IFH 592: Tales From the Indie Film Trenches with Aram Rappaport

Aram Rappaport is filmmaker based in New York. Originally from Los Angeles, he began writing, directing and producing in his late teens including the one-take experimental film HELIX starring Alexa Vega.

He later adapted, produced and directed Max Berry’s acclaimed novel into the film SYRUP starring Amber Heard, Shiloh Fernandez and Kellan Lutz and wrote, produced and directed the original film THE CRASH starring John Leguizmao, Frank Grillo, Minnie Driver and Dianna Agron.

Set in the future when the US economy is on the brink of yet another massive financial crisis, The Crash tells the story of Guy Clifton, a federally-indicted stock trader, who is secretly enlisted by the federal government to help thwart a cyber-attack aimed at the US stock markets – an attack that could permanently cripple the economy.

THE GREEN VEIL is his first episodic project.

It’s 1955 and Gordon Rodgers has a dream. It’s the American Dream. And he almost has it made. He lives in the suburbs with his wife and daughter. He goes to church, he works for the government. A respected job for a respectable family man.

Gordon also has a mission. A nefarious secretive mission on behalf of the US government. It’s going well except for one final plot: The Sutton Farm. Owned by Native Americans Glennie and Gilberto Sutton, they refuse to be bought out. So Gordon must force them out by any means necessary. Maybe even abduct them. And it almost works, until the Suttons escape…

At home, Mabel Rodgers is losing her mind. Playing housewife is taking its toll. How she wound up here from a military aviator career, she still doesn’t know. When she discovers Gordon’s’ work folder marked CLASSIFIED she is drawn to the file. When she recognizes wartime friend Glennie Sutton as the mission’s subject, she has no choice but to explore the case herself. And Gordon can never find out.

Gordon’s dream is slipping away. His mission at work is failing. He’s losing control of his family. At what lengths will he go to hold it all together? At what cost to himself and others will he preserve his American Dream? Is this dream even meant for him…or is it all a conspiracy?

He also runs the hybrid creative agency / production studio The Boathouse for which he’s created and directed campaigns for such brands as Apple, Netflix, Victoria’s Secret and SingleCare amongst others.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Aram Rappaport 0:00
Or a production designer or an actor or a costume designer. If you sort of show up and tell someone you know, we can't afford that, or we lost the light, we're going to have to shoot it differently. You know, as a director, all you can do is really maintain like this even keel positivity around. Even though you know that it's probably a complete fuckup you're like, No, it's gonna work. This is gonna work. This is the right thing. You know, let's, let's keep going.

Alex Ferrari 0:26
Today's show is sponsored by Enigma Elements. As filmmakers, we're always looking for ways to level up production value of our projects, and speed up our workflow. This is why I created a Enigma Elements. Your one stop shop for film grains, color grading lots vintage analog textures like VHS and CRT images, smoke fog, textures, DaVinci Resolve presets, and much more. After working as an editor colorist post and VFX supervisor for almost 30 years I know what film creatives need to level up their projects, check out enigmaelements.com and use the coupon code IFH10. To get 10% off your order. I'll be adding new elements all the time. Again, that's enigmaelements.com. I'd like to welcome to the show Aram Rappaport. How're you doing?

Aram Rappaport 1:20
I'm good. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 1:22
Thank you so much for coming on the show, brother. I appreciate it. We had one of your compadres on last week. Mr. Little guy, your new guy coming up John Leguizamo.

Aram Rappaport 1:32
Arch nemesis my arch nemesis. I hope I never speak to him again. But he's semi talented. So you know, I put up with them.

Alex Ferrari 1:37
You put up with him? Yeah, he gets the financing sometimes. So you know.

Aram Rappaport 1:41
Yeah. So, you know, I mean, don't give him a big head. He's gonna watch this and think he's, you know, powerful or something.

Alex Ferrari 1:47
Exactly. But, but I appreciate you coming on man. You've had you've had a heck of an adventure, you know, coming up to up the ladder as well. You've got some shrapnel, as well. Yeah. Without question, some indie film, some indie film shrapnel along the way, as well. So first question is Brother How and Why in God's green earth? Did you want to do this? business?

Aram Rappaport 2:08
The business in general? Oh, my God, what a? What a good question. I've never asked myself.

Alex Ferrari 2:15
I think I never did either.

Aram Rappaport 2:18
Right, exactly. It's such, you're just like, wait a sec, like now, existentially, I have to think about things. No, I mean, my, you know, originally I wanted to, to act and be an actor. And so, you know, I grew up in LA, my dad was a writer. And then he ultimately, you know, taught screenwriting as well. So when I was, you know, growing up in sort of training as an actor, and, you know, went through a lot of class and did that, you know, he had always said, you should really write for yourself, because that's going to, you know, be a mechanism to help you, you get things made. And so, you know, organic, sort of moved into writing a little bit, and then I realized, you know, it just feels better to sort of control the narrative from behind the camera. And really, you know, I was so interested in being on set, I would, you know, I did a couple little things. And I would always, you know, what are we shooting now, what's next, and, you know, the director would I was, but you know, I, you just stand over there until it's your turn to, you know, say your lines, but it's sort of interested me to be more, you know, mechanically, you know, involved in the process. And so, I think organically for me, you know, directing just helped control the narrative. And I think throughout the years, I've sort of learned that my skill set is really just, you know, helping everybody else who's actually talented, like, see the vision, you know, and motivating them to, to ultimately, you know, put their all into a project. And I think, sort of the only place for someone like that, that is inherently like, you know, not talented, but like, can rally the troops would be, you know, that leadership role, you know, to put it mathematically, but that that's so that's, you know, that's where I ended up and I, you know, I love it, and I think, you know, my, my trajectory, sort of odd, you know, you started with indie film, you know, did a few films and then and then sort of transitioned into commercials aggressively and did you know, for the last 10 years, been doing a lot of commercials and founded an agency called the boathouse where we're an agency studio hybrid. And so we do, we do a lot of commercials. And that's really, you know, where I've like, honed my skills, both on the storytelling side as well as really like, you know, from a production standpoint, and now this project to Greenville is like the first I mean, outside of Latin instruments, but this is really the first sort of like narrative driven thing I've done in quite a while so it was a really interesting transition back into that

Alex Ferrari 4:40
There is a an insanity isn't there for us to do what we do. It's because look at the beginning of the beginning, it's easy look when everything's going well, if it's never well, all the way it's never ever, ever, never never ever, like the doors all open. The money just flies in all you have is time and money to make your projects. That doesn't happen. But what When you're coming up, though, it's so hard. It's and there's so much. No, no so many noes against you. The grind is so hard you don't even there's no guarantee that anything that you're thinking of doing is going to actually come into life. That's right. Yeah, of course. How did how did you keep going in those early years, like when you were just grinding out short films and trying to just get your stuff seen and made and just just try to get your foot in the door?

Aram Rappaport 5:29
Yeah, I mean, so, you know, I never went to college. I never, you know, I, my mentality has always been sort of, like, you know, just get on the horse and pretend you can ride and, you know, see what happens. So, I mean, I admittedly made a lot of mistakes, right? You know, I mean, I would, you know, have always been very good at sort of pitching the vision or selling the vision, scrapping together a little bit of money, raising money, you know, pitching people on this sensational thing that we're going to do, and then really falling on my face, in the product in the production element, because I just didn't know what I was doing. So I think for me, it's a little bit backwards, right? Like, you know, a lot of people like, you know, I went to film school, I really honed my craft, and then I had a hard time getting into the business, I was sort of the opposite. I was very bullish in raising money and finding ways to produce things in a scrappy way, and then fell completely flat on the execution because that's where I was learning. I had never done it before. And I was just like, I'm, you know, this sensational, I'm gonna direct and do a movie and do this and do that, sort of usurped the craft itself. And I think that, you know, on my personal journey has been, like, really important, you know, moving away from this, you know, I want to do it, because it seems cool to you know, this is a craft and like, what am I trying to say, with these, you know, with these projects,

Alex Ferrari 6:47
So you were you were you were flying the plane while you were building the plane while you're flying?

Aram Rappaport 6:50
Absolutely! No, no. And I mean, we all are, I mean, I'm sure you have stories, where you're just like, I have no idea how I'm gonna shoot this this scene, but like, it might work. It might not work.

Alex Ferrari 6:59
It's, you know, isn't it fascinating dude, because so many of us and you know, and again, I had the pleasure of talking to some really insane legendary filmmakers, of course, of course, and I talked to them, and I asked them director questions, just direct questions that only a director doesn't matter what level you're at, you could be a short film director, or you could be a $20 million Oscar winner doesn't matter. But that what you just said is so indicative of a director like, Okay, we're here. Yeah, I don't know how we're gonna do this today. Let's, let's go. Because everyone thinks that the directors like Hitchcock, or like Fincher, that like did the shot 50,000 times in previous, and he's just basically just shooting with, with real people that get the shot, because he's already shot the whole movie and edited the entire movie and breathe is over a year, right? And then he's just like executing his vision. There's like, no wiggle room. And basically, that's the new generate that the 21st century Hitchcock in the way of approaching the project. But so many, most, if any, if not almost all, there's always scenes that just like, oh, well, the sun's not, says not where it needs to be, Oh, we lost, we lost the location. And so all my storyboards are gone. So you just have to kind of sit there and figure it out. But I wanted to kind of demystify that for people listening, because a lot of young filmmakers think that, Oh, you must be you're working with, you know, John, and you're working on these big projects with these big stars and all this kind of stuff. And you, you have it all figured out. And I and I know that you walk in with a plan, but the Fit hits the shed, bro, you got to roll and that's what makes a director is how to adjust and compromise and move through the stuff that's thrown at you all day. Correct?

Aram Rappaport 8:41
Totally. And I think it's like, you know, it's crisis leadership, right? Like, you, it's, it's, you know, everything's gonna go wrong. And that's okay. Like, you really have to embrace that. And I think the thing that I've learned, you know, in the beginning, you walk on set, and you think it's really exciting and sort of like it's a drug to have the power. Yes, yes. Right. I mean, you walk you walk on, and you think everybody's asking me things. Everyone's listening to me, I have all the answers. But but but then as you as you get very bad reviews on things, and people really sort of bring you back down to earth afterwards, you realize, you know, this is such a collaborative process, that it's okay to, to bring those trusted sort of pieces together, whether it's a cinematographer production designer, whatever, and be like, I know what I'm trying to say with this scene. I don't know how we're gonna get there. Let's all talk about it. And I think that's the biggest lesson that I've sort of learned over the years is this, you know, if you as a director have have have leadership and vision, but you can still be humble and execution, you know, you're going to thrive in a different way than if you have to pretend that you know everything because no one doesn't. Everybody says they had no idea how to I mean, Spielberg has stories about how the sun was in the wrong spot. And he's like, I don't know and he's obviously a genius on a different level where you think, you know, even though that son was in a different spot, he probably had eight ideas. And you know, he ran them by a cinematographer. And one of them was like the thing that they were going to do. But I think at all levels, I mean, especially for young directors, it's like, you know, rely on the people that you're hiring and and say, you know, I don't know this is my vision, though, that I'm steadfast and how do we get there, you know, and you're still going to be well respected.

Alex Ferrari 10:22
I love that this the you said the addictive kind of drug of the power. Oh, my God, like, and I have I'll tell the story real quick. When I was coming up, I made a short film that got a lot of attention around town and all that kind of stuff. And I had a I was like, one of the first to shoot like, which airsoft guns. So I was using airsoft guns was an action movie and all this kind of stuff. And I was using muzzle flashes and posts and stuff like that. So another filmmaker, another crew found out about us and like, Hey, man, can we rent your guns? And we're like, Sure. So I went down to the set. This is in Florida, like in the middle of South Florida, somewhere, went out one night, and I had a bag full of soft, soft.

Aram Rappaport 11:07
Bed full of weapons.

Alex Ferrari 11:08
Oh, no, no. This is early, early 2000s. So I'm walking in and then we go into the trailer where the director is, and the amount of pomp pompous, like arrogance of this guy. The he was three, three steps short of just having a monocle and a frickin bullhorn. I'm not joking. Like he was so far gone, bro. So I brought in he didn't know that I was a direct or anything. He was just talking to me like what's a PA? Which was like, even more disrespectful by just let it play it out.

Aram Rappaport 11:39
Right! Yeah. What do you think? It's his set?

Alex Ferrari 11:43
Whatever don't care you're gonna give me some money for these guns for the weekend. Sure. I'll take the cash. So he took the shotgun I shit you not do took the shotgun pulled out at a viewfinder. I'm not a viewfinder and pointed a shotgun at himself and said these will do and I'm like, Oh my God, even then I was still coming up. But even then I knew this

Aram Rappaport 12:07
Guy's out of his mind. Right, right. Right. Right. Right. Right.

Alex Ferrari 12:10
Oddly enough, the movie didn't go anywhere. But but it's just it's just the the joy to

Aram Rappaport 12:18
Call him out by name called bush.

Alex Ferrari 12:19
I wish I wish I did. I didn't even give the the memory bank and space for his name, the name of the movie. None of it. I don't remember anything other than like a couple of things that happened that night. But I never forgot him. I'm like, Okay, so that's an example of what I don't want to be as a totally, totally. So. So alright, so when you got your so you've been making these short films, and then you get your first feature off the ground? How did you get that first feature? Which is always the toughest one to get off the ground? How did you convince someone to give you cash?

Aram Rappaport 12:49
So you know, I think um, so the first thing that I did was this. So I had a friend, Thomas Decker, who's an actor, and he was in I forgot what it was a show called The Sarah Connor Chronicles on flowers for a while. The Yeah, the Terminator thing. Right? Is that Yeah. And he played he played John Connor. And this is like, right when that show was coming out.

Alex Ferrari 13:13
Yeah, of course. I love that show. I used to love that show.

Aram Rappaport 13:16
Yeah, yeah. It was a great show with Lena Hedy. It was like, very, it was a very exciting to end here. He had wanted to be a director, and he is a director, he drinks a lot of like, very cool stuff. And he, he went out with sort of this group of friends, you know, in LA, growing up this sort of creative little think tank, and he said, You know, I'm gonna go make a feature. I'm not gonna do a short, I'm just gonna make a feature, I have no money. I'm gonna direct I'm just gonna get a bunch of my friends. And we're just all going to be in it. And he did that thing. And he put me in it. And you know, I think Megan Fox was an insight. Like, there's Brian Austin Green at the time, like some very, like, cool people did this thing. Who knows what happened to it, but it was super inspiring to see him. You know, he did that thing. And I was like, Oh, yeah. Wow. Like, he just pulled favors and cleanup, asked his friends to be in this thing. And it was, that was my impetus for saying, you know, oh, yeah, I want to go and pull the same favors. And, you know, and see if I can do it also. And so, you know, sort of, to a lesser degree, I mean, I didn't have a show, like he did, but I, you know, I was able to pull some favors with people and, specifically, you know, Leonard Martin's daughter, Jessie, who's, you know, a great friend who I've known forever, you know, she really likes supported it and was like, you know, what, I'll do makeup on this thing. And like, you can use my house and like, well, you know, this is like, right out of high school. And she was just show some sort of like the process and really, like brought in some, some cool pieces. And that was like, the first thing that was like how I did a first sort of feature. I brought in a cinematographer who was also sort of coming up and wanted a feature, you know, that's also another like, sort of piece of advice is this. You know, a lot of people do short films, right? Like, why not just do a like a really shitty 75 minute short film and then people want credits and they want to be a part of it. You know, one needs to be a part of a short film, but everybody needs to be a DP on a on their first feature. So like those are, you know, thinking outside the box in that way, like is super helpful leverage. I think that that was my first real thing where I thought, you know, let me try directing and I'll figure it out and you know, totally stuck then there was another thing that sucked another thing that sucks but

Alex Ferrari 15:16
Did is like my when I did my first feature I did exactly I think got a bunch of my friends over in LA. Yeah, this insane cast together of all these comedians shot the whole damn thing and like eight days, I was like, You know what, I'm going to dp this thing myself. Yeah. And you have to, you have to and I just like, I'll figure it out. And I'm like, if I could get it down the middle, I'll fix it in post because I'm welcome to the caller. So I'll do that. And you just and you just kind of go for it. And at the end, you're just like, hey, you know, I gotta make it was like it was just me proving to myself, I could finally get a feature made after like, so many years of doing commercials and music videos and other things I've done. I was just like, Screw it. And then it just worked out. But But yeah, you're absolutely right that and that's a big tip for anyone listening. Shorts. No one cares about truly, no one. It could be honestly the Oscar nominated or winning short film. No one cares. But on IMDb, it says feature, it adds a lot more value to people and, and they will build the work for you for free that work for you for cheap discount, just for the shot. It's a great piece of advice.

Aram Rappaport 16:22
And it feels it feels like it feels like now, there's just so many more mechanisms to create something that's feature length, or episodic length, versus just doing something because shorts are great. Like, um, you know, there's some fabulous shorts that are insanely cool. Oh, but I don't, but I don't know. And I don't know enough about that world that you think like, I feel like you know, even 10 years ago, you know, there were shorts that would come out of Sundance and be greenlit at a feature at a mini major, something where you would do like a Fox Searchlight, you know, based on shares, it feels like that just doesn't happen anymore. It was like, at a time when it was hard to get a short made. It was like, wow, that's a proof of concept. Now you're kind of like, it's this weird, aggressive. You know, we're at this place in indie film where you were, you know, excited. It's exciting. You can get things made for cheap, it's also equally as hard. But I think it's just it's it's you have to be so relentless. And that that's such a good point. Like, you know, if it's a feature, there's like some great talent that just will want to be involved. And that's what happened on the Greenvale actually, we had the cinematographer that I shot a lot of commercials with, he hadn't Luca, he hadn't done Luca fontina. He hadn't done a feature yet, or he hadn't done anything in the narrative space. And ours was a show. But it's still it was it was a narrative and he just thought I need I need this right now. Like I need this, I'm gonna kill it. My agents are gonna, you know, this is this is going to bring me to the next level on them on the feature side, and so he you know, and we paid him a lot less than we would pay him on commercials. And you know, in the end, he did it. And I think that and that's why you know exactly what you just said,

Alex Ferrari 17:50
Because he needs and I think nowadays the feature is the proof of concept. Right? Anybody can make a short in one shorts were hard to make, then that was a thing. But now that anyone can make a short at a very high level. Now you've got to like, just keep going. Just keep like I was at a festival once I saw 45 minutes short. I'm like, What's wrong with you? Yeah, just keep going. Get up like 20 Morning. Come on, do just just break 70 minutes like 68 to 70 minutes and you officially call yourself totally soulless keep going.

Aram Rappaport 18:21
And I you know what, my first thing that we just sort of I guess got distribution was this thing called the innocent that I was kidnapped true story in Chicago when I was 18. And we I turned it I've adapted it into this single take thriller that Alexa Vega girl from Star spike in Star Wars Spy Kids. She she started and it was this one take thing and we did it in Chicago, you know, in choreographed and and I learned how to use steadicam. And I shot it. And that's something where I'm like, it's going to be a feature. You watch it and you're like, this could have been a short, like, it could have been 10 minutes. 15 minutes, it would have been brilliant. It was 80 minutes, and we all fell asleep. But you know, I learned I learned through that process. You know, that's where I was like, you know, I want it to be a feature it's and by the way we had so much support because there's a features is one take thing and ever you know is Oh no. Yeah, you built

Alex Ferrari 19:16
You built up look, it's like a system when you do some of these indie projects. It's kind of like you're building up the carnival. So you you're the carnival barker. So when I did my first big short, and I had like, nobody and nothing. It was all like, Dude, it's all visual effects. It's gonna be an action thing. And I had like these storyboards and I had our concept art, and I made it look like it was the next excellent, you know, and everyone was like, I'm just want to see how this guy can even pull this off. And that's how many people jumped on board work for free. They're like, I just want to see you either fail or make it either one's going to be fantastic.

Aram Rappaport 19:48
100% 100% And it's like it's like you. It is like a traveling circus because you're like you're on location with people. You will never spend carnies before. carnies. Dude, we're totally kind of new I think like we're like sort of like highfalutin society societal, you know, boudoir carnies, but like it's bullshit. Like we go out there and we don't shower for a month. You're like eating shitty food. You know, not you like your grandma's catering with baked bagels that she found in the back of,

Alex Ferrari 20:16
If you're lucky, if you're lucky, if you're lucky, you get that?

Aram Rappaport 20:19
No, it's true. It's true. It's so true. No, but it's but but it's so exciting. Because you're like, you know, it's so much fun. And every step of the way you think like the only people that go through that process? You know, the only people that really not not if the film is good, who cares? Like if it's good or not, like, if you can get through the process, like, it's because you believe that your vision was like, absolutely unequivocably untold in any other way. And like, that's the thing that gets you whether it's true or not, who cares? You know, there's reviewers, there's this, there's distributors, but the fact that you can just get through that process means that you had such like resolute power, to be able to not give up on that thing. And that's like, the most fun to me, is challenging yourself, where you're just like, we shot nights, we you know, is an it's a 20 hour day, do I try to get one more take when everyone's exhausted? Because I feel like I need it? Or do I? Or do we just go home and give up and say, you know, this was good enough, it's probably going to cut you know, and it's those moments that challenge you on such an emotional level and a physical level, you know, and you think you get through that. And there's such a rush at the end of production, where you're just like, we did it, like we did that thing. Who knows if it's good, but we did it, you know, we got through that.

Alex Ferrari 21:32
And that's like, when Kubrick you know, would say he's like, hey, you know, we're all here. They built the sets, stay until we get it right. At five takes later, we can move on.

Aram Rappaport 21:45
Totally, totally, totally. And that's like, I feel like the one thing I've learned in commercials is sort of how to cut and how to, you know, sort of maintain the sanctity of like those performances and like, you know, protect the actors in that process. In a way that, you know, especially for this most recent thing, where we shot like eight episodes, and you know, five, we shot like 250 300 pages. So we were shooting 15 to 20 pages a day with with a single camera. And it all looks really pretty.

Alex Ferrari 22:13
I mean, you did a single on this single camera.

Aram Rappaport 22:17
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. We will, because it's so so this is another thing. So Luca RDP really did not want to shoot with two cameras. Fair enough. And he wanted, you know, and by the way, like, I would challenge him on that, because I'm like, we're never going to make our days if you're trying to light a single frame, you know, we need to cover this in the right way. It turned out that he was just so fluid in the way that he lit and these images look like, I don't know if you've seen any of it, but the images Yeah. Yeah, they look like Norman Rockwell painting.

Alex Ferrari 22:46
Like, you read my mind. They look like paintings. He did a fantastic job and the production design in the, in the the wardrobe and the way was all laid out.

Aram Rappaport 22:53
And yeah, it's a gritty, it's a gritty world. And you think like, you know, that was one of those things where I just thought, you know, I've worked with this guy and commercial so long, I know how we were gonna, you know, we have a shorthand, you know, if I'm trying to sort of cut in my head. And, and, and we we can maybe make it work with one camera, you know.

Alex Ferrari 23:10
So that's, that's the that's the other thing that a lot of filmmakers don't understand, too. So like, let's say, you're a young filmmaker, you get your first project out. And let's say there's a DP, who he just super advanced, has done $10,000,000.15 $20 million movies, and he's like, You know what, I'm gonna do your $100,000 movie. Yeah, like the story. That is a death sentence. Because they it's a death sentence. Right? I've been there too. Because if they're used to those kinds of resources, they don't understand how to make $100,000 worth of resources work. You can go the other way. Yeah, it's really hard to go back. So like I you know, you can't give James Cameron $100,000 to make a movie like He's incapable of talent. He actually I actually knew somebody who worked with him. And he was talking to somebody on a set. And the, and the guy said, oh, yeah, I just made my features like, oh, great, man. Great. You know what it did? He goes, Yeah, yeah, just, you know, grab the 100,000 bucks. And I meant to make it. And you could see Cameron's face, the computer started to crack. He couldn't understand. He's like, Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so far, he's been so far, so long, James Cameron, that he couldn't grasp the idea of 100 Like, it's just what

Aram Rappaport 24:28
Go and by the way, we should all be so lucky. Like, I would love to not grasp the idea of like, I don't I don't do work around ideas that like

Alex Ferrari 24:37
I don't like what I'm like, you've been James Cameron for 30 years. So you don't understand these things. At least got for 30 years and you've shot 10,000 commercials and

Aram Rappaport 24:51
I was about to mention that because you know, going you know to having done commercials for a while now. You know, whether it's like, you know for Apple or Victoria's Secret or whatever, I mean, those, everyone says they don't have any money. But when it comes to selling products, if, if a client believes that that's a, if there's a piece of creative that's going to help, the money will be there. It's so different, you know, when you go back to doing something on the independent level where you just think I can't convince anybody that this crazy one or

Alex Ferrari 25:23
That I need the technical crane for five days.

Aram Rappaport 25:25
Yeah, exactly. We can't, we can't do it. So that was, but that was also super exciting to me. Because for me, it was like, you know, having having, I don't want to say it's a sterile world, it's a very exciting world being doing commercials, but like, you know, you're reporting directly to a purpose. You know, it's it's, it's selling brother, you're selling product. That's its commerce. I mean, that's, that's, that's the thing. It's not art. So it's a different, it was a totally different mindset, which was such a rush to be like back in that space and be like, oh, yeah, no, I don't have as much money. But I also can just do it the way I want to do it, I can just, I can go do this thing.

Alex Ferrari 25:57
And I don't have to spend, you know, eight hours lining a bottle?

Aram Rappaport 26:01
Who? Exactly, exactly, exactly. And it's one of those things where, like, you know, it plays into, I feel like, you know, I always try to like double down on like, what's my purpose? Like, why? Why do I want to do this? Why I'm, you know, and like, at the end of the day, you know, you want people to really connect with what you make. And I feel like that that's been a through line for me in terms of, you know, any commercial I do, there's the really good ones that like people are like, wow, that was a good commercial, there's the really crappy ones that still perform well. And you think, Oh, I'm glad it worked. But oh, I just wish it would have created better. And those are the moments that remind me that like, oh, yeah, like, I want to be a storyteller. Like, my number one goal is not just to do a job or facilitate a thing. It's like, you know, I want to be able to tell narratives that like really, you know, really, really hit and so it's, it's, you know, that's why it's nice, you know, it's fun to fight for, you know, anything to you know, to create anything linearly. I mean, it's and it's a miracle that ever gets paid, period. No, it's a mere I mean, it's a miracle. I mean, it's impossible, but especially in COVID now, and COVID.

Alex Ferrari 26:59
Now, oh, that's even worse. It's even, it's even more impossible to get anything made.

Aram Rappaport 27:02
It's possible. And John reminded me of that every day as he was getting rammed up the nostril with a COVID test telling me that he, you know, he was doing this for me, and, you know, so, you know, I thought he was gonna walk every time he got, like, I said, we could move to the, you know, the anal COVID tests if he wanted, but he, you know, he's stuck with the nose.

Alex Ferrari 27:25
So don't be stuck with the nose, you know, but you know, that's, that's, that's John. But I'm just saying Meryl Streep would have done whatever it needed to be. I'm just saying she would have done whatever Daniel Day would have done whatever it took. I'm just saying,

Aram Rappaport 27:39
Can you follow up with John on that, actually, because that's a very good, that's a very good point.

Alex Ferrari 27:44
I mean, I heard Daniel Day and Denzel day where I had no problem with whatever it was.

Aram Rappaport 27:49
John, what I tell the story a lot just because I like the article exists. But you know, in China, like during, you know, during the Olympics, I read some, there was some article that said, you know, China brings back, you know, anal COVID swabs for tourists at the airport manual, anal COVID swabs. And I brought this article to set and showed it to John and I was like, John, this is the new this is the new norm, so we're swapping out the nose for the you know, the anus, and and then I just walked out and I walked out and I said, you know, I'm like, It's not today today, you know, we're still doing the nose. But tomorrow the hospital is going to bring in the guys to do the the AMA. It's a different crew. And you know, I just wanted to let you know, and you know, anyways, great day. I'll see you out there. And then his assistant came running out and he's like, is is that are we doing the animals is that what was that a thing? I'm like, No, it's not a fucking thing. What do you tell him? Of course not. Why would we ever do that? That's crazy. I'd rather get COVID What do you mean? So that was that was that's my relationship.

Alex Ferrari 28:48
Oh my god. That's amazing. Ah, absolutely. The best story I'm going to use I'm going to tell that story everywhere

Aram Rappaport 28:54
That's why you can google it exists I'm not just like some

Alex Ferrari 28:57
No no but your story with John

Aram Rappaport 29:00
Yeah. That's that's an exclusive that's

Alex Ferrari 29:04
So are we are we are we doing the Adel swaps are we

Aram Rappaport 29:07
I'm like tell him Yeah, you should know you should have you should have you should have kept that going for a little bit. I should have filmed it the next day and had seen you should know

Alex Ferrari 29:14
You should have done you should have done a whole Jackass thing. Like they can't bring it and bring that like get one of the grips that John didn't see the guy doing it like

Aram Rappaport 29:25
100% Meanwhile, we're doing this like super deep dark, you know, 50s Drama on oppression and he's standing there in his like, you know, 50s garb like Wait, am I getting anal swab? Like what what's happening here, you know,

Alex Ferrari 30:07
Alright, so as directors, when we're on a set, there's always that one day, that the fit. It's the Shan, the lights, not there, the camera breaks that the there's annual swabs on onset onset, something happens that, that you you feel like the entire world's coming crashing down around you on on Greenvale or on any project. What was that day? And how did you overcome it as a director?

Aram Rappaport 30:35
You know, that's a good question. I mean, I think that obviously, you know, there's different types of people, you know, some people thrive under, you know, that immense pressure, you know, some people don't, I think that, you know, whether I make the right decisions or the wrong decisions, I usually, I enjoy that level of pressure. So I think for me, like, you know, I sort of expect those, there's a level of anxiety where I just expect every every day go wrong. So when all things go wrong, it's like, well, I was a great day. So I think my mindsets will be different. But there's always your I mean, I've had instances where actors have, like, you know, disagreed with a note and walked off, and we've had to shoot coverage of his female counterpart by herself. You know, we've had instances where I had an actor fire our first ad, because he hated him on something some years ago. And we were sort of left pick, you know, choosing between an actor and the ad. And, you know, I mean, there were just, I feel like, there, there have been some sort of crazy instances where, you know, everything that I've sort of done on, like, the linear space has been, you know, a passion project. So like, when people come to do that, it's because they're passionate about it. So when you challenge that, or change the vision, or adjust, or it's not what they thought, like, there's emotions run really high, you know, and that's exciting. But it's also terrifying, because I think when you're, whether it's a DP, or a production designer, or an actor, or a costume designer, if you sort of show up and tell someone, you know, we can't afford that, or we lost the light, we're going to have to shoot it differently. You know, as a director, all you can do is really maintain like this even keel positivity around, even though you know, that it's probably a complete fuckup you're like, No, it's going to work, this is going to work. This is the right thing, you know, let's, let's keep going. And, and, you know, that sort of, like resolute need to like, keep the troops marching is really important. And I don't know if there's any one specific thing it feels like every day or every few every day. Oh, there's always something that's, I mean, we've lost. You know, I think the biggest thing is always been, you know, working on on this latest thing, I think, you know, this was like a drama that also had, you know, tonally was sci fi as well, as, you know, there was some levity to how the characters interact, you know, John would call it a play, you know, it was a it was the dialogue was sort of like repetitious, and it did you know, it felt lyrical. And so I think a lot of that was worked out on set in rehearsal, and we had no time to rehearse. So those were the things that were the most challenging. Were sort of, you know, we're shooting 18 pages today, if you rehearse that scene one more time. Everything was was pertinent, you know, we lose another valuable scene at the end of the day, where we have to get an insert on the gun. If we don't, no one knows she has a gun. And that's the tension, you know, so things like that, what I think were that were the toughest were was sort of like, okay, like, you know, what, are we going to compromise on that still, collectively, if I step back, you know, this world still works. We need to lead people to believe that this thing works. I think those those those are the sort of things I felt like I've learned over the years is sort of like when to really compromise and when to vocalize that we need to get it right.

Alex Ferrari 33:58
Then there's the other thing to man is like that they don't tell you, especially when you're coming up, man, I don't know if this happened to you or not. But you get you know, you're normally I remember when I was the youngest guy on set. I remember I'm sure you do as well.

Aram Rappaport 34:09
Yeah, yeah. I'm, I'm I'm 20 20 and a half,

Alex Ferrari 34:13
I tried to at least 20 and a half. So, but when you're the youngest guy, or you're just starting out, the crew, most of the time is most of the times a little bit more experienced than you. And sometimes the actors are more experienced than you. Yeah. And that's when and that's

Aram Rappaport 34:30
When we often write like, I mean, there's always going to be someone that's more experienced than you. It doesn't matter if you're who you are really like you train

Alex Ferrari 34:37
To a certain to a certain extent. Absolutely. Yeah, you're always gonna be, but this is when this is what they don't teach you a film school, which is who's testing you to see how far they can push you. And that's the actors and that's also with key crew people as well. I mean, I've had DPS who were interested in their reel and that's so much interested in what I was doing. They just wanted to get their shot, because they knew that was going to be in the reel and then didn't really care about working, they took the project cuz they're like, Oh, we're gonna be on this location, I'm gonna get the techno crane. And I'm gonna do this and this, or I'm gonna fight for this shot because this is going to get my, there's going to be on my demo reel,

Aram Rappaport 35:12
And how would you handle that? So how did you like how would you, you know?

Alex Ferrari 35:16
So first so the first time it happened, I didn't know what the hell to do. And I had to like kind of, you know, the very first time it happened I had to, and I told the story before but I'll tell it again. My very first time I spent on my demo reel when I shot my 35 millimeter commercial demo reel. Wow, yeah. Oh, yeah, I'm that old. I shot I shot a cost me about 50 grand back in the day. All right. And I hired a DP team. So problem number one. Have you worked with the DP team? No, nobody does because it doesn't exist. But with these guys, they had to had a grip truck. They had access to the film camera, I needed a high speed film camera. We were shooting at 90 frames, you know, I was doing some like really fashion commercial stuff that I was doing. You know, I had a model who was a friend of mine and we were doing this whole exports model thing. And they were so they were mostly industrial guys. And sometime commercial guys, and not la sometime commercialized. This is Florida sometime commercial guys. So that means that they didn't have the same experience as a California or sorry anybody living in Florida. I I know a lot of good guys down there. But you know what I mean? Is just they just didn't have the experience that that the crews on the other side have a lot of times so they came in and I was so terrified that they didn't know what they were going to do with this film stock because we were shooting reversal stock.

Aram Rappaport 36:43
Yeah. Oh my god, I can't see that. I've never shown some of my life the anxiety. I can't even

Alex Ferrari 36:48
So shot on shooting on a reversal stock because I wanted to do that whole like MC g 90s.

Aram Rappaport 36:55
Yeah, blown out by looks amazing.

Alex Ferrari 36:58
It's fast as Wonder I love that. It's still one of my favorite things ever shot. So it was it's so it was we shot this whole thing. But I was so terrified because I'm like this is with with with reversal stock. You've got to have stop. Yeah, latitude. You can you can check you can check around. Yeah, yeah. So I like literally printed out an entire packet on how to shoot reversal stock. I was so terrified for the day. Yeah. And gave it to them. Do they? They must I mean, we shot it and we got it in the can. But they they took forever to light. They both of them are running around with their light meters like clicking every frickin corner. Oh my gosh. And then wait, and then high speed. Here that film cam go. Oh, yeah. And you hear that sound? And all I'm hearing is like $5 $10 $20 Exactly, exactly. It was just flying by and I'm like please Oh snap, please. Oh, snap. Please don't stop because of snaps. Oh my god, we're done. And I didn't have like rolls and rolls of

Aram Rappaport 38:02
Exactly. Exactly. You know, how are you gonna get more rolls if you're out like that. So

Alex Ferrari 38:06
It was it was insane. It was insane. So those guys i Then I then we did another spot the next day and they were so bad. They were trying to like muscle their way into what I was doing. And I was looking at what they were doing. I'm like this is not good. And I just at the end of the day, I scrapped the entire thing. I burned the negative. Wow, I literally burned I burned it. And then I rehired a new dp and I spent another $20,000 and shot the spot that I wanted the way I wanted to do it and got it done right so but with that those days those guys I was just like I was just constant and I was yelling out where it half stop. Were one for one like I was the one constantly yelling out I know what we need to be out here. And I was I was on them on them on them on them because I was just so insecure. Yeah, they you know, the by the way, first day one, the entire grip team walked off within 10 minutes that's how ridiculous that's my first day first day I'm spending all my money and the entire grip department walks away in the first 10 minutes because they were so unprofessional they didn't know what to do. So I was just like oh my god so that's that extreme but then I've had other TVs who are like older guys who just for whatever reason wanted to wave their you know what in my face and just right right right? No, no, I don't think that's the way the shot is going to be so then that's the point where you as a director have to go look man, we're gonna have a half cup conversation. You and it's not and but that's how you get tested and then actors test you within the first five or 10 minutes and they test you just to make sure that they feel comfortable. You're totally safe and safe. If they feel safe, they'll give you the world but if they don't feel safe that's when the problem starts.

Aram Rappaport 39:39
We agree that that's like you know that's why we did this project is because John and I haven't worked together you know we've shot too thin we you know, we shot a movie we shot the Netflix special and then you know we've done a handful of commercials together that he started that he's brought me in on to direct which has been amazing. But there was sort of a level of trust that was there. And the trust wasn't, you know, that's what people sometimes hear, they hear that and they go, Oh, he trusted you to make it to make him the best he can be. It's really, it wasn't about that it wasn't about the final result, it was trust, to explore, you know, and this trust, to be able to take risks, and own those risks. And that's the thing that, you know, you'll find a lot of actors will either, you know, really don't want to do, they're gonna give you what they're gonna give you, because they don't trust that when you're in the editing room, you're not going to completely fuck it up. You know, or there's the other ones, there's the actors that just go totally crazy and need you to hold them in linearly, you know, and remind them where we're at in the arc. And if you don't, you're not going to have a project, you can piece together, you know, from from a story beat perspective, but I think with John, like, the thing that I, you know, admire about him so much is that, you know, we sat down, and I pitched this thing to him. And, you know, he said, you know, he's a character who never played before, and he wanted, I mean, maybe he talked about already, but, but, you know, to be able to get on set and watch him do something different every take, that still was in the world, but they were different decisions, you know, based on different, you know, sort of like organic, you know, justifications, you know, what, whether it was an action or you know, you know, linearly he thought, oh, maybe I should be at a different point in my journey here. Let's try two things. The fact that he was so open to explore that is why this ultimately works and is successful, because we block shot, you know, 300 pages, and he was shooting, you know, seven dinner scenes back to back from episode one, episode eight, back to episode three, Episode Seven. And, you know, if we didn't have that trust, to sort of stumble through it together, you know, I think it would be like a very different projects. I think he you know, he's one of those rare guys that you just think of like, like, you've done everything in your career, you've, you've been everywhere worked with everybody, and you're still just trying to be better, like, better at everything, you know, and he and he's doing it. I mean, every step of the way, he bests the last year of his career. You know,

Alex Ferrari 42:01
It's interesting that, that that concept of allowing the space to explore Yeah, is so important to actors. And John spoke about it in the interview that we had that he's like, let me bump around. Yeah, me, me. There's a box. Yeah, I might not know where the end of the box is. Yeah. But that's your job to bring me back in if I'm going too far off, or the box that we're putting in, but let me play within the box. And don't just try to throw me down the middle because that's when you stifle me, you stifle me, you're not gonna get anything out of me. Totally.

Aram Rappaport 42:36
So and you think that you know, this is a guy that's like, a Tony winning playwright, you know, I mean, this is a guy who has a Smithsonian where like, you can't put them on set and say, you got to do this one thing I mean,

Alex Ferrari 42:47
He didn't align read him, give him a line reading see what

Aram Rappaport 42:50
His story is about that from from from certain movies where he goes, you know, a director was given me a line reading and it was like the three worst months of my life I just showed up. I was a robot. It's like, that's just some people like that. I mean, there are actors that want to go to work and just do the one thing go home like he's just not that guy, you know, and that's what you know, that's what Well, yeah, I mean, that's what I love about working with him. It's the most incredible thing in the world and like between that and his activism in this sort of like, I mean, he I don't know if he sleeps one hour a day or what but like, you know, I mean, he just was like, put on this earth to make waves in that way and you can't stop it.

Alex Ferrari 43:23
No, and it's really interesting to see you know, and we want to turn this into a John love fest because then he love that he'll love his his head's gonna get too big and you know, it already is was trying to know but no, but but in all honesty, though, like you look at look at an actor like him who's done so many different varieties, I mean, Moulin Rouge, and yeah, Juliet and casualties of war and, and you just, and then that the list just goes on and on. And just like, you know, I was when I was preparing for his conversation. I just went back through his IMDb in his filmography. I'm like, Jesus Christ. Like, there's so many movies that you just like, that's right. Carlitos way. Yeah, that's right. Oh, he was in that too. Oh, my God. That's right. He was and you just go back. And you know, like, I brought up spawn, because I'm like, no one ever no one ever calls out spawn the clown. It's one of the performances, one of his best performances ever since sanity, and he taught and that he said he, they didn't know what he had no idea what he was going to do up until the director yelled action for this entire time.

Aram Rappaport 44:30
I believe it Yeah. And I mean, he just blew up. We were talking at some point about the voice of the sloth and Ice Age and how he tried a bunch of stuff and also didn't know what he was going to do and, and the studio liked what he did or something like that man might be telling the story wrong. But then eventually, you know, he got behind the mic and did something and it was like, you know, that's it. That's the thing, you know, and it's it's incredible to see that. I mean, I hate him as a person but he's a talented.

Alex Ferrari 44:53
I mean, he's a horrible human being.

Aram Rappaport 44:56
As an actor, he's he's he's phenomenal to watch and hammering

Alex Ferrari 45:00
No but to be to be as to be as a performer. And this is also the way it is with directors or certain directors who work this way. That work kind of like on the on like my last film I did. I shot and four days at Sundance, about filmmakers trying to sell a movie at Sundance, I still owe the entire movie. I got there, and I just like, let's roll. And let's see what happens. And I was like, Oh, my God, this is what like, what it feels like to be an actor in many ways, because we were all as a collective Creative Collective, figuring it out along the way, to the point where when we got on the we're on the plane that like I said, Do you have it? I'm like, I don't know.

Aram Rappaport 45:38
Yeah, we don't know. Yeah, we'll put it together.

Alex Ferrari 45:40
I have no idea if we have a movie. I have no idea. If we haven't, I think we have a movie. My experience says, but it was in a such a low budget. And it was just kind of like me just experimenting, having fun, that you were just like, oh my god, this feels so you feel so alive, as opposed to being on a commercial set, where you're working with a client, and that has its own energy and its own thing. But this you feel like,

Aram Rappaport 46:03
Oh my god, there's an immediacy to it. There's such an immediacy to it.

Alex Ferrari 46:06
Right, like the Duplass brothers or John sweat Joe Salzberg, who did these kinds of like, you know, mumblecore films back in the day, that they're just kind of like, Here's an outline. Let's all figure it out today.

Aram Rappaport 46:17
Yeah, totally.

Alex Ferrari 46:18
Exciting is how to do that. It's terrifying. But it's so yeah,

Aram Rappaport 46:22
Yeah. It's exciting. Totally, totally. i It's more exciting. If it turns out well,

Alex Ferrari 46:28
Yeah. If it didn't work out, yeah. You're like,

Aram Rappaport 46:31
Oh, we went through that. Okay. I don't know if I'll do that again. But so

Alex Ferrari 46:34
Is there. Is there something that you wish you would have told yourself if you had an opportunity to go back at that first, the first beginnings of your career? To tell yourself Listen, Adam, this is you gotta watch out for this.

Aram Rappaport 46:47
Yeah, that's a good that's a really good question. I think, you know, there was this. I did a movie some years ago, called syrup with Ambit was with Amber Heard Shiloh Fernandez never heard of her. I never heard of her. Never heard of her never telling lots of other people. And it was based on a book and it was, you know, it was it was probably like, sort of the first, like, bigger thing that I did was an indie. You know, it was it was

Alex Ferrari 47:14
I saw I mean, it looks it looks amazing. It looks good to camera. You were talking to cameras that had a little vibe to it.

Aram Rappaport 47:20
Yeah, they talked to cameras, but you know, but it was it was also from a structural perspective is problematic, you know, we had to go back and do reshoots, and we had to, you know, it was, that's one thing. I've also learned, just as an aside, you know, there's a script that can read really well. But but but with experience, you learn what's going to play to an audience, sometimes that isn't on the page. And I think that's, that's the difference between those really, really good directors that can seat that can read a script, or a writer director, who can write something that they know is going to translate, because that was one instance, where we wrote a lot of direct to camera, talking at the audience Edrick in the fourth wall breaking, we started, you know, testing it, and we realized that like, audiences don't want to be talked to they want to be shown things, you know, and so it read really well, because it was this sort of flippant, cheeky dialogue about marketing, and people read through the scripts, agents love that actors love that. I mean, it was like we, you know, is a beloved script based on a great book. You know, we went and shot the script. And, and we were excited about it. I was excited about it. And then we watched it. And I was like, Wait a second, we got to go back. And we work things. Because it just doesn't, it doesn't we're not rooting for these characters in the same way. But I, you know, back back to your What was your question? I didn't remember. If there's something that you wish you would have told you younger self? Yeah. So so so I screened this, this film for a producer, and, and she said, You know, it's not there. But trust me, when I say it's not going to be your last movie, you're going to be fine. And I was wrapped.

Alex Ferrari 48:56
You don't? You'll work again,

Aram Rappaport 48:58
That's literally your work. You know, and that's like, I mean, because I always try to get back is really honest about these things. Like, you know, I've made a lot of shitty, like very, very bad things. Because I that's how I learned to make to try to make better than hopefully my work is getting better as we go. And this is hopefully not the best thing I'll ever do. And hopefully there'll be more, that's better. But you I think there are those guys that are those, you know, those filmmakers that just, you know, they pop onto the scene. And that's like, they their first movie is like a hit, you know, that was like, definitely not me, you know. And that was the biggest piece of advice I wish I actually took in was this notion that like, every time I did something bad I thought, well, this is the last this is the end. It's never it was never a learning experience. It was always like, this is shameful, you know, I'm shamed no one ever talks and

Alex Ferrari 49:42
You know, and you know what, and you're not looked at that stop me from making my first feature for almost 1520 years because

Aram Rappaport 49:48
Right there you go, there you go. Exactly exact cause of that energy of

Alex Ferrari 49:51
The the, if I got to make a movie, it's gotta be Reservoir Dogs. No, it's It's gotta it's gotta be. It's gotta be paranormal activities got to be something that it's explodes out of it. And that's then that's the mentality that was the kind of the Kool Aid that I drank from the 90s coming out, because that's what everything was like it had to be this huge thing.

Aram Rappaport 50:10
And those were those zingy indies where it was like the only indies you heard about were those indies that were just the best movies that had ever come out in those years like period, perhaps.

Alex Ferrari 50:19
Absolutely. And the directors all went off to have insane careers. So that was what I thought I had to do. I was like, Oh, I'm going to make something that has to be like, yeah, it has to be Reservoir Dogs. But then then you look back and you go, no, nobody else made a Reservoir Dogs. They all made their own things. Kevin made clerks. Linkletter made slacker that they they all did their thing. But and they were right time, right place, right product, all that kind of stuff as well. But at a certain point, you just got to just do it. That's when I when I finally hit 40. I just said screw it. I'm just gonna go make a movie. And from the moment I came up with the idea to the when we're done with production was two months.

Aram Rappaport 50:56
Yeah, yeah. Well, and that's what happens, right? You just you get that motivation. You just go and do it. And you have to be sort of like, you know, erotic about it. And blinded by it.

Alex Ferrari 51:05
No, I did it so fast. I couldn't talk myself out of it. Because if you said Yeah, six months, eight months, you're like, Oh, well, I need this camera. Or I need Yeah, right. This cast I didn't want to give myself so it was like a experiment on myself to just go I'm just gonna get it done to prove to myself that I could tell a story and I could sell a movie and and did all that. It was, it was fascinating. Now we've been we've been dipping around or toying around the Greenvale tell me about the green veil. And it's really interesting. John talks a bit about it in in his interview, I find it fascinating that you guys kind of did an indie series. So you know, self financed indie series that now you're out in the marketplace trying to sell, which is something that doesn't get done often has done been done, but not at this level that I know of it. Yeah, we're just kind of cast in this kind of production. So tell me about the project.

Aram Rappaport 51:53
So yeah, I mean, so So we, you know, I knew having been in commercials for a while, I knew that I wanted to try to get back into like, some linear expression, you know, some content that we you know, whether it was serialized content, whether it was a film, whether whatever. So we you know, just because I launched this agency in studio, we sort of had the facilities to launch a television film division as a financier. You know, we've sort of been blessed with our clients and subsidize that film and television production with money that we, you know, made on the agency side. And so this was sort of that first project. For me, that was like a proof of concept as a quote, unquote, like studio that's financing, just to kind of prove that we could do this. So I think for us, it's like, we knew that we wanted to be in TV, we've never done TV before. You know, we could pitch for years and try to figure that out. Or we could just go out and do something and sort of stumble through it. That's sort of always been my approach, obviously.

Alex Ferrari 52:56
As we've made many points of in this interview, it's great. And works for you, sir.

Aram Rappaport 53:03
And if you learn anything, it's don't do it this way. I'm sure there's an easier way it will take. But but but no, but I mean, you know, so I having worked with Java for John and I were just coming off the the Netflix thing that was a lot of fun, and, you know, received well, and, and John, I was reading these articles about alien invasions that happened in the 50s. And it was this very sensationalized period when there was a lot of, you know, repression and oppression, from housewives to, you know, Native Americans to immigrants to to everybody really, you know, was very oppressed in a certain way. It was post world war two women were working during World War Two, and they were, you know, really running things while men were off at war. And then they came back and there was this reckoning, you know, where women were now suddenly, housewives. Again, men were trying to like re command control of their families. And, you know, there was this insane eradication of sort of, like Native Americans. So anyways, I wanted to put all that stuff together because it just it felt like if we could sort of sensationalized you know, a story that sort of is grounded in a sci fi element where there were these, you know, these these sort of like, true reported UFO sightings with, you know, the themes of assimilation and oppression in the 50s it would make for like, a really interesting world. Like, at that time, I didn't know what it was gonna be, but it just felt like it was a really interesting, you know, let's do an anthology on oppression in America with a really interesting tone that feels like it's not just a drama and it's not just preachy, that it's you know, we've got a hook so I loop John in and said, you know, we can you play this like all American dad who's like Latin, but we don't save these Latin and there's these really hidden bizarre undertones of his patriotism. And John was like, you know, I've always wanted to play like a self loathing self hating, you know, Latin I mean, what he calls his you know, like a Trumpian lat Latin we are Trumpian you know, this supporter, you know, Latin Trump supporter of something. Got it. Got it. And, and so, you know, he was always fascinated with like the leader of the proud boys who's like this Latin guy and he's like, what what is he doing? Like how is that? Real? You know? And so, you know we

Alex Ferrari 55:15
Oh, I gotta stop. He's like, did you ever see the Dave Chappelle? Bit? Where he was the the blind? Ku Klux Klan? Yes, yes. Yeah, he was, oh my god, or something like that.

Aram Rappaport 55:29
It was literally it was literally that, you know, and so that's what we, you know, I said, Well, you know, why don't you play this all American guy who like, you know, obviously, there's some like, you know, deeply rooted, like systemic issues there. But you're tasked with, you know, assimilation, like native assimilation at the FBI, and you're, you're an American, you're an American and a patriot. And, and let's let you reckon with those issues, and he's like, I've never played that role before I trust that we can have fun with this and see where it goes. And from a from a, you know, not a therapeutic standpoint. But like, as an actor, it was something that he like, you know, wanted to embrace, and that that was the project. So we thought, you know, let's root it in this family with you and sort of, like, see where this thing goes. And that that's the Greenville. It's a story of Gordon Rogers, who's played by John Leguizamo. And he's tasked with native assimilation on the East Coast, which is something that happened was rampant, you know, in the US and in Canada's, you know, evident by the discovery of these boarding schools, and, you know, these mass graves under these boarding schools that we just found in Canada recently, but, you know, John's character is making way for a pipeline, and there's a lot of nefarious things he's doing. And his wife finds out that there was some, you know, he was investigating an alien invasion that may or may not be an alien invasion, and, you know, shit hits the fan from there. And, you know, John's character ultimately is forced to sort of reckon with, you know, who he is. And, you know, and where he's going, you know, in this in this world. And that's, and that's, that's how we got to eight episodes.

Alex Ferrari 56:59
And you got to Tribeca, did this screen yet or not?

Aram Rappaport 57:02
It screen yet screens on Monday night? And it's, we had an online thing on Wednesday, and then we just screened last night was our our second screening?

Alex Ferrari 57:11
And how's it? How has it been received?

Aram Rappaport 57:13
It was great. I mean, it was received really well, you know, we got a couple really positive reviews. And, you know, people seem very into it. And I think, you know, the challenge for us is obviously, you know, educating a marketplace on an independent TV show. And that's something that is, you know, it's it's, you know, we know, the sort of indie model of acquisitions. And,

Alex Ferrari 57:33
You know, isn't it isn't that fun? Isn't it? The fun part?

Aram Rappaport 57:36
It's just, it's a lesser known, you know, it's a lesser known reality, but I think like, you know, it's something that we feel really passionate about, I don't think we would have gotten this show made, had we not, you know, financed it. And, and developed it with John in a way that just, you know, he wanted to play this role. And that's, and that's what we did. And I, you know, he's, I would never want it, that's something I've learned is that, you know, working with new exciting actors is great, but working with like, your best friends that you trust and who trust you is, is is the best thing in the world. It doesn't matter what the project is.

Alex Ferrari 58:07
And that's because because you go because you've gone into war together. Ready, man? Yeah, you just you just use it. You've been in the shit, you've been in different level,

Aram Rappaport 58:16
It's a different level of trust that you just can't overestimate you.

Alex Ferrari 58:20
No, no, absolutely. Absolutely. The DP, I took the Sundance with me, I'd use I've done a couple projects with them. And I'm like, I could I just knew, shoot, just shoot, I know, it's gonna be done. And it's like, I don't have to worry about that. Because you just know, they're gonna get you back. And then you work with actors again. And again. You're like, Yeah, I know that they're bringing that toolbox with them today. And yeah, yeah. And they got your back. And when you're going, if you're going into the war, man, it's like full metal jacket, man, you just, you know, or, you know, you Joker, you know, or

Aram Rappaport 58:51
You just want to do better work. Also, when you're working with Yeah, I want you to be that, you know, that's the like, you know, yeah, I mean, there's something about I mean, that was always my thing with John is like, he has always just challenged me to, like, you know, let's make it a little bit better, a little bit better. Let's watch someone else show notes. Let's go, you know, and he's always had to, I mean, he's been vocal, but he's had to work harder than everybody else to get to where he is. And that is, you know, I was saying, I reckon with online history for morons, right? Like, you know, I'm a white Jew from the valley directing Latin history for morons, you know, I mean, that was something that I would have conversations with him about and be like, am I the right guy for this? Am I Are you sure you want me to? You know, and he would always say, you know, yes, you're the right guy. Because the vision that you your vision is what I want within this project. And like, that's ally ship, and it's okay to be an ally and it's okay to still support and try to be the best you can be. And so I feel like are, you know, something about, like you said, going into battle but with really dissonant views on things, and then challenging those views and sort of coming together with like, you know, a common narrative is the thing that, you know, I love most and sort of cherish about that relationship.

Alex Ferrari 59:57
Well, I mean, I really, I really hope you do well. With this in the same room I hope this is a new model for a lot of people out there because Look man, it's it's it's a tough slog doing indie films, man, you know, and I'm, I'm in the trenches every day talking to people every day about it from every aspect from the scripts all the way to distribution. I know what's going on with that. And this might be another avenue where creatives I mean, look, all the indie guys from the 90s. Most of them are going into television. Right, right, exactly. All of the early 2000s. Like, they're all into, because that's where the cool stuff. That's why television is. It's so cool. Yeah, so good. Because the writing is good. And it's just, you know,

Aram Rappaport 1:00:37
Explore a story and like multiple episodes, and

Alex Ferrari 1:00:39
You may take your time and build it up and all that stuff. It's, I've never done anything like That's incredible. Yeah. So I'm gonna ask you a few questions, ask all of my guests or what advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Aram Rappaport 1:00:56
A filmmaker is gonna try to break into the business. I mean, again,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:00
Just do it and see how it works out.

Aram Rappaport 1:01:02
I think you just got to do and and see, I mean, there's, like, you know, you just got to do it. I mean, you just gotta like, if you have a vision and a story that no one else is told, you know, that's something worth risking everything for. So go do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:17
What did you learn from your biggest failure?

Aram Rappaport 1:01:21
What did I learn from my biggest failure? You know, to just dust it off and get back up and shrug it off and do it and keep going. I think that's, that's always I mean, this is like, such a brutal town. You know, I mean, like, you know, if a movie is bad, an agent won't get you a job anymore. Yeah, an actor won't work with you or whatever. But it's all bullshit. I mean, who cares?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:42
Like, everyone, everyone's you know, when you're hot, you're hot. And when you're not, you're not. And it's like next. But then, five years later, you write something that everyone wants now and like, I don't know, I'm

Aram Rappaport 1:01:52
100%. Like, Ben Affleck. I think when he wanted his academy award, not the first one. But like, the second time like afterwards, like sort of his was surgeons or whatever, I think, you know, he said it best. He's like, you know, this business is about like, just not holding grudges, forgiveness. And just, you know, that's just I mean, it's certainly personal. Don't take it first can't take it. But because again, like you're like, as creators, like we're throwing everything into these projects emotionally and no one else is, the agents are not the executives are not no one's no one is throwing themselves into these things like so we take everything personally, of course, like we're going to, but at the end of the day, like, you know, you have to just expect the unexpected. If it doesn't work, you know, you get up and you do it again, if you were meant to do it, if it's truly what you have to do to survive, like you're gonna do it again.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:41
I tell you, I heard I was watching an interview with Taylor Sheridan this last weekend, and I'm just the biggest Taylor shattered and found in the way he's like, so amazing what he's doing. He's, he's working at a level that all afraid to be working at. Yeah, right now. And he said, You know, I've been in this town for a long time. I've never seen anybody bumped their head against the wall or crushed her head against the wall for 20 years. And then pop. Yeah, yeah. I was like, wow, that's such a profound comment, man. It really is. Because he goes, I've seen eight years. I've seen 10 years in 12 years, but I've never seen 20 years. And that's when I decided I'm always going to be the 11th on the call sheet. I'm never going to be number one on the call sheet. Right. And that's what he did. Yeah, because he's, you know, and he's working. And when he wrote his when he wrote the pilot, the first thing he ever wrote was the pilot for mayors of Jamestown. After he wrote the pilot, he's like, dammit, I wish I would have been doing this 15 years ago. Yeah. wasted all that time. Just just trying to make it I can get out as an actor and I really wanted to do this is where it needed to be. So and he goes, and this is something I think everyone listening should I think you might agree with this. The town will tell you what you are supposed to be doing. To a certain extent. To a certain extent, it's like, I'm never going to be a leading man. I'm not gonna be Tom Cruise. I'm not built to be Tom Cruise. I don't have the talent nor the looks to be Tom Cruise. But in my mind, I was like, I'm gonna be the next Tom Cruise. The town's gonna tell you maybe you're not Tom Cruise. Right but Tom Cruise I appreciate that sir. Thank you, I but but but you could be something else that is actually going to make you happier and actually more true to your path. So that you just gotta listen. Keep the ears open for that kind of stuff. Now what is the lesson that took you what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Aram Rappaport 1:04:28
I don't know if I've learned it yet. What's the lesson that has taken me the longest to learn? You know, to not try to do everything? Yep, I think that would probably be the biggest lesson I think. You know, it's easy for people on the outside to say you know, why don't you you know, delegate. And it's easy for us on the inside to say well, we don't have enough money. We don't have enough this. I have to do it. I have to do it. When you have the right support team around It is exceptional, like the things that you can accomplish are exceptional, no matter how much you want to control everything. You know, it's a movie. And sometimes, you know, you have to, you have to do multiple things, you have to wear multiple hats, and that's fine. But I think, you know, early on, I always felt like I really had to control things. Well, because no one's going to do better than you. Right? Right, right, or no one knows. Or it's proving the narrative that I'm the director, or whatever it is, you know, but I think like, yeah, as you you know, as you grow, you learn that the best thing you can do is let everybody else thrive, and then just take credit for

Alex Ferrari 1:05:41
I, you know, what, the masters have said that so many times, you're like, that's all you can do. Just, you know, whoever you're gonna get the credit at the end of it, just let it all.

Aram Rappaport 1:05:50
That's what, that's what I say, That's what I always say to the Chrome like you can give me if you want to, you know, over work to give me all these ideas, I'll still take credit for it. So that's fine. Work harder than many ideas. Let's go. No, I'm just joking. I mean, it is it is, I mean, you know, to be humble, and to be able to say, you know, what do you think, I don't know what this is gonna look like, let's let's talk about is, I think the biggest lessons,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:14
But that also, but also takes you minutes to get to that point.

Aram Rappaport 1:06:16
So you have to you have to, you have to go through that process. I don't know, if anyone on their, you know, their very first movie was like, you know, oh, yeah, I am going to just ask for everybody's advice.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:30
Because you're like, I'm not the director anymore. And then you get that chip on your shoulder, like, am I, the director, I have to, I have to prove them, the director, I have to have my name as a director, it can be only directed only and written by only an eye, and I have to do everything. At the beginning, you have to feel that way. But as you get older, and you get more settled into your and more comfortable in your own skin as a director, that's when you just go best idea wins.

Aram Rappaport 1:06:50
Right, right. And I think and I think also not over directing is also another big thing not over controlling, you know, I mean, there's, there's, there's actors, that you just need to set the camera and just watch them surprise you. And then there's actors that you really have to work with. And then there's actors that are somewhere in between one a little bit or whatever. But like really, recognizing that with actors with behind the camera talent, with the production design team with whatever it like there are, there are people that will feel more empowered and do better if you let them you know, and I think, you know, really understanding how to lead different departments, you know, in unique ways is something that, that is super, super important. And it's like, you know, I always tell people, like just ask, like, you know, ask someone like Simon, I talked to John about the first day about, you know, how do you want to work? Like, what how are you most successful? Like that's going to? Is it one take, or you warm up with three? And then we get into it on four? Do you want me to stop you in the middle of takes? Do you want me to let you complete even though we know it's wrong, like there's so many different avenues for how to, to lead a set. And I think, you know, very early on, it's like, you know, I'm going to do it this way. And this is what I'm doing. It's, it's my show, and But why now it's like, you know, it's, you know, really understanding the mechanisms that help people thrive is just the biggest thing that you can do. You know, as as a director and I there were multiple times, I think Donald Petrie told me once you direct, like Miss Congeniality, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 days, and he, he said, you know, don't be afraid to ask for help, like, Don't be afraid. And he was this is after this is I think I was going to syrup in New York. And I said, you know, what, what do you have, you know, I'm shooting in New York and blah, blah. And he said, you know, don't, you got to ask for help, you know, when you need help, you have to, it's going to be more endearing when you say, I don't know how to shoot this scene, let's talk about it. And people are going to work harder for you than if you just stumble through and just pretend you know what's going on. And everyone thinks, I don't know if this is right, you know, and that was like a really, you know, a really powerful thing. And then I was shadowing Rodrigo Garcia, who did a bunch of really cool movies. And he was doing this thing with a net Benning and I, you know, I think I was just shadowing him a couple days. And he said, you know, he just let her work. You know, he let her dictate everything and he covered the scene in a way that would let her roam around if she wanted to pick up a cup if she wanted to, you know, he knew he played your talent, you know, and that was like such an important lesson also, which Oh, yeah, like, you know, if you've got a great actress like you have to support what they're trying to do.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:22
You can't box him in you can't you can't like Okay, hit mark a hit Mark be but if she wants to flow. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's the thing they don't teach you man like sometimes when you and especially when you're working with these these actors who are at a different level, like John or a net and you know, and I've had the opportunity to work with some actors as well that I've just, you know, when they when you when you have an Oscar nominee on set, you just go oh, oh, that's how that's done. Yeah. Yeah. You just feel the difference. You just like oh, okay, so how do you how do you want to work? How do you want to do this? How do you flow? It's it's, it's a remarkable experience when you get to work with really, really talented people on all levels on every every every every crew member and actors.

Aram Rappaport 1:10:05
Yeah, and I think you learn how to you know, in film school or whatever I don't I didn't go but you learn you could learn how to technically lay a marker you know, marks you know and this and that or whatever but like the reality is you get to set and like that actor is not going to want to hit that mark and they're gonna want to have freedom they're gonna want to do so then what do you do? Like what happens that you know, and I think that's that's the thing that is it's so important that you go out and do it not just like within your community but like with random actors that you've never worked with before with a lot of crazy personalities because that's the thing that's gonna get you honing craft.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:41
Now, last question, sir, three of your favorite films of all time,

Aram Rappaport 1:10:45
Oh my gosh, okay. Big fish is I think my number one favorite movie of all time. I just, there's just something so magical about what Tim Burton was able to

Alex Ferrari 1:10:59
Add John on the show, John August on the show. Oh, did you really I talked to him about big fish do and it was just such a beautiful it's one of my favorite Tim Burton movies.

Aram Rappaport 1:11:08
Same, same same I know, I know. It was just something I mean, he tapped into something so magical with that film and the way that he tried to say I love most is the way he tracked that narrative. Those those those there were multiple narratives and by the time you get to the end it paid off to like I was sobbing you know at the end the movie I just wanted to do my whole life is just make people cry in that way and like be rooting for something and you think this is the you know, beautiful promo. That was number one. Number two Cider House Rules is a movie that I really love being back in the kitchen, right? And I just it just something was so you know, so moral and there were these multiple storylines that just really fit what they were.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:47
Michael Caine was in that too, right. Michael Caine was

Aram Rappaport 1:11:51
He played that in Charlize Theron was in that as the young Charlie, Charlize. I guess that's just a long shot. Yeah, she and then and then the last movie Pirates of the Caribbean. I just I love a spectacle, man. I just love it. Like, there's just something so powerful about like, like, everyone asked me, you know, oh, what do you want to do? Like a toy? This? I'm like, No, I want to direct like Pirates of the Caribbean eight. Like that's like, that's where I want to be. It's great. You know?

Alex Ferrari 1:12:19
You never know who's listening. You never know who's listening there. So if you wanna if you want to make the pitch now for Pirates of the Caribbean

Aram Rappaport 1:12:26
You know, I've got the pitch. Let's wait a couple years. Let's see what Johnny you know where Johnny lands, but

Alex Ferrari 1:12:31
You can't do without Johnny. You can't I don't care what you

Aram Rappaport 1:12:33
You can't do that. No, but I come I mean, pirates was just I mean, Gore Verbinski. He's again, he's one of those directors where you just this guy who's like cutting the scenes in his mind? Well, and he came from commercials and he and he's out there and he's shooting and he only shoots the things that he knows are going to make it and then he moves on. And you just think this guy is so efficient in the way that he is crafting scenes. And it's it's, it's, you know, it's it's incredible. Whether you love them or hate the movie, it's, you know, it's popcorn movie, whatever. But it's just, you know, the way that he sort of put that movie together and was able to get Disney over the line with what you know, Johnny Depp was doing and you know, Tony, it was just very cool.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:07
And I have to say, and I'm just gonna say it out, because what Johnny did, I've never seen an actor. Basically take an entire franchise on his shoulders. Yeah, he built it without Johnny without captain. Captain Jack Sparrow. It's another it's another movie based on a ride from Disney. Yeah, yeah. He and gore working together really transcended that to a place where it's made billions and billions of dollars. And he's beloved throughout the world because of this character. And he was able to tap into something I don't remember another man, another actor who has done that it

Aram Rappaport 1:13:51
And they know that and if you fail, if you break it down from like, I'm gonna go back to marketing but like a marketing perspective, like from from from a purely business perspective, like he was playing an inebriated Right. Like you imagine you imagine that like, if I wasn't exactly I'd be like, well, he can't do like, there's no way he can do that. Like, it looks like he's popping pills. And then they rolled and then he forgot his lines. Like what like, you're watching dailies from that, and you're just thinking how this does not fit into like our cinematic universe. So I just think it was just so like, how whatever happened, there was just the most amazing.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:31
Did you ever hear the story about the gold teeth from Johnny? No. So cute. When he was doing Jack, this is before anybody knew what he was gonna do with Jack. He already had it in his mind. And he's like, I really wanted five gold teeth in my mouth for for Johnny and they were like, little teeth, I'm not sure. So he walked in he goes, I need 12 gold teeth. And they're like, Okay, I'll give you 12 That's too much. like, alright, five, he's like, Okay, you got five. And that's how he got his five gold teeth for Jack Sparrow

Aram Rappaport 1:15:10
Back to the five gold teeth were offensive. I mean, he shouldn't have had those.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:15
I mean, obviously, I mean, obviously come obviously is a very offensive and nobody you're right on paper, it makes no sense why that character should work in a movie of that magnitude based on the property and the IP it was for a company like Disney like it doesn't make any sense.

Aram Rappaport 1:15:33
Right! Well, and yeah, and you're like, so you're gonna test that with 12 year olds and their pet you know, your parents can be you know, would you let your kid watch? You know, this misogynistic pirate who's dragging and stumbling around drunk all the time? Would that be endearing for you? What do you think? Like? No, it would have never I mean, that's crazy. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:15:52
I don't even I would love to hear the story of how like after day one of like, what when the dailies came back, not good.

Aram Rappaport 1:15:58
I mean, I heard that they were freaking out. I'm sure like, why who wouldn't?

Alex Ferrari 1:16:02
But they were but the ship but but the train left the station already. And it's Yeah, John and Johnny was a star. And they're like, look, we're here. We're shooting. We're in the Caribbean. We're gonna make this movie. And he just, he just kept going and Gore was with him. And he's like, Nah, man. We're rolling this

Aram Rappaport 1:16:16
Part of the dailies for long enough for them to not have to reshoot or something because you think like that. I think that's what a crazy No, I would have loved to know what if you interview him? You gotta let me know. Let me know

Alex Ferrari 1:16:28
When I get shot when I get Johnny. He's a little busy these days. I think everybody in the world wants to talk to him when I get home. Hopefully I'll get go around one day. I'd love to talk the army. This has been a pleasure talking to you, brother. It really? I feel like I feel like you're I feel like your brother from another mother. Man. I think we both got the same similar shrapnel in our in our in our stone. Totally. How we do things, brother, this gratulations man, congratulations on the project on the Greenvale and I hope it does amazing for you and continued success brother, I appreciate it and and don't let jump push you around brother Seriously, just you know, sometimes, you know, just slap up a rock.

Aram Rappaport 1:17:06
I think I I blocked his number I bought. He's impossible. Isn't. He's impossible. He he made me promise not to tell the animal swap story. I told it because I'm just so bitter about him. You know right now because he always wants to work with me. He says, You know, I need to work with you. I hate all these other directors. You know, you're the only one I want to do everything with John calm down.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:30
Your little needy.

Aram Rappaport 1:17:33
Desperate. You know, I don't you know, I don't know. He's not busy. He's not working. I don't know what it is. But

Alex Ferrari 1:17:37
He just sits at home just waiting for you to call

Aram Rappaport 1:17:41
No we wouldn't have pressed for this thing last weekend on Friday. And they're asking him about seven other projects. And he's opening up musical the same day. And I'm like whiplash, I'm like, What do you mean, you're doing all this?

Alex Ferrari 1:17:52
He's like, Yeah, I'm doing this movie with De Niro. I'm like, of course.

Aram Rappaport 1:17:55
Yeah, I know. Right! Right. Of course. That was the that's the other thing. I mean, he was in Greece on Tuesday flew in. He said, Oh, I get this great thing with De Niro. De Niro was amazing. It was just beautiful scene and blah, blah. And I'm like, wait, you were in Greece with De Niro yesterday, like, what's happening right? And then he's opening a musical arm.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:12
That's a different world brother. That's a different world that you and I get to get to get to dip our toes and every once in a while? No, it's a different it's a different existence of life.

Aram Rappaport 1:18:23
And I hope people see this because he literally did something that he's never done before. And I think that's the thing I'm most proud of is being able to champion that that performance.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:31
No he's he's amazing, and I hope nothing of the best for you in this project. Brother. Thank you again for coming on the show

Aram Rappaport 1:18:37
Let's do this again!

Alex Ferrari 1:18:38
Anytime! Anytime!



  1. Need Distribution for Your Film? – Check This Out!
  2. Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  3. Enigma Elements – Cinematic Tools & Assets for Serious Filmmakers
  4. Audible – Get a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook