Stanley Kubrick: The Ultimate Guide to the Legendary Filmmaker


What is that elevates a filmmaker to a film master like Stanley Kubrick, or that elegant French word, auteur? In the vast majority of films that make it onto the big screen these days, it is the actors’ names which draw curious audiences above the director’s.

In many cases, at least in a film’s public profile, the director works behind the scenes, barely participating in the promotion circuit, and in the most disheartening cases, can even earn the label of a “Hollywood Hack”.

There may be hundreds of such ill-fated directors circulating, however, the last 120 years of filmmaking have given us a precious selection of truly masterful auteurs. From Alfred Hitchcock to Jean Renoir, from Claire Denis to Quentin Tarantino, the film masters’ canon is a rich one.

Such filmmakers leave an indelible mark on their films; they exert unmistakable control over their project; they allow their creative idiosyncrasies to seep into every aspect of their process. In other words, cinematic masters have the freedom to make their films truly their own, and the vision to create something unique in doing so.

Inarguably one of the most creative, idiosyncratic, visionary directors of our time, Stanley Kubrick falls easily into this categorisation of auteur. His films, which frequently mix incisive political messages with disturbing character relationships and iconic horror imagery, are simultaneously artful and raw.

In perhaps his best-known film, The Shining, his uncanny, labyrinthine and geometric framing of the film’s hotel setting transform inanimate objects like tricycles and corridors into pseudo-characters in themselves, capable of conveying horror and unease even without explicit violence.

In his Vietnam War indictment Full Metal Jacket, Kubrick blurs the line between military brutality and full-blown abuse, masculinity and femininity, violence and sexuality, in ways no other filmmaker could. Indeed, his characteristic blending of beauty and ugliness, politics and psychology, composure and unease, have marked Kubrick’s cinema even since his earliest projects, such as

Below is by far one of the best video essays on Stanley Kubrick’s work. THE DIRECTORS SERIES is an educational non-profit collection of video and text essays by filmmaker Cameron Beyl exploring the works of contemporary and classic film directors. You can donate to support the project at:
Patreon: patreon.com/directorsseries. Before you watch the videos check out these legendary letters from the man himself Stanley Kubrick.

You can also see his settler work breaking down on of Stanley Kubrick’s most intense pupils, David Fincher. Enjoy!

Download the mp3 of the podcast here


Stanley Kubrick’s First Indie Film “Fear and Desire”

We all start somewhere and the 1953 feature film Fear and Desire is where the legendary Stanley Kubrick got his. Fear and Desire is a 60 minute independent film, written, financed, shot and directed by a 25-year-old Stanley Kubrick, who had just quit his job full-time job as a photographer at LOOK Magazine.

The film’s budget was estimated to be $10,000, a hell of a lot in the 1950s. The production was made up of 15 people:  Kubrick, five actors (Paul Mazursky, Frank Silvera, Kenneth Harp, Steve Coit, and Virginia Leith), five crew people (including Stanley’s first wife, Toba Metz) and four Mexican laborers who lugged the heavy film equipment around San Gabriel Mountains, where the film was shot. Kubrick said in an interview with Paul Mazursky interview with Paul Mazursky

“There was no dolly track, just a baby carriage to move the camera.”

Kubrick hated this film with a passion and unsuccessfully attempted to destroy every copy of the film in existence. Before a restored version of the film was played at the 1993 Telluride Film Festival Kubrick publicly said that is was:

“a bumbling amateur film exercise.”

After watching it I understand why he didn’t want anyone to see it. It’s a bit amateur and the acting and story are not what you would expect from a Kubrick film but it’s a fascinating look at his first attempt at filmmaking.

Includes a five-minute interview with the director about the film.


The Barry Lyndon Projectionist’s Letter

Stanley Kubrick was legendary for making sure his films were projects perfectly in every theater around the US. Below you’ll find an amazing letter that was sent out to all projectionists screening Barry Lyndon.

It was reproduced by screenwriter and film critic Jay Cocks, who explained:

“I knew Stanley pretty well for a while, but at the time of the Time Barry Lyndon cover I was in LA beginning preliminary work on Gangs of New York. So I had no hand in the Time cover, but still managed to let Stanley know how great I thought the movie was. He replied with his usual gracious, funny note and enclosed this letter, because he thought I’d be interested. Bet you will be too.”

Thank you Mr. Cocks. Check out the  letter below:
Stanley Kubrick letter, STANLEY KUBRICK, indie film, filmmaking, indie film hustle, Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut, Lolita, The Killing, The Shinning

A rep from Warner Brothers responded to the letter,

“We stand firmly that we are 100% in compliance with Mr. Kubrick’s wishes and edict” and that “the letter from Kubrick to projectionists was the reference for our 1.78 aspect ratio call.”

God I miss you Stanley.

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Stanley Kubrick Screenplays

Below is a collection of all of Stanley Kubrick’s screenplays. (NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes Documentary

Every once in a while a new handwritten memo or a rare behind-the-scenes featuring master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick finds its way onto the web; today I share with you the origin of many of these rare finds. Recently uploaded online,

Recently uploaded online, Jon Ronson’s 2008 documentary Stanley Kubrick’s Boxes examines where these discoveries came from and he unearths the Indiana Jones-style labyrinth of notes, memos, and memorabilia the legendary director left behind.

“The thing is, nobody outside the Kubrick house got to see the boxes.”

Stanley Kubrick’s trademark eccentricity is on full display as the documentary filmmaker, who was allowed to film by the invitation of Kubrick’s widow, digs into his methodical system of storing and cataloging countless of letters from fans filed according to where they originated from. Discovered personal notes read,

“Please see there is a supply of melons kept in the house at all times.”

This remarkable 48-minute documentary reminds us of the ridiculous amount of research, time and work that went into each of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpieces; for example, 30,000 location photos were taken during the pre-production process for Eyes Wide Shut, how Stanley Kubrick tested a crazy number of hats before choosing the one that the character Alex would wear in A Clockwork Orange

The immense amount of details that help create Kubrick’s masterworks should not be forgotten and people can regain a new appreciation of the master filmmaker and storyteller below:

Documentary on the vast array of boxes Stanley Kubrick accumulated and left behind. This is the full 61-minute version, unlike the 47-minute version. It includes a lot of behind the scenes footage from Full Metal Jacket not seen on the shorter version. The quality is lower but if you want to see a bit more footage give it a watch.


Kubrick’s The Shining(1980) – Rare Behind The Scenes Footage


The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket”

The Peter Sellers Story: Stanley Kubrick parts

Excerpts from the BBC Arena program, “The Peter Sellers Story”, a documentary directed by Peter Lydon featuring Seller’s home movies shot with his portable cameras. These excerpts covers the year when Sellers became famous in the US and the time he spent with Stanley Kubrick, making “Lolita” and “Dr Strangelove” in England.

Producer James B Harris recollects how Sellers was hired for playing the ambiguous character of Quilty and why the production was moved in England. Kubrick is portrayed with his wife Christiane while playing tennis and chatting in Seller’s home garden.

Scenes from both “Lolita” and “Dr Strangelove” are included and quotes from Kubrick statements about Sellers are read by the narrator.

The documentary features interviews with several Sellers’ friends and cooperators and a clip from 1964 TV program The Steve Allen Show where Sellers was interviewed about how he created the character and the voice of the mad Dr Strangelove by taking inspiration from photographer Arthur Fellig, aka Weegee: a tape with Weegee’s voice studied by Sellers is included, where the photographer talks about his nickname and his work.

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The Ultimate Guide to Stanley Kubrick’s Lenses Collection

When you here the Stanley Kubrick you think of images. One of the many reasons Kubrick was such a remarkable filmmaker was that he came to the film industry after years working as a professional photographer for publications like Look magazine. There he learned about composition, light and of course lenses.

Not many film directors worry about the latest camera tech–cinematographers usually take that job up–but Kubrick was no ordinary director. Even though he wasn’t the first filmmaker to use the Steadicam, on The Shining, he was the first to have the rig modified so it could hover close to the ground in those legendary shots of Danny on the big wheel.

In the video below, Joe Dunton, owner of one of the biggest camera rental facilities in the United Kingdom and worked extremely closely with Stanley, takes us on a guided tour of Kubrick’s lens collection. For those who went to the traveling Stanley Kubrick exhibit (see the videos below) two to three years ago, you might have seen this video playing in the exhibit.

Kubrick rarely rented film gear or lenses and preferred to own his own. Stanley lit mostly with natural light when he could–because of his photojournalism career. Sometimes the flicker of a candle is all the light he would have, which led to the use of the legendary Zeiss lens designed for NASA as a way shooting the deep darkness of space–Kubrick used it for the evening dining room scenes in Barry Lyndon in order to capture candlelight on the slower film stocks of the day.

One of the unsung heroes in all this, it’s a man named George Hill, who was Stanley Kubrick’s go-to-guy when he wanted to create a custom lens for a project. George was also the only guy he trusted to clean his lenses collection. Enjoy!

Stanley Kubrick’s Favorite Cameras & Lenses

I’ve always been fascinated with how some of the filmmaking masters got their start. How did they break into the business? What gear did they use on their first films? What events shaped them in the early days? As many of you know I have a love for Stanley Kubrick and his films. I always knew he got his start as a photographer for LOOK Magazine but I never could find out what cameras he shot on.

I did go into a pretty lengthy post on Kubrick Lenses but now, thanks to CinemaTyler’s ongoing “Kubrick Files” series on Youtube, we can now see what cameras and photo lenses help shape this master. If you are interested in Stanley Kubrick’s early days as a photographer I recommend two amazing books on the subject:

  • Stanley Kubrick: Drama and Shadows
  • Stanley Kubrick at Look Magazine: Authorship and Genre in Photojournalism and Film

The video discusses 20 cameras and lenses including the famous Zeiss Planar 50mm F0.7, the lens Kubrick used to shoot the candlelight scenes in Barry Lyndon. We also discover Kubrick’s most beloved camera was the Arriflex 35 II, which he shot A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, Full Metal Jacket and Eyes Wide Shut.

Here are a list of the cameras and lenses discussed (via IndieWire)

1. Garflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic Camera
2. Kodak Monitor 620
3. Rolleiflex Automat 6×6 Model RF 111A
4. Rolleiflex K2
5. Rolleiflex Automat 6×6 Model K4
6. Rollei 35
7. Polaroid Pathfinder 110A
8. Leica IIIc
9. Pentax K
10. Hasselblad
11. Nikon F
12. Subminiature Minox
13. 35mm Widelux
14. Polaroid OneStep SX-70
15. Arriflex 35 IIC
16. Kinoptik Tegea 9.8mm
17. Novoflex 400mm f5.6 lens
18. Cooke Varotal 20-100mm T3
19. Cinepro 24-480mm in Arri Standard Mount
20. Zeiss Planar 50mm F0.7

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Eyes Wide Shut: Sex, Masks & Betrayal – Stanley Kubrick’s Final Masterpiece

Eyes Wide Shut is one of Stanley Kubrick’s last great masterpiece, and personally one of my favorite Kubrick films. Many critics and Kubrick fans considered it one of his lesser works when it was released. But as the years have gone by Eyes Wide Shut has aged extremely well. Even legendary director Martin Scorsese considers the film not only one of Kubrick’s best but on of the best films of the 90’s.

The film is an erotic drama film released in 1999 deriving its roots from a 1926 novella – Traumnovelle (Dream Story) written by Arthur Schnitzler. It was the last film to be directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick as the famous producer died four days after he showed his final cut of the movie to Warner Bros Pictures and four months before the eventual release of the film.

Kubrick’s record-breaking production schedule for Eyes Wide Shut (400 production days) garnered the Guinness World Records award for the longest continuous film shoot in history. It earned over $30 million during its first week of release, and that made it take the box office’s number one spot. Eyes Wide Shut won the Best DVD Collection for Warner Bros at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, Saturn Award in 2012.

A monumentally important screenplay. Read Stanley Kubrick & Frederic Raphael’s screenplay for Eyes Wide Shut [PDF]. (NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

Twelve years before that, in 2000, one of the key stars in Eyes Wide Shut, Nicole Kidman had won the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress (Drama/Romance) for her role in the movie. In that same year, the movie bagged the Csapnivalo Awards for Best Art Movie and the French Syndicate of Cinema Critics Award for Best Foreign Film. It occupied the 9th place amongst the top ten films of the Year 2000, an award from the Online Film Critics Society Awards.

In the very year, Eyes Wide Shut was released, it made headlines when Stanley Kubrick was awarded the Filmcritica ‘Bastone Blanco’ Award at the Venice Film Festival. That year also saw the movie winning the Most Intrusive Musical Score Award at the Stinkers Bad Movie Awards.

The Plot: Dream or Reality?

The two main characters Dr. Bill Harford and his wife, Alice typifies the journey of a young couple living in New York. When the couple attends a lavish Christmas party hosted by a wealthy patient, Victor Ziegler, Bill hooks up with an old friend who he met at medical school, Nick Nightingale. Nick was a professional player of the Piano and was at his best at entertaining guests.

At the party, Sandor Szavost, a Hungarian man tries to pick up Alice; two young models go for Bill. While at it, Bill is interrupted by his host Victor who had been having sexual intercourse with a lady, Mandy, overdosed on a speedball. The call takes Bill upstairs where he aids Mandy to recover.

eyeswideshut

While at home with Alice the next evening, Bill entertains a strange question from his wife. Alice asks Bill if he had sex with the two girls at the party. Bill who was smoking cannabis at that time, does a good job at reassuring his wife but asks her if he has ever been jealous of men who are attracted to her. Bill’s assertion that women are more faithful than men seems not to go down well with his wife who suddenly tells him of her fantasy with a naval officer they had met during a vacation.

Disturbed by the revelation, a troubled Bill responds to the call of the daughter of one of his patients who just died. On getting there, the lady, Marion attempts to kiss him claiming to love him more than her fiancé Carl. Bill does not succumb to the temptation but from there heads to the apartment of a prostitute named Domino, but calls off the awkward encounter with the prostitute after he receives a call from his wife.

He visits a nightclub where his pianist friend Nick was playing, and there he learns about a secret sexual group and decides to attend one of their assemblies. He, however, realizes that it was a risky action to take and this earns him threats both for himself and his family.

The crux of the dark side of the movie shows forth when Bill takes a taxi to a country mansion mentioned by Nick. He can gain access with the password only to discover a quasi-religious sexual ritual held there. Even though he was masked, a woman quickly pulls him aside and intimates him that he does not belong there. She out rightly warns him of the danger he is exposed to by being at that place at that particular time.

But when the woman is whisked away by someone else, Bill has the opportunity of taking a walk around the house and seeing several masked people engaging in all manners of sexual acts.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers
Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers

A porter interrupts Bill and takes him to a ritual room where a disguised master of ceremonies asks him a question about a second password which Bill did not have. Bill is asked to remove his mask and his clothes. At that point, the masked woman who had earlier warned Bill stepped in and offered to redeem Bill. So Bill is ushered out of the building and advised not to speak to anyone about what he saw.

She out rightly warns him of the danger he is exposed to by being at that place at that particular time. But when the woman is whisked away by someone else, Bill has the opportunity of taking a walk around the house and seeing several masked people engaging in all manners of sexual acts.

A porter interrupts Bill and takes him to a ritual room where a disguised master of ceremonies asks him a question about a second password which Bill did not have.

Bill is asked to remove his mask and his clothes. At that point, the masked woman who had earlier warned Bill stepped in and offered to redeem Bill. So Bill is ushered out of the building and advised not to speak to anyone about what he saw.

At that point, the masked woman who had earlier warned Bill stepped in and offered to redeem Bill. So Bill is ushered out of the building and advised not to speak to anyone about what he saw.

Then matters became more complicated when Bill arrives home feeling guilty and confused then notices his wife laughing wildly in her sleep. She tells him amid tears of a troubling dream where she was having sex with the naval officer and many other men and when this was happening she was laughing at the fact that Bill was there to watch them.

By the time Bill got to Nick Nightingale’s hotel the next morning, he was told by the desk clerk that a frightened and confused Nick was taken away from the hotel by two dangerous-looking men. The envelope Nick tried to pass to the desk clerk was intercepted by the men who drove him away.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers
Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Bill’s encounter with Marion is to surface again after a series of events. He calls Marion after considering the sexual offers he had the previous night but hangs up when the latter’s fiancé answers the phone. He heads straight again to Domino’s home where he receives the news from her roommate that Domino has just tested positive for HIV.

Bill is later invited to Ziegler’s house and told about his intrusion at the ritual sexual orgy the previous night and day. Bill is told not to divulge information about the ritual orgy for any reason or risk the anger of the secret society. When Bill cannot ascertain if the claims on Mandy’s death and Nick’s disappearance as made by Ziegler were true, he decides to speak no further on the matter and to let it drop.

He returns home to find a rented mask beside his wife who was fast asleep. He is broken and in tears narrates the events of the past two days to his wife. The next morning they go Christmas shopping with their daughter, and Alice insists that they should be grateful they survived the whole drama of those days. She professed her love for him and called him out for some sex.

Going Down the Rabbit Hole of Eyes Wide Shut

There are many messages embedded in this enigmatic and suspenseful film that requires a second look. Firstly, the story reveals the travails of the modern couple, who instead of being enmeshed in the hot flames of love and romance is profoundly unsatisfied and seem tied together by factors like convenience and appearances rather than pure love. While the couple can be seen as being modern and belonging to the upper strata of society, the tie that binds them together are the result of basic, primal and sometimes animalistic behavior.

Secondly, mingling with the elite may be desirable and even enjoyable, but it may somehow have some negatives attached. So Bill and Alice attend the party of Victor Ziegler (whose last name means Freemason in German, read into that as you like all you conspiracy theorists out there), a super-rich patient of Bill’s. While there is much to cherish about at the party concerning glamor or elegance, the events that take place after that made matters worse for Bill and Alice. There is also a veiled connection between the party and the occult dimension that runs through the movie.

Thirdly, Eyes Wide Shut re-echoes the notion that beyond elitist glamor, in most cases there are dark, horrific truths about the wealthy. Even though throughout the film there is the depiction of the rainbow and many colors used as a symbol of elegance and glamor, when Bill is interrupted by Victor who goes to see Mandy overdosed in the bathroom, the dark sides began to be revealed.

Fourthly, the practicability of marriage was also questioned by the movie. Even though Alice rejected Sandor’s advances, she was enticed, nevertheless. Her comments give her out as completing unbelieving that Bill loves and trusts her. This behavior triggers the feelings of jealousy in her husband who ends up in a strange situation that totally contradicts the principle of monogamy. The movie also echoes the dilemma of good versus right.

The Real Message: In making Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick had one primary intention in mind; prompt his audience not to be carried away by the flamboyant exhibition of wealth. Because behind the ‘rainbow world’ exists a dark and troubling reality which Kubrick exhibits subtly and sometimes not so subtly in every aspect of the film.

Kubrick helps the audience rethink the institution of marriage, the strength of real commitment, faith and temptation. It’s a film that has layers and makes you ponder more deeply about life. Eyes Wide Shut is a complex look at our society today and it makes the audience look beyond what’s on the surface.

So firstly, he portrays the lifestyle of the typical New York wealthy elite and shows that on that scale alone, that lifestyle is beautiful and enjoyable. But he quickly reveals that behind the rainbows lie some hidden secrets that most people would not want to be associated with.

Making Eyes Wide Shut

Information available shows that Stanley Kubrick was interested in making a film about sexual relations as far back as 1962. But that desire never saw the light of day until he read Arthur Schnitzler’s ‘Dream Story’ in 1968. He got interested in adapting the story and with the help of a journalist, Jay Cocks, bought the filming rights to the book.

Eyes Wide Shut, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Full Metal Jacket, STANLEY KUBRICK, indie film, filmmaking, indie film hustle, Clockwork Orange, Lolita, The Killing, The Shinning
Eyes Wide Shut – Production Still (1999)

Over a decade, Kubrick considered making the ‘Dream Story’ adaptation a sex comedy, but that did not materialize immediately. He, however, revived the project in 1994 when he hired Frederic Raphael to work on the script. He further invited his friend, Michael Herr to help write a script for revisions, but Herr declined because he would not commit to a lengthy production and thought he might be underpaid.

The film began production in 1996. Kubrick had been planning to make Eyes Wide Shut after completing work on ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ but then got the opportunity to adapt ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ Stanley Kubrick ran into several challenges in the course of making the movie.

For instance, the studio pushed him back to cast major A-list stars. The head of Warner Bros at the time, Terry Semel told Kubrick:

“What I would love you to consider is a movie star in the lead role; you haven’t done that since Jack Nicholson in The Shining.”

Stanley Kubrick had always planned to feature a real-life couple in the movie, and his first option was to go for Alec Baldwin and Kim Bassinger. But he later settled for Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman who were married between 1990 and 2001.

The movie was filmed in London even though it was set in New York. In reviewing the film, Vanity Fair noted that Kubrick sent a particular designer to New York to take real measurements to determine the exact width of the streets and the distance between newspaper vending machines.

Another strange event in the making of Eyes Wide Shut is the fact that the script kept changing. One of the characters Todd Field who played the part of Nick Nightingale, they would rehearse a scene a crazy number of times and the scene would change within an hour.

They would get back to the script supervisor for amendments, and that would lead to a complete change of content. And in the middle of the production, Tom Cruise, the lead actor developed an ulcer. He was able to handle the occasion and work with Kubrick to get the production going successfully.

Photo Courtesy of Warner BrothersPhoto Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Tom Cruise also reported that Cruise wanted to re-enact his personal story as part of the movie, and thus he recreated his New York apartment for the film. He used the same furniture in his house and ensured that his wife, Christianne’s paintings were used on the walls. According to Cruise ‘it was as personal a story as he’s ever done.’

To reiterate Kubrick’s attention to detail and accuracy, he banned Cruise from the set on the days Kidman would shoot the scene with a male model. Six days were spent filming the scene which lasted for just one minute, and Kidman was forbidden from telling Cruise about the scene. This was to make the movie depict real-life jealousy among couples in as clear cut away as possible.

Kubrick’s penchant for accuracy was also revealed when he got Cruise to do a simple walking through the door scene 95 times.

On trying to re-enact reality as clearly as possible, Kubrick got Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman to live like real characters when the cameras were not focused on them. They slept in their characters’ bedroom together, were made to choose their curtains and left their clothes on the floor just as they would do in normal life.

Kubrick even discussed the couple’s anxieties in private conversations so that the actors could tap into some emotional intrigues while acting.

A sad part of the whole production is that Stanley Kubrick passed away just a few days after showing Warner Bros studio his cut. It is therefore not known how much he would have kept editing the film. After his death, the promoters of the movie decided to digitally alter the bodies in the orgy scene so the movie could be released with an R rating rather than an NC-17.

Some analysts have claimed that Stanley Kubrick would have done the same if he was alive. Nicole Kidman even suggests that he would have kept tinkering with the movie for the next 20 years.

By the time Eyes Wide Shut was released, twelve years had passed when he had released his last film, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ which came out in 1987. But Eyes Wide Shut was Stanley Kubrick’s only film to top the box office’s earnings chat, amassing over $30 million in its first week of release.

This movie made tons of headlines before and after its release. Even its main character; Tom Cruise did not like the role of Dr. Bill Harford. Cruise revealed a year after the movie was released that he ‘didn’t like playing Dr. Bill…It was unpleasant. But I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t done this.’

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Eyes Wide Shut’s Impact on the Film Industry

Kubrick’s brother-in-law, Jan Harlan posits that Stanley Kubrick was undoubtedly happy with the film and even considered it his greatest contribution to cinema. Even though one of Kubrick’s actors in ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ R. Lee Ermey disputed the claim by saying that Kubrick called him two weeks before his death to express his despondency about the movie claiming that critics would ‘have him for lunch.’

However, Stanley Kubrick has been praised for his distinct style, attention to detail, a knack for accuracy and ability to bring out real-life meanings from symbolisms.

Eyes Wide Shut, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Full Metal Jacket, STANLEY KUBRICK, indie film, filmmaking, indie film hustle, Clockwork Orange, Lolita, The Killing, The Shinning
Eyes Wide Shut – Production Still (1999)

The Critics

The movie, just as its producer was very controversial from the very beginning. Firstly, the Warner Bros, citing contractual obligations to deliver an R rating, had to digitally alter the orgy scene for the American release-blocking out the graphic sexual activity by including some figures to obscure the view. This onset direction was done to avoid the dreaded “adults only rating” of NC-17 which would have led to its limited distribution.

This alteration did not go down well with analysts and critics who thought that Stanley Kubrick would never have shied away from ratings for his movies as long as they passed his intended messages.

However, the versions released in South America, Europe, and Australia featured the orgy scene in its original form with ratings suitable for people 18 and above. There have been some controversies in New Zealand and some parts of Europe where people considered the explicit sexual content of the movie unacceptable.

Analysts like Roger Ebert have put up strong objections against the blurring of the orgy scenes claiming that it only buttressed the hypocrisy associated with movie ratings.

Other critics have described the film as being better at mood than at substance. They think that the film is empty of ideas and does not inspire any audience to watch the film. Many of these critics have described this act as a ‘minor Kubrick.’

But overall, the reviews for Eyes Wide Shot were positive. It had 7.5 out of 10 from 146 reviews, and the general consensus was that Stanley Kubrick’s intense study of the human psyche was able to yield outstanding cinematic work.

Budget

Stanley Kubrick delivered Eyes Wide Shut with a budget estimated to be $65 million. In marketing the movie, Warner Bros followed Kubrick’s secrecy campaign to the point that the film’s press kits contained no production notes. However, Warner Bros promoted the film heavily and used initiatives like putting it on the cover of Time Magazine and show film business programs like Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood.

In conclusion, this is a movie worth the time of the audience. Stanley Kubrick did a fantastic job at passing his message even though with knocks from critics.

Many highly-rated movie stars were involved in the making of Eyes Wide Shut. The main cast of the movie includes:

  • Tom Cruise (Dr. William ‘Bill’ Harford)
  • Nicole Kidman (Alice Harford)
  • Sydney Pollack (Victor Ziegler)
  • Marie Richardson (Marion Nathanson)
  • Todd Field (Nick Nightingale)
  • Sky du Mont (Sandor Szavost)
  • Rade Serbedzija (Mr. Milich)
  • Vinessa Shaw (Domino), Fay Masterson (Sally)
  • Leelee Sobiesky (Milich’s Daughter)
  • Alan Cumming (Hotel Desk Clerk)
  • Leon Vitali (Red Cloak)
  • Julienne Davis (Amanda ‘Mandy’ Curran)
  • Thomas Gibson (Carl Thomas)
  • Madison Eginton (Helena Harford)

Coen Brothers Screenplays (Download)

The Coen Brothers (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen) are two of the most unique voices on the cinema’s stage today. Their career has been going strong for over 30 years. When you read a Coen Brothers screenplay you know that your world will be turned upside down.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guest like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. Hart, David Chase, John August, Oliver Stone and more.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).


Blood Simple (1984)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

Raising Arizona (1987)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

Barton Fink (1991)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

Fargo (1996)

**Won the Oscar** Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

Intolerable Cruelty (2003)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

The Ladykillers (2004)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

No Country for Old Men (2007)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

Burn After Reading (2008)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

A Serious Man (2009)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

True Grit (2010)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

Bridge of Spies (2014)

Screenplay by Matt Charman, Joel, and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

Unbroken (2014)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen, Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson-  Read the screenplay!

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

Suburbicon (2017)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Cohen – Read the screenplay!

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The Shining: Breaking Down Stanley Kubrick’s Masterpiece

The Shining is the legendary 1980 film starring Jack Nicholson as the protagonist of a psychological horror story. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, it’s touted to be one of the top 10 all-time scariest horror shows. The original story was written by Steven King who published a novel with the same title in 1997.

Director Stanley Kubrick was searching for a new movie after mediocre audience responses to his latest film before that, Barry Lyndon, which in fact received a number of critical acclaims. The Shining storyline focuses on Jack Torrance as he descends into madness, brought on partly by exposure to supernatural elements. It takes place in the hotel that he, his wife, and his son are caretakers for while it is closed for winter. Isolated from people and intending to write a novel with his time, Jack and his son Danny reveal an apparently shared trait of being able to “shine” or see ghosts from the past and potential future.

It’s revealed through backstory with Jack’s wife Wendy, played by Shelley Duvall, that Jack once abused their son due to a drinking problem. Viewers discover the hotel was built on a Native American burial ground and later the hotel manager advises that a previous caretaker killed his family due to cabin fever. Jack’s son has a premonition about the hotel, seeing a cascade of blood. Scatman Crothers playing the hotel chef, Dick Hallorann shares a psychic moment with Danny and we hear the term “The Shining” for the first time, describing psychic ability.

After this setup, the family maintains the status quo for a month as Jack attempts to write, without much success. During a heavy snowfall, the phone lines go out and Danny has more frightening visions. Jack has his own premonition telling his wife, when she wakes him from a nightmare, that he had seen images of killing her and their son. Danny visits an off-limits room numbered 237 and turns up later with a bruise, causing Wendy to presume Jack hurt him again.

At this point, Jack begins to see and communicate with ghosts from the hotel past, sharing drinks in the ballroom. When Wendy discusses Danny’s bruise she tells Jack that Danny says a woman in 237 did it. Jack visits the room and can see the ghost but doesn’t share this with his family. Danny has more visions and slips into a trance crying out the word, famous to movie buffs, “REDRUM.”

As the climax draws near, Wendy finds Jack’s typewritten manuscript with nothing on it but a repeating phrase, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Now in a panic, she begs Jack for them all to leave but he threatens her. She knocks him out with a bat and locks him in a cupboard to search for a way out for herself and Danny. But Jack has disabled the radio and snowcat tractor, the only way to drive out in the snow.

As she searches through the main house, Wendy discovers that Danny has written redrum on the door. Closing it, she turns to see it reflected properly in the mirror and reads, “murder.” Jack escapes with the help of one of the ghosts and pursues Wendy who is able to save Danny by shoving him through a window to the outside but has to face Jack as he hacks through another locked door with an ax. She gets the upper hand for the moment and runs through the hotel, finding the ghosts and visions that Danny had seen.

Meanwhile, Halloran who has psychic gifts of his own has returned from his vacation, worried about what is happening at the hotel and heads there. When he arrives, he meets a similar fate and dies at Jack’s hands. Jack pursues Danny into a garden maze but the son lays down false tracks and hides successfully. Danny meets up with Wendy and they flee in Halloran’s vehicle while Jack freezes to death in a snow mound. The final scene shows Jack as a new member of the ghostly group at the hotel, as seen in a hotel photo of party goers from 1921, where he now stands smiling.

Although the story as told throughout the film is sometimes considered a masterpiece inspiring generations of horror filmmakers, it’s purported to have been a difficult shoot and production. Kubrick was fanatical about his method and pushing the actors to their limits. Shelley Duvall became sick from the stress she was under as Kubrick apparently pushed her in scenes far too often. Jack Nicholson purportedly gave up memorizing script revisions because they changed so frequently. You can see first hand what I’m talking about in the behind the scenes video below.

A number of writers agree, though, that Kubrick created something new in film for the genre due to it’s planned ambiguity. It’s never clearly stated that the hotel is haunted but only that Jack and Danny both can potentially see ghosts. Or is it that they share the same delusions? Additionally, there are long periods of silence where the audience watches Jack brood which serves to heighten the tension for watchers, where normally those periods can create irritation to an audience. But in The Shining, it sends a message to the audience that an evil is brewing in Jack’s mind as he sits and thinks.

These long moments of quiet menace serve as a perfect set up for the startling moment when Danny goes in search of his toy at night and come across Jack sitting up in bed. Again there is silence until Danny asks him what has been hinted as being on his mind already, “You’d never do anything to hurt Mom and me, would ya, Dad?” It’s a perfect foreshadowing but also serves the ambiguity. Did Danny see the future, have a hint of his father’s madness, or did he give Jack the very idea?

With the fact that Jack turned on his wife and son so readily and had a history of abuse, although we don’t know in what context he hurt his son, except that he was drunk, the movie can also be a reflection on domestic violence. It’s a biopic of a small nuclear family and being isolated for such a length of time, pressures actually do not serve to bring them close.

Kubrick is considered a genius director as far as versatility and vision. He is able to express feelings of isolation, enormity, and claustrophobia all in one in this film. The imagery is disturbing and perfectly timed for audience psychological stress set off by a score that creates further tension.

The fact that much of the ghost story is implied without ever being confirmed actually fuels the audience’s anxiety to know the truth and follow the tension to the climax. The scenes of actual horror and shock are so overdone with rivers of blood and dead bodies that it could be trite in anyone else’s hands. Here it serves to heighten the fear, dropping flashes of the gore and decay of physical fear along with Jack’s psychological menace.Although it did well enough at the box office, like many films that look to create or influence genres, it wasn’t until years later that people began to consider it a critical hit. When it came out, reviews were not glowing and it’s understandable since they pinpoint the very things that were questionable about the horror theme. There were multiple quiet moments, the gore was overdone and the characters didn’t have as much development as most people thought. But in retrospect, it’s the totality of those elements against the theme of psychological and psychic stress combined that give the movie its punch. Picking apart scenes may reveal the same criticisms that critics had at the time but the overall work has helped to define a genre.

Since the movie was filmed in 1980 and moviegoers and filmmakers alike have matured with the greater abilities of film to relay stories, it’s natural to look again at something and change your mind about its value. As time has passed, The Shining continues to be a model of horror film-making, becoming a specimen of new genre work and a pop culture icon.

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IFH 321: How to Prove Your Doubters Wrong

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In this episode, we discuss proving your doubters wrong. Proving to yourself that if you have a dream and you have some hustle then damn it you can do it. Why are people so scared of your success? We get into it. Enjoy!

Alex Ferrari 1:37
In today's episode, guys, I want to ask you how many times someone has told you you can't do something? How many times has a family member, a friend, a co worker, a stranger? A teacher tell you, you're not going to achieve that dream? You're not going to amount to anything in this life? How many times has that happened to you in your life? Now before you answer the question, a better question to answer first is, how many times have you believed it? How many times have you let that thought? consume your mind your thoughts, your actions? And worst of all your mindset? Because I'll tell you something, I've been told many times that Oh god, you're gonna be in the film business. How can you make a living doing that? That sounds crazy. Or even people who are in the film business go, Wait a minute, you're freelance, oh, my God, you don't have a steady paycheck? Aren't you scared? Or were like, what are you going to do? I don't think you're going to be able to make it Oh, my God, all of this kind of crap. I've heard all my life by small minded, very fearful, very scared little people. When someone says that to you, they're just saying that about themselves. It has nothing to do with you. They're so afraid of you possibly succeeding that makes them look bad. That hurts their little egos. So that's why they say things like that to you guys. That's why they say things like that to me. You know, many people said, What are you going to do? Oh, I'm launching a podcast, I'm going to open up a blog. And I'm going to try to help filmmakers. And even today, when I tell people what I do, I can even see it in their face, because they just don't understand. There's it's like, how do you make a living? Like how do you? How do you do things? Like how can you do that? Like it's baffling to them? To see what I've been able to do in my own life in my own career. Oh, and the best is when you tell them, oh, I made a movie for three grand or I made a movie for five grand. And it's world premiering over at the Chinese Theater this weekend. And they're like what, and that goes into what we talked about before haterade, an episode 319. But we won't get into that we talked enough about haterade about hating on people being bitter and angry. But I wanted to address this because I feel that there's so many tribe members out there who've been told again and again, that they can't do it. That it's too tough. That you don't live in Hollywood, you live in Ohio or you live in Bali or you live in in Mumbai or you live in the Sudan and you just are not able to make a living as a filmmaker or as a screenwriter or as a creative Because all artists are broke, right? There are a whole a whole episode about on that. And if you want to listen to real artists, real filmmakers don't starve. That episode I'm going to put in the show notes. Because it's such a good episode about the myth about the artists who's always starving and you can't make a living and all that stuff. It's crap. It's absolute crap. So understand, when people degrade your dream, tell you you can't do it. Oh, it's either them, projecting their own failures on you, or their inability to believe past their own mindset that anyone else could do something. Do you think that Robert Rodriguez, when he made El Mariachi was telling a whole lot of people that he was going to make a an action feature film for $7,000 back in 1989 9090, that he had to sell his body to science to raise the money that he was a lab rat in order to save the get the money to make his movie? That's insanity, right? Do you think that a young 17 year old director who becomes basically a mercenary and starts ghost writing short films and selling them on blogs to raise money to make his short film? Is that is that possible? That's Jonathan Perry, by the way, Episode 313. If I'm not mistaken, that hid that's his story. People would have told all these people, you can't do that. That's insane. How many people told James Cameron when he was about to make Terminator that you can't make a sci fi action movie? on a on a what I think it was a four or $5 million budget back in 1982. He was basically trying to make a studio movie at that budget range, I think it was even less than that. A sci fi action movie no less. Or that he's gonna make a movie about a bunch of blue people with technology that no one's ever heard of how many people said he'll never be able to make anything happen? How many guys understand that every artist, every filmmaker, every screenwriter, every every creative out there has always had someone waving their finger at them, saying, You're not going to make it. You're not going to get their kid. Your dream is too big. You're just that you don't have that you don't have the goods. You know, and I'm here to tell you this. I want you to prove them wrong. I want you to work so hard. and educate yourself so much and hustle. like no one's ever hustled before, to prove them wrong. Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players to ever play, the game was cut from his high school JV basketball team. Michael Jordan did. And what did he do? That was basically someone telling them, you're not gonna make a kid. So basically what they said, the coach said by not having him on the team, that you're not good enough to make it. So what did he do? He went all summer, and hustled and practice and trained and educated himself so much, that by the next year, when he came back, not only do they make the JV team, he made the senior varsity team. And the rest is they say is history. Everyone gets people saying you can't make it. It's only the ones that believe that that don't. Do you believe it? Do you believe that you're not capable of getting to where you want to be? Do you believe that your dreams are not achievable? Do you believe that you were put on this earth to have this yearning inside of you that will never be quenched? Seriously, do you believe that? Do you truly believe the universe is that? Do you truly believe that the universe is here to punish you and constantly berate you about this dream that you have? Well, if you do then you're right. But if you don't guess what, you're right as well. I don't believe the universe is out to get me. I believe the universe is here to help me. I believe that whatever I want to do in life will be achieved. Maybe not overnight. But one day if I keep Working hard and keep pushing and keep hustling, and keep educating myself. I will achieve whatever I want to achieve. Period. I always love that movie Rudy, which is a great movie about a student who wanted to be on the Notre Dame football team, the college football team. But he had no talent. He had no height, he had no strength, he had no size. He was not a football player. But his dream was to be on that field and play as an order Dame football player. And he did everything he was obsessed for years, to finally he got his shot, he worked so hard that he finally was able to get his opportunity. And he had two plays, just two plays, as in Notre Dame football player. And after his second play, the team carried him off the field. It's the only time in history that any player had been carried off the field. I want you to understand that dreams are wonderful. They're great. They're that fuel that is inside your soul that makes you get up in the morning and do things and move forward and, and have those that mission in life. I got to tell you, though, dreams do change. They shift they morph as you go on life. The dreams I had as a 19 year old or 20 year old film student. It's very different than the dreams I have now. As a almost 45 year old filmmaker. Are they similar? Yeah, I still want to make movies, I still want to make a living making movies. I still want to make the movies that are important to me that will help impact people's lives entertain people in one way, shape, or form. But they're very different than the dreams I started out with. Very, very, very different. So understand that. Things can change. Things can move around. other opportunities. Other things that you will discover along your path might make you happier. Other dreams might come in into your world, other things might want it like you might start off being wanting to be a screenwriter and you write and you write and you write and you write and all of a sudden you realize that I want to write a novel. And all of a sudden you discover that you love writing novels. And it's something you can do and all of a sudden doors are swinging open for you to be a novel writer. Where the screenwriting world the doors were closed, for some reason, at this point, and you go make off a novel and you write a novel and guess what that novel gets optioned in a studio to make a movie and guess what they're gonna call, they're gonna call you because you have a handle the screenwriting knowledge that I've been building up all these years, I want to write the screenplay of this. It happens, guys, but I want you from the bottom of my heart to prove all of those naysayers wrong. prove them all wrong. And the only way you're going to be able to do that is by work by hustle, the termination. educating yourself every single day, moving an inch forward every single day being willing to do things that others are not willing to do. That is what's going to make you succeed. I'll get I'll bring back Michael Jordan, Michael Jordan wins the one of his many championships. And guess what he's doing right after the championship? Once the stadium empties, and everyone's calm, and people are still partying, in the locker room, he's out on the court, practicing the shots that he missed. That's a true story, guys. He's doing things that others are willing to do. Are you willing to read two or three books a week? Are you willing to dedicate two hours three hours extra a day, to educating yourself on the filmmaking craft on the process on practicing filmmaking and practicing editing on learning a new skill that you could put in a toolbox a new tool to put in that toolbox? Are you willing to do it? Because that's what's going to help you prove them wrong. The power of you making your dream come true lives in your hands, not in anyone else's hands. I don't want to hear that. Oh, I'm not making I'm not getting the opportunities that I want. I'm not doing this. Make your own opportunities. That's what I did. I wasn't invited to the party, I wasn't invited to the big Hollywood party. I snuck in a couple times in the course of my career, but I wasn't invited. And you know what? I started to make my own party, I started to make my own path. It's not easy blazing your own path. But you know what, nobody else here has a lot less competition over here. It's great. And I'm happy. And I want that for you guys. So prove them wrong. So anytime you're feeling a little low, listen to this podcast. Hopefully it will light a fire in your butt to move forward and prove them wrong. Hope this episode helps you guys out. I really wanted to bring a little bit of positivity, and not just beat you up like I've been doing with all these tough love episodes, I wanted to give you an episode that really can help really set that fire in your belly, a flame. I want to turn that spark into an inferno. Because I truly, truly want you guys to succeed in whatever you're trying to do. Again, I might have some books for you to listen to in the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/320 to help you along your journey. If you haven't already, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com and leave a good review for the podcast. It truly truly helps us out a lot. And I have a couple things I'm working on in the indie film hustle lab. I'm cooking up some insane things for you. And you guys know when I say there's some stuff coming. You best believe that there's some stuff coming. So keep an eye out for that guys. And again, I hope that this episode really lit a fire in your stomach in your belly to prove them all wrong. And not to believe any of that crap. Because when you believe it, that's when it stops you when you don't believe in that kind of negative energy and that negative thoughts. That's when magic happens in your life. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. prove them wrong. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 313: Why You Are Failing Your Filmmaking Dream

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WARNING: Listening to this episode might shake up your life. 

Seriously, on today’s episode, I get RAW and REAL with the tribe. This is by far one of the most impactful episodes I’ve ever recorded. Truth bombs will be dropped. Hearts may be broken. The purpose of this episode is to force you to confront some real and raw truths about your filmmaking journey. My hope is to help you not turn your filmmaking dreams into filmmaking nightmares.

Watch this video for some inspiration before you listen to the episode.

These are questions that I have asked myself on multiple occasions. These questions have helped me refine and sharpen my filmmaking dream. I hope it does the same for you. Prepare yourself. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. = )

Alex Ferrari 2:33
Now guys, today is going to be a rough episode for many of you. This episode is going to be a mega truth bomb for many of you. And I wanted to put this together because I've kind of been you know me, I've been analyzing I've been studying and kind of just going deeper and deeper and deeper, not only within myself, but also in many of the filmmakers I work with. And I see patterns and I wanted to kind of bring it up in this episode. So the first thing I'm noticing and I think everybody listening will understand is all filmmakers want to have success in their career. Whether that is making big budget studio films, or personal little indie films. We all want some sort of success in our film. We all want to be able to make a living doing what we love to do. We all want to have respect from the film industry from our peers. We all want to pick up that phone pitch an idea and get financing with complete creative control on that film or project you are pitching. Most filmmakers want fans who love their work. They want mega fans of their films. They want conventions to be created around their films. And the fans celebrate their films. Many filmmakers want that many filmmakers want to win Sundance Cannes, Toronto or even the ultimate filmmaking prize. And Oscar. filmmakers love that it's easy to love that it's easy to want that and to live in that. If you ask filmmakers or screenwriters, what they want out of their career, most of them will say something like I just said, but I hate to tell you, but that means nothing. The better question you need to ask yourself is, what pain Do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Knowing that answer will have a much greater impact on your life and career than you'll ever know. I know a lot of you are going Alex, what are you talking about? What pain Do you want in life? Let me explain. Every one wants to be a great filmmaker or a great screenwriter. But not everyone is willing to suffer through the 1000s of hours it takes to learn their craft. Not everybody wants to write 10 or 20 screenplays. Before they sell a produced the next one, not every filmmaker wants to hustle on us on a set as a PA and wake up at three o'clock in the morning, to get there before everybody else does to make coffee, to learn to, to pay their dues to learn from other people watching them on the set to watch other masters, you know, master their craft in front of you to learn from them. They don't want to go through those hours, they don't want to go through that pain that struggle. Not everyone wants to make 30 short films that no one will ever see that teach themselves the craft of filmmaking. This is exactly what Robert Rodriguez said before he did El Mariachi, not everybody wants to put in the time, gather some friends and actors to come together to make a film with little or no budget, and have to deal with egos and personality and production problems and then trying to get the movie shown to people in Film Festival submissions and rejections and then trying to find a distributor to get the money back that you that you pulled together some magical way to get that going. Not everybody wants to do that. filmmakers and screenwriters want to be successful, but many without taking any risk. Without the sacrifice, without putting in the time it takes to be a success in their field. All screen martyrs won a million dollar sale from one of their screenplays. But not many of them are willing to take the rejection after rejection from agents and the business and producers. All filmmakers want to make a living, doing what they love to do, but don't want to deal with learning how to raise money, or marketing or distributing their films, or how to build a base or any of that stuff. Happiness requires struggle. how good you are at handling those negative experiences will determine a lot. Our life is not determined by the good experiences we have. That's super easy. We all love good experiences. We all want positive experiences in our life. It's easy to deal with that. It's easy to get up there and get the award at that Film Festival. What's not easy is making that movie, going through all the negative experiences that you have to go through to get there. Our lives and careers are determined on how well we handle negative experiences. The rejections, the naysayers, your parents or spouse that don't believe in you, your friends that think you're crazy, that agent that will return your call that film that doesn't get into Sundance, it is your ability to handle those negative experiences that will take you to the positive ones. We all want to have an amazing body. But not many are willing to wake up early every day and hit the gym five to six times a week, change all their eating habits and make better choices in their lives. We all want that amazing body. We all want the six pack. Not everybody's willing to put in the work. We all want to be the rock. We all want to be making millions upon millions of dollars and have millions of fans adored and following you not saying all of us but many of us want something like that. But man did he put in the work man did he put in the hustle for decades for time and years. That is the difference between people who make their dreams come true. And those who just sit around fantasizing about their dreams. I don't know about you, but I could sit for hours dreaming, fantasizing about my filmmaking dreams about my screenwriting dreams about being up there and getting the award How many of you listening have made an Oscar speech into the mirror? I know Don't laugh. Don't laugh. I know a few of you have. Because we all have in one point or another. How many of you have fantasize about selling that million dollar script or getting that phone call getting that check and showing it to your wife or your husband? showing it to your family to go Hey, look, I did it. All those naysayers, all those? All that negative crap you threw at me here? shove it up your butt. I made it. How many of you fantasize about that? Well, that's easy. It's wonderful to be in that world, isn't it? It's wonderful to think about the amazing spouse that you'll get with, that's perfect for you. But you're not maybe not willing to do everything it takes to attract that perfect spouse into your life. What's hard, is getting up and doing something every day to get you closer to that dream, regardless of the outcome. Regardless, if you succeed, or if you fail, as long as you learn and move forward. That's all that matters. Are you willing to fail? Are you willing to take the risks needed to succeed in your career or in your life? Will you be that bitter filmmaker or sorry Ryder just making excuses why they never made it. Will you be those guys those filmmakers who blame everybody, everybody else for why they didn't make it? Why didn't he get that chance to make it? Or will you make the decision right now, to change, to change your habits, to make a commitment to learn something new every day. The faster you learn, the faster you earn. Say that again. The faster you learn, the faster you earn. You will earn more in your life, you will earn more in your career, the faster you're able to learn something, to put it in your toolbox to build new tools to grab new tools and put them in those toolboxes. Are you willing right now to get up early and work out? Are you willing to get into the best physical shape of your life to meditate every day? So you can be more centered and creative? The question is, what are you willing to do to make your dream come true? What pain Do you want in your life? What struggle Are you willing to endure to reach the mountaintop that you want to reach? getting good at dealing with negative experiences, is getting good with dealing with life, not just this business. But life. If you want to be a rock star, you can't just want to be up on the stage and getting all those fans and all those yells and cheers and applause. You got to want the hours of pain, learning the guitar, let's say the countless late nights of playing and dive bars, dealing with other people's egos, bandmates egos and attitudes and dealing with the never ending rejections of the music business. You got to want that you've got to be able to endure that. Because that's what's gonna get you to that stage. That's what's going to get you to the applause and to whatever other reasons you want to be up on that stage. If you find yourself wanting to be a screenwriter, or filmmaker, month after month, year after year, but nothing is happening, then maybe you actually don't want it. Maybe you just actually want the fantasy. Maybe you don't want what you want. Maybe you just enjoy wanting the dream. Living in that fantasy, that ever intoxicating fantasy. I promise you that this filmmaking dream, this screenwriting dream will not be pain free. It won't be all unicorns and rainbows. Wanting success is easy. We all want some sort of success in our lives. The question is, what pain Do you want in your life? What is the pain that you are willing to sustain? If you can answer that, then you are on the path to making your dream come true. Are you in love with the result of the dream? And that actually the process of getting there? Be honest with yourself? Because if you don't answer this question soon, and honestly, tomorrow, you will wake up and you will be 70 bitter, angry at the world for not giving you your dream. Don't be that person. If you're not in love with the process of screenwriting or filmmaking, then you will fail at it. You need to love the journey, not the destination. It's like having a dream of getting to the top of Mount Everest. But discovering that you really don't like the climb a whole hell of a lot. You want the reward, but not the struggle, not the process of getting there. This career, this life does not work that way. Your success is defined by what you're willing to struggle for. screenwriters who write and write and have 20 to 30 screenplays in their desk drawer finished are the ones who get an agent who make that sale. filmmakers who direct short after short, or micro budget film after micro budget film and learn along the way, are the ones who build a career. The ones who embrace the craziness and uncertainty of the film business are the ones who make it. Our struggles, determine our successes. Choose your struggles, choose the pain you want to endure wisely. I've been enduring pain for 20 odd years in this business and sometimes buckled me to my knees to the point where I couldn't get up that I might have left the business for a little bit. But at the end, I kept going. Just like rocky says, if I may quote the famous Rocky Balboa, it's about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward. That is what life is. That is what this business is. We are all writing a book of our lives. Each day, each experience and decision is another entry in that book. When your last chapter is written, what will it say about your decisions, your dreams, and your life? I hope that lit a fire under your butts today, guys, I think this is a good episode to listen to. And listen to often, it will hopefully fire you up, it will hopefully guide you and give you that motivation to keep moving forward day in, day out. I want you to make me a promise that you're going to ask these questions to yourself, and be honest with yourself. Because I've seen so many filmmakers waste their lives. Because they didn't answer the question. What pain Do you want in your life? What struggle Are you willing to endure to get to your dream? What risks what calculated risks are you willing to take to get to your dream? What uncertainty Are you willing to put up with? To make it in this business? You have to answer these questions, honestly. Because if you don't, like I said before, you're gonna wake up tomorrow, and you're going to be 70 bitter and angry at everyone. Don't be that guy. Don't be that girl. All right. Thank you for listening. I hope this episode is of service to you and also promised me something else. If you liked this episode, please share it with somebody you know who needs to hear it. I need to get this out there. I want this to help as many filmmakers, screenwriters or anybody in this world that I can help. So if you know somebody who needs to hear this truth, then please share this episode, share the YouTube video, share the link, which is indiefilmhustle.com/313. Share it to anybody in our new book, everybody that you know that needs it. I appreciate you guys. I appreciate everything you do for me on a daily basis. I appreciate all the emails and messages and goodwill that you send me. And I hope I'm returning that to you guys with the work that I'm doing on a daily basis. Thank you guys again. So so so much. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 291: I Want to Give You $30,000 to Make a Streaming Series

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You must be saying,

Wait? What? You want to give me $30,000 to make a web series?

Yup, that is exactly what I want to do. I’ve partnered with Filmaka.com to launch an amazing Web Series Filmmaking Competition.

We are launching cross-platform Web Series filmmaking competition, sourcing diverse ideas & pitches. Filmaka & Indie Film Hustle will select and award the Web Series competition winner with a production budget for completion of the winning series.

HOW IT WORKS:

Filmaka members have three weeks to submit written Pitches only for the 3-5 minute pilot of an original web series they want to create based on the prompt: THE HUSTLE.

After the Pitch competition closes, up to four (4) winners will be given $5000 each to shoot their Short/Pilot which is their pilot for an original web series. The winners will have eight weeks to submit their Short along with nine (9) written Scripts, that together make up a ten-episode web series. Of the up to four (4) submissions, one winner will be awarded $25,000 to produce their original web series.

THE PITCH:

The Pitch and/or the Scripts should be as detailed as possible so that Filmaka executives have a clear vision of the web series the Member wants to create. Character lists, an overall summary of the web series, storyboards and scene sketches may be included as part of the Member’s submission. While there is no limit to the number of pages for the Pitch or Scripts, it is important to remember that the produced version of the Pitch or Script will only be three (3) to five (5) minutes in length.


STAGE ONE:

January 14th to February 4th, 2019 (three weeks including three weekends):

Submit your written Pitch for the 3 – 5 minute pilot of the web series that you want to direct. We are looking for a web series based on the theme or topic: THE HUSTLE. It can be in any genre Please keep the budget in mind when pitching your project.

The week of February 4th to February 11th, 2019: Up to four (4) winners will be selected.

STAGE TWO:

February 12th, 2019 to April 9th, 2019 (eight weeks including eight weekends):

Up to four (4) Stage One Winners are awarded $5000 each to shoot a Short (3 to 5 min. long) based on their winning Pitches.

–In addition to their Short, winners of Stage One are required to submit nine, 3 to 5 minute Scripts, that along with their Short, is a ten-episode web series.

–Filmaka Members have eight weeks to submit both their Short and the nine written Scripts.

STAGE THREE:

April 15th, 2019: Out of the up to four (4) submissions, Filmaka executives and Indie Film Hustle will choose one grand prize winner who will be given $25,000 to produce a ten-episode web series based on their winning submission.


Who is Filmaka?

Filmaka is a digital platform for aspiring filmmakers to showcase their talents, compete for opportunities, and build their careers globally. Filmaka currently partners with MarVista Entertainment in a pact to source new and diverse talent through an ongoing pitch forum aiming to aggregate original & unique story ideas. Filmaka’s partnerships also include Riverstone Pictures, with whom they hold a feature film funding pact for the winner of Filmaka’s Final Competition.

Through the platforms numerous competitions and production budget prizes, Filmaka creates opportunities for filmmakers without traditional access into Hollywood. Films that are submitted to Filmaka are seen, judged, and selected by a jury of top tier professionals in the entertainment industry and by fellow Filmaka members. At Filmaka, aspiring filmmakers from across the world can connect, collaborate, and compete for a wide range of professional opportunities.

I can’t tell you how excited I am to bring this opportunity to the IFH Tribe.

To submit just go to Filmaka.com

Also the winner’s pilots and series will be available to view on Indie Film Hustle TV. It has been a dream of mine to be able to give this kind of access to the tribe. I can’t wait to see what you guys submit. Good luck!

Alex Ferrari 1:50
Now today is the day I've been hyping this day up for a while now I've been telling you guys about this big announcement that I was going to make to you. And the waiting is now over, I have teamed up with filmmaker.com to give you guys an insane opportunity to get access to the industry that generally has its doors closed to you guys, and to me for that matter. But we will be launching a cross platform web series competition. Now this is how it's going to work, you're going to have three weeks to submit written pitches only for a three to five minute pilot of an original web series that is created on the prompt the hustle. That's right, so the topic is the hustle. So whatever you want to create around the hustle, please be my guest, I cannot wait to see these things. Now after the pitch competition closes up to four winners will be given $5,000 each to shoot their short, which is the pilot for their original web series. The winners will have eight weeks to submit their shorts along with nine written scripts altogether, that will be 10 episodes of the original web series. Out of the semi finalists, one winner will be awarded $25,000 to produce their original web series. So a total of 30k to make your web series guys and that's insane that they're doing this and I'm so so so excited to bring this opportunity to the tribe. And I really I just I'm just I'm kind of giddy honestly I'm kind of giddy. Now let's talk about the pitch what the pitch really needs to be the pitch and the scripts should be as detailed as possible. So filmmaker executives have a clear vision of what the web series you want to create is characterless an overall summary of the web series storyboards, and scenes sketches may be included as part of the member submission. While there's no limit to the number of pages for the pitch or scripts, it is important to remember that the produced version of the pitch and scripts will be between three to five minutes in length. So stage one will be from January 14, today to February 4 is three weeks, including weekends. During this stage, you will submit your written pitch of three to five minute pilot over the web series that you want to direct. Now, filmmakers looking for a web series based on the theme the hustle, but it can be in any genre you want. Please keep the budget in mind when pitching your project. Don't go crazy as far as I want to create Blade Runner, but with the hustle behind it. If you can't afford it under 30 grand don't write it URLs, you're not going to have a good chance of winning now during the week of February 4 to February 11. Up to four winners will be selected. Now stage two will be from February 12 to April 9, that's about eight weeks including weekends. Now all the stage one winners will be awarded $5,000 to shoot their pilot based on their pitches, and additionally to the pilot or the short. winners from stage one will be required to submit nine episodes between three to five minutes scripts so the filmmaker team can evaluate Wait for the next stage. The last stage stage three is on April 15. Now out of those submissions, filmmaker executives and I will choose one grand prize winner, who will be given $25,000 to produce a 10 episode web series based on their winning submission, I cannot tell you how excited I am for this contest, and I wanted to bring this opportunity to the tribe. So, so, so badly, I've been working on this, with filmmaker we've been, you know, just trying to get it together, probably for about six months. So I've been holding on to this for about six months. So as much as you guys have been waiting, I've been waiting to tell you guys, I'm so so excited. So if you want to submit head over to filmmaka.com, that's filmaka.com. It's right on the front page, and get to writing guys, I cannot wait to see what you guys come up with, with the topic, the hustle, I'm just so so so excited to see all these submissions, and see what the tribe has to offer. And, guys, if you're not gonna be able to submit to this contest, please spread the word, send it out to as many people as humanly possible. Because I really want to get this out there. It is an amazing, amazing opportunity to work with Deepak and the the great great people over at filmmaker who really truly want to give access and give opportunities to filmmakers that just wouldn't normally get them. Because, you know, Deepak came up, and he had to hustle and you know, bust down doors do what he had to do to make it into this business. And he wants to now give back and open that door behind him. So let other filmmakers in as well. Nothing would make me happier than giving a tribe member access to the possibility of being picked up by HBO or other companies or just being able to get in, get an agent, get seen. have meetings with studio and network executives and just trying to get your projects out there and get your voice out there. So get going on that hustle and I cannot wait to see what you guys Submit. And since we are at the end of this episode, I also want to remind everybody about shooting for the mob my new book coming out February 22. If you want to be on the launch team and get a free copy and early access to the book, head over to shootingforthemob.com that shooting with two O's .com It is a limited time, I'm only going to have so many openings for people on the launch team. So if you want to jump in jump in now to get access to the book and also learn how I do a full you know marketing push and launch of a product of a book and which could easily be translated into launching a film or launching a series or something like that through social media and techniques and things that I'm going to be able to share with you guys and I cannot wait for you guys to give me some advice and share your ideas about how we can get this book out there. So again, that's shooting for the mob calm and that's the end of this episode, guys. Thank you so so much I'm getting so so so excited for you guys. And I can't wait to see what you guys Submit. I know I'm repeating myself but I'm just that excited. As always keep that also going keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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IFH 240: How to Work the Film & Television Markets with Heather Hale

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Today’s guest is Heather Hale, author of How to Work the Film and TV Markets: A Guide for Content Creators. Heather Hale is a film and television director, screenwriter and producer with over 50 hours of credits. She is currently under contract to direct an indie romantic comedy.

She directed, produced and co-wrote the million-dollar feature Absolute Killers (2011) which was marketed by distributors at Le Marche du Film and the American Film Market. She wrote the $5.5 million dollars Lifetime Original Movie The Courage to Love (2000) which starred Vanessa Williams, Stacy Keach, Gil Bellows and Diahann Carroll.

Heather’s new book How to Work the Film & TV Markets: A Guide for Content Creators was just published this summer by Focal Press/Routledge while her Story$elling: How to Develop, Market and Pitch Film & TV Projects will be published in 2018 by Michael Weise Productions.

For over two decades, Heather has served as an international keynote speaker, teacher, moderator, panelist and custom workshop facilitator for film and TV markets, festivals, writers workshops, colleges and universities and Chambers of Commerce around the globe, including creative adventure weeklong retreats such as StoryTellers on WalkAbout.

Enjoy my conversation with Heather Hale.

Alex Ferrari 0:34
I'd like to welcome to the show. Heather Hale, thank you so much for being on the show, Heather.

Heather Hale 2:50
It's my honor. Thanks for having me, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 2:52
So before we get into it, I really want to know how did you get into this crazy business?

Heather Hale 2:58
Oh, gosh, people always ask your breaking story. And you probably know, well is anyone we all have like five times do we have to break back in and you know, you can never rest on your laurels. And so I don't even know which one you know

Alex Ferrari 3:12
The first one. Let's just start with the very beginning.

Heather Hale 3:14
I don't even know what the first one is. I will say the who knows. But what most people look at as my break in was the courage to love which was a lifetime original movie. And the speed version to that was my aunt passed away. So this is a top total Hollywood Story. So with, you know, dog groomers and hairdressers. My aunt passed away she and my parents became executives of her trust and that we became we had to handle a townhouse in Pasadena. And foolishly I didn't grab it because you know, I wanted to live in LA not Pasadena. And selfishly, I'm such an idiot. I such

Alex Ferrari 3:56
I would have taken that bran

Heather Hale 3:58
I'm an idiot. I appreciate that now gorgeous garden jacuzzi. Like, I'm an idiot. Okay, we've established I'm an idiot. So anyway, that we became executives or trust, and my parents couldn't afford to debt service that and their own mortgage and all that. So we had to rent it out and we had to rent it out ASAP. And so we're literally like, packing up the garage of a woman who never moved in 40 some odd years, while we're grieving while we're dealing with the wake and all of that, while there's a moving truck with the other people moving in like it was that crazy. So as I'm moving banker's boxes out, and the new renters are moving banker's boxes in. They one of the wife says, hey, I've got a great idea for it. That would make a terrific movie. I understand you're a screenwriter. And how many times have we all heard that like every Hey, I have an idea. You do all the work. And you use all your relationships and resources and we'll split the profits and probably I'll sue you for stealing it. Like it's just never out. But I sat her down and I said, Okay, like, I don't want to do this, but let's do it. Because I'm an idiot. We've established Yes. And we literally sat there with a plate of brownies and ice tea, and I handed her a legal pad of paper and a pen. And I said, Let's write a deal memo. And I want it in your handwriting. So we can't say you didn't know what this was. And we wrote out this deal memo. And I was really careful. She claimed that her son was Vanessa Williams music producer. And how many times have we heard people say, I couldn't get it to so and so I can do this. Yeah, so I had her put, you know, my name is XYZ, Heather is XYZ. My son is Vanessa Williams music producer, and she put his name in there. And I will get this script to this. Vanessa Williams, like, that's that that piece was what made me do it. And so then I told her, I would mentor her and help her and support her and she wanted to write it. And I was just going to help her as a friend from the sidelines. And so over the next three months, I read and read on the research junkie, you know, most writers are voracious readers. So I knew everything about New Orleans in the 1830s. And this woman is amazing. The first African American nun ordained by the Catholic Church is really powerful story. And over the three months, she wrote back and faxed me This tells you how All right, me. That's me, like five pages describing a room. And that's as much as she had done in three months. And she begged me, Heather, can you please write this? And I said, Okay. And so I wrote this outline. And we got the outline to Vanessa Williams. She kept her word, she was good to her word. And then Vanessa Williams got it to Emily. Gosh, Gershon, at the William Morris at the time. And Emily called me we had sent her a five page outline, which bear in mind was really well researched, it was historically accurate adaptation was a powerful story. And we sent it to her and my associate, in her zeal and enthusiasm. I don't want to say lied, but eagerly told her wait till you read the script. It's fantastic. course, there was no script, of course, right. It's just an outline, just a five page treatment of what the beat outline was really well written in prose, really, really engaging of what we were going to do. Sure. And so I get a call from Emily Gerson Sainz, who says, I understand the script. No, I didn't get a call. I was told. Emily wants to see the script. She and Vanessa are going to be at the Cannes Film Festival in 10 days. So could you send it to him?

Alex Ferrari 7:55
Sure.

Heather Hale 7:56
And there, it was a god moment. And I literally picked up the phone before I had time to think and quit my job. Wow. And I told my boyfriend, I'm not leaving this computer. Until I have that script. Done. Like, this is my break. It was scary as all get out. And I called Emily, which was very terrifying. Like one of the first people I've ever called, was like the head of William Morris, who's waiting for a script that's not written from me. And I gently said, so how firm The date is that deadline? She goes, she goes, Oh, bless her heart. bless her heart. Oh, honey, it's not from not for me at all. I I love the project, the NASA loves the project. And Vanessa and I are going to be in Cannes at the same time, loving the project. So I'm not sure when that will occur again, when the two of us will be together interested in your project. At that moment, we will be and so I went, Okay, thanks. I got the phone. And then I realized I didn't have 10 days I had nine because I had FedEx it. So I literally wrote and wrote and wrote and then I would hit print fall asleep. My boyfriend would read I had girlfriends, people writers group. So I would like email them the 12 pages I'd written I would email them the 17 pages I'd written I, I would sleep and then I would wake up and I get back at it. And I would put in people's notes, fix all the typos keep cranking so I had literally copied the treatment, threw it into final draft first script I'd ever written and just went for it. And it got set up. And it was a five and a half million dollar feature on lifetime and 2000 and then you know, I had to break it all over again. But let's call that my break.

Alex Ferrari 9:51
That's that was the most passive aggressive way of saying the deadline is the deadline. Right? But but good for her because It was true no and you know what and you know what? Yeah but that description that for people listening that that description of how she she spoke to you eautiful is exactly how people in LA talk in those positions, though then general everyday No. Generally never say no. They're generally never like they are there are the you know the art golds of the world. There are but but a lot of them will do this kind of passive aggressive. Yeah. And it's, it's honestly an art form.

Heather Hale 10:34
It's an art. It's like on my vision board to be unflappable. And if you ever if you've listened to Shonda Rhimes, his latest book, I listen to it on audio tape, I love to listen to like Tina Fey and Amy Schumer all their books, Andy kailyn on when they narrate on their audio books. But so listening to Shonda Rhimes, which was awesome. I, you know, she coined the word badassery. She said, you know, they say it's not a word unless it's in the dictionary. But in my Microsoft Word, I right clicked and added it to my dictionary, so it's a word. So I have like, unflappable, badassery on my vision board. That's my goal is to be able to not cuss and swear not raise my voice, not lose my temper, but say so eloquently. And maybe it's passive aggressive, but it is an art form exactly what you mean and still be smiling and look like you're being courteous in such a team player when you're really laying down the bottom line.

Alex Ferrari 11:30
And that is an art form. And this Yeah, without question. So So let's talk about markets, film markets, television markets, that's one of your expertise is, which it all started there, right? Because I had to get it to cat you have to get the cat. Exactly. So can you explain to the audience what the difference is between film festivals and film markets?

Heather Hale 11:51
Sure. I think that's actually one of the least understood and even people who have been in the business forever. Because you'll have people say, it's funny. I never know whether it's can or con because I get corrected no matter how I said someone's gonna correct me. So they'll say they're going to Cannes. But are they going to the festival of the market because the festival in the market are on opposite sides of the cross that you know this promenade, and they're going on at the exact same time. And people can fly around the world and realize that they have credentials, they've paid two or $3,000 in here and there at the festival when they meant to be at the market and everybody they want or or worse I mean at least that you can probably Jerry rig but what if you're in the wrong city at the wrong week, you go to the Berlin you know, the main event to go to the European film market. And you ended up at Berlinale at you know and or you're at the different the TV markets and you're in the wrong week. Everybody you paid 3000 or 5000 to go see is not even there. Yeah, so I think it's really important. So so so real clearly like festivals, we were talking about Sundance before we went live fest. If you think of show business, you can think of the festivals as the show and markets as the business of the entertainment industry. great analogy because festivals are open to the public. Usually, they're all about audience enjoyment. They're all about the craft, they celebrate the love of the art. It can be about a specific genre, or locale and it's all about community. So film fans and TV lovers from the public can come and enjoy premieres fun parties, they can vote, you know, especially for audience awards. But these competitions are curated by taste making gatekeepers and they award prizes based on their judgement of quality. And the audience response and critical reviews is what everybody's looking for. And that's what can launch these surprise breakout hits are dashed the hopes of what everyone thought was gonna be a winner. And as you know, there are no prizes at markets.

Alex Ferrari 14:06
The only prize is a check.

Heather Hale 14:08
There's no prizes, right and the press are often blocked from the screenings because they don't want spoilers leaked. So markets are the entertainment industries trade shows and like everything else in show business, they tend to be more glamorous, faster paced and more intimidating than any other business sector. And so these markets getting on the market floor is typically restricted to accredited industry professionals. So you have to have bought a badge you have to be a player to get on that floor. And then those products or content, the film and television things you might have seen shown at film festivals or television festivals are what is bought and sold business to business and then turned around and parlayed to the to the wider public. So there is this symbiotic relief shipped between the two circuits. So it's possible that a film that does fantastic at Sundance gets picked up by a distributor and is then sold internationally, like a cute little Little Miss Sunshine is bought at Sundance, and then they turn around and sell it to Europe, that European film market. So and then the same, the same thing can be in reverse. Maybe a product does really well at a market. And they choose to use the film festival platform as their promotional marketing to create some audience awareness and create buzz. So

Alex Ferrari 15:36
It's at Sundance every year,

Heather Hale 15:38
Every year, Toronto, Midnight Madness, you name it. So one of the things I think that helps put things in perspective is the size and scope of the material presented. So if you look at like a typical Cannes Film Festival, there's like 21 films that are in competition officially. And then right across the promenade is Lamar Shea to film, which is the Cannes Film market. And there's 3030 500 films at the market. So that shows you the size and scope because what's being sold at the market are shown or screen or viewed, is literally the entire year's inventory, and a backlog of the year before and what. So it's a good year to three years worth of assets that are competing in this incredible, incredible den of noise, to try to make a blip on the radar for anyone to notice you like it the one of the most humbling experiences ever, is to walk on a market floor with your little one sheet. Right? And think My poor baby. And I will tell you, it kicks you in the teeth and says, Is your logline strong enough is your pitch like you're competing with George Clooney on the market floor looking for money, right? Like that's there. I mean, you don't normally run into them, but they are they're raising money. And so your materials have to be so not just slick and professional. But the concepts and the execution has to be so viscerally grabbing, that someone's willing to risk money on them. And so it really does make you take a step back and check yourself that nobody cares about your hopes and dreams and aspirations. They care about are you bringing them something they can make money off of?

Alex Ferrari 17:31
Can you talk a little bit? What can you name a few of the big markets that people should look out for?

Heather Hale 17:36
Well, of course the can the Lamar shaida film is the Cannes market. The European film market is probably the second largest now the American Film market is the third. And then and then there's there's a ton of others. There's the Hong Kong film art, there's the Asian film mark, there's TIFF, com, then titanosaurs, the Latin American one, but another thing that's kind of bubbled up, which I think is really fascinating and helpful for independent filmmakers, is you have the film markets over here and you have the film or the of the film and TV markets over here. And you have film and TV festivals. Oh, and for the just real quickly for TV markets. You have Nat p, which is the National Association television program executives, you have real screen you have kids screen again, the Hong Kong film art is both you have the MIPS we call them the MIPS sweet, so there's mipi mc doc MC formats. And then you have like Nat p in Europe, there's just a ton, Bogota has one. And but in between, you know, you've seen I'm sure that the independent film arena that was such at the golden era in the 1970s people are talking about the Renaissance that we're seeing, and the golden era of television that we're seeing, which is really kind of the shift of independent filmmaking going to television because we have this convergence of film and TV, where the what we call over the top television, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, these, you know which are almost telcos right there, they're almost ISP fees that are offering this is all the issues of net neutrality, but that that is an opportunity for them to create these they create content and deliver content. So in the middle, where the independent filmmaker can often get lost because the studios are doing the huge blockbusters and the networks are doing their channels. What's bubbling up is this co production market scene. And that's where things like cinema in Rotterdam and the Berlin Berlin all a co co pro market, which is over like while the European film market is going on. And while the Berlinale Film Festival is going on, they kind of seamlessly overlap with the Berlinale co production market, which is where independent producers can find financing where they can find production partners where they can find distributors were willing to see projects that are works in progress. And so here's another difference between film festivals and markets. People will tell you, like, you know, as a screenwriter, never send your script out until it's just kick ass as good as it could possibly be. Right? That's it. Okay. So with films, they tell you never to submit to a festival until it's perfect, right? Because it's being judged. So a lot of people miss perceive that and come over to the market space and say, Oh, I can't show it to them. I can't do this because it's a market. Well, they're accustomed to seeing things with holes, and placeholders. And we're going to do the special effects on this. And, you know, they've even done studies where people had missing scenes or animation, they didn't even know that the animation wasn't there, because they were so caught up emotionally in the moment. So a market there, they're happy to see a talent reel for a possible reality show host or a character that we're going to build a world around in their mail you, they're accustomed to seeing, like, let's say you're shooting an independent film, and you're not going to be ready by the market. But your opening sequence is awesome. You just show that as your sizzle reel or trailer or just some selected scenes, and at the market that professionals use to scene products in every stage of development. So that's yet another difference that people you know, will come with the wrong misperceptions that limit their opportunities.

Alex Ferrari 21:39
Now, who should attend markets in general? As far as filmmakers are concerned? Like, should it be at what level of of the process should they go?

Heather Hale 21:48
Well, I think it depends on what your goals are and what your product is. So you will see on the net p floor or you know, MIPCOM IP TV, on the TV markets, people who are not in the industry at all, who might have a sizzle reel on themselves often, or an idea or concept. And they're trying to sell a game show they're trying to sell a reality show they're trying to sell some nonfiction thing like Adam ruins everything, you know, some sort of an edutainment type product. And even if they all they have is a one sheet that's a good one sheet and a good concept. They can literally you know, buy a badge and go pitch almost door to door You know, they're going sweet to sweet. That's another thing. You know this, but maybe your listeners don't. You look at something like the AFM at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. They literally move every bed out of every room. And every suite becomes a sales office. So some market floors have booths like a trade show, where you know, you go from booth to booth to booth on a market floor nappy has these towers where you go up to the suites, and again, they've moved the beds out. So you walk in, and there's the table and chairs, and there could even be cubbies set up with offices for receptionist and all that, actually at the Loews hotel. I was one of two people sleeping there, during the AFM, which was you talk about the shining light, step out into an empty hotel, and you're the I'm not even like there's no room service. There's nobody there. Just closed down. It's It's surreal. So that's, I think. So anyway, to answer your question, Who goes, so if you're a director, you want to go over to festivals, because that's where they're celebrating you. At the markets, it's largely producers. So you might be a writer, producer, director, producer. So if you're wearing a producer hat, and you're trying to raise money, or you're trying to initiate distribution interest, that's a really good place to be another way a lot of producers can use markets that they may not be aware of, is not on the first few days. But on the last couple of days, you can go in with your really great one sheet or sizzle reel. And when the distributors are have gone through the bulk of their meetings, because remember, they've paid 30,000, probably to be there. So you show up selling them and they've paid a ton of money to sell. You're in their way. You're in their way. But the last few days, they are thinking about the next market and they're trying to build relationships as well. And the cocktail parties are all great opportunities for this. But let's say you come in and you've got your indie film project, you got a million dollar project and you have a hit list of 10 stars that you think are really good. It's really a good idea to take that simple bulleted list. don't bore them just go in. Here's my one sheet. Here's my logline. These are the 10 stars I'm thinking of, and you might be blown away where they say this person's not marquee value. This person will never get distribution. I like this person, this person is really good. And someone on that list you might not be aware, is really huge in the breath block or the mint, the new MIT, you know, might be something that you weren't aware was a company, a person who would really attract the Chinese market, you know, I'm always trying to think of the other markets. Or they may say, Oh, I like all of these eight mafioso, guys, these character actors, and they're all really good. Have you thought about x, y, z, and they adds names to your list. And that is priceless information. Because it and they may tell you look, if you get any one of these people off this list, come back to me, and we'll talk about a distribution. It may not be a distribution commitment, because you know, it's hard to say, Yes, I will distribute your film when it's an unknown commodity. Of course, it's not in the can. So that's, I mean, that's the thing is your your film is probably never worth more than when it's nothing yet.

Alex Ferrari 26:03
And to a certain extent, you're right,

Heather Hale 26:05
Right. Everyone can imagine in their mind's eye the very best it could possibly be.

Alex Ferrari 26:11
But a lot of times also do you do you agree that depending on the cast, yeah. If the cast is big enough, there will be commitments to distribute then in there purely because they know if you can afford Nicolas Cage? Yes, you're the project is going to be at at least a somewhat of a benchmark that I know I could sell, because you're not gonna hire Nicolas Cage and do a $20,000 movie.

Heather Hale 26:37
Right? Well, I will. Yes, I agree. But I will say that there's two parts to that. One part is that if you get Nicolas Cage, like I got Vanessa Williams true. It's not you getting the money. It's probably Nicolas Cage, or Nicolas Cage is contacts, resources, referrals. So one of the things I suggest people do is make their hitlist for who they want as their stars for lead actors, and look and see who's got a production company and go get to the production company of the star you want. And let them be partners with you because now they're that much more financially incentivized to come on board and be a real partner. And then that's when the ball starts rolling. You know, my dad always used to say that the most precious asset in Hollywood is momentum. its momentum, you know, and its traction getting people to have it's, it's making your enthusiasm contagious, so that you can get some traction so that you can create some momentum momentum because you can work for 10 years on a project and blow dust off of it. And if you get the right people to shine their light, man, things happen fast, you know, that's the overnight success. So I think that is a huge part of it. And then the other part I will say, is, a lot of times people make their hit list and they're hit the hit list reveals a lot about you. If you have Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep on your hitless. They exactly they may be very polite because they're so polite, but they're laughing at your neophyte ism, right, because it's so delusional. But if you come in with some really amazing actors from say, Breaking Bad, or you know what I mean? Like, some animals obtainable? Yeah, if you mentioned their name at your family holiday. No one else at the table who's not in the business will know who you're talking about? Or maybe you show them their picture and they go oh, yeah, yeah, I know that guy. But the difference is with a distributor, they know that the caliber like David Morris, if you remember, if you know who he is, he was in the Green Mile. He's a fantasy or Freddie Highmore. You know, right now in the in the good doctor, and he was in Bates Motel. So Freddie Highmore at a holiday function. The average person not in the business, Michael, I don't know who that is. Well, do you watch the good doctor? Oh, yeah. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 28:59
I do. Okay, that's about Rob's rush,

Heather Hale 29:03
Obvious rush. He deserves a Lifetime Achievement Award already. I love him. But what I would say is that when you come to a distributor with someone like that, they may not be, you know, cinema marquee value that he can open a movie by himself, of course. But what that tells the distributor is the caliber of acting is going to attract other very strong actors. It's going to attract good directors, it's going to attract people who are going to that's going to raise the bar of their, of their work. So that so if you came with a feat, it's like, in the old days, you needed your Sylvester Stallone or Van Damme to sell DVDs in Asia. Sure, right. But it's changing. It's changing a lot. So now the mass, you know of YouTube competition. It's quality that rises up So having a good concept well written, well executed with really good stars. I think our star culture while it's still hugely important, you look at any advertisement, it's all about celebrity. But it's changing because of the fragmentation of the dial and what the Internet has done to revolutionize our business.

Alex Ferrari 30:18
So you mean Steven Seagal versus mike tyson is gonna have problems? Not if they're fighting. That was the that was the most AF me. AFM movie. This year.

Heather Hale 30:31
You remember when it was a couple Emmys ago where they put all the YouTube stars on the red carpet? No, I didn't. Okay, this was a couple of years ago. And they took all these YouTube stars with millions of followers. And they thought, oh, we're gonna tap into their site, guys. And what you realize is asking questions on a red carpet is a skill set that Ryan Seacrest and the people who have earned the right to eat, they're like, they didn't know who they were talking to. They were disrespectful. And they thought that their 15 minutes of fame was going to carry them on red carpet. And people forget, this is a business. Right? And so I think it's fine to stop cast, maybe one YouTube slab. And if you are a YouTube celeb, then then cool, that's you. But make sure you populate that cast with rock solid actors around you. Because everyone in the business can see through a fame run.

Alex Ferrari 31:27
And it's getting it's getting like before, it was all about how many followers you have. And I have to a certain extent, a lot of casting decisions now are made on social media. If the if there's two actors of equal caliber, equal credits,

Heather Hale 31:44
That's assuming they're equal caliber and equal credit. Exactly. It's not usually that case,

Alex Ferrari 31:49
Usually not, but if you assume that they're, you know, at the same playing field, yeah, I'm gonna go with the one that has the bigger social follow.

Heather Hale 31:55
Absolutely. But they also have ways of assessing your digital footprint. Like I have a widget in mind when I look on Twitter. I know how many of your followers are fake? I mean, you bought?

Alex Ferrari 32:11
That's before?

Heather Hale 32:13
Yeah. And a huge thing is your engagement. Like are you perceived to be authentic in your engagement with a legit tribe? Right, you know, we have our our mutual friend, Richard bato, the are bound stage 32, his crowdsourcing for filmmakers book is all about that, like it's being authentic to a community. So I think it's really important that people, like it's really important to have a social media following and a social media presence and be authentic. But it's like anything else that, you know, it's the quality of how you do it, you can't just buy a million followers and slap up promotional stuff. Because first of all, those million followers probably aren't even real and don't care. So they're not going to leave in droves. But the real people are, if all you ever do is throw up, you know, JPEGs of your book that you're selling,

Alex Ferrari 33:01
Right! A perfect example I always use is there's this filmmaker that I was working with on a project years ago, and they spent I'm gonna say they spent like about four or $5,000 buying views. Yep. of their trailer. Yeah. And nothing and we all know it. Right. So but they thought the like the end, I think they got I think it got up to about a million and a half 2 million views that they spent money. It all spent. Yeah, nothing organic, no interaction, no anything. But they were touting that to distributors. Like, look, we've gotten 2 million hits on our trailer, give us money for our movie. There's an audience out there for it. Yeah. And that might have worked in 1995. Exactly. But not today. And people can definitely tell when it's, look, it's not hard to find out if you're if they're fake or not. You just have to look at the engagement. And even the engagement they're trying to fake now. And it's still so difficult to fake real engagement.

Heather Hale 34:00
Yeah, I know someone a very high profile author, producer, TV person. So I am and they've passed away and they were very beloved. So I won't throw them under the bus because that would be disrespectful. Sure. But they hired friends of mine to go online into the chat rooms and take on this was way back in the day. So it is not new. You said chat. Yeah. Yeah, take on personas. So they would have three, four or five different personas each and get into debates and arguments with themselves, right like and be trolls and jerks and you know, so that other people would jump in and then they'd get out of that chat room and go start somewhere else. So that Pete that there was buzz and engagement. But I think that, you know, first of all, people are really savvy to that now. And then the flip side of that is too bad because the person who really busts their tail to get a million or 2 million followers legitimately and then goes to Bandy that about the marketplace. Now everybody's pretty jaded, and even if you earned them and spent 15 years creating that following that, like, yeah, yeah, but that that comes back to the quality of the content and the material.

Alex Ferrari 35:08
You know, and also and also, and I know we're going on a tangent with social media, but it's important in regards to what we're doing is also the the proof is in the pudding, you know, like, yeah, you know, I'll tell you right really quickly, if you're real or not purely buy a bike, do a post, yeah, do a post and we'll see how many retweets they get, or how many reactions they get, and see how much traffic I can generate off of it. If it's something that's adding too much. I'll tell you in a second, like, Here you go, boom. And, you know, so when people find people who are actually real and authentic, they gravitate to respect.

Heather Hale 35:42
Absolutely. I'll tell you something beyond the social media is also your assets, your marketing assets. So I help people create pitch packages, sizzle reels, practice their pitch and all that. And I've been a judge at you know, nappies player, TV player contest bondage for a bunch of things. Yeah, forever. So one of them at one market. And again, I don't want to, you know, hurt anyone's reputation. I just share the spirit of the story. This gal came in and she was competing. And she, the first round ever, there were three rounds. And the first round was to pitch verbally. And so this girl came in and pitched her heart out on I think it was a mafia comedy, like a sitcom. She was so hysterical. We were like wiping tears, though. I think there were eight or 12. I don't know, several judges, I don't remember how many judges about eight, let's say. But we were laughing, literally slapping our needs wiping away tears cracking up, she had us eating out of her hand and we loved her. We loved her project. We loved everything about her. So then she made it to the second round. And in the second round, she brought in her sizzle reel. And in her sizzle, she had spent $250,000. No. And she had I don't know if it was friends or I don't know who these actors were. But in this sizzle. The production value was awful. The timing was awful. The acting was awful. The costumes were awful. And 250 100%. And that is not the only time I've seen that I've seen people do better with zero budget than 250. I've seen lots of bad how

Alex Ferrari 37:28
I'm just figuring out how do you spend a quarter of a million dollars on a sizzle reel? Like how do you do it happens all Oh my god.

Heather Hale 37:37
So because companies want to get paid. And they I think prey on delusions. So. So what happened was and I'm proud of myself, I'm not bragging but just it's hard to find people who will tell the truth in Hollywood and I do always get in trouble all the time. So I will say I'm here at it when it helps. So she was gonna get knocked out. And I spoke up in the, in the voting round with her in the room and said, I got to tell you, I said I'm going to point out the elephant in the room because everybody was giving her feedback on the sizzle reel. Yeah. And I said to her to enter the fellow judges, I said, Look, that sizzle reel, unfortunately, you have wasted $250,000, you know, on her face had she's almost in tears. You shouldn't be she was almost in tears because everybody was ripping the sizzle reel to shreds, and she was going to get knocked out of the contest. And she had spent all this money. And I said Look, I said I'm gonna vote to put you through on the caveat that you pitch verbally, again, because you had us, you had us imagining your vision, and this sizzle reel is going to kill you. So you need to never show it. Anyone again ever. I don't care how much it cost. I don't care how much lead tears went into it. It's going to shoot you in the foot. It's an albatross to your project. Let it go consider it a mistake. And and and she everybody changed their votes. And we put her through and she pitched verbally. And she did that she didn't win. But she was like number two or number three. And she was really grateful. And I mean, it's heartbreaking to tell someone that but it's true.

Alex Ferrari 39:19
You got to you've got to tell the truth. And it's not even up for debate. It was just like, Look, this was horrendous. Yeah, you're hurting yourself by

Heather Hale 39:28
To acknowledge how fantastic she did without even a piece of paper. That that shows the integrity of the idea, her passion, her personality, her ownership and authenticity with that material. As the writer she had earned the right to stand up and bolus over and it was so well executed on the page. It is not her fault that the collaborators didn't rise to the occasion and she can find other collaborators because she owns the intellectual property. It's her baby.

Alex Ferrari 39:58
Absolutely, absolutely. So How How should someone with a digital series approach to television market in today's world? Because now, as you said, everything's going towards television? What How should someone should they do a pilot? Should they just come in with the idea? Should they do have a full series produced? What do you What's your suggestion?

Heather Hale 40:19
Well, I think all of those you know, it's like Hollywood How do you break into Hollywood? Well, let's give you the 2000 ways we all know friends who've done it, you know it there's no right or wrong. I will say there probably some quicker avenues than others and then the minute you say this is the way you do it, then there's some breakout Blair Witch success that you know, it's this stuff that happens the angry orange, I don't know if you're familiar with that. I mean, I, there's a ton of examples of stuff. But one way they do watch just as we were talking about earlier, within social engagement, there are people who put up Twitter accounts that are in the voice or the point of view of one of their characters and then voice and that's, I think, how eight things about my daughter eight roles about my daughter got done was started off a Twitter feed, you know, it was that such a unique, authentic voice. So coming up with ways to select I think was angry orange was a little two minute thing that was an orange, literally an orange. marquee face drawn on it. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 41:18
He's. He's done very well.

Heather Hale 41:21
Yeah. So they were like 32nd two minute things, but they were so freakin funny. They went viral. And you know, I forget who it was. pretty famous gal. I should remember her name. But she said viral is not a business plan.

Alex Ferrari 41:35
Like Sundance is not a distribution plan. Sundance is not a distribution.

Heather Hale 41:39
That's like saying, I'm going to buy a lottery ticket. Yes. Somebody, somebody who buys a ticket will win. But your odds, like that's not the business plan. Go ahead, throw the penny in the crib.

Alex Ferrari 41:52
I'm quitting my job today. Because my next year, I'm covered because I'm going to do the scratch off.

Heather Hale 41:57
Exactly. Yeah. So I mean, I pro pennies and fountains and I'm all about superstitious little rituals. Cool. Do it by your lottery tickets. I all the more power to you. But Call me if you went please sleep call that

Alex Ferrari 42:10
Five projects. Yeah.

Heather Hale 42:11
Yeah. So but some of the things they can do one, of course, if you're like, I judged the Marcee web Fest, several years back, and that was fascinating, because you know, Josh Gad, yeah, of course. Okay, Josh, Gad one. Oh, lover. Yeah, yeah, he's all off and Buting the beast, but he also had 1600 pen, if you remember that as a short lived series. So right before with Dharma, the girl who played Dharma and Dharma and Greg, right before that. He was submitted into the Marseille web fest. And it was me and I think the Warner Brothers digital VP, bunch of really cool people. So we were, you know, sequestered in a room for 12 hours watching nothing but websites went to a web series, one after another. And there were people who had fantastic business plans, and ancillary marketing and Merchandising, and it was so well like sales and marketing 101, like, or not even that PhDs and sales and marketing. But we weren't engaged by their content. So what difference did it make, right? And then you had people who had years of seasons and seasons, like hundreds of episodes. And then you had Josh Gad with like two little three minute sketches that were practically SNL. And again, we're in hysterics. So I think it comes down to the quality. So if you have, let's say you have a web series that's won some awards, don't expect someone to watch eight episodes of it, grab the, you know, 30 seconds or two minutes of the very, very, very best footage. And don't feel like it needs to be five minutes or seven minutes or any of that. If it's if you have a really good two minutes, that's the beginning, middle and end. And there's a little bit of weak stuff, when in doubt, cut it out, cut it out, cut it out, if it is not very, very, very best cream of the crop. You know, they say Shakespeare threw away 95% of his stuff. I don't know how anyone knows that. But you know, I believe it as a writer,

Alex Ferrari 44:07
I'm sure and I would love to be in that trashcan.

Heather Hale 44:10
Exactly. But that's what I'm saying. You got to throw away kill your babies, kill your darlings, and then only take the cream of the crop and then that tease, you know, you sell the sizzle, not the steak, you want to elicit their interest and intrigue them to want more. And you may not show them more. You may get into a room. They're really engaged. They have their different ideas and you go in their direction because he who has the gold wins. Don't feel like you owe it to the material to bring in your old crap that they might not what find what tickled them because it might be different, like what Spike TV is interested in is going to be quite different than what the sci fi channel is interested in.

Alex Ferrari 44:50
Sure. Exactly. And that's a problem for a lot of creators is that they spend so much time so much money creating something they want to show it all exactly. It's and you just like maybe pictures, right? It's your baby, you want to show baby pictures to everybody. I try not to do that. But But every once in a while, just for, you know, exactly. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. But at the end of the day, you've got to take off your Creator hat and put on your business hat, put on your marketing hat and go, Okay, what I got to look at this with clean eyes, and you can't have someone who can do it for you

Heather Hale 45:36
And ditto your YouTube channel, maybe you have a YouTube channel that's got all of that on there. But you have a branded YouTube channel that only has the best of the best that represents the show, which is, you know, you think of what you put on social media, especially what you're putting on that is projecting to the industry is your 24 seven shingle. Don't put crap out there. And if you do, like, hide it in a way that only friends and family can see it, but if you're gonna put it out there on your website, anywhere, you know, it's way better to have three great two minute clips, then something that's, you know, really, two hours of bad. No, that's what they say the greatest sin in Hollywood is to be boring.

Alex Ferrari 46:21
Yes. And there has been plenty of that going on at the movie theaters lately.

Heather Hale 46:25
Yeah. And on the market floors and at the festivals and co production markets. You know, I used to joke that, you know, the perfume of Hollywood is desperation.

Alex Ferrari 46:35
Oh, God, that's a great line. And it's so true. Yeah. And you and and because I used to wear that, that Oh, we've all worn it. We've all to desperation.

Heather Hale 46:45
Yeah. And the purse and the deodorant. Like it comes out. It's the Bo of Hollywood. It's desperation also.

Alex Ferrari 46:51
I mean, it is something that you can smell on someone. Yeah. So fast into the room into a ballroom you can smell and and I used to, I used to just just it would it would rain around me. I should spring out of me like, what's his name from Charlie Brown? The guy who's always dirty? Up rock? Yeah, he would just always walk. Yeah, it was around me all the time. Yeah, I would meet someone when I first got here, I would meet someone, you know, at another level, higher level or just a place that I could? And I'd be like, I hate doing it at the end, you would just go after them. Yeah. And they could just be like, Okay, he's that and that would be the end of it. No. And I happened to me a bunch of times till I finally, I don't know how I did it. But naturally, I just stopped it and became more giving and more of service to people I meet trying to be.

Heather Hale 47:42
And that I think is the is the to me, networking is the highest form of service. It's what do they need? How can I help them and you hope that by the time it pays forward 10 times somewhere it comes around back to you. Right? But you know, when you're trying to intentionally network, you know, one of the most prudent things is to ask them about them in their projects, because and that's the thing you have to be careful of with you is because when someone asks a writer about their project, oh, no. Right? We love our babies, we want to talk about them. That's all we want to talk about. So you really are it's kind of like being on a first blind date after a divorce. You don't really want to talk about your ex, right? So you want to listen and ask questions. And if the conversation comes back around to you be locked and loaded with a silver bullet. That's really quick and easy than kills.

Alex Ferrari 48:30
Right! But don't don't but don't walk up with that bullet in hand just yet. Don't shut it off.

Heather Hale 48:35
Z or the machine gun. Yeah, God on silver bullet.

Alex Ferrari 48:40
I it's, it's it's just so funny. And I meet and I was my next question was gonna be about networking. And I think we're on that topic now. But like, sometimes I'll be speaking and, you know, people will come up and they'll just, they're just kind of like, you can tell that they're they're just wanting to their I call them energy suckers, even successful people. Right? Yeah, just energy suckers. They just want to obsess Empire, vampires, they just want to start from you. And, you know, you as you get older and you've been in the business long enough, you'd become attuned to that. That frequency very quickly, or your hair goes on and as they come up as they approach you, yeah. Oh, desperation. There's the odor desperation. There's the O of BS. You know, I'm not trying to do anything, but I'm just trying to impress you because I've done this, this and this. I know this. I could definitely get your project that this person because I cut their hair.

Heather Hale 49:37
I'll tell you two quick little stories about that. I was I you know, I'm not a vain person. You know, we all get beat up so much. I guess you just don't have time or energy to be vain. You just working hard

Alex Ferrari 49:51
Not on this side of the camera, at least.

Heather Hale 49:53
Yeah, yeah. So I was at an event. It was a women's event and I was talking to a group of women and you know, I'm a I'm a first I'm a, I was a first time director, I think I've done two things now. But you know, I'm really still a rookie, I really am trying to break in as a director. So I was at this event and I have done I had directed a million dollar feature, which on the one hand, anyone in the business knows like soup to nuts. That is, that's like an ultra marathon series like that. It's a huge accomplishment, whether it made any money or not, it got in the can. And it got picked up by two distributors. It was at the AFM and right, huge, it was at Walmart Best Buy. Okay, so who cares if it's any good or made any money like that, just the fact that we got from point A to point z, and I did not die or kill anybody, right? So and it had meatloaf and Ed Asner and Eddie Furlong, so I'm at this event. And I'm feeling like simultaneously proud and scared, shitless and insecure and blah, blah, blah. And these girls are talking about all the stuff they've directed, and they're posing and dropping names and being all the all this. So I'm just sitting listening because I really need to network and I really need to learn a lot more. And I need to expand my horizons, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, I can our listening to them give all sorts of advice and tell me what I should do. It comes around that one of them his entire directing oeuvre was a PSA. And he had done a short film. So I sat there and not that I'm all bad. But I sat there respectfully listening to all and and then when they asked me what I had done, which like the event was almost over, and I was like, Oh, you know, just a million dollar feature with meatloaf. And yeah, and then I walked away because they like seriously put their lap late. Like I said to her, they they had done a free public service announcement for 30 seconds. And that was what they directed. Sure. The flipside of that I was going to say is when people are posing, you know, the, if you have to get a catcher's mitt out to catch the names that they drop, no, odds are, they're full of it. And if you call them out on it, well to have two stories. I had a guy who told me and I won't say who he is, because he's kind of a power player. But he told me he Ma, it'll be too obvious. He had directed a little movie called and then I won't put the movie in, but it was a huge movie. Sure. He had no he had he had line produced a little movie called insert huge movie here. Sure. And I was like, Oh my god, I better check my ego. And so I sucked it up and let him treat me like shit because he was a misogynist. He was awful. And then I optioned my material to him, which was a huge mistake. And then I googled because nowadays you can I am in the bathroom like now I've learned like, excuse me go to the bathroom, IMDb the shit out of their lies, right. But it turned out he had second unit line. Oh, no, he had told me he had produced it. But he had second unit line produced it. Which is he's basically Yeah, producers like finding the money soup to knotting it. And second unit line producing is someone who was hired to cut checks for a couple of days.

Alex Ferrari 52:58
Second, not even the main line producer the second

Heather Hale 53:00
Second unit line producer when he told me he produced it. But then the third I was gonna say because it goes the other way, too, is people who drive the flashy cars and have the gorgeous, can sometimes be so so encumbered and sold, leased and so fake about what they're projecting is their image, that they don't have the money to scrape together, change out of their depth for iced tea at a McDonald's, right? Yep. And sometimes you'll be with someone who's driving a beat up car, and they're not inexpensive shoes. And they do not offer to pick up the tab that's on somebody else's expense account. And they are the person who owns 21 homes free and clear and could actually find your film, but they're not trying to impress you, and they are cheap. And the reason they're rich is because they're cheap. And that doesn't mean they won't invest in your film. So I mean, it goes both ways.

Alex Ferrari 53:55
I do find and this is against only from years of experience, that the people who are the big loud mouth, the people who are the boasters Yes, there are those guys, you know, that are the Brett Ratner's of the world that are those kind of people, you know, and do actually know these people and actually have the money and stuff. And I threw bread out there because he deserves to be thrown out there. And I have no problem with that. But there but most of the times you're going to you know if you see the guy quiet in the room, and he's in the room, first of all, she's in the room. That means that they've done something to be in that room. Yeah. And generally speaking, they're not going to be the boasting guys and not going to be the ones dropping names. If you see Steven Soderbergh's car. He drives like a 2005 2008. Pre Buffett does too, by the way, right? Exactly. Because they're not trying to impress anyone. They're damaged. Yeah, they're very, they're rare in LA. They're in the business in general, you don't meet those people very often. They're rare on wall street there were Nashville's, ya know, they're everywhere, and they're very vague in every industry, but in our business, you know, you don't meet those people. So what I do actually meet people like our be Suzanne Lyons who's, you know, like you as well, people, you know, people who are actually doing what they're saying they're doing and are not boasting about, hey, I've got you know, 300,000 followers and you know I have this or I have that the proofs in the pudding. Yeah, like, Look, you just, you know, go and look, you know, look me up, I don't care, you know, look, or they'll say, look, you know, I want to talk about it.

Heather Hale 55:38
And that, quite frankly, is the value to your website and social media, you know, the more I feel like it, my website's not perfect, but I try really hard to have it projected good image. But I think that's good, because you can have a conversation, give them a business card, and then they can do their due diligence on you. And they can check you out after the fact they can check your bio, they can check your credits on IMDB. And so you can just be a human being involved and engaged in the conversation and not be trying to spit out your resume. So, you know, that is that's how I think you can be using your marketing and social media and those things to, to back you up with this 24 shingle that's out there all the time, but just be a human being when and be present in those conversations.

Alex Ferrari 56:24
Now, we've gone off off the rails a little bit in this interview, because we were talking more about markets. But this all works into the network. It all works out. But can you add, can you throw a few insider nuggets of things that we should look for at film markets, things that you like, I wish I would have known this doing a market before?

Heather Hale 56:44
Well, there's so much that I wrote a book on it. So like, that's before, that's actually the whole reason for the book was because you said you had gone to one of your first markets recently. Really kind of like blown away and overwhelmed. I think anyone in this business should just get on a market floor as fast as possible. Because you what you learn and how humbling it is, will really put things in perspective for the rest of your career. So whether you sell anything, Oh, go ahead,

Alex Ferrari 57:12
No, it's a product. That was the thing I said in my review of AFM like, it's so humbling, because they don't care about the craft. They don't care about the artistry they don't care about. It's a product. And yeah, and as soon as you understand that changes your perspective, a whole I don't care what your personal project, they don't care about it.

Heather Hale 57:30
Yeah. And they're not being mean either. They're just, it's not even callous. They're just so Matter of fact, and they can smile while they're just eviscerating you. painful. Leave a case you know, it's art to us but they don't care. They don't care.

Alex Ferrari 57:49
Obviously Steven Seagal and Mike Tyson not a lot of art in that movie.

Heather Hale 57:52
So So I will say that honestly, like I I'll tell you like how the book started. And then I'll tell you a couple secrets. I was at the American Film market in 2013. I booked all the speakers and I was helping focal press come up with their line, their franchise line, the AFM present. Sure. And so they had a focal press it said, you know, who do you think would make a good author for one of our books or in our series and who would be a good subject matter expert and is like, you know, you need to get RB to do something on crowdsourcing ad got him on a panel is like you've got to get no but nobody's talking about that. And I gave him all these names of people and I'd gotten another friend Anne Marie Guillen on the finance panel. I just really tried hard to get, you know, some new fresh voices that we needed to be hearing at the AFM. I was actually really proud because people told me later they opened up the full page spread, and I was Hollywood Reporter daily variety. And I had all the pictures for the all panelists. And people, at least a dozen people wrote me privately and said, I don't know how you did it. But it was 5050 female male, and it was every color of skin under the sun. That's because normally we don't see that. So I was really had like my own private agenda to try to really diversify what we saw, so that you weren't ghettoizing like putting all the women on one panel, because we don't know when you can avoid that panel, or all the people of color on one panel, and that's our diversity panel, but get one on every panel. That was my golf. Good. Anyway, um, so. So when I was helping her, I was giving her all these people that I think I got eight or a dozen friends book deals that year. She said, Well, if you come up with anything else, let us know. And I said, I can tell you right now what you're missing. And she said what? I go, you've got the American Film market presents and no one's ever written a book on how to work the markets. And her face just dropped like yeah, da it's like always the obvious that we miss. And so I said, I'll, I'll write it, you know, and I, of course, didn't feel like I was a guru. I just knew I could research and I reached out to at least 200 People I did interviews for a couple years for that book. So some of the things I learned at one at one AFM I was sitting there and I won't mention names of companies, I will tell you privately.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:11
Sure, no problem. I appreciate it.

Heather Hale 1:00:13
Anyway, I was sitting there with a girlfriend and we were going into meet someone I had interviewed, because that was another thing I did. I used it to network like crazy so that I could meet 200 people that were, you know, international sales agents and distributors and all that a financier, as an investor. So are sitting there to meet one of the people who I'd interviewed with. And we were on the other side of this cubby wall, because, you know, they sometimes have these temporary cubby walls and like there's four feet of empty room, you know, that it's the wall is not there. So on the other side was somebody pitching. And on the other side of another wall, were a couple people. So there was an established distributor, who was teaching a wet behind the ears, rookie distributor who was new to their company, of how to do what they needed to do. And I don't know how much you know about, like, I do my own budgets and schedules, and I can my views and stuff. So I don't know how much you know about this, but it hit us. But basically, when you do an independent film, you have to often do a SAG bond, right? Okay, so let's say you have a million dollar film and your budget for your actors is, let's say 200,000. So sag might make you put up 200,000, or 50,000. But you have to put up a bond, so that if for any reason you flake out and don't pay the payroll for that week, sag can dip into this bond, that it's a formula that they make you that they hold the whole time. So if you need a million dollars, you actually need 1.2 million, because you got to put this money up that sits there that you can't touch until you get it back. And so this distributor was explaining to the other distributor, the new distributor, how they could basically make a commission off you getting your sag bond refunded to you, if they use the wording for gross receipts into the account they were managing, okay. So in other words, they're supposed to be selling your film, and getting a commission from Turkey or China or you know, wherever they're selling it. And as those monies come in, they take 10% 20%, whatever their commission is off the Pasha. She was teaching him how to get the bond, the savings account, you raised blood, sweat and tears that you had sitting there to pay your actors, that when you got it back from sag, they could take 10 to 20% of it because it passed through their account.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:35
So let me let me clarify something you're telling me that there are unscrupulous distributors in the marketplace? Can you imagine this? Is this an exclusive?

Heather Hale 1:02:45
And they were training one another down the daisy chain? How to screw independent producers? So I know, shocking, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:53
I've never heard anything like that.

Heather Hale 1:02:56
Like you're gonna take a commission off my savings account that I barely scraped together to make this Phil Street. What is this? Oh, my God, and then they want us to sign a contract that says, Oh, yeah, yeah, you can handle my money. I trust you. Yes. Yeah. So those are the kinds of things So literally, during the course of writing this book, I will say, I am this probably not politically correct. But we've established I'm an idiot, yes. I probably will make very little money off this, you know, because the publisher makes 80%. You know, funders are bad. Okay, so I don't, people are like, oh, I'll buy your book. I'm like, thanks. Like, what am I like? Maybe I'll see two cents. 10 years from now? I don't know. So I was so frustrated writing this book, because all that I was learning and all of that. And then I didn't even want to do as two years of work for free. For what, right? But what kept me going was storytellers around the world, content creators, people who have a dream, people have a passion, people have a story that is so under their skin, that they're working for two or five or 10 years for free speculatively. And I thought I got to help them. I got to help them navigate these markets. I got to help them stop being screwed. I got to help them save money. And I will tell you, this is really inappropriate. And I love it. I really need to edit it. No, we won't. I was in the AFM series originally in the franchise. Sure. And I was part of that. And it was always going to be that and it was kicked out. Because of many of the things I said of how to save money and how to you know, okay, if you can't afford a badge, here's what you do.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:37
Well, Heather, Heather to A to A to A FM's Kravitz defense here. I'm sorry, but I get that.

Heather Hale 1:04:46
And I edited it all out. You know what I mean? just done, the damage was done. And so the truth is, you know, there's a lot in this book that the markets don't want you to know. And the other thing was by the end of it, I was like, okay, you Here's how you work around the markets. Here's how you take everything you've learned. Yeah, that work on a market floor. And here's how you DIY it. Here's how you do YouTube. Here's how you use social media. Here's how you sell not business to business, but business to consumer, because that is revolution that Amazon and who else there still in the middle, you literally could have your own website and sell your books and your movies and your TV if they're good enough directly to the crowd that you're creating. So I think it was too independent and too irreverent, too real. And I have a problem with that.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:34
No, look, I I gave away. I give away a lead generator for if you sign up to my email list, six, six tips to get into film festivals for free or cheap. Yeah, exactly. And I think I got into over 600 film festivals in the course of my career, and I paid for probably less than 5% or 10% of Yeah, yeah. But you know, sometimes I wrote the film film festivals the wrong way. I'm like, but guys, look, you know, it's awesome.

Heather Hale 1:06:03
It is. It's such a hard business. You know, people are like I would volunteer for variety. sommets I bought I volunteered for everything I couldn't afford to go to. You know, so I'm a little pee on peasant with a name badge, but I get to hear the studio execs telling it like it is to, you know, be a fly on the wall to the $5,000 a seat thing I can't get into. So you just we one thing about independent filmmakers is we are scrappy. We are resilient. And we are pitfalls and we need to learn to be unflappable badasses.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:35
No. Can you say that? Can you talk? We spoke about the book a bit, but what's the name of the book? Where can they get it?

Heather Hale 1:06:42
It's called how to work the film and TV markets. And it's available on Amazon. It's available. You know, it's actually add a lot of the markets the the publisher took it to the AFM and it sold out in the first day. I'm sure so yeah. So my website is HeatherHale.com and I will put a plug because it's not even cost them any money. But on HeatherHale.com, I'm pretty sure it's /howtoworkthefilmandTVmarkets is all sorts of giveaway stuff. Like it has a calendar of the map of the markets all around the world, co production markets festivals. And I'll tell you that that calendar, that matrix took me forever, because I had to line up what was going on simultaneously, what was an ad junk event? What was going on? Like if you're going to another country? What could you also hit while you're there, it's a really great calendar, I've got the facts on packs. So who's got housekeeping deals where I've got them archived, so you can look back who used to have a deal with what studio and what distributor, it's got so many different sets of information. So and that's all you know, it's got a global map, it's got all the market statistics, it's got some great full color, key art examples. It's got a Union's low budget matrix, because if you can ever make sense of that game of Sudoku, good luck, right? So it's got anyway, it's Heather hale.com, how to work the film and TV markets, and it's got tons of giveaways. And then and then also on there, there's a 21% off on Amazon and 20% off the publishers like a code. So you know, it's gonna make my two cents go to one. But you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:08:20
I love the honesty, it's awesome. And I'll put all of those links in the show notes. So I have a few questions left that asked all my guests, all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Heather Hale 1:08:36
Oh, we have another hour. Now. Honestly, this is gonna sound really cliche and soapy. And but it's so true. It's just so frickin true. And you remember, you get reminded of it every year and every decade. And that's just be true to yourself. Be true to yourself, be authentic, and know who your friends are, because you will learn over and over and over again, who they are and who they aren't. And, you know, if you're going to be miserable, working around the clock at two in the morning, you damn well better make sure it's something worth working on. And I would say also, you know, when we create film and television products or content, I mean a lot of people artists hate to hear it referred to as product and content, but at the marketplace, that is what it is. It's a art over at the festivals. But whatever it is that you're creating, that you're generating, you are essentially exporting our culture. So I would beseech you to please be careful that you're really espousing values you actually hold not lowering to pander to the lowest common denominator of what you think you can sell. Because you could have a breakout hit with something that's actually meaningful. You know, you look at Shawshank Redemption and Groundhog Day and you know, there are films out They're and there's nothing wrong with entertainment, like cult hits, like there's so much good stuff out there. But, you know, do stuff you're really proud of. And that really means something to you. And it's cool if it's comedy, Thriller, Horror, whatever it is, but I mean, even look at alien aliens. Those are real horror, like in silence of the lamb and the believers, like there's some scary shit out there. And it's still entertaining. So I'm not saying it has to be g rated Disney answers for sure. I'm just saying, make sure that what you're saying with your art is really what you mean, because it's easy for it to get, you know, going through that gauntlet to get like GMO two headed shaped weird. That's not what you meant at all right? You know, stay true to yourself, stay true to your voice. And, and one thing that is good about Hollywood, there are many, many, many, many, many good things about Hollywood. But one of the things I love most about it is it is a society and a culture, where Everywhere you look, people are following their dreams everywhere. And it is exciting. It's entrepreneurs, I call them everywhere you look as people who passionately believe. Usually they're scams and posers and flakes, and felonies and all that. But most of the heart that beats in Hollywood, is people who have a mission for something they want to say that so under their skin, that they're trying to figure out a way to say it and hold true to that. And, you know, it's like I always say, you know, I'm a I'm a voluptuous girl. So I'm lucky because I'm very thick skinned, because you need a rhinoceros skin to survive in Hollywood. But one of the hardest things is to keep your heart open, and to stay responsive to the communal consciousness and to have empathy for other people's worldviews and points of views. So if you can, don't be a dick,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:55
That's, that should be on a T shirt. If that's not it, don't be there. That's like the best advice you could have in Hollywood. Don't be just don't be a dick.

Heather Hale 1:12:02
Yeah, be a nice person. And that doesn't mean be a doormat. It means be an unflappable badass who can cheerfully tell the truth and be honest and be you know, have good intentions and, and, and write great stories because the world needs them.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:20
Amen more now than ever. Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Heather Hale 1:12:29
Oh, boy, this is gonna reveal my libertarian roots. And probably Atlas Shrugged or the fountainhead. Okay, really? I know that's not an industry book. But sure. Oh, it's all about golf coach.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:46
I gotcha. I gotcha. I gotcha. No problem, no problem. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Heather Hale 1:12:56
Oh, my goodness, there's so many out. I'm not sure I've learned them all. Um, okay, well, I'm stealing this from my dad, but I think he would allow me to, and I'll probably cry because he recently passed. But um, you don't have to make every mistake personally. Interesting. And that you can surround yourself with mentors, and mastermind groups and friends. And you can learn from other people's mistakes and advice. And that doesn't mean, you know, don't have to make every mistake yourself.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:32
If you're smart, you can learn from others mistakes. And yeah, because I mean, why wouldn't you? Sometimes Sometimes you have to learn it by sticking your hand in the fire. But if people tell you, hey, I've been burned there, don't put your hand there.

Heather Hale 1:13:45
And that's why you have to know who your friends are. Because there are a lot of people who are going to tell you, Oh, don't put your hand in my cookie jar, when really you can build your own cookie jar, and they shouldn't be in your kitchen. To know who your friends are. Because your friends. And I'm very blessed to have a few who will tell you when you're being a shit. Who will tell you when you're being myopic, who will tell you when you're not seeing the forest for the trees. And and then there's times where and I've had this happen many, many, many times, where you know, you have an email and you send it to a few friends to make sure that they vet it to make sure it's not too emotional or you're not saying anything that could be slanderous, or whatever. It sometimes you can have. And I had this happen to my fact that it's an old story I've told many times, but I wrote to Sherry Lansing once, and everybody in my circle said no, don't send it. Don't send it. Don't send it. No, you'll embarrass yourself. No, you're reaching too far. No, no, no. And guess who called me Sherry Lansing,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:47
Really? Now by the way, can you tell everybody who doesn't who Cherie,

Heather Hale 1:14:51
She was the first woman to run a studio and she repairment like Titanic and you name Yeah, she was behind.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:58
She was a beast.

Heather Hale 1:14:59
Yeah. Like Behind every successful film for like a decade and a half? Yes. So all I'm saying is that there are times when all your friends and fans and champions who have your best interests at heart, I'm not saying they're wrong, but they are not seeing either how big you could be no, or the path that you're seeing through the trees. Or sometimes you know, it's not a lottery ticket, sometimes it's just luck and you reach out and with this sharing Lansing example, I'm I can give a million others. It was some connection I had, that I knew she would respond to, you know, you can see someone's Achilles heel, you have a tender spot in your heart that you know that that thread will connect you to them. And if you authentically speak to that, and sometimes your rage, I mean, I've had, you know, knock down fights, not fights, but verbal, with people who I loved and adored, who were eight, we were able to come back around, because we spoke our truth. And we realized we were like, kind of out of sync. When we both heard the other person's point of view. We understood it and got it and we got our friendship back on track and, you know, that could have been derailed, and it's the stronger friendship for it.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:16
And what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Unknown Speaker 1:16:19
Oh, for sure. I have to say my Groundhog Day and Shawshank Redemption.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:24
I was gonna say those two for sure.

Heather Hale 1:16:25
For sure, for sure. But I'll say a couple others. One of my favorites, a little teeny, teeny film, waking that divine love waking that I'm in love with. That is one of my all time favorites. And I have to say this won't be those would be my top three. I'll leave it at that. Those are my top three.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:45
Yeah. Heather, thank you so much for for sharing with the tribe and dropping some very big knowledge bombs on us. It's been an absolute pleasure having you on the show.

Heather Hale 1:16:57
Thank you. It's my honor. And my pleasure. And I hope that everyone learned something, or at least had a good laugh.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:03
Thanks. I really want to thank Heather for dropping some major knowledge bombs about film and television markets on the tribe today. And if you guys have not had the opportunity to go to a market like AFM or Cannes, or MIP, D or MIPCOM, definitely, if you have an opportunity go and do it, even if you have nothing to sell. Just go and understand talk to people understand the process of how independent film and Independent Television series are sold. And the more you understand about that process, and about the business of selling your product, you will be so much more successful and get to your goals faster and faster. Trust me, I learned not only a ton with this as Meg but I had already learned a lot about selling movies and going through that process throughout my career. But I learned so much more just doing with this as Meg as well. And now in the new film on the corner of ego and desire. I'm taking all that knowledge and bringing it to that project. So the more you do, the more you learn, the better it is, I tell you when I went to AFM when I've gone to Toronto, at their mini market, there's so many amazing nuggets of information you can get. So please, if you have an opportunity, do it cuz you will not be disappointed. If you want links to anything we spoke about in this episode including links to Heather's book, head over to indiefilmhustle.com/240. And if you haven't already guys, if you love the show, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com and leave us a five star review. It really really helps me out a lot helps out the podcast a lot to get it ranked higher, to get more people to see it and listen to this information. So please just head over to filmmaking podcast.com and leave us that five star review. Thank you so much. And as always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

LINKS

  • Heather Hale – Official Site
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”1138800651″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]How to Work the Film and TV Markets: A Guide for Content Creators[/easyazon_link]
  • StoryTellers on WalkAbout

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The Coen Brothers: How to Start Your First Indie Film?

Many film lovers believe that the legendary directors stick to a “signature style, look or genre.” When looking a true auteur’s film, we must immediately be able to recognize it as being Scorsesian, Tarantinoian, or Godardian. We must feel the director’s unmistakable touch in the dialogue, notice typical approaches to framing and editing, or identify a unifying style throughout their work.

Watching Mulholland Drive without any prior context, we should be able to identify it as a David Lynch film. Certain elements of the mystery genre are so linked with Hitchcock, we view them as parody or pastiche in other films. This way of looking at directors holds up in some cases and erodes in others. In the case of the Coen Brothers, it does both.

Perhaps no other contemporary filmmaker (or fraternal filmmaking duo, to be precise) weaves in and out of typically-rigid film genres as artfully as the Coen Brothers.

Download ALL of the Coen Brother’s Screenplays in PDF!

Upon first glance, a film like Hail, Caesar may appear completely incongruous with a film like A Serious Man. Even within the generic conventions of the Western, the Coen Brothers offer up entirely different films, from a musical reworking of the Odyssey in the whimsical O Brother Where Art Thou, to the relentlessly cruel thriller No Country for Old Men, both faithful additions to the Western genre.

And yet even in their darkest works (including No Country, which is multiple shades darker than any other) a unifying thread runs through the Coen Brothers’ work: a dark, clever comedy that works its way into the most unlikely moments. The black humor of the accidental crime is perhaps the most potent: the botched kidnapping in Fargo or the closet scene in Burn After Reading are so simultaneously absurd and tragic we can only laugh.

Steve Buscemi, down to his role in the ridiculous short film in Paris, je t’aime, is the perfect muse for this delicate comedic moment that plays over and over again in the Coen Brothers’ work.

Indeed, while the Coen Brothers shift between genres with ease, there are a number of narrative motifs they carry with them. Even their most dissimilar films share recurrent themes of disillusionment, criminality, subjective codes of morality, accidental violence, a striving for purpose and the nobility of the epic -if misguided- quest.

No matter what the genre, the Coen Brothers return to variations on the comedy of errors, each time in a new and innovative way, and with a touch of dark humor rarely found elsewhere.

The below video, courtesy of the Film Society of the Lincoln Center, features an in-depth interview with these two idiosyncratic filmmakers, and provides further insight into their shared creative process.

When working back through the Coen Brothers’ filmography, teasing out the themes of their films and listening to their own reflections on their work, that old commonly-held belief about “signature” directors rings both true and untrue. For from Fargo to The Big Lebowski to O Brother Where Art Thou to True Grit to The Man Who Wasn’t There to Burn after Reading and beyond, each of the Coen Brothers’ films is at once recognizable and unrecognizable, unique and akin, characteristic and chameleonic.

Check out this remarkable video with four-time Oscar-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen for a rare, career-spanning discussion of their work, moderated by Noah Baumbach.

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