IFH 254: What Does a First Assistant Director Really Do? with Brandon Riley

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What does a First Assistant Director actually do on set? Do you need one? The short answer is YES! I’ve directed with no First Assistant Directors, with bad 1st Assistant Directors, and with world-class First ADs and trust me I rather work with the latter. Today’s guest is First Assistant Director, Brandon Riley.

Brandon started out in the entertainment industry working as an Assistant Director and later joined the DGA. With a vast knowledge of how a set operates and functions, Brandon has since gone on to produce, line produce and UPM features and TV projects. Brandon is a natural-born leader who aims to lead every show in a calm-assertive manner. He prides himself in aiming to create an environment where both cast and crew are treated well and have an enjoyable experience on set.  Brandon is one who continually tries to bring the best out in others and always pushes for excellence in every area. He has a passion for problem-solving and is an invaluable team player.

Alex Ferrari 0:04
Now today on the show, we have Brandon Riley was a first assistant director and wanted to have him on the show because wanted to kind of put a spotlight on first assistant directors and their importance and how to do it properly. We discuss how not to do it properly. And sometimes you need them, sometimes you don't. But if you can afford it, you should always have one, because they are wonderful and very helpful if you've got the right one. And I've shot with with first IDs without first IDs with good first ACS with bad first IDs and with legendary first IDs. So if you can afford it, definitely use one. So Brandon, I get into the weeds about what a first ad really does, how to do the job. And if you're interested if you're listening out there, and this might be interesting to you to become a first ad and how becoming a first ad can get you into the Directors Guild, which hopefully maybe lead you into other work down the line. It's a very interesting conversation. So without any further ado, please enjoy my talk with Brandon Riley. I'd like to welcome to the show. Brandon Riley. Man, thank you so much for jumping on the show with me, man.

Brandon Riley 3:06
Thanks. Glad to be here.

Alex Ferrari 3:07
We've never had a first ad on the show. So I am going to beat you up on how to do it properly. Because I've been with too many don't do it properly.

Brandon Riley 3:16
Hope I can help.

Alex Ferrari 3:17
No worries, man. So how did you get into the film business in the first place?

Brandon Riley 3:21
Well, you know, it's a funny story. When I was seven years old, I met a famous film producer. He was a son of Michael illage, who owns Little Caesars pizza. And I told my dad is like, I want to be a film producer too. And my dad was like, Sure you can do that. And so you know, in the back of my mind, I was thinking I can do this, you know, and and you know, you know, Junior High in high school, I got involved in journalism, I really became obsessed with story and, and telling stories and taking pictures. And that was something that interested in me. So filmmaking was this natural thing that I was, you know, obsessed about? You know, when I went to film school, did the typical thing kind of regretted it and kind of didn't, you know, I don't know if it was helpful. You know, because I feel like I can more and more in a film set and then I can three years film school?

Alex Ferrari 4:20
I would I would. Honestly, I would agree with you. I went to film school too. And everything I learned, you know what I learned in film school how to wrap a cable. Right? That was really important.

Brandon Riley 4:31
Yeah, I mean, the thing about film school you learn is his writing, I think and that's, that's helped me today because and how to think, you know, I study philosophy as well. And, you know, I'm working on helping people with scripts and different things like that. And I think that's one thing. It's hard to pick up, you know. So yeah, I did the film school thing, and then I worked. You know, the videographers for several years. Just doing lots of random videos. Corporate corporate videos, commercials, all types of things. But I was wearing a lot of hats. You know, I was like writing and shooting and editing and, and, you know, mostly editing and hating that. And, you know, spending, you know, 12 hours in a darkroom. So I was like, I need to move to LA. So that's what I did. So I saved up some money, moved to LA. And, and, and I couldn't find a job couldn't get anything really, you know. And so I started driving cars and as a valet driver, and that's what you want to do after film school is drive cars,

Alex Ferrari 5:42
Because that's gonna help you pay back debt. Quick.

Brandon Riley 5:45
Right, Exactly. So but then I got my first break, working for free on a TV pilot as a grip.

Alex Ferrari 5:52
I love that. I love that you just said I got my big break working for free.

Brandon Riley 5:56
Yeah, so that was the big break because I was working for free as a grip, right. And I did that for half a day before they realized that I sucked at a grip, but they needed somebody in the camera department. And so I was like, I can do that. Because I did that a little bit in college because I used to think I wanted to be a dp. And so so I did that camera, AC thing. And after that, so working for free, I got like, you know, paid jobs, right. And the paid jobs paid a lot of money like 50 bucks a day,

Alex Ferrari 6:25
Holy cow! what are you going to do all that cash, and some tax agents.

Brandon Riley 6:30
So I'm continuing to like valet drive and work $50 a day on all these films as a camera, AC. And then the actually my big break came was the DP that I was working as an AC from. She was married to a producer, and he was about to produce some indie horror film. And, and I somehow convinced him to let me first ad his movie, right? And, and I'd never first ad before I'd never second ad before, I'd never really been a PA on a set. But he believed in me. And so it was great. So the movie was a six day shoot. Yeah, we shot a movie in six days. So it's very challenging, you know, I was wearing 45. So it's probably one second, my alarm is going off for some reason. So yeah, wearing 45 hats, you know, we're shooting like 12 pages a day it was it was nuts. But that's what where I got my first big break. I feel like because after that, I got the second job and the third job and the fourth job. And so then I've been working as an ad for many years, and I gotten to the Directors Guild. And then I started producing. Now I'm in The Producers Guild. And so, you know, I'm also trying to develop my own projects, and, you know, work with other people writing scripts and doing that. And so that's kind of my journey. In a nutshell.

Alex Ferrari 8:01
Well, you, like I was telling you before, when we were off air, I was telling you that you are the definition of hustle. I mean, if you go to his IMDb guys, and I'll put it in the show notes. It's insane. Like he's just like constantly working. It was it was pretty remarkable. And all the other stuff that you do on the side, as well. You definitely are hustler. And you got to be in this business without quite well.

Brandon Riley 8:24
Yeah, I'll tell you a funny story. Last year, maybe it's two years ago, I I was I was not working. And I got I saw this thing on Facebook. And I was like, Hey, we need to first you need to cover our first day he got sick, right? And I was like, Oh, this is me. I could do this. Right. So so he called the guy is like, I'm your guy. And and and then the next morning they call it like how fast can you be here? Because there's a Vegas and like, I'll be there in house for four hours, three hours. Sure. So I yeah, I packed my bag, like in one hour fight and then drive and drive to Vegas. And then and then continue. And I jump on set and try to get things going right. So I do that. So and then the next show after that was this. I had they had fired a first ad and so I that's the next show was in Atlanta, but it was starting like a day after this other show in Vegas. So I had essentially, like have no prep on both of these shows. And it's just like one thing after, there's so many things like that, where it's like, you got to make these decisions or you got to,you know,

Alex Ferrari 9:34
Do this or not.

Brandon Riley 9:35
It's like but yeah, it was definitely I had to hustle to get those you know.

Alex Ferrari 9:39
Now let me let me ask you a question because a lot of people listening don't know what is the job of a first assistant director or first ad?

Brandon Riley 9:47
Right. So in my opinion, the job of the first ad is really to make it so the director can focus on the creative right? And and he's not worried about logistics. So Because if you try to do both, it's just so much for one person. So, you know, I tried to put out as many fires as possible. And so I'm on the radio, talking to the second ad and the second second, I'm talking to the PA, and all the other departments saying, Hey, bring this actor, we're going to do a blocking. And then what, how are we doing on the next scene? I'm talking to the costume designer and saying, Hey, we're having to change this wardrobe? Can you get a different look, and and while the director is talking to the dp by the shot, he's not having to worry about that logistical thing. So, you know, you know, when I do work in the first idi, I'm working very close with the DP and the director. And we're making, we're essentially working as a team and make all these decisions, like, how do we get through the day, you know, and some first ladies have a certain way, where, you know, people have heard the first ad screen when your yo and some are very calm or assertive. And, you know, I try to be in between I don't try to yell or anything. But so, you know, the first ad is can sometimes be looked at as the bad guy. You know,

Alex Ferrari 11:13
What you guys are you guys, you, you're the party pooper, man, you guys are the party poopers. But you need that you need an adult onset. And a lot of times the director and the actors and the DP are all in the creative mode. And like, let's just get this shot. And it's gonna only take four hours, I'm like, well, then we're out of our schedules off. And that's your job.

Brandon Riley 11:31
Yeah. And I think what's what's difficult about it is you got to be very diplomatic, because you can't just say, hey, you can't just say the director, hey, we're moving, moving on, you know, because it's really the director's decision, whether you're moving on or not,

Alex Ferrari 11:46
You're just there to tell them, hey, if you don't, this is what's going to happen.

Brandon Riley 11:50
Yeah, I mean, I just, I inform him, Hey, I think we're behind or, in my opinion, we are behind we, is there a way that we can catch up? You know, and so it's, and you know, I want to be there with solutions to like, Well, here's a couple of things. Could we do this in a water?

Alex Ferrari 12:09
Right? Instead of 45? takes different angles? Can we just do this in a water and move on?

Brandon Riley 12:15
Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's having those lunch meetings with the DP and the director, like, what can we do to, to make come up with the rest of the day, you know,

Alex Ferrari 12:27
And so, I want you to, I want to kind of focus in on this because a lot of first time directors and filmmakers, or inexperienced directors don't understand the importance of the schedule, don't understand that you've got an eight hour, 10 hour, 12 hour day. And if you're shooting a feature, than if you are, if you like, first day, you're behind a page, well, you've got to make that page up somewhere. If by day two, you've, you're now behind two pages. So let's say that's three pages down, you're never gonna finish the movie. If you keep going on this path, you're never gonna finish the movie, the whole thing's gonna become a fiasco. Right? And that's the job of the first ad is to kind of really hone in on. Look, we've got to make the day. And a good and a good director, a seasoned director understands that correct?

Brandon Riley 13:15
Yeah, and I think, yeah, but some of them don't care, you know. So it's a kind of a thing where, you know, you got to be the middleman between the director and the producer, like, can we even go over, you know, and so it's like, we'll go, you know, they'll ask me, we'll go talk to producers, hey, we need this shot. And then I'll go talk to the producer, and they'll say, we'll go back to the director and say, we don't have the money for the shot. So, you know, it's kind of one of those things of, you know, you're trying to be the peacekeeper, essentially. And, and, and keep things moving. But, you know, I'm always trying to fight for the best movie, you know, and sometimes the best movie needs to go in overtime. Sometimes, you know, the best movie needs more extra as more money, you know. And so I do sometimes goes to the producers and say, Hey, I know that you guys budgeted 100 extra for this movie. I did my math, I sat with the director, I came out with 140. You know, can we find a way to increase the budget on this category? You know, so it's, it's, it's being realistic. And, you know, instead of like, saying, okay, we only have 100 to work with, I guess we'll just have to live with it, you know?

Alex Ferrari 14:31
Or do some visual effects. Right. Now, now, can you explain how a first ad breaks down a script, which I know that's a mystery to a lot of filmmakers were like, Oh, you give it to a first ad or I need the script broken down. What is that? Exactly?

Brandon Riley 14:48
You know, it's actually a lot easier than people think it is. But you know, I get hired all the time to to just do a script breakdown and a budget you know, probably on a monthly basis. As people call me like, Hey, can you do scheduling a budget? So the easiest way to explain it is, you know, you look at every scene in the script, and we have to have a scene number. And when we look for how long is the scene? Is it five eighths of a page? Who's in the scene? You know, we have, you know, john, Mary and, and Joseph. Joseph, right. Three Wise Men, right? Yes. So and then, you know, what, are there any props in the scene? Where is the scene is what location is, you know, where is it at?

Alex Ferrari 15:35
Is there stunts on the scene? Is there?

Brandon Riley 15:37
Yeah. So and then the program that we use is called movie magic scheduling is is the main program. There's other ones like synchronize. But gorilla, right. But the nice thing about movie magic is because so many people have it, if you send them the file, they can easily open it.

Alex Ferrari 15:52
It's the industry standard.

Brandon Riley 15:54
Yeah. So that's the nice thing about it. Yes, it's it's kind of antiquated, but it's still it's a cool software. Well, you know, when I was when I was in college, I didn't really know much about assistant directing or movie magic. So I was like, how do people do this thing like you're talking about? But it's, it's there's YouTube videos that he puts out that you can watch and learn. But the other thing is like, you can you can ask a first ad, okay, well, you show me a little this. And it only takes like five minutes to show you the program, essentially, you know, but once you get the hang of it, it's not difficult. I think what's difficult is, once you break it down, is moving the strip's around and actually scheduling it, because that's, that's where the producers will get on the phone with you and be like, Okay, well, we have 15 days, but this actor can only work three days, and this actor can only work four days. And that, you know, we can only be on this location on this one day. And so all these parameters come into play when you actually actually start shooting, that aren't involved when the film was actually budgeted. And, you know, that can create a real nightmare.

Alex Ferrari 17:10
Without question, yeah, the schedule in general, though, is like a living, breathing thing. It's constantly changing. It's constantly moving around, because there's so many parameters that affect it, like, like, Oh, this actor is now leaving a day early, and the other actors coming in a day early. So now we got to change that around and all the location dropped, we got to move to another location, oh, there's rain coming. And there's, there's just so many things, especially in a feature when you're 30 days, 45 days, you know, five weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, there's so many different parameters. And I can only imagine on those, like $200 million movies. Oh, I know, they have to have like an army of a DS to just kind of, because that's like, moving independent, you know, film, as an ad, I'm imagining it's a smaller ship. So you can cut and you're kind of speedboat, but when you're moving that $200 million visual effects extravaganza is like moving a carrier.

Brandon Riley 18:06
Yeah. I mean, yeah, the movie Dunkirk they had, you know, five different countries they shot in. So I mean, can you imagine, but you know, as an ad as the first ad, I think it's almost like, like, a, like a ship commander, you know, or, you know, like a battle commander, where you're, you're, you're all about strategy, right? And how are you going to win the battle? So, you know, every day on the film set feels like a battle sometimes. But you

Alex Ferrari 18:37
Every day you go in and you're just like, Alright, it's not gonna come out the way I planned it right. I'm not gonna get all my shots. Let's just do what we can and let's move forward on it. And yeah, you just don't know. It's just oh, there's just too many parameters, man. It's just too many.

Brandon Riley 18:52
Right? things and happening. Yeah. So if you if you take all that all that responsibility and try to force it on a director is is too much for one person to think about, you know, it's like, I'm overloaded just thinking about logistics. It's, I can't think about the creative, you know,

Alex Ferrari 19:10
And I've done it it is not easy. smaller things on smaller things. Yeah, feature anything but write smaller things. Well, actually, I didn't do it on a feature once but it but it was a very controlled, very small situation. So I was able to do it. But almost I've been doing it for 20 odd years. So I it's a little bit different. But yeah, it is not easy. Now it's not I'd much rather have a good first ad.

Brandon Riley 19:32
Right? Yeah, cuz even if I was directing something, I want a first ad, you know, just because you want the freedom to be creative, and not have to think about who do I need to bring to set next and because because you're trying as a director you're constantly thinking about is the scene work, you know, is the acting. What's the shot like talking to the DP, you know? So there's already and then you have 100 different questions from each department. You know, they're trying to answer. So I love being a first ad. But it's, it's also very stressful sometimes. So I sometimes

Alex Ferrari 20:11
I don't know, I have no idea you guys do it in general. And you were you said, you said something earlier. But there's two things I wanted to kind of touch that you said earlier that you could show, you know, a filmmaker or Producer Director how to use movie magic. But that's just a piece of software, whereas in the art form of using that to schedule is something that it takes years to an experience to be able to do because you know, where there's going to be. Oh, there's, there's a pitfall right there. Oh, there's a cliff that we don't want to go over. Yeah, but that's just you know, so it just because you might know, the software doesn't mean that you can schedule your own movie, if you have no degree.

Brandon Riley 20:49
Exactly. Yeah, you could do a rough schedule, any big new rough schedule, but in terms of like budgeting something, but like, even stuff, like understanding how to shoot a split or nights, or how much night you actually need before you can start shooting, you know, so if the sun sets at 748, I know that we can probably start shooting around 830 if if we're you know, going full speed, we can't start shooting at 730 just because of my experience is too bright. So those are the types of things that you just it takes years of experience. And, and you kind of learn, you know, on the job really as working as a second or, or, or as a first you know, just collaborating with other ideas and be like, hey, well what about this and this, you know, and that's the other thing I like about it is you are working with other people and and bouncing ideas off. So

Alex Ferrari 21:47
It's problem solving you're trying to Yeah, we're all just trying to get across the, across the river.

Brandon Riley 21:53
Yeah, I mean, yeah, that's I mean, in general, that's what I see my job primarily as is a problem solver as a first ad or a wine producer. I there's like a list of 100 problems and I've got to solve them. And and that's what I like about it.

Alex Ferrari 22:07
Now, you also mentioned the about yellers and screamers and also quiet first ladies. I've had all I've worked with all I can't stand yellers. Because I feel personally it doesn't. It doesn't really for at least for my sets. And if you're on a Joe Pickett set that might be different. But if you're, by the way, guys, Joe pika look him up. He's a very famous commercial director. And the stories will speak for themselves. But, but generally speaking, I like to have a really cool, calm, relaxed, have a fun kind of atmosphere. And when when I always found that when I see first day DS yelling, is because they're losing control. And this is now their last last line of defense. But there are also times where I kind of see where it's needed. So there is a balance, but generally speaking, the quiet controlled first ladies who know what they're doing, and and have the respect of the crew, which is a huge thing. If you lose, if you lose your crew, you're done as a first ad,

Brandon Riley 23:12
Right! Yeah, and I think there's a difference between yelling and being loud because you have to be loud and be like, if you're open a loud an open space on a field, you know, you might have to use a megaphone. You might have to, you know, do this. Yeah, I'm with you. I there's no reason to yell. And And honestly, like you said, it makes people feel like you're out of control.

Alex Ferrari 23:36
And with a CFO with a season crew, the season crew will eat you alive. I mean, yeah. Seasoned Hollywood crew with a yelling first ad. Who's inexperienced? It's done. They just yeah, they'll just go on doing their own thing. And they'll ignore him, which happened to me on rice. That's I'm like, Oh, man.

Brandon Riley 23:53
Yeah, you know, one thing that I tried to do on on every movie is I meet with the director, and the DP and myself, if I found the first ad or the producer, and we have a little powwow, and we talked about how do we want the set to be run? You know, because I think sometimes, I mean, you're all coming together, you never work with each other for the most part, unless you have before. And so everybody has these different assumptions. You know, some some first time directors think that they're supposed to direct the extras when that's really like, the ad the ad job. Yeah. So sometimes there's like an educational meeting. I was like, okay, so and then I asked the director, how do you want to set to be run, you know, what, what, what do you want? And then I'll talk about like, what some are, my expectations are, you know, that if if we feel behind, how are we going to dress that on the day, you know, just and that's like an hour meeting, and that our meeting has really changed the way I work because because we can point back to that meeting. I remember when we talked About that, or just knowing that they know that, hey, we're gonna set the extras, you don't have to worry about that. But if you want to, you want to help us figure out this one piece, you know, get dirty. What is no. And I think that that that's been helping, helpful for me, I guess.

Alex Ferrari 25:18
Yeah, again, communication always is a big help when working on a set. Now, can you you've mentioned second, second, eds, and third eds. What are the what are the differences between the multiple and I've seen many multiple versions of EDS out on the set.

Brandon Riley 25:35
Yeah, it's funny, I've actually never been a second second. So I'm, I can tell you a little about it, but I've never done it. And it's, it's mostly to do with, you know, working with the background actors and working with talent. And you know, if you have 300 extras that day, you might have several seconds seconds, and they're just all giving the background, they're setting background, they're giving them direction, they're wrangling them,

Alex Ferrari 26:01
Are they would you consider them like a glorified pa is at that point? Because I've heard that, like a lot of pa is just going like, okay, you're the second second thing?

Brandon Riley 26:10
Yeah, I mean, sometimes it's a credit that's given to a PA, if you don't have a second second. It's it's really the first ad his right hand man on set a lot of times, you know, in terms of a lot of times the second IDs at base camp, doing a call sheet. Sometimes the second ad is on set, helping with background different things, but a lot of times they're so much paperwork, they're just not able to be on set as much. Sure. And then a third ad, the same thing is the second second. It's just in a different country, they call them different things. So like in UK, they might call them a third ad. So are fourth at

Alex Ferrari 26:50
What sometimes you might need it because there's like 5000 people that you're trying to wrangle?

Brandon Riley 26:55
Well, yeah. And in the US, we wouldn't we wouldn't have a third or fourth, we'd have like an additional second ad, you know, and then we'd have a second second. And if you could have an additional second second, stuff like that. And sometimes you might have to first add, if it's a TV show, and they're rotating, and all that kind of stuff. So it gets really complicated.

Alex Ferrari 27:16
Now, you also know you also do line producing, can you talk a little bit about what the job of a line producer is versus a UPM?

Brandon Riley 27:25
Yeah, I mean, I'm not the best at explaining that. But I'll do my best. Sure. So so the line producer, you know, in my opinion starts early on with the film and and they might open bank accounts they might make get the tax incentives, get all the accounts opened, and then handle the budget, do a lot of the major hires and then a UPM would come on later in the game, and take over some of those responsibilities, you know, in terms of hiring the crew, managing payroll, working with the accountants and stuff, really, that the two overlap a lot. But on a big show, I think they're important to have both because there's so much to do. You don't want to just have another PA, you don't know. And so, you know, I did a show for the CW, where I was the line producer, and we had a UPM. And we kind of split responsibilities a little bit. And it was very helpful because, you know, I was busy all day, you know, but there's some shows where I don't have a UPM. It's just kind of I'm the wine producer. And that's that's what it is.

Alex Ferrari 28:38
And for everybody listening a UPM is a unit production manager. Because a lot of people don't know what UPM is, in general. Now what what is the DGA? And how does a first ad get into the DGA?

Brandon Riley 28:51
So the DJ is the Directors Guild of America and it's the Union for directors HDS and UPS

Alex Ferrari 29:00
Line producers and UPS right?

Brandon Riley 29:02
Well, so line producers are not actually in a union. Okay, so they're, they're the one of the few categories that don't have a union. Same thing as producers aren't in a union, although you can join a producer's guild but that's more of a club. Like the ASC. Yeah, so I'm in the Brewers Guild, but yeah, I'm in a club. Basically,

Alex Ferrari 29:22
You're not getting you're not getting a pension, you're not getting a pension from the

Brandon Riley 29:25
Right. I mean, it's a cool club to be a part of. There's lots of parties and stuff like that. So the way you get into the DGA is very complicated, but the easiest way is to get into the DGA training program. And that happens every year, or I think applications and around April or May and and essentially they take like 20 people they accept, you know, out of hundreds of applications. And if you get accepted then you get like two or three years of work and you work on big shows and TV shows as a trainee trainee assistant, or assistant assistant trainee. And and then you know you're set for life pretty much because you've built contacts and you know, you can easily step into a second ad and then go via first.

Alex Ferrari 30:16
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Brandon Riley 30:28
I did did not do that I tried, but I was not qualified enough. So in the end, the reason they don't always pick who you think they're gonna pick, sometimes they pick people with no film experience at all. So you really don't know who these people are going to pick. And so I didn't let that discourage me. But so you can get on. The other option is to get on a show that flips you know, and that's how I got on I was on a show where the UPM I was hired before the UPM and the UPM was the DGA. UPM. And she wanted to make the show part of the Union. And so that would mean that I would have to join and so I joined.

Alex Ferrari 31:12
Now when you when you flip a show, that's generally not depending on the perspective, it's not a good thing sometimes.

Brandon Riley 31:19
Well, there's different clippings I guess flipping for the DGA is only like three people or four people,

Alex Ferrari 31:25
Right! It's like it's not like I asked

Brandon Riley 31:27
Yeah, yeah, so it's director UPM. First and Second, or second second. But yeah, the IRC, which covers the rest of the crew, except for teamsters, you know, that that's where people they talk, mostly talking about flipping, that's what they mostly refer to. Because you really can't it's really weird for a show to flip DJ It was so I guess it wasn't really flipped. It was more of just, I was grandfathered in. And essentially, it's not gonna backdoor it's not gonna Yeah, so that's how I got in. And then the other way to get in is through working as a PA.

Alex Ferrari 32:01
Yes, I remember that.

Brandon Riley 32:04
And like you get like 600 days or something like that and not have to be on some commercial QL. And you can call if you have questions you can call the DGA QL. website. And they'll kind of walk you through how to be qualified. It's important though to keep call sheets and you have a proof and paycheck stubs. Yeah. Because if you if you can't prove that you worked, they'll kick out some of your days, you know. So

Alex Ferrari 32:35
so if you if you pa for 600 days, and you can prove it with call sheets and pay stubs, that's a way in to the DGA to get in, but that's a long, that's a long way around.

Brandon Riley 32:46
Yeah, I mean, the other way, like I was working was collecting days as a non union first ad, and then I'm able to basically cash those days in to be listed as a certain QL. You know, so that's the DJ is very complicated.

Alex Ferrari 33:05
Because it's a wonder because it's a wonderful union once you're in Yeah, the pension is insane. The medical is insane. It's one of the best unions in the business period.

Brandon Riley 33:16
Yeah, it really is a great union, although it's sometimes tough, because you can't take other work. You can't take non union non union work. And whereas if I go work, if I'm an IRC member, a lot of times they don't care as much, you know, right. And I didn't really know that going into it. But I know I know now.

Alex Ferrari 33:36
Yeah. Now, let me ask you a question. How do you handle a director that is just breaking down and completely losing control on set? Is there anything the first ad can do to help? Because I'm sure you've been on projects, whether it's a first time director, or he's having a bad day, or he's having a bad movie, and it's just completely just breaking down? Losing control? What is there anything you can do to help?

Brandon Riley 34:03
You know, I don't know if I mean, losing control? I don't know about as much as out of control. I mean, maybe it's more of I've dealt with directors that are yelling and screaming and firing firing people

Alex Ferrari 34:16
So out of out of control. So out of control.

Brandon Riley 34:19
Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, that's always a tough thing. Because, you know, you everybody wants to keep their job, you know, so it's like, I better but at the same time, the director will listen to me where they might not listen to the third PA, you know, so I think it's, it's challenging because you have to pull them aside and be like, Hey, I know, I know you're upset. Like there was this one instance where this actor, we thought that she cut her hair, and he just wanted to get rid of her and you know, it was an African American actress and She, she didn't really cut her hair. It was like, he had these braids, things, you know? So, right, but I was like, it's like, if we fire this actress, we're gonna have to reshoot these two days of stuff like that, right? It's like, as, like, we don't have the time or the money is like, so, you know. So in that instance, I was able to convince him not to fire her, right?

Alex Ferrari 35:25
It was just logic, it was logical,

Brandon Riley 35:27
Right! But it's like, sometimes, you know, and there are, there are a few directors that are bipolar, just because the profession attracts some people that are highly creative, you know, and, and I've worked with many of these guys. And so that's challenging, too, you know, so I think, you know, it's trying to be the calm one on set is my goal is trying to Okay, I know where this this huge problem is in front of us. But let's, let's think about it. Because if we're, if we're being loud, and and angry about it, it's not going to solve itself, you know, so I just try to come up with as many solutions as possible, and talk to him in a calm, assertive way. And I don't know if that's answering the question,

Alex Ferrari 36:19
It is, it is, it is. I mean, it's, uh, it's tough when you have an out of control directors kind of like having out of control General, like, yeah, you know, all of a sudden, they're firing people or attacking places that they shouldn't be as acting as a general. So same thing goes with a directory he could out of control director can bring down the entire movie within minutes. Yeah. And it's tough. And then you're stuck in the middle between the producer and Oh, god, there's so much drama, that could happen. I said, when you when, when you have people like that. Now, tell me a little bit about assisting directing, calm your website.

Brandon Riley 36:53
So yeah, it's just a little site that I created a couple years ago, it was funny, the domain was available. And I was like, I just got to buy this thing. And I just put blogs and articles and some downloads on there, to help others that are wanting to get into assistant directing. And, you know, I just have, every time I go work on a thumb set, I learned something new. And I was like, Oh, this could be a post and I post it, you know, you know, I had a friend of mine contact me today. And he's an ad friend of mine. But he's producing movies like, Where do you get non union extras? Like, why? I was like, I do find these la casting when I'm in Los Angeles. And so that was, you know, but as like, that's another topic for a blog post is finding non union extras. You know, I have that I have a couple of those posts. But I don't know, I just I feel there's value in sharing knowledge and experiences with others. And, you know, I wrote a book kind of about my experience.

Alex Ferrari 37:51
Yeah. Can you tell me about your book?

Brandon Riley 37:53
Yeah. So it's called the career, the career chose me. And it just kind of talks about, you know, choosing the right career. And in a way that you don't have to go really find a career that the premise is really that if you figure out who you are, and what you like, and what you're good at, that the career will essentially choose you. And that and that's kind of what happened to me in the sense that I really fell into assistant direct assistant directing, you know, I just, I didn't know what system directing was, but if I did, I would have chose it a long time ago. You know, because I love scheduling. I love budgeting. I've always been the super organized person.

Alex Ferrari 38:34
God bless you. God bless you, sir. I can't. That's why we need first ad. I can't

Brandon Riley 38:38
I mean, I was the editor of my school newspaper in high school, and I was telling my peers what to do. And you know, today, I'm telling my parents what to do, you know, so it's kind of a similar thing. So I talked about my personal story in the book, but I make it, you know, broad, it's not just about filmmaking, it's really back back careers. But I do give some help helpful hints for those that want to pursue the film industry. And and so the website is the career chose me calm, and it is available on Amazon.

Alex Ferrari 39:10
I'll put that in the show notes. Good. Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Brandon Riley 39:21
Yeah, I mean, I think like we talked about college earlier, the question is whether or not to pursue college and then having because you may or may not be the best thing and to where to live. Because, you know, the market is, you know, so fragmented now. You know, I'm why I'm producing this movie in Louisiana, Louisiana right now, but right. You know, I also live in Los Angeles. And so, you know, you can really live in a lot of different places. So it's looking where the tax credits right now and Atlanta and Louisiana, those could be good markets to live in. Yes, you could go to Los Angeles in New York. But the competition is so heavy. So you just have to really, you know, think about, do you want to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? And, you know, so where do you live? And, but I think, you know, being self aware is very important. And I think that's one of the biggest things for most people is they're not enough self aware. And, you know, so my biggest downfall was I was like, I want to be a dp for a decade. And, you know, I was okay. I mean, I could, I can be a fine camera operator, or I could shoot video. But when it comes down to it, I'm not great with math, F, you know, trying to figure out what f stop doesn't come natural to me. So it's not a great profession for me to choose. If it doesn't come. Not necessarily easy, but I just don't enjoy that part of it. You know. So if I would have realized that earlier on and been more self aware, if I would have asked more people, hey, what do you think I'm good at? What do you think I should pursue? I think that would have helped me find this position, this ad wine producer position earlier, you know, but I don't feel like I wasted that much time. So I don't know. those are those are the main things.

Alex Ferrari 41:29
Okay, now, can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Brandon Riley 41:35
Hmm, I don't know if I know that. There's so many books, you know, that. I don't know if there's one book but I will say that when I was in high school, I became a voracious reader. Like, I just started reading dozens of books on leadership. And that was something that topic of leadership, I think, has affected the way that I I try to work and work with people. And I think if you can understand leadership and how people want to be treated, because that's a huge part of my job is trying to lead people and and educate people. And trying to make the right decision, you know, and but

Alex Ferrari 42:20
Read a lot.

Brandon Riley 42:21
Yeah. Well, I mean, yeah, but I mean, read nonfiction. I I'm a big nonfiction reader. I guess I just Yes. Well, I love business books. I love not, you know, there is a book, a great book about assistant directing, by I can't remember the name of it, but it's it'll come to me later.

Alex Ferrari 42:42
I'll put it up, put some hurt some links. Yeah. Yeah. So now what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Brandon Riley 42:54
Lesson took me the longest to learn? I don't know. That's a tough question. In life? No, I think one thing that I realized a couple years ago, was to stop waiting for jobs. You know, I'm saying like, like, I can always apply for something off Craigslist. So I can apply for something of Mandy or, you know, wherever these job applications are, and that's great. But I'm not going to depend on that to provide for me a job, right. So I've got to go out there and like your podcasts, I gotta hustle. So that for me, that means, you know, I send a lot of cold emails to people that I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 43:45
Like to me. Exactly.

Brandon Riley 43:49
I, you know, I, you know, I go to networking events, even though I hate networking, and I tried to, I have a goal where I just meet one person, you know, I don't try to try to meet 10 people, I just be one person. You know, so there's small things I think the biggest thing is for me is also is following up with people, they'll say, Hey, you know, hit me up in three months, and I'll put on my calendar and I'll hit him up in three months. And and I think just having tenacity to you know, keep bugging people sometimes, and I hate being the one to bug somebody but I'm, you know, I'm known for that is

Alex Ferrari 44:27
Gotta hustle. is basically the blessing is hustle and hustle. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Brandon Riley 44:36
Three of my favorite films. One of my favorite films is Magnolia by PT Anderson. And not feel Magnolia is because people confuse

Alex Ferrari 44:46
Very different movies.

Brandon Riley 44:47
I know I haven't even seen film I know so I don't know. But I just love the tracking shots and Magnolia and Pisces. You know, the rain and the falling frogs and sure Yeah, so my other favorite movie is Zoolander.

Alex Ferrari 45:03
Of course,

Brandon Riley 45:04
Because I can quote the entire movie. Sure. The third movie I don't I don't know. I'd have to think I mean, I love I love spy films. So I just probably had to say like born one of the Bourne movies just think they're, they're well made. And now where can people find you? So people can find me. My what? My personal website is the film fixer.us and my email is [email protected]

Alex Ferrari 45:33
Oh, god, I'm sorry. You did? I told you not to but All right, now you're gonna get it? I know. Right? Yeah.

Brandon Riley 45:43
Yeah, and let's see, I all my my social media handles are radiant first. So you can look me up that way.

Alex Ferrari 45:50
And then assistantdirecting.com?

Brandon Riley 45:53
Yes, correct.

Alex Ferrari 45:54
Very cool. Brandon man. Thank you so much for being on the show. Man. You've dropped some first ad knowledge bombs on the tribe today. So I really appreciate it, man.

Brandon Riley 46:01
Hey, really appreciate it. Alex. Thanks so much.

Alex Ferrari 46:04
I want to thank Brandon for coming on and dropping some first ad knowledge bombs on the tribe. If you want to get links to anything we discussed in this episode, just head over to indiefilmhustle.com/254 to download the show notes. And guys, on a side note, I am working on another secret project not a feature film. thing. I've discussed this before. But this is going to be huge. The biggest thing that I've ever done for the tribe, for filmmakers in general, and I really do hope it provides a tremendous amount of value because it's really, really a lot of work. But I am working on that as we speak. So keep an eye out next couple month next month or two for an announcement and then a launch hopefully sometime in October November sometime. But just trust me you guys are gonna flip the hell out when when I talk to you about it. So keep an eye out. And if you haven't already, head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave the show a good review on iTunes. It really helps us out a lot. I really appreciate it. And as always keep that also going. Keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 155: What the Heck is a Line Producer with Sevier Crespo

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What the Heck is a Line Producer with Sevier Crespo

I’ve been asked by the tribe to do a show on what the heck is a line producer. Ask and you may receive. Today’s guest is Line Producer Sevier Crespo. Sevier is a line producer that works in the indie film world. He knows how to handle lower budgets and get the most out of them.

According to Wikipedia:

A line producer is a type of film producer who is the key manager during daily operations of a feature film, television film, or an episode of a TV program. A line producer works on one film at a time. They are responsible for human resources and handling any problems that come up during production.

I wanted to have Sevier on the show to really go over how a good line producer can help you with your productions. He’s been around the biz for years working with legends like Jerry Bruckheimer, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, and Joe Pytka to name a few

Here’s some info on today’s guest. Producer Sevier Crespo, p.g.a., is a dynamic force in film and television production, known in the industry as the man who conquers impossible circumstances to bring projects in on schedule and on budget. Accolades for his projects include BEST AMERICAN COMEDY at the NY International Film Festival, TV GUIDE’s Hot List (the only web series to make the list), a Parents’ Choice Award, and a Mom’s Choice Award. And it’s no wonder since he learned the ropes from heavyweights, Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Mann.

Crespo may have cut his teeth on sequels to “Bad Boys” and “Chainsaw Massacre,” but $5-million-and-under budgets are where Crespo really shows his prowess. He developed, created, wrote, produced, line produced and acted in “Jackers” with a budget of $50k. The feature film grossed $500k in its first quarter and has taken in over $5 million since. Crespo also saved a film that was $60k in the hole (with a budget of $225k) and brought it in on budget and on schedule. And when he delivered an NBC pilot (starring Mandy Moore and James Roday) on time and on budget too, he was not only praised for an LA/NY shoot with the micro-budget, but also literally shocked a network exec over the project, who looked him straight in the eye and said, “How the fuck did you manage to do that?”

Crespo studied production at UCLA and learned the ropes under the tutelage of Robert Townsend and director Sam Bayer at Ridley Scott’s RSA USA, Inc. He’s since worked with such global brands as Adidas, Coca-Cola, Nike, Marlboro, Mitsubishi, NBC, and Netflix – to name a few. Tapping back into his latin roots, Sevier worked alongside Danny Trejo in the comedy “Pendejo” and the upcoming feature “Deceived” (2017).

Enjoy my conversation with Line Producer and Producer Sevier Crespo.

Alex Ferrari 1:23
So today on the show, guys, we have Sevier Crespo, line producer extraordinaire, a lot of you guys out there might have not had the experience of using a line producer on your productions. Generally, when you're an indie filmmaker, you don't have the budget to hire a good line producer. But as your budgets grow, you really do need a good line producer because basically a lot of producers just get stuff done. They're the guys who are the ones hiring the crew, putting things together, figuring out how to squeeze penny out of every dollar that you can and get the most bang for your buck. They're the guys who have the connections with the with the vendors, with crew trying to make you deals with locations. That's who the line producer is. And they are an integral part of any professional film crew. And a lot of you guys have reached out to me asking me Hey Alex, can you please do an episode on what the heck's a line producer, because they're completely confusing. And you know, there's so many different producers on a feature film from the main producer to executive producer, co producer, associate producer, line producer, there's so many different kinds of producers out there. But that line producer is the guy who gets everything done. He's the one he or she is the one that pushes and greases the wheels to get this production done. So I wanted to have severe Crespo on because he's a line producer who's not a, you know, guy who works on 100 million dollar movies. He's a guy who works on indie projects. And there is a very big distinction on that. Because if you've hired a line producer who's worked on big studio movies, they're not going to know those tricks of the trade to get the most bang for your buck in an indie world, what you have to pay for what you don't have to pay for and things like that. Well, so I wanted Steve on because he is He lives in the low budget, indie world. You know, he actually saved a quarter of a million dollar movie $60,000 just by doing his job, and doing it well. And he goes over all of that. And then I mentioned that he also worked with Jerry Bruckheimer Michael Mann, Joe pitka, and also studied under Robert Townsend, the legendary director of Hollywood shuffle. I mean, he's got some stories and we definitely go over and into in this like from the craziest Joe pitka story you've ever heard. And well, if you don't know who Joe pitka is, you will know who Joe Pickett is by the end of this episode, but Jerry Bruckheimer and working with Michael Mann and how they work together, how Ridley Scott he worked Ridley Scott and Tony Scott and and how they work together. Samuel Baier, who's a huge commercial director, and he worked with him as well. So he's definitely learned from some of the best people in the industry and he has a ton of stuff to talk about and share with you guys severe lays down some major knowledge bombs. So hope you guys get a ton of knowledge out of this episode. So without further ado, here's my conversation with Sevier Crespo. I'd like to welcome to the show Sevier Crespo. Thank you, man. Thanks for coming on the show.

Sevier Crespo 5:36
Oh, thank you. Thank you for having me.

Alex Ferrari 5:38
Yeah, man, I've been wanting to have someone of your skill set on the show because we haven't really tackled it out of 153 episodes that we've been as of right now as of this recording 150 154 episodes. We have not tackled line producing and and kind of your skill set. So I'm very excited to talk to you and hopefully drop some knowledge bombs on the on the tribe.

Sevier Crespo 6:02
Oh, wow. Well, the pleasure is all mine. And now I feel like um,

Alex Ferrari 6:06
the pressures,

Sevier Crespo 6:08
the pressures on!

Alex Ferrari 6:09
the pressures on now, but you know, there's no pressure in the film business, so you should be fine. It's super, it's super easy, right? You just you just wake up and go, I want to be in the business and, and you just things happen, right? doors open, money gets thrown at you. It's it's well, that's the 80s.

Sevier Crespo 6:27
Right? Well, you know what, that's perfect. That's exactly how it is. So you know,

Alex Ferrari 6:32
I don't even know why people are listening to this. It's just so easy. You don't need any help. So let me ask you, how did you get in the business in the first place?

Sevier Crespo 6:39
Well, interesting. I got into the business from the acting side. a funny story. I wanted to be a professional baseball player being Puerto Rican. And never I was

Alex Ferrari 6:49
gonna say, isn't that a prerequisite? I'm Cuban. So I was I was thrown into the on the diamond as well. And yeah, it was horrible. It was horrible.

Sevier Crespo 6:58
Yeah, well, actually, I was, you know, I was pretty good. I was I was pretty good. And, but needless to say, I didn't make the baseball team twice, which was a very interesting odd thing growing up here when I got to the states from Puerto Rico. So then I had to find a slot to fill my baseball period in the morning. And the only thing available that I didn't want to do that had to do with study was theater. Okay, so I said, Okay, great. I'll take theater class in the morning. And so then I took theater, and the first time I got on stage, I, it changed my life. I was like, this is the most amazing thing I've ever experienced. And so hooked instantly. And so then from there, I continued acting classes and acting career, and then I moved to Los Angeles. And when I got to Los Angeles, I had the fortunate opportunity of meeting with Robert Townsend and that kind of for people

Alex Ferrari 8:01
who don't know who Robert Townsend is, can you please tell him who he is?

Sevier Crespo 8:06
Yeah, Robert Townsend is one of the great legendary producers, filmmaker, writer, director, filmmakers. He did Hollywood shuffle, which was a

Alex Ferrari 8:17
if I remember Hollywood shuffle was the first movie that was kind of done super I mean at the first movie, but it was the one that got the most press because he used credit cards to make it

Sevier Crespo 8:30
That's correct. He used from the story he was he would tell us he used I believe at that time. It was a Sears card there was no he used all possible cards not only cash he used cards that were had appliances from Sears from there was quite a few other stores that are no longer available. But you're correct he used everything in anything on credit cards to make the movie

Alex Ferrari 8:55
and that movie was about like if I'm not mistaken was like a quarter million but it wasn't like 50 grand It was like a $200,000 I'm like that if I if memory serves me correct it was and also for everyone listening this is the 80s when he did this if I'm not mistaken correct? That's correct. That's correct. It was it was not easy being an independent filmmaker

Sevier Crespo 9:15
No, not at all. I don't even think it was even like you said earlier you know I think in the 80s the money was there and available and there was different times and so if you weren't getting it upfront, or someone was giving it to you to just do it on your own was not anything that anyone even thought about because remember we still

Alex Ferrari 9:37
it was so damn expensive. Exactly. So so you meet with this legend and and and what do you learn from Robert.

Sevier Crespo 9:46
The one thing I learned from Robert, the first thing was you better love what you do. And his level of energy was something I had never experienced ever in any field in any part of life. For a career he was constantly full of energy he loved what he did always ready to tackle the situation or whatever we were working on or doing and from there then we learned you know story and character and what it takes to really do a film with what you have you know, and some of the things that he discussed were look if you're doing a low budget film or an independent movie, start with what's free What can you get for free you know and then what do you have to pay for? Um, and so that was a very interesting point of view I'm like okay, well including things that you would have in your house you know, for example, when you know, when you go to acting class and you have a scene to put up in class you pretty much drag everything you have from your house to create yourself on on on stage right and I think it was kind of point of view or mentality when working on a film it was like okay, well not just what's in your house but what's in other people's house that you can use what that works for what you're filming on your film. So it was that process first and then what do you have to pay for and then also be realistic about what you're working on with what you have which is still encounter today? You know, a lot of media script and they're like, Hey, here's a script Can you do a budget? Or can you schedule this for me or can we do it for a certain amount of dollars? And the first thing you know reading through it is like, man you have you have a car chase in the highway and one cars over like come on, help me out here Help me Help me?

Alex Ferrari 11:52
Yeah, I've I've had many of those encounters in my career with scripting I mean with the script that you that give you an action script and like I think we could do it for 100 grand I'm like Guys, guys, you need you need 60 days to shoot this you know, and you have two days of budgets.

Sevier Crespo 12:12
Right? That's exactly it That's exactly it. And I think that was it. I think his point of view was be realistic about what it is you're making and what it is you have and also I learned a lot about story and character development. And I really realized how far that will take you it's like don't underestimate character and story and your audience and what what they're looking for um, because a lot of times especially now everything's these big, big blockbuster films, which are fantastic and are entertaining but if you don't have $100 million or $10 million or $20 million dollars you can you can tell the same story from what I've learned and what I was taught with not necessarily all the bells and whistles so I think that was that was the main thing so you know really character and story development in also not thinking that you need a zillion locations to tell your story

Alex Ferrari 13:24
mm hmm yeah, that's a big mistake a lot of a lot of young guys and girls who try to be filmmakers they try to they try to shoot a 50 different locations and most of the times all within the same day yes. Oh God, please everyone who's listening right now I want to give him one piece of advice don't do more than one or two company moves in a day if you can help it Try not to do any company moves in it because you kill your day

Sevier Crespo 13:54
which is interesting that you're saying that because the last time I just got back from shooting in Puerto Rico we literally had two company moves a day

Alex Ferrari 14:05
oh my god it must have been brutal I mean if it's down the streets different but if it's if it's 2030 minute drives I mean come on

Sevier Crespo 14:14
it's it's brutal it's definitely the days off we're well needed let's just put it that way.

Alex Ferrari 14:20
Yeah, because when you do that you basically got to pack up the circus and move and it takes time to pack up the circus and move and then reset the circus back up. You know, it's it's brutal and I'm but but you could do something like that. But guess what, the skeleton crew, you know, everyone jumps into the van and let's just go, that might be different.

Sevier Crespo 14:38
You know, I think for me, what I had to do was I really had to plan ahead of time a lot. I really had to with the first and second IDs. plan out the routes plan out by when we would wrap one location to move on to the next. Ideally, the brakes would be Right after lunch, right, start breakfast, breakfast, through lunch at one location, wrap that out and give us an extra 45 minutes to an hour. And a lot of tech scouts with the DP and the director in the first ad and the second ad at all the locations prior, and really measuring the sun and the lighting in the lights and, and doing a pre pre pre pre walkthrough of what they were thinking, which helped a lot. So it wasn't like everybody went in blindly to every location, there was at least somewhat of a skeleton of an idea.

Alex Ferrari 15:37
Right? Exactly. Now you're actually you know, you you came in from the acting standpoint, and as you knows, is very well as I do. Being an actor in LA is it's not an easy gig, it's a tough gig, to say the least,

Sevier Crespo 15:53
it is a tough gig, it can be a definitely a tough gig, it's it's from my point of view, it feels it's a very thick old, it can be very thick, old in a way because you don't know what people are expecting a moment moment, you know, it can change one minute, we want all blog next minute, we want all blah, and Yay, very fickle.

Alex Ferrari 16:17
And but the thing is, I think you did something similar that I did was my main goal was to be a director. But while I was going after my directing goals, I got into post production. So I think from what it sounds like you started you wanted to be an actor, but then you're also started picking up all these other tools to put in your toolbox that can actually keep you surviving and, and alive during your, your journey to get acting roles. Is that correct?

Sevier Crespo 16:45
That is 100% correct. That's true, um, you know, I got tired of, I've done so many different jobs in this town, I've been the janitor work during I mean, you name it, I'm sure you can 100% relate to all of it. And I think when I met Robert, um, I really started to like the process of producing and I felt like I had something there. And actually, when I learned and got into the line producing aspect of it, you know, I, I liked numbers, you know, the one thing numbers that I think was totally opposite of the acting, you know, numbers are predictable, you can predict numbers, you can actually, they, you know, they don't really last eight numbers never lie. You know, it's like I don't, there's so many unknown factors, that sometimes you can just leave a room or walk out of a situation, not knowing what they want. I mean, there's times where I as you know, I nailed it. Right? You know, in times where you're like, Oh, my God, I bombed and then you're like, you booked it. And so it's so I think, you know, on the producing, and especially line producing, um, that wasn't the case, I was able to always find the, the why. So I think that and I loved it. Actually, I found it interesting. And I still do to take something from a concept, then someone writes it, and then you put numbers to it, and then you've put it into existence. And eventually you're watching it on a on a in a theater.

Alex Ferrari 18:24
Yes. And that is a long journey.

Sevier Crespo 18:29
It is a very long journey. It is a very long journey. You know, and I've also learned you know, these are your babies. I Oh, yeah. It's like they're like children you know, it's it's you. You give birth to something and you have you live with it. I think people sometimes forget the amount of time that you live with a film is it for years?

Alex Ferrari 18:51
Oh, it's for it's it's I mean, I still I'm living with short films I did I mean, it's it's they're all babies. Some are ugly, summer, summer, some are gorgeous. And some you just love No matter who or what anyone says. And that's what an artist does.

Sevier Crespo 19:10
That is what we do. And you know, you know, the good, the bad, the ugly, you know, there's still yours and I think only those that have fully done a film or even a TV show or a pilot or a web series or anything of that sort. Even a music video or a commercial. There's a respect because man, it's a process and you have a team of people that count on you, you count on them. And you know, it's so to some degree, you know, you find the beauty in all of them because of the you know, the brutal blood sweat and tears goes Oh,

Alex Ferrari 19:50
god, yes. And then sometimes you just like I'm so done. I'm so glad that's over with and I never want to look at that project. I at least have one of those that I'm just Like, I don't even know why I did that. What What was I thinking? So now, after doing some research on you, sir, I found out that you, you got to learn from some amazing people. Specifically Ridley Scott and Michael Mann, the legends What? What was it like learning and being, you know, just picking up things from those guys.

Sevier Crespo 20:24
You know, um, you definitely realize and learn why they are, where they're at, and why their careers are their careers and what they've accomplished. Hmm, definitely two things that I picked up was they're so different. You know, they're totally different, but yet both fantastic, you know, in, in how they work, you know, one experience that I had with Michael Mann was, and this is like, at midnight Friday,

Alex Ferrari 21:03
by the way, that's the best way a story starts, I was with Michael Mann at midnight on a Friday, that's a great start to a story.

Sevier Crespo 21:13
Um, and, you know, I, I was actually on my way home from working, you know, in the office with them and on pre production on a job. And then I get a call, hey, Michael, wants you to come back, you got to come back and continue doing some more work on this storyboard thing. And so I was like, Okay, I turned around, went back. And, you know, it was interesting, because I had to piece together the storyboard for the shots. And he had shot everything with a camera, and it printed out all the photos and everything. And I was supposed to lay everything out according to the storyboard and how you wanted everything. And I remember at one point thinking, I have no idea what I'm looking at. I was like, I don't even understand one frame one photo from the other. This is all the same, like my mind was already losing it, but yet, they were able to come in and go well, no, this is different from this one because of this and look at this, and I promise you was the most minute things that I I even to this day, when I think about it, I'm like, wow, that was so specific. But yet, that's why he is who he is. You know, um,

Alex Ferrari 22:35
how about Ridley and Ridley You know,

Sevier Crespo 22:37
there was always a you know, there was a calm to him and it's communication and I found him to be good with actors and people um, one thing that I learned on that end was the crew you know, on that end, if they use the same people over and over again they they worked with the same people everybody knew each other. There was a very team point of view, if you will, you know, which again at the time I didn't really fully understand until then I started really producing in line producing and doing projects where I realized you know, how you go from crew to crew or certain people are not available you test allow and some work some don't some can cause a little bit more of a problem Some are fantastic. And that was that point that was I finally realized oh no wonder it was very difficult to you know, they use the same people over and over again you know, standard of filmmaking a standard of quality you know, I mean even for me to come in just I was supposed to only be there with them for a week and and and I ended up staying there longer than that but even just that process for a few days I didn't get the job right off the bat I had to be vetted in like

Alex Ferrari 24:13
the mob it's like the mob you have to you need to have someone to go he's a good fella. He's he'd come in.

Sevier Crespo 24:17
Exactly, exactly. And then you know, you think you're done and you hope you didn't embarrass yourself next thing you know, like, Hey, we like this kid, we're going to keep them and I think that was was pretty exciting.

Alex Ferrari 24:28
And that's, that's those are the things that happen when you live in LA. I mean to me, cuz I'm from Miami, you're from Puerto Rico. I know you grew up in Texas, but like, you can't get that kind of exposure unless you're here sometimes.

Sevier Crespo 24:41
Exactly. No, that's, that's that's true. I mean, here is where everybody is the base for for everyone, you know, so you're able to be to have that privilege and be lucky. And I feel like this. There's some in my career, that's something that I can say I'm very grateful for you know, I Robert Townsend and Ridley Scott and Michael Mann you know, it's, it's pretty wildly

Alex Ferrari 25:06
Now you also did a lot of commercial work as well, right?

Sevier Crespo 25:09
I did, I did, I ended up uh, you know, I've worked at RSA radical media, anonymous content. So I have I was able to work on, on, you know, work on the Green Day videos, wake me up when September ends, working a lot of big global commercials. You know, I was trained by some pretty fantastic producers that, you know, worked on global projects regularly, which was a very eye opening experience as well, you know, one to date was when we had to do a commercial that shot in China, France, London, and I believe in the US, and within, all within a two week span.

Alex Ferrari 26:00
And it's just business as usual for them. It is,

Sevier Crespo 26:03
it really, really, really is. And I think, you know, there was, I was lucky enough to have them, sometimes I would sit in the room, even, they would say, sit here, sit over here, and listen, how this is going to go. Or they would say, if there was a phone conference or a call, let's say, you know, if a client or someone was being a little difficult, and they were being specific, and certain things weren't they, you know, very accommodating, they would sit look, kind of tell me, this is how we're going to handle this watch. And I mean, that's kind of, you know, that was it was probably the some of the most valuable information that I was able to take in. You know, and I think that's what helped me move into the, as a line producer over to the film and TV side. Because when you're working in the commercial world, and video world, you know, when you do a bid, and you it gets awarded, that's what that is, you know, you really can't go back and say, oh, by the way, guys, I understand it. No,

Alex Ferrari 27:02
no do now with commercials and music videos. That's where I got that's why that's why I got started as well in the Miami market, doing commercials and music videos. So I I remember that time, like you can't, you can't just go Yeah, you know, we were about 10,000 under here. I'm like, Look, it's tough. The production company is going to eat it now.

Sevier Crespo 27:24
Yes, yeah. And actually in you know, you know, and actually, you coming from that world as well. And you know, things have to be specific or you won't work very long. No, you have to be as close as possible. And usually any of any overages, you know, come from the clients and their needs at the last minute, which that's acceptable, and they deal with it on their end. But you as a production team, you can't come back and say yeah, I bought that we lied or we underestimated or anything.

Alex Ferrari 27:51
That's why you always have to when dealing in commercial budgets, you always got to kind of pad everything, just for that specific time when the client goes, I really want that helicopter shot now. Yes. But we didn't budget helicopter shot. I know. But I want one. And all of a sudden you're like son of it. Well, I'm glad we patted those other departments.

Sevier Crespo 28:14
Right, right, right, right in those conversations, you know, it's like oh my God, is it cuz it sounds like I want to helicopter shot? Because you're like, yeah, you know, we got a helicopter, we got the fuel. We got the pilot, we got the permits we got Where are we flying this thing? We got, you know, it's just like, and when you start painting the picture for them? Hopefully, something you know, you want them to go Oh, yeah, maybe not. And sometimes, yeah, let's go for it.

Alex Ferrari 28:39
So that's a great segue to my next question. You've worked with the infamous and legendary Joe pitka. Yes. So for everybody who does Did you hear his voice audience? Did you hear his voice change? When I said, it's like saying Voldemort, or Kaiser so say show? For everyone who's that? Who doesn't know who Joe pitka is Joe pika is probably one of the greatest commercial directors of all time. He's also legendary for being difficult possibly sometimes. Yeah, you just nod yes or no, I don't want you get in trouble.

Sevier Crespo 29:25
You know, it's interesting because what I learned from Joe, and you know, what I learned from Joe, because Joe also almost, I don't even recall him ever going into overtime, shooting late. Um, you know, we always wrapped up around the same time, every time. He always served second meal to the crew, even if we didn't need it or whatnot. Um, so I found that to be awesome. Like, regardless of how he operate it on set and his own personal points of views and quirkiness or whatnot you know he always delivered great product you knew what you were going to get with him and I think that was a strong kind of principle that I even use to this day Believe it or not, you know, it's something that I I learned that I put in my toolkit because I was like, you know, that's something very valuable and it's something it shows respect for your crew and appreciation for your crew. Regardless if he didn't verbally say any, or Senate otherwise

Alex Ferrari 30:41
we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So can you tell us what are the best or craziest story Joe pick a story that you're able to say publicly?

Sevier Crespo 31:02
Huh, let's see. Ah, craziest

Alex Ferrari 31:06
because I've been on sets and every time I hear somebody like yeah work with Joe I go so what's the story and everyone always it's like that it's kind of like that it he's almost like an urban legend. He's almost like an urban because we all have stories if you work with him you all have these stories and I've heard hundreds of stories from different crew guys who've worked with them over the years and they're just the best stories ever so I wanted to see if he had one

Sevier Crespo 31:33
you know i think i'd you know this is one that I remember because it was God it was so was summertime and I believe we were working on I believe it was one of the Clydesdales likewise miserable and um you know Joe is the second meal and he has a specific type of pizza that he would like and things like that so I remember we had to go we were shooting in you know in the valley which is in the summertime believe I don't know shreem Lee extremely hot I swear I live Yeah, and I remember we had to go run find a place that I believe he approved the pizza because I had to be it couldn't just be from anywhere. So we all I remember getting in a 15 passenger van with a believe one or two more ppas and getting all of this pizza and remember having to wait for the pizzas to get done and then we had a special like warmer for his pizza and I remember because we were so petrified because if the pizza showed up cold especially his dog it was it was like just run like just go home. So I remember sitting in this 15 Pass van with just boxes and boxes of pizza with the heater on and I had the heater so scared that ever gonna show up cold I'm just I'm melting his pizza to be done man My life has to get better than that Yeah, that was one of the stories with Joe

Alex Ferrari 33:20
now the the thing is so everyone listening you're like this is just an extreme story I'm like no it's not it's this is this is business as usual on bigger sets or depending on the personalities of it could be a producer it could be a director. I mean I have stories I mean I helped move a frickin producer when I was an intern at Universal Studios in Florida you know like things like that that you drive two hours to move I mean seriously, but just to understand if when you get in the business this is what you're going to deal with Do you agree

Sevier Crespo 33:53
100% you know it god yes. You I pray for anyone coming into the business that you dodged a lot of those yeah aereos Yeah sure. You know luckily I have to say the scenarios that I've I've had to deal with still we're around fantastic talented legendary people that I at least got something out of you know four stories where people don't get anything out of it except just being fired or or Jesus really experience where they end up leaving the business

Alex Ferrari 34:28
so yeah, at least I mean if you're going to get if you're going to get a crap job it's good to have it on a job pick a setter Ridley Scott cetera Michael Mann set.

Sevier Crespo 34:37
Right, right.

Alex Ferrari 34:39
That's not too bad.

Sevier Crespo 34:41
It's not it's not you know, and listen, I mean, when I worked on the set with my command, you know, it was an interesting thing because, you know, microman will shoot and shoot and shoot and then he nothing's ready or done or move on until he says so he feels he's gotten the shot or comfortable or Thing along those lines so at one point you know I had the producer was like listen I need you to help me find the footage or the hard drive of work things are being kept because it was been being hidden so we like our producers and our and had no idea of where things that he was shooting was being kept keep it private and hidden you know so only he knew when he was ready to move on and so you know here I am being told listen I need you to make friends with his assistant you know which we ended up becoming buddy buddies and actually friends but it was like hey I need you to find out where this footage is and I'm like I mean to me I'm like I don't even know where to start with that like I'm not I became a spy within the set to figure out where you know the footage was being kept so we could look at it so it's you know

Alex Ferrari 35:55
these know these I mean we could go on for hours with these sores I mean it's so can you do me a favor Can you break down what a line producer does for the audience?

Sevier Crespo 36:04
Yes, line producers job and what they do is they take the content usually a script and they break it down line by line, meaning how much is catering going to cost approximately locations gear, permits, any picture cars the amount of extras the amount of talent and we pretty much go through the whole script we break everything down according to what we feel the budget is and it's going to take to make the project usually it can be it's broken down or I like to break it down into three areas or levels one is ideal one is comfortable and the other one no way lower than this. So yeah, so it's producers we we budget the film every aspect of it, you know that you figure out how much it's going to cost for union fringes, sag AFTRA, W GA, DGA all of those elements that then you know, wardrobe hair and makeup props, set dressing, and then you know how long it's how long it's going to take approximately to shoot and then budget within those days.

Alex Ferrari 37:29
Now you I have heard a lot of times in digital you can tell the audience a little bit a UPM and a line producer sometimes are interchangeable correct?

Sevier Crespo 37:37
They are kind of a tricky one right? Because they kind of have the same position one of them's PGA ones. DGA shows on union shows union bigger union films you can kind of carry both um, or they usually carry both and it kind of it's interesting thing because they they do the same things for the most part overall it would depend on the executive producers and a product project that you're on that then you know, dictates whether you need one or the other. Both.

Alex Ferrari 38:21
Got it? Got it. So now I also read in your in my research of you that you save the film $60,000 that was they were $60,000 in the hole with a budget of 225 and you brought the film on in on budget and on schedule Can you please break that down for us?

Sevier Crespo 38:40
Oh god well you know, it's interesting because people that work on that film with me to this day still call me the general like I kind of came in you know, and I I didn't make very much I didn't make any friends on that on that that film. Because I didn't I was I wasn't the nicest and I think is because just morally and ethically I was pretty bummed out and I was a little upset on how they could have gone you know negative $60,000 in mind you this was this was approximately prior to starting Principal photography. Okay, because the director slash producer had had paid himself like 20 grand he flew in a hair and makeup person for six grand Oh Jesus. No from Texas, like there was all these elements that were like we're in Los Angeles, California, you tell him to use lose someone in for makeup from access for makeup. Like I forgot hair and makeup or wardrobe was one of those departments and I just couldn't believe it. So I think when I Oh in the family that had done it, or put the put the money in, you know, they had just had a new baby. This was their savings they wanted to project and we're

Alex Ferrari 39:56
like, why would they put $225,000 into this movie.

Sevier Crespo 39:59
You Know what they had the money, it was something that they wanted to do this is before the market crash, you know what things were flourishing and prospering all around. And I think they just felt like this was their time, you know, they had no idea that they was going to go this way. And I think usually most people don't. Of course, you know, the the things that could go wrong on a film set on an hourly basis, minute by minute. Yeah, the minute by minute is Yeah, absolutely. is pretty big. So I think when I when I was offered the opportunity to take it on, think I just went in, and I just locked everything down. And I was needed to go. What do we need? What don't we need? You know? And I'm, I think I started to I think my Robert Townsend instincts really kicked in at that point, it was really like, okay, what's free? What do we have to pay for the food? What do we do not need, like I really I kind of then became very, you know, I was the no guy, which I hate being the no guy. But I think in this scenario, you know, the one thing that I did first was collect all of the information. And when I put out where the negative came from, which was paying certain people, this lump sum of amount, that was unnecessary. A lot of things also this huge sag deposit, because they had stuff on racks. And sag is very delicate. And I said all unions are so they had put the film under TV contracts versus feature film, which then sag was already like, no, something's wrong with this picture, we need a full deposit of all talent. So it was just like, Whoa, it was right when the red camera came out the very first one. So

Alex Ferrari 41:49
a workflow was beautiful back then.

Sevier Crespo 41:52
You know, what that experience? The camera would burn out. Sure. And shooting and this was again, another scenario

Alex Ferrari 42:04
over Sure.

Sevier Crespo 42:07
And you couldn't take it to the you couldn't take it to the camera house and exchange it, you had to then wait for a technician to come out to make sure that you didn't do anything wrong, that it was really a burn or something happened with the actual camera before they would even exchange it. So

Alex Ferrari 42:23
that's the bloody that's the bloody edge of, of technology.

Sevier Crespo 42:26
Yes, yes. Oh, God. I mean, y'all got that experience with that camera, which wouldn't even need, by the way, sure, that filmmakers always do is they they convince executive producers or finances or whoever they're working with the best. Yeah. And it's like, you know, if you know what you're doing, you can do it with an iPhone. Yeah, yeah. And so I think on that film, I really locked everything down, I had to dig deep in all of my resources. And what I learned from the Robert Townsend's of the world, and also, you know, started to you know, this is something that I do I don't do it as brutally as I did, then. But I kind of just made everybody beg for it. I was, I need this. No, you don't find a way like use your imagination. You have a mind? Your creative. Give me a solution that doesn't cost $1. You know, it's interesting, you know, I, I learned very quickly how to use you can tell when to hit when someone a crew member needs the dollar. Or they just want it because it's easier. Mm hmm. And that's kind of what I did. You know, I got that film. Oh, my gosh. That's no, I did, uh, you know, I, I remember the director, producer, wanting like, more of his money up front. And I was like, absolutely not. You're the last person that's going to get a paycheck. You know, you put yourself in the situation, I'm here to fix it. You're the last person that's going to ask me for a paycheck. You know, because crew comes first. And people's, you know, being fed comes first. Um, you know, so yeah, it was it was I had to lock everything down specifically and get to get going on how to get from day to day on that.

Alex Ferrari 44:16
So you basically became the parent the parent came in and cleaned everything up.

Sevier Crespo 44:20
100% 100% I had a lot of disgruntled kids.

Alex Ferrari 44:24
I mean, look, I worked on a project once that was a million dollar budget with big stars in it. By the time they got to put the director set himself up in a house like almost a mansion style house for the shoot, which and pre production post production. He got a car, he basically was living the life. He spent all the money upfront for for talent. And for production was like on a million dollar budget. All of production was basically like maybe a quarter maybe.

Sevier Crespo 44:55
Oh my god,

Alex Ferrari 44:56
and then wait and then wait post. That's what I got involved. Post had post had I don't know, I think maybe 30 or 40 for all the posts and and they shot on a mini DV camera oh wow they shot on the dv x 100 day with major like decent stars you know people who you would recognize if I said their names and and it was I was just shocked at the like kind of like this The director who just felt like hey, I'm this is how I'm gonna roll. And I'm like wow. And like the movie obviously suffered?

Sevier Crespo 45:37
No, I think

Alex Ferrari 45:40
we all have stories we all have those stories.

Sevier Crespo 45:42
We all have stories and think you know, because we can relate it literally it's bone chilling. It's like, Oh, God,

Alex Ferrari 45:50
yeah, that cornea. That poor guy will never get his million dollars back. It was one point, I think 1.1 or something like they'll never get its money back the guy who invested in that movie, never ever ever get his money back. Ah,

Sevier Crespo 46:00
God and you know, actually going back to that something that I learned also from Robert Townsend was you treat people's money? Like it's your own? Yeah, like, like, like you guard that money and you protect it and you treat it like it's your own every single dollar. And you know, you'd listen you do your best 100% you know, production and elements like we know you know, can sometimes things can come up that are so unexpected. You want to just curl curl up into a ball and die, you know, but that was that one main point of view is every dollar everything you know if would you spend it if it was your own money? And if the answer's no, or if you have even a slight pause, do not do not spend it in that area.

Alex Ferrari 46:48
Hmm. apps? Absolutely. No Look, I mean, I gotta get Robert on the show, man. If he keeps bringing him up.

Sevier Crespo 46:57
He's fantastic. I learned a lot from him.

Alex Ferrari 46:59
Yeah, he's he's, I mean, he's one of my heroes from Hollywood shuffle. I mean, what he did with Hollywood shuffle was, you know, cuz I started coming up around that time, and I and he was that story before, Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, before that, the Sundance gang came out. Robert was there before he was there only probably by about three or four years earlier, but it's still just amazing his story. And so anyway, when you want to tackle a low budget film, man, what what is your point of view from the budgeting standpoint? Like someone gives you a low budget script, and they go look, I've got a quarter of a million bucks, I got $100,000 to make this action movie,

Sevier Crespo 47:44
what do you do? Um, what I do is I read the script, it's have a interesting process on how I read the script. First, I read it as an audience member as a just a film lover filmmaker point of view with all the characters and everything and just get the story and get everything. Then I go through and read just the descriptions, just the descriptions, locations, just go through I skip all dialogue, all characters, all that. And, you know, I've gotten to a point where I can very well tell what's going to really take what's realistic and, and also, red flags will pop up based on certain scenes or actions or sequences or things. And I go, Okay, I mark them all the way down, and then have a conversation after that with the director, and go Okay, so these things, if you did them regularly, it does not fit in the budget, it's actually not even a possible situation. So what were you thinking when you wrote the scenes or you wanted or do you chose to do this project for this budget, so I can start to understand where the director is coming. Right? And so then, if he has a solutions, I already thought about all of that this is how I plan on doing it, whether it's through post or certain movie magic scenarios or certain elements with shooting in a specific way or certain things very rarely does it happen. What I usually get is like, you know, will you know, and I you know, we'll figure out in post cliche, I 100% try almost never say that, because I just know that that's so wrong. It's just so wrong to do that to the post team. or to even think that you can that you can do that because if it's not shot on screen post can only do so much.

Alex Ferrari 49:47
Even with all the money in the world and at anytime I want to set I tell everybody the only person allowed to say I'll fix it in post is me because I'm fixing it in post. There you go. And

Sevier Crespo 49:58
that is totally correct. That's 100% correct. And so you know, so then what I saw after going through the scripts, marking out the elements that are doable or not doable, I talked to the director, I find out how he was thinking of doing these moments where the scenes, and if I feel as if I'm satisfied with how he chooses to execute that, then I have a conversation with him, and usually actually him and the DP to be the person that's going to actually be shooting what the director saying, right? So I wanted the DPS reaction, and look and read comments based on that, because the DP could be like, he's crazy, there's no way to do that, you know. So, after getting all that information, I then go, Okay, this is a doable thing. And this is how it's going to go and I hold them accountable to that, then what I also then do is create a plan B, and I go, Okay, so let's say that's the ideal situation, we're going to go ahead. And, you know, my job is almost to be the cheerleader, and to be the person that motivates them, and keeps them excited to be doing this as well as it is for myself. So then I go, Okay, that's fantastic. This is awesome. Let's go for it. Okay, so also plan B, let's say we have other scenarios, or things come up or running behind schedule, or whatever the the elements or situations are, what are going to be the other solutions. And then at that point, it's also my job to come up with solutions that don't take away from the story, or the message, but to provide solutions or in different scenarios to help solve any problems. And I always keep all of those in my back pocket, because it's the director and the DP and the crews job to go in full gung ho. with, you know, portal, Braveheart offer one One for all, you know, it is my job to do that as well. But then also get ready to have their back, huh,

Alex Ferrari 52:03
that's, that's, there's basically a great line producer to do something like that. And as a director, a lot of times, I mean, line producers are basically one of your generals on the field, you know, without question, the DP, the the line producer, all those guys. And if you don't have a good line producer, a could all spiral out of control very, very quickly.

Sevier Crespo 52:27
Oh, 100%. And, you know, I think what I've been wrong, very few line producers in the same room, because obviously, we're like, unicorns, everybody's working.

Alex Ferrari 52:37
Right? You are you I never see, every once in a while, he's like, Oh, is that Oh, they're they're usually in an office somewhere taking care of shit.

Sevier Crespo 52:46
You know, I think so. One of the misconceptions, at least, you know, from my point of view, or at least with myself is, you know, because of Robert Townsend. And because of the background that I have, you know, I'm very creative. And being an actor in Britain projects, I come from a very creative point of view. So I don't always look at the numbers. I don't, I'm very flexible with the numbers, I know, I know where to put them, or quote, unquote, hide them to just keep it as a pocket. Because if I see a departments needing more than expected, I know what to do. But it's also really knowing being creative. And being part of that team that, you know, you have to be one with your director, with your dp with your crew. And I like to, you know, I like to move around the set a lot. I like to kind of go from department to department to see how everybody's doing, make sure everybody's, you know, don't they don't have any concerns or worries, or there's nothing negative happening. Um, because that helps the process. You know, I think when I've encountered producer line producers that are just all about the numbers and all about the budget. It's not, can't be that way. No, it hinders the project. And it's a bummer. You know, I've heard people before they've met me, you know, people stiffen up, and they're like, okay, he comes a line producer, oh, my God, he's about to tell us we can't do because, apparently, like, you know, if you're, you know, if you're being an idiot, that's Yes, I have to use your job, that's your job. But I'm not, you know, my job is to really come up with solutions, and to keep everybody motivated and excited. And, and, and have the vision that you want as close as possible or 100% nilly, you know, but I also prepare people in the pre production end with the reality of what's doable, and you know, like on my last film, one thing that I like to do is be transparent. I'm very transparent with my crew, and everybody and I even show them the budget. I'm like, Look, this is where things are at. This is what you guys wanted. This is what you guys told me. You could do. This is where we're at things change, I have no problem ever taking, you know, faults in any of my anything that I've missed, done or miss calculated or whatever, I will call it to show my, you know, being cute that I'm human just like everybody else. And I think that also then they realize, Oh, he's part of us, you know, versus a lot of line producers can just be like, the budget is this, this, you know, golden, you know, Chalice this like, you know, held in secrecy. And you know, no one's able to look at it,

Alex Ferrari 55:36
and it's rich, and it's rigid, and it's rigid. Yeah, it can't be.

Sevier Crespo 55:41
It's not. And I think once you, you know, and they don't, so they don't know that. So I think once you walk everybody through the director, the DP, all the key, all your keys, and you really you let them know that you're part of their team, and you're there to help them do their job the best that they can, because their names on the project, their work is on screen. And you know, you're there to take all of the hits, which is another thing that, you know, that's my job is, my job is to take all of the hits from everybody, including your executive producers, so they don't come and attack my set, or my crew members, or my director, you know, I think that's what he's the, you know, it's a big asset. And I think all of that so basically to a long winded answer is I just prepare everybody and I give them the facts up front. And I also give them the wise not like a parent where like, they just can't be done. Because I said so well, because it's impossible, and I don't mock anybody or laugh at them, I just go look, this can be done. Because of this, this requires this kind of permit. This kind of permit requires this because you're using this requires, you know, these amount of police officers and Fire Fire Department, or we need extra stuff, people because of this, this thing right here requires a special rig, and I give them all of the information. So they don't they go, Oh, I get that, let me help you now find a solution for that. Or sometimes I find a lot of directors and DPS go, you know what, let's find a different way to do it. So it doesn't, you know, it doesn't even give anybody a headache. And also the next Look, guys, this is going to take extra time, which then puts your crew with extra work and you know, they go we can go into overtime. And I don't want to do that to the crew. It's not fair to them. Because they they're they're doing physical manual labor here with all the lights and everything. They you know, they kind of they always find solutions for themselves. So that's usually how I handle a lot of low budget projects that have more on paper than is realistically

Alex Ferrari 57:39
allowed, which is generally mostly all the projects. So what what advice would you give a filmmaker just starting out?

Sevier Crespo 57:48
Oh, wow. Wow. I mean, I consider myself to still be just starting

Alex Ferrari 57:53
out. Well, you you're a little in the in the journey of filmmaking, you're a little bit ahead of someone just coming in. So what would give that advice? Um,

Sevier Crespo 58:05
you know, I would, I would tell a filmmaker, don't underestimate story and character, and minimal locations. I would say don't underestimate minimal locations, and the magic in the power that are that great characters and great stories have, because then you can maximize your budget. You know, I mean, perfect. You know, honestly, I think one of the most perfect films that I think, you know, out there that was done in that sense was, you know, Reservoir Dogs. I mean, man in the mean, it's like, that's, and it's suspense, it's a thriller, and you have a certain amount of characters, but it's, it's kind of contained and you know what I mean? So I think that's what I would tell a first time filmmaker or a young filmmaker coming in as well as you know, right? with things that you know, you can get to increase the quality of your shell you know, whether it's your parents home, your own car, um, you know, a perfect example is, you know, my wife son just did his first short film with some friends. And that's exactly what he did. And I have to say, I was excited I was beyond impressed. I was like, my God, this is you know, they they knew what they could get for free what they wanted to get for free and where the money had to go. And it shows on screen that you know, it's it's not the most complex all over the place film, but it's so well done. Like I'm I'm just I'm proud like I'm so I'm stoked that a young filmmaker was able to really do it that way. So I think that's what I would for young filmmakers. It's a maximize what you have minimize locations. And yeah, and never underestimate you know, never assume because this happens all the time that that's just gonna be a quick shot.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:28
It's just yes just a quick quickie. It's a quickie it did three hours later, three hours later,

Sevier Crespo 1:00:33
that non stop, you know, it's just a really quick quick shot. It's like,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:37
it's not on the schedule, but it's just like real quick, real quick. Real quick, it'll be fine. Bring in the dolly. And we're just gonna lay this Dolly track down real quick. Real quick. When you hear the term, we're gonna lay down this Dolly track real quick. There's a problem.

Sevier Crespo 1:00:53
Yes, Dolly in the car mount.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:56
Oh, God, karma.

Sevier Crespo 1:00:59
Car mount. I mean, I think it's just, you know, it's gonna be one of those days.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:06
Now, um, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life

Sevier Crespo 1:01:20
communication can handle almost everything and anything like communication with respect, and integrity, and really, really understanding as best as you can the other person's point of view. Because I think it whether it's in life, or in the film industry, people can be very arrogant. They're like, what do you mean you don't understand what I'm saying? What do you mean? Like, you can do that? Or why are you doing it that way? Oh, my God, get out of my way. Let me handle it. I think, you know, I found to be successful in life and in the film TV industry by communicating and being specific and understanding others communication, especially when there's an upset and I think they really, really, really will value that. And um, and it just takes you along. It just it takes you further in life. Okay, no, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:25
that's excellent. Now, what are the three of your favorite films of all time?

Sevier Crespo 1:02:30
Oh, wow. You know, I heard you ask this question in your previous podcasts and I so I was thinking about it. Um, let's see Gone with the Wind. Okay. Um Wow, wow, there's so many Wow, I would say Scarface

Alex Ferrari 1:02:57
okay. Of course of course you know the most famous the most famous Cuban of all time is Italian

Sevier Crespo 1:03:05
yeah right um you know, huh kind of so many I'm not gonna be kicking myself for this but I will then have to just say Good Will Hunting I

Alex Ferrari 1:03:22
love good wanting Yeah, that's a good one as a girl with the late great Robin Williams

Sevier Crespo 1:03:29
right yes. Oh God I was so sad

Alex Ferrari 1:03:33
that the whole that movie in general is just such a it's such it's it's almost perfection in the way that story was told

Sevier Crespo 1:03:41
it is and I think that in actually perfect example that's a perfect example of another great film where they maximize I mean, you know what they had and granted you could say oh, you have Robin Williams and the unknowns of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon but you know the story and it's like he's he's a janitor happens to be a brilliant and is it's just it's beautiful. Yeah, it's you know, and I think you know, I think I don't know for me was the beginning of I think that was when I realized I can do this

Alex Ferrari 1:04:15
yeah, for me it was um, was Roberts movies Robert Rodriguez movies like Desperado and and mariachi that's the point where I said Oh, I think I can do this

Sevier Crespo 1:04:29
right Yeah, well that's those were I mean, I was blown away on his ability to make those happen or what we had available

Alex Ferrari 1:04:36
so insane insane. So listen, where can people find you? Oh wow, I'm at your home address now you know Matt just just

Sevier Crespo 1:04:48
I'm on you know, was saying that Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. It's severe Crespo or Cedric Crespo? calm. It's kind of vice page with some of my work. And a little bit of my bio and things like that and then on social media it says your crossbow a to be

Alex Ferrari 1:05:08
a severe man thank you so much for being on the show man I really appreciate you dropping so many knowledge bombs today.

Sevier Crespo 1:05:14
Well I appreciate it and thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure and an honor.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:19
I tell you guys having a good line producer is imperative on these on productions man i've i've had bad line producers and I've had amazing line producers. My my, my line producer on my last project I just did with legendary and Nerdist was Paul Silver. And Paul was amazing he was really really great. His and and just got everything done for me, I didn't have to worry in, in the sign of a good line producer as speaking from a director's point of view, is not having to worry just knowing that when you get on set, everything's going to be there for you don't have to worry that he's picking everything and put everything in, in place. So you've got what you need to do your job as a director. So it's so so so imperative, and I can tell you some, I'll tell you one quick story of a bad one I had, where literally a day before production of this thing I was shooting the line producer and I use that term extremely loosely, hadn't gotten cameras, trucks, things that we needed to get things just going food, he just dropped the ball so many places where I had to stop prepping for me for my directing, and actually had to put on a producer's hat and actually go out and get all this stuff I had to go out and get the trucks I it was insane. This is early days of my career and and but you know, you learn and you learn to make sure you hire good line producers because they can save your butt trust me so hope you guys got a lot out of that episode. And you know, guys, if you if you'd like to show, please spread the word, spread the word as much as you can share our links. And if you can head over to iTunes, or you can just go to filmmaking podcast.com and leave us an honest review hopefully a good one. But it really helps us out a lot and I want to get as many filmmakers this information as humanly possible. So I need your help with that guys. And I want to give you this as Meg update, we will hopefully be releasing it sometime in the summer on iTunes. And we we are working through distributor to do that. And we will be doing a video, kind of video, small little video documentary on my experience using distributor and going through the entire process from launch strategies to everything we're going to go down to the distributor, headquarters, shoot some stuff, post some stuff, it's going to be awesome. So I'm going to give you guys as much behind the scenes of me launching this as mag on iTunes as humanly possible. Don't forget to head over to distribute comm forward slash indie film hustle. If you want to get your film on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, any of those platforms, these guys can help you out. And I'll just be showing you what I'll be doing with them in the future. And also I have a bunch of things cooking, or the rest of this year. I'm working on some big stuff, some big projects, some big updates for indie film hustle, as well. And some new stuff that I'm working on some new launches some new things. I know I'm being very cryptic here, but just keep an eye out because I have a lot of cool stuff coming for the tribe. So thank you guys again, so much for your support. And I really, really appreciate all those emails, and Facebook messages and Twitter messages that you guys send me on a daily basis. I'm so glad that my my hard work that I do here at indie film hustle is inspiring you guys, and you're finding value in what I do with indie film, hustle. And you know, it does keep me going so thank you guys so so much and I really wish you guys all the best in any production and any journey that you guys are on so thank you again. Oh, and by the way, if you want to know what if you want to get links to anything we talked about in the show, head over to indie film, hustle, calm forward slash 155 for the show notes of this episode. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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