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Top 25 Must Listen to Screenwriting Podcasts (Oscar® Winners)

Finding a great Screenwriting Podcast is a treasure trove of knowledge for the aspiring or professional screenwriter. We have put together the Top twenty five must listen to screenwriting podcasts from the archives of the Indie Film Hustle Podcast and the Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast.

The list below is definitely has  podcasts for screenwriters with a who’s who in the screenwriting world. From Oscar® and Emmy® winners like Eric Roth, Edward Zwick, Richard Linklater, David Chase to screenwriting coaches like Robert McKee, John Truby and Chris Vogler.

These episodes are the best podcasts for screenwriters wanting to learn more about the craft and business of screenwriting. Be sure to take notes because there are a ton of knowledge bombs that are dropped in these screenwriting podcasts.

This list will be updated every few months so keep checking back.

Click here to subscribe to the Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or Spreaker.

1. Eric Roth

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

2. Oliver Stone

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

3. Richard Linklater

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

4. David Chase

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

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

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

5. John August

Today on the show we have Hollywood screenwriter, director, producer, podcaster and novelist John August. He is known for writing the hit Hollywood films Go, Charlie’s Angels, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, Big Fish, Charlie, and the Chocolate Factory and Frankenweenie, the Disney live-action adaptation of Aladdin and the novel Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire.

6. Edward Zwick 

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

7. James V. Hart

I’m so excited to bring this episode to the BPS Tribe. Today we have legendary screenwriter James V. Hart. James is the screenwriter behind some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters like HOOK, directed by Steven Spielberg based on an idea by Hart’s then 6-year-old son, Jake, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND, directed by Brian Henson, and CONTACT, directed by Robert Zemeckis. MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN, TUCK EVERLASTING, AUGUST RUSH, SAHARA, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER: THE CRADLE OF LIFE, AUGUST RUSH and many more.

“No one has a job in our business until you type ‘the end’.” — James V. Hart

8. Jordan Peele

Get ready to have your mind blown! I’ll be releasing a 3-Part Limited Series of conversations between the legendary screenwriter James V. Hart, the writer of Hook, Contact, Bram Stroker’s Dracula, and Tomb Raiderjust to name a few, and some of the top screenwriters in the game.

First up is the screenwriter that took the world by storm with his Oscar-Winning screenplay Get Out, Jordan Peele. If you have been living under a rock for the past few years here is what the film is about.

This was recorded before Jordan’s next hit film Us was released. Listening to these two masters discuss character, plot, theme, and more is a rare treat. It’s like being a fly on the wall. When you are done listening to this conversation you can read some of Jordan’s screenplay here.

9. Damien Chazelle

Today on the show we have Damien Chazelle, the Oscar® Winning director and screenwriter of La La Land. He bursted on the scene with his debut film Whiplash. The film is about a young musician (Teller) struggles to become a top jazz drummer under the tutelage of a ruthless band conductor (Simmons).

James and Damien discuss how he wrote and structured La La Land and much more. Enjoy this rare conversation between James V. Hart and Damien Chazelle.

10. Joe Cornish

Have you ever  wondered what it is like screenwriting inside the Marvel and Studio machine? Wonder no further, today we have screenwriter and director Joe Cornish. Joe was one of the writer’s on Marvel’s Ant-Man.

Joe honestly, was extremely forthcoming and transparent about a lot of things; like what really happened behind the scenes on Ant-Man and what it’s like to write inside the Marvel machine, having Edgar Wright as a writing partner, working with filmmaking legends like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. And we also discuss his craft, how he approaches screenwriting and directing, and much more.

11. Joe Carnahan

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

12. Troy Duffy

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

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

13. Sacha Gervasi

Being a podcaster now for over 600 episodes I’ve heard all sorts of stories on how people make it in the film business. From Sundance darlings to blind luck. Now today’s guest story is easily one of the most incredible and entertaining origin stories I’ve ever heard. We have on the show today award-winning director, producer, and screenwriter, Sacha Gervasi.

Sacha won the screenwriter lottery with his first-ever screenplay, which was a un-produceable short film script, caught the eye of the legendary Steven Spielberg. That script, My Dinner with Herve would eventually be expanded and released in 2018 by HBO. The film stars the incomparable, Peter Dinklage.

Sasha is such an interesting human being, I had such a ball talking with him.  We talk about the film business, his origin stories, his screenwriting craft, what he’s doing now, and so much more.

Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Sacha Gervasi.

14. Edward Burns

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

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

15. Mark L. Smith

I’ve spoken to many people in the film business over the years but today’s guest is one of the hardest working craftman I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with. Today on the show we have screenwriter, producer and director, Mark L. Smith.

If you look at his IMDB you’ll see a list of 15 projects at various stages of development. He’s come a long way from entering the Hollywood scene some 15 years ago with his fear-striking horror screenwriting and directorial debut, Séance in 2006.

I had an absolute ball speaking to Mark. He’s one of the hardest working screenwriters in Hollywood. We discuss everything from The Revenant, genius-level tips on how to adapt a book to the screen to what it was like work with Quentin Tarantino on the Star Trek script that has yet to be made.

If you pray, please pray to the Hollywood Gods that Mark and Quentin’s Star Trek gangster film sees the light of day.

16. Diane Drake

Today on the show we have million-dollar screenwriter Diane Drake. Her produced original scripts include ONLY YOU, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Marisa Tomei, and WHAT WOMEN WANT, starring Mel Gibson.

Her original script for ONLY YOU sold for $1 million, and WHAT WOMEN WANT is the second highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time (Box Office Mojo). In addition, both films have recently been remade in China featuring major Chinese stars. And WHAT WOMEN WANT has recently been remade by Paramount Pictures as WHAT MEN WANT, with Taraji Henson starring in the Mel Gibson role.

17. Boaz Yakin

We have for you on the show today screenwriter and director, Boaz Yakin, The writer behind The Punisher, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, The Rookie, & Safe and directing, The Fresh, Remember the Titans and the comedy-drama, Uptown Girl among others.

Boaz and I chatted about his creative process, the business side and political side of screenwriting and directing in Hollywood during this conversation. He was extremely raw and honest about what it really is like working inside the Hollywood machine.

18. Jeffrey Reddick

Today on the show we have screenwriter and director Jeffrey Reddick, who is best known for creating the highly successful Final Destination horror film franchise. The franchise has grossed over $650 Million world-wide. Not bad for an idea that was first conceived for an X-Files episode.

Jeffrey has had an amazing career so far and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

19. Billy Crystal 

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

20. Larry Wilson

If you were a kid of the late 80s or early 90s then today’s guest definitely had an impact on your life. Larry Wilson is the co-creator of the cult classic Beetlejuice (directed by Tim Burton), writer of Addams Family and worked on the legendary television show Tales from the Crypt.

Larry wasn’t always a screenwriter, he worked on the studio side of things as well as an executive. In this interview, he tells the story of how he championed a young and pre-Terminator James Cameron to be the writer/director of Aliens. Great story!

21. Robert McKee

Our guest today is the well-regarded screenwriting lecturer, story consultant, and eminent author, Robert McKee. Reputable for his globally-renowned ‘Story Seminars’ that cover the principles and styles of storytelling.

I read his book years ago and refer to it often. I discovered McKee after watching the brilliant film Adaptation by the remarkable Charlie Kaufman. Kaufman literally wrote him into the script as a character. McKee’s character was portrayed by the Emmy Award-winning actor Brian Cox.

If you haven’t heard of Robert McKee then you’re in for treat. Robert McKee is what is considered a “guru of gurus” in the screenwriting and storytelling world.

He has lectured on storytelling for three decades, and his book Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE) is a “screenwriters’ bible“. It’s also become the bible for TV writers, and entertainment executives, and their assistants.

McKee’s former students include 67 Academy Award winners, 200+ Emmy Award winners, 100+ Writers Guild of America Award winners, and 52 Directors Guild of America Award winners.

Some of his “Story Seminar” alumnae including Oscar® Winners Peter Jackson, Julia Roberts, John Cleese,  Geoffrey Rush, Paul Haggis, Akiva Goldsman, William Goldman, and Jane Capon, among many others.

22. John Truby

Today on the show we have one of the most popular guests to ever be on the Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, the legendary John Truby. John is the author of The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller.

John Truby is one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants in the film industry, and his students have gone on to pen some of Hollywood’s most successful films. The Anatomy of Story shares all his secrets for writing a compelling script.

Based on the lessons in his award-winning class, Great Screenwriting, The Anatomy of Story draws on a broad range of philosophy and mythology, offering fresh techniques and insightful anecdotes alongside Truby’s own unique approach to building an effective, multifaceted narrative.

His is former students’ work has earned more than $15 billion at the box office, and include the writers, directors, and producers of such film blockbusters as Ratatouille, In Treatment, Pirates of the Caribbean, X-Men I/II/III, Shrek, Mother Mary of Chris, Breaking Bad, House, Lost, Planet of the Apes, Scream, The Fantastic Four, The Negotiator, Star Wars, Sleepless in Seattle, Outbreak, African Cats (which Truby co-wrote for Disney) and more.

23. Chris Vogler

Today on the show we bring the legendary story analyst and best-selling author Chris Vogler. Chris wrote the game-changing book  The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. I read this book over 25 years ago and it changed the way I look at “story.” Chris studied the work and principles of the late master Joseph Campbell.

His book The Hero with a Thousand Faces was the basis for Star Wars as well as almost every other Hollywood feature film in the past 60 years using what Campbell called the monomyth.

24. Pen Densham

Today on the show we Pen Densham. Pen is a successful award-winning screenwriter, producer, and director, with an extensive track record in film and television. He is responsible for writing and producing some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Backdraft, Blown Awayalong with some of its longest-running television series including The Outer Limits.

I had a ball speaking to Pen about his time in Hollywood, what it was like to screenwriter/producer monster hits and his screenwriting philosophy on how to make it in Hollywood.

25. Marshall Herskovitz

Our guest today is producer, director and screenwriter Marshall Herskovitz. Many of his production projects have been in partnership with his long-time filmmaking collaborator, Edward Zwick whose films, he’s produced and written half of. Their decades-long filmmaking partnership was launched as co-creators of the 1987 TV show, ThirtySomething.


IFH 097: Doug Richardson – Screenwriting Bad Boys, Die Hard 2 & Making It in Hollyweird

Can you imagine having a front-row seat to the start of the filmmaking careers of Will Smith, Bruce Willis, and Michael Bay? Well, this week’s guest Screenwriter Doug Richardson did just that. In 1989 20th Century Fox hired Doug to adapt Walter Wager’s novel 58 Minutes into the first sequel to the hit franchise Die Hard. In 1990, it was released as Die Hard 2, Die Harder.

Around the same period, Doug and his one-time writing partner, Rick Jaffa, garnered national attention when their spec screenplayHellbent…and Back was the first in Hollywood to sell for a million dollars. Doug has since written and produced feature films including the box office smash Bad Boys (1995), Money Train (1995), and Hostage (2005).

Doug Richardson, Bad Boys, Die Hard 2, Hostage, Money Train, Bruce Willis, Screenwriter, screenplay, teleplay, screenwriting, screenwriting course

On the Set of Hostage with Bruce Willis

In addition to writing for the screen and print, Doug posts a weekly blog on his website, dougrichardson.com, where he shares personal anecdotes and insight from his thirty-year showbiz career. The first collection of his blogs, The Smoking Gun: True Tales from Hollywood’s Screenwriting Trenches was published in 2015.

I had a ball chatting with Doug and his stories from the set had been mesmerized. He dropped some major knowledge bombs in this interview. Enjoy!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 5:27
I like to welcome to the show Doug Richardson. Man, thank you so much for taking the time buddy I appreciate it.

Doug Richardson 5:31
Very welcome.

Alex Ferrari 5:33
So let's get into it. Man, how did you become a screenwriter, like what made you want to want jump into this crazy business?

Doug Richardson 5:40
Well, I wanted to be a filmmaker. You know, I wanted to be a film director. In fact, like so many kids with movie cameras, and we used to go, you know, sneak away and skip movies at the mall. And from theater to theater, you know, digest your, you know, kind of 1970s movie geek. And then, you know, once a film school, because you know, that's kind of a natural progression. Saw that I kind of liked that movies were written. And a lot of the directors I really admired were guys who had written movies before. So I thought I would write my way into the business after I got out of school. And I did in doing so I kind of became a screenwriter instead of a film director.

Alex Ferrari 6:27
Gotcha. And you went to USC, correct? I did. How was how was that back then?

Doug Richardson 6:32
Back then when we are in the Quonset huts? Yes. Before George Lucas and Steven Spielberg and everybody built them a mini Warner Brothers.

Alex Ferrari 6:42
Actually, you know what, I just spoke there. I just did a lecture at USC and I just for the first time ever, I walked around. You're absolutely right. It's like

Doug Richardson 6:50
Warner Brothers that that was what it was supposed to look like. It was supposed to look like the you know, the the Warner studio it's supposed to live the interiors and all the all the architecture and stuff was supposed to look like yeah, you know, Warner is except, except it's in better shape.

Alex Ferrari 7:07
Oh, it's brand new. It's like years old.

Doug Richardson 7:10
We were in a little we were in World War Two Quonset huts. On another part of campus, it was just this little tiny quad of Quonset huts.

Alex Ferrari 7:20
So it wasn't, it was it was well respected back then. It was

Doug Richardson 7:23
always an extraordinarily respected, it was smaller, though. Okay. As in there were fewer students that could there was there were only 20 students per year. Oh, Jesus, and in both the grad programs, and the and the undergrad programs are only 20 each, it was tiny. So it was more competitive. in some regards. And and you know, by the time you finished there, were only like 15 each, because people would have dropped or dropped out and moved on. So it was a it was it was it was very interesting, and probably very different.

Alex Ferrari 7:57
Wow, man. Wow. And were you there around the time that Jordan and I was I was there after Stephen was not you never went?

Doug Richardson 8:05
That's right. Long Beach. Uh, I was there, you know, after. Um, so he came and spoke and showed us you know, he came and talked to us and gave like, some of the best advice you could ever get, which was, you know, film school will not teach you anything about filmmaking. But it is no Whoa, Whoa, did you write your I will provide you a great, you know, laboratory in which to teach yourself. And that was very, very true, because there's some people who got through my program, and I swear, when they got finished, did not know where to put a camera. You know, even in the most basic setups and stuff. So versus, you know, a lot of us, you know, got our start there and moved on. And I had a pretty interesting class to some, you know, Ken o'clock. This was not in my undergrad class, but the undergrad to the grad students went along in tandem. So and there were a lot of the programs, a lot of the classes were the same. So you were mixed in with the grad students. And so yeah, so guys like Ken coppice and Steven Blum and all those guys done some work since then, kind of one thing's less. You know, Andy Davis, the producer, Andy Davis, not the director Andy Davis. And some others

Alex Ferrari 9:22
Andy Davis did is it's the same guy. I'm thinking as the guy did the fugitive.

Doug Richardson 9:27
No, that's the director Andy Davis.

Alex Ferrari 9:29
Okay, okay.

Doug Richardson 9:30
Here's the Andrew Davis the producer who's just produced a lot of in a real go to line guy out there. He works and works and works.

Alex Ferrari 9:37
Awesome. Awesome. So when you when you write a screenplay, like what's your process, and I know every screenplay, a screenwriter has a unique process. What's yours?

Doug Richardson 9:47
I don't know. Mine's that unique. I mean, my process is do whatever I need to do, to serve the project. You know, so there's no wheel. I put everything on cards. I Outline I, you know, I, you know, I go into a park and, and write on a bench the way Ron bass used to or whatever, or sit in restaurants and listen to dialogue I would just sort of, um, you know, if I felt a movie really wired you know if it was an action movie, for example, you know, like diehard for example that I felt was a you know kind of a bit of an action opera. That's something I felt like needed to be put on cards versus if it's something that's more of a thriller that's that's kind of need to be felt. Or if it's something that just there was a lot of, you know, a drama that, you know, a lot of that is just research. And then sometimes the outline can be something on paper, sometimes it can be just notions on paper slightly organized, until eventually I get down to sitting down and writing and then the process is then probably very normal, I get that, I write it. I by the time I get done with the first draft, there's a ton of stuff I already want to rewrite, I rewrite it and rewrite it until it's ready to kind of hand out and give to people to read.

Alex Ferrari 11:07
Now do you have Do you? Are you one of those writers that kind of like gets the idea and starts beating it up in your head? First? Or do you do you do use the cards and you use the outlines to kind of beat it up because I like when I write I always, like I always beat it up in my head for probably a week or two, before I even put anything to paper,

Doug Richardson 11:25
I have stuff in my head all the time. I have things that get that form, I'm sure isn't your writer, you understand this. Some things form very quickly. And you can get them on paper. And some things, like I said, are still in my head that I think are really great notions, but have never haven't yet formed into something that I'm either going to write a screenplay or as I do now, which is I write more books and screenplays. But you know, is it? You know, it's it's, there are notions in there that I say there's, there's a movie there somewhere, it just hasn't come at? It hasn't come together yet. So But still, yeah, it's come it has to come together in my head before I start, you know, to put it down on paper, because then it's, you know, I don't know, when I start to put stuff down on paper, I have no idea what I mean, almost everything I put down, I've kind of run through my head.

Alex Ferrari 12:20
Now, are you Well, obviously you've you're working screenwriter you've had you've done many, many movies over the course of your career? Or when what is the process of you actually getting a writing assignment? Like how does that work, so the audience can understand a bit of how it works in the studio system, like your agent gets a call.

Doug Richardson 12:41
There's the weather, the old days, and there's nowadays which is very, very different than the last 30 years. Things have changed. And then there's also their cycles, too. You know, whether they're, they're buying specs, or they're buying pitches, or and what kind of pitches they're buying and, and they want you to come in with a whole nowadays they want you to come in with a whole, you know, sometimes with almost the marketing campaign. Because they you know, versus i remember i This wasn't my pitch but back a long time ago, Dale on or walked in. And the pitch was, she's blonde, she's beautiful, just don't get her drunk. And that was that was it. That was a green light, a blind date. Oh, man, they made that movie. But that was the pitch, at least, that movie that was the myth of the pitch, at least,

Alex Ferrari 13:34
at least, the myth of the great movie back in the day.

Doug Richardson 13:37
And I used to have, you know, back in the days when they were would, there was more development and they would, they were more interested in buying an idea with a writer and it didn't quite need to be as formed and they would actually be part of the forming of it process. You could go in and I did go in sometimes it would only go into the first act or I would go on with just, you know, character and a couple of characters in a situation. And they would say yeah, that's cool. Let's try it. And you know, a deal would be made or you know, and you go start the research or whatever, and you'd eventually write the movie but a deal will be made now. They kind of almost again want the story to be fully baked. They want three acts. And they want like I said practically a marketing campaign. Whether it's something back to your question, whether it's a you know that my agent calls me and says DreamWorks is looking for a haunted house movie, you know, and didn't you have one? And when you go into DreamWorks, you know, DreamWorks wants more than just, Hey, I have this idea for a haunted house movie. Or, hey, you know, the executives want to, you know, unless you're pitching the guy who can say yes, or the woman who could say Guess who's the boss and generally you're not at that point. you're pitching something that you need. They need to be able to take upstairs to their to their boss, the guy who says yes, or take to their big meeting and to the group and see if they can say yes and be competitive with it. You know, sometimes they want more ammo than just the story you want to tell them? You know, this is I mean, now it's like they want, you know, what's the demographic? Now?

Alex Ferrari 15:25
Right, right? You're right, you're absolutely right. They want to like stay one on one stats, they want reports in

Doug Richardson 15:31
our marketing scheme. How we see, you know, do we have a do, can we imagine a slot for this, you know, which is again, very different than 20 years ago, when they just made stuff that they really liked. And only they develop stuff that really liked it only after they developed it to a place that they really, really loved it? Would they then say, Okay, now, you know, how do we approach? How much do we spend on it? route? How would you know? And then the marketing guys would come in? And how would we market it? And how would we write everything out there on a lot of screens? Are we gonna operate on just a couple of markets? You know, so that's now it's just, it's it's very pre packaged, and pre digested and pre marketed?

Alex Ferrari 16:21
So it's, before you might have had if you're not good at business? Sorry? I'm not right. Of course, of course, the end business is a little bit different. But like, do you think that's kind of the whole corporatization of like the McDonald's thing? of

Doug Richardson 16:35
Yeah, no, that's where the, where the corporations bought Hollywood, there was a lot of different there's a lot of talk for a long time about how, how it was going to spin out, you know, and people have different ideas, you know, we're movies gonna be and then you know, there's a whole DVD part of the business Yeah, well, again, and videotape part of the business where, you know, you're you, you begin, like a product and you're fighting for, you know, square feet of shelf space, you know, or linear or linear feet of shelf space at blockbuster or Walmart or something. Um, no one really knew that it would sort of end up going more, where the marketing guys move way deep into the creative side, to where movies were actually made more to fit a marketing scheme, than they were to fit something that an audience is going to love. Right there. They're kind of almost reverse engineered. This is a marketing scheme that we know we can sell. We've been very successful with this kind of marketing scheme. What can we find that fits that model?

Alex Ferrari 17:52
I think one of the movies of recent year of this year actually that kind of broke what you're talking about, and it was a huge monsters hit to the surprise of the studio was Deadpool. They kind of snuck it in. And then the marketing guys made this brilliant marketing campaign. But that was one of those films that I think just kind of, it was

Doug Richardson 18:11
a risky film for them. And it was and it was an anomaly for them. Yep. It wasn't an anomaly. I think they knew they had something they liked. And they knew they were going to have to sell it differently. They clearly had a ball with it. Yes. They certainly had a ball with it. And and then the move then on top of it, the movie deliver and you've got this massive breakout hit. Now is that now a new marketing scheme, that they're going to try and fit again, for something other than Deadpool?

Alex Ferrari 18:42
What well, Wolverine is going to be an R rated the next Wolverine will be the R rated.

Doug Richardson 18:47
Right? Are they going to do I mean, people thought Warner's was going to do that was Suicide Squad, you know, that they were really going to, you know, aim for, you know, but I think they were Warner Brothers was really deep in the Suicide Squad for Deadpool came out. So perhaps they didn't do that. I think, you know, audiences may have been hoping for something with more of an edge. But did that create a new a new marketing scheme? Or is, you know, or is that you know, sometimes they see that and they just write them off as anomalies.

Alex Ferrari 19:19
Right? Of course. Yeah. I mean, yeah, I completely agree. But I do think Well, I think there there is going to be a little bit of a shift. But again, that budget too, was $50 million dollars or something like that. It wasn't in the studio world. That's nothing.

Doug Richardson 19:33
No, it was in the studio superhero world world. It was I think it was an experiment. Yeah. It used to be. See it's an experiment. It that used to be Hey, this is Deadpool. This is cool. This is how much we're willing to risk on it. You guys go go make it we'll figure out how to add a marketing. Yep. Okay. That's how it used to be. Now. You know, it's looked upon as as like, you know, as The lab rat. It's so crazy and and not as less cool. We should we should make it. The movies from the period I grew up on. I mean some of my favorites like Midnight Cowboy. I read something you imagine

Alex Ferrari 20:12
almost a cowboy today from a studio,

Doug Richardson 20:16
the studio that made it the response was this. We love that this is amazing. We have to make it it's incredibly risky. So we're only going to we're only going to spend this we got a director, we got the script, we got the producer, whatever, you guys go make this film for a million for don't spend a penny more. Okay, go make it, don't spend a penny more or we'll kill you. You know, and then they come back with the movie. And then they say, Great, we've got this it bloomed. It's everything we thought it should be. Now we've only risked 1,000,004 on it. Let's come up with a way to sell it. But they made it because they loved it. They didn't turn away movies that they didn't love. They saw something they loved because they love movies. And they wanted to make sure some they saw as like just money, grand sizes, and we're going to make them because you know, they make money but some they would read and they would say oh my gosh, we have to be we have to make this this has to be ours. And they would figure out how to do it now loving something is dangerous because you're not because you're not thinking your way through if it's going to be a marketing thing.

Alex Ferrari 21:27
Do you believe in this whole Hollywood implosion eventually like you know all these big temples are just they just keep rolling the dice so much that eventually they're gonna have a bomb like you know, Batman

Doug Richardson 21:38
superiority is they're already having bombs and like masses, but they're, well, you know, their Heaven's Gate now there's no because there's, they're all the parent companies can withstand the parent companies. The other corporatization is that the parent companies can withstand the bomb that's the you know, and they and they've again been able to pre digest them and pre market them in such a way where their risk is still somewhat you know, minimal right? So it won't kill the studio. It may make them shift a little bit I don't think it's going to be an implosion I think it's going to be a slow erosion of

Alex Ferrari 22:25

Doug Richardson 22:27
well no it's going to change cinema is going to be there's always people is going to be abroad is going to want to go sit in a dark theater I think and see something really great yeah, it might be small that where it where it goes as far as you know the independent world and what you're able to make independently in theaters exhibitors wanting to willing to book independent films and they're being a market for people wanting to go out one thing they they've done is they price themselves out of a priced the regular movie goer out of the theater as a regular movie going experience because they've been stuck really with that and that that I've been really expecting for a while I think that really hit home this summer with some movies you know it's like oh, what are we gonna see we're gonna see the BFG or Finding Dory you know, or we saw Finding Dory and oh kid sorry you want us to do BFG I'm sorry. I already spent that $150 for that night out month yes and we're not going to go see another movie for another month so I think

Alex Ferrari 23:33
it's very true I have I have twin daughters and everything and I want to go Zootopia and you know we went to go see Finding Dory and But at a certain point you like and they said I think that we want to go out with my wife took them to go see secret lives of the dogs or pets or something. And that you know when like ice age came out, we're like BFG Yeah, like I'm not gonna go cuz it's 40 it's 50 bucks. 60 bucks. Tickets and then there's the

Doug Richardson 23:58

Alex Ferrari 23:59
No, I always bring in my I always bring in my pot. Okay, well

Doug Richardson 24:02
you're that guy.

Alex Ferrari 24:03
I'm that dude dude. Absolutely.

Doug Richardson 24:04
Well your kids are learning to be frugal still 50 bucks Yeah, but still yeah the cost the cost of seeing a movie have have gone up oh raizy compared to five or six bucks on high school it was over six compared to the cost of living everywhere else. Right? It's it's gone. I mean, when they came the other greedy thing is that I thought was I kind of felt was going to happen as soon as they learned they could charge a premium price for 3d, then sure they're going to pay to have movies in 3d and charge the premium price. But the but the 2d prices just crept up right behind them.

Alex Ferrari 24:47
Yep. And now there's Don't forget the big theaters that are special theaters that have this special seating and the special sound and, and those like you know, extra money ultravision or whatever. It's just all you know, all sorts of different things. And you know, Well, I mean, we've gotten completely sidetracked off our coverage.

Doug Richardson 25:03
I know. But it's, it's fun and by the way, but from a writer standpoint, these are important things to know and understand. You need to understand the business and what you you work and the people and the perspectives of the people which you're working for, you know, whatever else you're doomed to, in some respect to failure. Well, I'm

Alex Ferrari 25:24
ask you a question. Now, you know, you worked in a time where, you know, the studios were a lot different, like we were talking about, like, now, you know, a lot of the earlier earlier work in your career, you know, those that was a different kind of time. I can only imagine like every year that goes by, there is a new crop of screenwriters coming into the marketplace. But yet the old crop of screenwriters are still working as well, but yet the number of studio movies are going down. Yeah, now the competition to get even try to get a studio movie made at any level, even, you know, a smaller level like a Lionsgate for 20 or $30 million for certain movies, if that even exists much anymore, is getting harder and harder and harder. Because you know, you know, you've been you know, you wrote diehard to and you wrote Bad Boys, and you know, you and you were a bunch of studio movies back then well, you're not gone. You know, you're still in competition with the new 20 year old or the new 25 year old screenwriter that's submitting there's like,

Doug Richardson 26:24
I'm sorry, if I choose to me.

Alex Ferrari 26:26
Yeah, exactly if you choose to. So, um, well, let's get back to screenwriting real quick. There's two camps that I've heard of, and they are the plot camp and the character camp. Do you sit on one side? Or do you do both? Or you have a foot in both?

Doug Richardson 26:44
Some people might argue based upon my film, please, those of you that have been made, you know, I've written a lot more screenplays in pictures that have been made. Um, I really think I prefer a balance of both. I think character drives plot. So I'm definitely character first, unless you have an agenda, and a character with an agenda that has real characters with agendas that create some sort of conflict. And you have no story at all. But you still have to be an architect of plot to get to kind of get there because it is a movie and you have all you got, especially it's a movie so I mean, you've got 90 minutes to two hours and 15 minutes generally, in which you're going to have to tell the story. So you know, the screenplays they say our structure? Well, architecture is, is there's a lot of plot involved in architecture.

Alex Ferrari 27:48
So plot would be the car and character would be the engine.

Doug Richardson 27:51
Yeah, gotcha. That I guess

Alex Ferrari 27:55
that's a good analogy or not.

Doug Richardson 27:56
Yeah, but that's that's works for me.

Alex Ferrari 27:58
So you wrote one of my favorite movies in the 90s bad boys. How did you get the bad boys gig and how did that come to be?

Doug Richardson 28:07
That was just one of those, you know, right place, right time kind of things. Were they had a Donen Jerry had a whole lot of movies Don Simpson, Jerry Bruckheimer. Were coming back from their sort of lean period, and had three movies ramping up at once. Dangerous mines, Crimson Tide and bad boys. And they had this director named Michael Bay who'd never directed anything but some videos and it got some commercials. And they had half a script. literally half a script that they just stopped. They just stopped even though there have been many scripts for it. It's been in development for like 11 or 12 years. Yeah, it

Alex Ferrari 28:56
wasn't a Danny Carvey and Jon Lovitz, originally it was there was well there was a version

Doug Richardson 28:59
of the movie with Michael Bay directing six months prior to my being involved. That was it was a Dana Carvey Jon Lovitz vehicle. That's and then that fell apart and they started to mess with the script again. And they just stopped in the middle because when they got, um, they had these two TV actors, you know, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence who had hiatuses between their shows are both gonna be on hiatus around the same time someone had the bright idea whether it was Jerry or Lucas Foster, who was that time running their company to put them all on my guest as it was Lucas to sort of like get the get we got the director, we got this hot young shooter and we got these two interesting guys. And Martin unwell came on board and they said that sounds like fun, but the script that they had, they were all forces. Yeah, you know, Gallo had originally written a farce. Um, and that was still at the center of it and and will and Martin wanted to be in an action movie. Right and so I got the call one afternoon Can you come in now? And I'll you know, literally at this moment I was on my way back from a little league practice on a team I was coaching and I, my back hurt because I just thrown about 100 fast balls. And he says, wherever you are, can you come over to Disney now and I said, as long as you can have a bag of ice serious that's so funny. And I sat down and they threw it at me. They said, Look, we got a window. We've got a director we've got Miami, we've got a production office we're putting together we just don't have a script. Can you? Are you willing to just drop everything you're doing right now and jump in and do this. And I was actually in the middle of taking a brief break as I was writing my first novel. So I jumped in and said sure. And we had a very short window of time we had only five weeks of prep.

Alex Ferrari 31:15
Oh my god yeah, I heard I heard from like commentaries and interviews that that will and Martin were really just kind of throwing stuff at the wall.

Doug Richardson 31:22
It was a that was that was kind of the process we were I you know, within days I was in Miami. And with no with no script and, and not much supervision, which is good. No, and just mark them well who weren't there yet. And Michael, who was casting the dog parks and building sets for scenes that I hadn't yet written seriously, that and so it wasn't it was really kind of done completely backwards, but there's a line in the movie where um you know, the two guys come in. And Joey pant, Giuliano pants Yeah, yeah. yells at them say just do what you do only faster. That was actually that was an actual line from Jerry when I asked him that first day I said okay, I can do it. But five weeks and bla bla bla bla bla he said looked at me says just do what you do only faster. That was sort of like every time I saw Jerry I said I'm doing what I'm doing on the pasture.

Alex Ferrari 32:28
Nice. And how was how involved was Bay in this whole process

Doug Richardson 32:33
a was was involved as to he wasn't involved in in the you know, of course Mr. Bay has his own now Mr. Bay is big giant Michael bag. Yeah. So you know, the world gets rewritten. History gets has probably gotten rewritten a bit Michael was pretty much relegated to prepping different things okay and be involved in some casting dawn and Dawn especially didn't want did not at 1.1 Michael you know because dawn was the genius did want him budding himself into the film park the the the the start of the film part of the the the content or story part and Dawn came in just like the weekend before we started shooting and liked a lot of it and sort of got it but Don hadn't been around at all involved in the process. So he came in just days before we started shooting and blew it up and then we then I began putting it back together again as a you know from Don's perspective and so Michael there was the first three or four weeks of shooting it was Michael here your pages go shoot them please don't let the actors go too far off script you know, because when they did sometimes there was a few scenes that we one landed up on the cutting room floor right because Michael let Martin and will go off the page to the point where there was no way to link it to the scene before and after. Right. So there were some times there were moments when I had to there was a couple days where I would win and I had to circle certain lines of dialogue in the morning. Just make sure that micron would work slate the first day so much. Michaels was crazy mad shooter. I mean, the guy could get incredible amounts of film. Yeah, you know, in the can so fast. And so he'd work everyone to death on the foot on on a Monday. So we were working splits already by Tuesday.

Alex Ferrari 34:42
Oh Jesus.

Doug Richardson 34:43
So you had time to go in that morning and say, okay, you know, sit down with dawn and, and we'd circle lines in the scene. And say, look, dude, if you miss these lines, we're Don't get the cars aren't there to say the lines then that we have no scene we can't link it because that movie really is held together with with scotch tape

Alex Ferrari 35:09
we screwed a string and tape literally pretty much

Doug Richardson 35:11
is and you know brilliant editor Christian Wagner brilliant editor because I mean he made scenes that didn't look like they were going to cut all right I'm together and that's kind of how the film's bank It was really written like that about halfway through the process that there was almost like a script It was almost together

Alex Ferrari 35:30
you know the funny thing is is while you were shooting my shooting bad boys I was in Miami I lived in there I Miami at the time. And I was just starting out just starting out my film career and I just heard about it and I heard bad boys too obvious that was even more so because when they came back they came back with a vengeance in Miami

Doug Richardson 35:49
Bondi and then then they did blow up your street there really wasn't that that much. That we didn't have the money to blow up that much. It was that movie a for only like, I think 18 $19 million. All in

Alex Ferrari 36:00
Yeah, back in the day. But I remember seeing that. I'll go into the theater and seeing that it was just so much fun. And that you know, that movie made will a star.

Doug Richardson 36:09
It did even though he was gonna be a star anyway,

Alex Ferrari 36:12
somewhere. But that was the that was the trigger, though. If you if you'd

Doug Richardson 36:15
cpsr Well, if you've ever sat down with them and work with them, it was sort of like, Oh, my reaction to will after the first couple days of rehearsal and hanging out with him. It was like, Okay, this guy is a racehorse. He just doesn't quite know how to go fast yet, but very clear, racehorse

Alex Ferrari 36:37
Yeah, he just like he hasn't figured that he can run really fast. Yes, yes, he

Doug Richardson 36:41
sort will. He hasn't figured out how to run really fast yet. He he could tell I know I'm a racehorse. I know I've got these mad skills you know I just not I'm working my way through them right now. And they're not very self possessed very confident. Very well very fun really nice guy saved my bacon a few times. stories I can't tell

Alex Ferrari 37:07
on air Yeah, so you also did the sequel to one of the most iconic action movies of all time diehard you know how how did it feel having getting that call because I mean, it literally diehard is a masterpiece. The

Doug Richardson 37:24
it was actually still in theaters. And I'd already seen it twice when I got the call. And the reason why I got the call is because I was the baby writer with no credits. And I guess according to Larry Gordon, and Lloyd 11, I had they thought our guest that I had the skill to pull it off at least the talent but the genius behind it, I'm just gonna give credit away again, was because the movie was still in theaters and Leonard Goldberg was running the studio at the time. Leonard who I to this day adore who was one of the greatest people in my career just as a mentor but I didn't know him then. Anyway Leonard wasn't willing to really even start development of a sequel of the movie he didn't feel feel the movie was quite tested yet but Larry felt they were going to need one also they to you know, as you know, very well know if they're doing a sequel. And if they're, they're announcing a sequel that they're going to start writing one it's a feeding frenzy of all the agents and all the it just gets it gets it gets it gets busy and and not very conducive to getting it done. Right. So Larry Gordon said, Okay, here's what I'm gonna do. I'm Larry Gordon. I used to run the studio. I've got swag so I've got this book called 58 minutes that I think we might make a really good diehard I got this writer who doesn't cost very much so I'm just gonna go to the studio and tell him on I want to develop this book into a potential movie it's not going to cost much this guy doesn't have any credit so to speak yet and that was a time when they were willing to yeah Larry go ahead it's not gonna cost much so they throw you know a few Bob at it and meanwhile, Larry was saying to me Okay, whisper whisper they just think they're developing 58 minutes you and I know we're doing diehard to this by the time we're done by the time you're done with the script, they're gonna want there too. So it was he was that was the exact that was the exact you know, talk, and I was like, Okay, you know what you're doing? I just worked here five personally. Um, then Joe Roth came in and took over and one of the first things Joe Ross said when he came in as I need diehard to and Larry said, funny you should say so. And there it was. You had it. He just gave it to him right there and it was greenlit.

Alex Ferrari 39:58
Wow, that's The story behind it

Doug Richardson 40:01
I delivered but the real genius was Larry

Alex Ferrari 40:06
Larry was the one who saw it saw the he saw all

Doug Richardson 40:09
the gears you know and all the storm clouds and could read the weather ahead see the future and again the movie was in theater only there's only three weeks and

Alex Ferrari 40:22
I got the call because it was a huge hit right off the bat

Doug Richardson 40:25
it wasn't a huge hit right off the bat It was a surprise right off the bat movies didn't blow up

Alex Ferrari 40:30
yeah they weren't 100 million dollar openings back then they didn't want

Doug Richardson 40:33
to and yeah I mean all in diehard only made 85 domestic I mean or so roughly it I mean it took a while to get to that number but I hit video screens

Alex Ferrari 40:44
and and stuff video but when it hit you in cable forget it but

Doug Richardson 40:48
but three weeks in a studio wasn't willing to commit yet to a sequel with this I mean this Bruce Willis guy exactly that was that was verses are big people liked the movie but i you know i they just want you know but Larry said this is a frank This is gonna be big I know and you were

Alex Ferrari 41:07
also brought into kind of I guess ghosts right or on the Live Free or Die Hard right?

Doug Richardson 41:13
I worked well no, I didn't ghost write that there were just a lot of guys who worked on it I've actually I'm the guy who broke Mark bombax script

Alex Ferrari 41:22
okay okay

Doug Richardson 41:26
that's that's that's that's a funny way of saying it. I did I did a version of Die Hard three that there's very little love left in that movie at one point but there's a lot of people who work on versions of diehard three and at one point when I was in the middle of shooting hostage with Bruce Bruce came to me and dropped the script on my lap on the set and said can you read this and it was Mark bombax diehard 4.0 which is what it was called then and they thought the title was so clever to do yeah it was so like that's such a cool time it's kind of internet it's I know it's so meta and three hours later we were having a discussion in his trailer you know Bruce didn't want to do Should I shouldn't I do another die hard it was one of those things and I then I didn't want to see another Die Hard I didn't want to write another Die Hard right? And I was kind of trying to talk him out of it me out of it but He then asked the question well what kind of Die Hard would you want to see? So I began to riff I was gonna make another die hard this is what I would do. And the next day literally the next day was a Friday we were at Fox and I was with Bruce with Tom Rothman and Bruce was saying this is the diehard for I want to make and Tom Rothman was looking at me like you asshole You broke my diehard and after I got done breaking it and a lot of other stories then do whether or not it was a good version of diehard or not my version and Bruce had dropped out of it again you know right at another release date had been botched and uh you know eventually he wrote Bruce back in and was able to make Ben did what he wanted to do which is make Mark bombeck script that's what Mark gets credit on it I actually wrote a letter to the guild during that was a massive arbitration all these writers were jumping in trying to get credit of course and I actually wrote wrote wrote a letter saying this is my fallback script. No, I was one of the guys who tried to take it apart and mess it up. And in the end, this is the movie they wanted to make and marching XL credit.

Alex Ferrari 43:56
And there you go. Now are you on? Are you on set for a lot of these big movies as a writer?

Doug Richardson 44:04
Not the diehards while I was already fired by that bad boys Yeah. And hostage I you know, hostage. I didn't leave that movie until it was in previews. I was not allowed to leave that I was on the set every second I got one day off me writing

Alex Ferrari 44:26
in your writing. They always ask you Hey, what can you do a patch up on this? Or what do you think of that? Well, since

Doug Richardson 44:30
I'm there, I mean, there's always a writer on the movie, but since I was there, and I had a French director, and I had very, bullheaded movie star who, you know, liked having me around and liked having me to fight battles with him or for him. You know, there was there were there were a lot of little changes and stuff. But on that movie, whether you love it or hate hostage which people tend to either love or hate it That was the movie we really went out to make. And, you know, there it is. And, as a writer, I probably will never get less if I wrote and directed the movie myself and had complete control, I probably would never have that kind of sway on a movie with a director and a movie star again.

Alex Ferrari 45:23
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Got it? That's it. That was that was

Doug Richardson 45:36
to the point where it was out of control. To the point was like, I couldn't leave. I had other assignments. I actually lost money on hostage, literally, because I'm working on other movies. I had other assignments I was supposed to do, and they would not. I was supposed to be on the set for the first week. Right? And, you know, go, and I and, you know, Bruce was like, No, you can't leave and then flawless say, No, you can't leave. And this went through all the production and then into the Edit room. And in the test screenings. Jesus, yeah. You were a hostage. I was I actually it's a five part blog that you can read on mice. You can read it for free on my site, or you can buy the book, the smoking gun, which I was gonna talk about that a lot, which is it's Oh, actually, no, you can't read it on my site. You can only read it in the book. Because that's the there's a five or six part blog called writer called writer held hostage. That is in the smoking gun, which tells a lot of the stories of how I couldn't get off that movie. Wow, all the way to arbitration with Robert craves and was just

Alex Ferrari 46:50
no arbitration. And I've heard many other writers talk about arbitration. Can you explain a little bit to the audience what arbitration is with the Writers Guild? Okay, in a nutshell,

Doug Richardson 47:01
profit? Well, one word, hell,

Alex Ferrari 47:04
that's what I've heard from everybody who's ever dealt with it? Well, it's so

Doug Richardson 47:07
antithetical to writing, right? It's so antithetical to collaboration, it becomes this legalistic process, that writers are, succumb to, you know, if they want to receive credit, and now it pits writers against writers. And then studios are able to use the conflict, to their own advantage. In that, that's why they offer these, they they use it to their advantage that they will pay less money upfront for the movie, and then say, but if you get a credit, we'll give you this bonus. So if they put the carrot on the stick for the writer, who might not have might have only contributed, contributed 20%, something that you would the guild would not consider credit worthy. But try and make a case maybe you contributed 33%, or maybe 50%, depending upon the standard. required and and to then go ahead and fight for it. So the studios are also part of it, but it's not fun. And, you know, imagine going in, and you know, anyone out there who's written anything, and then having to go in and defend what you've written on paper to other writers, to a faceless panel of three writers on paper and explain why you deserve credit, instead of that guy. Wow. It's not fun at all. It stops everything in your life, for that period of time. And it's also created an industry of people who do nothing but write arbitrations for other writers.

Alex Ferrari 48:51
That's it. There's a whole industry around it. Yep. Jesus, man, this.

Doug Richardson 48:57
I've been on both sides. I've actually done arbitrations.

Alex Ferrari 49:00
Have you ever written arbitrations? No, I've

Doug Richardson 49:02
lived. I've read arbitrations, I've served as an arbiter, oh, god, it's not fun. No on you, but you want to be fair, and you know, cuz you've done if you've been in one, you really feel like okay, and or maybe if you've been in one and felt like you got you were on the wrong side of it, or maybe felt like you got on the right side of it, because someone did it. Right. Right, you sort of feel like, you know, you're gonna be a good juror and help make a good decision.

Alex Ferrari 49:33
Now, let me ask you a question. Are you any good at pitching, when you go on a pitch? And if you are

Doug Richardson 49:38
good, now I'm certain that now I've decided I suck. I used to think you were good. I think it's it's just a different world to pitch. Now if I have to go in and pitch the whole movie, which I kind of think you need to do almost, I'm not good at it. Got it. You know, I it's like,

Alex Ferrari 49:56
it's not like the player like Robert Altman's a player where I At the beginning of that opening scene, we you see writers just coming in like, so there's a girl, she's beautiful, she gets drunk. Don't get drunk.

Doug Richardson 50:07
Yeah, it's you go in and you used to I used to be able to my whole thing was I would try and pitch characters and, and a first act that would leave everyone with a nice question mark. And if it was a good jumping off point, yeah, I had the rest of the movie. But that was, that became a really energetic and exciting discussion. In the room, instead of you're looking at blank faces. Again, as you're telling the story, they're trying to quantify it for their boss in their heads, do I like it? Do I not like it? Can I quantify it? Can I sell it? Can I, you know, and tell it to them in a way that they can. You know, there's at one point during the pitch, I'm like, if you're not engaged in the pitch as involved and asking questions, I'm sort of like, you must be bored. Now other people are brilliant at it. I've been in pitches with other writers. It's sit there and sit down for 45 minutes and just spin a tail and leave you breathless, right? And that's a Yeah, that's a talent. I do not possess to do it that way. I've gotten it done. But boy, I would do good. Do everything I possibly could to not have to be in that situation.

Alex Ferrari 51:23
Now, when you've written a load of action movies, like how do you approach writing big action sequences and these kind of studio movies?

Doug Richardson 51:33
Ah, I wrote an interesting blog about that recently, just because I got asked that for the 9 million time. Sorry, excited No, no, it's the most. No, I never get the question I get asked the most. Okay, so anyone who's listening this podcast, if they go to my website and read action speaks, there's a longer version of this answer. I'll put it in the show notes. But in that, in that, yeah, go to my website and just look up action speaks in the blog section, um, a good action sequence. Because when I wrote my first action film, which was that that diehard thing, that little Die Hard thing, yeah, I hadn't written one before. Um, but it's it, the ones I like, and the way I prefer to approach them is that they're, it's a suspense film. And the best action is like writing a great scene in a suspense film. The only difference is, is the conflict, um, engages and blooms in action, in, you know, almost sort of like combusts. And in, and, you know, and also then creates another problem for your character, you know, a good action film, unless it's the final action film on the scene, a good action scene. And this is the final, the final scene of the film doesn't, you know, shouldn't resolve it should create a bigger problem that needs to be solved, that eventually needs to be handled in action. It also only works when you talk about what's first character plot, if, if your character is deeply engaged and involved, which is why again, a suspense scene only works if you have a sense of suspense with what's going to happen with your character, how is your character going to behave? If you just got a whole lot of really great stuff happening, but you don't have a character engaged in it, some people would call that stakes by call it characters with different agendas, oftentimes, fighting for some form of supremacy. If you've got that kind of conflict in that scene, if you don't have that kind of conflict with characters injected into that scene, then it'll lay flat

Alex Ferrari 53:54
kind of like when giant Transforming Robots fight for 30 minutes

Doug Richardson 54:02
I'm making but you but but you I can say that, who went there and you can incur Michael Bay's rat. I

Alex Ferrari 54:09
know from I I've actually wrapped the day, the wrath of Bay with Bay ham. I actually am and a lot of people I've actually wrote a whole article post about it. I truly believe that Michael Bay is a genius and what he does, yeah, and I think he changed the game for action. It's ever since the rock and Armageddon pacifically the rock action movies changed the way they're shot. I mean, everyone tries to steal his style and you can see it you can see it movie after movie movie after movie. He is him and Tony Scott both changed the game. In the way action was shot in the in the 90s. And moving forward. Do I like all of Michael Bay's movies? No, they're not sometimes they're not the great I still think the rock is probably his best movie. Other than bad boys, of course, which bad boys is up there as well, but at a certain point like Armageddon It's just fun popcorn. I mean, it's ridiculous. The movie is ridiculous, but it's so much fun to watch. But I do think he's a genius in what he does. I think, like a lot of times, directors get a little bit. They drink too much of their own Kool Aid. And I think, possibly with a 35 minute action sequence with giant transformers, which don't have as big of a stake, as they should, I think that's where certain things go wrong. But

Doug Richardson 55:25
can I can I? Can I tell you where I think Michael Bay's real, real geniuses, please. I mean, whether you like his dirty movies are not and there certainly are people who don't like his movies. He's x with exception of two movies. He's been wise enough to tie his big giant, ego, and machine all to either a bigger ego or a bigger filmmaker. He's had either Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer over his shoulder and Jerry's a genius, by the way, yeah, Jerry is a genius. I've seen it, because I've seen it in action. Jerry is a genius at and so it was dawn, but there's a certain genius to Jerry, you know, you got to kind of sort of be there to see. And, and then, you know, with the transformer films as Spielberg is always been there. Yep. And, you know, other than that, the two films that he that they have made, have made that haven't done well. have been both in films where you didn't have those godfathers,

Alex Ferrari 56:34
the island and, yeah, pain and gain. Right.

Doug Richardson 56:37
Right. So and, you know, I'm not saying he can't succeed without them, because he's been extraordinarily successful. But I think there there's a certain wisdom to saying, you know, what? There's a bit of a comfort zone here that I can you know, that there's that got that Godfather, who can come in and whisper in my ear and say, maybe that's too much.

Alex Ferrari 57:06
Maybe you should pull back here.

Doug Richardson 57:07
Maybe you should pull back here. Maybe we should have maybe I'm not feeling a heartbeat here. So maybe we should go find what are you know, and and i think that's, you know, and I know you that's something that that that's not a knock on on Bay. I think that's where credit's due

Alex Ferrari 57:26
Well, no, I think that's I think that's a really great observation because you're right and to smart director to always have someone whoever that person might be who's smarter than you are right you I mean that's, that's the key to any great leader, right? is always have people who are smarter than you around you,

Doug Richardson 57:44
right? And I'm transformed my films, you know, we're at the development tour and, and Mark Rodman are no idiots. No, either. So, of course,

Alex Ferrari 57:52
of course, of course. Now, tell us a little bit about your smoking gun book. I saw it on your website.

Doug Richardson 57:59
Smoking Gun book is a lot of people have been asking for a long time, when am I going to we're going to put my blogs into book form. And eventually, I just sort of succumbed to my books, or read by my blogs, or repurposed on script mag, like three or four months after I write them. Because the woman who runs script mag, Jeannie Berman is one of my favorite people on the planet. And so it's like, and then it was sort of like in the this publishing company, Fw media on script mag, and Writer's Digest and a few other things. And so they came along and said, will you please let us publish them in a volume? So we put together the first one. And there you go, well, there'll be two and three or whatever, who knows?

Alex Ferrari 58:49
Now you do write a lot of novels as well, you're very successful novelist. Is there a different process when you're writing a novel versus a screenplay?

Doug Richardson 58:57
Yes, and no, the basic process of Get up, write it, you know, rewrite it, want to make it you know, if it's not compelling, then do it again. And why is you know, that my whole thing is, whether you're reading a scripture book, I want the reader to turn the page, they gotta wanna, they got to feel compelled to turn the page, you know, whatever the process or or or platform or platform or architecture of the pieces you just use, it's not compelling, then you know, they're gonna someone's gonna put it down, it's tiring to read crap. So so that's the same process, though, the process of writing straight narrative and fiction, as you know, because you know, movies are sight and sound only highly constructed. Yes, you know, the elasticity of language that you have in just writing fiction, and not being, not being subject to just sight and sound only is You know, really fun. It's fun to do it, obviously. And it's it's a it's also a direct connection with readers because the people who are reading your screenplays aren't necessarily reading it to be entertained, right? Their job or their product, right? Again, they're the quantifiers they're there to, to tell give it to their boss or give it to their client or, you know, yeah, or get someone involved or give it to a financier, they're all looking to move that ball up the hill, someone who's reading your work, whether it be a blog, my blog, or my books, are reading them to be entertained. So that's the other real difference between doing the two. There's a real direct connection with your you know, your audience.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:45
Now, if you were going to give one piece of advice to a screenwriter starting out today, what

Doug Richardson 1:00:50
would that be? Stop. I've always wanted to say that I've never said that I've been asked that a lot. I've done a lot of panels. Just stop, go get

Alex Ferrari 1:00:59
a real job. Now,

Doug Richardson 1:01:00
I would say I would give a few pieces of advice, one of which is the most talented people in Hollywood. aren't the most successful people in Hollywood. It's true in showbusiness is the most relentless people Yep. So you need to channel and find that bit of relentless inside of you and always and and feed it and care for it and bathe it and clean it and make sure it's ready to go up and rip assholes again tomorrow because that if you're because it's so competitive, you've got what's going to make you get up and do it in the morning or if you're not even there yet. And you've got some other job you know what I'm blown away but i mean i the people that I know who have set not second job second they have careers, actual careers and they're writing on the side and trying to push that ball up the hill I I just had odd jobs when I started then I got that I started making a living at it and haven't looked back there are people who have real life jobs and they have to they have to find in curry that competitive passion and that competitive passion should also be there to make sure this is the other side of that that relentless thing is people ask me you know when should I send the script out? Is it how do you know it's good yet? Well, is it awesome is your work awesome? Your work better be awesome make your work awesome. If your work is an awesome then then it's not going to get noticed. What makes you special what makes your work stand out in some way in some form it means to flat out be awesome God Okay, not Yeah, that'd be back in the day. The day I'm such a dinosaur Yeah, back when I was a pop they would throw money at people with talent and drive. I had talent drive and I got going now they don't have the patience for it for talent and drive they expect you to come in ready to go

Alex Ferrari 1:03:15
they don't want they don't want to have to nurture not working.

Doug Richardson 1:03:18
Yeah, I got lucky I had some great people with me. I worked with them. I learned I'm still learning. But still there was not you need to come in and be really good. You need to be great. You need to be special. What makes you stand out? What's your they're reading 1000s and 1000s of crappy screenplays every day. I does your stand out. You know, and is it your voice? Is it your ability to to you know, is it your perspective? Is it your ability to write a great action scene? Is it you know, there's got to be something in it that makes people go Hmm, that's interesting. Why am I remembering that script?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:57
Let me ask you a question. Let me ask you a question about what's like I remember the olden days the Shane Black days. You know back when you know Shane was getting Yeah, three Miley and Joe Astor house I mean, these guys were getting those reminders. Yeah, they were making like obscene amounts. 2 million, 3 million, 5 million for scripts that Joe has your house god my god, he made millions for movies and never got made.

Doug Richardson 1:04:20
Yeah, those were those. And you can realize,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:25
yeah, I mean, it was obscene right now, and I thought those days were kind of over but now Max Landis is starting to come back out with these kind of ridiculous deals as well for his movies and his voice. So do you think that are those days gonna start coming back or is he just

Doug Richardson 1:04:43
back up because those days are always going to come back in one form or another? It is cyclical people do want to watch filmed entertainment. They do want to watch there's you know, there's a lot more interactive entertainment, but passive entertainment has been around since campfires cimbrone are good story people want to see Good story they want to be told a good story and be moved. Okay, whether they're watching it on their phone or watching it on a driving Okay, there's still going to be that okay so and those voices are going to be found and whether they're found in you know the work of Max Landis are there found by the Weinstein's you know, probably burn in hell but they did find Quentin and got you know no yeah and that you know that's happened whoever found and decided to you know the IMA to me I'm just I'm in love with with CMS man it's like Mr. Robot i think is brilliant and here's a guy who just seemingly came out of nowhere practically and is running a show and doing something that's brilliant with his very original voice those are going to stand out in the Vince Gilligan, Vince Gilligan There you go. It's another one. You need to have the patience to within the craft to stay in there and withstand those those cycles and beatings until maybe your voice comes out in its own way.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:09
Yeah, it's it's been around forever. I mean, right? He's been working in X Files. And I mean, he was working, he's a working writer, and then all of a sudden he saw the Breaking Bad

Doug Richardson 1:06:18
and crashed and he was around forever. For me, Jesus. No one knew Krantz who could do that, but Vince Gilligan and Brian's and Brian crafts and then boom, and the rest. So, you know, sometimes those voices come early. I mean, I used to, I'm a big fan of film acting. And, you know, Anthony Quinn, who was always a great actor, when he reached his moment. And he said, I finally think I understood the film acting, I understood, you know, how to control the quiet and how to, you know, and that's when he suddenly went from being a really solid British actor to this frickin genius who went off these runs of characters from Shadow Lands to obviously Silence of the Lambs, you know, to remain to the day. I hate these crate rolls. Sure. We're at edit advanced age. He found his voice fine.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:19
Yeah, Hopkins Yeah. I mean, how old was he when he did sound to the lambs? And he was in his 50s, right? 50s

Doug Richardson 1:07:24
or something like that. But again, you sort of it just sometimes it comes early sometimes. And you see people with these voices, they start and they burn out. Yeah, and it's not an easy business. And then sometimes maybe, you know, I'm still waiting, you know, who knows maybe I'm still waiting to find my voice. I written what you would consider a bunch of programmers. You know, I think with my books, you know, with my lucky day series, I think I've finally sort of found my voice like okay, this is what I really now I feel like I I'm there's something here that's interesting that I'm saying that's worthwhile and valuable and whatever. You never know when that's gonna happen. I think as a writer, you gotta kind of sort of also work at it and be patient. I mean, Lin frickin Manuel Miranda who's obviously got more press than anyone can imagine right now so it's something really cool in that 60 minutes thing he did it those who don't know who he is he's the guy who behind the Hamilton

Alex Ferrari 1:08:20
he's he's really really is brilliant.

Doug Richardson 1:08:23
But he said some this might not be his line he may have been someone else's line. But they asked you about writing he says writing is is like the rusty water coming out of the faucet. Okay yeah right until the waters clear and then keep the clear.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:43
Eye right saw that 60 minute remembered and

Doug Richardson 1:08:46
as a writer I went ding that's perfect that's perfect that makes such sense that makes such sense for so many people you know sometimes it takes a long time to get there just be patient and grind.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:57
Yeah, I was just I was just I just had Jim ovals on okay on the show. I don't know if you know Jim or not. Jim but he said something similar. He say he gave some great advice about how to get through how to write and he basically goes write your first draft. Put it away. Write another movie. first draft put it away. Write a third movie first draft don't stop right away. Now go back to the first movie. That is brilliant advice. And he goes now you're a better writer. Brilliant advice because I always I always call it Don't be a one trick pony. Yeah, just don't isn't that script you you've been working on for eight years.

Doug Richardson 1:09:34
Stop Okay, stop right now. Yeah go write three or four more things and then go back to it. You know then you better is right. You'll be so much better at it. Don't be that guy who just that one thing a writer someone who can write lots of things. And you're and but that I think that is a much clearer cleaner version of of mine. I will steal it and use it. Yes, he

Alex Ferrari 1:09:59
should. Hey, This is great. So I'm going to ask you a couple questions that I tell ask all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in life or in the film industry

Doug Richardson 1:10:11
patients good more in life than anything else? patients and I'm still learning it every day. Yep. re about it.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:23
And life does tend to teach you that lesson.

Doug Richardson 1:10:25
Yes. Children those things but yeah, patience, you know, not not sit back and watch it go by patience but just slow down. Be patient. There's tomorrow. You know, there is tomorrow, and then there's tomorrow and just get up and do it again. Exactly. That's that's that's that answer.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:48
Alright, and then what are your three favorite films of all time?

Doug Richardson 1:10:51
I hate this question. I hate this question. I

Alex Ferrari 1:10:53
hate this question. Question three movies that tickle your fancy at the moment. Okay,

Doug Richardson 1:10:57
because there's always the will there's one period once upon a time in the West, great movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:05
Amazing opening sequence.

Doug Richardson 1:11:06
It's the end and those of you who haven't seen it, okay, don't see it. Until you've watched in order for a few dollars won't fit $4 Yep. Then watch a few dollars more Yep. Then watch good, the bad the ugly. Not the truncated versions and then once you kind of build up to it then when you see what's fun time in the West make sure it's a great sound system and a great screen because that score is unbelievable. Use of sound that original sequence that opening sequence and everything else that movie is just to me the greatest opera ever so and I I cry when I see it so there's that movie. Ah, then everything else is hard. So I'll throw out things that really tickle my fancy Okay, I'm a huge fan lately of I can't watch No Country for Old Men enough. That's a great movie. It fits by I think the purse it kind of the novels I write have that sort of Norrish ness to them at the same time it's about that thin line between doing right and wrong and the road it can take you down and I think that movie does it in so many ways. And so many different levels.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:24
Oh yeah. And great created one of the greatest villains of all time.

Doug Richardson 1:12:27
Yeah, that you can still watch it's just that movie. What was what's better in the movie? The directing the writing, the performance, the Oh modules, it's called Cormac McCarthy's work in it. It's running on all cylinders on lee jones it's just what came for the dime walked in point walked in with you I mean, like God I just go crazy that Okay, and then there's a lot of close thirds you know, I guess I would go I'm going to go to maybe the movie that made me want to make movies which would be gold finger Ah, love

Alex Ferrari 1:13:01
Goldfinger. Man,

Doug Richardson 1:13:02
that's a great movie. I mean, I mean the movie The what made me want to be a writer was was Ian Fleming. Those are the first books I ever read in my life that I wanted to read make me read another book because I wasn't better than but you know, when I was a kid, but Goldfinger was like that was sort of like wow, I mean to a young man, you know, with hormones. Oh, and yes, and dreams and living in a tiny town. And like you see that and you kind of think the really the world is possible. Yep. So that was the one that made you want to make movies so I guess those will be my three.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:43
And where can people find you man online

Doug Richardson 1:13:46
richardson.com pretty simple. Do it before all the other Doug Richardson's in the world did and there's a lot of us

Alex Ferrari 1:13:55
yes there is you got you got on the bandwagon early.

Doug Richardson 1:13:58
Got there early and yeah, and you know if you found other movies I really if you like good really crime fiction I really suggest you go to my site and pick up a lucky day book. Awesome and you I promise you will be entertained.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:14
Doug man, it's been a pleasure talking to you man. It's been a lot of fun geeking out with you and and you've been dropping some great knowledge bombs. So thank you so much, man.

Doug Richardson 1:14:21
It has been a geek fest hasn't

Alex Ferrari 1:14:22
It has a little bit of a geek fest

Doug Richardson 1:14:24
It is alright pal. Alright take care.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:29
I had an absolute ball talking to Doug man he was he was so cool. And the stories from the sets from the diehard set from the bad boy set it's It was great. I heard all these stories about bad boys because I was in Miami when they were shooting it and I had heard all of these stories about how Michael Bay had made it and all these kind of like, you know originally for Jon Lovitz, and Dana Carvey and all these kind of things, and it was really great to hear straight from the horse's mouth. What are happened on that set because bad boys is one of my favorite movies I love my favorite action movies definitely one of my favorite 90s action movies without question and and you know there's no Transforming Robots in that one but but anyway guys I hope you enjoyed it. Hope you got a lot of a lot of good information out of that episode. Thank you Doug again for being a guest and dropping those knowledge bombs. And don't forget to head over to indie film syndicate COMM And check out the indie film, syndicate membership site man, I have all of my courses up there all the indie film, hustle courses, Twitter hacks, filmmaking, hacks, Film Festival hacks, as well as a ton of other screenwriting screenwriting courses, and film business courses, film budgeting, courses, scheduling, all sorts of different kinds of things. We've gotten included in that membership, that monthly membership and you guys definitely got to check it out. It is I mean, I would have killed for it. When I was starting out, it's just so much information, as well as a lot of cool stuff. Being in the Facebook group. And we're going to be doing a once a month Google Hangouts, so we can all talk hang out, ask questions, and so on. So definitely check it out indie film syndicate.com and the Show Notes for this episode or at indie film hustle.com forward slash zero 97 which will have links to everything we talked about in the episode. So keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 061: Chris Vogler – Screenwriting & The Writer’s Journey Blueprint

If you have seen Star Wars then you know Joseph Campbell‘s work. If you ever have seen The Lion King then you have seen one of Campbell’s best students, Chris Vogler, work.

Related: Michael Hauge: Writing a Screenplay That Sells

Chris Vogler wrote the game-changing book  The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for WritersI read this book over 20 years ago and it changed the way I look at storytelling. Chris studied the work and principles of the late master Joseph Campbell. His book The Hero with a Thousand Faces was the bases for Star Wars as well as almost every other Hollywood feature film in the past 60 years.


What Chris Vogler did so well is that he translated Campbell’s work and applied it to movies. The Writer’s Journey explores the powerful relationship between mythology and storytelling in a clear, concise style that’s made it required reading for movie executives, screenwriters, playwrights, scholars, and fans of pop culture all over the world. He has influenced the screenplays of movies from THE LION KING to FIGHT CLUB to BLACK SWAN to NOAH.

“I teach sometimes, and always say that Chris Vogler is the first book that everyone’s got to read.” — Darren Aronofsky , Oscar-nominated Screenwriter/Director, Noah, Black Swan, The Wrestler

Pretty high praise from one of the best filmmakers working today. In this episode, I ask Chris to break down a bunch of concepts of the Hero’s Journey, why it resonates with people around the world and what makes an amazing hero and villain.

Enjoy my conversation with Chris Vogler.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:01
So guys, I want to welcome you to a very special episode a special episode to me because today we have on the show Chris Vogler. Chris is the writer of the writers journey, an integral and amazing part of my development as a storyteller. This book kind of changed my life. I read it when I was in college 20 odd years ago. And basically, he takes the works of Joseph Campbell, the hero's journey and translates it for filmmakers. And he worked at Disney for about almost 10 years. He was there. While he was while they were making Beauty and the Beast and Lion King and all these kind of you know that the pinnacle of, of Disney's power now they're, they're going through another renaissance right now. But then he actually kind of changed the game when he wrote this amazing memo, telling everybody what every story had the hero's journey. And if you haven't heard about the hero's journey, or have not heard that concept before, definitely sit back and relax and take a listen to what Chris is going to talk about. And also take a look at that course, that he and Michael wrote, screenwriting and story blueprint, the heroes two journeys. So without further ado, I'm not going to Yap anymore. Just let's get into it with Chris Vogler. So Chris, thank you so much for being on the show. We really appreciate you taking the time. I'm very glad to be here. So So you know, just so everybody knows in the audience, I read Chris's book, the writers journey. I don't want to date anybody but over 20 years ago, and it definitely changed the way I look at story. So for that, I thank you very much, sir.

Chris Vogler 2:46
Hey, you're welcome. Yeah, I was a very hungry young, youthful author.

Alex Ferrari 2:51
Very youthful, you must be 30. Now, so you did it when you were 10. Fantastic. So how did you start in the film business?

Chris Vogler 3:01
Well, I had a path that led me through journalism school first, back in Missouri, where I'm from, and then I got into the Air Force, and they sent me out to Los Angeles, I was lucky, it was the middle of the Vietnam War. And instead of going to Vietnam, they sent me to LA and I worked for an outfit that made documentary films about this space program, and so forth. And after that, I got to go to film school on the GI Bill, and went to the USC School. And, and that's really where things came into focus for me, because I encounter the work of this man, Joseph Campbell, who wrote The Hero with 1000 faces and was a big influence on George Lucas and many others. And that kind of, you know, focus me on my quest to find out what stories were all about. So that and also, there was a class at school that was important called Story analysis for film and TV. And that was like a career pathway for me, because it showed me that, you know, thinking critically and writing about stories and reacting to things intelligently was, you know, a way I could make make a path for myself into the business.

Alex Ferrari 4:20
Now, what um, what about Joseph Campbell's work really kind of drew you drew you in and what was the revolutionary part of his work that kind of, you know, really sparked something in you?

Chris Vogler 4:31
Well as as a kid and just a pure consumer of movies and TV from the Midwest. I grew up on a farm. It was, you know, wonderful and mysterious to me, how they sort of hypnotize me with these great images and all that I I was on a quest I was trying to figure out. I was looking for the book, where's the where's the the, the rules of this? Where's the physics of it? where's the where's the color chart of the period? Got a table or the theory of how they do it. And you know, I got to film school and I found out well, there really isn't anything like that. And then just sort of by accident, I found the work of Campbell. And he wasn't thinking about movies. But he had thought long and hard about mythology and these patterns he kept seeing about heroes, and how that related to, you know, current findings in psychology, especially the work of Freud, but more Carl Jung In school, so he was combining the patterns have old mythology with modern psychology and kind of handing it back to us and saying, Okay, here's, here's what's hidden inside all these stories, advice for how to live. And that turned out, I thought, to be a great blueprint for telling stories and communicating with an audience. So that was my, my breakthrough about it.

Alex Ferrari 5:58
Now, can you talk a little bit about what the hero's journey is?

Chris Vogler 6:03
Yeah, you know, this is a pattern that Campbell found in the ancient myths, he kept seeing the same sort of signposts over and over again. And he had, you know, somewhere between 16 and 20, different events, psychological, mostly events, that would occur in almost every story, I worked with a little refined it down to 12 things, but the essence of it is, you know, everybody at some stage in their life has an ordinary world that they know, and then they're going to go into something new and different, and you know, a new relationship, new job, a war starts or a catastrophe happens, or health crisis, whatever it is, there, you're going to be in a new world. And so it's about exploring that world, and how the difficulties of it can almost kill you, that's sort of the essence of it, that this is danger, you know, change in life is dangerous. And it can be threatening, but that can also change you and make you stronger and more resilient, and, you know, more more alive and conscious in humans. So that's, that's the basic essence of it, people started an ordinary world, they go out, you know, either because they're itchy inside, or they are being forced to it by outside circumstances, and they explore something new, there's often a mentor who helps them. That's an important part of it, the presence or absence of somebody who can guide you and be a role model, kind of. But you know, that that's, that's the essence of it, that you were transformed by an intense experience of going through a change and entering a new stage of life. And you're not the same, you come out as a different person. So that's kind of the, the essence of the idea.

Alex Ferrari 8:00
So would you agree that for people who are not familiar with the hero's journey, a great movie to illustrate this would be Star Wars The original episode for the new hope?

Chris Vogler 8:12
Yeah, yeah, that that was, you know, it's always been the easiest way to show where the signpost star because George Lucas was very conscious of Campbell's work, he had read about it even before film school. He was aware of Campbell because he had, you know, studied anthropology and various other things. And found Campbell that way and have the same I think inside I did that, gee, this would be great for plotting stories and giving them a little bit of this mythological resonance in psycho psychological reality. So yeah, it's easy to see that signposts because he made them big, he made all the turning points. Very clear, and obvious, you know, the, the pattern calls for a call to adventure. And there's the Obi Wan Kenobi literal, your literal call for adventure. Yeah, there's literally this call to everything is literal like that. There's supposed to be the handing off of some kind of relic of the past that that's going to guide you and help you and so he gets his father's lightsaber from Obi Wan Kenobi. There's supposed to be a mentor, there's Obi Wan Kenobi, and so forth, you know, when they when they come to the, to the cantina. That's a typical situation in these stories that you go to a bar or a saloon or a watering hole or something, and you find out what the new world is like, and then boom, you take off. And that's an important part of the pattern to that that sense in the audience that we know there's some preparation that needs to be done to meet the hero and figure out what the problems are, but then we want the story to take off and that should happen, you know, ideally, maybe 20 minutes or so into the future. Half an hour in maybe.

Alex Ferrari 10:01
But when is going when he jumps on when he jumps on the Millennium Falcon basically.

Chris Vogler 10:06
Yeah, when they go off, it's it's very, very clear. And you know, there's there's other things too that I think check it easy to see the yearning of the hero, you know, when he looks out at the twin sons on the planet, you know, wants to get out there and you know, but he's stuck. He's a farm boy, but then boom, this rush of events takes over and then it meets all kinds of monsters and you know, almost dies a couple of times. And that's, that's par for the course on this, this hero's journey deal.

Alex Ferrari 10:38
Now, can you break down, at least just give a basic understanding for people who don't understand the basic three act structure? And how that might also translate into a trilogy as well like, cuz I know how many Star Wars again, you know, Star Wars, A New Hope, Empire and return, all that kind of stuff.

Chris Vogler 10:54
Yeah, you know, there's a beautiful thing going on with all of this current study that people are doing of story structures and narrative and so on, which is, at first, my competitors, and I were doing seminars, and workshops and writing books, all hated each other, and were jealous, then, you know, and said that other guys system is stupid. And mine is the only one that works, you know, that was right procedure. But we got over that. And we all mostly realized it, we're all talking about the same thing. And it's human. And it's kind of hardwired. So these things beautifully start to overlap. And, you know, sort of parallel to my 12 Stage pattern is something called the three act structure, which was really pioneered by a man named Syd field, who was a wonderful man, of course, last year, so and was a real pioneer, because he laid out this unwritten rules of storytelling that he sort of put together as what they call the paradigm of three act structure. And there's nothing all that Earth shakingly knew about it. But just like my idea with the hero's journey, this can be traced back easily to at least Aristotle, who taught not, you need a beginning, a middle and an end. And the energy I think of this is what's important to grasp about the strip the three act structure, it's to use a metaphor, it's like drawing a bow, you know, you're you're, you're pulling back in the first act, you're, you're loading that bow up with energy, and then you're taking aim and the second act and dealing with the wind and all the other challenges, and then you fire it. And in the third act and your intention, or the situation of the hero, you know, finally goes to some kind of target, and either hits or misses, you know, and if it misses, it's a tragedy. And if it's a hit, then you know, you've got a comrade happy. And so, you know, that's one way to, to look at it. And there's, you know, many metaphors that you could, you could use on this, but that, but but that's a good one, that you're, you're gathering energy, you're building tension, then you're, you know, really zeroing in on critical things, and then sort of launching the whole thing in the final act. And that overlaps with my pattern.

Alex Ferrari 13:29
So like a movie like Pulp Fiction, which does has a it's a very unique structure. Can you kind of break that because it's genius, because it follows the hero's journey in its own structural way. Am I wrong in that? Okay, break that down a little bit?

Chris Vogler 13:45
No, you know, that's a really interesting and challenging one to analyze. Because it's so ambitious, first of all, those guys the writers of that we're trying to Roger Avery and Tarantino we're trying to deconstruct things and tell multiple stories, and that's very challenging and they chose to do them out of sequence and, you know, play around with our expectations of what what will happen in order, you know, and that's refreshing but you can and deconstruct it, you can reconstruct it and sort of lay it out in a linear way and it's it's a very, in some ways, conventional storytelling that they're doing the hero's on all the different threads of the story have an ordinary world they all go through some kind of drastic challenge and change and enter into you know, some new situation. And, and again, they either hit or they miss I mean, that's the beautiful thing, especially about the main story with John Travolta and

Alex Ferrari 14:56
And Sam Jackson.

Chris Vogler 14:58
Samuel Jackson is Is that one of them Tarantino sees this they have this miracle happen where they're supposed to all be shot to pieces and in a drug shootout. And miraculously, Sam Jackson says they're missing. And he says that's, that's a clear sign from God, we were spared for a purpose. And so my life has changed now. And Travolta says, Hey, that was just a coincidence, it doesn't change anything. And, you know, the story sort of sits in judgment of those guys. And at the end, the writers give Samuel Jackson eternal life and say, You You're gonna go on and be like, the guy in cocaine travels around, who travels around righting wrongs and doing good in a nice, Zen kind of way, doing little harm and little bloodshed. And Travolta is killed getting off the job, you know, he jumps off the toilet, and Bruce Willis shoots to death. So

Alex Ferrari 15:57
Spoiler alert,

Chris Vogler 15:59
The story and a story. The writers, you know, sit in God's chair kind of and give their their judgment. So I'm, how do you react to this new thing? That's it, you know, in the second act, the challenge, and then how does it land and so to speak, the third act, although it's all messed up, you know, in the editing process, actually, it's you could still make that kind of clear moral sense out of it.

Alex Ferrari 16:30
Now, in your opinion, what makes a good hero and a good villain,

Chris Vogler 16:36
This is, this is great, they're sort of, you know, mirror images of each other, sort of reflections of each other. A good way to look at all the characters is that in some way, everybody else in the movie is like a another possibility of the hero that that even the love interest, male or female, is like your opposite side, or your opposite possibilities. The villain is the the dark possibility of you the clowns, and tricksters around you, those are the funny possible versions of you. So the villain is some kind of mirror image first. But what makes a good hero is somebody who is complex and they're broken somehow, that seems to be really deeply essential in all the way back to the mythology is that the hero will be strong and powerful, and you know, maybe, like Hercules stronger than everybody else, but he's got problems. And, and something broken or something wrong with him. In his case, it was dealing with women, and sometimes He misjudged situations and would go off on people or, you know, cause a lot of problems because he was so impulsive. So, you know, all the way back in the mythology, this idea is planted that the hero is more believable and more human because they're imperfect.

Alex Ferrari 18:07
With that said, I don't mean to interrupt you. I don't mean to interrupt you. But I just wanted to make a real point here. A good hero, like you said, all those flawed heroes, is that one of the reasons why it's so difficult to write for a character like Superman, who's essentially a God, with the movie coming out this weekend. Just curious on your take on that, like, that specific character, and how difficult sometimes it is to make those kind of characters work as a hero?

Chris Vogler 18:33
Yeah, yeah, that's certainly a very interesting franchise, to me, partly for those reasons. That it is he's a mythological character. And as you say, he's got some semi divine potential, I actually was called in at one point by one of the studios to, you know, sort of put Superman on the couch and shrink him and put him through my mythological process. And, you know, this is I think, at a point when they were trying to decide, are we going to do Batman versus Superman, this was many years ago that would consider it the this current film has a long, long history. They they asked me to sort of shrink Superman, and it was all about the flaws of the limitations. That that's what makes him interesting is that even though he's invulnerable, most of the time, there's still conditions like kryptonite and red and green, right, that have different effects on him and then he's emotionally kind of a train wreck in some ways. And that's, you know, charming that that when he puts those glasses on for some reason, he becomes shy and bumbling and can't say what he really thinks and is, you know, very, very easy to identify with. So you You know, you kind of get the best of both worlds, this superhuman set of possibilities, but with some realistic limitations. And then

Alex Ferrari 20:09
But that's why I think Batman. Well, that's why I like that, like Batman is such a relatable character because people, because people can identify with him he's in, he's more much more popular than Superman, in many ways,

Chris Vogler 20:22
Very, very interesting. How we use these characters as meditation devices or something. And we think through the stories about, you know, different developments, what does it mean to be a man, what does it mean to be a patriot, you know, even look at the colors of Superman's costume or Batman's costume. And it just, you know, is sort of a mirror reflection of what's going on in society at the moment, or what society thinks is important. So, you know, Batman, for some reason, that one seems to be a laboratory to experiment with all kinds of different kind of dark brooding thoughts. But there's such a range within Batman, that people can just turn the dial to comedy and, you know, gross, silly things and, and get a big kick out of it and even find meaning in it. But then turn the dial the other way to Batman is a complete lunatic and, you know, a reflection of the nuttiness of our own society. So it's, it's really fun to see how the writers do this, but also really how the consumers are, are using it to figure stuff out. It's it's just entertainment, you know, they say, it's just cotton candy for the mind. But there's much more going on in even the silliest things.

Alex Ferrari 21:56
And you're continuing with the villain, what makes a great villain.

Chris Vogler 21:59
Yeah, just, I think, you know, very much along the same lines in the kind of fundament, that there should be, you know, a lot of powers, but also limitations. And especially when you are dealing with magical figures, who have, you know, vast magic powers, one of the things that helps is to make a rule, it costs something that every time you do something bad, or something magical. It's not free, it costs you something you may lose, you know, you may come become partially partially paralyzed, you might become blinded, you know, every time you use your X ray vision, or whatever. And that just makes the game so much more interesting that he can do anything. And then for the kind of more everyday villains, I think it's useful to realize they don't think they're villains, they think the hero of your story is the villain, that they're, they're totally convinced they're right. They, they have built their whole life is built around their view of the world. And so, again, they're the mirror image of the hero. And when the hero is up there down, when the heroes happy, that doesn't make them happy. And vice versa, you know, they're when they're happiest, the hero is the most miserable. So they make diagrams, they make waveforms, and they're they're perfect mirrors of each other, sometimes. They balance the yin and the yang, they balance each other and, and then there's the whole idea of archetypes, which is something I got out of Campbell's work, you know, also from Carl Jung, who said inside everybody there is a cast of characters, basic characters, a mother, a father, a hero, a villain, an angel, a devil, you know, all these kind of basic human possibilities. And at first I thought, the villain is the villain, and, and should be, you know, really mean and tough all the time. And the hero should be heroic all the time. And that mentor should be mentoree all the time and so forth. But then I realized Life ain't like that. And people have different masks that they wear, you know, maybe you wear 20 different masks in the course of one day. That you're a tough guy one minute then you're a coward the next minute and you're a teacher one minute, you know and so forth. So villain. The villains are wearing a mask you know, most of the time of the villain but there's other masks in there. And again, they may they can show kindness they can they can be heroic, they can be a teacher to the hero. You know, they can feel sorry for the hero and in almost spare the hero all these things make them more interesting than just not I'm here to make your life hard. So, so these are the shadings are what make it realistic and more fun.

Alex Ferrari 25:09
Now, the hero's journey is become, and it hasn't become, but I guess it is so relatable to so many people around the world, regardless of religion, society language is that because it's just something that is hardwired into every human being, no matter where you come from.

Chris Vogler 25:27
Yeah, it's, it's, there are two things in operation here. And one of them is that I do make that assumption that, in the course of evolving into human beings, we created a whole bunch of structures, like families, for instance, and societies, we created these structures, and stories are one of those that, you know, I think we actually grew up part of the brain that handles that, that allows you to think in metaphors and imagine people, you know, when somebody's just talking to you, and saying, Once upon a time, there was a little girl, you somehow create the world and the little girl. And that's, that's all part of being human. But the other side of it is, then you have millions and millions of examples of these things in the form of stories. And people are, are swimming in an ocean of stories in their lives. And even if it wasn't hardwired, we'd all be taught by Hollywood movies and TV and the myths and legends of our culture's, we'd all be taught, what are the basic rules of these things? And, you know, what is the what is the shape, and the effect, but when I go back to the first one, that it's hard wired, because it seems that certain images and situations will very reliably trigger emotional and physical reactions in the audience. You know, things like people in trouble, people helping, you know, in sacrificing their own lives to help somebody else. Somebody sneaking up behind you to threaten you, all those things get physical reactions, and it's pretty reliable across cultures. So So there's

Alex Ferrari 27:19
So would you agree that and this is something I've always told people that asked me about story, I'm like, Well, if there was no story in the world, I don't think the human experience can move forward. Like just on a daily basis. How many times do you just tell what how was your day at work? That the story, you know, and all these kind of things? Do you agree with that, like, without story, we just couldn't move forward?

Chris Vogler 27:43
Yes, it would be a very different world. You know, I suppose there is an engineering version of the world where, you know, everything would be expressed only as, as mathematical formulas or diagrams or something. But even that's a metaphor. And the metaphor is telling some kind of a story, the world is made of numbers. You know, that's as much of a story as Peter Pan. So yeah, I think it's true because of the fact that it's, it's just so hard wired into us. You know, people say, I remember this. When Johnny Carson died, people, a lot of people said, What's it like to be Johnny Carson? In other words, you couldn't really tell me how it was to be Johnny Carson. But what's it like, you know, and give me a metaphor. It's like being the king, or it's like being on top of the world, or it's like being under a spider. All those are metaphors, and they tell little stories. So we think in poetry and metaphors, just automatically, and it's so embedded in the language, we don't even realize it. You know, like I just said, it's embedded in the language. And so I've created a metaphor that there's a, there's a mass and then inside that mass, like raisins inside a loaf of bread. There's embedded these, these ideas. So So these things are hard to escape, and you kind of can't see them, because they're so dominant. But, but now there's good things about it, because it does allow us to communicate, and to get ideas across and convince people of things by telling it in the form of a story has all politicians know very well. It's one it's one thing to say the the veterans are being mistreated, but it's much better to say here's a veteran and his what happened to him and look and he, you know, had all this sacrifice, and now he's suffering. And so now wow, that's a whole different level of relationship and identification. So

Alex Ferrari 29:57
Oh, I see it. I see with my mind My daughters who are four, how story impacts them and how I'm using story now just to kind of relay core, as George Lucas said, the meat and potatoes of our society, like, you know, the boy that cried wolf, don't lie, you know, things like that. It's so powerful and how these stories like the Grim Tales and things like that, they just go on from generation to generation now the Disney stories and, and the movies and stuff like that movies that I saw when I was growing up. Now I'm showing them to my girls and, and Star Wars is one of those, you know, kind of mythos those, those generate the new generations are catching up with that, you know, the stuff that we grew up with? Younger, it's just fascinating to watch. Now, are, are we all on our own hero's journey? Basically?

Chris Vogler 30:48
Yes, that's one of the biggest insights I had, by the way, your daughters are very lucky, because you're keeping up this ancient tradition, and you're not outsourcing it to the technological stuff. That's part of it, but introducing them to it and talking to them about it. Reading the stories to them, especially, is, is critical. But yeah, I mean, that was the big insight from the very beginning. I said, Wow, when I read Campbell's book, at film school, I kind of skim through it, I'm a good skimmer, and I skimmed through it on the bus on the way home. And by the time I got off the bus, my whole life had been changed. And one part of it was, yeah, this is great for making movies, this will make better, more entertaining more international movies. But at the same time, I was aware, this is a great guideline for living. It's, it's a template. And and it's a again, it's a metaphor, it's telling you a story, once there was a person who you know, lived somewhere, and they went someplace and changed it. But it's, it's just so clear to me that our ancestors thought it was important. And they preserved it in the form of stories, because it's your guidebook for life, for how to deal with the inevitable things, things are going to come along and wreck your plan, no matter what that plan is. And so how do you deal with that? And the stories are just an infinite Well, of options and solutions, and failures, you know, that two examples of tragic failures. So,

Alex Ferrari 32:34
Now What? What? No, no, I was gonna say, I was gonna ask you, what do you how do you know you're reading a good story when you're reading? Well, I'm sure you've read a few scripts in your day?

Chris Vogler 32:44
Yes, the number count, it's hard to say how many but it's well above 20,000. People like to believe but but I there's there's no question that, you know, I have file cabinets filled to prove it, of my reports that I've analyzed 20,000 stories at least. And, you know, the elements of the good one are, I'm a sucker for poetry and and for for just good writing. And I now I'm sort of ruined as a reader. Because I have low tolerance for bad writing. And I'm talking here about just the how do you compose a sentence. And there's, there's, there are people who, you know, they might be giving you good information. I'm reading a book about the city of Venice right now in Italy. And it's good information, but it's given in this very flat way. Venice was a big city in the 1400s. It was important, you know, and there's no music or poetry in that at all. But But I appreciate so much the beautiful writers. Now, screenplays are special, they're supposed to be very spare and simple and short sentences like that, for the most part. But there's, there's just a confidence that you feel when somebody knows how to how to build the nice, pretty sentences, not fancy but you know, elegant. So that's, I know, this is very subtle and hard to pin down when I'm saying, but beyond that, the simple thing for you know, like, what makes a good screenplay is, man, they grab you right away. And you know, right where you are and who it's about, for the most part. They're very clear about this is the hero spending a little time describing her? Maybe giving her some special behavior at the beginning that gets my attention. Why is she doing that? And that hooks me in so you know, there's their scripts, you read 20 pages, you don't know who it's about. You don't know what it's about. You don't know You know, even You know, is, is this the main location? Or is this a little prologue or, you know, there's a lack of clarity. So I just like it when, when things are simple and clear, and that's a sort of a motto of mine. From that the classic old romantic comedy. It Happened One Night. Clark Gale. Yeah. Yeah. Clark Gable is a reporter in that, and his motto is simple stories for simple people. And it's not condescending, it's it's a really good artistic rule. Just keep it simple. Tell me the story. And, you know, make it elegant in language and so forth, if you can, but, you know, be clear. Above above all, that's another thing I'd rather be clear than pretty in my, in my storytelling, and pretty historic, you know, sometimes, you know, overly flowery. He can also mean, look how cool I am. I'm not telling you who this guy is. And I'm going to make you wonder what's going on for a long time. Or I'm not going to tell you, you know, that sort of razzle dazzle is are using

Alex Ferrari 36:11
75 cent words when yes, that sent that letter?

Chris Vogler 36:14
Yeah, yeah, yeah, or another version of it is, and then the camera using a Zeiss iKON lens with a 35 diopter on it on the corridor at about 3.6 miles per hour. And then, you know, this kind of over directing is another another version of

Alex Ferrari 36:32
Have you read, have you read there? Have you read scripts to have that kind of? I mean, I've never heard that this Genki. But have you read something like that?

Chris Vogler 36:39
Yes, yeah, it does come up every once in a while. And I think it's generally from someone who isn't confident and hasn't done it very often before, and they're trying to prove, look, I know all this stuff, I took a class or I read a book or, you know, I went to film school. And, you know, I, myself, I think there was a little bit of that in some of my early scripts, because, you know, also people have a passion, they see it in their head so clear, they want to make sure it's down there on the page. But I learned better ways to do that, than to say, you know, you put please put the camera on a tripod, about four feet off the ground, you know, it's not that, but you know, you it, you indicate stuff like that by, he looks up from under his eyebrows, and she sees a flash of light in his eyes. And that gives you that makes the shots in your mind better than saying, with a tight close up, just up from his eyebrows down to his nose, you don't have to do that you just draw attention to the detail, you want to see the gun. That's a great note. So, and it is important, these things about the body, the hands, skin, eyes, you know, referring to those in the text. It kind of creates the close ups, you know, just just writing that in your slugline his hand near the gun? You know, is? That's that's better than saying a tight close up or that you see your mind immediately. So. So you you worked at Disney for a while, correct? Yeah, that was I guess that was the longest run I had at any of the studios. I had to sort of like military tours of duty at Fox on either side of that at Fox as a reader and then later as an executive. But in the middle was about 10 years at Disney. And that's a long run in the long run. Your normal gig is about two years. Honestly, people people say you were doing something right? Jobs. Well, I was doing something right. But also within those 10 years, I worked for about four or five companies within Disney. So I kept changing over. And as a new company was developed, like they created Touchstone type period pictures and various other and then there was Imad Hollywood pictures and Hollywood pictures and you know, all these different divisions. And as each one was created, I would come in and write some memos and read some scripts for them and, you know, get get involved and I was a little bit conscious of that trying to diversify and get as much stuff into my portfolio as I could. And that's a sidebar here, but very important. A lot of my thinking and work these days is about branding. And somehow intuitively, I was good at that. And before the internet, I created a kind of viral marketing for myself. through I mean of the Xerox machines and you know, fax machines and stuff like that. I spread a viral idea through the mind of Hollywood, which was this memo that I, when I was when I was at Disney, and the memo simply took Campbell's academic idea and translated it into Movie language. He talked about the Epic of Gilgamesh, or the fairy tale of the three shoes or something. And I would talk about, you know, here it is in ordinary people and Star Wars and various other classic films. So

Alex Ferrari 40:40
I even read that as a film student, I read that memo. That's how far that memo went, I was in Florida. And I heard about this memo that said, this is the this is the the guide book, the blueprint of all story. And of course, as a film student, you really like Oh, my God, I have to read this. And it would circulate around the school. And then I mean, so you did a good job. Without email. Without internet, you were able to create a viral piece of material that branded you completely Yeah, I when I bought your book,

Chris Vogler 41:15
It definitely did. And I have another thought about the branding, which is that branding is really a matter of association, you're associating yourself with different things like Coke, one of their mottos was coke adds life. So they say, Coke equals life, and whatever you know about life, whatever you like about life, there isn't coke. So

Alex Ferrari 41:39
Arguably, they take arguably, Coke takes away life, but we can talk about that.

Chris Vogler 41:43
Is that true? Yes. Yes, yes. It's certainly if you want to kill something, let it swim and coke Royale. But yeah, you know, if you want to take chrome off your bumper, that that's another little it'll eat the Chrome right off. But it's this matter of the where were we this is branding branding, on the branding thing is, is that somehow I was able to do that and brand myself with this thing, because it was almost like something that just popped into my head. When I was standing at the Xerox machine. I had written this memo. And I said, you can sort of load this up with intention. And I even left a copy of it on the Xerox machine on the class intentionally thinking the next person coming along may find this and who knows what they'll do with it? Well, let's see. Let's see where that goes. Wow. And, and, and, you know, I think what happened was an executive came in just copied something and found that and plagiarized it. He took my name off, he put his name on the cover, and sent it up to the company ranks because he thought it was good. And it got to the top guy in the company, Jeff Katzenberg. And he said, This is great. This is the this is the greatest thing that's happened since popcorn, and you know, there's all our movies and our animation should. Everybody should read this. And eventually you got credit, though. Yeah, I claimed credit, which is a little out of my character. I'm kind of shy and retiring. But I attach to that one. When I heard that this had happened. I wrote a letter to Katzenberg. And I claimed it and I said, The words gotten out that this memo is on your desk, and I wrote it and not this other guy. And I want something I asked for something, which is I wanted more involvement in the company. And he immediately responded to my amazement, and threw me together with the animation people. And that was kind of the the high point of my involvement with Disney. They were just starting Lion King. And I went over there to talk with the animators and writers. And I thought, okay, now I have to do a sales job and I have to explain who I am. And I have to tell them what the hero's journey is. But I walked in the door and the first thing I saw was a corkboard with the storyboard of The Lion King and it was all mapped out by the hero's journey. Step one, step two step three, really memo. The memo got there ahead of me. And with me doing nothing. It did a complete sales job for me and just rolled out the red carpet. So I walked in and they knew exactly who I was and what my idea

Alex Ferrari 44:50
Now arguably Lion King was from that for well over a decade, if not 20 years. It was the biggest animated movie Ever, financially? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Chris Vogler 45:14
Yes, it was, I must, I must tell you a bit of a surprise to all of us. Not all of us, but many of us who worked on it, because Disney had been on this rocket ship in life. And then they'd had a couple of, you know, they made they made 20 live action films in a row that were hits, and nobody does that. Now, something bizarre going on. And then they had made Beauty and the Beast,

Alex Ferrari 45:41
The Little Mermaid. That being said, and

Chris Vogler 45:45
Those, those, those were so good, and so revolutionary, they completely revived things, we all kind of felt like, well, the Lion King will take a step back, and it'll just be another picture, and it's not gonna stand up, you know, you can't keep going like that hit after hit. So you almost hope that one of them will drop back a little and lower expectations. And then you'll come back and you know, try to top yourself.

Alex Ferrari 46:12
But that would that would have been probably Pocahontas not like

Chris Vogler 46:15
Maybe so one of those, one of those that followed in the chain. But you know, it surprised us all. I remember seeing the the screening the opening night, they had a big party, you know, and we enjoyed all that. But the applause when the movie was over, was kind of that was good, you know, which is true for almost all Hollywood screenings, you know,

Alex Ferrari 46:42
Every single one of them. Absolutely. You're correct.

Chris Vogler 46:45
Yeah, yeah. That wasn't too bad. But, but Well, we underestimated the way it would connect around the world. And I've heard that everywhere in every culture, that people say, that's a Japanese story, you know, or that's an obviously African but you know, every culture relate somehow. So they they did something, right. And I had my little part in it. Yeah, I just I had a little story about that opening sequence, the circle of life sequence, they had fully animated that by the time I got there. And they showed me that sequence. The first time I met with them, and then the rest of it was either in pencil sketch form, or actual post it notes on the cork board, storyboard style. But my reaction to it was, there's something missing. And the missing thing was when Rafiki, who's the kind of the mentor of the story, the kind of magical guy when he holds up the baby Simba, and he shows everybody. I said, Wouldn't it be cool, if those big clouds up there suddenly opened up and a chef, the light came down and lit up the baby. And everybody in the room, wrote that down and started drawing pictures of it, because the animators communicate. And instead of writing notes down, they draw pictures. So everybody drew that. And they, they stopped the production and put that piece in, which was a big, expensive deal, but they said it was worth it. And that makes the little button on the scene. It's this one little thing. And there's a exactly right place in the music where the music kind of explodes. As the baby lion is held up, and that shackle light just punches it.

Alex Ferrari 48:41
So it makes the theme it honestly without no question about it. I still remember when you were saying it, I see it so clearly in my head. It's like, how could you not have that?

Chris Vogler 48:49
Yeah, yeah. And it was like it was all invited and set up by what they had done already. But just that one little piece, kind of nailed it. And the I saw a physiological reaction in everyone in the room when I just said, what if the shaft the light comes down, and I paused a minute and I noticed everybody's there, like shivering and quivering and kind of moving around in their seats, and then started furiously drawing that that image. So it told me something, and that's very important to me is that the story or the good ideas actually reach into your body and they do something they cause organs in the body to react and secrete fluids, make you shiver, and make your hair stand on end and make a cry and do all these other physical things to you. So that's a big part of my thinking now is what I call the organic storytelling, that it's in the organs of the body, where the story is actually actually happening, that your brain is you know, processing and thinking and comparing but the The direct experience is right there in your heart and your lungs and you know, your guts.

Alex Ferrari 50:06
And also, like, we talk a lot about story structure and the hero's journey and everything like that for actual movies. But there is a part of that, that goes through the marketing of it to to create a storytelling process of the marketing and two movies recently that's done that amazingly well was obviously the Star Wars movie was probably one of the best marketing movies I've seen in a long time and Deadpool, another amazingly marketed film. Can you touch a little bit on that? And how story played a part in those two campaigns?

Chris Vogler 50:40
Yes, that's something I'm very interested in. I've done work with companies that do trailers for movies and done a lot of thinking about, about how they connect. And, you know, it's, it's something in the first case in the Star Wars case, they're dealing with what you know. And the objective here was to say, you knew this, but you didn't know this. And so there are little things like, there's the sort of iconic shot of the current villain with his lightsaber where the the side flames come out, we sort of flicks flicks it on. And that was like, Oh, this is telling you it's plussing. This, it's telling you this is going to be the Star Wars you love. But with some new twists and X ray, a simple thing. But something also a little controversial, got people talking about what does it mean, and if there's even look realistic and possible, and so that'll it worked very well for them. And with with Deadpool, that's just a brilliant job of projecting a voice. It was it was all about the voice and the kind of iconic look at the character in his reclining lazy position. Those those two things together, made a real strong campaign

Alex Ferrari 52:08
And opposed to the Batman vs Superman campaign, which told you from what I hear, I haven't seen the movie, but it told you the entire story. It shows you all the points, the big, the big moments already have been given away in the trailer, which is I think, would have had such a potential to do a Star Wars, if they had the confidence. I think that was the big difference. I think the studio behind it with Star Wars, there was a confidence with the marketing, they're like, look, we're just going to just give you just enough to get you excited. And that's what brought everybody out. And with a story like Batman versus Superman, which is obviously like, you know, the fight of the century, they could have done that. But they didn't they went the complete traditional old school. Let's show them all on the trail. And let's see if we can get some butts in seats on the first opening weekend. Do do and I don't want to get to know you I know these are some of your clients. So feel free to say no comment.

Chris Vogler 53:02
It's It's It's fine. I these are observations I've had anyway. You know, it's a matter of his choice about it. And this particular technique of telling you everything and giving you all the plot beats was really worked out at Disney and it was part of their success for a while that that they they were reassuring you this movie with you know Richard Dreyfus or bed Midler whoever it was, they were putting in movies in those days, back in the 80s talking now they would they would lay out okay, then he's in his ordinary world, and then he's going to go to the special world, it's going to be weird and funny things will happen but dangerous things and then at the end with the through the love of a good woman, he'll figure it out. And that worked for a while, but then people really rejected that. And as you say, it's a safety it's a, you know, a default way to do it. And it's so much better when you really know what you have to sell. I was impressed by one campaign in the last couple of years. For Maleficent the movie looks back at Sleeping Beauty and does it tells a story from more or less the villains point of view. They knew what they had to sell Angelina Jolie with the weird black horns in costume and they just sold that you know that was there kick and so, you know, I think that's the the ticket is you have to know what it is you have to sell and sometimes it is the story or, or it's a new voice of new character.

Alex Ferrari 54:47
Still, so I'm going to ask you right now is going to ask you the same question that I asked all of my guests. These are the toughest questions. So please what is the last thing that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life,

Chris Vogler 55:04
The longest to learn, I guess that would be something I'm still dealing with. And in in that department, I would say, honestly, it's getting out of my own way. I'm still learning that, that I tend to do things the hard way and make things hard for myself and make more of the difficulties than they need to be. So that's, that's a bit of a slow lesson for me that I kind of sum up by something I call it's not my idea, but the do easy method. If you're interested in this, it's it's something that was cooked up by the writer William Burroughs to deal with difficulties in his life. But you just sort of approach everything very gently. And you know, where computers maybe drive you crazy and you want to throw things, there's a way to Caressa them, so that it isn't so difficult and painful. And not a master of this by any means. But that has helped me. So that's when you're still going

Alex Ferrari 56:19
Through your hero's journey in regards to that.

Chris Vogler 56:21
Oh, most definitely. Yeah. Oh, yes.

Alex Ferrari 56:26
So what are your top three? Exactly? What are your top three favorite films of all time, no order or anything like that. Just three films that really touched you?

Chris Vogler 56:37
Well, sure, I always start with my desert island movie, if denied all other films would be the one. And for many years, this has been a movie from the 50s called the Vikings, which is really the source material or very close to the current Vikings TV series. That's on the history. There. They're really drawn from the same literary source, the same historical character. It's the same idea. A great adventure movie with Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis and Ernest Borgnine. Exactly, and, you know, amazing effects and beautiful ships and all that. Number two, would be a movie called Gilda, which is, uh, oh, yeah, black, black. And it's just a special film to me. Because it's a film noir. It's about a triangle of evil guy and a woman who is associated with him and a young man who used to be her lover, and, you know, the the loyalties among all those three people. But it's much more profound than that. It's kind of an essay on good and evil and the devil and God and just profound kind of movie. And then our little more modern thing, is a film I'm working with right now. I'm getting ready for electric in Paris. And I had to do a French film. So I picked a film called a Moore, which won the Academy Award a few years ago for Best Foreign Film. And it's about old Parisian couple. And the wife has a stroke, and she eventually declines and they have to deal with her complete downfall as a person. very uplifting story. Got it? Yeah, it's a tough one. But just beautifully made. And a great example of simple stories for simple people in the best way. Very confident. You mentioned that before. That confidence in filmmakers and storytellers is really nice when you have it. And this guy's very confident. He does a lot of things where he'll just have a blank screen. And maybe you'll hear people say, are you okay? And the other one says Jamar, right now, there's no problem. And they're in bed asleep. And he'll just let that black Dean run for almost a minute. And you just kind of breathe and live with the boy that takes confidence. But he's got

Alex Ferrari 59:18
And what is the most underrated film you've ever seen? Let's see.

Chris Vogler 59:23
Oh, yeah, I go to a film that's actually kind of hard to find called They Might Be Giants with George C. Scott. And Anne Bancroft, I think is in it. And it's a play on Sherlock Holmes. It's about a crazy man in New York who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes, and they send a social worker to visit him and her name happens to be Dr. Watson. So it goes well there. I've been waiting for you, you know and she goes And eventually, they get she gets lured into it and realizes he is really the latest incarnation of Sherlock Holmes or he believes it's so much that, let's just accept that. And there really is like a Moriarty a bad guy who's doing things and they rally oddball all the oddball people in New York or rally behind them to stand up to this shadow of Moriarty. And it's a wonderful inspiring film. For some reason that one's not in a lot of packages, and it didn't get sold and it's hard to find. But it's a little treasure.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:41
Now, where can people find you?

Chris Vogler 1:00:44
The best thing would be my website, which is www the writers journey.com. And I also have a blog at WordPress and that is Chris bowlers writers journey blog. I don't

Alex Ferrari 1:01:07
Okay, and can you tell if people can you tell the can you tell that the tribe what books you've actually written besides the writers journey? Or the because I know you've written a few books, correct?

Chris Vogler 1:01:22
Well, I have Yeah, actually, I'm building a little library I wrote, you know, the first book, The Hero's Journey, 20 years ago. Then a few years back, I co wrote a book with a buddy of mine, who's a film director and teacher in New York, named David McKenna. And that book is called memo from the story department. And it's about climate, structure and character, memo from the story to print. And my original memo to Disney is in that about the hero's journey, but also all the other stuff that David and I have used in our work over the years other frames other other systems, like there's a fairy tale analysis technique. There's a way of looking at characters that goes all the way back to the days of Aristotle. There's a chapter on vaudeville, and how the traditions of the stage are still useful for filmmakers today. So it's good that way. And then the third thing, titled that I can claim is I wrote a Japanese manga, you know, their version of camo. And, sure, a buddy of mine, got into the business of publishing in, in America in Japan. And he invited me to contribute a story and so I got one out of the trunk. I took an old movie and novel called Ivanhoe about the time of King Richard in the Crusaders and Robin Hood. And I wrote kind of a sequel to it called Raven the skull so that's the title Raven skull. And it was supposed to be a four book series, we only did the first one so far, but it's, it was really fun to work with an artist in the Philippines, this guy. This and the editor never met him, I never met him. But we did everything by JPEGs back and forth. You know, I, I want the I want the stirrups to look like this. And I want the sword handled to look like this. And I'd send them the the images. And, and man, it would just come back the next day exactly like I wanted. And it was a great way to work. So

Alex Ferrari 1:03:46
There's my there's another book that you wrote the foreword for that actually was the reason I bought the book was because you wrote the foreword to it with myth and the movies.

Chris Vogler 1:03:55
Yes, that that's kind of a another relative of my books. It's in the family. Amanda Stewart void. Tila took on a an important job. I'm glad he did it because it was a lot of labor to do it. But what he did in myth in the movies is he said, Okay, here's Vogel's idea. How does that actually work? What does if you do the diagram, what does it look like? He was doing like pie charts of the of the different steps. And what does it look like in 50 different films and he chose really good classics in different genres. And he shows there that it changes depending on the genre, and that they spend more or less time in different stages and maybe omit stages or repeat them or something. He found all these neat patterns. Sort of subcategories within the general thing. He said it still works in all these films, but it's flexible and so you'll you'll find the the specifics in mainly by Onra adventure movies, romances, mysteries and so forth. He found these these shadings of it. And it's a great contribution. So,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:11
I have to say it's been an absolute joy. Talking to you today. Thank you so much for taking the time and dropping a lot of value bombs on on the audience in regards to structure.

Chris Vogler 1:05:24
Kaboom. Yeah. So I'm glad to do that. And you let me run free. And I appreciate that. And you had good questions. So I hope everybody just keeps in mind my model, which is trust the path trust the path that you're on. Keep going till you get there. And that has its own guidance system built in. So good luck.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:49
Thanks, Chris. And Alright, so now Chris, we're out. Thanks again so much. I really do appreciate you taking the time. I know it's been I know you're squeezing me in right before you Paris trips. Thank you.

Chris Vogler 1:05:58
Yeah, yeah, I have to keep an eye on that ball. But I'm going to be working on that, um, war film I talked about today. Oh, buttoning up my clips on that. But this is great. And I wish you luck with your in the film muscle, you got a pretty good list of people on this noun.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:19
Yeah, Linda, Linda says, hi. I thought I did Linda and of course, Michael. And we. And you know that Michael and I have been doing that, oh, the heroes two journeys course digital courses he sees. So hopefully this will help a little bit with sales with that and, and move forward. So of course, thank you again, so so much. I really appreciate it's been an absolute thrill talking to you, my friend.

Chris Vogler 1:06:42
All right. My pleasure. Thanks a lot, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:46
You know, I can't really tell you what a thrill it was to talk to Chris. I mean, after after reading his book, and how what an impact that book made on me. If you guys haven't read that book, you got to go out and get it. Writers journey. And you can get all that and you can get the links to his books, the course and all his direct websites and stuff like that at indiefilmhustle.com/061. So a lot of you guys in the tribe actually email me a lot of questions, and specifically, certain things about different parts of the business. And I do my best to answer them. But I had this idea of creating an episode a week, at least one episode a week, I'm going to try of just answering questions or just answering straight questions from the tribe. So I wanted to and I want to call it, ask Alex. I know it's extremely creative. But we're going to try to do this once a week. And we're going to create a YouTube show around it. So you can watch me answer the question. And then I'll also be releasing it on on the video podcast as well as the regular podcast as well. So I want to try to get more value to you guys. And this is a community so and this is our tribe. So everybody talking and asking me questions, might be a question that somebody else has that they haven't asked it to me, but this other person did. And if I can answer for everyone, maybe I can help more and more people. So that's the goal of what we do what I do here at Indie film hustles. I want to try to provide as much value to you guys as possible. So if you have any questions, email me at ask Alex at Indie film, hustle calm. That's ask Alex at Indie film hustle.com. And we're going to be we're going to create a website as well. That would be indie film hustle.com forward slash, ask Alex. So you can be able to go straight there. And hopefully we'll have episodes every week on me answering questions for you guys. So be launching that in the next probably within the next month or so. But please send in those questions and you know anything about the film industry? Film, business, film, marketing, post production? Whatever you want me to answer, I'll do the best I can to answer those questions for you guys. And provide good value to you guys. All right. So again, that's ask Alex at Indie film, hustle calm, and the website is going to be indie film hustle.com forward slash ask Alex. So thanks, as always for listening, guys. And don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us a great hopefully a wonderful review for the show helps us get the word out on what we're doing with any film, hustle and help more filmmakers out there. Okay. By the way, I wanted to give you guys an update on something. A few weeks ago, I mentioned in launch basically announced that I was doing a feature film called Ania. Well, that has now changed, I have shifted into another project. That project didn't work out the way I wanted it to work out. So I decided to just shift and move to another project. So I'm working currently working on another feature film right now. And we'll be announcing what that feature film will be in the coming weeks and possibly the next month or two because I'm working hard on it right now and getting up bunch of stuff labeled out. But there will be a feature film made by me and the indie film hustle gang sometime this year, regardless of what that movie is. So I have a lot of exciting stuff coming up as well, guys, I mean a tremendous amount of exciting news, exciting things I'm going to be bringing to you guys. And exclusive courses, exclusive topics, exclusive projects, all sorts of different things that I'm going to be bringing to you guys to help you further along on your quest to be a working filmmaker and to survive and thrive in the film business. So as always, guys, thanks for all your support. I can't do this out. I can't do this without you guys. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Please share these episodes. Please share our links when you see them on Facebook and Twitter and in the blogosphere. Just help us and get the word out. All right. I really appreciate everything you guys do. So keep that hustle going. keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.