create I have an end product. Yes I'm telling you actors don't so I guess that's a big plus.

Jill-Michele Meleán 29:12
And yeah, it is this is that's why it's so wonderful to do these. These. I call them love projects because because then it is something that we can actually see and go I love the work I mean I was just talking to Carlos I was Rocky. Yesterday we talked on the phone and people that are following this as make know that Carlos I was Rocky is from Reno 911. He's done a lot of other TV shows. And I played a sister on the show. He was officer Garcia and he has he's an iconic, you know, actor in this in this town. And he said this is the fate his favorite character Tony icart that he plays in this as make his favorite character that he has ever played. And it just, yeah, it just made my heart melt and I went Are you serious and goes yeah and it's because there's a freedom that we're allowing the actors to come in into play and to take it to the next level that's written on the page and that as an actor is so rare because we're always constricted to a certain point and then once you're a Bryan Cranston, you know when or things like that then it's a different ballgame but usually they want you to fit into some kind of box because that's what the writer wants and then at that point once you book it you can develop more with the producers with the writer with the director but it's booking is what is the pressure that happens so I'm allowing people to come in and just play is just like oh my gosh, it's it feels effortless and I love that feeling

Alex Ferrari 30:50
we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show Yeah, that was my I was gonna be my next question like your experience now working on this because this is in many ways our I know this is therapy as you said earlier, this is therapeutic for you but it's extremely therapeutic for me as well because I feel the same freedom that you guys feel but now I feel it as a director you know, and as a creator I just kind of am it's flowing like but then we sit down we both sit in the kitchen when we were shooting that scene. We looked at each other I'm like, Are we really making a feature? I know we made it Why is it so easy? I don't understand like why haven't we done this? How can we haven't had that 10 of these? Why don't we have 10 of these under about like I don't understand

Jill-Michele Meleán 31:43
I think we I think we had to get beat up I think we had to get beat up to be able to appreciate those this and those moments um, because yeah in the kitchen and even when we were we hiked up to get those beautiful shots that it

Alex Ferrari 31:57
was just a couple days ago yeah,

Jill-Michele Meleán 31:59
yeah, my legs still hurt

Alex Ferrari 32:00
everything hurts in my car you were actually in shape Julie um, I'm getting in shape but it's you know I've come from the the Alfred Hitchcock School of directors and I really need to get to the Zack Snyder School of fitness of directors oh my god well yeah yeah for the for the audience we actually hiked up to the Hollywood sign to get some some shots for for the movie and it was my bright idea to go cuz Julie was like well we could go here we can go there and get some nice view shots I'm like no, it's got to be the Hollywood sign. And it was three and a half mile hike up and it's not like straight up yeah, it's not like a little incline it's like a 45 degree

Jill-Michele Meleán 32:48
and we had to bring gear which was here where I'm

Alex Ferrari 32:51
carrying the gear your carry yes and your and your wonderful niece is helping us Daisy

Jill-Michele Meleán 32:56
Daisy was amazing she's 14 and that girl was like that that I want them and I was like oh my god slow down

Alex Ferrari 33:04
made us feel so old. I was like yeah, slow down. So we got up that we got up there and shot these beautiful beautiful shots in in magic hour. So it was it was just this gorgeous glowing stuff but yeah, it was but there was a freedom and by the way that was all all as we call it gorilla we as they say in the business stole the shots.

Jill-Michele Meleán 33:27
Those shots and those are beautiful shots and and even up there I remember you know never forget this moment Alex after we were done and we looked in the sun was setting and I looked at you and I go we're making our first feature and it was this talk about bliss. You know everyone talks about bliss that was a blissful moment for me and that's when someone says go to a happy place. I'm gonna think of that place right there because it was Oh,

Alex Ferrari 33:54
it was magical because you're literally on the top of Los Angeles you are literally at I think one of the highest points at least from the viewpoint of Los Angeles at the Hollywood sign. And you see all of Los Angeles you see it's a 360 so you see the valley you see the west side you see century cities see Santa Monica see that you see everything you can even see Catalina Island on a good day and you're just sitting there so you got the Hollywood sign you've got the sunset coming down I mean it is just this one and we just finished shooting a bunch of stuff and it's just like this really blissful moment I'm paying mind you in absolute pain freezing our asses off because the sun was going down and we really didn't really underestimated how cold it got away that's so cool we're sweating Are you know what's off going up there but coming down we were like just hurry it's freezing.

Jill-Michele Meleán 34:47
I was so good. I was like shaking. I think the hairs on my legs grew three inches. It was disgusting.

Alex Ferrari 34:55
is a lot of fun. Now, what's your experience I guess because you've never done a feature like this. You've never done a feature in the first place, but you've never done. I guess this is very non scripted. I mean, have you done a lot of non scripted stuff before?

Jill-Michele Meleán 35:08
Well, this isn't again, this isn't this is my first. This isn't my first feature. It's me producing and writing and starring and yeah, there's features. Yes. Yeah. I just want the audience to know its features. She's done many features. Yes. Many features and a lot of studio films and they you know, in studio films, you have like, 50 takes, like, first of our 20 takes, and there's a lot of bodies and there's a lot of network people and studio people over people's shoulder like you can't do that can't do this, my mom. Um, but the money is great. So you're like, I'll do whatever you say. Where this is just, it's, it's, it's such a freeing experience, because now it's actually getting something that you feel like even more doing the takes, it's like, I feel it like I looked at you and I go, I feel it. That one, I felt it. So you're able to really just dive in, in a deeper level, I believe. But what was your question? I totally went on

Alex Ferrari 36:04
the nonce? Well, because this is non scripted. And that's a kind of weird term because it's not non script. It's not like we're just showing up on the day like, okay, let's make something up.

Jill-Michele Meleán 36:12
It's called loosely scripted. And, and we Yeah, I'm so used to that. And then all the players that are in this, in this project are used to it too, because their hands elected because they're friends of mine. And we come from an improv world and Curb Your Enthusiasm. I fat actress, a pilot, I did mud show, Reno 911. They're all written in the style. And what what it is, is it it there is a script, because you need a beginning, middle and end you need an X 1x 2x 3x. You need a structure, right? characters, you need all of those things. And you need a little bit of dialogue to, you know, to push people into the point of view to guide them, but then you have bullet points and there's bullet points that you need to meet and that improv or need to hit. And so all these people are this, this cast that's in this film are amazing improvisers. They're ridiculous. So I knew I couldn't write better than what's going to come out of their mouth. And that's the beauty of when you do any kind of TV show or film like that is because you trust them so much. And as a performer, to have that kind of trust put on you you. You step up to the plate, and it's fearless. And you feel you feel appreciated. So you become even more fearless. And I love that Alex and I are You're mean you're like we're right on it. We both get it. And we have so much appreciation for everybody's performances. And that's what I loved about Reno 911. And that's what I incorporated into this is that I'm Reno going from Mad which was very mad TV, which is very structured, and very much you fighting for sketches to get in. I'm going to Reno 911 they literally sometimes would let the camera roll for 45 minutes. And when you were done improvising, they would go oh my god, that was so great. You were so amazing. Oh my god, okay, remember when you said this, this, say those things again, but then do whatever you want, and then just go even further. Do whatever you want. Okay, you were so awesome. Okay, we're gonna start back to one. And you were like, Really? Yeah. And you feel like, okay, I'll go, I'll push even more like, I'll totally give you more. And it's such a gratifying experience as as a improviser. And not a lot of people can do it. Not a lot of actors can improvise. I worked with an actor, a very well known actor, once that the director said afterwards he goes, Okay, we got that now, do whatever you want. And this actor, every time I would go to improvise, his actor would look at me, like a deer in headlights, like, oh, and then they would go cut and they go What happened? And he goes, Oh, I didn't know when I should talk. Cuz she didn't say it was hilarious. Yeah. So that's when I realized oh, okay, there's It's a special quality.

Alex Ferrari 39:19
And I'll tell you what, I think in a lot of ways, um, and I don't want to say I'm improving as a director, but I'm on the edge a lot with this movie. You know, I have a very clear vision of what I want, but the technical aspects of things I'm definitely on the edge. As you know, I'm doing everything. Oh, everything. Yeah, I mean, literally everything. And even some days I am holding the boom. Yes, but it's that freeing kind of, I think it's if I can, if I can make the analogy of what you guys are going through like, we'll do whatever you want. And you don't have any you don't you have a box you got to stay in. But within that box, you can just have fun and as a director, I am kind of doing that as well. I mean, I have my shot list, I have things that I want to do that day. But when we get there, I kind of just kind of flow with it. I'm like, Alright, let's just grab this over here, let's go over here over there. And, and, and just kind of roll with it. And the stuff that we keep bringing back is cutting

Jill-Michele Meleán 40:18
wood, I think that's where the that's where the film magic comes into play. And it's reading on camera, because there's a trust behind the scenes, that it's so special. That what we are shooting, you can tell we are having fun. And I think that's what the difference is sometimes when you watch a film, and you're like it was good, but I just can't there's just something about it. That doesn't make me love it. And I think it's because you can feel the chaos that was behind the scenes. And it's so it's so stagnant on screen. And the performances feel very tight. And almost like a to b to c. And we're a

Alex Ferrari 41:02
to z to T to D to F

Jill-Michele Meleán 41:05
that's it. Yeah. And it's like, and I know most people, I'm sorry for the sirens. It's so my gosh, we're live baby. We're live. We are live. Would you stop it? did you stop? Stop chasing?

Alex Ferrari 41:17
I'm recording. I'm on indie film hustle

Jill-Michele Meleán 41:19
for God's I am on a podcast. Yes. Dynavox. Anyway, they stopped. Perfect. But yeah, I you know, this is a very special special environment that we are creating. But again, it's not. It's not a foreign environment. It's definitely an environment that I have seen in the past and it works. Again, like on Renan. I'm one I can't say enough about those guys. On Reno, the all those producers, they were just just they taught me so much. And they actually pulled me out of that kind of depression that I don't even think they know about that. But because of coming from Mad TV and feeling like what is this what it's supposed to be like? And then when I went to Reno I went Oh, no, it's not that was just that show, you know, so but I appreciate mad TV 100% because I it was my boot camp. And I wouldn't have learned those things if I didn't have that experience.

Alex Ferrari 42:23
No, definitely with without question. And so let's talk a little bit about the, the importance of building relationships in this business, because I think we're able to do what we're doing because of our relationships. Yes. Oh, and I had I had a thought that's why I was pausing for a second. I think one of the things that I think the audience needs to know, this is the reason why we're going through this process. And it seems like as we're talking like, it seems like it's so effortless. For both Julie and I and and for the team that we got together to do this. That's experienced in years. I mean, it's not like Jillian are both 22 No offense, all the 22 year olds out there. And there are probably geniuses like Orson Welles who made Citizen Kane when he was 23. But generally speaking, the experience and just the confidence, I think that you build over time, is what gives you the ability to do something like this.

Jill-Michele Meleán 43:21
Yes, I absolutely agree. I think that if you were to come to me five years ago, even and said, let's do this, I would have been like no, because there's so much the stakes are so high. And because it's almost second nature to us at this point, we are able to do a crowdfunding and to know that that those people's money's, whatever they're donating, is not going to waste. We are doing something with that we're doing some wonderful with that. So because I hate asking people for money, even as a standup, I always try to calm everybody in I'm always like, you know what, just don't pay me and let me comp everybody in I'm always I'm that person. I'm that person, I'm wearing a shirt and you go, Oh my God, let me shoot on my ticket. Like, I just I'm that way. So if I'm going to ask somebody for money, it's because I am doing something really wonderful. I want you to be a part of this. And I'm going to show you something great at the end. So definitely, definitely, it's our experience.

Alex Ferrari 44:23
And just I think the biggest thing too, at least from my point of view, and I know you have this already because of years of stand up and just being a performance is that confidence. And it took me a long time to get that confidence as a director and I think you've worked with me as a director for me when I got here to LA to the point now and I'm a little bit different than I was when I directed Emmett Yeah, it's just I was I'm a completely different human being. And I think that just kind of is something you need to build up so before you know a lot of a lot of people listening to this podcast might say, Well, let me just go off and do it like you can absolutely but understand that the reason why we make it sound as easy as it is, is because of just as confidence and in all honesty, we might fall flat on our face at the end of this thing, I don't think but both you and I don't believe we will, you know, that's not just I don't think it's a question either. But just saying, you know,

Jill-Michele Meleán 45:18
and I think also too, and I'm speaking, you know, for me knowing you, you know, for seven years in our the first project we did in Medina's you know, I remember, I see the growth that you had where you were very technical director, you were working out the technicalities, you're more about the the shots being set up. Now, that's almost second nature to you, that is second nature to you. And now you're able to really work with the actors more. And that's for me, that's what I think an incredible director is is that they have they already have the technic technical aspect down that's, that's already given. And then the working with the actors is what makes it special. That's what makes a director sore is when they can bring out performances and an actor and get that trust together that creates magic and that's what's happening with this is make is the magic is happening because your timing and where you are. is so perfect to so yes, these are my friends. I wouldn't bring my friends in with you. If I didn't think that you know, you would, you know, I'd be like No, that's okay.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
I guess you're right. I guess there's also too that it was just such a quick Yes. That I just kind of like okay, I guess it's just the way it rolls but there's there was thought behind it. There's definitely total thought

Jill-Michele Meleán 46:38
because I it's not the You're not the first director that's come to me that says, hey, we should do a feature. I got an equipment and I've been like, No, that's okay. But I know you and I know how far you've gone that I'm I'm contacting friends that they are doing favors for me even though they're saying yes, I'll be there for you. I'm show up for you, because I love you. But it's it's a huge favorite because they get paid a lot of money to get to a set. You know, we don't even have hair and makeup for them. And they're like, got it. Don't worry about it, you know. So it's, it's a pretty, I'm asking for a favor. And I was waiting to ask for that favor until I knew something was great. So I know this is great. So asking for the favor, is going to be beneficial not only to me, but to them. And we've already seen that with janica. And with Carlos coming in the scenes that we shot. They have said, Oh my gosh, this is amazing. Because the timing was there. You're ready. I'm ready. You know, now the favors get asked and pooled. And you know, and

Alex Ferrari 47:42
the thing is to like jenica and Carlos. But well, Carlos, we actually wrote more for him and brought him into another scene. And Jenna goes like, Is there anything else kind of come back? She's like, Is there anything I can do need me for something else. I'm there. She had so much fun doing it. And you told me that Carlos? Like was super, super, super excited to come back and play Tony.

Jill-Michele Meleán 48:05
Yeah, it was just it made sense. After you know, we shot his pieces where I'm watching it through the iPad, it made sense that he would come back. And so that was a wonderful rewrite for me to do. And he had a he had a stand up show that night that we were going to shoot because we have to shoot at night for the scene. And he has a stand up show and he was like, Okay, I'm gonna cancel it. And he cancelled it. And he's getting

Alex Ferrari 48:32
paid more on that stand up show than he is. Yeah. Yeah. That tells you a lot about how much he really likes. Yeah, the project. And that's Alright, enough about this is Meg, we'll get back to why. So you also have a YouTube show called Stop

Jill-Michele Meleán 48:50
it. Stop

Alex Ferrari 48:53
with with Sean and I can never pronounce your last name.

Jill-Michele Meleán 48:55
polewski polaski. Yeah, I mean, this is Megan.

Alex Ferrari 48:59
She's playing your agent. So I can't wait to shoot her seeds. Can you tell the audience how that came into the world?

Jill-Michele Meleán 49:07
Well, again, it involves you, which is funny. Um, I'm not you know, I'm that generation, which is like the YouTube stuff. It was it doesn't really, it doesn't really excite me. Um, it wasn't my world at all. Like, I'm just like, yeah, I watched up on YouTube or whatever. But to get a page and to do stuff, I'm like, you can watch me on TV, or they can see me in a film.

Alex Ferrari 49:30
What is this TV you speak of? Yeah,

Jill-Michele Meleán 49:32
exactly. Um, you know, but the kids are all on there on YouTube. And everything is quick and fast. And and so I was like, Well, I don't want to do something solo. So I just thought it would be really fun if we did this little web series and me and Sean Paul offski. She's a really good friend of mine. I've known her for over 10 years. And she's a stand up she was on Chelsea Lately. She's on parkson bracketing. How are you? No community. And she is she's a riot she's so she's, she's such a Jew. She's my token Jew I love. Well, I shouldn't say token, I've got a lot of Jewish friends. They're all here in LA. There's a lot of Jewish people know, Leon Stein sometimes to get ahead. But she is a liar. And I just love being with her. And we've known each other for so long that we just said, Oh, it makes sense. If we did these little Stop it, they're like, they're kind of like, we're inspired by Louis black and how he just rants. And he rants when he used to rant on, on Jon Stewart, the daily Daily Show. And so we have these things where we take a topic and it's two minutes, and we just do these stop it and we do all these one liners, and we can cut to like different pictures or footage. And it's a blast. It's really a blast. And it's not anything like, oh, we're hungry for for we got to have these many subscribers. All of that will come because we are just having so much fun doing it. And it keeps us current and it keeps us writing and it keeps us being quick. And yeah, so it's called stop it and you go to stop it show. So it's like youtube.com backslash stop at show. And we're there. There's a bunch up there. Right now I'm taking a break so we can focus on. This is made by we'll be back again with some new ones. So send us topics because we'll definitely hit the topics and we'll give you a special shout out to

Alex Ferrari 51:34
it's a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun. And I remember I called you and I yelled at you, Julie Why aren't you on YouTube? Yeah, like what is YouTube? No, she didn't say that. No.

Jill-Michele Meleán 51:44
I was like, I am so bad.

Alex Ferrari 51:47
I just started yelling like, stop it. You need to do this stop it. You got to do it on YouTube. Why aren't you making millions of dollars on YouTube right

Jill-Michele Meleán 51:53
now? And there's so silly like I we shouldn't with our iPhones, they're so silly and I we just have fun doing them. They're great.

Alex Ferrari 52:00
So um, can you can you talk about what are some of the obstacles you believe artists with throwing on front of their own path when they're trying to create because I think that's something that a lot of people listening would kind of get some benefits from. Because I feel like we we sabotage ourselves as artists, so many times, and we throw obstacles in front of ourselves so many times when there's enough in the real world, as opposed to just throwing your own stuff on. What do you think are some of those things? And how do you overcome some of those things?

Jill-Michele Meleán 52:28
It's amazing that you're asking this question, because I was just having this conversation today, this morning. And I think the biggest obstacle is looking at the final goal. And if you're looking at, let's say, for an actor you're looking at, I'm gonna win an Oscar for you know, Best Actress. That's where you can you fall flat on your face. Because if you're not getting there quick enough, you'll fall into depression, you'll fall into all these things, you won't take projects that are, you know, projects that you believe in, in love, you'll take projects that have the money and the fame attached to it, and you kind of get lost. And then it doesn't happen and people quit. I think that's where people quit. But if you and I'll give a very clear example of even the film that we're doing right now, because it's current in my life, and I talk about things that are current, so but like for this as Meg, it's like, yes, we would love distribution, yes, all these things, but then I have to stop myself and go, Okay, stop. Let's just make a great film. Every time we're on set, let's Be the best we can be in that moment. And that's going to translate and then from there, once we have it in the can, then we go okay, now from there we go. festival circuits, blah, blah, blah. And then from there, everything steps. And if you can detach yourself from the final thing, and just stay very present, and try to do the best you can in that moment. The other stuff will come you've already declared it. It will come but if you lose focus on what you're actually doing, it looks like you're trying too hard. When you get the final thing I've done that with stand up. I've had showcases where they're like we went three minutes and that's really hard for us. Danna that does an hour on the road. Three minutes, like what what am I gonna talk about? I'm gonna breathe and it's gonna be over. What do you mean? Um, I think you'll give us your best three minutes. And I try so hard to like, showcase what a sick my sitcom would be in that three minutes and it comes off sterile. And I went, why didn't I just talk about my my family for three minutes. And if I stayed on one subject about my dog, and my niece and nephew, it would have been so much more passionate and solid, and they would have heard my voice and I would have been in the moment, and who cares if they know what I do, or my dad or wherever I just talked about my dog for three minutes and boom, and I'm out and that would have been wonderful. But we get caught up so much and trying to think what other people want That we lose our passion and what we really want to say so I think that's I think that's my my biggest thing and I and look I'm giving the advice and I have to take it every day I have to remind myself of because I think that's where true happiness exists is actually being in the moment and doing the best that you can possibly in that moment.

Alex Ferrari 55:22
So with that said, I'd like to bring up the jack Mr. JACK. I'm gonna publicly This is an intervention. No more photos on Facebook, please keep it down. Keep it down to 20 a day. That's all I'm asking is 20 a day?

Jill-Michele Meleán 55:41
Fine. If you really do want to you

Alex Ferrari 55:44
know the funny The funny thing is if you guys go to our our crowdfunding campaign page, we have all the actors list that authors are going to be in it and Mr. JACK of course is in the movie, why wouldn't he be and he actually kills it. By the way this Cesar Chavez Mr. JACK, he, he's a pro. He's better than a lot of factors I've worked with in my life.

Jill-Michele Meleán 56:01
He hit his Mark. Mark, he doesn't

Alex Ferrari 56:05
complain. He's not Prima Donna, he just does his thing. And, and at the bottom, Mr. Jackson is part of that. And his credits are Julie's Facebook page,

Jill-Michele Meleán 56:16
which I'm very upset about because I had to change my banner on Facebook and a lot of my little icons to be this has made for for our campaign, and I'm like, I can't wait to put him back on once our campaign is over.

Alex Ferrari 56:31
Sure, there's, there's there's another conversation to be had later on here. Anyway. Um, so what is the craziest story that you can share? from the road?

Jill-Michele Meleán 56:41
from the road? Yeah, cuz

Alex Ferrari 56:45
I've been on the road a little bit, just slightly with some big comics. And I have I have a book. So

Jill-Michele Meleán 56:52
I'm gonna say this one just because again, I again, this is Maggie's, in my life right now. So I have to talk about it. There's a actor that's going to be playing a Booker in. In this is Megan His name is Carlos, Oscar. And Carlos Oscar and I. He was the first person that kind of took me under his wing. When I started doing stand up. And I opened for him on the road for close to a couple years. Um, he's one of he's such a great comic him and Carlos, I was Rocky. I learned everything from there. They're storytellers. And they're just I would sit in the back and watch them. Until this day, I would watch both of them every single time because that's how brilliant they are. You know, there's some comics you're like, Hey, I know their stuff and you walk out. But they're they're so great at storytelling that I watch. And Carlos and I. So cars is playing the Booker, so you'll love it. But I'm Carlos and I were on the road together and a limo picked us up. And because we were doing all these big theaters and everything, and this limo picks up and outcomes. I swear to you pee at MP PAMP. Our PAMP he had a purple pimp suit on No Where was it? What's

Alex Ferrari 58:06
it? What's it?

Jill-Michele Meleán 58:07
Oh my god, I forgot where we were. It had to be. It was one of those small towns because they wanted forgot what where were we? I think it was like Modesto. I think it was Modesto? Yeah. And Modesto. Really? Okay, I'm talking pimp. Okay, we showed up. And this guy purple pimp suit with the feather in his hat and everything. gold teeth. All right. comes up to us. puts us in this limo. We're like what is happening? This stretch crazy looking limo and poked his head and said, you guys, I just want to tell you something more car. You need anything. Anything you need. You just ask me okay? You need unique Chris style. I'll get it for you. You need some weed? aka hook that up. You need some weed? I doubt it. Okay, in fact, I got some weed on me right now. Do you guys want to smoke in the car? And we're like, no, no. Okay, well just anything you need. We got it. Okay. Oh, my. And we got we got to the theater that evening. And there was no water there was only cristalle Yes.

Alex Ferrari 59:19
Because apparently that's what they think comics from LA drink.

Jill-Michele Meleán 59:22
Oh, I think so. I can we like we can't drink and do a show. Like I'm thinking like, I would be like wasted there's no way

Alex Ferrari 59:32
the show's gonna really suck.

Jill-Michele Meleán 59:36
Totally. But it was that was we'd still talk about it to this day. You watch them Wade

Alex Ferrari 59:43
straight up. Pamp like, you know, wow, I yeah, like and then what did he own the limo or was he just what was he? He was the Booker. Oh, he was the Booker. So for the audience, the Booker are the people who actually book the comics on the road like you know the book. Come on shows and Things like that. So he was the Booker the pimp was the Booker. a pimp

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:00:03
was an angel who knows if he was a real pimp, but he dressed like one. Wow, it was hilarious. There's so many so many crazy stories, we'll have to do another podcast. just crazy stories from the road. Oh my god experiences that I had. I've lived many lives.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:22
That I could definitely see that. So I'm asked the same three questions of our same two questions of every guest that comes on. So what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether that be in life or in the business?

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:00:36
Wow, this is very Oprah.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:38
Very Oprah. If you were a tree, what kind of tree which and I'm joking.

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:00:43
We repeat it again.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:45
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the business or in life,

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:00:52
I would have to say balance. Because without good we can't recognize something bad and without bad, we can't recognize something good. And to embrace the both is the biggest lesson to be learned to be polished to be had to be everything. And if you can balance that and that takes every day balancing it, whether it's your whatever meditation you want that to be, whether it's sitting in silence, or going for a run, or you know, I don't know, whatever, whatever makes you happy dancing to your favorite song. It's centering yourself constantly, and not getting thrown with the seesaw of life. And I think that is the biggest lesson I've learned. And I'm still learning and I'm still walking through that and I'm embracing the bad because then I go something goods around the corner. So that's it.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:53
And what are your three favorite films of all time?

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:01:57
three favorite films. Oh my god of all time if you just pick three that you really like, Oh, you guys are gonna hate me. They're gonna be I don't know what they're crazy. They're I'm I'm insane. This is okay. Um, I love mommy dearest. I love my mommy dearest. I love Sunset Boulevard. Wow. And then I say Blazing Saddles.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:25
Okay well Blazing Saddles is yes

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:02:29
there's my personality for you okay, right there. Mommy dear. Blazing Saddles.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:36
So are you ready for your close up? Geez

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:02:42
Hey Madeline Kahn is got to be one of my all time favorites. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:46
wow. When when you're not doing something wet on set, can I just bring out the coat hanger? Is that is that what I should do now? Is that that the way it were? I didn't know what if I needed something to get you to the place I guess now I know. Just bring out a coat hanger.

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:03:01
I'm a gay man at heart to all gay men love mommy dearest thoughts.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:05
Apparently. So everybody knows too. I actually have two aliases that I use on movies like this which will they will be making their appearance because it gets kind of crazy when you see the credits and it's just the same dude's name again and again and again. So and I bring this up because you love Blazing Saddles. My colorist on this movie will be Mongo Wilder. And nice and my my post production supervisor slash online editor will be jalapeno humperdinck Yes, both of them have IMD bees oh my god if you'd look them up anybody wants to look those up? They are real. These are my aliases for and they have many credits by the way so funny so sometimes they they made appearances on films I didn't want to have my name on but anyway so Julie where can people find you?

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:04:06
Um You can find me on all social media it's Julie online g i ll y online and that's even my website Julie online calm and yeah I'm pretty active Snapchat I'm not there yet as active I need to get a little bit more but it's like silly you know it's like I always been a goofball on it. But I love my I love my LG and then you know Facebook is always really a nice like, you know more I feel like it's a little bit more intimate because you actually can come you know can have conversation with people but my Twitter is Julie on line also everything

Alex Ferrari 1:04:42
You have a you have a lot of Twitter followers?

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:04:46
I do. And apparently a lot of them are foreign. So

Alex Ferrari 1:04:51
You're like huge in Morocco. Morocco. I thank you for The bottom my heart not only for being on the podcast but joining me on the Crazy Train that is this is Meg so thank you so much for being on the show and and and doing and and helping me create well for us to create our first feature film together

Jill-Michele Meleán 1:05:14

Alex Ferrari 1:05:16
I hope you guys can see why I decided to cast Miss Meleán in this is Meg and make her my star because she is a star without question in my eyes and it's now my job as a director to make sure the rest of the world can see the same thing I do in this is Meg so I hope you guys enjoyed that very entertaining and very funny interview with Miss Jill. So if you guys do want to contribute to this as Meg head over to thisismeg.com and that will be our CD spark campaign where you can contribute anything from five bucks to $2 million. Whatever you guys want to contribute it really helps us out a lot. So hope you guys learned a lot about what we're doing. And as we move forward in this process of making the movie, we will be giving a small little taste of it in the podcast. But to get full access you'll be able to go to indie film syndicate comm and sign up for our monthly membership that doesn't just give you access to the micro budget masterclass, which shows you how we're making this is Meg all the way from soup to nuts. But also over 40 hours of online courses. You get access to our community, as well as new courses added every month new videos added all the time. So you can kind of just take your film education up to another level. So indie film syndicate comm check it out. And of course don't forget to head over to free film book calm that's free film book calm to download your free filmmaking audio book from audible. So guys, we're in the homestretch. I will talk to you guys next week. And we'll have probably one last podcast before the end of the campaign. So again, if you guys can support us at least share our content. email your friends, post it on your walls, on your Twitter or Facebook. Just get the word out. Really, really appreciate it. So keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 079: From Micro Budget to Million Dollar Budget Films with Christian Sesma

Many indie filmmakers dream of going from micro-budget to million dollar budget films. Well, my friends in this week’s episode I’ve got a guy who not only did exactly that but also had fun doing it. Christian Sesma is an indie film writer/director based in Palm Spring, CA. I’ve known Christian for probably over 10 years now and I’ve watched him grow from a small $15,000 horror film (On Bloody Sundayto his latest action blood fest Vigilante Diaries starring Paul Sloan, Michael Madsen, Michael Jai White, Jason Mewes and UFC legend Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.

CHRISTIAN SESMA, Vigilante Diaries, On Bloody Sunday, Shoot the Hero, filmmaking,
Vigilante Diaries will hit select theaters and be available on iTunes on June 24, 2016.

Jason Mewes of CLERKS and JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK stars as an in-your-face filmmaker known for his web videos of an urban avenger known only as ‘The Vigilante’ (Paul Sloan). But when The Vigilante terminates a creep with deep connections, it’ll trigger a live-feed bloodbath between the Armenian mob, Mexican cartels, a rogue team of Special Forces commandos, and an international black ops conspiracy that’s about to make things very personal. UFC legend Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Michael Jai White (BLACK DYNAMITE), Jaqueline Lord (MERCENARY FOR JUSTICE), WWE star Sal ‘Chavo’ Guerrero, Jr., James Russo (DJANGO UNCHAINED) and Michael Madsen (THE HATEFUL EIGHT) co-star in this explosive throwback packed with badass swagger, hardcore firepower and bone-crunching action.

I wanted to pick his brain and share his unique journey with the IFH Tribe. Enjoy this one, it’s a blast!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 5:36
So this episode is a fun fun episode, man. I wanted to bring Christian on for a while, and I finally got him locked down to do the interview with us and Christian, it goes back with me, God, probably about 10 years. He was a big fan of our of my film broken and a lot of stuff he was doing at the time. So we kind of were kindred spirits in that way. And Christian's gone on to be a very successful director in his own right. He has directed he started off with like, I think it was a $10,000 budget horror movie. And now he's in the millions of dollar action movies that he's doing internationally, shooting all over the world. It's kind of crazy. And the story of how he did it coming out of Palm Springs, California, which if many of you don't know, Palm Springs is probably about a couple hours outside of if not farther out of LA. So it's pretty much not la by any stretch of the imagination. So he kind of did it on his own in a small town, not a not not a film town. And he's worked with some amazing talent, and he's done some crazy, crazy action and horror movies. And it's pretty inspiring to hear his story. So I wanted to bring him on the show so you guys can get an idea of how he did it. So without further ado, here's my interview with Christian Sesma.

I like to welcome to the show Christian Sesma. How you doing brother?

Christian Sesma 6:59
What's up Ferrari?

Alex Ferrari 7:00
How you doing, man?

Christian Sesma 7:01

Alex Ferrari 7:02
So Christian and I go back

Christian Sesma 7:04
Way way back.

Alex Ferrari 7:05
Yeah, like at least eight years

Christian Sesma 7:09
Mega fan from the from the red princes. booze days.

Alex Ferrari 7:12
Yeah, back then

Christian Sesma 7:13
From the beginning from like the beginning beginning.

Alex Ferrari 7:15
Yeah, back in the day. So it's at least at least five six years ago. And say like 2007 Yeah, around there. Yeah, so that's Yeah, it's a while. That's definitely like, Oh,

Christian Sesma 7:25
I know why I know how I came across your stuff. Like I was looking to do like, Vf like how to do VFX and came across this guy's dope.

Alex Ferrari 7:34
You did the broken. You saw broken stuff. Yeah,

Christian Sesma 7:36
It's like, Yo, this dude's on point.

Alex Ferrari 7:38
I appreciate

Christian Sesma 7:39
Yeah, no, that's what happened. I was doing a tiny tiny little horror thing. And all we needed was just like a few muzzle flashes like friggin VFX one

Alex Ferrari 7:50
Ohh no you type in the word muzzle flash in Google we pop up somewhere I'm sure total even today I think we still do

Christian Sesma 7:56
Yeah, totally so that's how it happened. I was like man this guy's from the same like you're doing it from the same kind of camp that like you know, film school that I'm from which is just go and do it. Right? The Rodriguez camp

Alex Ferrari 8:09
So yeah so so Christian and I known each other for a few years and I've been watching Christians career flourish on a Facebook some always fake it's it's I always see it and I kind of see his movies as he goes through and I'm always you know, we tweet and you know, like each other. It's great man, congrats, all that kind of stuff. So I wanted to bring him on the show because Christian kind of came you know, he's one of those filmmakers that did not get anything handed to him. He kind of like, Oh, you kind of did it from the bootstrapped himself up and I know a little bit about the show. Yeah, I knew a little bit about the story. So I wanted to kind of get into it a little bit, but first and foremost. So what made you want to become a filmmaker? Because originally you were a restaurant tour?

Christian Sesma 8:54
Like, I mean, literally, my story goes like this. I think I've said so many times. It's so crazy. It's like, I mean, I was always always always a film buff, right? I mean, since frickin Day Zero. I mean, I grew up I'm an 80s kid. So I grew up on everything. That was everything like freakin indie Star Wars freaking

Alex Ferrari 9:13
Yeah, of course everything the best decade the best decade of all time.

Christian Sesma 9:17
I mean, that's kind of like I mean, I was just always in the movie theater, TV, all that stuff. And then anyways, like I went off to college, you know, whatever. And it was supposed to, I got my degree in anthropology from San Diego State. And you know, I went into to teach and you know, anthropology is a lot of writing. So I got into writing and creative writing and all that kind of crap. But I was always I put myself through college and the restaurant business because you know, my family had a restaurant or has a restaurant in Palm Springs and all that stuff. And so after college, like I came back home, which is Palm Springs, and we were supposed to franchise this place out and all this stuff like, you know, like a Chipotle type style, you know, and that summer Like I'd only been home like two months dude in my appendix ruptures oh that's yeah true story appendix ruptures and end up in the hospital bed for a month oh it was really bad I was like it's one of those like no joke It was really really close I mean it was like an actual near death experience got it like no kidding but on the hospital bed I read Robert Rodriguez his 10 minute film school

Alex Ferrari 10:25
Oh yeah the the Rebel Without a crew

Christian Sesma 10:28
Well it was Rebel Without a crew but then there was also like DVDs yeah I think it was online they had like transcripts of like the little things that he would do like the behind the scenes stuff like on like you know spy kid stuff and all those yummy

Alex Ferrari 10:40
Oh yeah there's tons of stuff like that

Christian Sesma 10:41
Yeah all those other things like I somehow I came across all that and I was already a fan of the whole you know Tarantino Rodriguez camp of the bait band apart posse and Dude, I don't know it was just one of those things where I was like super inspired. And I was like, man, I set myself a goal I was like a year from now when I get out of this hospital bed I'm gonna make a short film. And you know because I was right I knew how to write you know cuz I did creative writing and things like that. So man, no kidding. Like a gear to the day I picked up like a shitty little Sony Handycam like the tiny like $500 kind of buy I mean nothing It was like nothing I you

Alex Ferrari 11:27
No, the technology was a little different back then too.

Christian Sesma 11:31
I picked up a tiny camera. It was like a tiny like a literally like in desktop editing software and, and I picked up a copy of pulp fiction, American Beauty and some other screenplays just so I could teach myself the structure of screenplay writing and I made this short film man and it like it got into the film festival here at Palm Springs and they have a kind of Big Film Fest do they do so they had a big Short Film Festival here too? And I got into that for I don't know what how that happened some friggin miracle by some miracle I got it and and it just kind of snowballed after that man I just was like man this is what I was meant to do and want to do and discover my passion for this I was like well I think I have a knack for that you know and ever since it's really just been a friggin trial by fire learning as I go process

Alex Ferrari 12:22
So I can describe it so Robert is a big influence on you.

Christian Sesma 12:27
I would say the single most influenced of it was that and then when I saw Kill Bill I was already a huge Pulp Fiction fan right so for me at the time because I guess that just came out and is I just was picking up a camera dude. I mean teaching myself how to do this and I that one was a huge inspiration to was like wait you can do whatever the F you want to do? Like it was like Kill Bill was one of those movies like hey, you can do whatever you want to do

Alex Ferrari 12:53
You know what the you know the movie was for me and I look back and now it's a fun movie. But the concept was like that you can do whatever you want to do was once upon a time in Mexico. Yeah, that was the one I saw him like doing stuff and I had been a big fan. I mean mariachi came out when I was in high school. So I was working at the video store so I was I followed Roberts career since like, I mean, I saw mariachi in the theater like I mean back I go back with Robert so I studied all this stuff but that was the movie that was kind of just finally I said hey, you could do this and that's when I picked up the the mini DV and shot broke and so we kind of come from the same influences only mini DV little cameras yeah the dv x 100 A which was badass back in the day, man that was that was the camera. So you shot a movie called on Bloody Sunday.

Christian Sesma 13:41
Now Yeah, that was I did a movie a feature before that was my first full length feature which was I did I did two short films. And then I did and then I was like, man, I better step up because every everybody was like man, you better make a show you better make a feature you better make a feature. So again, you know i using all the you know, knowing everybody here in Palm Springs and all that stuff. I made a movie called 630 was like, we made it for like 10,000 bucks. It was like borrowing money from like my dad and my aunt the usual story. Sure, sure.

Alex Ferrari 14:11
Credit cards, right? Yeah,

Christian Sesma 14:12
The whole shabang. Did that and that got bought by a little company called Westlake, but doodoo got put out everywhere like blockbuster fries.

Alex Ferrari 14:20
It was a different time. It was a different time. Yeah,

Christian Sesma 14:22
It was before the DVD bubble burst. Yeah, yeah. And, and so right after that. I did a little movie called Bloody Sunday. And then Warner's home put that out.

Alex Ferrari 14:31
But now with the unbloody. Sunday you have the one big thing that a lot of indie filmmakers don't understand is that you had a star in it. And and from the Robert camp, a big Robert star, which is Danny Trejo. Yeah, so how did you get Danny Trejo on such a small budget? What was the budget on on Bloody Sunday? I believe it was 100,000 bucks. Okay, so you boosted that up? So how and how did you get that 100,000 bucks at the army asking like no,

Christian Sesma 14:55
It was like I had kind of made a little splash here in the in again in your own hometown now and there was just you know local money guys that you know wanting to maybe invest in making a movie this that you know one guy was like well you know you know a kind of financier guy was like well you know i want to maybe look into different stuff and I was like hey man for you know we just did this little 630 movie for nothing you know with like 75 G's 100 G's we can make something cool at a time like horror was selling like crazy and we teamed up with another distributor that somehow I gotten in you know whatever with and it was and they had an output deal with Warner Home and it just was like a really you know again this was like the third time ever picked up a camera type shit you know right right it's like I always said that for me man my film school is like on shelves so it's like it's been and like you said me You said it it's like it's been like that process it's never it's been very unapologetic it's been like making mistakes publicly. It's been I which I think is like it's again it's unapologetic, but it's also like it prepares you for like what's to come because if you can't handle like the internet you can't handle

Alex Ferrari 16:14
Oh brother Listen man when when I came out with with broken man I I got I was it was awesome but at the time because I got so much love and then I got a Roger Ebert quote and the haters came out the hate bye bye they were buying haterade by the by the pallet

Christian Sesma 16:34
And that's before the term haterade even happened

Alex Ferrari 16:37
Oh no that was and that was before trolling like troll trolls warning

Christian Sesma 16:42
People do it for fun

Alex Ferrari 16:44
Yeah but back I mean, so it was brutal, brutal and filmmakers in general and film buffs are even more brutal than general we're weird

Christian Sesma 16:52
Douchebags man

Alex Ferrari 16:54
Look at the port Ghostbusters trailer

Christian Sesma 16:56
Dude you know it's funny like the first one I was like okay the new one I'm like it's better like I don't know you just it What is your stand here like your fucking was sacred ground now so you're never gonna

Alex Ferrari 17:08
You know look I just saw it again and I just saw I just watched a show a screen junkie show that talked like they did a 10 minute talk about this and I had it listening in the background I'm like this is ridiculous like this is like this is ridiculous but with that said I did see both trailers and and now we're gonna go off topic guys for a second I did see the trip that we're just gonna geek out for a second. I did see the trailers and my opinion is look they look what it looks like. It'll be like a fun it's not a Ghostbusters movie. No in my eyes It's just another comedy another Paul fake comment but the way they brought this back it shows like there's no respect for the original and with something so hot This is hallowed ground so because it did not like there's so many ways you could have brought like like how for instance like creed world did it right Jurassic World did it right they kept going back exactly what Jurassic Park was right and they kept referring back to it and that one thing like I just saw the new trailer today and they're like oh When did you know it? is are there ghosts? Is it real? I'm like seriously like you're in New York. We went through this 20 years ago. Yeah, totally right. You know like at least that's the kind of way you kind of reboot something like this and as you have to pay respect to the original original material and that's what Marvel's doing so well. That's what Star Wars did insanely well. I mean whether you like the move you're not at least they paid respect to move on

Christian Sesma 18:36
Seven times in the theater.

Alex Ferrari 18:38
I saw your Facebook did I know.

Christian Sesma 18:41
It's also because like my little what she's like she was total Star Wars geek too. She's like, what are we doing today? Oh my gosh, Star Wars. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 18:47
Okay, let's go. It's a constant loop now at the house. I'm assuming it's pretty it's a lot. But anyway, so let's digress out of we digressed through our Ghostbusters geek doc. But can you can you discuss a little bit of how important a bankable star is when you're looking for distribution? I'm because I'm imagining Danny Trejo helped a lot on Bloody Sunday. Yeah,

Christian Sesma 19:13
I mean, at the time at the time, that's what happened. I mean, there was no they needed one somebody recognizable at the time and that and I said and I think at the time that was 2007 when I did that. It was still a different it was even still a different landscape than it is today. Which is even tougher, you know, like now

Alex Ferrari 19:32
Danny, Danny on $100,000 movie might not do the same because because Danny does a lot of movies now.

Christian Sesma 19:38
He does a lot of movies and you know now again, what's funny is Danny in the new movie you have coming out next month. Like I call them up I'm like dude, do you want to just do some for fun? Like I said, we've done a lot now together which is cool. And you know it you still again nowadays unless you have a ginormous star, you need a whole bunch of Name actors you need

Alex Ferrari 20:01
A sound ensemble and he's like a part of an ensemble he's a good ensemble actor Yes, absolutely not gonna carry a movie all

Christian Sesma 20:07
You know nowadays man without a bankable name, you can't even for at least the genre that I'm doing which is action action comedy stuff like that action stuff. You can't even get a movie made without it. You just can't nobody's gonna finance it, you know?

Alex Ferrari 20:21
Right and it's just because there's just too much competition.

Christian Sesma 20:24
Yeah, it's just it's just the games you know, it sucks because I would love to just go in and pick the best actor for the job, which is just not the case anymore. Now it's like who's the most bankable actor for the job?

Alex Ferrari 20:35
Who's gonna sell who's gonna sell Europe? Who's gonna sell it Japan?

Christian Sesma 20:38
Literally what it is I mean literally, I just did I supposed to do something in June and I written this thing and they approve the treatment I wrote it pay for it and all of a sudden they get to like where this is way too ethnic. I was like, why you can't make this the bad guy Japanese guy I'm like yeah, but the heroes Japanese guy. No, no, no, it's not gonna sell in Japan. No, you gotta you gotta like make the thugs like very just generic you can't give him a specific ethnicity I was like, This is dumb.

Alex Ferrari 21:06
Yeah, but I mean and the kind of I mean, you're making genre movies so you love genre? I'm a big fan of genre I mean a lot of basically my entire career so far up to this date has been very genre based as well. Um, but at a certain point you're an artist. Yes, you want to express yourself as an artist and dealing with all this kind of stuff sometimes I imagine has to be a pain in the ass

Christian Sesma 21:30
It's the most it's one of the most frustrating parts of it you know, but it's like you know me and my you know my guys and because I have worked with a pretty tight knit team and we're just always like well what are we going to do? Are we going to play the game? Or are we going to like not play the game you know and so I've always been one it's just like if I'm going to change the game I gotta I gotta try to do it from the inside out. You know I've never been one to really think that the game changes from the outside in you know, I think you kind of have to infiltrate and then change it from the inside kind of like you know, as a natural process I think you know, and

Alex Ferrari 22:01
Kind of like what what well, like Robert did with Desperado he came in like, do you know that before? Desperado there had not been a female co star Latina in like 40 years in Hollywood movie. Before Salma that's crazy, isn't it?

Christian Sesma 22:21
That's crazy.

Alex Ferrari 22:22
Now you think about a like oh, there's Latinas every I mean look at Fast and Furious I mean come on it's it's it's a whole different world now but that's just the way it was and he did it that way he like completely got in the back door and yeah, and did his thing and same thing with Quentin Quentin Did you know whatever he wanted to do? You make money they let you do a lot of stuff.

Christian Sesma 22:41
No Exactly. You got it you show him You can do it you know and again then all of a sudden you're your genius and you did something new right exactly. We're really you're just like I don't know I just did what I wanted to do.

Alex Ferrari 22:51
Exactly exactly. And that's what some of the things I preach all the time is like just just nobody wants another Robert Rodriguez nobody wants another Quinn Tarantino because they're already there. They want another Christian they want another Alex they want another john doe for sure you know what I mean as opposed to trying to you know rip off somebody else's then you can be inspired because we're all inspired by everything Sure.

Christian Sesma 23:13
I mean all those guys are inspired by it Yeah, I mean

Alex Ferrari 23:15
Jesus that mean quitting Hello?

Christian Sesma 23:18
He's the most verbal of the wall

Alex Ferrari 23:19
Exactly. So after after on Sunday on Bloody Sunday, you did a movie called shoot the hero which is kind of where I met you first kind of real movie yeah right with Jason and Danny How was the production of that and then and how to sell and when you sold it How did that go?

Christian Sesma 23:34
Yeah, that was like the first time like ever had any kind of real cash and that the budget on that was like I mean real cash like for an indie you know, like you had hundreds of 1000s right so we had like 400 G's for that and at the time that was you know, it's a lot for me. And you know, that was just one of those things where it just got put together because a casting director I knew that was dealing with kind of brought up Jason and I was obviously a ginormous j fan sure of course and I like wet would be awesome if we made Jay this kind of weird geeky dark guy not you know not like you know nuge nuge who I'm a huge news fan you know but you know just make them kind of play anti what he's usually done and then pit them against you know, the bad guy was Danny tre it was it again it was a very kind of weird action comedy and I was really inspired by movies like the big hit and things like that where it's really like tongue in cheek and fun type of thing and you know, like you know, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and more and more like gross point blank was really like shoot here was my like, gross point blank and the big hit baby you know, kind of this that kind of fun fun thing. But yeah,

Alex Ferrari 24:47
And then selling it and then selling it do you how involved are you in the selling process of this? Are you just basically a gun for hire?

Christian Sesma 24:53
Oh, no, no, these are like, these are things I put together and I'm a producer on Okay, okay. So like yeah, so With these for for most of the projects I'm always write write direct and produce and none of the producing side i mean you know the physical line producers will do their stuff but you know when it comes to kind of getting talent involved in sales and all that stuff or raising financing I'm pretty heavily involved in that now and especially that but shoot to hear it was definitely one of those things and you know, we sold it to shoreline at the time and then they put it out I mean it was it was cool minute you know, it was like the first kind of nice little VOD release and it was on Showtime for like two years

Alex Ferrari 25:31
Now real quick how did you get it to your district like I'm trying to break it down so people can understand the process

Christian Sesma 25:36
Basically we shopped it around with a you know with a sales rep

Alex Ferrari 25:41
Okay pretty sure ive got it

Christian Sesma 25:44
Yeah, and you know, they landed like they landed the distributors for it and they kind of you know, they take it from there and you know without getting into the crazy dynamics of what that is how those splits go and all that stuff and the percentages and things like that I mean, you just hope that you know you can come out break even and you know if you're breaking even on a movie you want the truth I mean on an indie movie I mean we're not talking like you know 10 poles but then the movie if you break even or make a little bit of money You did well

Alex Ferrari 26:16
You're very like you're 98% ahead of everybody else

Christian Sesma 26:19
Right! Yeah, exactly. So you know shoot the hero was kind of was kind of that and you know I'm talking man it's just they did they did okay with it. I think you know, cable cable was pretty cool with it. And then again it and it happened in 2009 different different landscape again, different landscape. Again, Netflix was barely coming out. like Netflix was still transitioning from like, the actual Netflix like delivery DVD to the house. You know, to now like streaming, you know, streaming hadn't hadn't hit yet. You know, and VOD was being like the only VOD was just like Time Warner Cable and rec TV, things like just those, you know, that was pretty kind of new ish. So, you know, again, where they get this landscape just keeps changing.

Alex Ferrari 27:08
Now what you've worked with a bunch of different personalities and actors and all of your movies, some of them I'm imagining, you know, the big macho dudes and stuff like that. How do you handle you know, dealing with egos, personalities, you know, onset, like any tips that you can give you, you know, filmmakers who are going to deal with, you know, seasoned actors, or specifically egos and stuff like that. I'm not saying that any of you guys are egomaniac? I'm just saying,

Christian Sesma 27:35
I believe me. I've worked with Amy like, you know, just like on this last thing. For instance, we had Michael Jai white, Mike Madsen, and Danny Trejo all in the scene and if you went by just kind of the rumors of like oh my god, you know, this is gonna be like a bunch egomaniacs on set that's not I think it really i mean if my advice to like any filmmakers is like look, the tone of the movie comes from you you're the captain you know you're the general You're the one who they're going to look up to and say and these guys these these seasoned veterans who have been on 100 million dollar sets are gonna step on your indie and go Alright, am I here wasting my time? Or does this person actually have a vision Do they know what they want? You know am I wasting my time I am I respected you know that kind of thing so I've never had a problem with that ever, ever ever. I think just because you know I respect I was already I was always a mega fan of these guys already, you know, but I don't fanboy out I just was like dude, this is awesome. They know they know I'm a fan and it's like hey, we're gonna do something for me you know we're gonna do my thing here you know? So I think setting the tone as the as the captain of the ship is crucial

Alex Ferrari 28:49
Right and then it basically if if you don't do something like that or show disrespect or don't act like you don't know what you're doing then that other side of these actors might absolutely run right over they'll destroy you

Christian Sesma 29:02
Right they will destroy you public like right there for everyone. So again, I've not had that I've not had that sure. Oh, but you know I've heard stories you know and I guess it's just not my style you know, it's like we always really have a really really good time

Alex Ferrari 29:17
Right! Yeah cuz I've had I mean I've worked with a lot of you know actors as well and and it's true like I've never had an issue either

Christian Sesma 29:25
Because you're just a regular regular cat like we're just regular dudes that like movies you know, you know you have these other guys that are doing it maybe for not the same reason. Right? That you know, guys that actually love movies do and I think that these seasoned veterans ultimately come when it comes down to it they are actual actors you know, they do it for the love they still maybe they might have forgotten sometimes like may have been have maybe it's been a while since they've been on a set where people who actually love making movies, you know, just the business of it, but when they do, it's really refreshing for them. I found you know,

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

Christian Sesma 30:11
Now the security of it, you know,

Alex Ferrari 30:14
Now this last, the latest move you're doing is vigilante diaries, right? Yeah, vigilante diaries. Yep. Now that's the biggest movie you've ever done.

Christian Sesma 30:21
I don't know between that and night crew.

Alex Ferrari 30:23
Okay. Budget wise.

Christian Sesma 30:25
Yeah, I'd say those are two they're pretty big. I mean, I wouldn't say pretty big. I just

Alex Ferrari 30:29
For you. I mean, if you're still indie, you're still

Christian Sesma 30:32
Totally indie. Yeah, totally. 100%.

Alex Ferrari 30:35
Now vigilante diaries started off as a show, right?

Christian Sesma 30:38
Dude, man, what a crazy journey and it's funny. I just got an email today of the release and all that stuff. So that comes out June 24. In in limited theaters, and VOD and then like blu ray,

Alex Ferrari 30:51
But yeah, but then I see on Facebook like the whole Russian Premier that thing like yeah, so like year ago, right?

Christian Sesma 30:58
Here's what happened long so I'm gonna try to sum it up for the indie film hustle. Yes. between jobs just like I am right like between gigs we were like fuck, man, we gotta work like we got to do something right? Like we gotta we gotta do something. So me and a buddy of mine who is the CO writer and creator Paul Sloane, who is the actual vigilante we go man, let's, let's um, let's do like a web series. Again, a different landscape from time to time on web servers. We're really doing a lot you know, like um, so let's do a web series and we'll well basically that the inspiration was to do a Punisher type web series because we're such punishable you know

Alex Ferrari 31:41
And you'd like to I'm assuming on the side note you do like a new graphic now with it that's that's the he's the best Punisher ever go ahead of all time. Let's move on

Christian Sesma 31:49
Saying the Punisher so we make this crazy like web series and it was ended the time it was financed by my buddies over at they had it was called chill, calm. Chill, calm was like this. They were doing like it was like a startup. And they were doing kind of like the crowdfunding style, right? But they stay actually it wasn't they, they put up the cash for it. So they gave us cash to make two episodes. And we did a whole big old thing like Comic Con, and it was Jason muse. And he was my buddy Paul. And we did this we did 212 minute episodes of this stuff, right? And machinima, put it out as kind of like this little premiere and kind of got it out there saying, hey, and that the style was like, if people liked it, they they buy into it like a crowdfunding style. And we've used that money to make more, right. But you know, they gave us the initial startup cash. But that company, that kind of idea, fizzled out, and whatever happened, and we deal with that debt footage was just floating out in the ether forever. And then a year later, we had just finished in Premiere night crew, which is, do I die for that thing to come out? and producer buddy of mine, and his financier guy was like, Hey, dude, don't you still have 20 minutes of the original vigilante diaries web series floating around? We're like, yeah, like, do you want to turn that into a feature? If you already have 20 minutes, then we only had to find an hour, right?

Alex Ferrari 33:26
You're kidding me.

Christian Sesma 33:28
And we were like, Alright, we're born again. In between projects. And between the two projects, we made the web series. Then we went off to make I made a movie called Night crew, and then a movie called a wall. And then again, in between movies. These guys were like, you want to go make this really quick? We're like, Yeah, I know. We've always been on the thing. Like Don't say no to anything unless it's like jump john. us. Yeah. Like if it's us, like when there was like no money and they're like, we'll give you a couple 100 grand, we're like, Alright, let's go do it. And we did and we made the feature which was the original vigilante diaries. And people loved it and it was funny like people dug it a lot and they were like, we're going to finance a sequel right off the bat because at one time a distributor wanted both. Okay, and so we wrote a sequel we did this and we went off to shoot this in Armenia. Okay, so we went off and shot Armenia, we shot London, we shot Scotland and make this thing really big, like a Mission Impossible style flick. Right? All right, get back to the States, and the rest of the funding drops out. And we're like, oh, shit, what are we gonna do with all this like, amazing footage, right? And it was just dead. It was dead and we're like, holy crap. And then I was like, why don't we just make this into one giant indie film? You know, like, I have not, I have not seen anything like that before, right? So another financier came in and gave us another you know chunk of cash to finish this off and shoot a new beginning shoot a new ending incorporate all this footage that we had shot overseas and stuff and so man we did that and it now has become the definitive vigilante diaries which is this crazy Kill Bill meets Mission Impossible mashup genre flick that's it's crazy it's the crate like I've for me It's nuts dude

Alex Ferrari 35:33
So true so two questions one How was it shooting in Armenia amazing Tell me like tell me how it goes what the process is because I've never shot there

Christian Sesma 35:44
Right so the the Riyadh nobody had we were like the first like big quote unquote big like a real American production never stepped foot there and shoot anything and it was because of the main bad guy in the movie Armando Shani on like he's a really really famous Armenian actor that he American Armenian actor. And his parents are very famous actors there and you know, our financier was Armenian. And they were like, it was just like, yo, let's go back to freakin Palm Springs and shoot they were like, let's go back to the old country. We can take over the capital city and like have the run to the city. And Dude, that's what it was. I mean, we took over the city for two weeks and like, car chases tunnels gunfights I mean, explain we just it was big man really, really big. And we and on a dime, you know, really on a on a real dime. And you know, we did it and you know, we came back with this really cool international feeling indie film, which you know, you as we all know, that don't get that doesn't happen doesn't happen. It does not happen, you know, and so, you know, and so now, Anchor Bay is putting it out and HBO is putting that out in the fall and things like that. So you know, I'm really excited for people see, it's really it's pretty nutty. It's a nutty, nutty film.

Alex Ferrari 37:05
And how was the Russian premiere? That thing looked right?

Christian Sesma 37:09
Yeah, it was it was in Armenia. So again, because we come from that indie School of like, no money. What we did is we wrote this opera scene where the main bad it's very, it was very like Roan. inish, ever the ice skating scene and running. So we basically did that kind of idea where the main bad guy arrives because he's kind of like the main bad guys is huge mobster in Armenia. And he's loved by the, by the public, kind of like a robin hood style. And he arrives and so what we did is we actually premiered the original movie and used it as a backdrop for this for the movie. So that actual stuff that the the arrival and all that stuff, we shot it for the movie of the arrival of the bad guy coming in, right? So we use it, we doubled it. We had massive crowds, and it was and we use the and we kind of just shot different locations. crazy,

Alex Ferrari 38:05
Man. Yeah, it's very indie hustle.

Christian Sesma 38:08
Totally, totally. We're like, we need a whole bunch of crowd and we got to make it look like he's entering this huge Opera House. Cool. We'll double it for the the premiere. What else you're going to get everybody in suits and tuxes? You know,

Alex Ferrari 38:21
Right. Exactly. Exactly. So cool cars. So can you give any Can you give us any tips on how you negotiate with talent agents to secure your actors?

Christian Sesma 38:33
Who has a tough one?

Alex Ferrari 38:35
Without getting yourself in trouble?

Christian Sesma 38:36
No. Luckily, like I think it's really negotiating with talent is I've always found the best way is to be just brutally honest, you know, because they've heard it all. You're not going to bullshit agents. They've heard it all. They you know, they feed off of everybody's fear. You know, Yes, they do. Like it's their sharks, man. They are sharks, they smell blood in the water, they're gonna go for it. So you better be as transparent as possible. Like right off the bat. You know, I found that to be so I've just been like, hey, so and so. You know, I need a favor. You know, believe me when when I call Danny's agent. She goes,

Alex Ferrari 39:10
Ah, it's frickin Christian again,

Christian Sesma 39:14
All the time. But you know, we always work it out. But every single time she goes because Danny's agent is Jason's agent to Oh, is it? I didn't know that. Okay, same person, same. She and she's great. She's adult.

Alex Ferrari 39:25
Yeah. And I've heard she's wonderful. I've heard many people have worked with Danny and so yes,

Christian Sesma 39:29
And the reality is she's she believed in me since I'm Bloody Sunday to be honest with you. She gave me a shot there and let me use Danny, you know, and we've developed this relationship over the years, you know, and, you know, and then I have something in the fall that we'll we'll share with Danny again, you know, hopefully it's not one that's going to go fine. How

Alex Ferrari 39:46
Old is the Danny Danny has to be 155 Is he really think he's like something like that. But I mean, he's, he's timeless. He looks amazing.

Christian Sesma 39:56
Throw it on. Like he's Clint Eastwood style

Alex Ferrari 39:58
I like but I'm like when he was Desperado he looked old so I was like, but like old in a good way you know what I mean? Yeah, absolutely it's so so what if you could say one thing that you've learned during your career that they don't teach in film school? What would that be?

Christian Sesma 40:17
There I think the biggest thing that is really man that they teach in film school that is not true is that there's not any rules of this game you know, I think they they teach you that there's this there's this way in this way to skin the cat you know, and you get out to the real world and there is no friggin one way to skin this cat and you know once you kind of pierce the veil of Hollywood nobody kind of knows anything really you know you're everybody is it's it's really the Wild West I found first everybody is trying to do the same thing at every level they're trying to raise financing they're trying to get actors to say yes, they try to make a good movie. And it kind of is as simple as that and you know I think the power struggle comes from everybody believing that it's one way to do it and it's really not it's kind of like you get it done the way you get it done. You know, I found that to be true on my end, you know,

Alex Ferrari 41:09
I would agree I would agree with you and I'm

Christian Sesma 41:11
Saying it's like they'll they'll make you believe that you got to get it done this way. Just so you can play their game but when you play your own game and be like hey dude, I'm gonna get it done the way I get it done. You always end up at the same spot anyways,

Alex Ferrari 41:24
Well that's the thing like we that whole story you just told me about vigilante diaries like if you would have done it the way they've done it they would do have you do it yeah would have cost you $20 million. Totally if not more.

Christian Sesma 41:35
There's no if I would have shopped around that script there it's important nobody would have ever made it right just would seem they're like this is too gigantic. We can't make it for under X amount of dollars. And we just were like I don't know we're just gonna say yes to everything and just go you know, again, just being fearless and like you say like, isn't that the indie hustle vibe it's like you're gonna figure it out? You know?

Alex Ferrari 41:57
Just kind of get out there and also just keep creating Yes, keep creating don't sit around for five years after you make one movie and hope somebody has to sit

Christian Sesma 42:08
Around for a day cuz that's all I've been doing.

Alex Ferrari 42:11
Like you've earned a day sir. Watch your movies do maybe a day but no, like sit around after you make a movie for five years waiting for the phone to ring. Exactly. That's

Christian Sesma 42:19
You can't do that now in this town. Not anywhere in town and like not in this landscape anymore.

Alex Ferrari 42:25
You know? To me there's too much

Christian Sesma 42:28
Competition. It's just dude. Yeah, no, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 42:32
So what advice would you give a filmmaker just starting out today in today's landscape?

Christian Sesma 42:37
Man Oh, just literally the cheesy friggin Nike advice you know pick up a camera and just start making a movie

Alex Ferrari 42:45
Now you can really

Christian Sesma 42:47
Yeah it's it's if it was easy when I did it it's even easier now you know and it's like it's man editing saw everything is easier.

Alex Ferrari 42:57
I mean you could you could pick up your iPhone like tangerine and shoot right and shoot a feature now in Sundance now again Mind you, you have a good story stories always helpful.

Christian Sesma 43:08
I mean, you know it all starts there but I mean if you're talking about equipment which is always a pain in the ass you know gear and stuff like that

Alex Ferrari 43:15
Here's cheaper than ever

Christian Sesma 43:16
Man. Totally

Alex Ferrari 43:18
High quality 4k like slrs man

Christian Sesma 43:21
Guess you can totally do it's never it's never been easier to shoot a real good looking movie professional quality you know then now

Alex Ferrari 43:31
No, absolutely and it's only going to get easier and easier and easier as I get

Christian Sesma 43:35
And then and that's just to make a movie now mind you, like we're talking about selling and making money and all that stuff that's kind of that's it that's in a whole different bracket but you start off with the basic which is just getting your feet wet and and making a movie

Alex Ferrari 43:48
Just keep making content making films do whatever you can eventually someone's gonna take notice. Yes, absolutely. Because in all honesty, though, there's there might be a lot of people making movies but there's not a lot of people making two and three and four and five movies like there's a lot of one timers and a lot of I almost got out of the gate and oh, I just got one movie distributed to you but the dude that does two or three or four or five and let alone makes a little money within or breaks even with them. That's a rare it is it's very very rare. So I got last three questions. I asked all my all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn in the business or out?

Christian Sesma 44:34
Oh, good. I think the lesson is I think I think me personally, what I always struggle with is the fear that nothing's going to happen again. Right? Yeah, it's like you do one and then you're you forget, you get fear. That's not going to happen again. You know, it's like I've been here a lot of times now and i think i think there's a you know, with are getting a little hokey or whatever there is something to be said about having some faith in the process and faith in yourself and you know maybe faith and you know

Alex Ferrari 45:08
The power the powers that be

Christian Sesma 45:11
Before the movie Gods you know like and i think i mean dude I struggle with that constantly it's like after every movie you're like man what's next you know, but I think the work will always kind of carry through so I think the lesson that it's been it's been the hardest is to is to have some has a faith that the next one will come if I work for it, you know?

Alex Ferrari 45:32
Very good very good lesson. Now what are your three favorite films of all time? no particular order

Christian Sesma 45:38
Aliens. Good James Cameron aliens so hard won the new

Alex Ferrari 45:46
Ghostbusters obviously the new the new Catwoman Catwoman the new Ghostbusters, Batman vs. Superman.

Christian Sesma 45:58
I actually love that movie.

Alex Ferrari 45:59
Did you like it? I haven't seen it yet. I've seen it a lot.

Christian Sesma 46:02
I am see I'm like watching a lot too. And I love watching. See, watch? For me. I thought it's the same thing. Anyways, uh, Empire Strikes Back. Okay. Um, and Geez, depending on the day, I mean, something new, like, you know, Gladiator or some of the classics, you know, I mean, I love so many movies at the top three. I mean, aliens Empire.

Alex Ferrari 46:30
I felt like I fluctuate between, you know, Blade Runner, fight clubs, Shawshank. You could just keep going, the list keeps going and go

Christian Sesma 46:39
And I'm like, what would be a third? I'm glad that I'm thinking like gladiators

Alex Ferrari 46:42
Up there to love. It's like Braveheart. You know, by far, you know, we're

Christian Sesma 46:47
Just kind of like, game changes, you know, like, God day.

Alex Ferrari 46:50
Yeah. I remember when I saw blade runner for the first time. I was like,

Christian Sesma 46:55
Yeah, dude. It's just like, damn. Yeah, I mean, you talk about it never been done before. Like, everybody's Copy that.

Alex Ferrari 47:02
Oh, God. I mean, I use Siri. I mean, everybody in their mothers copy that movie. And continue to copy it. Only though. I was working with a director years ago, like probably like four or five years ago. He music huge music video director, like a huge, like a big, big big music video director like MTV award winner. I mean, the big thing, right? And I'm sitting there coloring something for him. And I'm like, yeah, I'm gonna make this look a little like Blade Runner esque. And he goes, What's that? Whoa. And I'm like, What? I literally stopped. And I'm like, Are you kidding me? You're a music video director and you haven't seen Blade Runner? Like serious? Everybody who's listening to this? Please stop stop the podcasts. Go and watch Blade Runner right now. Right now just stop what you're doing watch Blade Runner. You just trust me

Christian Sesma 47:52
I just saw it again just maybe like a month ago

Alex Ferrari 47:55
It's just so amazing. It's like so every every every angle is a painting. It is every good angle and how he and how he was able to to get it done in the system is fascinating. Yeah, it's anyway I digress. But anyway, so where can people find you man?

Christian Sesma 48:16
Every on social media I mean Facebook, Instagram Twitter I'm at at sesqui on Instagram at sesker is my Twitter and my Instagram for sure.

Alex Ferrari 48:26
Okay, and you have a website too Don't you? Yeah, but that's true

Christian Sesma 48:29
Man I've been I mean as douchebag as it sounds it's so not updated like I haven't had a chance to update with new reels and all that crap so it's like super old it's like three years old

Alex Ferrari 48:40
Yeah, I was going I went there today I was gonna mention something man but

Christian Sesma 48:45
Like when am I gonna do it and then you have some downtime you're like should I start doing it and I update this now i don't know that i have to cut a reel you know when it cuts into my like blade runners Netflix time you know, I know it's a toss up, you know life

Alex Ferrari 49:02
Priorities change.

Christian Sesma 49:05
Now I just send trailers over here. Check out the trailer.

Alex Ferrari 49:08
Oh, yeah, you don't need to cut a real man. I don't I don't cut reels anymore. I just like here. Just go to my website. Here's my there's plenty. Yeah, plenty of stuff that you could say so man, thank you so much for taking out the time man. I appreciate it.

Christian Sesma 49:20
We'll be rocking the indie film hustle with you brother.

Alex Ferrari 49:22
Thanks, man. Man I love having Cristian on the show man. He's He's a trip and it's really inspiring to see how he's been able to do what he's done. So definitely gives us all all US indie film hustlers out there. Great inspiration to move forward and it can be done boys and girls it can be done. So if you want to check out any of any of the things we talked about on the show and want to check out where a Christian is, all his links will be in the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/079 Oh, and also don't forget to head over to freefilmbook.com that's freefilmbook.com. Download your free indie film book. There's over 16,000 books you can download from Audible, and you can get your copy for free. So free film book calm. And of course, as always, if you're interested in taking your film education, up a notch, head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash film school, and you can check out all the courses for every topic you can imagine from screenwriting production, social media marketing, film distribution, and we have Oscar nominated instructors, as well as like the screenwriter from Fight Club telling you how to do his thing Paul Castro doing his course on the million dollar screenplay. We've got so many amazing courses there for you guys so definitely check it out indiefilmhustle.com/filmschool as always guys, thank you so so much for listening. Thank you for all the amazing a well wishes on this is Meg you guys have been sending me messages and emails like crazy and I really appreciate all the great vibes good good energy you're sending our way and I hope that my journey can help you guys on your journey as being filmmakers because I'm going through it just like you are I'm trying I'm hustling just like you guys are. So hopefully my journey will help you guys get to where you want to be. So thanks again for all the love guys I really appreciate and I know we've got an indie film hustle tribe here the tribe is here to support each other to make their dreams and their films come true. So as always, keep the hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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