IFH 170

IFH 170: How a Screenwriter Becomes a First Time Director with Kelly Fremon Craig


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I’m asked all the time

“How does a screenwriter get the opportunity to direct one of their screenplays?”

That is the question. In Hollywood, more times than not, writers don’t have the power or ability to direct their own material. It took a few screenplays before Quentin Tarantino got the shot with Reservoir Dogs. Today’s guest is writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig. She got her shot to director her own screenplay on the 2016 critical darling [easyazon_link identifier=”B01LTHZRT6″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Edge of Seventeen[/easyazon_link] starring Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson, and Kyra Sedgwick.

Kelly’s adventures through Hollyweird is inspiring to say the least. Enjoy my conversation with Kelly Fremon Craig.

Alex Ferrari 1:57
Now I know there's a lot of screenwriters and up and coming screenwriters who listened to this show? And I always get the question how do you jump from screenwriting to directing and controlling your own material? And that is that is the question a lot of screenwriters want to do that, but it is a difficult journey. But today on the show, we have Kelly Fremon Craig, the writer, director of the edge of 17, the critical acclaimed coming of age comedy. And Kelly is exactly that she was a screenwriter, she had written one other script prior to that called post grad that got produced. And then she her journey to become not only the writer of edge of 17, but also become the director and what that process was like what she did, how she actually went down that journey. So hopefully, other screenwriters can use this as a blueprint to get to direct her own feature films. But of course, you always have to have a good script. So there's that before you get an opportunity to direct sometimes. But just 17 was an is an amazing film, and a great screenplay. And she also talks a little bit about improv, how she worked with actors and province onset and how she really encouraged it, and also what it was like to work with a legendary writer, director, producer James L. Brooks, and how that whole relationship got together how she was able to get into the room with James and pitch him and how this project got off the ground. And she discusses her adventures in Hollyweird. So please enjoy my conversation with Kelly Fremon Craig. I'd like to welcome to the show Kelly Fremon Craig, thank you so much Kelly for being on the show.

Kelly Fremon Craig 3:40
Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Alex Ferrari 3:42
I'm I'm a big fan. I loved your movie edge of 17 it hark back to my well I basically our time growing up in the with John Hughes films.

Kelly Fremon Craig 3:54
Yes. Oh, man. Thank you. That's such a great compliment. Because Yeah, I grew up on those films. And, and it Yeah, I feel like they were especially at that age. Like they're so formative, you know get that feeling.

Alex Ferrari 4:10
Yes, he had he had his hand on the pulse at me.

Kelly Fremon Craig 4:13
Yeah, he totally did. He got out. Like, I think like the thing that was amazing is he just he got how layered it is, you know, and messy and complicated. And, you know, he always pulled that off, which was just, which was just cool. So, so let's get started. First of all, how

Alex Ferrari 4:31
Did you get into this crazy business?

Kelly Fremon Craig 4:34
I man in college I was, you know, I was I was an English major and I was writing a bunch but I didn't really know. I didn't know what I would do with it. Exactly. Um, and then I did my first internship when I was a senior in college at a at a film production company, and read my first screenplay and just kind of fell in love with With the medium Luckily, the first screenplay that I read was was something really good. And so it just made me It made me want to try it at the time I was doing like I was, um, I was doing, like spoken word poetry like slam poetry slam

Alex Ferrari 5:18
Poetry, that must have been, that must have been a dark time.

Kelly Fremon Craig 5:22
That's like a college thing to do. Like, little underground coffee shops, you know, a mode, you know,

Alex Ferrari 5:30
Did people snap instead of clap?

Kelly Fremon Craig 5:36
It was we took ourselves very seriously very soon as you do in college. Yeah, so, um, so anyways, I was writing, I was writing those like little characters that were they were basically like, monologues, I guess I was writing different in different voices, essentially. And then when I, you know, read my first script, I was like, Oh, this is you can make all these different voices talk and things happen. And there was something exciting about that. And at that time, I just started to watch movies that I felt like, were about me at that age, like I had, for the first time discovered swingers. And that was actually one of the films that really made me like, oh, man, this can be about like, me and my friends and my life, you know, movies about that. And so it made me want to just start to try to, you know, try to write something. So, so yeah, so I started and, and then moved up to LA and, you know, was like temping, and a receptionist and an assistant and that sort of thing and writing at night, and then finished my first script A few years later, and, and then ended up selling that, and that was probably in 2004, or five,

Alex Ferrari 6:56
Is that is that post grad? Yes. Yeah. How was what was your experience as a as a, as a first time basically produced writer working on a fairly decent size, budget? film, and like, that whole experience?

Kelly Fremon Craig 7:11
It was, it was, it was wild, it was crazy. Because Because on the one hand, you're just, you're so excited that like, someone is going to make your film like this is gonna happen, you know, right. And then and then to sort of like the just the excitement off of all that was an incredible high, but then when you actually get into it, and you realize that, um, that, you know, you write this thing, but it's really kind of a template, and then it's, it sort of grows legs and runs away. And it's not really yours anymore, you know? So, and that that part, that part of it was hard. It was hard to go and like and sit down in the theater for the first time and see it and feel like, Oh, my God, this is this is so not what you wrote. Not what I Yeah, exactly. Right. It's

Alex Ferrari 8:08
Isn't that the the the trials and tribulations of every writer in Hollywood?

Kelly Fremon Craig 8:14
But I think like, you know, you sort of at least starting out, you don't think it will happen to you? Like you're like, Oh, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 8:24
Oh, no, I'm good. I won't fall into that trap. I know, the traps there. I won't fall into it.

Kelly Fremon Craig 8:28
Exactly. Yeah. And then all of a sudden, you're there and you're like, holy shit, it's there. Everyone's right. And that's what happens. So anyway, so um, so but, you know, it was a painful experience. But the good part of it The thing I think that that was, that was positive that came out of it was it just number one, thickened by skin, which I feel like you have to you have to be really tough to just survive this business anyway. So I think you need that. And I did not have that coming in. Um, I was just sort of starry eyed and like, Oh, my God. Like, you know, it's easy, you know. But that Yeah, that was that was a very quickly replaced by, you know, cynicism. But anyway, uh, yeah, so it was the good part about it, was it It happened to be happen it also just made me you know, want to direct which I, which I don't know, that I would have really tried to do had I not had that experience. So for that I'm thankful for it.

Alex Ferrari 9:33
So then how did how did that experience help you get edge off edge of 17 off the ground and how did it come together? And in general,

Kelly Fremon Craig 9:44
I don't know that they were related at all. I really kind of like once it was done. I was, I was once postgrad was done, I really, I mean, I really had a moment where I was like, I think I'm done. I think I'm just done with this whole deal. I think I just need to move out of the state. I just need something different cuz Like, I just I thought, Oh man, this is not not what I wouldn't what I had, thought it was gonna be like, and then. And then I sort of had a moment where God bless my manager, he was he at the time just was like, Oh, you know, write something that you want to write. And, and just, you know, don't think about anybody else, don't just write something for you. Because at the time, I was also doing rewrites and studio work and stuff like that, which is, you know, when you're sort of a hired gun like that, it's a different deal you're writing, you're, you're, you're an auto, you're more of an auto mechanic, you're just sort of trying to help somebody else, fix something that they're, you know, that they're working on. And

Alex Ferrari 10:41
That's, and that's, um, and that's something I wanted to talk about real quick that a lot of a lot of filmmakers and screenwriters listening, kind of don't get sometimes, like, you know, they just see like five years in between movies and like, how are they surviving? And how do you survive?

Kelly Fremon Craig 10:59
That's the thing, you know, you're doing a lot of things that, first of all, it's so few movies actually get made. So you're writing a lot of things but that never get may never see the light of day. It's amazing how many things you know how small the percentages that actually gets through a few honestly, like I somebody said, like, it's actually a small miracle to get a film paid. And I think that's true. It's a it's really, it's a, it's a feat. So there So anyway, so there was a lot of time and there were just sort of writing for a doing those type of things. And then there and then there were sort of the moment where I kind of stopped everything and went Alright, let me just go and write something I really care about and just write it for me. And then that was, that was that was just 17. And then how did it come together? How

Alex Ferrari 11:47
Did you get hooked up with that little producer? His name's Jimmy. Has anyone heard of them? But ah, James Elbert James L. Brooks, for everyone listening?

Kelly Fremon Craig 11:59
Yes. Yeah. You know, um, so I had, he was used just like the guy that I, there's a really and there still is nobody that I admire more than the business like he's so his films are. So I, I think on so many occasions, he's made literally perfect films. And so I just had always worshipped him. And when when I wrote this, we decided to take a shot and send it to him, even though it was like, it was, you know, everybody prefaced it with this is never going to happen. Like just Just so you know, like, it's not gonna happen, but we'll try. So I was like, I was braced for like, absolutely no way in hell. And then, and then all sudden, I heard Wait a minute, he read it, and he likes it, and he wants to sit down with you. And then I was like, I'm gonna kill like, the week in between hearing that and sitting down with him. I like, I can't even describe to you all like it that I had to do, I'm sure. I mean, just like your stomach in knots and like, rehearsing every last thing I was gonna possibly say, and then, and then I sat down with him. And, and I also in my mind, had decided that, you know, I really wanted to direct it, I really wanted to hold on to it. And I had decided that at some, some point down the line once I had, hopefully, you know, buttered him up, convinced him that, that I that I should do it. Um, but it turned out that in that first meeting, when we sat down, he said, I think I think, you know, I think the voice is really specific to you. So I really think you're the right person to direct it.

Alex Ferrari 13:47

Kelly Fremon Craig 13:48
I mean, I can't, I wish I really wish like, I had like a video of that whole meeting. The absolute utter shock on my face. So, um, so anyway, yeah. So I and then it ended up that we, you know, he held the that and we went and made it a few years later.

Alex Ferrari 14:11
So yeah, I wanted to ask you because a lot of film, a lot of screenwriters kind of don't understand the business side of it, in the sense of from the first draft, to first day of shooting, how many years was that? That was four years. So I preach a lot of the grind, and the hustle that you have to do and and you have to show up every day, and you have to keep pushing every day.

Kelly Fremon Craig 14:37
Amen. Because you know what? The thing is, like, I think it's very easy when you see something on the internet or something you think a person is just like you think it's just happened overnight. Like it was like oh, it's just happened. But yeah, you don't see the like years and years and years of work to get it there and the and the amount of knows that you have To turn into yeses, and you know what I mean? There's there's a whole big mountain to climb to get there.

Alex Ferrari 15:07
You know, it's, it's fascinating list of it. Yeah, most of the job, it's fascinating that a movie like edgy 17 could get made, just in general because, you know, in today's world of, of, you know, multi blockbusters that a studio could get behind if a film like that is awesome, but yet also that hope, that hope, development stage, how many projects I'm sure Have you heard about from other people or have been involved with that go through that development stage, and just die, like five years into like, oh, there's a change in the studio or all of it just goes away? And then you're just heartbroken.

Kelly Fremon Craig 15:46
Yeah, I mean, that's the thing. I think it's, it's so many different things have to line up or it to work. And, and it's also, you know, I think you have to you have to care about the film that you're making so much that you are able to withstand the, the, the slog of it, you know, the brutal

Alex Ferrari 16:16
The brutality.

Kelly Fremon Craig 16:17
Yeah, exactly. And just the, you know, I mean, also just having to live with live with it for four years, and love it still, and be passionate about it still, even after you've been so in it, but you can't. You don't I mean, I mean, it's like when you're in the editing process, like, by the time you use, you know, you get to your test audience, you've seen the movie, like 500 times, so every joke, like nothing makes you laugh, nothing makes you cry, like, there's, you don't feel a damn thing because you're just, you're desensitized, because you spent so much time with it, you know, and you somehow I think, have to be able to get through that and, and reset and reset, and constantly somehow, like fresh in yourself to experience it emotionally new over and over and over again. And that also, I think, is something people don't really talk about as part of the process. You have to like, be able to show up and feel it again and again and again. And again. You know,

Alex Ferrari 17:21
You get no till you get dull, it just nullifies your feelings towards it. Because you know, I mean, I've been editing for 20 years, and sometimes when you're on a project and you edit a feature again and again, like you forget the jokes, what made you laugh three months ago? doesn't make you laugh now.

Kelly Fremon Craig 17:38
Now just yeah, just makes you want to, like, you know, banging your head against the wall. And you know that it's Yeah, it's it's really, it's a Yeah, it's a part of it is really exactly what you said. It's the grind of it. It's hard. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 17:53
Now, what was it like working closely with James L. Brooks? I mean, he's obviously a legend in the industry. What was it like working with a legend?

Kelly Fremon Craig 18:03
You know, what's amazing to me is that, you know, sometimes you meet your meet your heroes, you meet those legends, and you're like, oh, he's just, you know, a mortal man. He's, yes. But with Jim, I swear to God, it's like, the closer I got to him, the more I just was enamored and blown away by his his genius. Like, he's, he's literally, he's a genius. He's also like, I've never seen anybody who has a more lightning fast mind. That's the other thing. Like he's, he is able to, he's able to articulate things so beautifully and poetically, and, and hilarious, in the most hilarious way imaginable, and off the top of his head in like, a half a second. And I don't, there's so few people on earth that can do that. And you can also distill something down to its essence, in a second and a half. And he's, I mean, I just I feel like I'm, I, it's, I only am more. I only worship and more, I'm only more in awe of him. I feel so lucky that I got to be in the presence of that, you know,

Alex Ferrari 19:24
If you had one lesson to take away from working with Jim and I call him Jim not because I know him obviously. But it from from working with Mr. Brooks. What would be that one lesson be like, Oh my god, this is that nugget of that. That gold nugget of information that just is invaluable.

Kelly Fremon Craig 19:42
I'm a to two things actually. The first thing was and this totally changed my life really, really, really. He said when we first sat down and we're starting the development process, he said the most important thing you have to face You're out is what do you what do you sing about life? In this story.

Alex Ferrari 20:06
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Kelly Fremon Craig 20:17
And I thought that was that's it's so important because there's so often you can get caught up in the mechanics of storytelling and jokes, and you know, and everything. But at the end of the day, if a film needs a thesis, it needs to say something about how we live, you know, something about our experience as humans. And it's amazing, I think, actually how infrequently that question is actually asked, when, you know, when when people are making a film, and I know, I don't know that I was asking myself that question before. I've worked with him. And now I'm never I never approach a film. You know, as I'm looking at a new project and starting new things, that's always the first question on my mind to the point where I'm probably annoying everybody. Because I'm like, but what is it saying?

Alex Ferrari 21:15
So what does it mean? What is the meaning of life in this store?

Kelly Fremon Craig 21:19
Exactly. I mean, that's really, but when you think about it, like, when you really think about your favorite movies, you can, you can do that you can say it's saying this, it's a it's really about this, like, there's something that you take away. And so that was a really, that was life altering, honestly. And and then the other thing was, he really, he encouraged me to go spend some time with teenagers, just research it spend time with the people because there's something about that, that. First of all, there's, they give you little details and insights that you can't, you can't just make up. And they also it's suddenly you have a face. For you. It's It's, it's, it's like you have a little constituency or something. Right? It's just it gives you a different, I don't know a different level of mission or something. Because you're like, oh, man, but these are the people really actually living this. So how can I try to really capture that in a way that they would go? That's it? That's the line, you know,

Alex Ferrari 22:31
To honor them? Yeah, exactly. Their struggle, because it is not easy. Being a teenager is is not easy. I cannot even imagine being a teenager today with us.

Kelly Fremon Craig 22:43
Got, you know, what is you know, it's so amazing to like, the other day, I was driving along, and I was driving along with my husband and I heard a song from from the 90s when I was a teenager. And I was and it just like it did that thing where it just hit me like a ton of bricks. And I was just my stomach was in knots. Like, holy like I was like I was back there immediately. And I was with Whoa. I mean, it's it's it was a amazingly powerful time in life. Oh, I'm happy to be past it.

Alex Ferrari 23:21
Yeah, it's no, no, I mean, but just the brutality of social media and teenagers. I cannot even imagine.

Kelly Fremon Craig 23:29
Oh, God. Yeah. Now it's now it's so much. It's got to be it's it's got to be worse.

Alex Ferrari 23:35
Yeah. Oh, it's without question. It's worse. We were growing up. It's just much more innocent.

Kelly Fremon Craig 23:42
Yeah, yeah, you will another thing like you could kind of get away from it for a second. No, you're this like fishbowl at school, but then you could go home and kind of like, forget, but now it's just everybody's in it for so all the time, is doing all the time and compare yourself to it and wonder if you're, you know, how you're, you're always I think in this like, weird, like, comparison of where you are on the social spectrum and how you're doing in life. And that is absolutely like, I think maybe the most crazy making like biggest mindfuck there is that age, you know?

Alex Ferrari 24:18
Right? Like, who are you and where are you? Like, where do you rank in the social hierarchy. But as you and I both know, it means absolutely nothing. All the problems that you see in high school, in the grand scheme of things is a blip on your Yes, exactly. Like the end of the world when you're there. Yeah, God Oh, no, I didn't get I didn't get that a I didn't get that be Really? Yeah. Exactly. Yeah. So now you worked with some fairly popular and legendary actors as well. And you were a first time director. So how was it like how do you direct Woody Harrelson and Keith character Cedric

Kelly Fremon Craig 24:59
Oh, Man, you know, so this is also a credit to Jim. When we went when I was gearing up to, to go into production, Jim said, okay, the thing we've got to do is we've got to go sit in the back of Larry mosses class. Now Larry moss is a, he's a very famous acting coach. He's, he's, you know, he's, he's coached like Leonardo DiCaprio. And he coached Helen Hunt and as good as it gets. And, and he puts up these, these classes where essentially, like actors go, and they, they put up a little, they put up a scene from a movie or a play, and then he directs them, and you see something just bombed. And then you can give these adjustments where all of a sudden the scene just, like just burst to life. It's amazing. It's amazing to watch the transformation. I'm so sitting and watching like a master do that. And you know, I'm really watching him for hours. Honestly, that was that gave me I had something to shoot for. I had something to go Okay, that's the thing to be after. And I think an art and that helped me tremendously. Because I think had I not had that experience. Um, I think I probably would have gone into gun into the gun into production, not necessarily a little bit rudderless, not knowing what the thing to shoot for is, you know, knowing what good directing really looks like, you know what I mean? So honestly, I think that that helped tremendously. I mean, no matter what, it's still Woody Harrelson. And I mean, you know, I mean, when the first time I met him, it's like, it's terrifying. What he said, you know, but he's also such a just cool, warm, wonderful person, that he he helps that melt away really easily. And he's also somebody who's really committed to the work doing great work, you know, so that makes it easier because everybody's sort of wanting to do the same thing.

Alex Ferrari 27:24
So yeah, he keeps he keeps kind of like he keeps the he puts the bar high. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Now, do you have any tips on like, how do you actually adjust, you know, a movie star, as opposed to, you know, is there a difference? Or are they just actors when they're on set with you? And I know, that's kind of a weird comment. But do you know what I mean? So sometimes there is that baggage of a movie star as opposed to just an actor trying to get a scene with a director? Do you talk to them beforehand, because I had another director on on first time director on and he had a blue he did a movie with john malkovich. And he actually asked john malkovich, how do you want to be directed? Because it's john malkovich. I mean, seriously? Yes. Yeah. What a great question. Yeah. How do you want to be directed? Because you know, I'm not gonna sit here and give you motivation. That's why I hired you. You are Woody Harrelson. So like, Are there any techniques or tips that you can kind of throw at us?

Kelly Fremon Craig 28:22
Um, you know, I, I really always tried to do it as as a as playing and trying things, you know, an exploration. So my approach is, it's never like, I'm never like, you did that wrong. Can you do it this way? This is the right way. I'm, I'm everything is like, hey, let's, um, can we try one where we do blah, blah. Let's try this this time. Let's try that. Let's try. Let's try these different things. Because that to that, to me, at least if I'm imagining myself in an actor's shoes, that's an exploration that's not you know, you're messing up, could you do it? Could you do it right?

Alex Ferrari 29:02
Not the good, not the Kubrick way.

Kelly Fremon Craig 29:05
Which is, which also, by the way, you don't know, you, you you're really, the other thing that I think is so important when you're directing is like, is getting choices. And that's another thing that did, Jim drilled into me, it was just like, get, you know, get what you, you know, what you had in mind as a writer, but then get a lot of different iterations of it, because you when you're in the editing room, you're gonna want to be able to move the scene along a spectrum and not just be stuck in, you know, because you have five takes that are angry, you know what I mean? Like, if you have versions of a line, then all of a sudden, you can actually have the tools to shape a scene in the Edit, you know, otherwise, you have many less tools. So, so that's also helpful because it just becomes the direction really just becomes about trying things you know, and choice. says let's get one like this. And let's, you know, so we have options. And I think that also that just that eases everything off. That eases the pressure off and also gives, I think the actors permission for them to try things. That's the other thing I want that I like, I never give direction in the beginning of it have a scene like, you know, we'll go over the blocking but I tried never to you know, I tried never to say anything because I loved what they would come out with. You know, I loved watching Oh, that's their interpretation of that. And sometimes it's, it's much better than what I had imagined. So, um, so it's nice to just let everybody explore and play. Play. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 30:42
We're making a movie for God's sakes. Yeah, exactly. Now, how much improv was there on set?

Kelly Fremon Craig 30:48
Um, uh, it depended on the actors. Hayden Zito who plays Erwin, he's just he's such a wonderful improviser. So and so I mean, really, everybody was Haley is a wonderful improviser as well. And what I really you know, everybody on there was, but I would say probably with with Hayden, it was just really fun to let him riff, like, do his nervous riff, because they would just there was so endearing. But if I just let the camera roll, or I just say, okay, you know, just try try something, try something. Try whatever you want to do. Like, let's shake it up after after I had the scene. Letting him kind of just play really, really resulted in I think, some great little moments that are that are in the that are in the movie that wound up in the movie. You know, when he yells off the Ferris wheel,

Alex Ferrari 31:45

Kelly Fremon Craig 31:46
Fucking wrong. That's important. That's him improvising. So there's so add her laughing is her genuinely laughing.

Alex Ferrari 31:58
But anyway, so that's the best. But that's, that's perfect. Because they're not acting anymore. They're

Kelly Fremon Craig 32:02
Actually Yes, exactly. So like, so. To me, like to give everybody a lot of room to just try stuff in a play is, I found was really that the best way to do it. Or for me that I found just, it allowed everybody to use their talents to the, you know, to the best of their use the best of their talents. Of course, now,

Alex Ferrari 32:31
I'm just curious, because it was about, you just said the word camera. What did you shoot this on? Because it looked gorgeous. Oh, thank you. It was a Lexa. That's why I thought it looks it looks very, very pretty. Oh, thank you know, um, do you think writing is a good doorway into getting into a directing job?

Kelly Fremon Craig 32:52
You know, I have to say, I don't know how anybody gets into directing without writing. But that's my own process. But I, um, I absolutely think that that's a great way to get into it. Because if you write a piece of material that that people like, the great thing is that you could have let you know you have leverage because it's yours. And you know, you can more easily say well, I but I'd like to direct it. You know, and that's you know, it's a everybody has a hard time taking on a first time director. It's nerve racking for everybody. But But I think if you if you've written the material, then you automatically have, you're automatically closer to it, you have more of an intimacy with the characters and everything else. So you can make a good argument why you're the right person to do it, you

Alex Ferrari 33:49
Know, the Frank Darabont way of going about things? Yeah. You know, I mean, I'm assuming you know, that story, right. I don't tell me the story. So I obviously, you know, the Frank Darabont is and Shawshank they offered him high seven figures for Shawshank as they should because it's arguably one of the best movies ever made. And he said, Nope, I have to direct so he ended up with $250,000 for the script, and then he got to direct and, and best best decision ever best that he's like, I'm gonna be a director. And this is what this is how I'm gonna roll. And God God bless him. He turned on the money, but in the long run, it was a great investment in himself. That's right. Yes, exactly. And arguably turned out one of the greatest movies ever. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Now, um, what are some of your writing and directing influences?

Kelly Fremon Craig 34:45
Um, Jim Brooks, obviously, camera Crow, Alexander Payne.

Alex Ferrari 34:55
I Gosh, I mean, I Mr. Hughes, Mr. Hughes.

Kelly Fremon Craig 35:00
Yeah, for sure. JOHN Hughes. Yeah. Yeah, I owe Richard Linklater love. Before sensor before sunrise. Oh, that whole that whole, that whole series so beautiful. Series is so good. And they just wrote it with

Alex Ferrari 35:21
Yeah, he wrote it with the actors.

Kelly Fremon Craig 35:23
I mean, it's Yeah, it's amazing. It's amazing. I love I'm so, I mean, there's certain filmmakers that I'm just so I'm, like, so thankful for them. You know what I mean? I feel like every film is just a gift. You know? I'm, I don't know. So, um, so yeah, those,

Alex Ferrari 35:45
Those are some of the guys. Now, what is the biggest lesson you took away from making edge of 17.

Kelly Fremon Craig 35:56
And it was, you know, it was there were so many because it's just, it's a steep learning curve as a first time director, so just every single day you're learning something new. But, um, but I think I think ultimately, that, you know, your, your note, the thing that I that, that Jim said a lot. And that, and that always, really stayed with me too, is that, you know, when you're on set, the thing that you're, the thing that matters most is what ends up on film, you know, and because there are a lot of things. It's, it's, you know, first of all, it's a whole sort of army of people and different fires to put out and everything else. That's just the nature of it. Anytime you're going to do anything like this, that's the nature of it. But if you can just clear all of that away and silence that noise and just worry about what's on film. And, and sometimes, even if that means, you know, there are some, there were some things where, you know, we had to go 20 takes and it was, but you have to because it's you just have to, you know, oh, and when and when it's happening, it's you're sweating bullets, because you can feel everybody being like, Are you kidding me? Take 20

Alex Ferrari 37:24
Out of curiosity, and that that specific scenario, like what was the purpose? Were you just not getting what you wanted? Are you just exploring a lot,

Kelly Fremon Craig 37:32
Uh, you know, it well, in this particular instance, that I'm thinking of, it was like, there was a whole, there was a bunch of extras there was. And it was a, it was just having to get having to get a very specific moment between the actors and having the extras, doing the right thing at the right time, and having the camera move in the right way and capture it at the right, you know, it was just a lot of moving parts. And so it just took a lot to get there. It

Alex Ferrari 38:05
Was hurting, it was hurting my cats.

Kelly Fremon Craig 38:10
And so, but there are certain things where you go, but it's, but it's important, we have to do it even when, you know, even when everybody's tired. And it's you know, it's 4am and, you know, like, you just have to know that you don't want to be in the editing room later, just kicking yourself because you didn't, you didn't go one more and just get it, you know, so that that part's I think I just remembering that and somehow shutting out, you know, the noise is I think important.

Alex Ferrari 38:43
Now, what advice would you give a filmmaker who was wanting to make their first feature film?

Kelly Fremon Craig 38:52
Oh, man, um, I probably pass along that Jim Brooks advice about good choices, you know, so that they have room to play in the Edit. And, and also to sit down with everybody you possibly can to get advice and ask, Where are the landmines? You know, I tried to do that before I started and people, you know, I sat down with a number of directors that were just were really gracious about it. And we're like, okay, you know, this, you know, this may happen, this may happen, this may happen. I suggest this. I said, like, get every bit of advice you possibly can. Um,

Alex Ferrari 39:34
Yeah. People who've been down the road a bit and can warn you about the landmines.

Kelly Fremon Craig 39:39
Yeah. Because a lot of because the problem is, and I you know, going into going into my first thing, I knew that there were the things I know, I knew, I didn't know. But the much scarier things were the things I didn't even know. You know what I mean? Oh, I do. A big, you know, that was there was a big section of that. You know, and so I was trying to shrink that box as much as I could before I went into it.

Alex Ferrari 40:05
Yes, I Yes, I know. I know that very well. Now, what is not what this is? This is my Oprah question. So prepare yourself. Okay. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Kelly Fremon Craig 40:25
I feel like I need to, like lay down on the couch.

Alex Ferrari 40:28
Tell me, tell me, Kelly, how were you when you were a child now?

Kelly Fremon Craig 40:33
I'm ohh man. Oh, that is? Um, oh, god that is so I'm really, like, there's something

Alex Ferrari 40:49
There's something that comes to your head is fine. Yeah, yeah. Um, I think, you know, I think I think probably

Kelly Fremon Craig 41:02
Finding if, Okay, I'm gonna try to figure out how to articulate this. But for me, it was, it was an is always important, especially as a, you know, as a person trying to tell stories, to find that. That part that actually hurts, you know, like, whether I'm watching actors, or, you know, watching a take or writing a scene to find that thing that actually makes me go, oh, oh, my God, I know that I feel that. And I think like, in a way, if I can boil it down, it's probably just about like, compassion. You know, I think that the whole experience of the movie and looking at every different character and writing each character and watching the takes and working with the actors is all about sort of finding compassion for each different. Each each different person and moment. And so I guess that's, that's what I take into the, into the, into future projects, sort of trying to find that in each character and story and I guess that kind of bleeds over into life. You know, everybody you meet even if the when somebody is an asshole if you can sort of reach past it and find by find, like pain that it's coming from? The truth, the truth. Yeah. Truth. Yeah. That

Alex Ferrari 42:31
Person or that character? Yeah. Yeah. See, that was a Devery deep answer. You can get off the couch now. Now, this question might be even tougher. So and this is a I asked all my all my guests this question. What are the three of your favorite films of all time? Oh, man, any three that come to your mind?

Kelly Fremon Craig 42:55
You know, yeah, this is always so it's so hard to do to think to narrow down but I would say sideways is one of my favorite films by Alexander Payne. I'm as good as it gets.

Alex Ferrari 43:14
Oh, it's such a good movie. It's so brilliant.

Kelly Fremon Craig 43:18
It's Oh, it's so brilliant. It's so brilliant. Um, and? And I'd say The Breakfast Club?

Alex Ferrari 43:27
Yes. Yeah. There was rumors that they were gonna make a sequel to The Breakfast Club. Oh, God, they were gonna get they were gonna go to their high school reunion, and then they were all gonna get locked up in jail for something that happened and it was just gonna be them in jail. I'm like, when was that? JOHN? john was still alive back then. Okay, john. Well, yeah, john was still alive back then. Watch that, or was he part of it? I don't know. I don't know. I don't ever remember if that was I think he squashed it. But there was a there was there was a story floating around about hey, let's do it. Let's do a 10. year later, a 20. year later, you know, high school reunion of what happened to these characters, which arguably, I kind of interested to know.

Kelly Fremon Craig 44:09
Right? It's like, I don't know whether I want that or whether I am like, No, no, no, like, I don't want that. I really I'm like almost equally conflicted, like I equally want and don't want it.

Alex Ferrari 44:21
I would want to see it personally. But I don't want anybody else to ever see it. If that makes any sense. Like I'm curious to see what happened, but I don't want it out there. Yes, yeah. Yeah. Now where can people find you online? I

Kelly Fremon Craig 44:38
I am I I'm on Instagram, and I'm on Twitter. I think Kay Freeman Craig on Twitter and telegram Craig on Instagram. I'm not I'm not super active on those things. But um, but but I'm on there.

Alex Ferrari 44:53
Kelly, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to the to the indie film hustle tribe and and share your your your Our journey of making Niger 17. And thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Kelly Fremon Craig 45:04
Thank you so much. Thank you. I really appreciate you having me.

Alex Ferrari 45:10
Man, Kelley's story is pretty inspiring. And I hope it inspires you guys to to start writing more man get out there, start writing pitch those scripts, make your movies, there is no excuse anymore. So just go out there and do it guys. Now, as all of you know, this is mag is coming out August 4 on iTunes. And by the way, the pre sales have been doing really, really well. I need your help, please spread the word. Please go in and buy early. So we can crack this iTunes top 10 of comedy. And my god if we can crack even the top 25 of all of iTunes, it would be insane. That's the goal. We'll see what happens but I need your help guys. So please head over to this is mag com forward slash iTunes. And also I've got a ton of stuff coming for the indie film syndicate. We are working on just a ton of content. And if you guys are interested in taking a look at what's going on at the syndicate, just go to indiefilmsyndicate.com And if you want to get links to anything that that we discussed in the show, head over to indie film hustle.com Ford slash 170 for the show notes, and as always keep that hustle going keep the dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.



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