Top 15 Indie Filmmaking Podcasts (Oscar® and Emmy® Winners)

Indie Filmmaking Podcasts have been so important to me over the past few years. Indie Film Hustle entered into the podcast space in 2015 with the launch of its first original podcast series, The Indie Film Hustle Podcast.

The response to the podcast was so amazing that after a few short months the show became the #1 filmmaking podcast on Apple Podcasts & Spotify, and still maintain that honor. I’m truly humbled and thankful by the response.

The show is only as good as the indie filmmakers who listen to it. Thank you all for the support. I have put together the Top 15 Indie Filmmaking Podcasts from the IFH archives. This list will be updated every few months so keep checking back.

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1. Oliver Stone

Today on the show I bring you one of the most influential and iconic writer/directors in the history of cinema, three-time Oscar® winner Oliver Stone. Throughout his legendary career, Stone has served as writer, director, and producer on a variety of films, documentaries, and television movies. His films have been nominated for forty two Oscars® and have won twelve.

2. Joe Carnahan

It’s been a hell of a year so far. I’ve been blessed to have had the honor of speaking to some amazing filmmakers and man today’s guest is high on that list. On the show we have writer/director Joe Carnahan. Joe directed his first-feature length film Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane. which was screened at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, and won some acclaim.

3. Richard Linklater

We are joined by indie film icon and Oscar® nominated writer/director Richard Linklater. Richard was one of the filmmakers who helped to launch the independent film movement that we know today with his classic 1991 indie film Slacker. As a bonus, we will not only dive into the extraordinary career of Richard Linklater but also that of collaborator and longtime friend writer/director Katie Cokinos, the filmmaker behind the film I Dream Too Much. 

4. Edward Burns

Today’s guest is a writer, director, producer, actor, and indie filmmaking legend, Edward Burns. Many of you might have heard of the Sundance Film Festival-winning film called The Brothers McMullen, his iconic first film that tells the story of three Irish Catholic brothers from Long Island who struggle to deal with love, marriage, and infidelity.

His Cinderella story of making the film, getting into Sundance, and launching his career is the stuff of legend. The Brothers McMullen was sold to Fox Searchlight and went on to make over $10 million at the box office on a $27,000 budget, making it one of the most successful indie films of the decade.

5. Jason Blum

I’m excited to talk to a fellow low-budget independent filmmaker today.

Granted, he does low-budget films on a completely different level than I or most people do at this point. But if we are going to talk about budget filmmaking, it is only fitting to have expert horror film and television producer, Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions.

That is a testament to his company’s high-quality production. Blumhouse is known for pioneering a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality micro-budget films and provocative television series. They have produced over 150 movies and television series with theatrical grosses amounting to over $4.8 billion.

6. Edward Zwick 

We have been on a major roll lately on the podcast and this episode keep that going in a big way. Our guest on the show today is Oscar® Winning writer, producer, and director Edward Zwick. Edward made his big shift from his childhood passion of theater to filmmaking after working as a PA for Woody Allen in France on the set of Love and Death.

7. John Sayles

John Sayles is one of America’s best known independent filmmakers, receiving critical acclaim for films including Eight Men Out (1988), Lone Star (1996) and Men with Guns (1997). He’s also written screenplays for mainstream films such as Passion Fish (1992), Limbo (1999), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) and did a draft of Jurassic Park (1993) for Steven Spielberg.

8. Neill Blomkamp

Ever since I saw District 9 and learned of all the mythical stories behind the short film becoming a feature, I have been a massive fan of today’s guest, Neill Blomkamp. Though Neill is here today to talk about his new sci-fi horror fiction film, Demonic, we also chatted up about his other films that have been successful over the years.

9. David F. Sandberg

So many times we hear those mythical stories of a filmmaker who makes a short film and uploads it to Youtube in hopes of a big time film producer sees to and comes down from Mount Hollywood and offers him or her a deal to turn that short into a studio feature. Today’s guest had that happen to him and then some. On the show is writer/director David F. Sandberg.

David’s story is the “lottery ticket” moment I speak about so often on the show. His journey in Hollywood is remarkable, inspiring and scary all at the same time.  He created a short film called Lights Out. That short was seen by famed filmmaker and producer James Wan (Furious 7, Aquaman, The Conjuring) who offered to produce a feature film version at New Line Cinema.

10. Albert Hughes

I can’t be more excited about the conversation I’m about to share with you. Today on the show we have filmmaker and indie film legend Albert Hughes. Albert, along with his brother Allen began making movies at age 12, but their formal film education began their freshman year of high school when Allen took a TV production class. They soon made the short film The Drive-By and people began to take notice.

After high school Albert began taking classes at LACC Film School: two shorts established the twins’ reputation as innovative filmmakers. Albert and his brother then began directing music videos for a little known rapper named Tupac Shakur. 

These videos lead to directing their breakout hit Menace II Society (1993), which made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and grossed nearly 10 times as much as its $3 million budget.

11. Taylor Hackford

Sitting down with one of the big names in this business this week was a really cool opportunity. I am honored to have on the show today, Oscar® winning director, producer, and screenwriter, Taylor Hackford.

Taylor’s has directed films like An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), White Nights (1985), Proof of Life (2000), Dolores Claiborne (1995), Against All Odds (1984), Parker (2013), the iconic Ray Charles biopic, Ray of 2004, and The Comedian (2016) just to name a few. He also has served as president of the Directors Guild of America and is married to the incomparable acting legend Helen Mirren.

12. Troy Duffy

I’m always looking for success stories in the film business to study and analyze. Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullan) Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi), Kevin Smith (Clerks), and Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) come to mind. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the cult indie film classic The Boondock Saints but many of you might not know the crazy story of its writer and director Troy Duffy.

Well, prepare to get your mind BLOWN. I had an EXCLUSIVE discussion with Troy this week, and let’s say, he did not hold back. Nothing was off-limits – from his instant rise to fame to the brutal fate he met – getting blacklisted, all of it. He wanted to set the record straight because there is always another side to the story, and what better side to hear than that of the man who lived this brutal Hollywood adventure?

13. Barry Sonnenfeld

I can’t tell you how excited I am for today’s episode. I had the pleasure to speak to the legendary director Barry Sonnenfeld. We discuss his idiosyncratic upbringing in New York City, his breaking into film as a cinematographer with the Coen brothers, and his unexpected career as the director behind such huge film franchises as The Addams Family and Men in Black, and beloved work like Get Shorty, Pushing Daises, and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

We also chat about the time he shot nine porno films in nine days. That story alone is worth the price of admission.

14. Alex Proyas

I can’t be more excited to bring you this episode. On today’s show, we have the legendary writer/director Alex Proyas, the filmmaker behind The Crow, Dark City, The Knowing, Gods of Egypt, and I, Robot.

Alex Proyas had a huge influence on my filmmaking life. The Crow was one of those films I watch a thousand times, in the theater, when I was in film school. He began his filmmaking career working in music videos with the likes of Sting, INXS, and Fleetwood Mac before getting the opportunity to direct The Crow.

15. Sean Baker

Sean Baker is a writer, director, producer and editor who has made seven independent feature films over the course of the past two decades. His most recent film was the award-winning The Florida Project (2017) which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was released by A24 in the U.S. Among the many accolades the film received — including an Oscar nomination for Willem Dafoe for Best Supporting Actor — Sean was named Best Director by the New York Film Critics Circle.

His previous film Tangerine (2015) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won an Independent Spirit and two Gotham Awards. Starlet (2012) was the winner of the Robert Altman Independent Spirit Award and his previous two features, Take Out (2004) and Prince of Broadway (2008), were both nominated for the John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award.

Bonus: Eric Roth

This week, I sat down with one of the most legendary and successful screenwriters/producers in Hollywood, Oscar® Winner Eric Roth. Over a 50+ years career, he’s well-known for writing or producing films like Forrest Gump, A Star is Born, Mank, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Munich, Ali, and the list goes on.

Bonus: David Chase

The legacy of the crime drama television series, The Sopranos remains a defining art of storytelling for mob TV shows. We have the genius behind this hit TV series, David Chase as our guest today.

As expected, Chase is a twenty-five-time Emmy Awards-winner, seven times Golden Globes winner, and highly acclaimed producer, writer, and director. His forty-year career in Hollywood has contributed immensely to the experience of quality TV.

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of Chase, let’s do a brief of the HBO 1999 hit show, The Sopranos: Produced by HBO, Chase Films, and Brad Grey Television, the story ran for six seasons, revolving around Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, a New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster, portraying the difficulties that he faces as he tries to balance his family life with his role as the leader of a criminal organization.

Bonus: Billy Crystal 

There are performers that impact your life without you even knowing it and today’s guest fits that bill. On the show, we have comedic genius, multi-award-winning actor, writer, producer, director, and television host, Billy Crystal. We’ve seen Billy’s versatile work across all areas in the entertainment world, stand-up, improv, Broadway, behind and in front of the camera, feature films, television, live stages like SNL, and animated movies.

 

How to Make a $1,000 Feature Film with Mark Duplass

Make a feature film for $1000? Sounds crazy right? Well if you don’t know Mark Duplass you should get to know him. Mark and his brother Jay Duplass are most widely known for making the indie film hits The Puffy Chair and Safety Not Guaranteed. Mark Duplass has gone on to be a very successful writer, producer, and director.

Mark Duplass is an extremely talented film director, producer, musician, actor, and screenwriter. He along with his brother, Lawrence Jay Duplass, have created film industry waves in a very short time period. Be it filmmaking or successful TV series, everyone loves the work of Duplass Brothers.

Being Filmtrepreneurs they have initiated their own production company Duplass Brothers Productions and have been into the directing business since then. Widely known for their films The Puffy Chair (2005), Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011), and also The Do-Deca-Pentathlon (2012).

Jay and Mark Duplass have also co-created the renowned HBO TV series Togetherness.

Both of these talented brothers grew up in a suburb of New Orleans. They fell in love with film at a young age and they started making videos on their father’s Panasonic when the brothers were 6 and 9 respectively.

They would shoot versions of The Lone Ranger as well as The Sermon on the Mount. According to the Duplass brothers, when they look back over this period and the activities which extended to their teenage, they seem to recall an inner self of experimentation.

Things got focused and serious once Jay made this self-realization that he did not want to go on with his filed after spending four years as psychology majors which he was studying at the University of Texas, Austin. Mark Duplass was a singer-songwriter which he had to eventually give up because of increased condition of tendinitis.

Jay remained an extra year in the school so that he could study film and also got his brother Mark Duplass enrolled there so that he could act in his projects. Which was usually extremely cute bits of valuable silliness pretty much inspired by their obsession with the Coen Brothers. Mark has himself admitted that we were trying to be them but it was not going well.

After some time, Jay got his hands on a profitable and worthwhile commission to film a documentary about gardening which was some sponsored material on the behalf of an Austin startup, gardening.com.

The company crumpled before the film was finished even but luckily for the Duplass brothers, not before paying for their efforts. With that money, they bought a Canon GL1, got themselves a camera operator, and a photography editor so that they could begin on their second scripted feature film which was a rip-off of Rocky but in running shoes called Vince Del Rio.

And before they had even finished its edited, the duo decided that I was simply unreleasable which Mark Duplass has often referred to a steaming pile of dog diarrhea.

The Duplasses had no money, no ideas, and a terrible period of lack of faith in their filmmaking skills. So in desperation, Mark thought of making a movie which was part of their childhood. Fast and affordable and off-the-cuff. Mark Duplass went out to buy a $3 MiniDV tape which is the entire production cost of the movie and also improvised the total of what was to become the This is John of 2003.

It was a seven-minute short that started as an exercise, which results in triggering a psychological collapse because John rejects his numerous attempts as being too conscious or too formal. This was the course that so well summarized the creative journey of Duplasses’.

Though This is John might have sounded and looked like a home movie, it had a hint of life to it and that is why it was accepted into the shorts program when the Duplasses’ submitted to the Sundance and guess what? It was addressed as one of the five short films to see.

Right after two years, these brothers returned to the Sundance with The Puffy Chair which was an endeavor which they drew from their own lives. Starring Mark Duplass and his girlfriend (now wife) Katie Aselton this film concerns the relationships between men, women, fathers, mothers, and friends. Mark finds a replica of a lounge chair on eBay which his father used ages ago. The road trip that was taken to deliver that chair to him in Atlanta took very interesting twists and turns.

To some of the viewers, the movie touched something deep and affected them with its spooky familiarity. Making something so amazing with so little money sent a huge shockwave through the film industry which made it possible to think that anyone could step up to make a movie.

Although the traditional distributors kept their distance from the not-too-fine cheating after the film had spent a year’s time on the festival circuit, Netflix’s budding film distribution arm, Red Envelope Entertainment made its first acquisition. It is said by Sarandos of Netflix who was running Red Envelope, that he was drawn to the film for the wonderful home-viewing potential it possessed.

The follow-up feature of Duplass brothers in 2008 Baghead, was a mellow horror whose story revolved around a quartet of struggling filmmakers who head back to the woods for the weekend as a last try to pen down a feature film which would give them a head start to their careers. And they found the plot of pretty clichéd stories which gave the actors a set of guidelines to explore human interaction.

The Mumblecore Movement

A new movement called Mumblecore had the Duplass brothers working with directors like Joe Swanberg and Andrew Bujaski. But still, the boys had potential and momentum which soon gave them the chance to take up the traditional first step thing that all directors do to boost up their career i.e. making their first-ever studio film.

Willing to work for less, they cast all of the Puffy Chair fans in the production of Fox Searchlight Cyrus. With a $7 million budget and storyline of a creepy mother-son relationship, it was certainly an out of the box thing. The Duplass spent three years working on Cyrus. The movie revolved around a depressed man in his 40s, which was problem for Fox Searchlight who were suspicious of estranging the viewership. They wanted to portray him as down but not too much of it.

The film grossed $7.4 million which happens to be the most successful Duplass venture to date.

It soon became quite apparent that the movies these brothers were interested in making were aimed at a smaller audience with limited box-office appeal. But yet, if they underperformed in theaters a large audience was enjoying the work of Duplass brothers on the small screen and their movies surely were having a profitable afterlife.

Since The Puffy Chair came out, the Duplass brothers had been toying with the idea of HBO and now seemed the perfect time to actually take the chance. Jay came up with the idea of series which would star Steve Zissis who has Mark’s senior in high school and had had a stall in his acting career after Baghead and Do-Deca-Pentathlon.

So that is how the idea of Alexander the Great took birth which happened to be a pilot about an actor who was struggling with his career with mental health issues. HBO loved it and asked to add more characters making it a relationship show and that is what they did.

Before the premiere of A Teacher at Sundance, Fidell had sent the Duplass brothers her feature making them her fan. That is why she was their first choice when Mark Duplass got an idea for a movie of a young reboot of Days of Wine and Roses which has physical abuse instead of alcohol. Graciously accepted by Fidell, by the end of the day, she was officially signed up both for the writing and direction of what was to formulate into Six Years. And in March at SXSW it was bought by Netflix.

The most astonishing development in an already amazing career apart from the movies and TV shows that this dynamic duo made, the Duplasses have grown into a royalty which helps like-minded filmmakers gain benefit from the business model which they seem to have created.

The Duplass brothers helped a friend in giving life to his film and this revelation that they could actually save the struggling career of a filmmaker with some time and money blew their minds away and always grateful for the emotional as well as financial support by their parents they saw this way to put it back in the world.

Producing multiple films per year, which

  1. Strictly follow the line of low costs.
  2. Protecting the vision of the filmmaker.
  3. Eventually giving the final product to the audiences as fast as possible.

The Duplass Brothers have signed a four-picture deal with Netflix. And they are taking a similar approach to TV. The first film from that deal is Blue Jay starring Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson and directed by Alexandre Lehmann (check out his interview here). Meeting by chance when they return to their tiny California hometown, two former high-school sweethearts reflect on their shared past. Check out the trailer below:

They helped few filmmakers in making 10 episodes of the show of an animated series Animals and much to their surprise, not only HBO bought them but signed them for the second season right away. And four months later, the Duplass brothers got a two-year deal.

These brothers have the magic beans to turn any idea, no matter how trivial it may be, into a profitable TV show or movie.

Can you really make a feature film for $1000 bucks?

Mark Duplass had a packed house for his amazing SXSW Keynote Speech. He was spitting out Indie Film GOLD though out his talk.

If you didn’t get a chance to hear his talk, here are some topics he covered:

  • Learn your craft  by making short films every weekend for $3
  • Write a Feature Film for less than $1,000
  • Have a strong day job (whatever you can get) while working towards your goal
  • Put money away to travel to Film Festivals and future films

Coming from the “Mumblecore” indie film movement, a style of low-budget film typically characterized by the use of nonprofessional actors and naturalistic or improvised performances, he had some great advice for independent filmmakers:

“You should design the aesthetic of the movie so that it doesn’t feel like less than a $200,000 movie but it feels squarely like a $1,000 movie.”

I’ve seen so many filmmakers attempt to make The Avengers on the budget for craft services for one day on a Marvel set. You are setting yourself up to fail. When starting out work within your limitations. It worked for Robert Rodriguez on his indie film classic El Mariachi.

Mark Duplass stated that $1000 is in NO WAY a budget a feature film should be made for. Here is what Duplass says:

“It’s not an empirical number, it depends of the city you live in and the scope of your story. But when I think about that movie, it’s doing a couple of things.

Borrowing recycled hard drive from people. Getting the Ultrakam uncompressed app on your iPhone. Most of it is food and you really want someone who can cook.

I recommend having your editor be the ‘DIT’ person who takes the Media in – and they have a lot of downtime, so you have them help you light, and you have them cook.

And you should be having a crew that’s really, really small. So that money should be mostly spent on food and then you are going to spend that on festival applications.”

Mark Duplass dishes out some amazing advice to independent filmmakers in this keynote speech and awesome Q&A. To see the entire SXSW Keynote check out the video below, DO IT!

“Instinct is very, very important, and we believe in it through every part of the process… When it’s time to create and get that stuff down, we believe in the gut.” – Mark Duplass

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Screenwriting Books You Need to Read – Top Ten List

1) Screenplay by Syd Field

The first book I ever read about screenwriting. Syd Field is the forefather of the how-to for screenwriting. He cracked the code of the three-act structure and paved the way for all other screenwriting gurus that would follow. As far as I know, he created the terms like “turning points,” and “pinch”, and much of the language that screenwriters use to describe elements and devices used in their scripts(FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

2) Story: by Robert McKee

Immortalized by the film Adaptation, McKee delves deeply into the components necessary for making a great script. I find his principles of “controlling idea” (which closely resembles Lagos Egri’s concept of “premise” in The Art of Dramatic Writing) and “gap between expectation and result” incredibly useful. I always turn to McKee’s teachings for guidance. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

3) The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

Vogler takes the workings of Joseph Campbell about myth and archetypes and breaks it down into easy to chew, bite-size portions. What makes Campbell so special? His writings about the universal appeal of mythological tales have inspired many other storytellers to create great pieces of work with timeless resonance — does George Lucas ring a bell? (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)


4) Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger

Seger’s book I found as a great companion piece to Syd Field’s Screenplay. What I particularly like from this book is her method of ramping up conflict by the use of “obstacles,” “compilations,” and “reversals.”

Also, check out Linda’s amazing podcast interview here: Making a Good Script Great with Linda Seger (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

5) Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

You can see echoes of all the other aforementioned writers in this book. What I like about Save The Cat is that it’s a stripped-down, fun read with a lot of helpful information. I especially appreciate Snyder’s Beat Sheet which shows with almost page number accuracy where to place those particular plot moments that help keep your story moving. Some might find it formulaic, but I think it functions very well and points to exactly the kind of scripts Hollywood has come to expect from writers. One of the best screenwriting books. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

6) How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flynn

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out on how to write a screenplay along comes this book to point out where you may have gotten it wrong. Despite the length of the title, it’s a quick read and VERY illuminating. As I skimmed through the examples of what not to do, I discovered what I was doing right, and most importantly what I was getting wrong. They say you learn from your mistakes, and reading this book sure helped to show how. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

7) The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats by Cole Haag

This book was a required textbook back when I was at film school. Some of the formatting suggestions may be a little outdated, especially if you have Final Draft or Movie Magic screenwriting software, but there’s still a ton of knowledge to be gained about proper formatting. The quickest way to spot a novice writer is by how unprofessional their script is formatted — this book shines a light on the Hollywood standard. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

8) The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier

Not only do I dig this guy’s first name, but I found his book to be more current as far as the conventions of formatting. It covers a lot of ground with how to write a screenplay and everything else that goes with being a screenwriter and Filmtrepreneur, like how to register your script and how to write a query letter to literary agents. It’s a broad overview, but one of the most informative screenwriting books. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

9) The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri

This is actually a book for the aspiring playwright, but most if not all the principles can apply to screenwriting. Egri gives examples of poorly constructed scenes and explains why they don’t work — then compares and contrasts against scenes that do. This is one of my favorite books, and one I strongly recommend. One of the best screenwriting books out there. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

10) The 101 Habits Of Successful Screenwriters by Karl Iglesias

(FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE) Have you ever wondered how successful writers do it? If you’ve reached this point on my top ten, I would say, “of course you do!” There are good work regimens and not so constructive methods. This book gives us a glimpse into how the top Hollywood writers work, how they fight writer’s block, as well as deal with the daily grind of writing. I found it very insightful and definitely worthwhile. 


BONUS: Pulp Fiction – The Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

A must-read for any screenwriter. Tarantino…nuff said! These are our Top Ten Screenwriting Books You Need to Read. We hope they help you on your journey as a screenwriter. Remember just keep writing! 


David R. Flores is a writer and artist (aka Sic Monkie) based in Los Angeles. He is the creator of the comic book series Dead Future King published by Alterna Comics and Golden Apple Books. Website: www.davidrflores.com & www.deadfutureking.com

Transcript for Robert McKee Interview:

Alex Ferrari 0:04
I'd like to welcome to the show, Robert McKee. How are you doing, Robert?

Robert McKee 0:08
Very well, very well. Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 0:10
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I am have been a fan of your work for quite some time. I've read your first two books, and I'm looking forward to reading your new one, which we'll talk about later character. But I was first introduced to your work in the film adaptation like so many. So many screenwriters and filmmakers were how, by the way, how, how was that whole process? I mean, it was a very odd request, I'm sure that you got when you got that call?

Robert McKee 0:40
Well, it certainly was, my phone rang one day and producer named Ed Saxon calling from New York and, and he said I am mightily embarrassed. This is a phone call I've dreaded. We've got this crazy screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and, and he has made you a character in his screenplay, and he has freely cribbed from your book and from your lectures, and he has no permission to do either. And, but we don't know what to do. So I said, well, send me a script, you know, I'll you know, see what's going on. So they sent me a script, and I read it. And I saw immediately that he really needed my character as a central to the film, because he wants me to, he wanted my character to represent the the imperatives of Hollywood. And that you have to do certain things certain ways, blah, blah, blah. And, you know, which is on one level nonsense. Such rules, they their principles, and there's genre convention, but anyway, but so I was a typical kind of need to slander Hollywood in favor of the artist. And, and they wanted me to do the slandering. So, but I realized that without my character there to provide some source of conflict. The story didn't work at all. So I said, and so I tell you what, I made two phone calls. I called William Goldman. And I said, Good, he was, you know, a student of mine. And I said, Bill, they there's a film and they want to use me as a character in it. What do you think? And he said, Don't do it. Don't do it. He said, it's Hollywood. And he said, they're out to get you don't do it. I said, Yeah, but I'm okay. But suppose I had casting rights. And he says, Okay, okay, who do you want? I said, Well, let's say Gene Hackman, is it? Okay. Okay. It'll be Gene Hackman, with a big pink bow around his neck. If they want to get you, Bob, they're gonna get you don't do it. So then I called my son. And I said, Paul, you know, and he said, do it. I said, Why isn't because Dad, it's a Hollywood film, you're gonna be a character in the Hollywood film. And he said, it'll be great. Do it. So I talked to Ed Sachs, and I said, Kenny, three things. One, I need a redeeming scene. I said, you know, you want to slander me fine. But then you can't leave it at that. You got he got to give me a redeeming scene. Right? To I have to have the controller the casting, I won't tell you exactly who to cast. But you got to give me a list because I ended need to know their philosophy. I mean, for all I knew this was the Danny DeVito Dan Ackroyd School of casting,

Alex Ferrari 4:28
you know, fair enough.

Robert McKee 4:31
I said, and very importantly, the third act sucks. And I cannot be a character in a bad movie. So we need meetings, they're going to have to be willing to rewrite. And, and those are my three conditions. And, and they agreed to them. And, and so they sent me a casting they gave me my redeeming scene and then they they they sent a list. Have the 10 best middle aged British actors alive? You know, everybody from Christopher Plummer to Alan Bates and I, and and I looked at the list. And I said, I want Brian Cox. And they said, Who's Brian Cox? And I said, He's the best British actor you don't know. Because Brian had been a student of mine up in Glasgow, and I'd seen him on stage in the West End of London and, and what I didn't want, see all those actors. They're all wonderful. But there's always actors have this Love me Love me thing, no matter what they want to be loved. And there's always this subtext like my heart's in the right place. And I really, you know, and I don't want to be loved. I really don't want to be respected, I want to be understood. And I want to inspire people and educate, but I do not want a bunch of people following me around like a guru. Right, loving me, right? And I knew that Brian would not do that. And, and then we had meetings and about the Act Three, and eventually got to a never got to a perfect accuracy. But it got to a point where I could sign off on so and it was, so they took my son to a screening at so at Sony and I said, you know, we think ball, and he said, Dad, he said, Brian Cox nailed you. Which I thought was great. So you know, and it was, it was, but that's not the, you know, I was I put myself in a funny date. So it's not just, but yeah, it was, um, it was a difficult choice. But I think William Goldman was wrong, that, you know, there was a way to you have your cake and eat it too. And I think an adaptation is loved. Oh, and millions and millions of people. So, so it certainly didn't hurt my brand.

Alex Ferrari 7:20
It didn't hurt your brand or business, I'd imagine. It's the term irony comes to play where you would be working with Charlie Kaufman, on a script, where your character is the establishment that he's trying to get away from and to give art but yet you are working with him to put the script together and finish the third act, which is amazing. Charlie,

Robert McKee 7:42
Charlie's one of those guys. He's got, you know, a great talent. But he's a bit delusional. What he wants to achieve is the commercial art movie. He wants it both ways. He wants to be known for making art movies, but they have to make money too. And a lot of it because he knows that, you know, his career. If he loses money, it's over. And so and, and so he wants to he wants to create the commercial art movie and a salsa dance understood, you know, things, the notion of the commercial art movie, you know, the, the, the English Patient and films like that. And I you know, in the meetings with a spike and and, and, Charlie, I, you know, I pointed out to Charlie, so you can't have it both ways. It's a you, you know, you if it's a true art movies have a very limited audience period. And art filmmakers understand this. And they budget accordingly. You want 30 million

Alex Ferrari 8:59
for an art film?

Robert McKee 9:03
Was 5 million we could, but Okay, so anyway, but it was. Yeah, the irony of it is wonderful.

Alex Ferrari 9:10
So, so you've worked with so many screenwriters and filmmakers over the course of your career, what is the biggest mistakes you see screenwriters, new screenwriters to the craft make?

Robert McKee 9:24
Well, it's not mistake so much. Yeah, I guess it is a mistake. But, uh, there's two problems. One is cliches. And they think that it that they want to be, you know, like an artist, they want to be original, but at the same time, they want. They want to be sure that it works. And so they recycle the things that everybody's always done. And they've tried to recycle them with it. difference and which is absolutely necessary, I mean, that's I get it, you're not going to reinvent the wheel, you have to just spin it yet another way. And, but then they get very easy once they sell their soul. It's hard to get it back. And, you know, you can pour on your soul for a while, but you've got to get the cash to get back. And, and so that's the war on cliches is not some, you know, it's not a fault, it's just a problem everybody faces. And, but there's a greater problem. And it's the willingness to lie. In an effort to tell their story to get it out, somehow they get it together. And they will write characters and scenes, and whatever that that lack credibility that they know perfectly well, in their heart of hearts is pure corn of some kind. And it's a it's, they're bending the truth. It's not it's, there's something false to some. And, and, and to, to, to get to something that is really profoundly honest. And it doesn't matter what the genre is, from action, to comedy. to, to a you know, as an education plan, something very interior doesn't matter what the genre is, there's truth, and then there's lie. And somehow they think that because it's fiction, that gives them a license to lie. But but they don't have that license, they have a an obligation to express the truth of what it is to be a human being and in whatever genre, they're they're writing, they have a, they have a an obligation, if they're writing comedy, to really stick a knife in some sacred cow and expose the bullshit of society. I mean, they, you know, it's not enough to be amusing. comedy is a is an angry art, that savages, all those things that, that that that are false in life, and starting with politics. Right. And, and so there's they, there's a willingness to, to fit and lie and in order to please that, okay, let me take a step back. I bulldozing cliches and truthfulness are all the byproduct of the young writer, especially the young writers desire to please they want to be loved, they want people to love what they do they want to please people. And so they write what they think, is pleasing for people, whether it's all the cards in fast and furious. Right, or the sentimentality or whatever they want to please people and and which is fine, but you can't please everybody and so you're going to write for a certain mind a certain audience a certain mentality and an educational level and taste and whatnot in a certain group of people that you know, are out there, they're like you pay and and you can't please everybody. And and so, a film like for example, Nomad land is certainly not trying to please there's an audience for it, that will get it and enjoy it and and recognize this as a deep truth about our society and about human nature.

But it's, it's not going to have a mass audience. And because it will turn off more people than it will turn out. And, but it's, it's a excellent film is an honest film. So that's the I think it's fishing around here. Because when you open the door and say, you know whether

Alex Ferrari 14:53
you're wrong, there's 1000s of things

Robert McKee 14:57
to bring up, but if I can do it down, it's that it's that the willingness to please results in recycling cliches, and basically not telling the the, the, the dark truth of things. And so you have to be it's tough, you have to be disciplined not to copy other people's success, but to, to write what you honestly believe to be the

errors in the central new genre.

And, and be rigorous about that.

Alex Ferrari 15:36
Now, one of the the hallmarks of a good story is conflict. How do you create conflict in a story?

Robert McKee 15:46
Well, depends on where you start. If you start with a choice of genre, let's say you're going to write a thriller. Right? You know, the source of conflict immediately by that choice. I need some kind of psychopathic villain. Right? I need Russell Crowe, in unhinged. Why? And so that's done for you. So that the genre sort of automatically tells you, right, on the other hand, if you're telling a family story, and that will be called domestic. Until the characters are a family and it's a family with problems, wow. The conflict could come from any direction. Who's with? Is it the mother? Is it the father? Is that rebellious children? Is it Whose is it? Some some, you know, older grandfather grandmother figure that's pulling people strings, and you know, whatever, given a family what's wrong with this family? And so you have to figure out what is it and is it social, or psychological? Is it instinctive is a deliberate you have to think your way through all that. And so you, you you start with a family and you create a little you know, a cast? And then and then you ask the question or what's wrong with this family. And a million different things can be wrong in human nature inside of a family. And that requires knowledge, you have to understand people, you have to understand that you know, the mother, daughter, mother, son, Father, daughter, Father, Son relationships, and, and you need to dig into your own experience. And ask yourself, you know, what was wrong in my family? What What do I believe, to be the truth about families? And, and, and that the genre doesn't give you that answer. And so, you have the answer will come from your depth of understanding of human nature, human relationships of a certain personal kind in this case. And, or if you're writing comedy, so as mentioned, the starting place of writing a comedy is to ask yourself what is pissing me off? What in this world is pissing me off? Is that relationships? Is it men women? Always it? Is that the is that the the the the social networks? Is it is it politics? Is it the military? Is it the church? Why what what is what what do I hate? What's pissing me off? Because the root of comedy is is anger. The comic mind is an angry idealist comic comics are idealists who want the world to be perfect or at least and when they look around the world they see where sorry, sick one place it is. And, and they realize that they're complicit, they're part of it too. And so what spacing me off then it points them in a direction to an institution or behavior in society. me like I think that great comedy series. Curb Your Enthusiasm. You know, and, and, and yes, you know, what is pissing me off and he will finds really egregious fault in, in, in people's lack of propriety. Or, or logic or clarity of thought, you know, why should there be a handicapped stall in toilets? Right that no one can use except the two times a year that a handicapped person comes into this particular toilet. Okay. Right. That is

Larry David, that is an egregious absurdity and it infuriates him. And so he goes into the handicap stall, and sure shit, this is the day

a guy in a wheelchair. So, um, so that, you know, that that's, those are the various things, you know, you, you look at yourself, as a writer, and you you have to understand your vision of life, you have to understand the genres. When you make a choice, there's certain conventions. And, and a, you can bend those conventions, what breaker if you want, but not without an awareness of what the audience expects. And so somehow, it'll between picking the setting and the cast, the genre, and then looking inside of yourself, like your comic wouldn't ask you what's pissing me off? You find your way. If I if you're in conflict, and the the most importantly, you know, it has it that you know that that conflict has to be something you deeply believe in. Now, or, or you will do what we were talking about earlier, you will fall prey to cliches because you'll you'll create false conflict, false antagonist empty, a cliched antagonisms. And like that. So it's a very important question. Now.

Alex Ferrari 22:28
So as far as one thing a lot of a lot of screenwriters try to get away from is structure, saying that structure and trying to fall into side of a structure is, it's like holding me back as an artist and I need to be free and I need to run free like a wild stallion, I personally find structure to be very freeing, because it gives me a place to go. How do you approach structure?

Robert McKee 22:55
Well, in this day, people have a course accused me of imposing structural rules in my teaching, and it's nonsense. When

I am opposed to structure, it's inhibiting my creativity do not know what the hell they're talking. They just don't they use the word structure. But they wouldn't understand or know story structure, if it fell from a height under their foot, okay, they just don't know what they're talking about. structure in every scene, ideally, is a turning point of some magnitude, the character's life, they go into a situation wanting something. And something in that moment, kind of prevents them from getting it. They struggle with that. And they either get what they want, or they don't get what they want. Or they get it at a price or they don't get it but learn something. Change takes place. And it's in a simple scene is minor. And then these changes per scene build sequences in which moderate deeper change wider change happens, these sequences build x in it. And then that climax is a major turning point that has greater depth or greater breadth or both have impact on a character's life. And so minor moderate major changes are building a story progressively to an absolute irreversible change at climax. Now, why would anyone object to what I just said? Why would anyone think that you can change Do concrete scenes in which nothing changes. And do that three scenes in a row and people will not be walking up. They come there, they come to the writer, they read a novel, kind of trying to have insight into life as to what forces in life positive and negative, bring about change outwardly or inwardly in characters lives. I mean, that's why we go to the storyteller. And so and so why would you not want change? Or why would you want repetitious change? Because the same change degree of change, that happens three times in a row, you know, we're bored. So because it's not giving us what we want, it's not giving us the insight that into character that we want. And so people who say they're opposed to structure don't understand what structure is it they don't understand, it's a dynamic and a progression of minor moderate major changes. And so I have no patience with that kind of ignorance. Hear the people who say that are the very naive, ignorant, really, people who think that if they just open up their imagination, emotion, picture will flow out of it.

Alex Ferrari 26:30
Very true.

Robert McKee 26:32
And, and they are childish in that way. I mean, you open up your imagination and see what flows out, then you have to go to work on it. And you have to step back from every, every time you you know, or let me put you this way. What in truth is it to write? What is writing actually, like, as an experience, you open up your imagination, and you have an idea for a character or two or three, and you write a page, things happen? Action reaction dialog, that when you write a page, that takes 20 minutes, then what do you do? You read that page? And you could take it does this work? would he say that? Would she act like that? would this happen with it? Is there a better way to do this? And is this repetitious? Is there a hole does it make sense, you constantly critique what you've written, and you go back, and you rewrite it. And then you read it, again, you critique it again. And this goes on all day long. And so you go inside to create, you go outside to critique, you create, your critique you curate, and the quality of your critique that guides your rewriting is absolutely dependent on your understanding to make judgments, when you ask the question, does this work? You have to know what works and what doesn't work. And, and so that on one level, everything you do is structure. Its structured to have a character say x and another character respond with y that structure action reaction, that the person who said x did not expect to hear why

Alex Ferrari 28:36
right exit Exactly.

Robert McKee 28:39
And that structure that beat of act reaction and human behavior, that structure. So is I said, People say this, say it out of out of emit amateur understanding of what the creativity, what the act of writing really is.

Alex Ferrari 29:07
And I, whenever I've come up against that, when I say no, every you know, every movie has some sort of structure. Most movies, especially popular movies have structure. And your definition of structure is wonderful. They always throw out Pulp Fiction, and I'm like, no Pulp Fiction is an extremely structured film. Do you agree?

Robert McKee 29:28
Yeah. I've when I was we were talking about when I was when they were doing adaptation, and I was working with Charlie Kaufman. Charlie had exactly that attitude. I said, the third act doesn't work. We have to restructure it. And in the end is his face went into a panic mode. He didn't want you know, scared the hell out. He said, I know. I know that. It needs some, you know, just it'll come to me it was a clo and whatnot. And it's as easy as I don't write with structure. He said that I don't write with structure. I said, Charlie, would you like me to lay out the three act design of being john malkovich as because it's a three act, play, want to hear them, act 123. And, and he almost ran out of the room. He didn't want to hear it. He wants to live in the delusion that it somehow flows, and there is no structure. And when in fact, subconsciously, at least being john malkovich is a three activist

Alex Ferrari 30:48
is a great, it's

Robert McKee 30:50
a model, it's a model, BJ Mack is a model three act design. But it's but to the romantic like, Charlie, he doesn't want to hear it. Because he thinks that that's going to constipate his creativity. And I have to agree with it. If he wants to write out of this notion that it's all a flow. And if he is aware that there's a, that there's a design happening, it would, it would inhibit him. So it's because he's a good writer, he's very talented. So it would be better for him to live in that delusion, and let it all pour out. And then he goes back, and his taste guides the rewriting and so forth. And, and, and so if you're talented, like Charlie and, and the idea of structure is frightening, then you should listen to those feelings. And not think about structure and just, you know, do what you do, and hope it works.

But

that's rare.

Alex Ferrari 32:10
Very, very, very rare. But yeah, but and so for everyone listening, you have to understand that someone like Jeff Hoffman is writing. And as he's writing, he's subconsciously working within the three act structure, honestly, on a subconscious level. And even the great writers is like, Oh, I never even think about outlining or plotting, is because they have such a grasp of the craft, that it's already pre wired in them. It's like me building a house, I wouldn't even think twice about how to pour a foundation, or how to how to how to lay out the walls, because I've done it a million times. I don't have to sit there and think about it, it's just done. But that is rare, and it takes sometimes years to get to that place or you're a prodigy, which happens once in a generation or twice in a generation.

Robert McKee 32:57
And and you're absolutely right. That's very, very well put and, and in fact, it goes beyond that you have been watching the stories on screen you have been reading them in novels, you've been to the theater, that form form is a better word than structure that form of action, contradictory reaction and reaction to that and a giant dynamic of action reaction building to change that is so built into you as a as a reader as an audience member from I don't know two three years old. Mother read your little you know, bunny rabbit stories, right? Your bunny rabbit goes out and something happens that not happy for the bunny rabbit and then you know of bunny rabbits mother comes along and pictures things whatever it takes, I mean that that form is ingrained in you from from the earliest. And so you do know it?

Alex Ferrari 34:08
Without question. Now you do more dialogue is something that is you've wrote an entire book dedicated to dialogue. Obviously, your first book is story. But your second book is dialogue. What are the three functions of dialogue in your opinion?

Robert McKee 34:25
Well, there's many of them and certainly one of them is is the obvious one of exposition by various means. So for examples simple in writing dialogue, a character has a certain vocabulary so for example, you you've done construction on houses, right? Some sure I And so how many different kinds of nails Do you know? From spiked to tact of,

let's say 10? Yeah. Okay. Now most people may know, to me one nail on a screw, basically, that's all they know.

Okay. So if if in there, if a character in their dialogue uses the, the carpenters terminology. And even metaphorically, you know, call something a five, many nail, right? The fact that he knows the difference between a temporary nail and pipe and whatever it is, his exposition is it tells us something about the life of this character, by the very word, the names of things that that this character uses in their vocabulary helps us understand the whole life of this character. So if somebody grew up, you know, around boats, and they use nautical terminology, right? And so that they the language inside of the dialogue, all that just the vocabulary alone gives us exposition, it tells us who is this character? What's their life been like? Etc. Okay, then, at the same time, the characters talking about things that are happening, or have happened. And when somebody says, you know, you're not going to leave me again, we are to instantly know, that's it, she's already left them once, at least before

Alex Ferrari 36:46
it says it says volumes with one word.

Robert McKee 36:49
Yeah, there's no word again. But so we have an insight into what their life has been like, in this relationship. And so that's number one is is, is exposition. And number two is action. When people speak, what they say, is an action they take in order to get what they need and want in the moment, but underneath that is what they're really doing. And it's what in the subtext, the action they take in the subtext is what's driving the scene? So when somebody says, Well, I didn't expect that. Right? What they're really doing, perhaps, depending, right, is attacking, criticizing the other person for doing something that's completely inappropriate. What they say is, well, I didn't expect you to say that I didn't expect you to do that. I didn't expect that. But what that is, is a way of attacking another person for inappropriate behavior. And so it's right. And so and so the dialogue is the text by which people carry out actions. But underneath the dialog, is the true action. And it that's based on a common sense, understanding that people do not say out loud and do out what they're really thinking and feeling. They cannot, no matter how they try, if they're when they're, when they're pouring their heart out and confessing to the worst things they've ever done. There's still another layer, where they're actually begging for forgiveness, let's say, right? So by confessing, actually, you're begging for forgiveness or whatever it is. And so dialogue is the outer vehicle for interaction. And, and the great mistaken dialogue is writing the the interaction into the dialogue. stead of having somebody confess, did they beg Please forgive me, please forgive me, forgive me, forgive me. Right. And, and if somebody is actually begging, there's got to be another level of what they're really doing underneath the baking. And, and so you have to, you know, the writer has to think to that by begging. What that dialogue is actually a mask for manipulating that person. Do what you have to do, right. And so, exposition, action. Okay. And then, you know, just beauty. Just Just wonderful dialogue, in character, and all that, but but a way of creating a surface that is that it draws us. Because, you know, we just love to see scenes where characters speak really well. in there. And even though even if we're using just gangster talk, good gangs, your dog, it's right to talk to each other and that kind of rap and that kind of unite. Right? That's, that's a form of beauty. It's wonderful, you know, it's pleasurable, right. The dialogue ultimately ought to be pleasing, and in his sense of kind of verbal spectacle. And so that's just, you know, that just three off the top of my head functions, but there's is there's much more right and I, I like I'm sure like you, we all love. Wonderful, memorable quotable dialogue.

Alex Ferrari 41:24
Yeah, very much like it's so obviously Tarantino and Sorkin and Shane Black and these kind of screenwriters, their dialogue is just, it's poetic in the way that they write something, certainly is, certainly, and the genius of them is they're able to do the first two things you said, within that poetry, as opposed to just poetry for poetry sake,

Robert McKee 41:46
which is, you know, that is that just decorative. They all happens all at once. You know, you're getting exposition, see who these characters are, whatever actions or reactions are driving the scene, and it's a pleasure to listen to.

Alex Ferrari 42:03
Now, one thing I've noticed in years and even in my own writing descriptions, in a screenplay, a lot of screenwriters, when they starting out, they feel like it's a novel. So, they will write a very detailed description about a scene or about something, where from my understanding, over the years, less is more and it becomes more of a of an exercise in Haiku is than it is in the novel writing. Can you kind of talk a little bit about the importance of of compacting your description?

Robert McKee 42:37
Well, it does need to be economical. Of course. On the other hand, it has to be vivid,

Alex Ferrari 42:44
right?

Robert McKee 42:46
And that's, you know, where does that balance strike you that the ambition is to project a film into the readers head. So that when they read their screenplay, they see a motion picture without camera directions without you know smash CUT TO for transitions and, you know, Dolly on and you know, and you know, pull focus, whatever nonsense, you got to use the language and description to create the effect of a motion picture, then you only use ideally, you only use the master shots, it you you only the the the shots, the angles, the setups, camera setups that are absolutely necessary. And no more you do not try to direct the film. And, and instead, you project a motion picture into the readers head. And, and, and so you need to it over, often in overriding and when, in fact, was not only overwritten, but it's not vivid. It's because writers rely on adjectives and adverbs. And what they need is to know the names of things. You know, he, he, he picks up what we're talking about before a big nail. Well, you know, big is an adjective. And so, put an image in the readers head, he picks up a spike. Spike is a vivid image. A he, he walks slowly across the room, will slowly is an adverb. Right? Right. And so you name the action of verb is the name of an action. He pads across the room he ambles, he strolls he saunters. He you know, Waltz's is an active verb without an adjective, adverb, concrete nouns without adjectives. And we see things and we see actions. And it becomes vivid. It reduces the word count. And, and here's here's something a good it's a good note for writers take your screenplay. And, and search the verb is or our urge is an are throughout your descriptions and eliminate every single one of them. know things are nothing is in a screenplay. Everything in a film is alive. And action. So you know, a name the thing. So a line like a big house, there, there is a big house on a hill.

Okay.

And what's a big house a mansion or a state? a villa? What's a, you know, a hill, a mountain. At add and add and turn it into a villa sits just that verb sits is more active than is a big house sits with a spectacular with this spectacular view. And so easy, a big house up high with a great view. And it's an image and it's active, it sits sprawls across, whatever. And so active verbs concrete nouns, and and make us see a movie. And every writer finds every good writer finds their own personal way to do that. And Paddy Chayefsky wrote elaborate descriptions. Harold Pentre described, nothing, nothing. He would just go interior kitchen dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, describe nothing. And because his attitude was, we all know what a kitchen looks like. And they'll probably play it in the garage anyway. But if they mess if they mess with my beats of action reaction and you know, in dialogue, then they're in trouble. Okay, so every writer has to find their own way to accomplish the task of a vividly projecting emotion picture in the imagination, as you turn pages who make them see a movie.

Alex Ferrari 48:23
Now, your new book is called character. And I wanted to ask you a couple questions in regards to character because, arguably, I always like to ask the question, do you start with plot or you start with character I always say to people, you don't like Indiana Jones, his plots aren't nearly as memorable as Indiana Jones James Bond's plots aren't as memorable as James Bond. Like I don't you throw me the plot of thunder ball. I don't remember. I remember scenes, but I do remember James Bond. And that's what draws me back to his stories. So, can you talk a little bit about the difference between roles and character?

Robert McKee 48:58
Well, a role is a generic term. And so hero is a role villain is a role victim is a role. You know, sidekick is a roll. goon is a roll. shopkeeper his role in the role is as a position in a in a cast. as defined by its relationship to other characters, and or a profession. Like waiter, asked driver. And, and they're generic, they wrote something waiting to be filled by a character. And as a character comes into a story to fulfill a certain role but it's a it's a You know, it's it's a, it's a generic to that to that genre. And so if you have a family, the roles are mother, father, children guide, they're okay, those are roles, characters are our unique human beings, we inhabit those roles. And and there's a design of a cast, such that the protagonist, and the central character at role is the most complex character role. And they are they, they're, depending on the genre, they are the most dimensional character of all. And they are ideally, they, they are the center of good, there's a, there's a positive human quality, not every way certainly, but there's, there's some quality, within the complexity of that character, with which we recognize we empathize, we recognize a shared humanity, the character is then in orbit around that character that protagonists are less dimensional, but they can be dimensional as as well, then you go all the way out to the second third circles, where you have people only playing a role. cashier, restaurant cashier, okay. Now, even when you're writing a scene where your character goes up to the cashier in a restaurant, to pay a bill, and discovers that his credit card is cancelled, right, you have a clerk standing there, at the at the take, who takes the credit card and finds that it's, it's been rejected that clerk character, he be very useful to imagine that role, very specifically, what kind of human being, you know, is she or he, it because it does the, the way in which that clerk that roll says responds to your card is canceled. Your card didn't go through the, the, the way you write the words and gesture for that character gives her a trait. And so roles have traits and, and to make, even that moment, when there's a human being behind that, that trait. And so if she's sarcastic, if she's fed up with with the job itself or with with people whose cards never work, or she's sympathetic because her cards don't work.

Alex Ferrari 53:19
So,

Robert McKee 53:21
so, even in a in a simple role like that, you try to write it with a as a specific trait in the way in which he deals with that moment. And it creates a character for an actor. And so the actor come in there and realize, Oh, this is an antagonistic clerk or this is a sympathetic cleric, or an indifferent or bored or falling asleep, or glancing at her watch constantly, she just wants to get out of here, whatever it is, you give her a trait. And that makes her a character, she sends the GM to life and it gives the actor something to hang their performance on. And so dimensions the protagonists, the most dimensional of all dimensions are contradictions within the nature of the girl. And so you populate that with in my book on character, I look at characters everybody from from Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey has an eight dimensional character, all the way up to Tony Soprano, as a 12 dimensional character Walter White, as a 16 dimensional character. And so and so the complexity of character today given long form television, especially, is at is becoming your astronomical And then you have to give all the, that every one of these dimensions if a character is, is kind and cruel, okay? Sometimes they're crying, sometimes they're cruel. Therefore, you're going to need a cast of characters where the protagonist, when they meet character a, they treat them kindly character B, they treat with, with a slap with cruelty and, and so you need to design a cast around each other characters. So that when, whenever any two characters meet, they bring out sides of their dimensionality or traits of behavior that no one else brings out of them. And so, every single character is designed that whenever they encounter any other character, they bring out each other's qualities in ways that no other character does. And, and when you have a, you know, when you have that kind of cast, where every single character services, every other character, and no redundancies every relationship is unique. every relationship develops a different aspect or a different dimension. Then you have a fascinating group of people that creates a world that the audience can really

Alex Ferrari 56:38
dive into,

Robert McKee 56:39
dive into now, you know, when characters when and carrot one characters behave toward each other in the same way, no matter who it is. That, you know, that's it's a boring and do it's false. People do not treat other people, different people the same. Everybody behaves in a uniquely subtly but uniquely different way, depending upon the relationship. And it takes a lot of concentration and imagination in the writer to realize that every relationship brings out different sides of the character's nature.

Alex Ferrari 57:21
Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests. Robert, what are three screenplays every screenwriter should read? You see? I don't answer that question. Okay. For this reason, I don't want people to copy anybody. Okay, fair enough.

Robert McKee 57:46
And so if I say, you know, if I named my, you know, my favorites, like, say, trying to tell people you know, then run to study Chinatown and emulate it. And that's a mistake. The really important question to ask people is, what's your favorite genre? Because they should be writing the kind of films they love.

Alex Ferrari 58:15
It's a good point, what

Robert McKee 58:16
I love, what are my favorites may have nothing to do with their favorites. And so the first question is, you know, what do you love? What kind of movies do you go to see what kind of things do you read? What do you love? And then seek out those? And the second thing is that if I name favorites, and, and that they, you know, they're in their pieces of perfection. Okay. What does that teach the writer? They got a model of perfection. Great. Okay, that's important, you should understand you should have an ideal, what you're trying to achieve. But one of the ways to achieve it, is to study bad movies. break them down and ask yourself, why is this film so boring? Why can't I believe a word of it? Why does this fail? and break it down and study it? To answer what this What does it lack what went wrong, etc. Okay, and then rewrite it.

Alex Ferrari 59:37
Just thing,

Robert McKee 59:39
rewrite it. fix that broken film. Because that's what you're going to do as a writer. Your first draft is going to suck. And you're going to go in and try to fix your broken script. Try to bring it to life. Try to cut edited shape and rewrite it reinvented, you're going to read it over and over again, right? Having fixed broken films, not just one, but many, many, many take bad movies, studying them and make them make them work is practice for what you're going to have to do with your own screenplay. Because it's not going to work in the beginning, it's going to need a lot of work to work. And so having rewritten bad films to make them work is, is a real learning experience. And so I say, study good films are of your genre, so that you have a an ideal that you achieve, rewrite the bad ones to teach yourself how to fix broken work. And so, and that's a personal choice. I can't say what that should be for those people. For every one of them, loves whatever they love, which may or may not be what I love.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:00
Now, where can people find out more about you? And where can they purchase your new book character? Amazon? It's pretty much it is pretty much it nowadays, isn't it? It's pretty much it nowadays, isn't it? Amazon.

Robert McKee 1:01:17
bookstores, I'm sure are opening up. And if you know if you love bookstores, as I do, you know, you can go to a bookstore and get it. But the most direct way that will be there in your budget for the next morning. It's incredible what they do, what Amazon does, and bash, you know that the other other Barnes and Noble stew or whatever it is, but yeah, it's very simple. You just go to amazon.com. Right? Just write the word McKee. And comes story, dialogue, character, in hardcover, in an audio and in Kindle,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:05
and everything else? And then how can people read it? And how can people learn more about you what you offer?

Robert McKee 1:02:13
Ah, the go to make peace story.com. The key story.com will take you to our website. And we have a upcoming. We've been doing webinars now for a year and a half since the plague hit us. And they've been very successful, very, very pleased with it. And in July, we're doing a series on action. Nice on the action genre. And so these, these are every Tuesday, three Tuesday's in a row. And they're two hour events, hour and a half worth of lecture and a half hour of q&a. Then on Thursday, I I give an additional two hours of q&a.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
Fantastic.

Robert McKee 1:03:03
And because I realized how important it is for people to get answers to things they're working on. So So Tuesdays and Thursdays for three weeks in a row. And there's you know, four hours of material each week. So and we will we will look at the action genre in depth with lots of illustrations and examples of an adage and I love giving these acts. webinars. And it's a favorite of mine. Actually,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:38
I love a good action movie is it's hard to come by nowadays. So I appreciate it. Robert, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to to my audience and I appreciate all the work that you have done over the years and help so many screenwriters as well. So thank you so much for everything you do.

Robert McKee 1:03:54
It was a lovely chat. Great chat. Nice talking to you.

 

Top Ten BEST Filmmaking Courses Online

I’m always asked what the top filmmaking courses online I’d recommend to filmmakers. As Jack Nicolson says:

“If you don’t keep learning, you die.”

I am a HUGE consumer of online courses of all types. I’m a visual learner and online courses help me keep my skills sharp. Below I’ve put together a list of some of the best Filmmaking Courses Online I’ve personally taken and recommend. Some I even teach = ) Keep on hustlin’ and learning.

Light and Face: The Art of Cinematography

This workshop will walk you through how to light the most important and emotional subject you could put in front of your lens, the enigmatic face on a low budget. This workshop is unique in that it will literally guide you through the entire process of making your film. Taught by award-winning cinematographer Suki Medencevic A.S.C.

Suki has been lighting Hollywood films and television for over 25 years. Some of his work includes American Horror Story, Stuck in the Middle, and several high profile documentaries for Pixar, ILM, andDisney+ including The History of Imagineering for Disney Studios. Suki has taught around the world to sold-out crowds as well at USC Film School and New York Film Academy. He is also a member of the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers

Some of the things you’ll learn from this course:

  • Single Source Lighting
  • Single Light Bulb
  • LED Lighting / Fresnel Light
  • Small Paper Lantern
  • Ring Light / Kino Flo
  • Flashlight / iPad
  • Christmas Light
  • Open Face Source + Umbrella
  • Diffusing the Light
  • Hampshire / Opal
  • 251, 250, 216, 129 Diffusion
  • Chimera Diffusion
  • 1K Chimera
  • Color Temperature Breakdowns
  • Three-Point Lighting
  • Film Noir Look
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Glamour Lighting
  • Horror Look
  • Fantasy Look
  • Old Hollywood Look
  • Warm Period Look
  • BONUS: Detail Diagrams of Each Lighting Setup

Click Here for more info.


The Complete Film Distribution Blueprint

Taught by Indie Film Hustle Founder Alex Ferrari, this course is an insider’s look at how the film distribution side of the business works. It will teach you how to avoid predatory film distributors and aggregators, what to look for in distribution agreements, VOD myths, film deliverables, working with sales agents, and much more. Don’t become a statistic. Educate yourself and thrive.

  • What is Film Distribution?
  • Producers Rep and Sales Agents
  • Film Markets
  • Video-On-Demand Ecosystem
  • DVD, Blu-Rays, and Physical Media
  • Television Syndication
  • Selling to Airlines  Hotels and Cruise Lines
  • Educational Rights
  • Theatrical Distribution & Deliverables 
  • Film Distribution Agreements and Pitfalls to Avoid
  • Film Deliverables (Physical Masters)
  • Film Deliverables (Paperwork)
  • Film Deliverables (Marketing)
  • Marketing Your Film
  • Film Aggregators
  • How to Secretly Track International Sales of Your Film
  • Keeping Your Film Distributor Honest
  • Latest COVID-19 Film Distribution Updates
  • Plus Hours of Bonus Interviews

Learn how to protect yourself from predatory film distributors and sales agents. Don’t become a statistic.

Click Here for more info


The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop

Award-winning film producer Suzanne Lyons is about to take you from script to screen and beyond in this Mastermind workshop. After producing a number of bigger budget features Suzanne thought producing the SAG ultra-low and modified budget films would be a piece of cake. Boy, was she wrong? Wearing 100 different hats was a challenge and she learned so much. And now she will be sharing all that great info with you. This workshop is unique in that it will literally guide you through the entire process of making your film.

Included in this course:

  • Learn How to Sell Yourself
  • The Script: Option and Development
  • Creating a Business Plan
  • Setting Up Your Company and Opening a Bank Account
  • Sales Presentations and Finding Investors
  • Soft Prep
  • The Casting Process
  • Pre-Production
  • Principle Photography
  • Post Production and Deliverables
  • Delivery and Sales Agents
  • BONUS PACK: Paperwork, Contracts, and Examples (Word & PDF Versions)

Click Here for more info


Screenwriting Foundations: Story Development

This course shows you how to build your script from the bottom up. We will cover concept development, creating a meaningful theme, building a central character who strikes an emotional chord with the audience, and we will even learn how to develop supporting characters and antagonists. We don’t just stop there, we break down how to write a logline, mind mapping your concept, and even how to conquer writer’s block.

Included in this course:

  • Concept Development
  • Understanding Theme
  • Mind Mapping
  • Defeating Writer’s Block
  • Constructing a Logline
  • Character Development
  • The Character Sheet
  • Tips for Great Characters 
  • Internal vs External Conflict
  • Sympathy vs Empathy
  • The Query Letter

Click Here for more info


Crowdfunding for Filmmaking Masterclass

This course will guide you through every stage of planning, creating, and running your film crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding is the only method of film finance open to all filmmakers, anywhere in the world and over $250 million has already been raised for films on Kickstarter. It’s based on research on over 50,000 film crowdfunding campaigns, interviews with over 50 filmmakers who have run a crowdfunding campaign, and interviews with some of the top people at major crowdfunding platforms and services.

This course includes:

  • Introduction to Crowdfunding 
  • Reward-Based Crowdfunding
  • History of Crowdfunding
  • Pros and Cons of Crowdfunding
  • Hosting Your Campaign
  • Creating Your Crowdfunding Strategy
  • Ideal Campaign Length
  • Budget for Campaign 
  • Defining Your Audience
  • Building a Team
  • Crafting Your Pitch Video
  • Writing the Pitch
  • Setting Rewards
  • Services and Hacks to Help Your Campaign
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Launching Your Campaign
  • Fulfilling Your Extras
  • Interviews with Successful Crowdfunding Filmmakers

Click Here for more info


Hollywood Filmmaking & Television Directing Masterclass

Veteran film and television director Gil Bettman teaches you how to enhance the drama in a scene, heighten the action by using different lenses and how to move the camera in your next film and video production. The key here is that camera movement must be invisible. It should serve the story without calling attention to itself.

Next, learn How To Move the Camera most effectively by systematically fulfilling Five Tasks when designing each moving master shot. Finally, learn how a master of visual design like Zemeckis customizes his application of these Five Tasks to the unique demands of each scene.

Click Here for more info


Storytelling Blueprint: The Hero’s Two Journeys

Experience two of Hollywood’s most sought-after story experts, authors, and lecturers with Screenwriting and Story Secrets: The Hero’s Two Journeys. If you’re a screenwriter, novelist, filmmaker, game developer, or storyteller in any arena, this course will empower you to captivate your readers and audiences to achieve both artistic AND commercial success. Modeling what works is the philosophy at the heart of this course. Taught bu Michael Hauge and Chris Vogler.

Click Here for more info


The Dialogue: Learn from the Masters

The Dialogue is a groundbreaking interview series that goes behind the scenes of the fascinating craft of screenwriting. In these 70-90 minute in-depth discussions (over 37 hours in all), more than two-dozen of today’s most successful screenwriters share their work habits, methods, and inspirations, secrets of the trade, business advice, and eye-opening stories from life in the trenches of the film industry. Each screenwriter discusses his or her filmography in great detail and breaks down the mechanics of one favorite scene from their produced work.

Click Here for more info


Filmmaker in a Box: Learn How to Make a Low Budget Feature Film

FILMMAKER IN A BOX is the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at the making of a micro-budget (meaning REALISTIC BUDGET!) feature film production. This is a look into how a professional near-no-budget film is made – with EVERY DETAIL available at your fingertips!

FIB examines the EVERY detail (Over 18+ Hours) of the making of an independent movie called 2 Million Stupid Women (a comedy written by a woman!), which was made for only $100,000, made within the “Hollywood” system. If you want to make a feature, you need to take this course.

Click Here for more info

 

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Top Ten Best Screenplays Ever Written

If you want to be a screenwriter you have to read screenplays. There’s no better place to start than reading the masters of the craft. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) published this list of the top ten best screenplays ever written and I would have to agree.

My personal favorites on this list are Casablanca, Chinatown, and Annie Hall. Click on the links below and start reading. Happy Reading…then get to writing.

1. CASABLANCA
Screenplay by Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. Based on the play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

2. THE GODFATHER
Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola.

3. CHINATOWN
Written by Robert Towne

4. CITIZEN KANE
Written by Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles

5. ALL ABOUT EVE
Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

6. ANNIE HALL
Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

7. SUNSET BLVD.
Written by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman, Jr.

8. NETWORK
Written by Paddy Chayefsky

9. SOME LIKE IT HOT
Screenplay by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond.

10. THE GODFATHER II
Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo.

BONUS: SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
Screenplay by Frank Darabont. I had to add this remarkable screenplay to the list.

SHORTCODE - SCREENPLAYS

Want to read more screenplays by the best screenwriters working in Hollywod today?

The Bulletproof Screenwriting collection of screenplays are organized by screenwriter's & filmmaker's career for easy access.

SHORTCODE - TV SCRIPTS

Do you Want to read all the television pilots from the 2016-2021 seasons?

Learn from the best storytellers and television writers working in Hollywood today. Netflix, NBC, Hulu, HBOMax, Amazon, CBS and more.

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25 Grip and Electric Terms Everyone on a Film Set Should Know

You will inevitably need something from the grips or electric department if you spend enough time on set. They will often be willing to help (if you ask politely and at a good time), but it always helps if you know what the piece of equipment you need is actually called. Here are twenty-five grip and electric terms that will get you started.

Apple Box– A wooden box that can be used for almost anything. It comes in various sizes and is commonly used as steps, seats and to raise props, dressing or actors.

Barndoors– Folding doors that are attached to the front of lamps so they can be opened and closed to control the output of light.

Bazooka– A camera mounts similar to a tripod but only has one center shaft that raises the camera up and down.

Beef– The output of light.

Best Boy– The second in command of the grip or electrics department. They often do most of their work offset in the truck as they plan for the future shooting days.

Black wrap– Black aluminum foil that is used to cover light leaks or shaped into flaps to cut the light.

C-stand– An extremely versatile metal stand used for holding lights, floppy, cutters, and anything else you need to be stabilized.

Dance Floor– When it’s impossible to lay a track in the set or the camera move is more complex than a simple push in, the grips will lay smooth timber or plastic sheets down onto the ground to create a perfectly level floor. The dolly can then be pushed in any direction with minimal bumps and vibrations to the camera.

Diffusion– A white material used to soften the light source.

Dimmer– A device used to control the power of the lamp.

Dingle– A piece of cut-off foliage to provide the lighting effect of a tree shadow on the subject.

Dolly– A heavy piece of equipment that the camera can be mounted onto to give a smooth moving shot. The dolly slides along a track that looks just like a train track. This is extremely heavy; avoid being too close to the grips when they are looking for a hand carrying this up the stairs.

Duvetyne– A thick, black cloth used for blacking out windows, and covering equipment and crewmembers when they are in reflections.

SHORTCODE - SOUND FX

Need Sound Effects for your short or feature film project?

Download 2000+ sound effects designed for indie filmmakers & their projects for free.

Floppy– Square or rectangular frames with black material used to control the light. They can be used to cut the light off a certain subject or to blackout an area for the director’s monitor.

Gaffer– The head of the electric department.

Gel– A transparent colored filter that is applied to the front of a light to manipulate the color output.

House Power– Using the location’s power as opposed to power supplied by the electric generator. Always good to check with the electrics department that it’s okay to plug into house power.

Key Grip– The head of the grip department.

Key Light– The main source of light on a subject.

Lamp– Just another word for light. The electric department tries to be all fancy and such.

Scrim– A type of material similar to diffusion to manipulate the intensity of the light source. Typically scrims are quite large, either 10’x10’ or 20’x20’, and used to diffuse the harsh sunlight when shooting exteriors.

Shot bag– A heavy bag full of lead shot used to weigh down stands. Looks like a sandbag.

Stinger– A single extension power cord left ‘hot’ by the electrics for occasional use.

Track– Steel or aluminum track that the dolly glides along to create smooth camera movements. The track is laid level by the grips across all types of terrain using apple boxes and wedges.

Wedge– Small timber triangles used to level the dolly track.


Matt Webb is the author of Setlife: A Guide To Getting A Job in Film (And Keeping It). He is an Assistant Director with credits including The Great Gatsby, Mad Max: Fury Road, Hacksaw Ridge, Pirates of the Carribean and Alien: Covenant.

Setlife: A Guide To Getting A… is a must-have guide designed to prepare you for what happens on a typical day on a film set. Matt Webb’s no-fuss, practical tips are essential reading for anyone chasing a career in the film industry. The book is available for $25 from Amazon.

IFH 452: What They Don’t Teach You in Film School with Shane Stanley


Right-click here to download the MP3

Our guest on today’s episode is Emmy award-winning filmmaker, actor, Filmtrepreneur, best-selling author, and instructor Shane Stanley. Shane’s been in the business way before he could walk. He started off as a child actor at 9 months old when his father, who was a working actor volunteered him for national TV commercials, starring in commercials and films and even going on to win his first two Emmy Awards at age 16  and 19 for his role in the Desperate Passage (1987) series.

Along with his outstanding talents in front of the camera, Stanley also had an eye out for the producer’s seat. He learned and honed camera and editorial skills and could comfortably find his way around behind the camera by age 10, and has since clocked directing, production, editing, and acting credits for over 58 shows, films, commercials, and music videos.

In 2001, he launched his production company, Visual Arts Entertainment under which he executive produced culture hits like the sports drama, and Box Office #1, Gridiron Gang starring Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson as lead, and critically acclaimed film, A Sight for Sore Eyes which was Shane’s directorial debut.

The film won several awards in 2004. It bagged a Special Jury Award at WorldFest Houston, won two Telly Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Film & Television as well as winning top honors at the International Family Film Festival, and ultimately won dozens of prestigious awards, and was invited to screen at Cannes Film Festival in 2005.

Shane’s latest book, What You Don’t Learn In Film School: A Complete Guide To (Independent) Filmmaking, offers a wealth of knowledge for anyone who wants an entertainment industry insider’s professional guidance on how to create a movie. I loved the book so much I decided to publish the audiobook version through my company IFH Books. If you want to get a FREE copy of the book all you need to do CLICK HERE and sign up for a FREE Audible account and download Shane’s book.

The book is an especially invaluable tool for anyone thinking of going to film school. It is an in-depth, no-holds-barred look at making movies from ‘concept to delivery in today’s ever-evolving climate while breaking down the dos and don’ts of (independent) filmmaking.

Directed and written by Shane, Mistrust is about Veronica enjoys being a mistress. Having no commitments and never being vulnerable, She comes to realize her best friend holds the key to her heart and is the only one capable of extracting her emotions.

His latest film, Break Even (2020) tells the story of four adventurous friends who find 50M in cash on a remote island only to discover it was left by the DEA for the Cartel in a rogue deal.

Shane is a wealth of information and he drops some MAJOR knowledge bombs on the tribe in this conversation. If you are a filmmaker do yourself a favor and pick up his book What You Don’t Learn In Film School: A Complete Guide To (Independent) Filmmaking, it is a GREAT companion book to Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business.

Get ready to take notes and enjoy my conversation with Shane Stanley.

Alex Ferrari 0:21
Now guys, today on the show, we have filmmaker, producer and best selling author, Shane Stanley. James is a multi Emmy Award winning filmmaker who has produced or directed over 49 projects in his amazing career. He's best known for producing the gridiron gang starring Dwayne The Rock Johnson. Now Shane has had so much experience in the business that he decided to sit down and write a book called what you don't learn in film school, a complete guide to independent filmmaking. And after reading the book, I was so impressed that I reached out to Shane and decided to partner with him and release the audio book version of what you don't learn in film school through IFH books. This book is a prerequisite if you want to be an independent filmmaker, there's so much amazing information. And after reading it, I'm like, Oh my god, I wish I would have had this book when I was starting out. There's just so many knowledge bombs that he drizzled throughout the book that will help you avoid those massive pitfalls of independent filmmaking. Now I wanted to bring Shane on the show so we can kind of dig into a little bit about what the book is about his long career mistakes he made and just wanted to squeeze as many knowledge bombs out of him as I could for this episode. So I want you to sit back and relax and take in everything Shane has to say in this conversation. And at the end of the episode I will show you how you can get a free copy of the audio book what you don't learn in film school. But until then, please enjoy my conversation with Shane

Shane Stanley 4:15
Stanley.

Alex Ferrari 4:17
I'd like to welcome Mr Shane Stanley man How you doing?

Shane Stanley 4:20
Alex? I'm good Thanks for having me. How you doing?

Alex Ferrari 4:22
I'm as good as we can be in this crazy upside down world we live in sir.

Shane Stanley 4:27
Whoo. Every day. I keep thinking it may just start finding its right way back up and then the wheel and the ball just spins back. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 4:35
And then and then it starts raining murder Hornets. So I mean,

Shane Stanley 4:42
and what was the new animal they threatened us with last week.

Alex Ferrari 4:47
25 foot 25 foot Grizzly like I don't know it like it's it's it just saw but this is this is going to be a film geek thing before we get started. Did you see that the trailer for Grizzly too. The film that was shot in 1980 something and is now being being released in 2020. But starring George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen.

Shane Stanley 5:11
Oh, wow.

Alex Ferrari 5:12
And I saw I just saw it was on my Facebook feed. I was like, This is never been released. It was sitting in someone's closet and they finally Brent remastered it and edited.

Shane Stanley 5:23
You know what's weird, is I used to run Charlie Sheen's production company from 96 to 99. Okay, he was he was friends with George Clooney. And he kept saying, Yeah, we did a movie together years ago. That's it years ago. And and wow, I'd like this and it never came full circle. Now it did.

Alex Ferrari 5:44
I'm glad I can bring closer to that part of your life

Shane Stanley 5:47
is wondering what that was because it never I never got answers

Alex Ferrari 5:51
Grizly to start. It says George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen. And oh, God, the guy. No, the star of credit. The star of it is Oh my god, I can't john. JOHN Reese, the guy from Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings. With the big the big voice in the beard.

Shane Stanley 6:13
Yeah, I know. You mean he's English actor.

Alex Ferrari 6:16
Yeah, he's an English actor. Exactly. Yeah. He's, he's, he's the star of it. And you see him. And I saw him and I saw him in the trailer. He's literally lassoing a 25 foot which is so obviously not a 25 foot crazy, but it's just so brilliant. I can't wait to watch it. So I'm sorry, everyone. We had to start off with a little bit of film geekery But so, uh, so Shane, tell me how you got into the business.

Shane Stanley 6:51
You know, Alex might my journey into Hollywood was was a little different than most but not uncommon. My father when I was born, was a working actor. And he had been in films like ice station, zebra rock cuts, and Mannix modsquad. He was a working blue collar actors under contract with MGM and Aaron Spelling. And as I was born, he volunteered me for a national television commercial. It was for a new company called century 21. I was the little baby in diapers that this new couple was buying a house and so I became a childhood actor before I could even walk and did that for a number of years and was quickly bored with being in a trailer and being there all day to do a couple of minutes of work. And my father had transitioned into becoming a filmmaker, a documentarian and a very successful one. And he had a movie all around the house. He had the RS 16 millimeter cameras, the flatbeds splicers, and I was fascinated by that equipment, Alex, and before I was seven years old, I was running a movie Ola, I was assisting him and his editors doing sound sync and splicing and fixing films that would come in and needed repair. And I just, I fell in love with the process of just from watching them storyboard ideas and doing educational and documentary films and then seeing it on the screen when it was all done was just that whole concept of delivery was fascinating to me and that that's really what what brought me in

Alex Ferrari 8:22
and, and then you you worked on a film called gridiron gang starring the Rock Can you tell us how you got involved with that project?

Shane Stanley 8:29
I executive produced that it was an interesting story. I'm being independent filmmakers. My my father, my my stepmother, Linda and I were producing this documentary series called the desperate passage series, which ran from 1989 to 94. And in involved at risk youth taking them out on at sea expeditions, you know, Michael Landon, Lou Gossett, Jr, Marlo Thomas, Sharon, bless Eddie James, almost all used to host and we had a great pool of talent. And there was a story in the LA Times about this juvenile football team that had hatched up at the local prison. And we had already shot I think five or six films up there. Camco Patrick in Malibu. So my stepmom found the article, she brought it to my dad and said, I think we should do this. My dad said, No, I'm kind of done. I mean, we've done five or six of these shows on these kids. Let's move on. And she wanted us to really pursue it. So he called probation and so he helped us again, we'd like to do it and he said, Oh, get in line. Hollywood's Hollywood's come knocking in some, some big studio had the rights to do it. And three weeks later, they called us and said, do you want to do it get up here they start practice tomorrow. So my dad myself, Philip Byrne, Ken Schaefer and David Johnston God rest his soul, went up to camp Kilpatrick and shot for three weeks, and a documentary that became known as gridiron gang, which as soon as it aired became in 94. Those property your parents have gotten more Really and then 15 years later we made that pyramid Saudi Columbia for 15 years before we made it.

Alex Ferrari 10:09
So yeah, that's a that's a lovely little thing that film filmmakers listening should understand that the Hollywood is not fast. by any stretch of the imagination. It's still these. There's projects that stay in development for decades and decades.

Shane Stanley 10:24
Well, what was really interesting is we weren't in the gridiron gang and nobody would Eric for two years and we had already had a ton of success with acid series. We had 13 Emmy nominations, we won like eight. And I don't know I think it was because it was football, you know, high school football who wants to air that that's that, you know, and they're kidding.

Alex Ferrari 10:46
Like, everybody wants to see how like so many people want to watch high school football.

Shane Stanley 10:49
9192 different time, Friday Night Lights hadn't hit. So once it got aired on, KTLA, everybody wanted it. And it was interesting, too, because a lot of actors want to know, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, we were talking about john candy share. You know, as Sean Penn, a lot of people were calling for the rights and wanted to get involved. And then we made our deal with Sony. And they put it on the fast track. And at the time, Mark Campbell was the president of the studio and they were going to attach everybody from Bruce Willis to Andy Garcia to Dustin Hoffman. They had all sorts of plans. And then it went into turn around when more Canton would show the door at Columbia wanted to turn around and sat for another eight years without, you know, being able to do anything because they had over $2 million charged against the film. So anytime a producer called us Alex and said hey, whatever happened gridiron getting be great to make that. Yeah, great. You know, pay Colombia 2 million. And then we can talk about as a they had that much invested in those terms.

Alex Ferrari 11:52
And then how did so then they sold it over to paramount. Paramount picked it up?

Shane Stanley 11:55
No, no, no. What happened was is Neil Moritz was a budding producer. You know, Neil is known for fast and furious SWAT and about every other hit Hollywood is cranked out in the last decade. And Neil was was somebody who was involved with us early on, and he went on to do fast and furious and SWAT and triple x and all these great films and we always stayed in touch with Neil he's he's genuinely a good guy. He endorsed my book as you saw. And Friday Night Lights came out and then we knew we were Marshall was getting made facing the Giants was this big indie Christian head. And it was like movie after movie invincible. We heard in one thing we have to admit Alec, you and I joked about this before we started as Hollywood repeats itself, they copy it's a copycat industry. And it was kind of like if there was ever a time to make Baron gang, it's now so my dad and I called Neil and said, Do you want to make it? He said, Yes, let's meet tomorrow, but have a cast in mind. Because that's what's always stalled this thing out so I'm coming up with a cast list a mile long Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis again, let's go with these guys. And Jason state them and, and my wife, then girlfriend at the time, was in the bedroom watching TV. And she came in and she said, I need you to come see something and I said, I'm busy. I'm making a list for Neil Moritz. And she said, Stop what you're doing come in here and look at what I'm watching and it was the E True Hollywood Story on the rock. And he had been arrested a dozen times before his 18th birthday. He had played a very high level in the national championship. Miami Hurricanes was drafted into the CFL NFL blew out his knee and started from dirt and made something great of themselves. And I watched that five minutes Alex and I went back to my office I tore up my list of 35 plus names that I'd spent four hours coming up with, went into Neil's office the next day. We caught up a little while since we saw each other and he said alright, where's your list? And I said, I got one name for you. I said Dwayne Johnson. And he yelled to his assistant, Nikki, Nikki, when's my dinner with the rock? She said tomorrow, he said, Give me a copier. Give me a DVD of the grid of the documentary you and your dad made. Two days later. We were up at the jail with Dwayne Johnson walk in the premises. And he knew we were making a movie. I mean, you know,

Alex Ferrari 14:06
that was and and Dwayne. I mean he was he was the rock but he wasn't the Rock like he was he was big but he wasn't what we know of him today.

Shane Stanley 14:14
He just done Walking Tall Scorpion caves

Alex Ferrari 14:17
early early. He had done if

Shane Stanley 14:20
it was early Yeah. And he was leaving to go do God that video game movie he did right? Oh, don't do

Alex Ferrari 14:28
that. Do that. Yes. He jokes quite a much about a bit about that. But it was still early on. Yeah, walking to Walking Tall was a hit and you know, but he wasn't what we would call like the rock now is the rock.

Shane Stanley 14:43
And I can't think of a I can't think of a person who deserves the success more talking about humble, sincere, gracious human being. I feel honored to say that we're to this day. 12 years later, we're still good friends. We stand regular touch. He's if anybody has earned it, and you really know his story. You would say it's him. And if you ever get a chance to work with a run to it, you'll be glad you did.

Alex Ferrari 15:05
That's amazing. Yeah, he's, I'm a huge rock fan. I've been watching the rock since the WWF days and I frickin love the rock. Oh, no, the I could do one eyebrow, that's it, I could do. I could do the Y kit. I could do one, I can't do the other one. Now, you wrote a book called what you don't learn in film school, which is basically my entire brand. What I've been, it's been pleasure. No, it's been what I've been talking about for years. And it's like, Guys, you know, one of the reasons why I started the podcast was like, I didn't hear anybody really out there at the time. telling it how it is from a place of someone who's walked the walk, like being in the industry, and really getting the shrapnel and getting the hell out beat out of them. And, you know, 20 I mean, at the time I launched, I was already like, 18 to 20 years in, you know, and just working with a ton of people. And I've been, you know, in all sorts of craziness. And, and I wanted to give like a voice to like now guys is not really what it is. So that's when I when I found out about your book, I was like, Oh, I gotta I gotta have shading out. We got it. We got to talk. So what are your thoughts on film schools in general? Do you do need to go?

Shane Stanley 16:21
Well, I think you know, it's a question that is the the age old it's a $64,000 question. I am not against film school, what I am against is charging PVS six figures to get a degree in French noir cinema. Yeah, theory in cell silos and how to keep it preserved in an archive. I mean, there are curriculum that I think are completely useless. But there are things here that I think are important, and I definitely know, like me, you're a blue collar guy, you know, if you come on to set on my Jane Seymour film, if I wasn't working with Jane or my dp, I was physically unloading the grub truck and helping the guys set up. It's just who I am. But I think there's a lot of us who didn't have a parent who bought us a camcorder or we didn't grow up at a time when our phones could make movies. Or I really was like his maid who grew up with movie holders and dads who were making documentaries. So if you don't have an understanding of the craft, or have any idea about it, I think, you know, to become an architect, you would go to school to become an architect to become a lawyer, you would do that. I think the most important thing somebody can do is read a book like the one I wrote or be involved with websites and movements, like indie film, hustle, because there's only so much they're going to teach you at school. They have to keep the persona on that you do need this or there without work. I mean, that's the way it is. But there's so much the business of the business that they don't teach in school is, you know, they don't teach about distribution deals. They don't talk about how to hire crew or how to make I mean, I do all my own contracts, whether it's actors Screen Actors Guild, I IATSE teamsters, it'll teach that. Nope. Look, where are you going to learn it, you're going to learn it from guys like you and me and the other people out there that have that have, you know, stood on a soapbox and try to promote it. So I think film schools are good, I get nervous where a lot of them their instructors are not tried and true filmmakers are people that that haven't been on a set in 20 or 30 years. I go around the country and do workshops and seminars will now that we're on zoom, I do them from air, but it amazes me the lack of credentials, the teachers teaching our next generation of storytellers have that's all just third generation stories about the history of cinema that's not filmmaking.

Alex Ferrari 18:44
No, I agree with you 100% I again, I always tell people look if you can if you can, if you have no understanding and you have no no other way to get this information. Then school is wonderful. At a price at a at a price like my film school. I went to full sail and I paid 18,000 bucks. I know what well, I paid 80,000 bucks in 1990 something and and for 18 grand it was was well worth the cost. You know, because I learned how to ride. I'm sorry.

Shane Stanley 19:15
Were you in Orlando?

Alex Ferrari 19:16
I wasn't I was there for a year and a half.

Shane Stanley 19:18
I was there in 93. I taught us a workshop in 93 in Orlando. I

Alex Ferrari 19:22
don't know if he was I was I was not there yet. I'm a little bit a little bit older than you a little bit a little bit younger than a little bit older than that. I'm not a little bit older.

Shane Stanley 19:31
I'm sorry. I'm 49.

Alex Ferrari 19:33
Well, sir. Well, no, I'm I guess some were similar vintages. Let's say. We're similar vintages. So but the thing is for that 18 grand, which I still think was a little bit pricey for my taste, because I learned how to wrap cable. And I learned how to make a cup of coffee. Those were the two biggest takeaways from my film education because because the technology was changing when I went so I was I was Did you know I was I was still told by my post production professor, that a computer will never be able to produce broadcast quality images. So yeah, that was a quote. I was like, wow, okay. Yeah. Okay. So the big issue I have with film schools is that, yes, I do have some great stuff in it. But the ROI is not there cannot charge somebody 60 7080 100 $120,000 for an education that you and I both know, will not return its investment. If you're going to be a doctor, there is a system setup to get your money back. If you're a lawyer. If you're a pilot, if you're an architect, if you're any of these other if you're an engineer, there are ways their system set up for you to start. And it might take time, I'm not saying the doctors, they cost like, you know, 300 or 300 $400,000, for their education, but there's systems in place to get that money back. Whereas in filmmaking, there is absolutely nothing you can do to guarantee anything, and you and I both know, that it will take if you're good and lucky, and you hustle like there's no tomorrow, maybe five years before you start generating enough money to support yourself if you live in Los Angeles, and that is like the outskirts, more likely 10 years.

Shane Stanley 21:28
You couldn't you couldn't say it best and a better and, and you know, my whole thing. When I started this, I learned the hard way. Because, you know, I like you was trying to come up with a way where in between films, what could I do to make a living and also help others there's got to be way because I tried to be a teacher, I squeaked out a high school. So nobody has hired me as a teacher because I didn't have a degree. Yes. Okay, fine. I get it. So how can I help? And my things, I was meeting with some of the top film institutions in the country. And I said, and I still am very close to a few of the chairs, and they let me in on some very private stuff. But I would be under exaggerating. If I said they know 86 to 92% of the kids who go through their full programs will never earn a dime in this industry Absolutely. Know that. And my original approach Alex was, what if because of the connections I have in my passion to help these students become because they are a next generation of storytellers, my way of giving back, how about if we started a mentorship program their senior year, so when they get out, we're almost handing them a baton. So people like numerous people like Amy Powell, who was running Paramount at the time could know these students and help place them in introduce them. And maybe once a year, we can have a gathering, you know, obviously before COVID in an arena or something where there's a lot of film people, a lot of students who can make connections. No, nobody wanted to do it. No, they didn't want to do

Alex Ferrari 23:03
no, and there's and look, they're selling the sizzle, man, they're not selling the steak. And that's that but that's the that's the thing. They have to sell the dream Hollywood needs to keep this dream alive. Where if you go to film school, and by the way, before that was the truth, which was you had to go to film school to get the kind of education you needed to get even a job in the industry in the 70s that's true in the 80s there was no other option where now there's guys like you and me out there talking writing books, doing podcasts, YouTube channels, there's so much information out there that you don't need to and I know a lot of filmmakers who decided you know what i got $50,000 for an education I'm just gonna go make a movie and they learned so much more by just going out and making a movie which might be good or bad regardless, it's an education I promise you if you go make a movie it's it's

Shane Stanley 23:59
you will you will learn more making a movie whether it's a short or a full length because you know you've made more than I I learned something about others. I learned something about how society interacts because I come back to a cave you know, I shoot a movie. I do concepts of delivery. So I'm usually editing it I'm post supervising it it's an 18 month process for me. I go away Well, I think it's safe to say the last 18 months our world has been to quite a bit in my studio last 18 months working on break even which comes out later this year. So to be honest with you, I kind of know what's going on but I can't wait to get back on a set it schooled and reminded where we really are I use those as such learning curves for me because I go in and I'm like okay, this is where we are today. And it's it keeps me on my game. It's an exciting experience. And every time I do something I learned

Alex Ferrari 24:53
no without without question every single time I want to set every single time I do you know in post production every time writing a script, you learn more and more, it's, it's like anything else, you got to learn the craft in every part of our craft, and it's so complex, it's not just writing a song, it's not just playing an instrument, it's not just carving wood, a table out of some wood.

Shane Stanley 25:19
You're right,

Alex Ferrari 25:20
it's multiple disciplines that you need to understand at least if you don't have to do them all. But you should understand this entire process, which is massive. It is what it is a complex art form. And we haven't even talked about the business. That's just the art form, then the business is a whole other conversation.

Shane Stanley 25:38
There's the business side, you're right, you've got to go hustle your your money to get attached to the project to get the actors to sign them up to get going. And then you got to crew it and cast it and location it and feed it and make it and then sell it.

Alex Ferrari 25:54
It's a process and the do it all again. And and it doesn't and it doesn't generally, generally speaking doesn't work out exactly how you have planned whether the positive or the negative, it's always something else. And, and it will break your heart. More times than not. It's it this is a horrible relationship. This industry we have with it. It's an abusive relationship. It's an absolutely. It's a toxic, abusive relationship.

Shane Stanley 26:21
It's so well said it's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 26:22
But with that said, we can't quit crazy. We can't we can't quit. Like I need

Shane Stanley 26:32
it said it says bro back now I just can't quit you right?

Alex Ferrari 26:35
I can't quit you, man. It's the truth. It's the truth. You can't quit. Because, you know, I've been saying this for a while. It's kind of like you catch it. You catch it. And it's with you for life. You can't get rid of it. It flares up. Sometimes it goes dormant for decades, even sometimes, but it Oh, I'd literally had a conversation with a filmmaker the other day, who was 65 just retired and said, Hey, I'm starting to write my screenplay, because I always wanted to make a movie. And I'm like, that is the case it's it's flaring up. It's flaring up now.

Shane Stanley 27:11
Well, you know, it's funny, I I've had a good run if I if I dropped it tomorrow or was told I'd never make another movie. I'd be sad, but I fought the fight. I won some battles. I'm proud of my body of work. So I wanted to just become a workshop guy and a seminar guy and a mentor to these film students. I was done I feel if I don't make another movie again. I'll be on a team I've done my I fought the fight my resume is there and I don't want to go teach. And I did that for six months and and I still love teaching and mentoring and workshopping. I do it a few days a week now. But I couldn't wait to get back on a set. I missed my crew. I missed five oh, the writer. I missed arguing with a dp and fighting with an actor and being told I don't know shit and you know the hell with you and having them stormed off and all that fun stuff that actors do and they know they're wrong. And I missed it. I missed being the big one. Why did I get that extra angle? God dang it. Why aren't we got to make it work anyway, you know, I missed that

Alex Ferrari 28:09
I just can't quit. You just can't I just can't. I can't I always say I just can't quit crazy, because it's crazy. It's it's insanity. Now, what is the biggest thing you see film schools leaving out of their education, besides absolute honesty that 93% of the people going through the program more likely will never make a diamond the business?

Shane Stanley 28:34
I you know, that's a great question. I think when you look at a standard curriculum, I think that the most important thing that film schools leave out is the importance of learning different variables within our industry. Because when I go to a seminar, the first thing is how many you guys want to be writers hands go producers, hands go up directors, all the hands go up. And I say, look, there's 200 of you in this room right now, if two of you were able to make a living as a director in 10 years, I will eat this podium, still haven't eaten yet. And I say you know what, I always try to preach it, you have a choice. And you you touched on it. Alex's it takes five to 10 years to get a foothold in this industry. And what I always tell the students in the kids coming up, and I do a lot of work with community colleges now more than university because they're older, they've had to fight for everything they have they take buses to school and skateboards and kids and but what I always say is I you want to write I get you want to produce direct or act and I love that don't ever let that passion go. But if you want to work in this industry and better you're learn how to be a gaffer, learn how to be a grip, learn how to be an AC learn how to edit, learn how to learn how to learn how to because I bet you would much rather be on a film set as a script supervisor than driving Uber. I bet you'd much rather be helping unload a grip truck and setting up for a cinematographer than flipping burgers. And if you're honest that you're going to be around actors, producers and directors, and if you stand out and you conduct yourself, Well, people will take notice and want you for the next journey. And that is what I feel the film schools leave out, which isn't a specific curriculum. It's common sense. It's life skills. It's how if you don't make it as the next Quentin Tarantino or Billy Bob Thornton, or you know, Damian, helped me to

Alex Ferrari 30:31
sell, sell, sell, sell

Shane Stanley 30:34
those three, which they always tell you, you can be what you're going to do. And one thing I love is Chris Christopher Rossiter, for anybody listening at La Community College, he has an entire course off of cinematography, that is just grip and electric. He does that so people can learn a blue collar skill on a set and go make three to $500 a day.

Alex Ferrari 31:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. I can't even tell you that's like music to my ears. Because when I first started out, I didn't know how to do anything. I start pa and I realized that pa ng sucked. I hated it. It is atrocious. It was horrible. And I worked. I worked at Universal Studios Florida. I worked in Disney MGM. If Are you familiar with the Orlando area during that time, the other productions?

Shane Stanley 31:33
My father's whole side is from Orlando. Okay,

Alex Ferrari 31:36
so I so this is just a little bit of a trivia I've never I've never even said this on the air before but a little bit of trivia. Let's see if you can. Let's see. I'm gonna test your Orlando knowledge. Live first, pa job, which was an internship pa job started off as an internship intern pa was with Kim Dawson. On the back on the backlot of Disney MGM, he was the producer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Oh, geez. And he did a show called the news on on the backlog of universal so then he started off they started off on on Disney MGM, but they actually shot it on the back lot of universal and then we moved over to Universal. And it was like, it was like a Saturday live ripoff. And I that was like the coolest thing ever to work for the producer of it, which at the time was the biggest independent film of all time.

Shane Stanley 32:34
And it's made a comeback.

Alex Ferrari 32:35
Yeah. Oh, now it's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Obviously they've done. They've done well. But that was that's why and then I worked on Seaquest I worked at Fortune Hunter.

Shane Stanley 32:45
Did you work on Seaquest in LA?

Alex Ferrari 32:47
No. Universal Studios, Florida.

Shane Stanley 32:49
You know they had they also shot here at Universal here. I worked on seaquest here. There you go. Castle Rock back in 9394. On Seinfeld, they throw me on Roseanne even I was at a castle rock show. They threw me on seaquest American girl and a couple other ones. And they would occasionally coach and they would throw me on seaquest when they needed extra bodies over there. And it was usually the fake dolphin in the tank.

Alex Ferrari 33:13
Oh, yeah. All day, I get to see Roy Strider and on the set was the coolest thing ever. And then I was there when they switched the seasons that Michael Ironside is the lead. So I mean, I it was it was it was an entertainment. But that was my whole and I also worked in Nickelodeon. Of course.

Shane Stanley 33:30
That's cool.

Alex Ferrari 33:32
I worked jobs. I actually worked on global guts. Global guts was like this. This show for it was kind of like a it's like American Ninja for kids back in the day. And it was awesome. It was so awesome. But anyway, we're taking. We're just going down the Orlando road

Shane Stanley 33:52
going down memory lane. Well, we did a film with Dennis Hopper called held for ransom him dead Bayes R and I think that deal and it was based on Lois Belkin book who wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer my dad directed and we went out and shop with them for was when they were first getting started, you know, for oil has done a million things since then. And that was quite a hoot going out there to see family and work on this film. It was interesting, but that was the only time I ever actually did a film out there.

Alex Ferrari 34:21
What Don't forget that don't forget that Orlando was going to be the next Hollywood don't you? Don't you remember it was gonna it was gonna be the next Hollywood everything's the next Hollywood

Shane Stanley 34:30
next Hollywood.

Alex Ferrari 34:31
I mean, the only thing that's even come closest Georgia at this point became that they've actually pick up the next Hollywood

Shane Stanley 34:38
start wearing masks, they actually may have a chance.

Alex Ferrari 34:42
So what is the what are some of the biggest mistakes you see first time filmmakers make? You know that?

Shane Stanley 34:51
I'd say some of the mistakes that that I see first time filmmakers make Alex is and I touched on it in the book. I feel everybody's trying to make that move. For Sundance they're so convinced their ideas fresh and bright and are going to be the next you know Damien chazelle are gonna be the next you know, whoever and I like you and probably guests on set all the time I get invited first time filmmakers last time filmmaker, same difference. And it's the attitude. It's this air of arrogance and all this bs precisely, just shut up. treat people with respect make your movie the best you can and learn from it. And to me, it's, it's they try too hard to to be a part of something that's probably not going to datum as you and I were talking about before we started this interview. And hey, if you get into Sundance and all that, that is the greatest thing an indie nobody can get on their on their resume, and I hope it happens for them. But go make a movie, enjoy the process embracing consume, learn, be a team player. Don't be above that all because you raise $6 or you're directing this stupid movie to go help a guy who's struggling setting up a craft service table, I watch more people's egos. You know, you go work on a film like gridiron gang or some of the studio films I've done even though there's union rules, it's unbelievable how helpful everybody is for one another. And you get on some of these indie show Oh, fighting for position of what their value is or what they're worth, maybe, God forbid, they see a guy who cuts his arm off trying to figure out a, you know, hydraulic lift out of a moving truck before they discover and help the guy and that's to me is put your pride aside, help each other out. You'd be so amazed how far you can go.

Alex Ferrari 36:39
I always find it interesting that filmmakers in general, they're taught and the myth in the industry is that you're going to be the next winter. And you know, you're you're going to be the next Robert Rodriguez. That is, but what they don't tell you is like, well, that's nice. And one out of a billion people is going maybe that'll happen too, because we're still talking. We're still talking about guys in the 90s. Who made it you know, there's not a lot of new up and coming stories. There are a handful. But

Shane Stanley 37:12
I'm not to cut you off. I'm a firm believer Hollywood, make sure there's one or three every other year just to make sure that

Alex Ferrari 37:18
keep that keep that thing going. Yeah,

Shane Stanley 37:20
to keep that. Absent not to cut you off. But I do believe there is a method behind the madness of development out of nowhere. Success, I think there is

Alex Ferrari 37:29
no there's no question but they don't teach you what happens if you don't become the next point Tarantino if you don't become that, and that is so toxic for for a filmmaker and when you're young. And I was definitely a guilty of this. The ego is rough. I mean, there's a reason why I called my last film the corner of ego and desire because as a filmmaker, if you have even a remote amount of just if you get an award at the local Film Festival, your ego is out of control. And I early on in my career got a lot of attention for some shorts. And that was a little bit I was already beat up a bit. But I was a little bit in a little a little ego. egocentric in regards to the way I approach stuff. But I never once walked on a set with a big hat that said director on it. Or a big t shirt that said director on it or walked around with a eyepiece that I didn't know how to use not like a net like the James Cameron like, you know, let's set up a shot or Martin Scorsese. Yeah, a real like no, like one of these really small ones that have no association to the lens that you're going to use. It just makes you feel like you're a director, the only thing that were that they were missing was a monocle and a blow horn. I mean, it was it's insane. The stuff and I've seen these stories, and I've seen these directors on set. And And nowadays, like when I see that happen, I'll just don't Don't worry. worry about it. He'll be fine. It'll be fine. It all works itself out. It all works itself out.

Shane Stanley 39:05
I found that the best experiences the best synergy vibe on a set is when you know you may be the guy who raised the money, the guy wrote the script, producing it directing it going to do the whole thing. And you make everybody feel comfortable. Everybody feels safe. And that's our thing. You know, as you read in the book, it's about respect. It's about treating people how you want to be treated. And I know that sounds so cliche, but it seems to me unless you're a few of the real crazy tyrants out there. I won't name them. It seems like the smaller the filmmaker, the bigger the ego. And that's just something that's always wrote I just don't it's true, I think missing tremendous opportunity to collaborate with some great people that feel stifled that can. I'll give you an example. We were shooting breakeven last summer. There we CJ Wally. Up who, you know, wrote this scene, as I asked him to write it, I gave him a Google image of the harbour we're at, there's a part where the two people come off of paddle boards onto the dock, walk down the dock, throw a guy in the water, jump on a speedboat and steal it. Okay. And I wanted it as a winner on steady cam that would pick it up. And I'm looking at the logistics of the actual now that I'm here, and the boats here in the fuel docks are there and this and that, I'm going, I can't get what I designed. And, you know, I've got 40 people staring at me. And the first thing I did was I said, guys, take 10, if you can contribute to the thought process here, I welcome you to stay in, if you can't just go get some food, we'll call you in a minute, I got to rethink this out. And I need help because this is not what I envisioned. It's not what I envisioned won't work. And I suggest anybody has an idea to sit with me. And you know how hard that was to do. Here. I am, Rector, producer, and I'm leading the charge and I'm sitting on the bow of the boat. And I'm like, what I want to do won't work. And I want some help. I need some suggestions. And it was probably a second AC that came in and said, Hey, why don't you do this? Holy Toledo. That's not a bad. Alright, everybody, let's go. And

Alex Ferrari 41:12
you know, but that's as opposed to someone who has no confidence in themselves, because that takes a secure person. And I think that does come with age, man. Like unless you're wise beyond your years. Age is where that comes from, or just life experiences where that comes from. Because it's like, I couldn't like a twin. I'm afraid of what would have happened if I would have I had a project that I worked on when I was in my mid 20s that had big stars. And I wrote a whole book about it and about like working with a mob and all this kind of craziness. And I was afraid I look back now like if that would have gone. If I would have actually gotten a $15 million movie and was working with the caliber of stars that I was meeting and working out I would have I would have completely self destructed I would have would have I would have never been able to handle that because I was not prepared for it for

Shane Stanley 42:07
nothing all over again.

Alex Ferrari 42:08
Oh, sure. Yeah, Jeremy. And if it didn't, if it nobody knows that Troy Duffy, please. I wrote a whole giant article about Troy Duffy and the and the boondock saints. And you why you've got to watch the movie overnight. Every filmmaker should watch to watch that every filmmaker has to watch. Because you see the deterioration of of of a film director who's out of control. And by the way, years later, I had a friend of his on my show, and he told me about you because because you still talk to Troy he goes yeah, talk to Troy all the time. Troy By the way, did very well on boondock Saints to like he did he didn't millions did extremely well. Nobody's crying for joy. No, no one's crying for joy right now. But, um, and of course ever since the whole Harvey Weinstein thing which he you know, he Harvey he was making Harvey to be the villain and overnight and now you look like, Okay, this now makes sense. He maybe he wasn't wrong about that. But he said it goes imagine dude, if someone ran ran around with a camera during your early 20s when you would do in a movie like that? I promise you, you probably wouldn't look that great. And I go You know what? You're effing right, man. You're absolutely right. If someone had been following me during that time period of my life, and now that is the image of my name and with my brand for the rest of my career a Troy would have to do so much to break away from that. But that is

Shane Stanley 43:30
you're right. And you know, what's funny is is you know, we talked about the George Clooney, Charlie Sheen Grizzly movie. Yeah, I was I was very young and I was put in a situation of running a movie stars production company. And he was at a point in his life where Okay, was he still do he just come off terminal velocity in the arrival and shadow conspiracy and he wanted to he was hot. Yeah, he was. Charlie was still making 11 $12 million. A movie. Yeah. Who's rolling? We were we he was rolling. We were getting a lot of moving money to make movies. And he wanted to start doing indie films, and they paid us a lot of money to do indie films. I was, let's see was 96 was it 2526 years old? I'm sure I was. I thought I was being nice. I never really became a deck that I know of. I don't have those cringe worthy moments. When I look back. There's a few things I said or may have done to people that I wish I hadn't said it in that tone or with such enunciation. But you know, I look back and go thank god people weren't following me around with a camera I was on my best behavior.

Alex Ferrari 44:27
But the thing is to also you were raised at the business so it's so it's not like you kind of grew up with this. So it's not as like from coming from nowhere to all of a sudden being associated with big stars and big projects. And then all this crap that Hollywood in the film festivals shoved down your throat like the myth the Tarantino's Robert Rodriguez, you're going to be the next big thing. And then and then you're not. So

Shane Stanley 44:53
to me every day is a grind. I always you know, people always say what was it like growing up with nepotism? Well, to me, it made it harder. When I was a child, I was given jobs. I remember when I was done pursuing a professional music career and said to my dad when I was 17, okay, I'm serious. Now I want to be a filmmaker. He said, Great. Do you want my Rolodex? You want to call some people and see if they'll hire you? I'm not hiring you. I was like, Well, what do you mean? You got to find pitcher deal? What do you and he's like, I can hire you go work for the world, dude. Give me a call. He said, Oh, and by the way, the other phase down there third door to the left. Why don't you go spend five or 10 years in there, and then we'll talk you'll go learn filmmaking. He didn't. He didn't give me anything. I mean, my dad was a maverick. He pissed off a lot of people off which which made it hard for me to get meetings. And still some of those calls ever been returned. But I wouldn't want it any other way. It keeps me It keeps me fired up. It keeps me churning. It keeps me doing things like this and wanting to inspire others it just don't ever get complacent. And it's never easy.

Alex Ferrari 45:52
It look I got in a lot of people get all caught up with nepotism. And all you got to you got to weigh in. I'm like, Look, man, they might nepotism might open the door. And it might get you a meeting. And it might even get your project. But it's you and I can get you a job. But it's you doing the work. And actually seeing if you have talent, and can you make the money. That's the only thing that keeps you in the door. I don't care if you're max Spielberg, that doesn't mean anything. You're gonna get a meeting, if you're max. And Max didn't go into the business to my knowledge, they'll know what it's like. So he's like, no, I if you're max Spielberg, you can get a meeting, though everybody, everybody, that's how we'll meet with you. And maybe even get you a job. And maybe even you just start to direct, but it's about you, your hustle, your work ethic, all that other stuff that's going to keep you inside the door so I don't nepotism, yes, it does give you some opportunities that might have not gotten elsewhere. Like my kids. If my kids want to get into the business one day, I would yell at them first. But if, if they if they ever want to do get into the business, they're going to have, you know, decades of my experience that guide them, which I never had. I was in Florida.

Shane Stanley 47:04
Well, you know, there's something that I've always tried to remind people and I know a lot of people who had nepotistic opportunities who are selling storage bins right now they're selling cars, and there's nothing wrong with that. But they've got a list. Parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers running studios, and they can't keep a job in Hollywood anymore. And what I learned quickly was it's not okay. It may not be what you know, it's who you know, but you better know what you're doing when you get there. And you better put all that nepotism aside in your conduct. And I think when you're when you have a contact to get through the door, you have to work that much harder, because so many people are hoping you'll fail. I remember the first job my father ever picked up a phone and got me and all it was was was a second AC job on a on a Richard credit movie back in the late 80s. Yeah, all the DP he knew and said, Look, I don't care if you pay him or not. I'll send them with a sandwich. I want to get the kid on a few sets that I'm not running. I want him to get his ass kicked, thrown to the wolves. So they threw me on this Richard credit film. I didn't get paid, I was allowed to eat.

Alex Ferrari 48:09
That's awesome.

Shane Stanley 48:09
I remember the DP didn't like me anyway. But he liked my dad. And him and I are friends now, which is great. We've done a ton of things together. But back then I was at 17 year old punk. And he threw me to the walls man. I got called every name of the book. People were playing tricks on me. They were putting signs on my back. They just wanted me to fail. And I wasn't even getting a paycheck. I was just another guy to just move cable and hang a barn door. And you know, they didn't care.

Alex Ferrari 48:34
Oh, no, I'll tell you what I had. I was consulting a friend of mine who works in the business. She works over at Universal but like in the legal department or accounting or something like that. And her daughter was just getting out of film school, a local film school that would remain nameless. And and then she was like, can you talk to her a little bit about what the business is like, I'm like, do you do you want me to? She's like, Yes, I want you to tell her the truth. I'm like, okay, so I had I had coffee with her. And I said, Listen, I want you to you know, you see that your mom and this and your mom can make a few phone calls and get you on into our, you know, into the DP section or are in the art department or someone you can get on the backlot, she could do all that for you? And she's like, Yeah, I know, you know, and I'm like, if I were you just understand that if you do go in that path, and I By the way, if it was me, I would take that opportunity, because anything you can get get it. But understand that the second you walk on the set, if anyone finds out how you got the job, you've got a target on your back. That's right. And she's like, what do you what she'd like you could literally see that she never thought of that. And you really have like deer in headlights. What do you mean she's like, they will want you to fail because the same person that's next to you the same PA. That's next to you. came up from Kansas. Drove cross country is living on someone's couch right now and is in busting their ass to get to the same place that you got because mommy made a phone call.

Shane Stanley 50:03
Yep. I you couldn't, you couldn't be more correct. I remember I used to produce a bunch of commercials for an ad agency here in town. And I remember the owner of the ad agency said, Hey, I need a favor. There's a newscaster, who will remain nameless. But she is one of the biggest 3040 year running broadcast news anchors in the business. Her son just graduated high school, he's thinking about getting into production, can you find a job for my school, I can't be a PA. And he's like, I don't know, just treat him well, mom's a good friend. And I remember like getting 50 or 60 people wanting that job. But he got the job because of who he was. And I sat him down. And I said, I happen to know your mom. I haven't seen her in years. But I've met her I thought she was wonderful. I said, Look, you have a target on your back. Because you're you're at the bottom, you're going to be getting thrown the most crap to do, everybody's going to be watching you because you have the same last name. And it wasn't a common last name as your mom, people are going to connect the dots, you have a choice, you can either rise up as the water starts to get high around your neck and rise up with it. Or you're going to sink and I will tell you, if you fail me, I will fire you. I'm not I don't have warm body syndrome on our sets. Dude, you'll get the opportunity. And you know what he was his star, he did a really good job. And but you're right, these these youngsters coming up don't realize the target that's on her back. You know, getting these opportunities. It's very tough. It's not? No, it's not.

Alex Ferrari 51:29
And can you talk a little bit of stuff? Because I know this is something that they definitely don't teach in film school. How about the politics of a film production?

Shane Stanley 51:38
politics?

Alex Ferrari 51:40
Exactly. Just Okay, so I sit in the director's chair, no, no like that. So like the politics of, of the other set, okay. And then each department has their own hierarchy of politics. So the DP with the firt, the kid assistant camera, and then, and then there's the light, the gaffer and the lighting department and, and then the key grips, and the dolly grip, and all these kind of things. But the thing that people don't understand, at least from my experience is that there is a lot of politics going on. A lot of a lot of times, people have different end games involved. So I've always told people, like whoever you hire as your dp, make sure that they're there for the story and not for their real, because they will, they will bust their balls to get that crane to get this nice, long 22nd crane shot that will never make the Edit, you're going to use two seconds of it, but they want it for their real so and you're and you've burned for hours because they're lighting it like it's a Scorsese film,

Shane Stanley 52:38
and 20 grand to get the crane and all the permits to and all

Alex Ferrari 52:42
that so. But as a young filmmaker, you don't know any better. So you really need to understand. So that's one set of politics, then there's the power struggle, where if you have a young director on set, which I've been the young director on set, not as much anymore, but but I was a young director on set where then the script soup was sent in by the producer to test me and push me to see if I had the metal to actually hold the production together. Right and because they didn't know who I was, or what I had done prior and a redonk commercials and music videos and other things like that before I got on a narrative film set. And and does this before IMDb this before the internet so that other people didn't know they could check up your work they just heard so that they needed the test. So that's the kind of politics you have. And then sometimes there's like spies, from the production that come in to see if you're directing, right? Or they're spies from your head of your department. They're like, hey, hear the cat, you're the head head camera guy. Keep an eye on on Joe there, see how Joe's doing? And you never know that you're being watched? So there's all these kinds of things can you can touch a little bit of I've touched on a bunch of it. Can you touch a little bit or add to that?

Shane Stanley 53:56
Well, you know, that I can take up to hours doing that. I mean, that's an interesting, that's an interesting, the politics and the dynamics on a set are unbelievable. I mean, I kind of I mean I work with a lot of the same people now I try to have a loyal crew that I enjoy working with but yeah, there's times where I'm a work for hire, I got up bringing on other people and you try to keep those things. You know the one thing I always do with the DP if I'm hiring one is I say look, this isn't about your reel. It's about the overall when I look at a new dp I don't want to see as real I call directors and editors he's worked with and say send me raw dailies I don't want to see is real because you know all ask a director or an ad that this dp where you guys ever held up because he was slow setting up? Did you guys need 10 1520 tapes because the camera or do you do five or six takes and everything was great and it was more a director's choice. I like to find those things out. I always let people know this isn't about you. It's about us. That way. They don't feel alienated, but it's more a team effort. And I was telling them upfront you're not getting anything for your real until the movies out and that can be anywhere between a year happened three years. So suck it up. You're here to make a movie. But there are dynamics. I, you know, I was taught very young Alex, that anybody who's a camera man wants to be a cinematographer or cinematographer, they want to be a director there are this they want

Alex Ferrari 55:15
your first they do a lot of times they want to be the director,

Shane Stanley 55:17
they want to be a director too. So I remember that going in. And to me again, I always found that's probably why don't hire a DS when I'm with these. But yeah, there is a, there's politics, there's dynamics. On a set, I feel, you know, I learned from Jeff McGuire, who is the tremendous writer, he wrote gridiron gang, he got an Oscar nomination for in the line of fire with Clint Eastwood. Jeff taught me something 30 years ago, he said, just remember something in this business, no matter what, no matter how kind somebody is being or how accommodating they may seem to you, they are doing it for their own gain. Don't ever forget that he was you'll make a lot of great friends in this industry. But he said, Just remember, everybody's got a purpose for what they do. And is it true or not? I think it's more true than untrue. But I just think it's, it's about working with people that you can trust and making sure everybody's on the same page. And I think if people feel comfortable, like we talked about earlier, that they feel from the top down, it's like we look at what's going on in our country. And people can say, why is things happening the way they're happening? When you look at the top and how people are behaving coming down? Oh, well, it's happening up there. It must be okay to treat somebody this way. I think if you can, I think you can, you know, leave with a soft voice and a big stick or whatever the term is, I think people the respect, and the backbiting and the conniving on a cetera did become a lot more minimal.

Alex Ferrari 56:48
I agree. That's what I, from my experience, too, if you cast the crew, appropriately, it's casting the crew, you cast those personalities to see if it's all in because if you have one toxic person, especially if they're a department head, it's tough because I mean, I've had a boom guy who was toxic, and it just brings the whole set down until I have to have to go over my get another guy here tomorrow, cuz I'm not going to work with this guy. He's just, he's just toxic. His attitude, his energy was heavy, everything was just rough. And it's just too damn stressful. making a movie is a stressful scenario.

Shane Stanley 57:23
It's hard enough. We don't need that Apple's to use a generic term. And you know, it's funny when you said that it reminded me of something. I was on a film a couple of films ago. And it was weird. I always do a SAG AFTRA film with a non IAA crew. That's just how I work. Some of my guys are a guys, they want to come work for me. That's fine. That's the right. I love having them. But we don't have union rules. So what are those rules? Well, we don't pay the union rates we still have the days are the same length. We still pay overtime. We're still feeding them feeding them

Alex Ferrari 57:51
breaks. Yeah,

Shane Stanley 57:52
very well, we overfeed. And they're just some things like hey, you know what, guys, I need grace, we need to get two more taxes. So we all good, everybody good. You know, ask for grace. And then you get that one guy who's part of the union that shows up one day that just angry, bitter. Trying to tell everybody let's turn the show and all our budgets 400 grand, you really want to turn the show.

Alex Ferrari 58:15
I've been I've been involved with productions who had their shows turned in for everybody listening, if you if you don't know what turning a show is, or flipping a show, is when a when you're in a non union shooting, you've got union guys working on it. And the film I was working on, I was doing post on, they actually were 50 were outside the circle, they were outside the 50 mile circle. So they were they were they were quote unquote, okay, they had some union guys, but there was this one guy, one assistant camera, who wanted to be part of the Union. And he made a phone call. And the next day the union was there, and they and they shut down the production. And they had to flip the production. And because of that one dude, that film sat in my hard drives for a year, because it had to, they had to raise another, like, you know, another few $100,000 to finish the film. And it was all because this guy flipped the film. So that's,

Shane Stanley 59:13
it's just one of your productions.

Alex Ferrari 59:15
No I, was I was I was just working post, just a dude in it for themselves. So it what I

Shane Stanley 59:22
what I do is I have an understanding of where budgets need to be to not get flipped. I mean, if your budget is a certain amount, they're gonna leave you alone. If you start treading in areas that you risk,

Alex Ferrari 59:35
go ahead. One of the thing was that our project, that project that was working on was a low budget project, but it had two high profile stars.

Shane Stanley 59:43
Ah, well, yeah, I mean, something I guess anything's possible. It's just, you know what? I always I always try, I don't, I don't subscribe to the theory. Permission or forgiveness is easier to get them from When it comes to filmmaking, I always try to knit the budget. Like what I set up to do my independent stuff with visual arts entertainment, I called the head of the CIA. I just I call them got to the head of the I introduced myself, this is what I'm doing. I've got three films I'm doing. These are the budgets, I need to know that I'm not going to have a problem. He goes, You called me. You're telling me your budget, your budget, I believe you. I told him where we were shooting, we're way out of the T zone. And he said, Dude, I will keep a note of all of this stuff, you will not hear from us. And guess what, in a four and a half year period making those films we did have one guy not a problem,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:37
or is it all is relative to the production because I was on another project. That was a million dollar production. A Million Dollar production had Austin in Florida had Oscar winning ask Oscar nominated actors in it, like big actors. I otzi showed up. They didn't know what the budget was. Now they I otzi showed up and they were shooting on a Panasonic dv x 100. A a million dollar production. Don't ask me why. On that camera, they were shooting this is this is back in the 90s. This is actually early 2000s

Shane Stanley 1:01:13
vs 2000. Remember,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:14
it's amazing. It's amazing camera. And they said, Oh, sorry, we didn't die. They just walked away because they said there's no money here. Okay, great. But what if you haven't had that conversation, and they see a big star, they're gonna flip they're gonna they're gonna, you're gonna have problems. I agree with you 100%. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Now, can we can we talk about the film deception, I mean, distribution. As you know, I don't know if you know or not, but I've become a kind of like a warrior for film distribution. I want to help filmmakers navigate this ridiculous system that is film distributors. I love to hear your thoughts on the system. What's wrong with it? How can it be fixed? Your horror stories, all that stuff?

Shane Stanley 1:02:12
Well, you know, that's the chapter in my book, film deception. I mean, distribution. Exactly. Right. And it's, you know, I've been involved with some some big indies that were like million $2 million entities that had deals and nobody's made any money, nobody's seen money, and they go in and they audit and they find out the film's made $3 million. And Oops, sorry, I missed that. You know, um, I think you have to realize that it's hard because you as a filmmaker, you got you create a product, you raise the money for it, as you say, you cast the crew, and then you cast the film, you know, the actors, you go through the brutal process of making you go to war, let's be honest, making a movie is a war. And then you kill yourself in post, and then you get it done. And then you and trust it, you entrust it to somebody to sell. And I you know, unfortunately, you will never know the true numbers that a movie makes or doesn't make. And I think you have, as I say, in my book, what I always try to say is try to find a group that will capture the vision early on it, you know, everybody has that envision, oh, well, I'm gonna just throw it up and let the bidding wars begin. It doesn't work that way anymore. Night,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:25
it's not the 90s. And we're not at Sundance that

Shane Stanley 1:03:28
not, it's not you know, who dreams it's, you know, come on. So what I always suggest is really try to develop relationships with distributors that have got longevity, you don't want somebody who just fell off the turnip truck or a guy's running a company who was part of a company for two years and part of the company six months before that, you know, there's some good companies out there that are tried and true. Just no going in there. They're all going to have their creative accounting, and butts up

Alex Ferrari 1:03:55
right there. So stop there for a sec. I just want to I want to touch on that. And this is what I've been yelling about from the top of the house there. And is it's a systemic problem in that side of our business. It has been going around since the days of Chaplin, which is called creative accounting. I feel that it is as prevalent as the casting couch was prior to the me to movement, like the casting couch was a it was just like, you all heard it like oh, yeah, you have to go on the casting couch if you want to get the part or you heard of this, of this casting couch. And when I was in film school, you heard about that, and it was even joked about in movies and stuff. It was just part of the way movies were made until finally, that that horrible cycle was broken. I feel that the same thing is happening on a financial standpoint, in the distribution side, where Oh, there's and I love the way you just said like, oh, there's gonna be creative accounting. Why? There's no other industry that I know of like the cookie business. If you see if you make a cookie, you sell a cookie, you send it over to the supermarket to supermarkets, like there's no creative accounting and the Cookie business. Why is it right? So why is there creative accounting in our business? And why is that still acceptable in today's world?

Shane Stanley 1:05:08
It's well the reason sadly it's acceptable is because you know, you got 33,000 movies a year Alex being made through sag with at least what somebody deems a bankable actor. Okay, that's a whole nother discussion. But, but people are beholden to investors or their wife if they wrote the check themselves. And they got to get a film out, and distributors know how desperate us filmmakers can be. And they also know there's 54 territories on the globe 174 buying countries. So Alex, if I'm a distributor, and I take your film, and I know I'm a hip pocket dealing, Guam, the chances of you going to Guam on vacation with your wife and staying at the Radisson and seeing it at two o'clock in the morning on Guam vision or whatever, you're probably not going to see it and you're not going to know if I got five grand for 2500 for it. So what happens is there's 54 territories, they're going to hopefully sell the biggies. You know, you may get somebody come in and buy up 20 territories, you may sell them Germany, Southeast Asia, Vietnam, China, but most of us filmmakers don't realize and it's in my book, there's 54 territories, all those territories equally need content, what is what I believe keeps a lot of the smaller distributors awake and alive is those hip pocket deals they make at AFM Toronto, MIPCOM Berlin, where they're like, Look, I'll tell you what, you can have these 10 movies for 10 grand, you would I will never know about. We just don't know about. I mean, I've traveled the world and seen my films on TV. years later. Like, I never made a deal here. And like, you know, like, seriously, I mean, it's happened. And that's, I think, and then there's also the charges, the market charges, you know, they'll charge you up to $25,000 then there could be a market overhead charge for another 25 plus anything that you don't have the money to do you need to surround 5.1 surround fully filled m&e, well, we didn't do that I only had a few grand that makes the film in stereo, they'll gladly do it for you. So you have to be sure they're not charging you more than it should cost. Will you mean like, what

Alex Ferrari 1:07:17
do you mean like $10 per minute for closed captioning?

Shane Stanley 1:07:22
Yeah, we're doing 90 minute movies that can cost you more $212 I mean, remember, I remember doing a music video for VH one for an artist. I won't say who? And VH one demanded. We did closed captions for their video and I found a place that was for a music video three and a half minutes. You've done a lot of closed captions for

Alex Ferrari 1:07:45
what year was this?

Shane Stanley 1:07:47
year? 2004.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:50
Okay, sure. Okay.

Shane Stanley 1:07:51
Not a long time ago. They was $582 I'm freaking out because I never like closed captioning three days I called a friend of mine, Todd Gilbert. Robbie Lerner's post production. I love Todd I called him I said, Hey, buddy, I got a question. He's like, what are you out of your mind call this place in San Francisco, it's gonna be like, it's gonna be like no money. So the music video did cost me like $38. And right, this money for my 90 minute movies, it's $112 for 90 minutes, all in.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:21
Exactly. And there's so many other options now as well. But so I love I love the term hip pocket deal, because not many people understand what that is. And what you've basically explained is like, they have your movie, they have worldwide rights, what they're going to do is they're going to call up South Africa, or even a smaller market, and you have a relationship with Guam, let's say Guam, and you're like, Look, I'm going to give you 2000 give me 2000 bucks for this film. And, and you'll never hear about it, because you unless you audit them. And even if you audit them, good luck. And so that you have no power,

Shane Stanley 1:08:54
you will get away from it, not to have to wait to get away with it as they do the block deals. So there is no paperwork for that

Alex Ferrari 1:09:02
film. Although they do talk about packaging don't get

Shane Stanley 1:09:05
it will do 10 to 20 films for 20. It's 1000 to $2,000 per title, take all these titles, a lot of people. I had a guy who came to me to help sell this film. And I befriended a former scorn distribution guy. And he said, and I said to him, this guy's got insomnia. He's up at 230 in the morning watching Cinemax. He can't figure out how some of the worst movies in the world are on there and why his movie can't get on. Here he goes, Oh, I can get it on there tomorrow. We'll just have to package it with 10 to 20 others we'll get two grand and Ruby on Cinemax and four months. He goes because those deals are packaged. They don't show up. They just hurry but that's it. None of that though Cinemax, under the bus Cinemax isn't doing anything wrong. It's the people peddling these package deals to these foreign networks and countries and ancillaries just

Alex Ferrari 1:09:53
what happens and there's also don't forget the fire sales and there's fire sales as well that like oh yeah, here. Yeah, I'll give you this movie for 500 bucks. Just you know. Here we go. And, and those deals are done at AFM. They're done at a con. They're done at Berlin.

Shane Stanley 1:10:06
Yep, they're done online now. Yeah, but you're right. And when where that comes from is a sales agent takes on a film, they can't give it away. It's a stinker. And they may have put together some artwork or a trailer and be out a few grand of liquid cash to their vendors to get it done. They need to start recouping. So what I always tell filmmakers is please, please, please, please read the fine print, read my book because I actually copy and paste a lot of contract misleading language. in that chapter of my book, I the way the book came about, I get a lot of calls from independent filmmakers for advice. I even get some calls from very well known filmmakers for advice when they need to save a buck or two. And what what happened was as I started writing a blog, and they said, Hey, do you want to write a book? And then my wife was like, you know, you're getting a lot of time to people? Why don't you just you keep She goes, I've been listening to you do this for 20 years, you keep telling them the same thing? Why don't you just write your thoughts down, and it's all in one place. And that's how the book became. And while I was writing the book, I had a really respected indie filmmaker, who for the first time in her life was stuck, he raised over a million and a half dollars of his own, you know, of liquid cash, made a movie got a couple of big stars attached, and it was on his ass to sell his movie to get distribution, he had no idea how to do it, he was a very good filmmaker would know business and distribution. So he starts sending me all these contracts, and his investor wants him to sign this with this company. And I that is when the light bulb went on. For me, Alex, I went, Oh my god, I got to write about this, I have to take these documents and copy and paste them and put them in a book. Because these are so duplicitous, and so misleading. People don't realize when they have a $20,000 market charge, and then $20,000 service charge, it's 40 grand that the movies gonna make before you see a dime plus a percentage, plus marketing costs of a trailer. The trailer probably cost 1000 to make they're gonna charge you five grand, the posters cost them a few 100 they're gonna charge you 1500 how it gets back charged, do and then they're gonna take 20% on top of that

Alex Ferrari 1:12:14
as a commission. Oh, yeah. But they'll take no forget, they take that 20% before all of those expenses, they make sure that yeah, oh, yeah. So if you're, say, 100,000, that 20 grand goes right off the top, then they start pulling out all the it's you it is, it's such a scam. And I think that I mean, my second book, Rise of the film entrepreneur, it's about giving the filmmaker the power to take control of their own thing. And, and which leads us to the next question I want to talk to you about because you worked a bit in the music industry as well. And I've been yelling from the top of the lungs from top of the hill as well. And in my book, that if you want to see where the film industry is going to be in the next five years, all you got to do is just look at the music industry, it's the exact same pattern that is happening. Whereas the actual art, the actual content is, for lack of a better word worthless, it means it has no value to it, where a song used to cost $18 to get the album so you can get the song. Now, Beyonce is getting paid a 20th of a cent for a play of one of her songs, what do you think an independent artist is going to have? What chance do they have? So I want you to talk a little bit about where you think. Because if if you think that's not happening, look at Amazon Prime, and you're getting a penny. And I'm sure they're going to go to fractions of pennies soon, I promise you they will. Or they not already. If and if they're not already, you're right. So that, you know, a penny for an hour of viewing is what Amazon's paying. So essentially, the movie is almost worthless. It's essentially free.

Shane Stanley 1:13:52
I you know what, let me let me answer that by starting going backwards on what we just talked about. I knew the sales agent, not a distributor, an agent that got so frustrated not being able to sell somebody movie that was actually pretty good. He made a couple of foreign deals like in South Africa, in Germany, and like, you know, the same areas, the movie was starting to make a little money back. And he got frustrated. And before his contract, his three year or five year deal was over. He uploaded it without the filmmakers permission on amazon prime. So then it became worthless. He couldn't give it away after that. And he got his first royalty check after a year and I think he saw $7.38 and you're talking about a six figure movie. I mean, I think the guy paid six 700 grand for his movie, it wasn't cheap. So that is happening. You know, I'll tell a story and this is directly from artists that I've worked with over the years, Alex and you and I were talking about this before we started today. The music industry used to be something that you know those artists for the writing. They're performing recorded material had value. Like he said, in the 90s and early 2000s. We would go to the CD store on paid and spend $19 plus tax on a CD for that one or two songs. There was no you know, downloading on Napster, which really changed it. Yeah. And it really did, sadly. And I learned from some artists that I'm very close with one day about 10 years ago, they said, Well, you know musics free now. As soon as our CD comes out, somebody puts it on YouTube or music video on YouTube, you go to YouTube to mp3 convert, you download it, it goes on your iPhone, your iPod, your iPad, your iPhone, whatever people have, there are music everywhere. We can only make music in the touring and merchandise. So the question now becomes, I know there are titles I have that we have to go on YouTube every single day and 510 times a day, there are titles of mine that are being purged on YouTube that I have to go in take 20 minutes of my day, and fill out a copyright request thing. And it's the movie was out and sold that people are watching it for free. It's basically useless and worthless. We don't have live performance touring and merchandise, really, I mean, unless you got Yoda like you do in the back, there are some of the cool things you've done here. You're a pretty smart dude, you've got things that you're moving I figure, I don't know what the hell yeah, it's this industry is this sustainable independent is going to be tougher and tougher. Because the deals are going to get smaller and smaller. The content is not slowing down, everybody's making something I don't know where we're gonna go. And then you still have the demands from the unions on the royalties and

Alex Ferrari 1:16:47
backup, but they're, but they're also building that out off of a model from the 80s. In the 90s. When money was five, which money was flowing, like I was working in Miami, where they did a music video and I saw it was a $500,000 budget on a second tier artist. Not even deficit, the top tier artists there was the there was the 90s there was money flowing like there was no tomorrow, all those deals, all those residuals just like there are there's not going to be any more fro any more friends deals, or Seinfeld deals where those actors are pulling in 20 million a year off of residuals, those days are gone. Gone. And it's going to be rough. It's not only refer musicians, but on ours, outside actors are it's getting tougher and tougher for any residuals on actors. Before you could do one or two national spots a year. And now and that could keep you afloat comfortably. You could pull in 60 to 120. If it's a Superbowl ad or even a big national ad that gets played about you will get residuals. Hold on a second.

Shane Stanley 1:17:49
One of my best friends did a Bud Light ad for a Super Bowl three years ago.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:54
And how much it was brand, man, how much was it? five grand, right? So now that's what that's the only so now. So before you used to be able to do that.

Shane Stanley 1:18:05
Yeah. Now. Whoa, are the guys the shell guy

Alex Ferrari 1:18:10
or mayhem mayhem mayhem is making.

Shane Stanley 1:18:12
Those are the guys that you know flow. Brent Bailey, who's the shell guy and mayhem are the guys that are making good quality because they are owned for two years. They signed two year contracts with these companies that their first refusal they may get paid. But you're right. And I remember growing up as a kid I you know, I grew up in the industry. I had a neighbor who was a gator raid girl or a Coca Cola girl she I remember when she was in high school. She went to her mailbox one day we got off the school bus. I heard this screaming we all go over there. She opened up a check for her Geeta read worldwide residuals, it was $74,000. And this was in 1986.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:48
I had in full and full sail. One of my teachers was the associate producer of parenthood. Huh, okay of that movie parenthood by Ron Howard. He was he was a happy days guy and all that stuff. So he was telling the stories like he played the part of the opposing, literally coach for Steve Martin. And he had two lines.

Shane Stanley 1:19:10
He's under five, right?

Alex Ferrari 1:19:11
Yeah. He said two lines. And he said, Come on, Jimmy, you could do it. Come on. And that was that's all he did two days. They held them for the first day. They didn't get to him. They said he paid he got paid like whatever it was at the time, like five or $600 a day it was like 89 or something like that when it came out. Then first residual $50,000 Yeah, $50,000 was a really good buddy of mine was the unit production manager of seven movies. So the movie seven with Brad Pitt, David Fincher movie. Sure. First residual check 50 $70,000 as the as the UPM because he's a DJ. So UPM first ad and director all get residuals. All of that's going away because Netflix changed the game. And they said no, no. Why are we going to pay residuals? No, don't worry. We're going to do buyouts and as you as you saw the Disney Disney is actually saying, Yeah, we're going to give you two seasons of residuals, two years of residuals. And that's it, is it. And so the whole game has changed. So they're literally the corporations are trying to squeeze now, even all of those kind of like placeholder things to help the artists to survive. As an actor, as a writer, as a director, as a filmmaker. The lot of things that we grew up with or were taught with are no longer going to be around or are around period.

Shane Stanley 1:20:29
And I'll be honest with you sag afters made it difficult because they basically make you sign your life away to get your film cleared. So you can make it with a SAG actor. And then they want to know why the result. There's our name, well, I got a streaming deal. Somebody's paying me $3 to stream the movie. You got a $600,000 movie here, it's made back $18,000. What like, you've got investors, you've got costs, you got overhead, you've got commissions for nutrition. It's such an in, you're right, it's like everybody is still going everybody who's squeezing the filmmakers working off of boiler plates from the 80s and 90s when there was tons of money, and there was DVD markets, they won't be honest with you.

I had a film a couple of years ago air on a cable network. And the buyout from the cable network was five grand five grand. So the union saw that was like oh, why didn't it up, buddy. We're backing up the Brinks truck. Oh, it was it was fun to show them that oh, I lied. It was actually $4,000. They expected this huge six figure and it was a big and it was a big network. It was huge network they bought it out for they had a six month run on it for like one of the big paid pay networks. Now they give us four grand, but the whole the whole, like six months or a year for four. And don't forget the sales agent took 20%. So we really obviously,

Alex Ferrari 1:21:52
obviously, obviously, this agent took 20% where's the residuals for what they're that's and that's the point. So and as and what COVID is showing us is the pressure now it's showing us how flawed the system is, and so on and so flawed. So I am saying Rome is burning. I've been saying this for a little while now. Rome is burning, and Rome is Hollywood. And the systems that are around Hollywood that be in film distribution, whether it be the unions, whether all of it has to burn down because it's not that I want it to it's just has to burn down now. And then out of the New World. This new system is going to come up I hope this new system can help filmmakers and artists. I'm not sure it will, I hope there is more potential for the artists to get more control of their art and of their finances. But it's going to be a battle and what it was before like when you and I were coming up. You could make a living as an actor, as a as a writer doing small projects as a filmmaker doing small things. Remember music videos like I was just saying you can make a living to music videos, your kids music videos as a living nownow unless you're at the very level

Shane Stanley 1:23:08
When I was doing 80s rock band music videos talking about the half million dollar budget Oh, motley and poison and Guns and Roses because we're getting seven figures to do videos.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:18
Oh, yeah. Well,

Shane Stanley 1:23:20
I still work with a lot of those bands when we do videos now is hey, you know, can you grab a camera and a couple buddies will give you five grand Can we make a video? Yep. And it's not that they're poor. These guys were smart with their money that it's just they're not dumb. They're not getting the record label support they did back in the day. They're not having 100 grand go to catering and limos and blow. It's now coming out of their pocket and they know what things cost. And they're like, hey, Shane,

Alex Ferrari 1:23:44
can you get a couple buddies? together? five grand for you? Can you do a video for us? Oh no, I was doing videos. I was doing videos with Snoop Dogg and ludicrous. And I saw ibw $2,000 because they knew the artists knew a lot of times mshs Luna and Snoop specifically, they were guest starring and some other people's stuff. But they knew that as a director, you're like, well, if I have Luda and snoop on my reel, I'm gonna be able to get some work. And they know that. So they're leveraging that to get you work. I mean, it's I you know, I wanted this episode to be kind of like a little bit of a box that opens up and exposes the truth about our industry in a small way, especially things that they don't teach in film school. So this is really geared towards people who have not been on sets who've not been in the business for a long time to really understand the reality. And this is a pretty raw and brutal conversation. You and I were just two old, old old war dogs who have got a lot of shrapnel because we've been in the business for a while. But I'm sure a lot of people listening right now are horrified.

Shane Stanley 1:24:49
And I don't want it to discourage anybody. No sessions with you until the frickin cows come home. I enjoy it. Yeah, it's the fact and point is is are we going to be real Are we going to sugarcoat It's like, right you know, you want to tell a woman who's thinking about having a baby. It feels really good giving birth, especially make sure you don't get the epidural. You'll love it. Yeah, have to be honest, creative. Because I, I mean, I hate breaking hearts I hate. I would never want to crush your dream. If it was easy, everybody would do it. I still want to encourage people to do it, but know what you're going to up against. And you know, you've opened my eyes to some stuff here. And it's like, yeah, you

Alex Ferrari 1:25:26
know what? That's the problem. I never heard it voice like that, Alex, it's brilliant. There's so working off of the 80s and 90s contracts to turn things into date. That's sure me. But the system is built on those boiler plates. The system is built. The sag contracts are built on that the DGA contracts the wg a contracts are built on with the assumption that there's money that there's money flowing, that everyone's making money. And yes, there are, but that about people who are actually making money, it's extremely small, and they're all the way at the top. Okay, I always I always use the example of like Blade Runner. I'm not where the owl is at the top of that building. I'm at the bottom where the really good food is. That's where I live. I live on the street level where Harrison is where Harrison's game picked up by James any almost Okay, that's, yeah, that's where I live. And that's where most filmmakers live. We live down at the bottom level of Blade Runner. But most of us want to be up where the owl is up where Sean young is introduced. That's where we all want to be. And I've been in that room a couple times. You've been in that room a few times, we get to visit it, but we never get to stay.

Shane Stanley 1:26:38
Yeah. For a little while, have you over for a drink?

Alex Ferrari 1:26:42
Right? You know, you might even stick around for a little bit. But sooner or later security finds you and kicks you out. That's still a way I always look at it. But but that's the game. And that is that is our industry. And that's why I've been yelling and film distribution is the worst out of all of it. Because all of their systems are built on shit from the 90s, early 2000s they're still talking about DVD sales. Like it's a thing. Don't get me wrong, there is still money in DVD but nothing like it wasn't

Shane Stanley 1:27:12
a 30% comeback during COVID. Let's hope it sticks.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:15
Right. But the point is that that's not that's not the growth industry. DVD is not the growth. It's not vinyl. It's not vinyl, it's there's no

Shane Stanley 1:27:24
Best Buy and Walmart to find them or the 99 cent

Alex Ferrari 1:27:28
store. Right? And all of them are enclosed areas that generally people don't want to go into now because

Shane Stanley 1:27:35
people don't realize this DVD deals are done where they say hey, we'll give you $2 a disc or four for 4000 of them. We're going to sprinkle them around Walmart.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:43
Yeah, but they don't talk about the the returns. Oh, no, no, no, no, you

Shane Stanley 1:27:47
don't get that you get the $3 per disc less, you're 20% but they're gonna sell them for nine or 12 or $15.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:54
But a lot of it but a lot of those Walmart deals because it's Walmart, they'll go Yeah, we didn't sell about 500 of these. So we're going to ship those right back to you. So you're gonna eat those costs. And I always tell people do you think that you think the film distributor is gonna eat that? Don't you worry. You will you won't you won't ever don't you'll ever even know what happened. And that's

Shane Stanley 1:28:15
you wouldn't be better off getting a credit card that you may get a five or $10,000 limit on and just buying up every desk. Yes, so that doesn't cost you back I know that sounds crazy.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:29
Oh no but buying them all out because at that point then at least you could go out and sell them yourself if

Shane Stanley 1:28:34
you want like you did I mean you're you've been very smart selling your neurons I gotta learn from I want to get your next your last book about that because it there's so much to learn from guys like you that have figured it out. No, it's it's just one thing. One reason I was really excited for us to talk besides your platform being something that was excited to be a part of it in researching you and what you've done Alex it's brilliant because first that's all like I hate to keep bringing him up that's one reason I think we hit it off. I mean the guy's been poisoned back in the 80s they could not get a record deal. And they find every record label passed on them. They literally got a deal it was them to smithereens and one other band I can't writing was great white got a deal from a nygma they went to a warehouse in wersi Airport that area then no no van de la excellent What is that?

Alex Ferrari 1:29:24
I know what you're talking about. I know you're talking about yeah the

Shane Stanley 1:29:27
house there that the guys were literally shrink wrapping and packaging and putting the sticker on there for the label labels like that will give you a record of you got to come here and help us package it and ship like literally Brent and Bobby and CC and Ricky were shrink wrapping their own records and helping get them out to the stores. And then what happened was is Capitol Records ended up buying a nygma and then exploded at the right time and everything worked out but that's how we have to remember it really is and how it was and how it very well could be again unfortunately, we have to So we can sell

Alex Ferrari 1:30:02
it, the game, the game has changed so much. The rules are so different and I just want filmmakers listening to understand that the industry is still still built around those old models. And that's why the industry is having that's why took Disney 10 years to launch a streaming service 10 years 10 years before before they launched a real streaming service that compete with Netflix because when Netflix showed up, everyone was like, I don't know. And Hollywood is definitely not no for innovation. It takes for it takes someone with some major weight like a George Lucas, like a Steve Jobs, like someone to ship come in, and go or James Cameron and come in and just go You know what, guys? This is the new way. Follow me. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Shane Stanley 1:31:01
I will tell you how Right you are. I did gridiron 1212 years ago with Sony, I stayed on the good graces and in regular touch with the regime for another two or three years, you know, developing other things. Hey, you want to have lunch? You know? And I remember talking I think it was Amy Pascal. She was still there. And I think I remember her saying she had this really bizarre meeting with all the heads of the other studios it was paramount. Universal Warner Brothers Sony Disney, Disney and Fox It was like it was like a you know, a big gathering

Alex Ferrari 1:31:33
was like all the all the all the mob. You were just like all the mob bosses were getting together in an undisclosed location. Got it?

Shane Stanley 1:31:41
What was the person and she said, Netflix is going to be a major problem for us. And we all need to have a meeting of the minds and we're gonna start pumping the brakes with these with these guys. And we are we need to all create our own streaming service.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:52
What What year was this? What year was this

Shane Stanley 1:31:55
was 10 910 years ago, probably nine or 10 years ago. And I said so wait a minute, you guys, you're gonna start pumping the brakes on what you're giving these issues. They don't pay much. And they're owning it right now. Why? We have Sony streaming impairments streaming and universal streaming or Disney and it wasn't called Pandit she wanted we I don't remember this conversation was like eight years 10 years ago.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:21
And you're right. Have you commit your right to Disney 10 years, 10 years. And Disney's and Disney is killing it. And Disney is killing it right now. But peacocks having peacocks having a rough time right now. I know HBO Max is doing okay. And they're I think they're fine. But they also had they were leveraging HBO Go already.

Shane Stanley 1:32:42
Yeah. And I think Maverick is going to end up being paramount. Paramount network's big push at the end of the year. I think they're gonna end up just screaming that well, I don't know theaters are starting to open up but I still think they're gonna use Maverick for something.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:54
Yeah, and but and I've been saying this and then because this is we can keep talking for another four or five hours I'm sure. But um, but I've said this before, a ton of times I'll say it again. Within the next 12 to 18 months, Paramount Sony, or Lionsgate or MGM is going to be absolutely absorbed by either Google, Amazon, apple, or Facebook. Those four guys has so much cash that Facebook wanted to really come in to this game. For real. They're playing in the streaming they they do a couple little shows on their Facebook watch thing. But if they really want to come in, they buy MGM catalog, they buy Sony's catalog, they buy Paramount's catalog, and all of a sudden, you got content and lots of it. Oh, yeah. And they're all and all of them are prime their prime targets because they're not doing well.

Shane Stanley 1:33:52
I am a firm believer that, um, I think Apple's gonna end up buying Netflix in the next three years.

Alex Ferrari 1:33:59
I that's that's been the rumors for a while. It's gonna take a lot because I think also Apple has the cash to buy anything they want. I mean, there was talks of them by Disney. I know. That's like, like, just wrap your head around cash. By the way. It was cash. It's like they have enough cash to buy Disney.

Shane Stanley 1:34:18
slush.

Alex Ferrari 1:34:18
That's a slush account in Ireland somewhere. But um, but I don't I think Netflix itself and then we'll and then we'll start we'll start winding this down guys unless you guys if you're still listening fantastic. I think that Netflix itself as a company is not diversified. So they are they are very vulnerable. Because if they get hit if this this plus goes away tomorrow, Disney's fine. If HBO goes away tomorrow h Warner's is fine, don't make it. If Netflix is numbers drop. That's going to hurt and they're going to they're going to drop go out there in debt up to their eyeballs. Yeah, it's taking forever for them. To pay their filmmakers not that they're not paying them, they are paying them. But it's taking delayed responses and things like that you can start seeing the writing on the wall on what's going on. And now Netflix is having a pump so much more money in to compete with the Disney pluses to compete with HBO backs that compete with Hulu, and all of these other platforms. So right now I don't think Disney would buy them because they're just too big for what as a compared is comparatively to the deals in the marketplace. The deals in the marketplace because they have the they have the distribution. They have the membership. They have emails from millions and millions of people have all their other accounts and stuff like that. So but if you buy Sony, which has all Columbia and TriStar and all of Sony's content and all their television and all that stuff, that is a bargain. Paramount's a bargain. MGM is a bargain. Lionsgate is a bargain, comparatively to buying Netflix, in my, in my opinion, if I was if I was Apple, or if I was Google, or only these guys, I'm like, Okay, we've got the tech now the Apple, Google Facebook figure out that if they don't figure it out, now they already have the technology, technology is not a problem with them. infrastructure is not a problem for them. Content is a problem for them. And Netflix also comes along with a lot of debt. A lot of it so anyway, okay, let's let's finish off this, this amazing conversation. I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Shane Stanley 1:36:33
The advice I would give a filmmaker trying to break into the industry today is where a crash helmet. Just be prepared to hit a lot of brick walls. be tenacious, don't give up. Don't give up. Because if you do, it could have been that one next try that could have done it for you. And I just see if it's in your heart and you're passionate about it. Just Just keep going. You hit the door enough times for the bad it's eventually going to come off the hinges.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:59
Amen, amen. No question. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Shane Stanley 1:37:07
Um, you can't change people

Alex Ferrari 1:37:10
was a good answer. A real good answer,

Shane Stanley 1:37:12
I think I think a leopard shows their spots. And that could be me, it could be somebody I'm working with, or a partner, I think I think people show you who they are. And if you think you're going to change people and mold them into who you want them to be, you're gonna waste a lot of time and energy in that and you either can accept who they are and work with that or move on from that if it's toxic or unhealthy.

Alex Ferrari 1:37:34
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Shane Stanley 1:37:36
Three of my favorite films of all time, they're not what you would think they are. I would have to say sideways. Yep. I'm Jerry Maguire, Notting Hill. I will stop everything and watch every time they're on.

Alex Ferrari 1:37:50
Yeah, there's just there's that that's a that's a group of films that make sense together.

Shane Stanley 1:37:55
I think the greatest movies of all time, absolutely not. But I can I can spin past anything. But when those are on I gotta stop. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:38:03
exactly. Now, where can people find you what you do and get access to your book? Well, thank

Shane Stanley 1:38:09
you. Um, what you don't learn in film school is you can go to what you don't learn in film school.com it will guide you to the different places you can buy it. It's available on Amazon. A whole bunch of different retailers, Barnes and Noble all online or you can get the hard the hard cover books as well. So what you don't learn in film school comm you can go to my website, Shane's family info.net lm sorry, Shane Stanley. dotnet. I think God, yeah, the email is info chain, Stanley dotnet. If you want to get something to me, I'm pretty open and accessible in that respect. So yeah, so those are the places you can find me.

Alex Ferrari 1:38:49
Shane, it has been an absolute joy talking to you and having you on the show is it's always nice talking to to an old battle hardened dog, as yourself and myself together. I always love I don't like to use the word old, I think seasoned, seasoned battle dog, man.

Shane Stanley 1:39:07
Seasoned indie rad

Alex Ferrari 1:39:08
ops. Absolutely. And we're still here. And we're still we're still here. We're still fighting the good fight. And and you and I both know many filmmakers who are not still here. They've left the business they've gone to do other things because the business got the best of them. So if you're able to just be persistent, a lot of times the people who make it are not generally the best. Not the most talented. Not the most experienced. It's the people who just nice and not the most nice it's just the guys who the guys and the gals who just just keep showing up,

Shane Stanley 1:39:41
keep showing up they figured it out. You know, I learned a long time ago it's balls and passion that makes it happen and you know, films get made you know a lot of people will watch a movie it's against worst thing I've ever seen how they get made. Well back up and look, how did it get made. Somebody was passionate about it. Somebody had tenacity, they had balls and capital. They had something because they were able to get it on. The screen, so it's doable. You got to snap it on and figure it out and do it yourself.

Alex Ferrari 1:40:06
Again, Sam, thank. you so much for being on the show. I appreciate it, brother. Stay safe out there.

Shane Stanley 1:40:10
Alex, it's been an honor. I hope we get to do it again. Thanks, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:40:13
I want to thank Shane so much for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so, so much, Shane. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including how to get a free audio book copy of what you don't learn in film school, a complete guide to independent filmmaking from IFH books, just head over to the show notes at indie film hustle.com Ford slash 452. And I'll have links and information on how you can get that free copy. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there. And I'll talk to you soon.

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Quentin Tarantino’s Unreleased Film: My Best Friend’s Birthday

Few directors are as high profile and equally controversial than Quentin Tarantino.  The man is a lightning rod for criticism and praise.  Make no mistake, there is no middle ground here—you either love his work or are physically repulsed by it.  However, one objective fact remains: he is syllabus-grade essential when it comes to the wider discussion of cinema during its centennial.  His impact on film has left a crater too big to ignore.

Having broken out into the mainstream during the heady days of indie film in the 1990’s, Tarantino has influenced an obscene number of aspiring filmmakers my age.  80% of student films I saw in school were shameless rip-offs of Tarantino’s style and work.  I was even guilty of it myself, in some of my earlier college projects.  Something about Tarantino– whether it’s his subject matter, style, or his own character– is luridly attractive.  His energy is infectious, as is his unadulterated enthusiasm for films both good and bad.  Despite going on to international fame and fortune, Tarantino is a man who never forgot his influences, to the point where the cinematic technique of “homage” is his calling card.

Why is this admittedly eccentric man so admired in prestigious film circles and high school film clubs alike?  Objectively speaking, his pictures are pure pulp.  Fetishizations of violence, drug-use, and sex.  By some accounts even, trash.  If you were to ask me, it’s none of those things that make him a role model.  Tarantino represents filmmaking’s most fundamental ideal: the notion that anyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from, can make it in movies if they try hard enough.  Any producer’s son can nepotism his way into the director’s chair, but for the scrawny teenager in Wyoming with a video camera in her hand and stars in her eyes, Tarantino is proof-positive that she could do it too.

Born in 1963 to separated parents in Knoxville, Tennessee, Tarantino grew up without privilege or the conventional nuclear sense of family.  He was raised mostly by his mother, who moved him out near Long Beach, California when he was a toddler.  He dropped out of high school before he was old enough to drive, choosing instead to pursue a career in acting.  To support himself, he famously got a job as a clerk at the now-defunct Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, where he gained an extensive film education by watching as many movies as he could get his hands on, and cultivating an eclectic list of recommendations for his customers.  He found himself enraptured by the fresh, dynamic styles of directors like Martin Scorsese, Sergio Leone, Brian DePalma, and Mario Bava, and he studied their films obsessively to see what made them tick.

This is noteworthy, because most directors traditionally gain their education via film school or working on professional shoots.  Tarantino is the first mainstream instance of a director who learned his craft by simply studying films themselves.  Before the dawn of the digital era, aspiring filmmakers had to have a lot of money to practice their trade—something Tarantino simply didn’t have as a menial retail employee.  What he did have, however, was time, and he used it well by gaining an encyclopedic knowledge of the medium and making a few crucial connections.

When he was twenty four, Tarantino met his future producing partner, Lawrence Bender, at a party.  Bender encouraged him to write a screenplay, which would become the basis for Tarantino’s first film: MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY (1987).  While the film didn’t exactly prove to be a stepping stone to a directing career, and still remains officially unreleased, it served as a crucial crash course for the budding director.

MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY was intended to be a feature length film, but an unfortunate lab fire destroyed the final reel during editing.  The only surviving elements run for roughly thirty minutes, and tell a slapdash story that only emphasizes the amateurish nature of the project.  Set during a wild California night, MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY concerns Mickey Burnett (co-writer and co-producer Craig Hammann), whose birthday is the day of the story.  His best friend, Clarence Pool (Tarantino himself), takes charge of the planning by buying the cake and hiring a call girl named Misty (Crystal Shaw) to… entertain his friend.  Along the way, things go seriously awry and Clarence must scramble to save the evening.

At least, that’s what I took away from the story.  It’s hard to know for sure when you’re missing more than half of the narrative.  My first impression of the film is that it reads like a terrible student project, which is more or less what it is.  It was filmed over the course of three years (1984-1987), all while Tarantino worked at Video Archives.  The characters are thinly drawn, performances are wooden, the technical quality is questionable, and the editing is awkward and jarring.  However, Tarantino’s ear for witty dialogue is immediately apparent.  It sounds strange coming out of the mouths of untrained actors who don’t know how to channel its intricacies and cadences into music, but it’s there.  The myriad pop culture references, the creative use of profanity, and the shout-outs to classic and obscure films are all staples of Tarantino’s dialogue, and it’s all there from the beginning.  There is no filter between Tarantino and his characters—it all comes gushing forth like a fountain straight from the auteur himself.

In his twenty years plus of filmmaking experience, Tarantino has been well-documented as a self-indulgent director, oftentimes casting himself in minor roles.  It’s telling then, that the very first frame of Tarantino’s very first film prominently features Tarantino himself.  Sure, it might be a little narcissistic, but it makes sense when taken into context; his characters are cinematic projections of him, each one signifying one particular corner of his densely packed persona.  Why not begin at the source?

His performance as Clarence Pool is vintage Tarantino, with an Elvis-styled bouffant, outlandish clothes, and an overbearing coke-high energy.  It’s almost like the cinematic incarnation of Tarantino himself, albeit at his most trashy.  He even goes so far as outright stating his foot fetish to Misty in one scene, a character trait we know all to well to be true of Tarantino in real life.

For a director who is noted for his visually dynamic style, the look of MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY is incredibly sedate.  Of course, the film’s scratchy black and white, 16mm film look is to be expected given the low production budget.  For a film where the camera never moves save for one circular dolly shot, an astounding four cinematographers are credited: Roger Avary, Scott Magill, Roberto Quezada, and Rand Vossler.  Visually, it’s an unimpressive film that contains none of the man’s stylistic flourishes, but Tarantino’s rapid-fire wit more than adequately covers for the lack of panache.  A distinct rockabilly aesthetic is employed throughout, from the costumes to the locations.  It even applies to the music, which features various well-known surf rock, bar rock, and Johnny Cash cues.

Much has been made of Tarantino’s inspired music selections, and his eclectic choices have served as a calling card for his unique, daring style.  Music is an indispensable part of Tarantino’s style, from its overt appearances over the soundtrack to certain recurring story elements like the K-Billy radio station (which makes its first appearance here).  His signature use of off-kilter, counter-conventional music sees its first incarnation in MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY, where he employs a jaunty pop song during a violent fist fight.

Watching MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY, it’s clear that Tarantino’s films have always been unabashed manifestations of his personality and his influences.   Tarantino’s storylines and characters exist in an alternate reality, where extreme violence and profanity are more commonplace.  There are whole fan theories that draw lines between his films and connect them together into a coherent universe.  For instance, there’s a moment in the film where Tarantino’s character, Clarence, calls somebody using the fake name Aldo Ray.  Attentive listeners will note that a variation of the same name would show up over twenty years later in the incarnation of Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009).  Further adding to the theory of Tarantino’s “universe” is the fact that MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY would go on to form the initial basis for his screenplay TRUE ROMANCE (which was later directed by the late Tony Scott).  There’s even a kung-fu fight in MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY, which would become the genesis for his fascination with the martial art form over the course of his filmography.

It’s interesting to watch this film, as it bears every hallmark of the traditional “terrible amateur film”.  It has none of the slick polish that Tarantino would be known for, but it makes sense given his inexperience and meager budget.  Everybody’s first film is terrible.  But Tarantino’s unstoppable personality barrels forth, setting the stage for the firestorm he’d create with his debut feature.

MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY didn’t lead to anything substantial, simply because it was never released.  It’s a dynamic illustration of auteur theory at work, where the director’s personality shines through regardless of the resources or story.  We can literally see Tarantino finding his sea legs, feeling it out as he goes along.  The film is basically an artifact, but it’s much more than that:  it’s both a humble introduction to a dynamic new voice in film, as well as a (very) rough preview of the radical shift in filmmaking attitudes that would come in the wake of Tarantino’s explosive arrival.

Akira Kurosawa: Breaking Down the Master’s Directing Techniques

Some of my favorite directors of all time are Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and of course Akira Kurosawa. Ever since I watched the Criterion Collection Laserdisc (yes I’m old) of Seven Samurai and Rashomon I was hooked.

Even in high school I knew that no one else in the world of cinema could frame a shot like Kurosawa. This is why George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola all called Akira Kurosawa “The Master.”

Akira Kurosawa was born in Tokyo in 1910. Kurosawa began his career as an assistant director in the years just before the World War II. His most famous works include the Rashomon, a movie made in 1950 and which gave him a solid foundation in International cinema.

This internationally acclaimed film was followed by works like Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Throne of Blood. These films were received well by international audience and Kurosawa was able to establish his position as an acclaimed filmmaker not only in the Japanese Cinema but worldwide regions where Japanese films were appreciated.

Later, Kurosawa had to go through a difficult phase of his career where he had trouble finding sufficient backing for his films. It was a difficult phase on a personal level as well since Kurosawa attempted suicide.

However, the Japanese director was able to boost his career one more time given his influence on a new and younger line of directors. After the rebooting of his career, Kurosawa made films like Kagemusha and Ran.

The emotion, the composition, the framing, and the camera movement was perfection in film after film after film throughout his over 50 years crafting films. I’ve studied almost everyone of his films I could get my hands on.

Some of Akira Kurosawa earlier work is still hard to come by unless you live in Japan, his home country. Though the great folks over at Criterion Collection have been adding Kurosawa’s titles to the collection for years now. They have, by far, the best transfers, picture and sound quality available.

If your a filmmaker you must get your hand on as many Criterion Collection DVD, Blu-rays or digital downloads as possible. Each title is a compact film school with a dense film theory education that revivals any class in the best film schools in the world.

The commentaries, behind the scenes and extras are invaluable. I taught myself a ton watching their collection.

Unknown to the common people, Japanese film industry is one of the oldest film industries across the world. The film industry of Japan has some vibrant and interesting history. There have been a number of Japanese films that left their mark on the film industry all around the world. The credit can be associated with great actors, directors and other film professionals who put their respective efforts to make the Japanese Cinema as we know it today.

In the following profile, we will be highlighting a very famous director and filmmaker of the Japanese Cinema, Akira Kurosawa. Kurosawa played a very important role by making films that people still remember today.

How It All Began

Every great artist has to take their inspiration from someone and somewhere. Kurosawa was no different. Born 29 years before the Second World War began, the future filmmaker was taught in his early years about how he was a descendent of samurai. However, Kurosawa’s father was understanding of the fact they were born an era where it would be hard to ignore the western influence.

Therefore, Kurosawa had the opportunity of growing up watching films. One could say that this part of life must have been the inspiration to finally choose the career of being a director and filmmaker.

However, before Kurosawa had any interest in filmmaking, he was more into arts. He went to study at the Doshisha School of Western Painting to pursue this particular passion of his. Later, he submitted an essay application in order to work for the Photo Chemical Laboratories film studio in 1936. This application captured Kajiro Yamamoto.

Yamamoto was considered to be one of the most renowned directors of Japan at that time. Kurosawa was hired as an assistant to Yamamoto and he worked on 24 films during his time with the famous director. During his time as an assistant, Kurosawa learnt a lot and particularly gained knowledge about writing a quality script. We can safely assume that this was perhaps the boost he needed to become the director he became.

During the War

The Second World War lasted between 1939 and 1945, a time of great turbulence. However, Kurosawa took his inspiration from these years as well. After the well documented Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a novel named as Sanshiro Sugata was published by Tsuneo Tomita. Kurosawa was enthusiastically bought the novel in its publication day and completed the entire book in a single sitting.

He found the story intriguing enough to call the author immediately to secure film rights. Kurosawa was right to be quick about this because soon other directors were interested as well. However, Kurosawa was successful and the film based on the novel was his debut movie as a director. Although the final film was missing 18 minutes of footage due to problems with the censorship office, it was quite a commercial success.

During the years of war, Kurosawa met Yoko Yaguchi who was one of the actresses in his movie The Most Beautiful. They became close despite arguments and married in 1945. Yaguchi never resumed her acting career but remained married to the Japanese director until her death in 1985.

Going International

After finding much popularity on domestic level, Kurosawa would soon become praised on an international level as well. Rashomon did not only brought international acclaim to the director but is still remembered as one of the best films for its story telling method. Rashomon was a samurai murder story; a murder which was told from the perspective of four different characters.

This method is still considered as one of the most appreciated and innovative devices for telling a story. Following the international success of this movie, Kurosawa would go on to make some great films that strengthened his foundation in the international cinema.

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Troubling Grounds

Kurosawa opened his own production company in 1960. Using this new development in his career, he produced Yojimbo in 1961 which also went to become one his most acclaimed works. However, Kurosawa soon fell into bad times. The filmmaking industry was already suffering due to the negative impact of television and things became worse due to the economic depression in Japan.

Being forced by such circumstances, he had to look for work in Hollywood but his projects did not do well. Eventually, Kurosawa became surrounded by financial problems coupled with emotional exhaustion so intense that he attempted suicide. He recovered but was not interested in carrying on his journey as a director.

The Master of Masters

Kurosawa had no intention of moving his career any forward but he was approached by a Russian production company to make the film Dersu Uzala. The production of the movie put a lot of pressure on the director and it made his health worse but he did not give up. Soon, the previous efforts of Kurosawa paid off and his admirer George Lucas who is famous for Star Wars brought him in to produce Kagemusha.

Unknown to some people, Steven Spielberg is also a great admirer of Kurosawa and his works. They brought a movie called Dreams to the screen in 1990. The film itself did not do much wonders with the audience but both got an Oscar from the Academy Awards; especially recognising Kurosawa’s work.

The Final Years

In his final years as a director, Kurosawa did not produce films that were as epic as his earlier projects. He made Rhapsody in August in 1990 and another film Madadayo in 1993. Both films were only successful on an average level not matching the popularity of the films directed by Kurosawa in his peak years. It is unfortunate that an accident that happened during one of his own projects put a damper on his career.Kurosawa had to suffer a broken back when he fell during a project he was handling in 1995. The Japanese director suffered injuries so severe that he had to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Obviously, he could no longer progress his career as a director

In the final three years of his life, Kurosawa’s health did not improve and took a rapid downhill journey. As his health became poor, he suffered a stroke in 1998. Kurosawa could not fight it this time and died at the age of 88.

One can’t deny the fact that Kurosawa had an epic start to his career. He got the chance to work with Yamamoto and did not waste his time as an assistant with him. Whatever skills Kurosawa learnt during that time were applied in his many successful projects and you can feel the influence of those skills clearly in the films.

Kurosawa was able to come up with some amazing projects during his career and films like Rashomon are still considered to be one of the best Japanese films. Despite the troubling times Kurosawa had to experience after he was forced to seek work in the Hollywood, he was considered to be the best directors of the Japanese film industry.

The film industry in Japan can’t deny that directors like him have helped achieve the status it has today in the world. The fact that Kurosawa was able to gain international acclaim for his work and an Oscar® as well speaks of the quality reflected in his work.

Furthermore, the influence of his work can be seen in the current industry as well. Many directors have found the quality of Kurosawa’s work undeniable and reproduced his projects. The existing and coming generation of directors can learn a lot from the works put forward by Kurosawa. The Japanese film industry will always remain thankful for Kurosawa’s work and it is very clear that his influence still remains very prominent in the West as well.

Besides the Oscar award, Kurosawa was awarded with several honors during his life to recognize his efforts including the Directors Guild of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1992.

The Kurosawa Framing

Whether he’s framing his characters to look primitive, or simply disobeying the rule of third for added effect, Akira Kurosawa’s vision and masterful directing is what makes Rashômon the flawless film that it is today.

While the subject matter is intriguing, it would fall apart without the various styles of framing that Kurosawa employs throughout the film. In this video essay, I look at how and why he framed scenes the way he did. The aspect ratio is not an error or lack of high quality footage – it’s to best preserve Kurosawa’s framing in the way that he intended that audiences view it.


Akira Kurosawa – Composing Movement

Can movement tell a story? Sure, if you’re as gifted as Akira Kurosawa. More than any other filmmaker, he had an innate understanding of movement and how to capture it onscreen. Join me today in studying the master, possibly the greatest composer of motion in film history.

Always keep learning, always keep growing no matter what your age. Take at look at both these remarkable video essays below. Be ready to take notes. Love me some Kurosawa!

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Robert Rodriguez Interview: Building an Indie Filmmaking Empire

You can’t say indie film without saying, Robert Rodriguez. I’ve been a HUGE fan of how Robert Rodriguez makes his films for a long time. His legendary film “El Mariachi” was released when I was in high school and changed my life.

Since then he has gone on to make some amazing films like

He also wrote an amazing book documenting the making of El Mariachi and his rollercoaster ride in Hollywood called “Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player,” a must-read for any independent filmmaker. Whether you love Robert Rodriguez films or hate them, you have to respect how he makes them.

Famously nicknamed as the “the one-man film crewRobert Rodriguez is not only a talented producer, director, and film writer but also happens to serve as an editor, director of photography, Steadicam operator, camera operator, composer, production designer, sound editor and a visual effects supervisor making him a jack of all trades of the film making.

From the famous Spy Kids to Sin City renowned filmmaker Robert Rodriguez is acclaimed for his all-around method of production and appealing flamboyant style, these are the traits that only a few seasoned directors hope to achieve someday after spending decades of work but Robert Rodriguez proved with his first Bedhead a short film that he happens to possess the flair since day one.

Born in San Antonio, Texas, Rodriguez was born to Mexican-American parents Rebecca and Cecilio G. Rodriguez who were a nurse and a salesman respectively. Robert grew up in a big family of 10 siblings. Robert was interested in film from the young age of 11 when his father bought one of the first VCRs which came with a camera along with it.

While studying in St. Anthony High School Seminary in San Antonio, Robert was commissioned to videotape the football games of his school. His sister recalls that he was fired from the work because he had shot the game in a cinematic style and instead of shooting the whole game, he shot the ball sailing through the air and capturing the reactions of the parents. Robert met Carlos Gallardo in high school and together they shot both films and videos throughout their time at the high school and college too.

Robert Rodriguez attended the College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin where his love for cartooning blossomed. Not having high grades he could not get into the school’s film program. Robert created a daily comic strip which was titled Los Hooligans and most of the characters were based on his siblings especially one of his sisters, Maricarmen.

It ran for three years in the student newspaper The Daily Texan. As he was initially rejected from the film school, he taught himself basic directing and editing skills before taking a film program. He continued to make short films. Later on, he won numerous awards for his efforts and gradually was accepted into the film program at the university.

Robert Rodriguez shot action and horror short films on video and edited them on two VCRs. The fall of 1990 earned him a spot in a local film contest of the university’s film program.

There Robert Rodriguez made the award-winning 16 mm short Bedhead (1991). Bedhead starred his younger siblings. The film accounts for the amusing misadventures of a young girl named Rebecca and her quarrels with her rowdy older brother who sports incredibly tangled hair which she simply hates.

After getting telekinetic powers as aftereffects of a slight head injury, Rebecca vows to end David’s unruly bedhead. Another bump to the head makes her a straight-headed kid again she promises to never abuse her powers again though David remains dazed.

The traces of Robert Rodriguez’s signature style are eminent at this early stage with quick cuts, intense zooms, cartoonish sound effects and fast camera movements sprinkled with a sense of humor gave the short an air of cinematic skill and expertise. Bedhead was addressed for excellence in the Black Maria Film Festival. It was selected by Sally Berger who is a Film/Video Curator for the 20th anniversary of reviewing MoMA in 2006. With its success at numerous film festivals, Robert was able to fund his debut feature El Mariachi which was his first feature and portrayed his expertise as a filmmaker assisting him in landing a deal with Columbia Pictures.

El Mariachi (1993) was made on a very tight budget of only $ 7,000. Some of the money was raised by his friend Carlos Gallardo and some from his own participation in medical testing studies. Playing both on Spanish and American western themes, the movie is focused on a lone wandering musician who gets caught up in a mess with the bad guys after switching guitar cases with a hitman who happened to have a similar case to carry around his tools.

Rodriquez won the Audience Award for El Mariachi at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. He has described his experiences of making this film in his book Rebel Without a Crew.

Robert’s second feature film was Desperado which was a sequel to El Mariachi. It starred Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek was introduced to the American audiences. Rodriquez teamed up with Quentin Tarantino of the vampire thriller From Dusk till Dawn (and also both co-producing the two sequels of it) and currently writes, directs, and produces the TV series for his very own cable network El Rey. Rodriquez has also worked with Kevin Williamson on the horror film, The Faculty.

The year 2001 brought Robert Rodriquez his first Hollywood hit Spy Kids, which went on to flourish into a movie franchise. A third mariachi film also surfaced in late 2003 named Once Upon a Time in Mexico which completed the Mexican Trilogy which is also called the Mariachi Trilogy. Formerly known as Los Hooligans, Robert also operates a production company which is named Troublemaker Studios.

In the year 2005, Rodriquez co-directed Sin City which was an adaptation of the Frank Miller comic books of the same name. A scene was guest directed by Quentin Tarantino. In 2004 while production, Rodriquez insisted upon Miller to be credited as the co-director because for him the visual style and technique of Miller’s comic art were as important to him as his own.

However, the Directors Guild of America did not permit it stating that only the legitimate teams could share the credit. This was a big deal to Robert Rodriguez and he chose to resign from the Directors Guild stating I did not want to be forced into making a compromise which he was not willing to make or set such an example that might hurt the guild later.

Rodriquez was forced to let go of his director’s seat in the John Carter of Mars for Paramount Pictures by resigning from the guild. He had already signed and had been announced as the director and planned to start on it soon after being done with Sin City.

Sin City was not only a box office success but also a critical hit especially for the hyperviolent adaptation of the comic book which did not have much name recognition like the Spiderman or X-men. Robert has shown interest in the adaptation of all the Miller’s Sin City comic books.

In 2005, Robert Rodriquez released The Adventure of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D which was a superhero movie for the kids pretty much the same young audience for the Spy Kid series. Based on a story which was conceived by Robert’s 7-year-old son Racer, this film was liked but did not gain that much success grossing only $ 39 million at the box office.

Planet Terror was written and directed by Rodriquez as being part of the double bill release Grindhouse. Quentin Tarantino directed the other film of Grindhouse.

Apart from films, Robert Rodriquez also has a series of Ten Minute Film School segments on numerous of his DVD release which show aspiring filmmakers how to make good and profitable movies using affordable and feasible tactics.

Along with these, Robert Rodriguez created a series called The Ten Minute Cooking School where he revealed he told his recipe for Puerco Pibil, the same food which was eaten by Johnny Depp in the film.

The popularity of this got him started on another Cooking School on the two-disc version of Sin City DVD where Robert Rodriguez taught the viewers to make Sin City Breakfast Tacos which was a dish he made for his crew and cast during the late-night shoots and editing sessions with the help of his grandmother’s tortilla recipe and various egg mixes for the fillings.

A strong supporter of digital filmmaking, he was introduced to this by George Lucas who personally invited him to use the digital cameras at Lucas’ headquarters.

At the 2010 Austin Film Festival, Robert Rodriquez was awarded his Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award.

A new sequel to Predator was announced which was to be produced by Rodriquez on April 23, 2009, which was based on the early drafts he had penned down after watching the original.

Robert had ideas for a planet-sized game preserve and different creatures that were used by the Predators to hunt down a group of abducted humans who are incredibly skilled. Acquiring quite positive reviews, the film did really well at the box office.

Robert also planned to produce the famous Fire and Ice, a 1983 film collaboration between Frank Frazetta a painter, and Ralph Bakshi, an animator. But the deal closed shortly after the death of Frazetta.

It was reported in the October of 2015 that Rodriquez is going to direct Battle Angel Alita with James Cameron. It was also announced in November that he is directing the film 100 Years which will be releasing in 2017.

Hollywood in Austin

Robert Rodriguez has built himself a remarkable filmmaking paradise in Austin, TX. Don’t believe me watch the two videos in this post where he gives you a tour of Troublemaker Studios. He has since purchased an old airport and built sound stages, more post-production, office space, and everything you would need to make a film.

He has also done something that no other filmmaker has ever done before, he launched his own television network called “El Rey.”

In the over two-hour interview that Tim Ferriss had with Robert Rodriguez, he discusses not only his journey as a filmmaker but how he lives a creative life. This is why I wanted to share the interview with you.

Living a Creative Life

So many of us independent filmmakers forget why we got into the business and it’s to live a creative life. Make money yes, but do so by living a creative life. I found the interview fascinating and wanted to share it with the Indie Film Hustle Tribe. Take a listen at the top of the post.

Hope you enjoy it!