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IFH 541: Inside Writing for Marvel Studios & Spider-Man with Erik Sommers

Today on the show we have one-half of the writing team that wrote the record-breaking Marvel film Spider-Man: No Way Home, Erik Sommers.

For the first time in the cinematic history of Spider-Man, our friendly neighborhood hero’s identity is revealed, bringing his Super Hero responsibilities into conflict with his normal life and putting those he cares about most at risk. When he enlists Doctor Strange’s help to restore his secret, the spell tears a hole in their world, releasing the most powerful villains who’ve ever fought a Spider-Man in any universe. Now, Peter will have to overcome his greatest challenge yet, which will not only forever alter his own future but the future of the Multiverse.

In addition Sommers co-wrote scripts for Spider-Man: Homecoming, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Spider-Man: Far From Home, The Lego Batman Movie and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle with Chris McKenna. Erik started his career in television and wrote on the ground-breaking show Community under show runner Dan Harmon (Rick and Morty).

Erik tells me how working with Dan changed how he wrote and how he uses Dan Harmon’s Story Circle in his writing today.

We discuss how he got the Spider-man gig, how he writes with his partner Chris, what it’s like working inside the Marvel Studios machine and dealing with the pressure of writing Spider-Man.

I watched the new Spider-Man and I have to say it’s the best Spider-Man film yet. Get ready to have your nostalgia heart-strings pulled in the best way possible. Erik and Chris did a fantastic job writing the stand-alone film, while still weaving in the larger MCU narrative, not an easy thing to do.

Enjoy my conversation with Erik Sommers.

Right-click here to download the MP3

 

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show Erik Sommers. How're you doing, Erik?

Erik Sommers 0:14
I'm fine. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thank you so much for coming on the show, man. I've been watching your films for quite some time and stuff you've been writing. I'm a huge community fan, as well. So we're gonna I definitely want to get into the weeds a little bit about how, how that basically, I'm going to go down the rabbit hole in your career, you and Chris's career. Now Chris McKenna, your partner is supposed to be coming in, we're having some technical issues we're gonna get we're gonna start because I use Skype because I'm, I'm back in 1997. And again, MySpace is going to be huge. When we post it there. So if Chris gets back on we'll, we'll bring him in. If not, we'll finish it off with you, sir. But first and foremost, man, how did you start in the business?

Erik Sommers 1:00
Um, I was in college, I was on my way to law school, probably. And just had one of those things where you know, college can be great because you, it helps you sort of get away from your folks and where you grew up and all this stuff and just realize, like, Wait, do I really want to do those things? Or do I just did I just think I want to do those things. And I just senior year realized I don't want to go to law school. And I took my, my college had one film class, it was not it was just an appreciation class, we watched the bicycle thief and racing cane. And I had always loved movies and TV, I had always thought about writing. And I took that class. And it was like, my last semester, and I just decided, that's what I'm going to do. And so I gave my mother the phone call, Every mother wants to get mom going decided not to go to law school. I think I want to go to Hollywood and try to make movies

Alex Ferrari 1:56
As a writer, as a writer,

Erik Sommers 1:58
As a writer, the most respected in the feature business or the writer. So I messed around for a few years before I finally got out here, but I literally clean it was a cliche I had, I had a beat up car and I had all my stuff in it. And I drove out here

Alex Ferrari 2:15
Really? not knowing a soul not knowing a soul.

Erik Sommers 2:18
Luckily, my father lived in Orange County at the time, so I stayed with him for a little while until I could get a place up here and but then I but that was it. I had to get a job. And I I didn't know how to type. I didn't know what about screenplay format. I didn't I so I started taking night classes at UCLA, screenwriting one on one. And eventually I got a job as an assistant on a TV show. And then that really changed everything because I was around the process and around writers and so I was working as assistant and writing on my own and you know, eventually trying to get jokes into the show and become a writer's assistant and sit in the room with the writers and all these things. And within a couple years I you know, I just a lot of hard work and hustling, but I managed to get my first job writing on a TV show. And so I did that for 15 years about

Alex Ferrari 3:09
Which show was that which which is, which is that first show.

Erik Sommers 3:12
Gosh, my first show was called Three south and it was on MTV created by the wonderful Mark hintermann. And it was on about the same time that Clone High was on which was created by our by our friends, Phil and Chris. Yeah. Ben Miller. Yeah, very long time ago.

Alex Ferrari 3:33
Now, when you were, you know, when you got that job in the writers room, and you started becoming a writer's assistant, what was uh, what was some of those lessons? What was like the biggest lesson you learned from the other writers that you might have not learned at school? Like, you know, the, the street level stuff?

Erik Sommers 3:50
That's a good question. I mean, first of all, I learned everything in there. I mean, I, I took a few classes, extension classes, and they were great, no knock against them. But just being in a writers room with a group of funny, talented people and watching them just break story after story after story, just watching them do it. You know, I mean, this was a, I think I was on a network show, I think and it was like 22 episodes. I mean, it's a lot of stories to break. And just seeing it done over and over again, at a high pace. I learned everything, being a writer's assistant. And, and then, you know, some of the writers were very, very good to me and took me under their wing and showed me, you know, I think one of the most valuable lessons one of the writers showed me like, this is my first draft, if you'll notice, it's not good. And he said, I just had to get it out, and then I'll go through it again. I'll rewrite it and rewrite it. It's okay to just just churn out something that's not the finished product don't get stuck. Just obsessing over it just like if you need to get it out. Just get it out. You can go back through it and I mean, I think I thought it was supposed to be You know, ready for primetime the minute it was on the page and and I realized, Oh, okay. And I think that really had a big effect on me that just knowing that you just just write it out, and you can rewrite it, go over it and over and over it. And don't be afraid to just get it out. I would.

Alex Ferrari 5:17
Yeah, that's, that's a big gray piece of advice, because so many writers, you know, think that that first draft has to be perfect. And they'll go back and rewrite the scene again, and rewrite the scene again and rewrite the scene. Again,

Erik Sommers 5:28
Don't do that. Don't go back, just just churn it out. And when you sit down the next morning, don't go back over what you wrote yesterday, just keep going, keep going. And then when you get through it, you can go through it all. Again, I would say the other big lesson you learn being in any writers room is just to have a thick skin, especially in East in a comedy writers room. Because a lot of really smart, funny people who just love to, to just bust each other's chops, I will say, because it's a family podcast. And you just get so much, so much criticism, usually in a hilarious format. And you just can't be precious about your work. And any writer who's in the room, especially on a comedy show, and is real precious and defensive about their work. Just the other writers don't, like, don't like that, you know, that's not playing well with others. And it's just not being it's not the fun writing staff kind of mentality you need to have you just, you work on it as a group, you get sent off, to do the outline, whatever you get sent off to write it on your own, you bring it back, they tear it to shreds, people, and it hurts because these are people you respect. But you just learned to get a thick skin. And I think that's become invaluable, because you just have to be able to take notes and listen to what people think of your stuff and just have no ego about it. And just think about it as objectively as possible.

Alex Ferrari 6:56
Yeah, I've heard I've spoken to many TV writers and showrunners on the show. And when they transfer over to features, or when they start working in features. They're much better prepared for collaboration, where someone a screenwriter who's just on features, gets that precious gets defensive. Like I can't take notes, like, but when you're getting your stuff shredded daily,

Erik Sommers 7:18
Right. I mean, I can't speak to the experience of coming up as a feature writer. And I imagine to me, it would seem very difficult and very solitary, I felt so lucky to have all these other writers around. But I can see where it would just be a completely different experience. And and, you know, so we found the same thing a lot of people would tell us, you know, early on when we were doing features like wow, you guys are just open to listening to us now and think well, who isn't? Who wouldn't? But you know, different strokes for different folks. And and the way you come up and get there is going to have a huge impact on how you take those notes.

Alex Ferrari 7:54
Now, how did you meet Chris? And how did you guys decide, hey, I think we're better together than apart.

Erik Sommers 8:01
We met on a show called American Dad. shoebox Yeah. And, and he was there before I was but we we met there and we became fast friends. I remember it was time for my first episode. And we were trying to come up with a story idea. And I was pitching all these ideas that were getting shot down because they weren't very good. And then Chris I think said like what if it's about finding Oliver North's lost gold from the Iran Contra affair, like turn it into some crazy thing. And I was like, that's insane. I love that. And then we ended up doing it. And that was my first episode of the show. And just immediately I was like, this guy gets me, you know. So we work together on that show as separate writing entities for a few seasons. And then he went off to community and I went off somewhere else did happy endings. And I think marry me was before that. And anyway, um, then we reconnected we always stayed friends. But then we reconnected for Jumanji.

Alex Ferrari 9:09
Now. So but did you guys work together on community?

Erik Sommers 9:13
Oh, sorry. Yeah, I skipped community. Yes. Yeah. Yes, he and Dan hired me for season five, which was Dan's first season back. He had been gone for one season, and then he came back. But then I saw I was there for season five. And that was great. And a lot of fun. And then I moved on to something else. And then they did the sixth season with Yahoo.

Alex Ferrari 9:40
And how did you end what what was like? I mean, I mean, damn, Heyman is like a Harmon is one of the like, you know, legendary. It's show runners at this point in the game. What are some things that you took away from that experience? Like what lessons did you learn working with him in that writers room?

Erik Sommers 9:57
Well, I mean, again, Let's see, one thing I really like about Dan is just just wanting to, he's a perfectionist, you know, like, he'll want to keep going over it and make it and I can relate to that. And so, you know, it's always nice to meet another perfectionist who's like, let's, let's go over it one more time. And that's not quite it, and I want to break it again. And I would say, his story circle, which you've never heard of maybe haven't heard was was really cool, you know, I had read the hero's journey, and I knew vaguely about that kind of thing, but just seeing how seriously he takes the circle. And, uh, it, it was really cool to just break story after story, like under a different system. You know, it was like, I guess a mathematician or something like switching types of math. There's, it's hard to explain, but it was like doing writing but in a different way. And it was really cool and fun to do it that way. And then I actually used his circle to break the story for a pilot that I wrote after that. And it was really cool to apply it to my own thing. And I still carry a lot of the lessons from that. I think one of the best things about his story circles that it really teaches you to pay attention to act to, and to keep things changing and act to and to make sure that characters attitudes change and things like that. And let's face it, that's where a lot of movies really just fall apart, because they just learned out and there's not enough going on, there's not enough change, there's not a and so I think Dan Harmon really taught me how to think about an act two, which has helped me in everything I've done since then,

Alex Ferrari 11:38
Now with, with writing with a partner, like how do you guys physically do it? Like, do you guys sit down and outline the project together? Do you like you write something and then send it over him? And he looks at over? Are you guys both writing different things and swapping it like how was the actual process of working with a partner,

Erik Sommers 11:57
A lot of just sending documents back and forth, or putting them up, you know, on the on the cloud, and like, check this out, and then just rewriting each other's stuff. And a lot of back and forth, a lot of texting, a lot of calls. And a lot of we're both, you know, have kids and busy lives. And so one thing that is really great about working in features is that if you're if you're just on a deadline, you know, as long as you get the work done, you can decide when you can create your own schedule and, and so we don't find ourselves together that often physically together. Sometimes we'll be together to break a story up on a whiteboard, or index cards or something like that. But even then, I think we've we've graduated to more of just like writing beats out and outlines and sending them to each other and just a lot of back and forth.

Alex Ferrari 12:46
Now, is there anything you wish you would have been told at the beginning of your career? If you can kind of go back in time and just go, Eric, man, this is if I can give you one nugget. This is the thing.

Erik Sommers 13:00
That was a good question. Save your money.

Alex Ferrari 13:05
Buy Apple Buy, buy this link called Netflix.

Erik Sommers 13:11
In two years, there's gonna be a freckle. Weird on your arm get it checked out, get immediate. Wait. That's funny, I think, um, gosh, I don't know, I feel like I had a lot of great writers and people really good to me and teach me a lot. And I'm really grateful for that. I wonder like, what is the one thing? I? I mean? That is a tough question.

Alex Ferrari 13:41
Yeah. Because I mean, a lot of times when we start off, you're like, I wish I could I could have just I would have gone back to myself and just said, it's going to take twice as long. It's going to be probably 10 times as hard as you think it's gonna be right. You know, and I'm sure like, because you're you're 20 you're like, next year, I should be writing Spider Man.

Erik Sommers 13:57
Yeah, yeah. I think write fast. Don't Don't dwell. I mean, I think I was telling you about the guy gave me his first draft. And I think even then it took me a long time to just to just get to a place of like, well just just write it out. Like don't sit there and think about it forever. And and, and if you have something that's not working, don't just obsess and stay working on it, be willing to give something up and step away, and just go work on something else, or try something else, do something else, maybe in a month, or working on a different script will give you some inspiration, and then you'll come back to this thing. And you'll realize, you know what, this was my problem. And I think early on, I had a few things that I just thought like, Oh, this is so good. This is this is my openness, this

Alex Ferrari 14:46
They will recognize my genius,

Erik Sommers 14:48
And I just have to keep rewriting it over and over and in the end of the day, I should have just like, Okay, you you did that you're done. Put it in the drawer and do another one. You're going to learn more by doing by writing Another one, then by just keeping working on this one over and over and over.

Alex Ferrari 15:04
Right! Exactly. Because you could only sand that wood so many times, you sometimes got to build out a new house,

Erik Sommers 15:10
There's something to be said for rewriting. And I'm a big fan of that. But at some point, you know, you just have to recognize and put it in the drawer and start working on the next thing. And you're gonna learn more by doing that.

Alex Ferrari 15:21
Now, it's so many so many writers that I've talked to, I always am fascinated with the creative process of writing of like, how you tap into that flow, that that creativity that we all kind of the Muse where, what how do you get the muse to show up for you, in your process? Do you just show up every day at a certain time? And just do the work? Or do you wait to be tickled fancy, like I always love asking writers with their processes.

Erik Sommers 15:47
Sure. And and I think, again, it has to do with the way that that I came up, I came up through TV, and in TV, you go to the office, every day, and at 10 o'clock, you start writing, and it doesn't matter if you're happy or sad or tired or what's going on, you're expected to be there. And you need to perform. And, and so there was no like news. Look, we all have good days and bad days, we all have days like that in any job. You know, but But ultimately, it was really just that training that just taught me to look at it as a job and work and like you just have to do it. It doesn't matter what's going on in your life. You're being paid. There's a deadline, you have to do it. And so that I've carried with me and and even to this day, yeah, no matter what's going on I, I have a routine and I come to my office here and and I just tried to get it done. And certainly, there are days where it's it's not going great. But I come and I try and

Alex Ferrari 16:51
See you're telling me that every day that you sit down to write, it's not genius that flows out of you. Is that what you're saying?

Erik Sommers 16:58
I and anyone who's ever worked with me will tell you that yes. 100% Yes.

Alex Ferrari 17:05
I forgot who said it is like if if writing is easy for you. You're not doing it right.

Erik Sommers 17:10
Yeah, maybe

Alex Ferrari 17:12
I think it's very true.

Erik Sommers 17:14
I also know a bunch of writers. I know several writers who are very good, who hate writing. They're like, Oh, the worst part is when you have to write,

Alex Ferrari 17:21
But you're you're a writer.

Erik Sommers 17:24
But I'm grateful that I enjoy it. I love it. I love immersing myself. The only thing I love more than immersing myself into writing something is just sitting down on my butt and watching it. You know, watching something that's you know, just just real, but it's I just love sitting down and doing the work. And it is work.

Alex Ferrari 17:46
It is and a lot of people like oh, you're just typing on a keyboard. I'm like, But Nah, man, this is sitar anyone who's ever written a script. Knows. And by the way, most people listening have written a script without knowing that there's going to be 150 to $100 million budget, sitting on their shoulders, as writers or or leading a franchise or you know, or writing something that is beloved by you know, billions around the world. There's a tremendous amount of stress that comes along with that. I think you could speak to more so than

Erik Sommers 18:18
You're doing fine until you started saying

Alex Ferrari 18:21
I don't think I'll ever write again Alex thank you so that brings me to my next question. How did you increase land The Lego Movie about the Batman Lego Movie?

Erik Sommers 18:33
Lego Batman movie? Yeah, um, but I don't remember

Alex Ferrari 18:39
Was was that the first feature? Or no, you did other features.

Erik Sommers 18:42
The first one was Jumanji,

Alex Ferrari 18:43
Right! So Jumanji came out before Batman or you worked on.

Erik Sommers 18:48
I think the order in which they came out isn't saying that in the order in which we worked on them. Okay, but I think we worked on on Jumanji first then we worked on Lego Batman for a while and then we went over to I think the next one after that was was Spider Man homecoming.

Alex Ferrari 19:04
Alright, so then with Jumanji, how did you approach? How did you How did you land that job? You know, coming out of television? And then how do you approach board game as a script

Erik Sommers 19:17
That one Jumanji, I did the old fashioned way, which is to just be sitting there minding your own business and have a friend call you and say hey, I sold an idea for a new version of Jumanji, will you help me write it? And then I said yes. So that was Chris. I really earned that one.

Alex Ferrari 19:40
So Chris is the one who sold the idea.

Erik Sommers 19:42
Yeah, he had pitched them an idea and they bought it and then community was brought back for another season on Yahoo. And he knew he wanted to be doing that. And he had a deadline for Jumanji and it's just inhuman an impossible amount. have things to do in the amount of days. And so he asked me if I would help him write Jumanji. And I had only written one thing with a partner before I had just been a solo one man writing entity. And but we started writing, we had just had a great time. And and we had a great time doing it. And it was really great. And, you know, we did a couple of drafts of that. And then they moved on to some other writers, which is fine, that happens. And then I don't really recall exactly how we got involved with a Lego Batman. We do. We do know, Lord and Miller. And it might have been just that they needed someone to come in. And and they knew that we were doing features now. And there might have been something through the agents.

Alex Ferrari 20:52
Gotcha. But you got it in there.

Erik Sommers 20:54
As we were brought, we went over there. And it was already in process. And Chris McKay, the director, who was just a brilliant, brilliant, talented guy, was already, you know, plugging away and so we were happy to join that team and be a part of it. And I still love that. I love that movie. My kids love it. So, so

Alex Ferrari 21:14
So good. So how do you like with with a world like that as a writer, which is essentially infinite? You know, it's like the Lego world in the Batman Lego world is fairly infinite. How do you deal with that kind of like, just, you know, when you have so much to do, it almost kind of blocks you because like, I could go anywhere with this?

Erik Sommers 21:37
Absolutely. When you have a I can say in general, when you don't have any limitations it can it can be its own overwhelming limitation. And having having some limitations put on you can oftentimes be the best thing. As far as that specific movie. We were not the first writers and and so the previous writer and the whole creative team in general. And Chris McKay had had already figured all of that out for us so so that when I can tell you was easy, because I didn't have to.

Alex Ferrari 22:09
That's awesome. So then you get the call for Spider Man. And I got to ask you, when you got the call and said, Hey, man, you're going to write the new Spider Man, which is going to be the crossover between Marvel and Sony. And Iron Man is going to be in it and it's the brand new split the geek in you. I'm assuming there's a geek in you. What what was that? Like getting that phone call? Like you guys got it?

Erik Sommers 22:34
I mean, when I was a kid, I had Spider Man comics. I'm old. So I had the Spider Man doll that was like plastic and this big. Oh, yeah. It was like made of fabric.

Alex Ferrari 22:45
You don't look you don't look as old as I do, sir. And I was probably the same age if not older than you.

Erik Sommers 22:52
And I still remember that thing. It was such a strange accent.

Alex Ferrari 22:56
I remember it

Erik Sommers 23:01
But then his face was rubber was the rubber Spider Man. So like the costume was fabric cloth.

Alex Ferrari 23:09
It was it did nothing has no I mean no kung fu action

Erik Sommers 23:13
To to suddenly know that, that I was going to be writing. Spider Man was yeah, it was overwhelming thrill but also daunting. You know, just when I had gotten comfortable as a TV writer, you know, and moved over to features and then just now had a little feature work under my belt and was starting to feel more comfortable. And then boom, this thing comes along. And as you know, you're going to be working with Marvel and you're going to be working with Amy Pascal and and and, and this this venerable, Venerable hero that that is so beloved. And yeah, so it was intimidating but equal parts intimidating and exciting.

Alex Ferrari 23:55
And and when you I mean, because you had obviously Jumanji was a big hit and Batman. Lego Batman was a big hit. And then you got Spider Man. And then Spider Man was a huge hit. So I'm assuming at this point in time, you know, in town, you're getting offers, you know, you're getting offers, you know, people are like, Hey, you guys are magic. We want to be in the Chris and Eric business. Did anyone ever say that to you?

Erik Sommers 24:18
I know but I've always wished that someone would

Alex Ferrari 24:25
Say that to you.

Erik Sommers 24:28
It would be great to hear someone on ironically say that would be pretty amazing.

Alex Ferrari 24:36
That would be pretty it cuz you only see that in the movies you like I want to be

Erik Sommers 24:39
Absolutely. It's one of those things you wonder like Did someone it sounds like the kind of thing that maybe someone really did say yeah. And then people talked about it in a writer put it into their script, and then it got a life of its own. And now it's like the phrase that means that kind of intention. So who was the first one who really said

Alex Ferrari 24:58
I would love because someone's in here. Bro smoking a cigar. At the time in my bed in my mind like I want to be in the Chris and Eric.

Erik Sommers 25:05
Yeah, exactly. I can see that.

Alex Ferrari 25:08
So how did you approach writing Spider Man? Did you kind of go into? Did you just go into the archives of Marvel and just start pulling story ideas? And then mixing it with your own ideas? How did that whole story come to be?

Erik Sommers 25:23
That one again, we were not the first writers on that project. So there had been it, there had been two pairs of writers working on it. Okay, a few teams that worked on it before. So it was actually pretty late in the game. And right up in late pre production, they were we're not that many weeks out from shooting, that we came on board. So we didn't have any any of the challenges of, you know, taking all of this source material and honing in on one story or trying to figure out what story we were going to try to tell or anything like that. I mean, it was all there. We were basically rewriting, doing a rewrite on an existing an existing story.

Alex Ferrari 26:03
And how about did you did you start off with Ant Man and the Wasp?

Erik Sommers 26:09
With Ant Man and the Wasp, we were also the second in in that case, they decided to they kept some elements of the first script, but we changed it it was it was earlier on. And then we had just to change to make bigger changes, some more sweeping changes. Just because of the the time available. And for various various reasons. The guys who did the previous draft did a great job. No knock against against issues, what was decided and so we we dug in a little bit more into into RE breaking a story.

Alex Ferrari 26:43
Now, how about no way home? Like what did you guys started off with that? And I mean, that that's such a see if I'm going to watch it tonight? I haven't seen it yet. I'm going to watch it tonight. The trailers make it seem insane. It seems so big, so many things going on? How did you even handle dealing with timelines and characters from different timelines and keeping it all together in your heads? How did you guys do that?

Erik Sommers 27:13
You're stressing me out again, describing it.

Alex Ferrari 27:15
It's done. Eric, it's done. It's over. It's done. Yeah, it's done. It's over. It's come it comes out Friday. Don't worry about it. Don't worry, I won't talk to you before any project ever again, don't worry.

Erik Sommers 27:28
Um, I mean, it was, of course, we we didn't start off knowing that this is what we were going to do. The one thing that was fixed at the beginning is we knew how the last one had ended. Right? We we knew that we had had to deal with it that that was going to be the story engine, you know that that that? Clearly the repercussions of that were going to have a huge impact. And that was going to drive this story. The question was, what impact exactly would it have? And what would Peter want to do about it? What he set out to clear his name? Would he you know, what story? Would we be telling what he'd be setting out to clear his name and really leaning into? No, that was a lie. And I'm going to prove it. And that's going to be this whole story? Or is it going to be he's trying to maintain the balance now that he always tries of being a normal kid and being a superhero, but now it's impossible? Or is it going to be some crisis comes up that has nothing to do with any of this, but it's harder for him to do his job now, because he's, and so it was a lot of conversations with the creative team. You know, we are in a room with John, the director who's really great on story. And Amy Pascal, Rachel O'Connor. And if we're lucky, Kevin fygi will be in there. And really just rolling up our sleeves and thinking what is the best story to tell here? Well, and so it was a long process. There's a lot of blue sky just thinking before we even came down to the idea that it was going to be this.

Alex Ferrari 28:57
So on the swamp. So when you guys on the SEC at the end. And this is a spoiler for anyone who hasn't seen the second Spider Man. At the end, when they reveal who Peter is. You guys didn't know where you're going? Like the studio didn't know. Like, because you always look Marvel looks so well put together. And this sense of like, Oh, they've got scripts for next 10 years. It's all connected. They really it was like, Okay, we'll figure it out. Yes. Amazing.

Erik Sommers 29:24
We you're obviously we want to think about the greater Oh, yeah. Like there's forest and things like that. But at the end of the day, you really just have to focus on your story and what is what is the coolest ending, most satisfying ending for your story? And that idea had been kicked around. And it's the kind of thing where some of us were like, No, we can't do that. That would be that kid. And then some people were like, Yeah, we shouldn't we should do it. That's it. Yeah. And we just it was a lot of conversations and ultimately, the creative team came to the conclusion that that would be the ending that story With Mysterio, and everything that finally Peter's gonna get to a place where he realizes I don't have to step into Tony shoes, I can be Spider Man and I can play a larger role out there, but I can do it my way. And he was finally starting to seem comfortable. And he had his girlfriend and everything did seem to be going great. And of course, because it's Peter Parker, then you have to pull the rug out. And and things have to take a turn for the worse. And that was like the the best version of that we felt that, oh, you're happy with everything now. And great. Well, guess what the whole world knows who you are. And it's all ruined everything that you saw today. It's all ruined. And so we did not know that what it would lead to we knew that it would be a story engine for the next movie. And, and but don't forget, at the time we did, there was only a deal, right between Disney and Marvel. For far from home. No Deal existed for a next. So it's also one of those things where you have to write what is you think is going to be the best version of your story. But also you can't, you can't hold things back thinking like, oh, we'll do that in a sequel. Or we'll do that in this because you don't know if that'll happen.

Alex Ferrari 31:13
Right! You're playing in somebody else's sandbox as a writer, so you're kind of, you know, like you said, those forces are beyond your control, like, totally completely outside of your outside your control,

Erik Sommers 31:25
There would be another movie we didn't know, we would be hired to write it. So I mean, we just so everyone that that ending is born of a group of people working hard to come up with the best way to end that story. That's it.

Alex Ferrari 31:41
That's, that's remarkable. And that, which brings me to another lesson, I always love to tell film, filmmakers and screenwriters, the best advice I've ever heard in the business is don't be a dick. And because, you know, there's a reason why you guys are keep getting hired, again to do because it's not, it's not usual, you know, to write multiple tentpoles generally speaking, I haven't seen a whole lot of that where the same team is writing or are on the same projects. And that that's a testament to you and Chris, that you like, but these guys obviously are fun to, to work with.

Erik Sommers 32:18
I hope so I want to have fun when I'm working. And I want everyone who's in the room with me to have fun. And I think again, and so just Chris and I think again, that comes from TV, because we were we were we came up in, in comedy writers rooms, and it's just really fun to be in there. Yeah, no, and you're working and you're being creative, but you're joking around, and it's just really fun. It was a fun, fun job. And I'm so grateful that I got to have that job. And I think we we try to bring some of that with us. And so I think it's it's that spirit, but also again, just being willing to collaborate and take notes and not not be defensive and not push back all the time for just for its own sake. And I think you know, I can't say and I'm not I can't say I'm and I'm by nature, not someone who wants to toot their own horn or anything like that makes me comfortable. So I'm sure I couldn't see why people keep fires. I'm glad

Alex Ferrari 33:22
I'm glad I'm glad and humbled by it.

Erik Sommers 33:25
I mean, it gets back to Lessons I was taught early on I think one of the writers when I was assistant he just said like, work super hard. Be nice and friendly with everyone and like to

Alex Ferrari 33:40
Work hard and be nice. Work hard be nice.

Erik Sommers 33:43
I mean that probably is good advice for any job but

Alex Ferrari 33:47
Is there any is there any screenwriters that you kind of looked up to in their style that you know when you were coming up

Erik Sommers 33:55
I can't say that was anyone I I think I just had lots of stuff I enjoyed watching but I you know I didn't read tons of scripts and think oh I love the technical way that guy writes or this or that you know i mean i i I had shows and movies that I loved and in probably subconsciously I was like aping that kind of style or sure sure it's on me but I I can't say there was anyone where I was like you know on a technical way the way this guy writes his action lines are his dialogue sure like um I think it just a lot of it just comes down to half hour comedy influence probably just like keep things snappy, keep moving go and fewer long speeches keep them shorter and it's probably a lot of stuff like that, that I don't even realize I'm doing that's just I was influenced by that's how I learned to write you know, in in writers rooms of half hour comedies.

Alex Ferrari 34:57
Fair enough. I'm gonna ask you a few questions ask all my guests What? What advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Erik Sommers 35:06
Work hard.

Alex Ferrari 35:08
Be nice. Fair enough. That's a good answer.

Erik Sommers 35:11
Work hard, be nice. Just Just get it out. Don't sit there and think about it forever. Just get out your first draft and you can always write another one. And then, at some point, be willing to put it in the drawer, put it away and move on to the next one. Don't Don't linger on one script or one idea for too long. And because you'll learn more by just moving on and doing the next one.

Alex Ferrari 35:35
What lesson what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Erik Sommers 35:40
Don't beat yourself up.

Alex Ferrari 35:43
Good advice

Erik Sommers 35:44
For all of us to learn in life and in writing.

Alex Ferrari 35:48
Yeah, especially in writing. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Erik Sommers 35:54
So many predator

Alex Ferrari 35:59
Oh, thank you.

Erik Sommers 36:00
Arnold Schwarzenegger seminal just a moment in my life, I can still remember going to a drive in movie theater and seeing it with friends. And it's just such a big deal. Aliens. I still remember that night to go in with a friend and go into a movie theater. And you know, I just remember that experience and how special and amazing that was. And I would say the Karate Kid.

Alex Ferrari 36:26
Wow, man. Those are three great, great lists, man.

Erik Sommers 36:30
That's it so many. I don't know that that's what I could pull from the top of my head

Alex Ferrari 36:34
Predator is arguably one of the best action films of all time. And so as alien aliens is a masterpiece. So good absolute masterpiece. Erik man. It was a pleasure talking to you, man. Thank you so much for being on the show

Erik Sommers 36:46
I hope I didn't ramble too much.

Alex Ferrari 36:48
No.

Erik Sommers 36:50
Old tendencies I have.

Alex Ferrari 36:51
No you did fantastic. And I can't wait to see Spider Man. No way home. It looks amazing. And continued success my friend and I wish you continued success. And please keep writing these man therse are so much fun.

Erik Sommers 37:06
Thank you very much. It was a pleasure talking to you. And thanks for having me. And I hope you enjoy the movie.

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IFH 120: What the HECK is a Scriptment?

So what is a Scriptment? I found it to be a liberating form of prepping a story to be filmed? When I was in pre-production on my first feature film This is Meg, I wanted to get into production as fast as I could without waiting to develop a full screenplay.

I’ve written a few screenplays in the past and as any screenwriter will tell you, it ain’t easy. So I found inspiration from filmmakers like Mark DuplassJoe Swanberg, Lynn Shelton, and the Godfather of independent film John Cassavetes. According to Justin Ladar (writer of Mark Duplass’ The One I Love), he defines a scriptment as follows:

“Basically a full script minus a lot of the dialogue…If you take away exterior or interior sluglines, it reads like a short story.”

He explains what it was like working with Mark on The One I Love:

“What would happen is that I would script [the dialogue in] a scene the night before or while the crew was prepping. [The cast] would get the pages and they would see just from a pacing standpoint [what needs to happen and when].”

When I was working with Jill-Michele Meleán on This is Meg we came up with a style that would work for the budget and time we had. It was the most freeing experience of my creative life.

No pressure, no hitting your marks, and no drama (except in the story of course). As the director, I was there to capture the lighting. The remarkable actors that were cast in Meg brought themselves to the project.

Jill and I would discuss the scenes with each actor prior to the shoot day. We would have plot points in each scene that need to be hit for the story to move forward, how the actors got to those points was up to them. They would improv the dialog and flow at the moment. It was amazing to watch.

That energy spills off the screen when you watch my two feature films This is Meg & On the Corner of Ego and Desire.

 

The term “scriptment” was coined by the legendary filmmaker James Cameron, during his involvement in bringing SpiderMan to the big screen. Cameron wrote a lengthy 57-page scriptment for the first proposed Spider-Man film (read the James Cameron SpiderMan scriptment here).

According to Wikipedia,

“Cameron’s scriptment for Titanic (1997) was 131 pages. The term became more widely known when Cameron’s 1994 scriptment for the 2009 film Avatar was leaked on the internet during pre-production, although other directors, such as John Hughes and Zak Penn, had written scriptments before. The scriptment for Avatar (2009) and its notoriety caused the spread of the term.”

Though James Cameron used a scriptment as the starting point of the screenplay, Mark DuplassJoe Swanberg, and Lynn Shelton used the scriptment as the blueprint of the film. Take a listen to my explanation of what a scriptment is to me and how it can jump-start your first feature film.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So guys, today's show is all about giving you freedom to make your feature film. And I you know it this is one of the most freeing experiences that I ever had while I was making this is mag is being able to move so quickly through the creative process, from from idea to script meant to shooting it, editing it, finalizing it. And we did it all within I think about four months, literally from the idea all the way to the final edit and color and export. And it was such a freeing amazing experience that I wanted to share with you guys what exactly it was. And hopefully you guys can do something similar for your first few films. Now, what is a script meant? Scripting is basically a full script minus all of the dialogue. It allows it takes away a lot of the exterior, the interior kind of slug lines, and reads like a very cool short story. Now, I'm not the first to think about Scrivener is by any stretch. Mark Duplass has been doing it basically his entire career as well. I mean someone like James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino, they love writing scripts prior to writing their screenplays. But what Mark does is he actually writes the script and and that is what he uses to make his movies. So what he likes to do and I'll tell you from from what I heard about what Mark does and to also what I did was you reverse engineer your story based around things you have around you. Robert Rodriguez did this so to Kevin Smith, these guys, this is not a new concept. I think it needs to be a lot of people need to remind be reminded of what this could what this very powerful thing is for especially for first time filmmakers for people just you know, just starting out people who just want to make a feature film, and, and not get caught up in the drama, if you will of writing a screenplay at the very beginning of their career. You know, I've written screenplays before. They're very taxing. They're very, they're rough. You know, as anybody will tell you, they're rough they write they can be extremely rough to deal with. But I didn't want the writing and the formatting and all this kind of stuff to kind of get in my way of telling the story that I wanted to tell with Jill on this as Meg. So we decided, hey, let's just do this. Kind of like the league, the effects show the league did or Reno 911 or Curb Your Enthusiasm. All these guys have very loose scripts. So they would just start with an idea and structure it out very well. And that's it. That's the misnomer. That's a kind of myth about scripts, or about these non scripted feature films or television shows as they are scripted, but there's just scripted in a different format than you're normally used to. So let's say that you were going to do, you know, like, again, I'll use Meg as an example, what I did was,

I took, I took me and Joe sat down, and we're like, Okay, what do we have access to, okay, we have my office, my back office, your house, this other house, this other house, this other location. And we'll you know, we'll go up to the Hollywood sign and do a location shot there. And we'll grab some stuff on the street and be like, okay, boom, boom, boom. And once we knew all of our locations, and all the things we had access to, we started riding around that idea, and started building everything around what resources we had at our disposal. And by doing that, we were able to construct a screenplay or a scriptment fairly quickly, Jill, did a lot of heavy lifting, and came up with a story. I gave her my notes and like, hey, no, you know, what, we have this location, let's try to change it over here. And, you know, gave her some guidance in regards to the production aspects of things what we had access to, but, you know, she came up with this scriptment that was, at the end, almost like 45 pages, so wasn't like, you know, we just throw a three or four page outline together and ran, it was it was a pretty detailed script meant, and there were scenes that were fully scripted out. And there were other scenes that were very loosely screened, or scripted out, you know. So, once the movie gets released, I can talk a little bit more about specific scenes in the movie. And you guys, and inside the inside the indie film Syndicate, I'm going to be going over this in detail in the coming weeks and months, on on how exactly we did this. So by doing this guy's, we were able to get this movie done so so quickly. And, you know, a lot of people who work with Mark do plus, you know, especially screenwriters, they just get are in awe of how quickly they're able to put stuff together, like he'll come up with an idea. And six months later, they're done, like literally done six months later, because he keeps the budgets very low. And that's the other thing too, you keep the budget very low, you use what you've got, it's a collaborative art, you need a lot of help from a lot of different people to make something like this happen. But it's extremely doable. And you write around what you have. And it's not that difficult to do, honestly, you have to use proper structure, you have to get your storyline and everything organized properly, have your your points, your hero's journey, or whatever kind of story you want to tell if it's a three act story, if it's four Act, or 6x story, or two acts story, you can do so but just organize it out. And then when you get on the set, this is what happens. When you get on the set. You've already hopefully talked with your actors prior to get on the set. When you do that, when you get on the set, you could start riffing, and you go, Okay, guys, this is what the scene is really about. We need to we need to hit this point, this plot point, this plot point, and this plot point. And we have to hit these marks, how you get to those marks is completely up to you. But we need to hit these marks in order for the story to continue to move forward. And when you allow actors to really feel free to do so. The magic that comes out is pretty remarkable. Now again, you have to hire the right actors who are really kind of versed in improv, and are comfortable doing this. But you'll be surprised at a lot of actors who are able to do this. And also, you know, when you're casting actors, this is on a side note when you're casting actors, try to cast people who are very close to the role that they're going to play that there is not it's not a complete stretch for them to do I mean look, Daniel Day Lewis is Daniel Day Lewis, Robert De Niro's Robert De Niro. And you know, all these guys do Meryl Streep's Meryl Streep, generally speaking, if you as a director, or as a filmmaker can cast someone who's close to the character that you are trying to have them portray, it's going to make things a lot easier, because at the end of the day, you don't want them to act. You want them to be, you want honesty out of those performances. And if they can be themselves and just come up with lines or read lines that you've written for them, all the better. And that's how fast that's how we were able to do what we did on this as make so fast is we, you know, Jill actually wrote the screenplay, or wrote the script meant around her friends. And she talked to her friends before she wrote the scenes. And she knows like, Look, I know this person, and I'm going to write the scene based on her or based on him on their characters on their, their people. And, you know, I know I can get this performance out of Carlos or Deborah or Joe or Krista. And and, and that's how we wrote the scenes out and we kind of found things on the day, and it's so freeing, it's so exciting and so fun because you really don't know what's going to happen as a director as a filmmaker. And a lot of times I was just there trying to capture the lightning in the bottle. That was my job was there to just capture the lightning that was coming off in front of that lens.

It's my job to capture it, and then to mold it when I get into the editing room. But that is the power of a scriptment. And it's something that I think a lot of filmmakers, you know, the screenplay, at least for me, was always this big monstrous thing that had to be perfect and had to be read perfectly and you know, if the the formatting wasn't right, or the the way you said things wasn't right, or this or that it just created so many obstacles from actually going out and making your movie that I think that discriminant is a way to loosen those shackles, if not shake those shackles completely off, where you could, in theory, grab 1000 bucks and go make a movie. You know, grab a camera, grab some lights, maybe even lights, maybe no lights, grab some audio, get some friends together make a movie, this is what Mark Duplass did. This is what Joe Swanberg did this is what Lynn Shelton did, you know these guys all did that, and they kind of just ran with it. And they made some really fun, heartfelt movies by doing so. And I don't think it's something that you guys can't do yourselves. Now, it also depends on the kind of story you're trying to tell guys. If you're trying to tell a story. That's super action packed, big thing, you know, big action sequences and all that kind of stuff. This, this process might not work for you this is this process will work. You know, though I am I'm interested to one day try this formula on an action movie, or on a horror movie. I'm really curious to see. And I might do that in the future, just to see what happens. You know, and it has been done to the horror genre, as well. So, you know, well, I mean, the biggest example of that was Blair Witch, The Blair Witch Project was done, they did that there was literally no script, they just kind of were guided along and the actors kind of made everything up as they went along. So it can it can work in those genres as well. But if you have a lot of big science, you know, big science fiction or big visual effects and things like that, you really have to plan certain things out. But there's no reason why it's some of the dialogue in those scenes cannot kind of riff like this, but again, you have to keep that budget low. And you know, I kept I kept the budget under 25 million, like I say all the time. afford this is Meg and kept it in a budget range that I felt very comfortable with by doing this kind of this kind of work, but I know that Mark do plus and those kind of guys they'll work with, you know, under a million dollar budget, sometimes a little bit over a million dollar budget. You know, I know drinking buddies the movie with Olivia while Jake London, and a Kendrick by Joe Swanberg. They, that movie budget was about $550,000 I'm like, that was his biggest movie ever, budget wise. And that movie was completely done by this way. It's just that was his. That's, that's Joe's process. That's how he likes to to work. And I understand I once I did it with this as Meg, it's so fun, so freeing, and the actors get to really have fun with the characters and create the characters on the fly. And by just being able to loosen things up a little bit. It works so wonderfully. And again, this is not for everybody. But I think for a majority of you guys out there for at least a portion of you guys listening to this, this might be a way for you to get off the ground to get your first feature made, you know you do very low risk, again, 1000 bucks. You know, if you guys can't raise 1000 bucks by asking your parents and friends, you're in deep trouble my friends. So you gotta at least raise a grand, let's say, get somebody who owns a camera or shoot it with your iPhone, for God's sakes. Do something like that. Make sure your sound is good, make sure your visuals are decent. And go tell your story make a movie, there's very little risk involved there. When you start getting into the 50 100,000 to 200,000 million dollars, you guys better know what the hell you're doing. You know before before you get going, you better have a distribution plan and all that kind of stuff. But at this level at that low budget. Under $10,000. You can you can have some fun and experiment. So if you don't feel comfortable doing with a feature film right away, do it with a short, you know, take take 50 bucks, take 100 bucks, and go make a few shorts like this. Get your feet wet. And see how it works. Do a few scenes do a few five minutes short films like this. Again, keep the budget really low 100 bucks, you know no more because if you start doing like 234 100 500 bucks, well shit then you could go make a feature at that point. But anyway,

I just hope that this this podcast kind of helps you guys understand that there is another option out there for you. There is another path to make your first feature film that you don't have to go the traditional route Out of getting a screenplay like getting it developed going through all of the rigor Maryrose submitting this to a to actors and so on. And again, at the beginning guys, I know, I know a lot of people are gonna have this question like, Well, Alex, if I have a script, and I've never done anything, can I approach named talent? I'm gonna probably say no, unless you have a relationship with that name talent, or some somebody like that it's going to be very difficult. We were lucky that Jill had very, you know, you know, they're her friends. And they were able to reach out to her friends and and we were able to do this in this fashion because they trusted her, and they trusted me. But when you're starting out, don't don't worry about getting actor like big name actors, if you can. Great. It all helps, you know, even if it's you know, TV actors, or people that we recognize are just good solid. performers. Great. But don't get caught up in that. That's another obstacle. Again, you go look at Mark Duplass. Go look at Joe Swanberg. Oh, look at Lynn Shelton. All of those movies when they first started out, did not have names in them. They just wanted to tell a good story with their friends, or people that they knew who can act, and so on. So that's what I would recommend for you guys to do as well is to go in, get a bunch of your friends or actors that you can find, to go out and have some fun with. And that's a big key point, guys have fun. This should not be stressful. There should not be anger, and high jinks and drama and all this kind of stuff. It should be fun, guys, if not you'd go out and get real jobs. You know what I mean? I know it's hard work. And I know it's sometimes it's stressful. And I know, it can be a little bit overbearing, sometimes making, making movies and being an artist in this sense. But at the end of the day, man, you have to have fun. And if you don't have fun, that shows up on the screen. And when you guys finally see this as Meg, I hope you can sense the fun we had. We had no drama at all ever on the set. We everything flowed so beautifully, so wonderfully all the way through the editing to the final part to the final, you know, cut of the movie in the final color in the mix and everything. It all just worked so beautifully. And I've never I've never experienced an artistic endeavor like that in my entire career. And I was like, wow, because I completely loosened the shackles. I completely just said, Fuck it. I'm just gonna go out and do this, I'm not going to think about it. I'm not going to think about, oh, I got to do this, or I got to do that. And this is the way I have to do I finally after 20 odd years, decided, You know what? I'm not gonna listen to what everybody else is doing and do and I'm going to do it my way. And for me, it's working, you know, and I did again, I did make a budget that I can feel very comfortable with that I can continue to do those kind of movies indefinitely if I have to. You know, Joe Swanberg made, has made like 32 feature films, you know, when you have made six feature films, you know, I'm going to put in the show notes, my links to both Mark do plus and just wants Berg's keynote addresses at South by Southwest and, you know, backgrounds on both those guys because if you want to study, you know, people the process, these guys are definitely two guys that you should definitely look look for, look at and study their processes. And again, of course, the show notes are at Indie film hustle.com forward slash 120. But, but again, Jo Jo was one of those guys that just kind of decided to keep making movies, he's like, Well, if no one's gonna pay attention to me, at least I want to be prolific. And that was such a great way of looking at, he's like, I'm just gonna keep making movies. And he'd made one year he made six feature films. He made it with his you know, I think I don't know if it wasn't VHS, but it was mini DV cameras. You know, he just went on shot with a bunch of friends, no stars, no faces, no marquee value.

He just said, Hey, I'm gonna go make some indie movies. And he did. And he sold them. He did some for a lot. But he sold them and he was able to make that year he said he was able to make 50 or $60,000 by selling six movies, you know, and having some other movie money come in, in that keynote address. He really talks a talks a lot about the financials, of how he was able to make it and it's so wonderful to hear. It's very honest, and tells you exactly what you want to hear. So definitely check that out anything else.com forward slash 122 in the show notes for his his keynote speech because it's it's really amazing. But back to scripts. Again, I just want to give you guys the tools to feel free to make your movies no matter where you are in the world. I want you to be able to feel free to make these kinds of movies and just go out and make them and then from there that grows to the next level and the next level the next level. And one last thing before I go guys, I want you to just please and I've said this before in the podcast, but I'm going to continue to repeat this until people understand it. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. You can't expect every movie that you make, to be the homerun, to be that one lottery ticket win that you're looking for. When you put that kind of pressure on the movie, it will succeed, you will be you will fail many times, and you are setting yourself up for failure. With this as Meg, I am putting it out into the universe, I'm putting it out into the world. And whatever happens happens, people will love it, people will hate it. I know that for a fact that people will love it, and people will hate it. That's it. And there'll be some people in the middle and other people on the extremes. And that's just the way it is. That's just the way it happens with all arts. So you have to prepare yourself for that. But am I expecting it to get you know, to get into Sundance and when me the lottery ticket? No, because you know what I didn't get into Sundance. And it wasn't the end of the world. Because I was excited. I was like, hey, if I get it great. If I don't, let's go on, you know, so you always go for you always aim for the fences. But understand that don't put the pressure that if it doesn't, your whole world is over and you can't make any more, I want you not to feel that way, I want you to feel like I'm going to make five feature films. And I'm just going to keep going no matter what. And you make them at a low enough budget that you could keep going, you could have a day job and save yourself up 1000 bucks, find yourself somebody with a camera or shoot it with your own iPhone, and you make your movies. And that's how you do it, you just keep going. But the thing is that if if you're going to go and I'm going to use baseballs and analogy, because it's a great analogy. But if you're going to go up to the plate, a lot of filmmakers will go up to the plate for the very first time. And they expect to hit a homerun when they've never taken a swing. That's what happens with most filmmakers. Most filmmakers have not been shooting commercials or music videos, or short films, or anything for a long period of time where they have gotten a lot of swings at bat. You know, I've gotten a tremendous amount of swings at bat. But I've never want I've never done one with a feature. But I've done a lot of other shooting in my career. So I feel comfortable up there at the plate, you've got to feel comfortable up there at the plate. So Robert Rodriguez before he made mariachi, he shot like 20 or 30 short films, he do it every weekend. And he didn't show those films to anybody. The no one, he was just doing them to practice, because he's kept going up there and swinging away, swinging away. Sometimes you hit maybe he'd made it single. Maybe he fell out. If you guys don't know about baseball, you got to look up the rules. But anyway, um, but that's what he did. And that's what I plan to continue doing with my features. Because I think what you need to do is you got to focus on those singles, those doubles, possibly some triples, instead of going for the home run every time. Because if you focus on those singles, so let's say, you know, let's say you make a movie and that movie, you know, you made for 1000 bucks, and you sell it for 4000 bucks you make on it. We've made four times your money. Well, how that's a success for me. It might not be the game winning home run, but damn, you made money as a filmmaker. You're, you're the top 1% of filmmakers if you're able to do that. So what do you do next, you make another movie for maybe $2,000 This time, I if it was me, I'd make I make another movie for 1000 bucks. But that's just me. But you make another move for 2000 bucks this time. And let's say you go out there and you make another 4000 bucks, you doubled your money. And you move on and you make another movie for 2000 bucks. And that other movie makes 10,000 bucks. And all of a sudden somebody's looking at you some people are like, hey, this guy's making movies. This girl's making movies. How much do you need for your next movie? You go well, I you know, I feel comfortable. Now. I need about six or $7,000 to make the next movie. I want to 10,000 bucks for the next movie. Okay, great. Now mind you, you're working other jobs to make a living and all this stuff, but you're making art and you're making you're building up a business and it takes time to do that. So I want you guys to focus on the long game. And I've said this a million times, focus on the long game and a scriptment can do that for you can help you get that movie made very quickly where you could, in theory, make a movie, two movies in a year once you get the ball rolling. Next year, I'm going to announce a dish. I'm going to announce it that today. I'm already in prep for my next movie. I'll announce it after the New Year sometimes I don't know I'm working on this on the scriptment as we speak and and I already have a second one I'm working on as well. So my goal next year is to shoot one feature and at least begin either shooting or in pre production on the second one and see how see if I can do two in one year. That would be ideal for me next year. without anything happening with this as make you see you notice I'm not even paying attention to this as make, you know, Mrs. Maga is going to do what she does. But I'm not putting any pressure on her. I'm moving, I'm moving along with her without her without anything that she happens to bring, if she gets sold for a million bucks, or for five grand, or, you know, it gets a manager or it gets a producer to come in and give me money for another movie, I'm not counting on any of that. I'm only counting on what I can control. And what I can control is going off and making another movie and, and getting ready to make a third movie and so on. And that's the mentality that I think filmmakers starting out who want to tell their stories who want to make a living doing this have to do and I hope this podcast brought some light into your into your darkness now brought some light to the subject and shows you and kind of informed you that there is another way there is another way to go make a movie, there is another way to get your feature filmmaking career started and going off and by the way, this can work for series too, if you want to make a little pilot and like a bunch of like you know, a webisodes you know, web series. Or you know, you want to create a pilot to pitch to Netflix or to Hulu, or Amazon or crackle or one of these guys, this process works wonderfully. Because if you're able to create and this is what Mark Duplass I'm gonna go back to mark my man Mark, he was able to pitch togetherness, an HBO show and ran two seasons on HBO based on this premise. This is how he worked on that show. I don't know how he did a pilot or anything like that beforehand, but but this is how he did the show. And it was wonderful because it was very low cost. And you know what studios love low cost high quality, they love that. And if you can get something out to a point where you can do that, you're going to work you're always going to work, guys. So just keep that in mind. So it can translate to a lot of things. But we're focusing on feature films right now. But that's I hope this helps you guys. I really do. Because I you know, I think sometimes I've had to go through all this pain in my career, to be able to share this, this information with you guys. And I hope that I can continue not going through pain. Hopefully we don't go through too much more. But you know what, at the end of the day, guys, honestly, your failures and your pain is who makes you what makes you a better person. And what makes you a more informed person to make sure you are who you are. So all these years of struggle and everything that I've gone through, I'm hoping that my journey can be a beacon of light for you guys at least a beacon of information to at least share it with you what I'm doing. And hopefully it can translate and help even one of you guys out there.

It's worth it. I know that sounds really cliche, but but that's, that's I think it makes sense. So thank you for listening to my ramblings this week guys, I hope it was helpful to you and we will continue doing more ask Alex episodes in the future you guys keep sending me tons of questions. So I had no idea that this was going to be such a big deal. So I'm glad I'm helping you guys out I'm glad you like the episodes and and please keep sending your your suggestions for questions at ifH [email protected] And also guys don't forget the show is also sponsored by masterclass and you gotta head out to indie film hustle.com For slash masterclass to get access to Werner Herzog's master class the Oscar winning a director as well as Aaron Sorkin screenwriting masterclass, which is honestly remarkable I again taking it again since I'm going through my my process right now, it's my scriptment for my next project, as well as now the new Hans Zimmer film score masterclass, is up. And as far as also acting, the Kevin Spacey masterclass, and the Dustin Hoffman, Master Class learn their techniques. They're on my list of things to watch. I've actually purchased them already, because I want to I want to see what Dustin and Kevin have to say about acting. I mean, it's invaluable these courses, so head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash master class. So as always, keep that hustle going, keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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