The Original Dirk Diggler & The Early Films of Paul Thomas Anderson

I can remember when a young director by the name Paul Thomas Anderson released a remarkably good film called Boogie Nights back in 1997. The film was kind of a small bomb going off in the film industry.

Anderson made by far the best feature film about the groove porn business of the 1970s. Anderson was able to take extremely sleazy topic and elevate it to high art with his brilliant direction, camerawork and amazing performances.

Click below to read the screenplay for Boogie Nights and watch some of his early films, including the original Boogie Nights, his short The Dirk Diggler Story, as well as Cigarettes and Coffee, his hard to find short film.

Anderson is infamous for dropping out of NYU film school after two weeks. Here’s why:

My filmmaking education consisted of finding out what filmmakers I liked were watching, then seeing those films. I learned the technical stuff from books and mags, and with the new technology you can watch entire movies accompanied by commentary from the director. You can learn more from John Sturge’s audio track on the Bad Day at Black Rock Laserdisc than you can in 4 years of film school. Film school is a complete con, because the information is there if you want it.

The Dirk Diggler Story  wonderful mockumentary short film shot in 1988 and written and directed by one of the best working directors alive, Paul Thomas Anderson. It tracks the rise and fall of the fictitious Dirk Diggler, a very well-endowed porn actor. The character is based on legendary porn star John Holmes.

Download and Read Paul Thomas Anderson’s Screenplay Collection in PDF


The Original Dirk Diggler

Anderson’s first work is admittedly lo-fi, filming on videotape partly out of necessity, but also because of the inherent video aesthetic of both the documentary and pornography formats.  Anderson’s penchant for constantly moving the camera is already evident in THE DIRK DIGGLER STORY, seeing him utilize both handheld and Steadicam-based camera moves that roam the space and adjust the composition mid-record to lend a degree of immediacy and realism.

The documentary footage is interspersed with staged still photographs and taped interviews with the characters, further riffing on the style ofTHIS IS SPINAL TAP.

Because the year was 1988 and computer-based nonlinear editing suites had yet to become commonplace, (and editing video on a flatbed Steenbeck was impractical), Anderson had to edit THE DIRK DIGGLER STORY using the archaic, terminally frustrating VCR to VCR method.

The bane of many a young filmmaker’s existence in the 90’s, the method consisted of tediously syncing up a desired take on one VCR, recording it to a blank VHS tape on the second deck, hitting pause and then finding the next chronological shot from the original footage.  Any mistake meant you had to rewind the tape to just before the error and start over again.

It was a horrible process that also completely destroyed the quality of the footage, in addition to probably discouraging a significant number of would-be directors from pursuing the profession.

Several of Anderson’s defining thematic conceits make their first appearance in THE DIRK DIGGLER STORY, like a constantly-moving camera and the presence of an omniscient narrator (best employed in 1999’s MAGNOLIA), who here is voiced by Anderson’s father, Ernie.  What really strikes me about the DIRK DIGGLER STORY is the presence of a palpable family dynamic amongst this group of pornographers.

The family angle would later be played to a more substantial degree in BOOGIE NIGHTS, but already we get the sense that Anderson has a genuine love for these characters, like they’re a part of his own family.  They depend on each other, they need each other, they are not complete without each other.

At a very core level, Anderson’s films are about people trying to find their place in a family unit, and those who actively turn away from the embrace of family are met with tragedies like accidental death (Dirk Diggler in this film), murder/suicide (William H. Macy in BOOGIE NIGHTS), or abandonment (Daniel Day-Lewis in 2007’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD).

As an early draft of BOOGIE NIGHTSTHE DIRK DIGGLER STORY story is already interesting on its own merits, but what makes it even more compelling from my standpoint is how fully-formed Anderson’s filmmaking voice already seems.  The fact that this short follows BOOGIE NIGHTS’ general plot progression shows how long Anderson had spent developing the idea while conveying his gift for interesting, unique stories.

Despite being shot on shoddy video, the film has a certain polish that places it above what 99% of aspiring, pre-film-school directors are capable of.  There’s not a lot of directors that most can say were born to be a filmmaker, but in the case of Anderson, it’s a notion that’s nearly impossible to deny.


CIGARETTES & COFFEE (1993)

When it was time for director Paul Thomas Anderson to go to college, he naturally went the film school route, like so many other would-be directors did before him.  He was admitted to Boston’s Emerson College as an English major, lasting for 2 semesters (it seems like all the prominent Emersonians are actually dropouts).  Unsatisfied with his education there, he enrolled in NYU’s film school, and he was there all of two days before he decided that the institution of film school in general held no benefit for him.

Instead, he decided to make a short that would serve as his “film school”, so to speak.  He scraped together funding with $10,000 his father, Ernie Anderson, had squirreled away for college tuitions, and supplemented that with some gambling winnings and his girlfriend’s credit card.  Once funding was complete, he worked with producer Wendy Weidman to secure a desert diner location for a weekend of shooting, as well as a camera package donation from Panavision.

This one weekend soon ballooned into a much longer shoot as production issues and on-the-job training caused no shortage of hiccups for the burgeoning director.  The final result was CIGARETTES & COFFEE (1993), a weaving narrative about three sets of characters connected together by a single twenty dollar bill.  The film debuted to an incredibly warm reception at the 1993 Sundance Festival, effectively kickstarting Anderson’s directing career into high gear.

In a diner in the middle of the desert, a variety of transient souls come and go, on their way to destinations unknown.  In this particular moment, at this particular diner, several of the patrons are unknowingly connected to each other by a twenty dollar bill that has passed between them.  In one booth, an elderly man (Philip Baker Hall) has met his squirrely younger friend (Kirk Baxter), who reveals that he’s discovered his wife to be cheating on him with his best friend, and he fears it might be too late to stop the hit he’s ordered on them both.

Two booths over, a newlywed couple in the middle of their honeymoon are quarreling over the wife’s loss of a significant amount of the husband’s money at a casino gambling table. Outside the diner, a mysterious lone man has arrived and conducts a mysterious conversation in a phone booth.  The twenty dollar bill unifies the characters in some kind of cosmic conspiracy, all tied together by the time-honored ritual of brutally honest conversation over cigarettes and coffee.

Anderson’s deep knowledge of film history and obscure character actors is highly evident in CIGARETTES & COFFEE.  The piece is anchored by Philip Baker Hall, a venerated performer who has since become a key player in Anderson’s repertory. His calm, collected delivery grounds the film and sets the tone just so.  Getting Hall on board was something of a coup for Anderson, who approached him on the set of a CBS TV movie that the two were on together (Baker as an actor, Anderson as a lowly production assistant).

Anderson gave Baker the script to the short, and Baker was generous enough to take a gamble on this unruly, untested young director.  Anderson also recruited the help of Kirk Baltz, who had previously made a name for himself as the unfortunate cop Marvin Nash in Quentin Tarantino’s RESERVOIR DOGS a year earlier.

  Additionally, Baltz acted as a producer and was instrumental in getting the film made.  Scott Coffey and Miguel Ferrer round out the cast, with everyone turning in fine performances that make Anderson’s direction look confident and competent, considering this is his first real time at bat.

Anderson has made a name for himself with his precise, classical approach to composition and camera movement. Unconcerned with modern, trendy techniques like “shaky cam” or rapid-fire editing, he takes his cues from the revered directors of yesteryear.  CIGARETTES & COFFEE is the first evidence of this aesthetic, lensed by cinematographers Vincent Baldino and David Phillips.

  Shot on handsome color film, the short is a far cry from the washed-out analog video of THE DIRK DIGGLER STORY (1988).  At least, I think it is—the only copy available to view is sourced from a rather degraded VHS tape, and I have no idea if a pristine transfer is out there somewhere.

The first thing I noticed about CIGARETTES & COFFEE’s visual presentation is somewhat of an abstract, intangible thing—but there is such precision to Anderson’s compositions in the piece.  Every shot is thoroughly considered, telling the most amount of story with minimal force.  This is echoed in his camerawork, which glides on dollies and Steadicam rigs fluidly and flawlessly.  Like his peer Tarantino, Anderson uses punchy insert shots sparingly, using them as bold punctuation rather than detailed cutaways.

Furthermore, there’s a distinct California vibe here, despite the story itself possibly being set in Nevada.  Having lived his entire life in the state, Anderson’s work examines the nature and psychology of California more so than any other contemporary director.  Almost of all of his work is set in California—specifically the San Fernando Valley where he was born—and explores the weird and wonderful characters that inhabit it.

This part of his style is better realized in his features, but CIGARETTES & COFFEE has elements of California-ca (?) in its dusty diner setting, beat up muscle cars and sunshade-wearing mystery men.

The early period of Anderson’s career was heavily influenced by Robert Altman.  Both men made ensemble films that followed a variety of colorful characters instead of a traditional plot with a singular protagonist.  While these characters initially seem very disconnected from each other and thrust into a sprawling narrative, Anderson pulls the various story threads tighter together to form a coherent mosaic centered around a singular theme or idea.

In CIGARETTES & COFFEE, we have three separate sets of characters who, on their face, are completely uninvolved in each other’s affairs.  However, they are each united by a particular twenty dollar bill that has passed between them.  Possession of this bill brings different fortunes to different owners—some lose everything, some gain only a little, and for some, it’s simply a routine business transaction.

CIGARETTES & COFFEE is undoubtedly the work that launched Anderson’s career.  Its selection into the Sundance Film Festival’s shorts program brought him to the attention of the industry’s best and brightest.  The Sundance Institute even invited him to develop the short into a feature at their directing labs, a program that also helped Tarantino launch his first feature.

In the labs, Anderson got a film education much more valuable than the one he sought and failed to find from Emerson College and New York University.  In Park City, Utah, he learned from the best and honed his skills—all while developing his first full-length feature he liked to call SYDNEY, but we’d come to know as HARD EIGHT (1996).

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Quentin Tarantino Screenplays (Download)

What can be said about Quentin Tarantino the screenwriter that hasn’t been said before? QT has, easily, one of the most unique and singular voice in the history of cinema. You may love him or hate him but you will remember him. Reading his screenplays is a masterclass in dialog, structure, and rhythm.

When you are done reading take a listen to iTunes #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast. Listen to some sample episodes below.

Also check out: Quentin Tarantino’s Micro-Budget First Feature Film: My Best Friend’s Birthday

NATURAL BORN KILLERS (1990)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

TRUE ROMANCE (1992)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

RESERVOIR DOGS (1992)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

PULP FICTION (1994)

**Won the Oscar** Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

FOUR ROOMS (1995)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, A. Anders, A. Rockwell – Read the screenplay!

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

JACKIE BROWN (1997)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

KILL BILL VOLUME 1 (2003)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay! 

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KILL BILL VOLUME 2 (2004)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

GRINDHOUSE: DEATH PROOF (2007)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)

**Won the Oscar** Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

THE HATEFUL EIGHT (2015)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – Read the screenplay!

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (2019)

Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino – COMING SOON

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Martin Scorsese Masterclass: Learn Directing from the Master

Martin Scorsese Masterclass: Learn Directing from the Master

Martin Scorsese drew his first storyboard when he was eight. Today he’s a legendary director whose films—from Mean Streets to The Wolf of Wall Street—have shaped movie history. In his first-ever online class, the Oscar winner teaches his approach to filmmaking, from storytelling to editing to working with actors. He deconstructs films and breaks down his craft, changing how you make—and watch—movies.

Click below to watch the trailer and pre-enroll in his class:

You can ENROLL in the course now to this game-changing filmmaking course. Click here to gain access


Martin Scorsese Masterclass: Learn Directing from the Master

  • Martin Scorsese teaches you directing, filmmaking, and storytelling across 20+ video lessons.
  • Interactive exercises
  • A  downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.
  • Lifetime access, with classes that never expires
  • Learning materials and workbooks
  • Accessible from any device
  • Watch, listen, and learn as Martin Scorsese Masterclass teaches his most comprehensive film directing class ever.
  • Office Hours: Upload work to get feedback from the class. Martin Scorsese will also critique select student work.

Click here to gain access

If this class is anything like past masterclass’ you are in for a treat.

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Martin Scorsese Teaches Us All

Known for movies depicting the harsh realities of American life and careful filmmaking style, renowned director and producer Martin Charles Scorsese was born on the 1st of November 1942, in Flushing New York.

He was raised by his Italian-American parents in the Little Italy district of Manhattan which is fondly remembered by him as a village in Sicily. Both of his parents Charles and Catherine worked part-time as actors and had a hand in setting the stage for their son at an early age.

Scorsese’s childhood activities were quite limited due to his severe case of asthma, and rather than playing sports his older brother, would take him to a movie theater or he would spend most of his time in front of the television.

This was the age when his love for cinema developed and gradually turned into his passion. He loved stories about Italian experiences and was especially besotted with the work of Michael Powell. At the age of eight years, he was already drawing his own storyboards and got seriously interested in filmmaking.

Although he was raised in a catholic environment and for a while also weighed the idea of entering priesthood before he decided to pursue filmmaking.

Scorsese knew that he was headed down the right path when he earned $500 scholarship to New York University with his 10-min comedy short.

Martin Scorsese attended the Tisch School of the Arts of New York University doing his B.A in English 1964 and M.F.A films in 1966. He made short films like What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1963) and It’s Not Just You, Murray! (1964). 

After completion of MFA, Scorsese worked as a film instructor briefly. In the year 1968, Scorsese made his first feature length film a black and white I Call First later retitled Who’s That Knocking at My Door? a close portrayal of life in the streets of Little Italy,with his fellow student actor Harvey Keitel and an editor Thelma Schoonmaker both of whom were to become part of his team for 40 years.

Another short film of note is The Big Shave. Watch below:

Mean Streets which was directed by Scorsese in 1973 was first of his films to be acknowledged and praised worldwide as a masterpiece.

Featuring the same characters from Who’s That Knocking at My Door?the film depicted the elements which had become the signature style of Scorsese’s films like unsympathetic lead characters, dark themes, the Mafia, religion and uncommon camera techniques combined with contemporary music.

Brian De Palma, who had introduced Scorsese to Robert De Niro, Mean Girls sparked the most dynamic filmmaking partnerships to have blossomed in Hollywood history.

Hard hitting films which aided in the redefinition of the generation of cinema were made by Scorsese in the 1970s and 1980s. Taxi Driver which is a realistic masterpiece of 1976 earned Scorsese the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival which fixed the status of De Niro as a living movie legend permanent.

Soon after Scorsese had made the documentary about this parents, Italianamerican (1974), he started on his first studio picture Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974).

An effective drama about a widow Alice (Ellen Burstyn) who sets off to California from Mexico, after the demise of her abusive husband and her teenaged son (Alfred Lutter). Ellen Burstyn won the Oscar for Best Actress which made a point about Scorsese disciplining his one of a kind talent.

After proving that a conventional film could come from him, Scorsese shocked the film viewers with Taxi Driver (1976) which was a cringing tour of a disturbed Vietnam veteran’s odd madness. Written by Paul Schrader and scored by Bernanrd Herrmann, it is a fascinating and horrifying watch.

De Niro gave a remarkable performance as Travis Bickle and Keitel did justice to his small but key role of the threatening and seductive pimp Sport, keeping the 12-year-old Iris (Jodie Foster) in slavery. Scorsese cast himself in a small cameo of a jealous husband.

It is known as the most disturbing and most controversial Oscar nominee for best picture till now. Taxi Driver won Oscar nominations for De Niro, Foster and Herrman. It was awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival and is considered to be the best work of Scorsese.

New York, New York (1977) was a rethought of the 1950s musical of Hollywood which was marked by its elaborate sets and unnatural lighting. It was made to look that way specially to arouse the triumphs of the past by George Cuker and Vincente Minnelli.


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Featuring De Niro as the cocky character of Jimmy Doyle who is a saxophone player working in a big band with lead singer is Francine Evans (Liza Minnelli).  Their love affair could not survive and this the self-destructive Jimmy drifts away from the domestic life and pregnant Francine.

De Niro performed very convincingly while Minelli was able to evoke her mother (Judy Garland) with staggering authority.  Though critical reviews were mixed, it was a commercial flop which later developed a cult following because of the obvious affection for Hollywood it depicted.

The 80s brought some really great films by Scorsese. In 1980, he made the brutal but brilliant Raging Bull which was a loose adaptation of Schrader and Mardik Martin about a former middleweight boxing champion Jake La Motta.

Scorsese made this violent biopic which he called a Kamikaze method filmmaking. It was voted the greatest movies of the 1980s receiving eight Oscar nominations which included Best Actor (for De Niro), Best Picture and Best Director.

De Niro won and Thelma Schoonmaker for editing. Raging Bull was filmed in high contrast black and white and this is where Scorsese’s style reached its peak.

Scorsese’s fifth collaboration with Robert De Niro was his next project, The King of Comedy (1983). Again De-Niro gave a very original performance as a stand-up comedian Rupert Pupkin.  It is a mockery of the media world and celebrities and how a loner character becomes famous through a criminal act.

Rupert practices a lot but has no talent that is why he fails and ends up kidnapping a late-night TV star Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) in exchange for a 10 minutes time on his show. Failing at the box office, it has become increasingly well acclaimed and regarded by the critics in the years since the release.

The German director Wim Wenders counts it amongst his 15 favorite films.

After Hours (1985) happened to be a small but an amusing diversion of its kind which was made by Scorsese in an underground filmmaking style. Featuring Griffin Dunne as a mild New York word processor who is in endangered because of some lunatics he comes across on a long strange night.

Michael Ballhaus was the cinematographer of this low budgeted film which was shot on location in SoHo neighborhood. It is a rather unusual depiction of what Scorsese could do if he only wanted his viewers to have fun.

Along with the music video for Michael Jackson’s Bad in 1986, Scorsese made The Color of Money which was a sequel to a much appreciated and loved The Hustler (1961) of Robert Rossen. The movie starred Paul Newman with Tom Cruise co-starring. It was Scorsese’s first official attempt in to mainstream filmmaking.

Fast Eddie (Newman) now retired, smells new talent in the pool shark Vincent Lauria (Cruise) and taking him under his wing, shares all of this knowledge. But they part ways and face each other at an Atlantic City tournament.

The Color of Money earned Paul Newman his Oscar and also offered Scorsese the power to finally secure his backing for a project which had been a goal for him for a long time: The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). 

The Last Temptation of Christ was based on Schrader’s adaptation of an epic 1960 novel by Nikos Kazantzakis. The novel narrated the self-doubts of Jesus as he carried out his mission and told about Christ more in human terms rather than divine.

Willem Dafoe was well-casted in the role of Jesus but few critics were not too thrilled with the rest of the unusual cast of Hershey as Mary, Harry Stanton as Paul and Keitel as Judas. Scorsese made a major comeback to personal filmmaking with this movie.

Prior to its release, it was a low budget independent movie but the uproar it caused with worldwide protests, it became a media sensation. The variation on the Gospels in the form of this movie earned Scorsese his second Oscar nomination.

New York story which had fashioned Scorsese’s reputation, was the basis of the fame of GoodFellas (1990). Adapted from non-fiction Wiseguy of Nicholas Pileggi, the story is about a small-time Brooklyn mobster Henry Hill. Scorsese displayed his incredible mastery of the medium in unexpected ways innovatively.



Roger Ebert named it the best mob movie ever. It is considered as Scorsese’s best achievement and was nominated for six Academy Awards. Joe Pesci won an Academy for Best Supporting Actor. Scorsese was nominated for Best Director.

Film won many awards which included a Silver Lion, five BAFTA Awards and more. GoodFellas was put on No.2 on American Film Institute’s list of top 10 gangster films after The Godfather.

Cape Fear (1991) the remake of a cult 1962 film of the same name, was a commercial success. It was Scorsese’s 7th collaboration with De Niro.

A stylized thriller, Nolte starred as a southern lawyer Sam Bowden whose family is being terrorized by ex-con Max Cady (De Niro) whom Sam had gotten jailed and now he was seeking revenge.

It received mixed reviews but grossed $80 million domestically and as Scorcese’s most commercially successful film until The Aviator (2004) and The Departed (2006).

The success of Cape Fear enabled Scorsese to get the big budget he desired for his version of Edith Wharton’s novel The Age of Innocence (1993). It was lovingly completed and subtly portrayed the upper crust of New York City in the late 19th century.

The plot is about an unconsummated love affair between a sensitive lawyer Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Countess Ellen (Michelle Pfeiffer). Highly applauded by critics upon the original release it did not do well on box office.

Casino (1995) was set in a 1970s tale of Las Vegas that marked the comeback of the GoodFellas talent team. It centered on a male whose peaceful and well-ordered life was upset by the arrival of unpredictable forces. De Niro and Pesci pairing had great chemistry, as seen in GoodFellas.

Having received mixed views from critics, Casino was quite a box office success. It’s excessive violence bought it the reputation of the most violent American gangster film to date. Film had incredible supporting performances. Best Actress Academy Award nomination was earned by Sharon Stone for her work in this film.

Return to a familiar territory, the director Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader manifested a pitch-black comic intake quite similar to Tax Driver in Bringing Out the Dead (1999). 

Starring Nicholas Cage as a New York paramedic who is about to crack under his stressful job, similar to earlier Scorsese-Schrader teamwork, the final scenes of spiritual restoration clearly were reminiscent of Robert Bresson films.

Among other cast were Ving Rhames, Tom Sizemore, John Goodman and Patricia Arquette. Receiving positive reviews generally, it did not gain much critical acclaim like former Scorsese films.

Gangs of New York was a project which Scorsese had been meaning to do since the late 1970s. With a production budget in excess of $100 million, it was the biggest and most conventional film to date.

It was set in the 19th century New York like The Age of Innocence but it centered on the other end of the social scale. Marking the first collaboration between Leonardo DiCaprio and Scorsese who later on became a must in Scorsese films. Starring as an Amsterdam Vallon he was seeking revenge for the murder of his father by Bill the Butcher (Day-Lewis who was like a godfather figure to the rowdy Five Points mob.

Gangs of New York got nominations for 10 Oscar awards which included nominations for Best Actor, Best Picture, and Best Director it also earned Scorsese his first Golden Globe for Best Director.

The Aviator (2004) was a lavish and large-scale biopic of a film mogul and eccentric aviation pioneer, Howard Hughes which again reunited DiCaprio and Scorsese. It was a lavish re-creation of the Hollywood of 1930s and 1940s.

DiCaprio gave the appropriately intense explanation of a man who was driven by his own passion, intellect as well as acute case of his obsessive-compulsive disorder. Receiving high appraise, The Aviator garnered 11 Oscar nominations as well as massive success at the box office with Academy Award recognition.

It was also nominated for six Golden Globe Awards which included Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay. It won Best Motion Picture-Drama, Best Actor. The film ended with five Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography.

The Departed (2006) was Scorsese’s return to the crime genre which was a Boston-set thriller and based on a Hong Kong police drama Infernal Affairs, 2002.

This film earned Scorsese his second Golden Globe for Critic’s Choice Award and for Best Director, first DGA Award and Academy Awards both for Best Motion Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Director.

It again starred DiCaprio along with Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg.  Matt Damon and DiCaprio starred as doubles living on opposite ends of the law. Colin (Damon) played the role of a Boson detective who was raised by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), a crime lord since childhood so he could become his mole.

And Billy (DiCaprio) was an undercover cop who was assigned with the dangerous task of getting into the organization of Frank Costello whose character was found on the psychopathic mastermind Boston mobster, Whitey Bulger. Being Scorsese’s biggest box-office hit after Shutter Island, Scorsese finally earned his Best Director Oscar for this.

Scorsese also directed a couple of musical documentaries. The concert film Shine a Light (2008) starring The Rolling Stones and No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005) was a wide survey of the iconic singer/songwriter.

It does not cover his entire career but focuses more of his impact on American pop industry, his beginnings, and his transformations. Scorsese earned an Emmy nomination and won a Peabody Award as well as a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Music Video.

2010 brought Shutter Island starring Leonardo DiCaprio the fourth time in a Scorsese film. The cast included Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo, Max von Sydow and Ben Kingsley which were first-timers with Scorsese.

Based on a novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane it starred DiCaprio as a U.S marshal who travels to search for a missing patient in a psychiatric facility deserted in the Boston Harbor. And soon the detective story becomes closer to a horror film. Film was a box office smash and became Scorsese’s highest grossing film.

The year 2011 brought Hugo which was based a novel The Invention of Hugo Carbet by Brian Selznick. Hugo was a 3D adventure drama film and the most expensive production of Scorsese. It started Chloe Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfied, Emily Mortimer, Jude Law, Ray Winstone and Christopher Lee.

The story is about a once celebrated filmmaker who runs a toy store Georges Melies (Kingsley) who has become bitter about the destruction of so much of his world and his niece and 12-year old orphan Hugo (Asa Butterfield) manages to bring him back to the world.

Meeting critical acclaim, Hugo was nominated for 11 Oscars and Scorsese won his third Golden Globe Award for Best Director. Nominated for 11 and winning five Academy Awards, Hugo also won two BAFTA awards.

Another of his musical documentaries, George Harrison: Living in the Material World (2011) won Scorsese an Emmy Award. The three and half hour documentary explored the life of former Beatle.

Branching out further into television, Scorsese executively produced the Boardwalk Empire (2010-14) which was an HBO drama series about gangsters in Atlantic City at Prohibition period. He also received an Emmy Award (2011) for directing the show’s first episode.

The too-real and somewhat harsh portrayal of New York City was Scorsese’s claim to fame initially. Returning to his familiar haunts of the Big Apple, Scorsese brought The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) which was a deterrent tale based on Jordan Belfort’s memoir making it into a biographic black comedy.

Marking the fifth collaboration with DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street starred DiCaprio as the stock trader Belfort who engages himself in a huge securities fraud case which involved corruption on Wall Street, manipulation of stock and the practice commonly called as “pump and dump” and the corporate banking world.

The screenplay was written by Terence Winter. Among the other cast included Jonah Hill and Mathew McConaughey. Belfort fell afoul of the rules and of course the law but not before training himself and his associates in immense wealth.

Leonardo DiCaprio won an award at the 2014 Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor- Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. The film also earned a nomination for the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.

The Wolf of Wall Street was nominated for five Academy Awards which included Best Picture, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill) and Best Adapted Screenplay for the work of Terence Winter.

Martin Scorsese received his 8th Oscar nomination for Best Director and the film also was nominated for Best Picture. Scorsese is to direct The Irishman which shall star Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. He has also informed that his long-planned biopic about Frank Sinatra shall be coming soon.

Scorsese’s next documentary will be about former president Bill Clinton for HBO. According to an announcement Scorsese will be directing a biopic on Mike Tyson which shall star Oscar-winning Jamie Foxx as Tyson.

The Scorsese List

The story I’m about to tell is any film students dream. Back in 2006, a young film student by the name of  Colin Levy met with Martin Scorsese after winning an NYC-based short film festival.

When Levy met with Scorsese the young film student had not yet had the privilege of watching some of Scorsese’s most celebrated masterpieces (including Taxi Driver and Goodfellas). Ever the film teacher Martin Scorsese gifted the young Levy with a magical list of foreign films he should watch. The list in itself is a film school.

Levy said,

“I labored over a thank-you card, in which I expressed the overwhelming impression I had gotten that I don’t know enough about anything. I especially don’t know enough about film history and foreign cinema. I asked if he had any suggestions for where to start.”

He received the following note from Martin Scorsese in response:

scorsese_foreign-film-list_blank
Courtesy of www.colinlevy.com

If you are a film student or cinema buff this is a remarkable list of films to watch. So what are you waiting for…get to watching. Professor Scorsese’s orders!

Filmography:

 2016 Vinyl (TV Series)
 2014 The 50 Year Argument (Documentary)
 2011 Hugo
 2010 Public Speaking (Documentary)
 2010 Boardwalk Empire (TV Series)
 2010 A Letter to Elia (Documentary)
 2008 Shine a Light (Documentary)
 2007 The Key to Reserva (Short)
 2006 The Departed
 2005 No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (TV Series documentary)
 2004 The Aviator
 2004 Lady by the Sea: The Statue of Liberty (TV Movie documentary)
 2003 The Blues (TV Series documentary)
 2001 The Neighborhood (Short)
 2001 The Concert for New York City (TV Special documentary) (segment “The Neighborhood”)
 2001 My Voyage to Italy (Documentary)
 1997 Kundun
 1995 Casino
 1991 Cape Fear
 1991 The King of Ads (Documentary)
 1990 Made in Milan (Short documentary)
 1990 Goodfellas
 1989 New York Stories (segment “Life Lessons”)
 1987 Michael Jackson: Bad (Video short)
 1986 Amazing Stories (TV Series)
 1985 After Hours
 1980 Raging Bull
 1978 The Last Waltz (Documentary)
 1976 Taxi Driver
 1974 Italianamerican (Documentary)
 1973 Mean Streets
 1970 Street Scenes (Documentary)
 1968 The Big Shave (Short)
 1966 New York City… Melting Point (Documentary)
 1959 Vesuvius VI (Short)

Martin Scorsese’s Favorite Films

Here is Martin Scorsese’s Top Ten list of greatest films of all time:

Martin Scorsese Film School – A Personal Journey Through American Movies Pt1

Martin Scorsese is a master craftsman in the art of cinema with an encyclopedic knowledge of Movies. It is a pleasure to hear his views on early American cinema where his love of the silver screen was awakened and “colored his dreams”. I am sure he could talk about cinema from any country in the world just as intelligently and passionately.


Martin Scorsese Film School – Director’s Dilemma – A Personal Journey Through American Movies Pt2


Martin Scorsese Film School – Storyteller – A Personal Journey Through American Movies Pt3

“The American film maker has always been more interested in making fiction than revealing reality.” Martin Scorsese


Martin Scorsese Film School – The Western – A Personal Journey Through American Movies Pt4

For the rest of videos in A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies click here.


 


BONUS: TOP TEN Online Filmmaking Courses


If you liked Martin Scorsese MasterClass: His Secrets & Directing Techniques take a listen to:
Stanley Kubrick – Breaking Down the Master’s Directing Style

STANLEY KUBRICK, indie film, filmmaking, indie film hustle, Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut, Lolita, The Killing, The Shinning


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

Right-click here to download the MP3

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!

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 095: How to Break-Through Your Fear & Shoot Your First Feature Film

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Fear, the one thing that stops most indie filmmakers from moving forward and following their dreams. Fear of shooting their first feature film, writing that screenplay, making that short film or just taking the first few steps towards their goals.

Fear has been a strange bedfellow of mine throughout my career. It has slowed and outright stopped my progress. It has taken many years of failures to finally realize I have nothing to fear. As they say:

“We stopped checking for monsters under the bed when we realized they were inside of us.” – Anonymous

Breaking through the Fear

I finally decided to “feel the fear and do it anyway“. Directing a full-blown feature film always seemed like this huge, monstrous mountain I had to climb. It was like going to hike Mt. Everest when I never even climb a mountain before.

Then I figured out that a feature film didn’t have to be a “huge, monstrous mountain” and that many filmmakers started off shooting smaller films before climbing Mt. Everest. Chris Nolan shot The Following before he made Memento and then The Dark Knight Trilogy.

In that spirit, I ventured off into uncharted territory with the making of my first feature film This is Meg.

In this podcast, I discuss what fear does to artists, writers and filmmakers and how you can break-through and make their first feature film. Enjoy.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So guys, I've been thinking a lot about now distribution and festivals. And it's been a minute since I've been submitting my films to film festivals. I have been in a ton of festivals over my career, but I have never been with a feature film that I've directed at least. And I haven't done it in recent years. So I started reaching out to certain people and trying to, you know, figure out that the landscape a little bit more and you know, just get as informed as I can. And I don't do this very often. But there's a past guest that was on the show Sebastian toward his he was in Episode 75. What does it really take to make it in Hollywood? And it was a great episode, definitely check it out in the show notes. Sebastian is from circus Road Films. And he's a producer's rep. And I I've talked to him a lot. And I've actually done a lot of research and spoken to a lot of filmmakers who've worked with him. And I've seen his results. And I like I said before, I don't do this very often. But if you guys have a feature film out there, that you do want to get into film festivals, you want to try to get distribution, you know you it wouldn't hurt you to just at least talk to Sebastian, and see if there's anything he can do for you. Maybe he can guide you in the right way or not. And you know, I would definitely reach out to him, I'm going to put a link to his his direct email in the show notes. The show notes for this show will be indie film, hustle comm forward slash zero 95. And again, guys, just just talk to him. If you have a feature film, it wouldn't hurt to just at least get a consultation or just talk with him a little bit and see if if you have a viable product for the marketplace. So I hope that helps you guys out. Because believe me, I'm now going on the same journey that you guys are on trying to get this as MC sold, get it into festivals, get distribution, or possibly do self distribution, it all depends. I'm going to do a whole episode on our distribution plan coming up in the months to come. But and also, by the way, an update on this as Meg because I know I've been getting a lot of messages, emails and tweets about where I am on the process of this as Meg and we are at a locked cut. Believe it or not, we've locked the cut. It is a very funny movie, I think. And we've had multiple test screenings. And we are now in the audio process, getting our audio done and getting our score created for the film and then I'm going to be color grading during that process to get it ready for our Sundance submission because as you know, it is the law. We all have to submit to Sundance no matter what no I'm joking. For anybody victim series, it is not the law. But for God's sakes, more than likely it's a lottery ticket. You're going to have to submit, so just might as well just get it over with, and submit. So we're throwing our hat in the ring and see what happens. But anyway, so that's what we are. And this is Meg, thank you guys so much. I'm going to be putting more updates out as we continue going through that process. And I've learned so much about, about everything, making this movie. And I'm going to share as much of that as I can with you guys on the podcast, and to the members of the indie film Syndicate, which will get a detailed breakdown of how we made this crazy little film so quickly. So today's topic, guys is one of the greatest little Gremlins, goblins demons that us artists have to deal with, and specifically as filmmakers, as well. And that is fear, and fear and what it represents to us and how fear stops us from moving forward as artists. And as filmmakers, and I'm going to tell you something fear has been a, a horrible concubine of mine. For many years, she has been, she has been with me, since the very beginning, she still with me today. And I think every artist, no matter how big they might get, fear is always there. But it's about how you handle your fear, how you deal with your fear and what it does for you. Because fear can be the biggest ally you have in the creative process in moving your career forward. As a filmmaker, as a screenwriter, as an artist, fear is not to be feared, if you will. I was I was definitely afraid of making a feature film for many years, because I wanted to make sure everything was great. I wanted to make sure that I had the right camera that I had the right cast, that I had the right film, and project and script that I could to get noticed to get the big boys the gods on Mount Hollywood to take notice of me or on the on the gods of Mount Sundance, or Toronto or con to take notice of my work. And that fear paralyzed me for many years. And I would you know, and I think something that we do, as filmmakers we kind of, we lie to ourselves constantly, like oh, well, you know, I'm not gonna be able to do this, because, you know, I don't I didn't have that guy, I don't have this part, or I don't have that part. And a lot of times, it's just excuse that all those excuses are just hiding your fear of actually creating something, putting yourself out there and doing something because failure, which is one of the biggest fears a lot of us have, the fear of failure is something that in all honesty should be embraced. You cannot grow as a filmmaker or as an artist. Unless you fail, you learn so much more from your failures than you ever will from your successes. And the only way you can get to those successes is by failing and failing a lot and failing often. So I you know, in recent years started to figure out that failing is okay. It's part of the process. All of us have failed. Every major, you know, idol of yours that you look up to whether it's Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Spielberg, Fincher, Nolan Tarantino, all of them have failed and failed multiple times. And many times and big ways as well, you know, Steven Spielberg, after jaws and close encounters, and right before he did Raiders of the Lost Ark, he did another little movie called 1941, which was a colossal failure on all fronts, from how it was written to how it was directed to everything. And it's one of his glowing failures of his in the heat of when Spielberg was Spielberg. I mean, he was just awful close encounters he was right before. It was either right before or right after Raiders of the Lost Ark. I mean, he was the biggest filmmaker of its of his time. And he created a colossal failure. And then how you bounce back from those failures, is how you're going to continue to move forward in your filmmaking career. It's how you deal with those failures. I have failed many times in my life. You know, when I first came out, as a director, you know, I wanted to be a commercial director, and I sent my reel out everywhere. And I had my little commercial reel that I've spent probably about $50,000 to get made at the time because there was no digital revolution at the time. So it was much more expensive shot on 35 and so on. And I and I sent my reel out to 400 different production companies trying to get represented and trying to get work as a director as a commercial director, and with connections in the business and everything. And the first round out. I didn't get anything, I got one, excuse me, I got one that led to jobs later on. But I was I considered that a big failure. And after that I kind of crawled up into my, into my turtles, turtle shell, and then took me a little while to come back out. And then that that duration of coming in and out of your fear shell will lessen as time goes on, it's like a muscle, you've got to fail, deal with it and move on and and the more you fail, the better you get at it. I'm just going to use an analogy here, guys. And I know it's a sports analogy, but I'm going to use it anyway. Ted Williams, who is arguably one of the best hitters in baseball history, had a batting average of 3.3444. All right out of 1000, that means that he failed, over almost 70% of the time a little bit. So 64% 66% of the time, excuse me, my math is horrible. My sick, he failed 66% of the times he went up to the bat. So the majority of the times he tried to do what he was going to do. And he's considered one of the best in history, he failed. And every time you failed, going up to the plate, guess what, he learned something. And he learned on it. So being a baseball player, you've got to you got to swing so so many times. And as you swing more and more and more, you learn more and more and more in your batting average, gets more, it gets better, and you get more home runs, and so on. So as a filmmaker, you have to do the same thing as an artist, you have to do the same thing. As a screenwriter, you have to do the same thing. You just got to keep going and going and doing and producing and producing. Because the more times you get it out there, the more times you fail, you learn and you grow. So as I've studied so many filmmakers over the course of my career, and you know, all the greats, some of them have had massive failures, and some of them just bounce right back and they're already in another project by the time they're failures going, they're already moving on to something else. They just kind of compartmentalize it and just go and just don't worry about it. And they just keep moving forward. But that's a skill that takes time to build, some people are born with it. People like myself has taken time to develop that skill, to the point where when I fail, I just keep moving forward, when I fail, I keep moving forward, but you have to fail, you have to learn from those failures. If not, you're not going to grow as an artist. So you know, as they say, feel the fear and do it anyway. And so with what I was saying before is you know, I've had these fears of like, oh man, people always ask me, Well, Alex, why aren't you doing a feature film? Why haven't you made a feature film yet? You know, you've done all this other stuff? Why haven't you made a feature film? And I'm like, Oh, well, you know, I need this, I need that. And all the scripts not there. And I you know, I want to make this or that. And it just kept I just kept throwing Excuses, excuses, to finally, in all honesty, through indie film, hustle, you know, talking to you guys and interacting with the tribe, I began to realize that there's nothing to be afraid of, you know, you just got to go out and do it. And if you go out and do it, you're I think at the 1% of people who actually Imagine all the people you know, who talk about making a movie. And then out of those people, how many have actually done it. And then out of out of those people, how many have done it more than once. So I'm betting that that's probably a fraction of a fraction of 1%, who actually done it more than once, who done it at all, let alone more than once and then let alone have created a career out of it. If you know anybody who's even done that, personally. So, you know, just going out and doing it is going to be you're going to be ahead of the game from so many different people in the world. But at the end of the day, again, it's always an I know that sounds cliche, but it's about the race with you, you're not in race with anybody else, but you just kind of go out and do it, guys. So that's exactly the mentality I took when I created this as mag, you know, and I put it all together I did it. You know, we we came up with the idea. I mean, I came up with the idea to make this movie at the end of April. And now we're here at the end of August, and I have a final cut. That's insane. It's absolutely remarkably insane what we've done, me and Julie look at each other, almost on a daily basis when we're when we're working on the movie and just go, did we just make a movie? And it doesn't work? Really like how is this? How is it playing? You know? So I'm not saying that everyone's gonna be able to do what we just did. I mean, I have a lot of experience underneath my belt. I had a lot of connections. I pulled a lot of favors to do what I did, but it was it was doable within my circumstances. But again, I wasn't afraid. I've actually talked to other directors, friends of mine who like I can't believe you've done that man. I I'm scared to death of doing something like that. You just kind of freefloat it. And I'm like yeah, I was kind of like playing jazz. I felt like the making of this as Meg was like playing jazz. You just got together with a bunch of amazing people. And we kind of just rift and it was a very structured riff. Don't get me wrong, we had a very structured story and everything but within the within the confines of that structure within the confines of that script we just played. And I hope you'll see that on the screen when you watch the film, because we had so much fun. And I've never once in my entire life have been so stress free on any production, including commercials or music video, he was the most relaxed, non stressful, just chilled, had a great time, had a wonderful attitude, everybody, and everybody involved was just there to have fun and play and, and it was great. And it was all because I finally broke through the fear. And just said, Screw it, I'm gonna make one, I'm gonna go make a movie. And if it comes out great and great, if it comes out horrible fine, I learned something. And I have four other ones that I'm planning to do in the next year, you know, hopefully next year, I'm gonna have another one I least another feature made. And probably prepping the second one because I already have I already have that timed out. The rest of this year is going to be focused on just going through this process with this as mag, and building up indie film, hustle, building up the Syndicate, and building the best community I can with indie film hustle in the indie film syndicate. And that's my goal for the rest of this year. While I'm learning and growing with this, as Megan seeing where this is, Meg will go and see how that whole process goes. But again, it all started with me just feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

You know, I was, you know, I, I was the DP on this movie. I was a cinematographer on a feature film. I've never seen a moto. I never cinematographers. I've never, I've never shot an entire feature film. I didn't know if I could do it. You know, I just went out and did it. And it's like, and people were like, You're nuts. I'm like, Yeah, I know. But I'm just gonna do it anyway. I'm having fun. And I and I made mistakes. And I learned from those mistakes. And I moved on. And at the end of the day, I think the movie looks good. And I've had a couple of cinematographer, friends of mine, watch the movie. And they've said, Alex, it looks great. It looks fine. Don't get me wrong, if you had a pro cinematographer, it will look a lot better. But for what we were trying to do, which was kind of an experiment, it worked. And it was all because I just gave up the fear. I just gave it up. I just said, You know what I'm gonna, I'm gonna be afraid and just move forward with it. Because as I've been saying, it is your responsibility as an artist to get your art out into the world. Because you have no idea how many people can be affected by one thing that you do as an artist, it can change lives. That is the power of art. That is the power of what you do as a filmmaker, you can change people's minds. You can change people's emotions, you can entertain people and get them out of a really bad day. Because of what you do. It's very important work, guys. And don't be don't be little it or think it's something Oh, I'm just gonna make a funny movie or something like that. You've no idea. You know, look, there was a movie I did. I remember, I'll never forget this. I was having a horrible day in high school ones. And I was working at the video store at the time. And I went, and I was like I had like, I think I've just broken up with my girlfriend or some stupid thing like that high schools up. But I remember I was really down in the dumps. It was horrible. Then I rented this little movie called Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Which by the way, if you guys have not seen Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, if you want to see Keanu Reeves, in his just Qian Rubyist. You've got a watch Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. The first one I actually enjoyed the second one too, but I saw that movie, I could not stop laughing. And it brought my whole day up. And I never forgot that day. Because the power of that movie, as silly as it might have been to the filmmakers who were making it or whatever. He brought me joy that night. And I always go back to that movie as a place of solace when I was when I was sad or something like that, because it would always make me laugh. So you never know the power of what you do as an artist. And you've got to feel that fear. And you've got to do it anyway. So guys, right now I'm going to challenge everybody out there. I'm going to challenge all the filmmakers, all the tribe members who are out there listening to this podcast, if you've got an idea for a feature film, right now, if that's your goal, if your goal is to make a short film, if your goal is to make a web series, if your goal is to make a television series, whatever, that's whatever that scenario is for you. If your goal is to write that screenplay you've been wanting to write and get it out there into the world. My my challenge to you guys is to feel that fear and do it anyway. Be brave enough to put yourself out there. Because trust me, you will thank me for it. You might get slapped. You might get haters. You might just go oh, this is crap. But I guarantee when you're done with that process, it might be painful, it might not be. But if it is painful, you'll learn from it. And you'll grow. And don't let it stop you, that hopefully will keep you going. But you've got to do it and do it smartly. Obviously, don't just grab your iPhone and go make a feature film, don't be an idiot.

Think about it, be structured, be be intelligent about how you do it. But get that process going. Whatever that is, whatever that reality is for you. Whether it is getting an iPhone, but do it properly, get the proper software on that iPhone, get that that lens attachment, the same ones that they did with tangerine, from Sundance, learn from them, figure it out, get the lights you need, and tell the story that you're going to tell. But go do it. Don't feel Don't be afraid, guys. I'm telling you, I'm on the on the farm on the frontlines here with with my first movie. And I'm telling you, I'm sending back information I'm sending back word, that it's okay. That you can go out and make your movie, you can go out and make your short you can go out and write that screenplay that you've been dying to make work. You can do it guys. You can do it. I'm telling you, you just have to educate yourself as much as you can, and get out. And you know what, by doing it, you're educating yourself. Robert Rodriguez made 30 short films that no one has ever seen before he made his student short film that was bedhead that took him to El Mariachi. And he said many times in interviews and in DVD commentaries, he said that he wanted to get those 30 films out. Because it just he shaved off all the cobwebs. He shaved out all the things that he didn't know, he did them. And you know what, he didn't put them all out there for everybody to see. They were practice. So if you don't feel comfortable enough to do a feature film, and you want to do and you've never even made a short call, make 10 shorts. You know, I met a wonderful tribe member at the holly shorts Festival, the holly shorts event that I did. And he told me that he did. He's doing a 10 week challenge. He's doing a short film a week for 10 weeks. And then while he's doing that he's saving money to make his first $1,000 feature film. And I honestly don't even know how old he was. But he was probably probably in his early 20s, if not his late teens very young guy. And my God, he's so much farther along than I was at that time. He's braver than I was at his age. So much braver. So that's what you've got to do, guys. Just go out there and do it. And don't let fear stop you. The word fear has two meanings guys. Fear stands for Forget everything and run or face everything and rise. The choice is truly yours. Too many filmmakers are living or not living their dreams. And they're living their fears. Instead, everything that you want, all your goals are on the other side of fear, guys. Alright. And I'll end today's episode with another quote from the amazing Bruce Lee. fear comes from uncertainty. We can eliminate the fear within us when we know ourselves better. Very true words from a master of not only martial arts, but of life in many, many ways. I want you guys message me, email me, tweet me, let me know how it's going with you guys. Post stuff in the indie film hustle group at Indie film, hustle, calm forward slash Facebook. And you can get to our Facebook group there post information about what's going on with you there. And we want to share it with all the tribe. And so please let him let me know what you guys are up to. And I want I want nothing but success for you guys, man. Seriously, I really, really want you guys to succeed in your endeavors. And I hope in a small way that this podcast episode has helped you moved you a little bit further along that path. Alright, so guys, now, I know I've been away a lot because of the the the editing of posts and the post production I've been doing with mag. But I'm going to be starting to come back in a little bit more of a full force scenario, I'm going to be adding a ton of content to the indie film Syndicate, and adding more courses, stuff that I've had in the hard drives for a while I just haven't had a chance to get them up. They're up late uploaded. And I have a lot of new cool stuff coming to the indie film syndicate. Please, if you guys haven't checked it out, go to indie film syndicate.com and I will be doing a bunch of cool stuff coming up in the next month or so. And definitely check it out and see what you guys think it's a great community. It's a growing community. And it's a really intimate community you know, everybody really is helping each other a lot in the community and it's actually really, really wonderful. So I'm so, so glad to be a part of it and and hopefully helping more and more of you guys out. So keep that hustle going. keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.

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  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
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