Today on the show we have an inside look at HBOMax’s post production workflow with post guru Stephen Beres.
Stephen Beres is an Emmy award-winning producer and technologist who currently serves Senior Vice President of Production Operations at HBO & HBO Max, where he leads a bi-coastal team of production and post professionals that help create record-setting television shows like Westworld and Game of Thrones. He also spearheaded the network’s shift from film to digital filmmaking, starting with Game of Thrones.
Before leading the Studio and Production Service groups, Steve served as HBO’s Production Technology Architect and was responsible for smoothly transitioning HBO from film capture into the file-based world. Steve graduated with a Film Degree from Full Sail University (FYI, I graduated from Full Sail as well).
We have an entertaining and eye-opening conversation on how one of the biggest networks in the world handle workflow from the camera to the final stream on HBOMax.
Enjoy my conversation with Stephen Beres.
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show Stephen Beres How are you doin' Stephen?
Stephen Beres 0:15
I'm doing very well Alex, thank you for having me a big fan of the show. So happy to to join you. This is a big, big deal.
Alex Ferrari 0:22
Thank you, man. I truly appreciate that very thank you for the kind words you have one of those wonderful podcasting voices you have that voice like when I when you when you popped up on Skype, I was like, That voice was like, wow, it was also the mic is helping and all that stuff. But you have that voice. It's very, very curated.
Stephen Beres 0:38
Well, it was we were talking to you before we started recording. I do have a podcast about vintage Landrovers which I know huge crossover to shoot you know, Mark, obviously, obviously, old cars that don't work. Yeah, check out the underpowered our, our podcasts. And yeah, and thanks for having me. And I do appreciate and genuinely appreciate that I genuinely am a fan of the show. I you know, I love the people from the pad on fellow Canadians like Oliver Stone. So it's nice that I mean that. You know, I'm sure people will be like, Oh, well, this makes total sense. This is Jason Blum to two Steve, this is makes it
Alex Ferrari 1:16
Everybody's been asking when is Steve coming on the show is
Stephen Beres 1:19
I guaranteed mostly old Land Rover owners. But so that's fine
Alex Ferrari 1:24
We'll take it, we'll take it. So we're going to talk a bit about post today. Everyone who's listened to me on the show knows that I've been in the post business for 2025 years before I retired from post a few years ago. And I love saying that out loud. Because I do escaped. I escaped post. I love posts on my own stuff. And I still do a post on my own stuff to color, grade it to edit post supervisor, all that stuff on my own stuff. But the client stuff and you and we'll talk about your history with
Stephen Beres 1:56
The post would be great if it wasn't for the clip. Which for the most part, that is what I am now. So I know. I'm awful.
Alex Ferrari 2:04
Oh, it's Oh, no, it's a terrible we'll get into that. But so first of all, how how did you get started the business?
Stephen Beres 2:10
Well, you know, I started back and I'm from Canada. I'm from from Calgary, Alberta actually from olden town.
Alex Ferrari 2:16
This is why you're so nice. This is why you said That's right.
Stephen Beres 2:20
If you stopped for gas on your way up to BAM to the National Park, you've been through Canmore that's that's where the gas station is. But so yeah, so I came from Canada I worked in the in the film industry there such as it was back in the 90s. There was a lot of this sort of early Canadian production. Television shows amazing television shows like Viper the series, sort of like Knight Rider. Why not with a viper? Yeah, transforming Viper. That was a cool one. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids the series
Alex Ferrari 2:52
Yes. Classic classic. It's on Disney plates on Disney plus right now.
Stephen Beres 2:58
It is it is a cinematic Marvel and masterpiece. I did a an under 21 wrestling show called Matt rats calm because at that time, everything had to have calm in the name, which was the nephews and sometimes sons a pair of characters, occasionally Daughters of famous wrestlers, doing sort of a wrestling reality show which is which was actually well before it's time now, you know things like you know, the WWE has a reality show product. I think it's actually pretty successful. Oh, but we were well prepared for that. So anyway, so I had, you know, I had been doing that for a while and I actually hooked up with the fine people at Apple Computer at the time. Right around the time they acquired a product called Final CAD from Macromedia, and we're looking to sort of launch into the professional market so far as it was at that time for digital video creation. FireWire had just come out was last time you heard the name firewire Hey.
Alex Ferrari 3:55
Oh, I see. I still got Firewire 800 Tear man connected to my Thunderbolt. Oh, yeah,
Stephen Beres 4:00
Yeah, you got like a thunderbolt two new Thunderbolt two USB C two. It's like nine little adapters. Three of them aren't made anymore, if any of that stops working. Yeah, no, I know. But yeah, so you know, we were we were the studio that was I was working at at the time were very involved with Apple and sort of launching some early work in Canada around that I went to you know, sort of do the what's called a key client support representative gig for a little while just helping people kind of understand this new Final Cut how to get it worked into their studios how to cut movies on it, how to cut TV shows, and after a while of doing that, I made the decision to say listen, a I need two things. I'd like to be in the United States, which for a Canadian is a pretty, you know, at that time, certainly now it's not really the case. But at that time, it was the the only way to really seriously get into a different level of film production. And, you know, I'd like to go to film school. I'd like to learn more about the industry than just the little kind of piece that I know about. I you know, I'd love to learn more about cameras, which is actually a huge part of my job now. You know, I'd like to get on that really big post kit that like we just don't have in Calgary, Alberta. We don't have we don't there was not an inferno in the city, a flame, a flame. Somebody had a smoke one place that is a sentiment.
Alex Ferrari 5:19
I remember that lane. I remember the flame was like all the rage back in the day.
Stephen Beres 5:23
I was a smoke and combustion demo artist for a little while, while my wife was going to school in Montreal. And yeah, man, like that was a different time when you had like a small refrigerator of computer that it was a million dollars, it was a million dollars. Absolutely. $1 million. And it was like it was it was the coolest thing in the world. Like eight people had it. And two people knew how to use
Alex Ferrari 5:44
And it was putting it was outputting standard depths
Stephen Beres 5:47
Standard depth. But in real time, you could do text with rippling effects and things in real time
Alex Ferrari 5:54
And comping and oh my god, I work that I did, I worked at a commercial house in the 90s. And they bought they were one of the two there was only two production companies in the country who owned their own flame and they paid a million for it out of pocket and they would just do in spots for like, you know, budget rent a car, so but it was always 3d stuff and the transitions, it was done real time. And I'm just thinking back was like that was 720 which now could be outputted on your phone.
Stephen Beres 6:23
Oh, and he said like if you're getting 720 on YouTube, you're like, what's wrong with my internet? You know, shake this thing. This is not this looks like shit.
Alex Ferrari 6:32
720p standard depths
Stephen Beres 6:36
720 line pairs. Yeah, that was it. That was like not a great a great time for us the Divi era, if you will, it was not a great
Alex Ferrari 6:45
It was it was a transition. It was a transition. It was a transition. And everyone the other things that we have in common is we both went to full sail, Full Sail. I mean, at the time, it was called Full Sail center for the Recording Arts. When I went now it's just called Full Sail. Because they they actually I think there is a giant vault where you do that you could actually swim like Scrooge McDuck in the gold coins over at Full Sail now, because they have so much money.
Stephen Beres 7:13
Yeah, it has a sense. We were there. So I was there in the late, you know, a couple few years after you. Yeah. And same thing in the film program, which I just learned now, which is which is amazing that we have that in common. How cool is that? And that? Yeah, when I went there, again, very small film program. I remember shooting my film in a was a department store that that had gone out of business or something they didn't renew the lease will sell on the land. And they're like, sure you can shoot your movie problems.
Alex Ferrari 7:40
Yeah, that's what I had the soundstages and stuff now? Yeah, that whole area, that whole area back, there's where I used to go to I used to go to class there. When it was just the only one store that didn't own the whole thing. They just owned one store.
Stephen Beres 7:50
Yeah. And they slowly sort of took off. Oh, of course, oh, my God, you know, 20 years later, there is acres of Full Sail. And like you say, I mean, there's not one widget or thing that they didn't have at the time, you know, being a little, you know, guy from from Canada, going down to Orlando, to see this place where they have a Henry and they have all of this the IQ, the whole New IQ system? Hell, they had all this sort of stuff, you're just you're drooling. The same is true, right? I mean, they have whatever is the most state of the art I was we were saying before we started recording there. They're building a volume stage, which I think is we'll probably talk about that more. But I think is is the sort of next fundamental evolution of our industry, not just because the Mandalorian, which my my brother works on, and I was just another event at Skywalker, great people, they're working on it as well. But not just because of those, but I think because of small shows, we just did a pirate show called our flag means death where we used some of the LED virtual production in it, and it's a half hour comedy. It's exceptionally funny. And it isn't about led stage. It isn't about being on some weird planet in the middle of nowhere. It's about just looking realistically, like you're at sea because most of the show takes place at sea, and we can't have 900 composite shots for our comedy we wouldn't be it wouldn't be feasible. So for shows like that to be able to put a genre comedy on a pirate ship and make it work. That's huge. I mean, so anyway, so I think that's fundamental but yeah, Full Sail is building one of those. So if in my era, it was I go and I you know, I salivate over a brand new Quantel today I guess you go and you you salivate over volume of virtual production stage.
Alex Ferrari 9:35
So I'll tell you what, just to geek out a little bit more because we're in by the way, everyone listening I apologize ahead of time, we are going to go down the rabbit hole of geek geek geeking out over old tech over new tech over workflow we're gonna get technical on stuff.
Stephen Beres 9:50
It's you don't get many people that will talk at that at that level of nerdiness. So I it's it's a special privilege for someone to indulge with.
Alex Ferrari 9:59
It's so everyone prepare themselves because it's gonna it's gonna be it's gonna be right but it'll be fun
Stephen Beres 10:03
To the next famous producer. That's I don't I don't feel offended if you do.
Alex Ferrari 10:10
So when I went I was the first class to use the Erie SR3 oh yeah oh you know I'm talking about that was only you could plug into the laptop and get down camera reports and it was like oh we cap and by the way never saw one again after that. Because everyone because it was too damn expensive. Everyone use the SRT. Oh, it was it was so over airy, overpriced. So overpriced. Oh, yeah, it was. So that's when I learned and I I had I think I had six people in my class. So I was one of six people in my in my I was class of 7:30 on Tuesday, and because they popped out so much stuff, but it was a wonderful experience. I love my expense. But I but everything I learned at Full Sail was pretty much obsolete the moment I left because it was right at the moment when nonlinear editing I edited on a montage.
Stephen Beres 10:58
Oh, cool. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 11:00
I was not cool. It was horrible. Horrible.
Stephen Beres 11:04
It's a controller is really neat, though, that people
Alex Ferrari 11:06
Yes, the controller was neat. But wouldn't you had like a refrigerator for eight gigs? And then and then you put the floppy in? Oh God, everyone's like, how old are these guys? You would put the floppy in, get the EDL take it over to the CMS 3600 And then and then try to try to assemble cut that thing in and never worked. And it no no. Never worked. No. That was my first that was my first experience with nonlinear editing that was before avid before I got an avid and then final cut and and let's talk for a second about Final Cut. Can we all bow our heads down for final cuts for Final Cut seven. I held I held bro I held. I held up until like, Yeah, four or five years ago, I was still cutting on Final Cut seven. Until I finally did a movie. I did my first feature. And I'm like, I would like to shoot raw
Stephen Beres 11:57
And yeah, I can't Yeah, I can't do it. So did you move to premiere? Did you move to resolve that
Alex Ferrari 12:03
I was I was resolved all the way I was off because I was already color because I was already a color grader. So I was already color grading and I saw well there's this edit button here. Let me click on it.
Stephen Beres 12:13
And it was all these extra buttons along the bottom right. I've never used these last three. Yeah, I was like, What is this? And
Alex Ferrari 12:18
I was like, I think I was on? I was it was resolved like 11 Okay, so it's like at the beginning of the editing. But it was it was it was good kind of it was do it justice. And I was shooting on I was shooting on a Blackmagic camera. So it's like, yeah, so so so it worked out beautifully. The work, I was all in house, there was no real reassembling, there was no offline thing. It was all I did everything online. And then the best part about doing that is I would throw my raw footage, I would cut it raw, which was great. Then, when a scene didn't match, color wise, I was like, You know what, if I edit this, I'm not gonna be able to work on color. Let me jump into color, see if I can even make this work. So jump into color, see if I can make it work. And if it didn't work, I'd record it because I'm like, I don't care if the performance is better. For whatever reason that shot just didn't light right or something happened. I have to change it now, as opposed to going through the whole process. And going we can't make that shot work. We got to bring everything back. And is this is the night? No,
Stephen Beres 13:13
I mean, I think and a lot of people I'm certainly not the first one to say this, but a lot of people are sort of like, you know, resolve is sort of final cut eight, right? I mean, it's it's there's no question. There's no question. No question Rama Final Cut eight. resolved, does it? They're getting better. I mean, now what are we at 17 or something they're, you know, getting better at the offline stuff, the databasing the finding shit, the organizing stuff, the that, you know, that definitely took time, it could always cut. I mean, it was an assembly editor for online. So for I always do that, you know, and now it's just backfilling in all of that stuff that you sort of realized like, oh, shit, yeah, I don't have a good way of, you know, tagging all of this be real. I don't have a good way of organizing my documentary interviews. And I still think a lot of people you know, aren't using it because it just doesn't quite have that you didn't think about going to Final Cut 10 ever you didn't
Alex Ferrari 14:01
I turned it on your I was I dipped my toe in it. And I was just like, What in the hell is this? And it was the and I've actually had the filmmaker who did the documentary on Final Cut. I don't know if you ever saw that documentary about the release of Final Cut Pro. Yeah, the Final Cut X. It's a whole document. It's basically a documentary it's like full geek mode about just anybody who's interested in how bad the release of Final Cut X was. And it was such a historic failure by Apple to slap everybody in the face that did Final Cut seven you can't back all your projects gone a completely they didn't win you into this. It was like a completely new like, I've been eating oranges but now you're going to eat broccoli. Like what you're not like weaning us into it. You didn't think about I still want to go back to some oranges every once in a while. Yeah, maybe they was such a horrible release, and they've never recovered and so Since then, and since then Final Cut, x has become a much more powerful editing system. I've heard nothing but great things. It's a wonderful, but it never got back its core audience it the core audience left and DaVinci took, I think DaVinci took it over,
Stephen Beres 15:14
Da Vinci premiere, really not avid a lot, no Da Vinci premiere. And it's yeah, it's, it's too bad because, you know, I think they could have done Final Cut eight and Final Cut 10. At the same time, if you remember, Mac OS nine and macOS 10 lived in parallel with each other for a year or more, really, I mean, realistically, it was several years where you could roll back to us nine quickly, you just boot back over, it wasn't I mean, you didn't want to do it, and you did it if you had to. But you could you could keep working, you could use that piece of software that just hadn't been updated yet. And as you got to a place where you felt comfortable with the, you know, whatever non Omni version of whatever, finally, they came out with a new version of it, you'd roll over and you'd start using MacOS 10 more and more and more every day until you couldn't remember the last time you booted back into iOS nine, if they had done that with Final Cut 10 made it compatible. Yeah, I like that seven, or updated Final Cut seven to a place where you get some of the features and you can kind of roll back and forth, I think it would have been combined completely agree with you. I think it was all in the launch. I don't think the tool is terrible. I just think it was in its infancy when it was released. And it didn't get a chance because the market disappeared for it everybody left,
Alex Ferrari 16:29
Everybody went over to premiere and then people who didn't want to deal with Adobe, like myself, who I just did not want to deal with a premiere because I remember when premiere was premiere, I don't know nothing against what's going on in here. It's wonderful to hear a lot of people cut on it. That's fine. It's it's, it's it's such a weird thing. It's like a Mac PC. It's like, you know, who do you edit? It's like this weird thing. Like, I don't care, dude. It's just kind of just whatever if it makes you feel better, but then I decided to jump on resolve and then resolve just turned into this massive behemoth. Yeah. And if you shoot with their cameras, oh, the work, the ecosystem is just stunning. It's
Stephen Beres 17:03
Oh, it's great. It's great. And it's been a great color tool.
Alex Ferrari 17:06
Well, it's the, it's the color tool,
Stephen Beres 17:09
I edit my podcast in Fairlight in the result, because again, I'm like, you know, I'm not an audio person at all. And so like, I wasn't gonna learn Pro Tools, because go God, and this, you know, I don't really know, logic, and I'm sort of like, well, I already have, the tool I already have is a very, very comfortable cutting in it comfortable doing a little bit of color work, and you know, the things that I need to do in it all recreational at this point in my career, but whatever. So why not, you'll give it a go. And actually, you know, just like everything else in Resolve, right little bit of a learning curve. There's some YouTube videos being done, sorry. And then next thing, you know, you're just you just sit down, and it does it. And then you deliver the same way that you deliver everything else, you render the same way you render everything, it's just you know, you only have to learn the little bit that's new in that new tab. And all the stuff that plugs on either side of it are the same. So it's so easy to just add on to what you can do with it. I think they're incredibly smart in that and then it's got nine different applications. Now, do I wish you could turn off some of the tabs so you don't accidentally click through? Yeah, that'd be nice. That'd be nice. But
Alex Ferrari 18:10
I've worked with black magic a bunch. If anyone's listening, please guys, take take stages to have just a click off the tap just just a little little Samsung,
Stephen Beres 18:19
You know, iOS let you do it with all those pages of friggin icons that you've never used, you know, it just put them in the basement. You know, you'll search for him if you need them, you know, but just put them away. Nobody cares. I'm just saying just read Kondo that interface, man just get in there.
Alex Ferrari 18:33
So um, so Alright, so you you know, you obviously opened up your own post house where you started doing a bunch of stuff in the in the infancy of when digital was really taking off in the fall. What year was that, by the way in LA?
Stephen Beres 18:44
Yeah, so that was like the early 2000s 2003 2004 So it's really early. Yeah, it's really early early. Yeah. Michael Cioni.
Alex Ferrari 18:51
I know Michael Yes. Yeah,
Stephen Beres 18:53
I guess technically Michaels at Adobe now. I guess he
Alex Ferrari 18:56
Did he did. Because I know because for him Oh, because the buyer they
Stephen Beres 19:00
He was acquired by frame by frame I O was acquired and they acquired Michael along with it. It was part he was part of the sale. I believe they created him up and shipped him up to Palo Alto. You know so so yeah, so Mike I you know, obviously those guys are thrilled to Emory also an old a good old friend and I'm absolutely thrilled for those guys because a free my oh is a fantastic tool amazingly.
Alex Ferrari 19:22
I hope I hope I hope it stays there.
Stephen Beres 19:24
I hope Adobe doesn't ruin it and I've told everybody including Adobe that like I hope they don't mess it up because it don't don't necessary to such a great tool and Michael God myself yeah, you invert evac and and a few others on Arsenal God like yo, Tony wise, we started a place called plaster city. Yeah. And the idea with that shop was basically listen, the industry is going to be mandated to go digital from analog broadcast. And so our thing was, Okay, we're gonna do you know, digital at the price of standard or analog sort of so and we think we can do this because we can can take this commodity off the shelf Apple hardware, we can take Final Cut, we can take color, what color color Apple Color, it was final touch.
Alex Ferrari 20:08
I know I understand. I remember
Stephen Beres 20:12
He's still at Apple. I can't believe he's still alive. But he's still at Apple. Rollins and like, I don't even know if he's in his 60s and 50s. They still he lives hard. But he's still there. He's still working away. And so we had this, this, this crazy idea? Well, we're going to build this. And then the FCC said, we're going to push the digital mandate, we're going to push it out a few more years, a few more years. And all of a sudden, we're like, well, oh, but what we didn't realize is that around that same time, film festivals, were starting to accept one prints from digital and to digital prints. And at that time, it wasn't really DCPS because that hadn't really been ratified yet. But the ability to exhibit a film digitally and our ability to do an output to a film print without having to have anything but the final finished version printed to film basically allowed independent filmmakers that just couldn't afford and here's here's a dated reference a laser Pacific are really my my mentor and lifelong friend Leon Silverman, and his post house laser Pacific at the time, the pinnacle, you know, fancy post production, you know, they couldn't afford to go there. You know, a documentary like Who Killed the Electric car could not afford to finish at a place like laser Pacific, it was way too expensive. They had too many mixed formats. They had too many this
Alex Ferrari 21:28
Oh, of the docks, I know, dogs are just nightmares.
Stephen Beres 21:32
Nice to hear it. He needed a little shop that had reasonable overhead so that our prices could be reasonable. And that more than anything, was willing to take the chance on some technology that wasn't just not proven yet potentially had never been tried or hadn't even been invented to do that. And and so we really gained a foothold in that market of independent filmmakers going to this new and expanding especially in the early 2000s. This real explosion of independently geared film festivals, things that we're looking for the indie drama for the indie documentary and you know, places at the time, Coincidently, like HBO, were picking up stuff out of those festivals. Especially entries, you know, right. Back then that was a big source for the you know, HBO original films, the HBO documentaries me, you know, you know, and regular decision, Miramax was big into that, obviously, you know, all these companies looking at these small indies, picking them up out of these film festivals. But the thing was just getting your show to that festival, the barrier of creating the print of doing the post house work having all this is was often what was keeping people from doing it.
Alex Ferrari 22:43
That was all before blu rays. That was all before HD ASR tapes that you could ship out and all that stuff. It's yeah, Dolby, Dolby, Dolby II and oh God, all that all that kind of outputting it's ohh God,
Stephen Beres 22:56
It's so much easier now. You know, it's like, you can now make a DCP out of result, you know, you could Yeah, the cinema down the street. You can ready to go
Alex Ferrari 23:04
You could put it on a hard drive or you could upload it to a cloud and you're out the door. And it's it's it's changed so so much. It's and I was there and I was in I was in Sundance and oh five and I would just see hBo hBo was huge. At the festival like they would just be buying and putting up docks docks. Huge dock was that was yeah, that was the big thing that they would do is they do a lot of docks that would premiere at Sundance, and I saw their posters everywhere. Funny, funny little side note, I went in and met with Michael plaster. 6500 Yes, yes, it was very, very cool. Very cool building. I had just gotten to I got to LA in Oh, eight right before the crash right before the crash. Yeah. And I was I was one of the few guys in town who understood the red workflow. Sure, yeah. No, no, wait.
Stephen Beres 23:55
Yeah, you know, eight that was there wasn't a lot of people.
Alex Ferrari 23:57
There was I mean, I walked I walked into Technicolor with a red harddrive. And they're like, what is that? You know, what are you talking about? What do you I and I got I got caught up in the music video world so then I'd started doing a lot of high end music videos because they were shooting on red because it was cheaper and all this kind of stuff. But no one could understand the workflow and they were just getting eaten alive and then when i i figured out kind of assist convoluted like add a final cut into like a program and then that kicked back out the color and then it was like this, but it worked. It worked. And I could do it and because of that I was working nonstop and I just get and I got some clients for Disney and then that clients said hey, you should go over to plaster city they're doing a lot of the stuff you're doing in color. I wasn't resolved yet because result was still resolved. There's still a million dollar deal.
Stephen Beres 24:48
Yeah, it was still exactly it was a rack full of gear in the back.
Alex Ferrari 24:51
It was a million dollars. Yeah, it was it was a million dollar situation. And and then I walked in and Mike and we talked about like what we could do and it never enough never panned out. But he was a very sweet guy never forgot him. I got him as a as a gift. I heard that he really liked nerf.
Stephen Beres 25:08
Oh, he loves and we have had battles about the plaster city. A long day long battles. He would modify them we were Michael and I'd go to like toys r us when that was still a thing on the weekend because we didn't we didn't have family we did. My wife was in Montreal. My girlfriend at the time was in Montreal. And you know, Michael, you know, we were not we were all unattached. We lived a block away from from our building. Sure. We're just there 24 hours a day and on the weekends, we would go we would get these Nerf guns, we'd go to Home Depot and get the springs bigger springs do all this sort of insane. And it would be all day. I mean, from sunup to sundown, these epic, you know, started community like, you know, nerf games, it was incredible.
Alex Ferrari 25:55
I he probably probably shot you with the gun I gave him. So the Nerf gun, I got him a loop. A badass like, you know, super powered Nerf gun or something like that, that shoots like 45 things at a time or something? Something like that. So, uh, but yeah, and I and then he went off to read afterwards. And then he did it. And he just, he just think what is the vision like Michaels out there, he's had a hell of a career, man. He's had a hell of a career. Now, so. So you. So you eventually had you finally end up over at at a little company called HBO. And they, they bring you in, and you start changing things over from film to digital at a time where, from what I understand was like 97% of anything that was shot was film. And within six years, sir. And within six years, you had flipped that 97 digital and 3% film?
Stephen Beres 26:47
Well, I think yeah, I mean, I don't ever take that I flipped that you had a part of it. Yeah, yeah, certainly. I think that, you know, HBO. And really the impetus for this, the thing that that sort of sparked this conversation there was, you know, two guys, David and Dan, who had never made a television show before, pitched very successfully, this show based on a book by George RR Martin, to be shot in a part of the world that had no film labs that had no real significant film infrastructure, and no post infrastructure. To be fair, it's not even really any stages, like there had been two sort of movies made there before.
Alex Ferrari 27:31
So girls, it's the show's girls, it's girls.
Stephen Beres 27:35
I'm talking about looking. So we, you know, and so, you know, so Dave and Dan, say, Okay, we're gonna make Game of Thrones, we're going to do it in Northern Ireland in Belfast. This is where our Westeros is, it's in, it's in Belfast. And so then the natural conversations sort of came up, we can't, we can't shoot this on film. It's impossible. First of all, the amount of shooting we're looking at doing the amount of places we're physically going to be, over the course of just the first season, forget about where we got to by the time, you know, nearly 10 years of production had rolled around. You know, it wasn't feasible for us to do that. So we started looking and having conversations and around the same time, our good friends at airy, you know, approached myself and at the time, I was working at photochem I had a consulting gig there for some time setting up the next lab project with my very good friend and former plaster city person Tom vise, and Mike Brodersen and Freddy go ski and that that team at photochem doing still doing absolutely exceptional work in sort of pioneering I mean, it really, it's pretty fair to say they sort of invented on set dailies, as a business people were doing it as an ad hoc kind of thing. And you'd have somebody put something together for one show, but from a, you know, a sustainable, repeatable thing. I'm it's fair to say that those guys invented that with next lab. But anyways, they, you know, HBO approached us and said, Listen, you know, me and they said, listen, we've got the show to Northern Ireland. We don't really have expertise in shooting a big show like that digital, they had previously done the Gabriel Byrne and then the name of it escapes me now, but they had done the the sort of daily psychiatry show, they'd done that on the various a tape tape basis. So not even not even really, I mean, digital, yes, but not file based. And so, so they've done that. So listen, we don't have a lot of experiences. We need somebody to come and sort of consult Can you kind of help us understand how it said okay, sure. I guess so like the day after my birthday flew to Belfast. And, and we went through the process of vetting out. The first Alexa we literally had differently. We had serial number one, because they were still very much it was a prototype at that point. We would plug it in and it would start kind of recording and then when we were done recording, we would sort of like unplug it. That was that was There's no, there was no I was recording to a tape deck to NSR. Yeah, I remember. I remember double tape. Yeah. And so it was like the camera was just sort of like, yeah, it just couldn't come on and make pictures and go
Alex Ferrari 30:12
ENG camera back in the day almost
Stephen Beres 30:14
It was it really was and we still had a little window where one day there would be a magic SBS card. And that was sort of like duct tape din from the inside, you know, that was just sort of not there. And so we with the folks at airy rental in, you know, in London, you know, we started working through sort of how would we do this? Like, is this something you could actually do, we shot some early early tests in, you know, in sort of the summer of that year, and this was what now this was 2008 2009, some a long time ago. And we shot some early tests, we looked at them, we came back to Hollywood came back to Los Angeles, sat in the theater at HBO, this was when we were in Santa Monica sort of looked at these pictures on the big, you know, 17 foot screen, way bigger than they would ever be on TV. We looked at you know, crazy over exposures, we looked at under it, we did all of the things that you that you would do. And at the end of the day, we sort of all sitting together Mike Lombardo, who was the head of programming at that time, everybody sort of said, you know, I think we could do this, I think this looks This looks great. Like, this looks like something that speaks to that sort of you know, that that hallmark of what, you know, an HBO show should be lots of people say like, Oh, that looks like it should be on HBO. Right. But like, we'll describe that we actually thought I think everybody did that. That meant well, it was shot on film, and it's 16 days of production per episode. And it's all the things that we do that others don't. But actually, you know, it wasn't that it was one step before that. It was you know, the the DPS that we get it was the time that we did set a light is that you know, it was it was the set crew is the carpenters and and our production designers and our set dressers and giving them the time to build the best stuff and dress it the best way. And he did. It was all that and it just so happens that we thought like, we were getting a lot of free animation from film, but not really, it was just that, you know, film was accurately capturing what we had there. But that digital was starting to get to a point and and this digital is different than any digital obviously the x and the red. Were a demarcation point in space, everything that came after them. It's a different conversation. But yeah,
Alex Ferrari 32:14
I mean, like I was I was literally there when red. I was talking about red in Oh 506 when it was still just a box at an A B and I and people had paid money for this one day. A 4k camera. Can you imagine? Like everyone was like, what? A 4k? That's insane. How much no way we do that? Yeah, like it was insane. And then it was so funny because I just couldn't fight with red specifically how, how Jared and that team. They basically up ended the entire industry. And they and they literally kneecapped the biggest electronic and camera manufacturers in history, Sony, Panasonic vision, airy, they kneecapped all of them. And everyone's like, whoa, and then everyone started to try to catch up. And and there was a very distinct and of course, red has if you remember back in Oh, eight was talking about worst workflow ever, ever, ever.
Stephen Beres 33:17
Yeah. And like, if you didn't have Dean's phone number, like good luck getting anything done. Oh, like, seriously, was there a point where like, you know, Graham stayed at my house for a couple of days. You know, like it was whatever we needed to do to like, get stuff through chilewich had an office at plaster city for a little while. You know, it was like, anything we could do to get this this worked. It was yeah, it was it was it was amazing. It we did anything,
Alex Ferrari 33:40
It was a nightmare. That's why I was working so much. When I figured it out. I was able to get stuff out the door. Did I literally have films walk in the door? They're like we've we've had it in our hard drives for a year and a half. We can't get our investors paid, because we can't get the workflow to work and then I would and then I would tell them this is how much it's gonna cost and they're like, We gave the last guy that and he couldn't do it. I'm like, I'm sorry for you brother. I can't it's too much work. I can't rebuild your entire movie. For three grand I'm sorry, I just cat. But so when reds when Red showed up and there's that's it's a very distinct thing about red versus Alexa. And, and a lot of there's a lot of, you know, people that talk about the differences and things like that. But when when I was shooting red, I wasn't red fanatic. When it first came out. I was shooting all my spots on it. I was shooting my shorts on it all, you know, doing projects on it, because I loved and I knew the workflow. So it worked out but it is a very sharp, almost antiseptic image because yeah, it can be unless you got good class, unless you got vintage glasses or something to soften it. This is early days. I'm not talking about where they are not early days. But then I saw Lux I had a DP for an amount of the ACS like you need to come down and look at the Alexa. And I'm like, okay, and I remember the Alexa like, what is it? He's like, it's 10:30pm like, Wow, you guys are still sick or two kids.
Stephen Beres 35:00
It's like, yeah, it was it was essentially, it was it was a she, they could say took a little bit like,
Alex Ferrari 35:06
You could is HD so it's 1080 psi. Wow. Like, you know, we're focused on quality not case. And I'm like, and a lot of DPS jumped on board because a lot of DPS got really pissed off at red because they went to the consumer and not to them, where Alexa was talking more to the DPS. But then I saw Alexa, I was like, wow, this is pretty. It's just a, it's just a different image. It's a more filmic image, the latitude is different. It just did a whole bunch of stuff. So there was that the reason why you went with Alexa versus red, because red was a little bit more established at that point.
Stephen Beres 35:42
Yeah, I think so. For sure. I think so for sure. I think that, you know, we had, you know, some some early tests that were shot with the Alexa that we looked at. And, you know, for a variety of reasons, it at you know, in the early days of the of the show, was was sort of the way that we went, I don't know that there was ever the conversation. Is it an either or I think the conversation was sort of from the start it was it was the Alexa or it was film, it wasn't ever going to be like, well, which digital camera do we do? I think it was about, you know, the DPS at that point had sort of said, Okay, listen, I think we could consider doing it on the Alexa because of like you said, filmic image, it's a lot, it's a lot easier to have people make the jump to at that point. Again, this was during the day, you know, the 15 years ago, to make the jump to the Alexa from, you know, the expectation of film that it was maybe to think about everything that went into the red. And the funny thing is, is that we ran into that exact problem a lot. People would come in with a really deep preconception of what they thought a camera could do. The Sony can't, you know, you know, really does a great job of photographing the color blue, or Yeah, well, everybody knows RED cameras can't shoot when it's like, you know, slightly Hobbit outside or something. And you're like, well, first of all, Where'd you hear that, you know,
Alex Ferrari 37:02
On the set of chey on the set of chey when they had like the first frickin camera. Yeah, they had the ice pack, because
Stephen Beres 37:07
It was playing card that was keeping rain out of it like yeah, you know, get it. So I think a lot of that was that oh, well, you know, DP talks to another DP talks to their camera system that was on a different film talks to somebody uncle that had done whatever. And so we decided to do after the first season of Game of Thrones was go out and find the sort of state of the art for digital cinema cameras. At that point, there was an Alexa, there was a red there was, you know, obviously stuff from Sony stuff from Canon stuff from Panasonic. And we got all of that together. Even at that time, that first one, we had a five d we had a five d modded for lens meant we did that thing. And we shot what we call the HBO camera assessment series, which we're about to start shooting again in January, we decided we would do not a shootout because I don't like shoot outs. I don't think that makes any sense. Game of Thrones used literally every camera that was made, we had, in fact, I have it right over there. I have the carbon fiber red that was built specifically for the show for lightweight aerial stuff our cable cameras are so we shot a lot of game of thrones on the red. And Jared was nice enough to to let us have the ones that we shot. So they're part of the HBO archive. But the you know, the idea, you know, was not well, let's find out which cameras best because the truth is, no camera is best. Some cameras are great, great things and maybe not great at other things. Some cameras are good at more things than others. And some cameras that you would say are total crap might be so amazing at one particular thing that there simply isn't at any price range, anything that could compare to it. And I think you know, Blackmagic was the first disrupter in that space. You know, and now you look at like what DJI is doing and things and now like disruption in that space is sort of the normal thing. So we actually started doing that camera assessment series. Every other year. Now we do it every three years. And because of COVID, we've had a delay, and so we're a little delayed the last, the most recent one is 2017. So we're really in need of a new one. But it just became this thing that we use, when we sit down with a filmmaker for the first time. We sort of watch it together and we wash out all of this like, oh, well my cousin said you can't use the very cam because it doesn't, you know, whatever. We we kind of wash all that we all get on the same page. And then we start to try to develop like, well, what's the what's the visual language of the show? What are we trying to tell you? What are you trying to do here? And then we can have a little bit more informed conversation about the right way to get there. Yes, it's not always the Alexa. It's not always the one of the flavors of the red. You know, in fact, it might be the black magic in the case of the recent Duplass Brothers film. You know, we did an entire episode on an iPhone and you know, we're not by any stretch of the imagination first people do that and but that was the right thing for the show because You know, it was it spoke to the sort of frenetic energy that they were trying to produce. And so, you know, it's not about, oh, well, what's the best thing and I should always be shooting on the best thing. And if I'm not shooting on the best thing, I'm not doing the best work. No, absolutely untrue. Absolutely.
Alex Ferrari 40:17
I've shot look, I was shooting on the red one for a long time. And it's still it was good enough for che, and many and many other amazing movie, it was perfectly fine. Are there more bells and whistles with a newer one at the time? Sure, why not? But it's the works. There's I'm going to say something very controversial. In regards to cameras here, because I'm a big I'm a black magic. I love black magic. And I actually did a shootout between black magic and airy. And I wanted to test it because the closest thing I've seen to airy is black magic as far as this statics of that filmic. Yeah, filmic thought I shot both down the middle. Yeah, both down the middle same lenses. And I put them up on the on the on the on the broadcast monitor, you know, like with a calibrated monitor. And I check them both out. And I was like, I challenge anybody to tell me which is which
Stephen Beres 41:12
It is a margin. And that's the thing.
Alex Ferrari 41:15
It is this it is this big now. Yeah, with that said before everyone loses their mind listening, where you see, and then obviously the black magics a little bit more affordable than the opposite. Just a little bit.
Stephen Beres 41:28
The funny thing is they're all coming down, which is kind of
Alex Ferrari 41:30
The hafting I mean, eventually they have to get out. But still Blackmagic is like, talk about disrupter, it's insane. Yeah. So the difference is that the soon as you start pushing the the image, the Alexa shows its true colors where it's like, oh, I'm the Alexa, don't forget who I am. Oh, I get it. Yeah. And then and then you start and you start looking at the the black magic and starts falling apart on the either over or under, when you but you honestly shouldn't be shooting five stops under.
Stephen Beres 42:03
That's exactly what Well, here's the thing. And I've said this a lot that the trick is, is this, if you hit the bull's eye on both of those cameras, it is challenging to see the difference. If you were able to get right into the pocket, you know, especially if you've got the modified LPF that you can add to the magic cameras, you are the you are hard pressed for most people to tell the difference. But to your point exactly. It's when you don't hit the bullseye, it's when you know, your target gets a little bigger. And you're you know, you're spread a little bit all over the place. Yeah. Now, if you know, on my show, we're spending a lot of money every day to make sure that everything we get is usable, it's a huge effort, huge amount of money, huge amount of people huge amount of expectation to get that show on the air at a particular time. If you're a smaller filmmaker or a filmmaker, that's just starting out, you have a completely different luxury of taking the time to get the bull's eye, you know, you can spend the time on set, if you need to spend an extra half hour lighting, to get it just in there to fill in that little bit of darkness underneath the table. You know, to just rein in that little get a little cutter on whatever is blowing in through a window or something to sort of rein it in, you can get to the same place. You just spent your money on time on set. And maybe you can do that maybe you can't but you spent your money and time instead of in the 40 5060 120% more than you would spend on the camera. And for me, I can't spend another hour on set. It's too expensive. A little bit of underexposure. A little bit of overexposure. No, I just need to get it. I can't deal with time on set dicking with camera shit to make sure that you know it's going to be perfect. I know that if we get it into pretty big box, we'll get it there and post we'll get there then you've got the latitude. Yeah, colors should have it's going to be fine. And so I think that's the difference. And that's, you know, young filmmakers ask me all the time like and, you know, there was a whole season of Project Greenlight that I think it's, you know,
Alex Ferrari 44:00
Let's not let's not go there. I wasn't set I was in season two, I don't want to talk about it.
Stephen Beres 44:07
I have to shoot film, this isn't gonna be this isn't going to be my vision unless I shoot film. And so often, young filmmakers nowadays you sort of have this conversation where you say, you know, yeah, okay, it's great. It's fantastic for Jonah Nolan to shoot film on Westworld, because honestly, at the end of the day, it's a rounding error, the additional cost for him to shoot film, Joan is extraordinarily passionate about it. He comes from, you know, a very valid artistic point of view on why he wants to do that. If you are a new filmmaker, and you have a extremely limited budget, amount of time, everything else that goes with that the difference to your end product of shooting film, or shooting digital of finding a great digital camera that you can afford to maybe you can own it so you don't have to worry about rental days killing you don't have to, you can get to a place where you can make a super compelling image With a superior quality, and at the end of the day, if you make a great movie, it looks one and a half percent better on film to like 1% of the people that will critically evaluate it. It's who cares?
Alex Ferrari 45:13
No one cares. Like yeah, like when you're when you're on on the set of Game of Thrones, and you've got 500 extras, and you've got 1000 things going on. It's starting to rain. You can't dick around with oh, I'm off with a stop.
Stephen Beres 45:28
But it's not it's not gonna care.
Alex Ferrari 45:30
Yeah, but the but the but the Alexa will be able to give you that pocket. Where if you're shooting raw and you put it in post you are. You're golden. You're golden. I shot scrape it in. Listen, I always I did I did my last feature. I shot it on the Blackmagic Pocket. 1080p.
Stephen Beres 45:48
Alex Ferrari 45:49
The super 16. Yeah,. That was one of the most beautiful cameras I've ever owned. I love that little camera. The coolest. That sensor is something that's so beautiful. And agree it's sort of statically pleasing. And it's so six it's a super six devices, a Super 16 Super 16. Yeah, it's a super 16 sensor. i It was shot at 1080 p. So I decided to shoot my entire movie on that camera with vintage glass. And with like a sigma 18 to 35 photo like lens. Yeah, yeah. And that last movie was I shot I went to Sundance and shot a whole movie at Sundance, about how filmmakers trying to sell a movie at Sundance. So I sold the whole movie at Sundance. And it was it was fantastic.
Stephen Beres 46:28
And it's the perfect camera that what other camera you're not gonna do that with an Alexa I had, like,
Alex Ferrari 46:32
I walked around with my DP walked around, it was me the DP in the sound guy and a friend. That's it. That was a crew. And my three actors, and we shot the whole thing in four days. And like literally four days of running around just grabbing stuff all over the place. And that I figured it out. I'm like, do I have a movie? I don't know. Let's see what happens. But it didn't cost me a whole bunch. So let's, let's see what happens. Yeah. And I wanted to see what I could do with that camera. And I did test and I knew I knew what I wanted. And I wanted that's kind of like super 16 Yeah, Sundance vibe from the 90s. Yeah, yeah. And I did it and I threw a little extra grain on it with a little with a filter, just to give it a little bit extra, a little extra crisp. And then I played it and everyone's like, that's it's still one of the most stunning things I've ever shot and I then I blew it up to 2k for DCP. And I world premiered it at the Chinese Theatre and I'm like, Oh, screw like, I'm like, I haven't I've never I've never seen this big projected. I don't even know if it's gonna hold like I have no idea. Dude, it looked gorgeous. I was shy blew up attensity PMH to A to K DCP. And it projected with a real projector at the Chinese Theatre. Yeah, yeah. Gorgeous. And I just did that to prove to everyone like no one cares. It has does it look good? Great. I don't care if it's an Alexa. When people and filmmakers come to me, they're like, oh, man, I shot this with this new camera. I don't care.
Stephen Beres 47:55
I don't care. It doesn't matter. Yeah. When Shaun Baker would advertise the camera. It doesn't matter.
Alex Ferrari 47:59
No, when Shaun Baker did tangerine. Nobody even knew it was an iPhone until the very end of the credits that said shot on an iPhone. Yeah. Yeah, was it because he didn't leave with
Stephen Beres 48:09
And, and the thing is, is it's also like, it's a great show. And that's really what what matters, you know, it's like it doesn't, it doesn't really matter, you know, storing, you know, our good friend, you know, Shane Hurlbut. And those kind of guys have been doing that stuff for a while and has sort of made it the hallmark of what they do. But at the end of the day, like it's also because like they shoot great stuff. You know, they have a really again, I'll say they have a really frenetic energy. There's a lot of energy.
Alex Ferrari 48:33
Shan Shan has been on the show, I say it has been on the show, I I'm aware of his energy.
Stephen Beres 48:38
He's a big guy. He's a he's got a big energy. He's got a big energy. He's he can be a terrifying dude, sometimes, but good guy, really good. Beautiful human being a very warm, very, you know, very, very gracious person, but it's got it. Yeah, you know, he's he's got a lot of energy. And it shows through in his work, the kind of stuff that he does, right, the kind of, you know, sort of every every movie feels like a battlefield a little bit, I think, you know, it gels. But you know, the thing is, is that there is a particular type of technology that lends itself to doing that, and it also to a little bit, it sort of enables that, right? You couldn't have done that. If you were dealing with you know, even an error e s t or something like that with a little mini mag or something. You just can't I mean it first of all, it's crazy heavy, but also like, you're limited by runtime, you're limited by batteries, you're limited by this, you're limited by that you're limited by exposure, you're limited, all these sorts of things. And now you can say Well, listen, I've got a D on when you have even talked about DJI, I think DJI is the new Mac Blackmagic when it comes to disruption, not because they're making the world's greatest images, but because they are completely they believe the camera archetype the form factor of a camera is completely irrelevant. We're gonna build backwards from trying to get this shot, you know, they're like, Okay, we want to get these kinds of shots. Now, go backwards into a camera from there, which isn't how you're going to shoot you know, your your three camera sitcom. It's not meant to do that. That's not what that camera is. It's not to replace the airy on, you know, production television and production drama. It's not meant to do that. It's meant to be something that nobody's ever seen before, that is totally crazy and also doesn't cost $100,000. So, you know, because nowadays, you know, we're not looking necessarily to get images on our service that are, you know, that unique from a photographic standpoint we are, but everybody's shooting on the Alexa, everybody's shooting on the red, everybody's shooting in a, you know, a pocket of lenses, admittedly a big pocket that they're shooting, they're shooting in a selection of lenses. And so we're we're really trying to differentiate, and I think store smart, you know, filmmakers are trying to differentiate is in perspective, we're trying to get shots on television that you've never seen on television, put a camera in a place where you've never seen a camera, you've never seen a point of view, the perspective from that particular vantage point on that particular action. And people remember that people remember the mayor of East town shots that come down along the river into a, you know, sitting by the body shot that everybody has seen a million times who murdered this daughter, you know, a million a million times we've seen the law and order crouched down by the body, lift up the sheet, shake your head, throw it back down. How do we introduce that scenario in a totally new way? How do we bring people into that scene in a totally new way. And everything from drones to who knows if the you know, the swan the attacks one DJI camera isn't going to be something that allows us to, you know, put a cat buddy on rollerblades or whatever, put a camera into moving vehicle into a car handed off, do these sorts of things that you don't have an opportunity to do with a full blown film package, a full blown digital package. And the greatest thing about it is that to your point earlier, were 80% of the image almost out of the box, in most cases, so is to pairing the Blackmagic camera with the Alexa which we do all the time. When it comes to pairing the super small carbon fiber Komodo with the Alexa with a Sony Venice with it, whatever we can do it and so we can get the camera not just the right camera for the show the right camera for the shot. And we have interchangeability of lenses and we have a proliferation of Super 35 or greater sensors and we have all these things are all these tool sets that like man 10 years ago if we could if we could have done the kind of the
Alex Ferrari 52:37
On the first season, the first season of Game of Thrones imagine
Stephen Beres 52:41
That's right. Imagine it imagine it and you look at where we got in season eight where we got you know the Battle of the Bastards flyover which is actually a cable camera. We didn't do drones because it always rains sideways. In Northern Ireland, we actually had a cable stretched between those two locations and that cable would run that camera at 65 miles an hour. Like we also had something called the bat which is a Dunkin barbers a camera car built onto the back of a Land Rover Defender everything comes back to lander was obviously but the you know, he has something called the bat which is a Russian arm on the back of essentially a flat deck defender. And that sucker can roll around in you know, half foot deep mud and get amazing tracking shots and things like that. So it's just like we live in a world now where we're so spoiled by the kinds of places we can put cameras, right? Like that's really I think, where people need to be thinking more than Well, I have to have the finest most cinematic esthetic. Like it's not that it's that
Alex Ferrari 53:34
Dude you know, you and a Stanley Kubrick guys calm the hell down. All right, you're not Stanley Kubrick
Stephen Beres 53:39
Stanley Kubrick already did that. Go do something else.
Alex Ferrari 53:41
Go do something like you know what I mean, don't get me started on Stanley because I'm I'll go down the rabbit hole with him forever. But, but like what he did with you know, like in 2001. And with the and with Barry Lyndon with the lenses and all that kind of stuff. And it's epic stories of him like building his own stuff. Can you imagine Stanley Kubrick today? Give him Can you imagine what him or Hitchcock would do? Yeah, in today's world with the toys that he had that we have today to play with? I mean, oh my god, it would be it would be epic.
Stephen Beres 54:13
You know, you look at what people like and maybe I'm unpopular for saying it but I you know, you look at things like what James Cameron is doing? And I know because of a variety of reasons he's not everybody's favorite person.
Alex Ferrari 54:23
I don't care. I don't care. I don't care what anyone says he's an amazing filmmaker, regardless of anything else.
Stephen Beres 54:28
Okay, you know, and every time I've interacted with him, he's been a great guy. I realize I'm probably the minority there but look, look a slightly different angle.
Alex Ferrari 54:35
And also, but also don't forget, he has softened in in his years. He's a toddler. I've talked to people that worked with him back in in in The Terminator days. And, and Titanic. I know a lot of people who worked with them on Titanic, and then I talked to people that worked with him on Avatar and he is a completely different dude. Does he still get frustrated? Absolutely. You know, and everyone loses You know what James Cameron gets frustrated because he can do everybody's job on the set better than they can. And that's not and that's not ego that is just the reality of the the man is a genius, once in a generation, kind of intellect, and artist. And I always tell people, like there's only one human being on the planet who could make avatar. And then exactly, there's no but there's nobody else. There's not one other filmmaker who could walk into Fox Studios, back in whatever year it was, and say, I need half a billion dollars to develop new technology for an IP that doesn't exist about Blue people on a planet, and there's not going to be any really major any major star power in it. And it's gonna take me two to three years to figure it out. Who else? Not Nolan, not Spielberg, not nobody, nobody else nobody else know. Well, and
Stephen Beres 55:49
I think James Cameron has this interesting thing of like, not only does he know where his story is going, and no one else does, no one else can even conceive it. But he knows where the technology is going. And I think he's frustrated because it hasn't caught up with him yet. I think 3d The thing that he did with 3d, you know, all of that sort of stuff, although maybe not critically acclaimed, maybe not what audiences totally love, although the funny thing is, and, you know, in Canada, 3d still huge, not so much here and in Mexico, but they are the rest of their Becky huge, worldwide, still very big. But, you know, looking down the road, he's always seeing a little farther ahead than the rest of us are, and what's possible with technology that just isn't quite there yet. You know,
Alex Ferrari 56:30
I mean George started with Star Wars. I mean, he was he was frustrated with the cantina scene because he couldn't get it the way he wanted it to do. Hey, there are these these visionaries that do so? I always say that to people like don't and I know, I know a lot of people personally who have worked with him on a one on one. And you just when you're in when you're in that kind of when you I've been blessed to be able to talk to a lot of these guys on my show. And talking to them. You just man, you just there's a sense there's a thing, there's an energy there that you go, Oh, I get it. I get why they they're giving him $100 million. Yep. Like I understand. I'm sure you deal with that all the time.
Stephen Beres 57:10
Oh, yeah. No, and it is like you say it's, it's an absolute, it's a it's a it's a privilege, it's a blessing to you know, to be able to work with these people and to, you know, experience that firsthand. And yeah, it's a double edged sword. Sometimes people are with great, you know, with great power sometimes comes, you know, an awfully large ego and that, so let's bring in Hollywood, no, breaks bad. But then you know, you meet guys like Jon Favreau, who is like the nicest guy in the world and has no reason to be. It doesn't have to be that way. He can be a total asshole. He's been extraordinarily successful. But you get to talking to him about just ask him. Ask him about chef, if you ever wanted Oh, in an hour. And like he said about the film he loved. He just loves He loves the Star Wars stuff. He loves the Mandela loves the characters. He knows all about it. He does, you know, but of course Dave Filoni does, right, he does because he's a little mini George Lucas. You know, there's no, you know, there's no question about it, but Jon Favreau knows it at a level that again, he has no business knowing, you know, he's not, you don't get the sense that he goes home and collect Star Wars figures off of eBay, you know, but like, he knows that he knows the material. And he knows the world, outside of the IP outside of the fact that like, it's this thing you can buy T shirts for and everything else, like he knows it, because he's part of that world because he's helping to make that world. And like, it's just so cool to meet people that like, are as passionate about this dumb shit that's totally made up as you are. And they're the ones making it, you know, it's so great.
Alex Ferrari 58:38
And which brings me to the new technology, which I think is going to change. It has changed already. Our world, which is the volume and that kind of that kind of technology. I've worked one of my best friends did, did Mandalorian VFX and he was explaining to me he's like, Look man, I see I know you guys see that like behind the scenes stuff? And it's like all it's all on camera. It's all perfect. Nah, man. It ain't not at all. It isn't. But but it is 80% There you still got to clean up stuff you still got to do a little comp here. You got to do a little Jessup Lopate work, but overall, it's it's your 80% there I mean, you can have you can have your 12 hour sunset
Stephen Beres 59:19
Actually yeah, it's and also I mean, and I'm a big advocate for saying like and this is a Joe Bauer quote from the from the Game of Thrones series but like if you know you believe the fire believe the dragon right? If fire is real, the dragons real. There's something to being an actor in a space, looking out onto a virtual horizon, but not looking into a field of green, you know, yep, being in a space that you for a second, you forget that you're standing on a stage in the middle of Leavesden. You know, I'm surrounded by TV screens you for a second you're on Dragonstone and you're seeing the world around you and you're seeing the skyline and you're seeing the buildings and the distance and you're you're part of that world in a way that if that was a giant green curtain, which we had to do a lot on the on the, you know, on the the first series, because we just didn't have any other options. We had boats and sea battles that had to be draped in green, we didn't have an option to do anything else, there was no way to do it back then. And so we, you know, it was fine, it looked great people got through it, actors were fine. They're incredibly talented, and they can look at the tennis ball, and they can pretend it's a tennis ball in the distance and pretend that they're seeing the red key from the ocean for the first time. And they're imagining, but what if we could just give them that, you know, what if we could just be on set imagine they see something of that, right. And so it's sort of an end, you know, it's this John pravo quote of sort of saying, like on Jungle Book, they were in the headset, you know, and then there they were Mandalorian, could they just take the headset and just put it on the walls? Like, why not put everybody inside the headset together? And like, it's such a simple idea. To be fair, that there's now I think, again, like I said, the sea change for how we do stuff in our industry will come about because of these volume spaces on every level. But it's such a simple concept that has now given birth to what will be I'm not saying John Faber invented it, but he's certainly a big advocate of it and Disney getting their premier shows for Disney plus, it was
Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
It was Mandalorian. Big deal. Mandalore man Mandalorian is the is the show that brought everybody brought it to everyone's attention and it just happened to hit during a pandemic. And it was like everything just kind of hit perfectly for that because like, oh, we can't go out. We need a controlled environment. Wait a minute, the volume is controlled. We can create a bubble there all this kind of stuff. So and I was talking to a domain name drop Dean Conde Dean was on the show and and he was like, he just as passing is like, yeah, I just got back from the book boba. And, and I'm flying out tomorrow to season three of Mandalorian. I'm like, I'm sorry, what? Let's go back here for a second. Do you lit the volume? What? Because I hadn't talked to anybody who's lit it. Yeah, I've talked to post guys. What is it like working on it? And he's like, I'm like, do you get the refill? Because you get the reflections? That's what's really good about it. Because you get these reflections on on the on the especially the shiny helmets and things like that Chrome helmet, the chrome helmet you get because my VFX guys like, do you have no idea how difficult that is? To get? You never got it? Right? Never ever get that right. You never get reflections right in post.
Stephen Beres 1:02:21
I mean, you basically made your new your, your main character, an old ball, and you know, like, like, like, you know, you can tell that that's like, unfortunately, where like production designers who are absolutely gifted artists and far beyond my, you know, capability of any of that kind of thinking, but you know, where it's sort of like a little tiny bit of a disconnection between like, but you know how we make movies, right? If you make a mirror ball their head, it's gonna be real hard for us.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:49
So like, Can we can we Yeah, can we not have the mirror around his head? Like, that's just, it's like, Enter the Dragon. It's like, Enter the Dragon. But like, I have a much higher level.
Stephen Beres 1:03:02
Room of mirrors is around and somebody's wearing it. Yeah, no, it's like, no, no, I totally. So it's, it's huge. It's gonna be it's gonna change the way we do
Alex Ferrari 1:03:11
So and then he was telling me how he likes it. And like, I'm like, how do you make it? How do you get lights in there? Do you? Do you shoot outside? He goes, Yeah, we sometimes set the lights outside of the volume. Because there is holes. I mean, over the top, and then just fill in here and there. And he works with it with the with the graphics guys on how they're lighting it and it's pretty, it's insane. How was that technology affecting what you guys are doing at HBO?
Stephen Beres 1:03:36
Well, I think like I said, I think it's it's changing the way that we're thinking about not just the big show's obviously house, the dragon, you know, the New Game of Thrones series prequel based on the original series. You know, it makes sense for a show like that, right? We're in a time in our production lives, were traveling to 1000 locations in all these different countries is not practical for a number of different reasons, health and safety, you know, being a big one. But also, you know, it's difficult to have a world that's as expansive as that and, you know, try to still get it producible for television, you can't just have 900 locations in 52 different countries, that's not feasible. So the idea of being able to utilize technology like virtual volume production, it just makes it possible it makes that world more realizable we can give to creative now the ability to be in all of these different locations that otherwise we couldn't like I said at the beginning you know the be able to put pirates on a pirate ship for a half hour comedy and have that be essentially an in the box in the camera. You know, sort of thing. We couldn't do that. Like we're not we're not gonna Master and Commander a boat out in the middle of the goddamn ocean for Pirates of the Caribbean. There's no friggin way. We can't do it. It's never gonna work, right? It's never gonna work. Plus, that's really hard on people. They're not going to be funny when they're, you know? Oh, it's, you know, it's a miserable way to shoot. So yeah, the idea of like, We're in Burbank we're on a stage. You know, they get to go home to their kids at night or back to their comfortable hotel room. And you know, they show up. And you know what, looking through that camera, you're hard pressed to tell me that they're not out in the middle of the ocean for, you know, the 50 basically medium shots that have it as an out of focus background, we're not, you know, we're not doing epic boat battles and things. It's not what the show is about. And so I think it just more so than the Game of Thrones, the Mandalorians, things like that, because obviously, it makes total sense. It works there. It's great. That makes total sense. But for the little shows that, you know, maybe this idea of a virtual backlot becomes a real thing, where you can go you can shoot on a street in Chicago without going and shooting on a street in Chicago, you would have been you could make that user,
Alex Ferrari 1:05:44
You would have never dreamed they would have never greenlit that show without this technology.
Stephen Beres 1:05:48
Yeah, I don't I don't know. I mean, you know, I think it would have been a bit hard pressed to convince somebody to spend that kind of money on a comedy if you couldn't kind of fit it in the box like that. You know, is this
Alex Ferrari 1:05:58
Screen screens, green screen Calm, calm, calm, calm. You're talking about 900 shots an episode.
Stephen Beres 1:06:01
Yeah, exactly. And how do you do that. And also, like, the economy of doing that, it just makes it so what you end up doing is you're shooting with the boat as the background, the cabins, you're Yeah, awkwardly below decks a lot more than is, you know, it gives creative, the free gives creative, the freedom to be able to say, this takes place on the deck of the ship, because that's where it would take place. That's where the guys work during the day, it's dark, it's dark in the cargo hold of a ship. They don't really spend so so it you know, and admittedly, it's a comedy, it's silly, all those sort of things. Does it have to be totally realistic? No, like, no. But again, if it is, if it again, you know, it sort of becomes the office, but with pirates, the realistic nature of the show also makes it funny, but you know, like,
Alex Ferrari 1:06:44
Is that the pitch? Is was that the pitch? Was that the pitch? It's the office with pirates. It's the office why pirate,
Stephen Beres 1:06:51
our flags mean death coming up in in early next year, and I can't wait. It's gonna be hilarious. It's so funny.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:59
I cannot wait to see that.
Stephen Beres 1:07:02
So funny. But I mean, that's a perfect example. That's not something you think, Oh, well, obviously that shot in a virtual led ball you'd like but the comedy pirate show, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:07:10
It is but eventually we're going to get to that place you were talking about like, Yeah, let's go shoot on the on the streets of Chicago, but we're gonna be shooting in Burbank, and it's gonna look, it's gonna look exactly the same.
Stephen Beres 1:07:20
And for the giant shows the avatars, they'll Game of Thrones, the the, you know, the Mandalorians, we're gonna spend time on the establishing shot, we're going to get that amazing cliffside in Northern Ireland, that is not reproducible anywhere in the world. We're going to shoot there for two days. And then we're going to come in, we're going to come home to the stage, and we're going to shoot all those dumb plates of medium shots that don't have to happen on top of a hill where the wind is blowing, and the raining is coming sideways. And the mud is knee deep, and all this sort of stuff. Because you know what it's out of focus in the background, we established an amazing, amazing open, and now we're going to get the work done of getting really good scene work done, really good people talking to other people. We're going to get the dialogue great, it's going to be crisp and clean, easy to understand the performance is there going to be really outstanding, because we're not putting people through hell. And I'm not saying that like sometimes putting through pull through hell doesn't doesn't create an amazing performance. But we don't have to, we don't have to
Alex Ferrari 1:08:15
Look at the shining, look at the shining.
Stephen Beres 1:08:18
Look at all these movies that like torturing people created the greatest movies of all time. But that's not the business. We're not it is not it is not we don't have to do this. But what I think it made me my last comment on the virtual production thing is that what I hope to see is that every department just goes virtually native. And what I mean by that is that remember when it was a special person that used to do CAD drawings for the production design department, where there was like a, an outside company, there was a specific person, there was a whatever they would come in, they would do the CAD you do your traditional paper drawings, you do your whatever, and then they would do the CAD they would break it down. And we were saving all this money because we could create construction drawings and stuff, right automatically. And now it's just part of the production design team. Everybody knows how to do it. Everybody speaks native CAD, everybody has, you know, the ability to look at a SketchUp directors know how to open SketchUp look at the models do all that sort of stuff. Well, I think the next stage is that those folks are going to start understanding the build in virtual space, because we got to start now. Well, before we had ever started any of that stuff, we're gonna put it set in the digital space. Of course, if the build up a month before and start, you know, throwing up two by fours, it doesn't work like that anymore. We have to be well ahead of that we have to be in the previous conversation we have to be and so I think like the opportunity there is all these folks coming into the industry coming from places like full sail to come full circle is that you know, we have the ability to take what are digital job virtual production jobs and simply make them jobs of that department, the camera person that understands tracking on the camera, how to set that up, how to keep that moving, that doesn't need to be a special virtual production person one day that will be a second assistant or first instead they will just be part of their normal lives. Think about Wireless is right, that was something it was like super whiz bang and was a special kitten was all this. I know every first has a fist, you know? Like there's gonna be that, hey, don't get polls this day you know?
Alex Ferrari 1:10:09
Listen, listen, I used to be the Apple tech at my commercial production house, my first job and I, I used to run AppleTalk and one of the reps kick the cable and knock the entire network out for the entire buildings, I literally had to go around, clicking, you know, like, and now like people were like, what's this Wi Fi? You mean Wi Fi? Yeah, like now it's everywhere. It's just part of what we do everybody. So that's gonna eventually be the way it is with. I mean, looking at editing, digital editing, like now everybody cuts everyone cuts on their own. They could do their own stuff. I would just want I really want to ask you what is the workflow man from because I preach and yell from the top of the mountain to filmmakers, workflow, workflow workflow, you want to shoot with a 6k camera, but you're working on a laptop from seven years ago, this is not going to end well for you. So what is the workflow for let's say, the the new Game of Thrones series, like, I'd love to hear the workflow, like from camera to end
Stephen Beres 1:11:10
Yeah, and I think in general, it's probably not just the Game of Thrones, I think that we, you know, we kind of look at it holistically as what what we really preach is something we call a color managed workflow. And so that's really for us the sort of big piece of it now I'll start right all the way on set. We do have loaders on set that are downloading material, making sure that's backed up and verified on set, depending on the show, we're shooting, usually, whatever the native digital capture format on that camera is so if it's the Alexa, in a lot of cases, we're shooting quad four or E or XR progress. Occasionally, we're shooting airy, raw, you know, we found the you know, the utility and airy raw, sometimes sometimes don't, you know, it depends, right, a lot of what we need from progress. And so sometimes we're there, it would be great to have Pro Res raw, more readily realized, first of all more capable and then secondly, more realized, but you know, for shooting the red we're definitely obviously shooting red raw for shooting Sony we're shooting in one of Sony's many flavors of raw depending on the project. But that's getting backed up on set that's going into our our daily systems, which in most cases are color front, I would say for the for the most part, we're running some flavor of color prints is giving us real time daily. So we are in many cases, offset doing all of our syncing doing our primary onset. Great and that usually is it's let's lookups that were set from the colorist and the DPS in pre production, we did camera tests, we did whatever set some looks for the show, or something that maybe the the DP will spend time on set with a DI T setting in a new location, but we were not doing his coloring every single shot, you know, on set, right, we don't do that it goes back to house it gets we get dailies put up on picks for us to watch at the studio, we're on cloud era, do it, you're doing it. So it's going to the Cloud 100 100% Cloud based out and it goes down to everybody's devices, we use a combination of pics and a little bit a little bit of frame IO as well, depending on what we're doing, and then, you know, it sort of comes around to the editorial stage. To be fair, most of our shows are cut in the AVID because that's a you know, that's the industry we're in, those are the editors that we're working with, you know, so then they're handing a list over to the the post house post houses assembling from the the raw materials. So we're not, we're not cutting the raw because we have, you know, some limitations on for a variety of reasons, what we are doing is more, more remote editorial. So we're doing a cloud based avid that someone is working on a terminal, essentially, and it is nearly seamless. In some cases, you know, we're getting a really nice experience. And that was we had to do that because nobody was allowed to breathe the same air together. And now we're finding that editors are saying, I don't I don't want to go back to the edit room seven days a week for you know, 15 hours a day. I would like to be I can be at home. I can be doing this at night I can have dinner with the kids, they can go to bed I'm going to stay up until two o'clock in the morning editing but I've seen them for three hours in primetime. I'm not eating you know takeout at my edit console some awesome weird Hollywood. I was great.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:14
So to stop your second just so everyone knows like my my buddy who does a lot of the high end visual effects. He when the pandemic happened a lot of VFX studios were just always afraid of security security. That was the big thing is like security like oh my god someone's gonna get this footage. Oh my god, it's gonna get bootleg there's all this kind of stuff. But with VFX they realize that like once you know obviously they're gonna do it with trusted VFX guys and there's contract upon contract, but they're they're just doing pieces of they're doing like a piece here so 15 people so there's no there's nobody all nobody has all of it at the same time. So now that's become a norm like my via my buddy who's done every major Marvel movie every major Star Wars movie like all that stuff. Yeah, he used to have to fly to London. fly to New New Zealand. Yeah. to Toronto, fly to Vancouver, and now he's at home. And he's like, yeah, for the next year and a half all booked up is just completely terminal. So the game has changed as far as post is concerned.
Stephen Beres 1:15:11
It's huge. And I mean, and that is key because I think quality of life for those people, you do better work when you are in, you know, you're in a better place in your life, right? Like, right, again, try not to torture people, you know, like try to make people's jobs, something that they enjoy doing, because they do better work. And so, you know, once that editorial cut comes in, that will then go to a post house. And that's really where the color management piece comes in. Because we don't display reference until essentially output meaning that it becomes 709. For standard HD, it becomes, you know, whatever rec 2020 for HDR, whatever, you know, three for cinema, whatever, only when it's essentially exhibited. So you're working in and on color corrector or in an display reference space, right? So you're working in, let's say, it's area you're working in, log, see through the entire process, everything, all of the creative grading, all the scene matching, all that sort of stuff, all the visual effects, everything is being done in log c. And then when we create that linear broadcast, deliverable, streaming, deliverable, theatrical exhibition, whatever it is, that's when it's getting that display reference baked into it. So that's when it's actually becoming, you know, rec 709 HD, that's when it's becoming rec, 2020 HDR, and that allows us AV elasticity to make both of those things without doing totally separate grading sessions for them. So what we might do is we'll have a trim to get the HDR from the HD or to get the HD from the or SDR from the from the HDR will will do a pass on that but will not recover correct the whole thing. We don't use the Dolby Vision automatic trim stuff, just yet. For a variety of reasons, the majority of our customers are looking at stuff in SDR, our series stuff is still SDR. Although the Warner Brothers, you know, feature movies every month are in HDR, and more and more stuff is coming to HDR all the time. So it's really important for us to sort of archive the creative and as much of that as humanly possible, and sort of distill that down into something that we can take to new display technologies in the future. So today we're rec 2020 on an HDR OLED display at UHD. But maybe in in a year's time, two years time, 10 years time, we want to take that same asset we want to take you know house of the dragon, and we want to create a version of that that plays on an 8k Super Ultra High W or whatever. But we don't want to go back and completely restore the project like we're doing with some of the older ones, right?
Alex Ferrari 1:17:39
We want to get my my anus pucker thinking about all the files and and making sure you have all the versions in the deliverables. I can only imagine the deliverables lets you deal with man. All my audio and let's get an audio now with Atmos and all that. And it's everything it gets. And then yeah, because I was what like so how did you guys do? How did you remaster season one because as alternate?
Stephen Beres 1:18:04
Yeah, it was alternating piece. So we went back with Joe Finley and John Reed, the the colorist on the project. And we went back to camera, original material. We
Alex Ferrari 1:18:14
It was all film right. It was all that was all film. Oh, no, that was that was Eric's
Stephen Beres 1:18:18
That's our it was our tape was that's our tape. You know, so we remastered everything to you know, to digitally digital UHD up it was oppressed, the HD material had to be oppressed. So we did that on the conversion from tape to digital from on capture essentially. And then they went back from a log c which was on the tape. Now admittedly, this is log c packed onto a you know, a video cassette so not exactly or you know, 12 Bits of adulterated but, but you know, whatever. And then and then graded from there and created the US version of the show that we see. And then of course, in later seasons, we were using the codecs recorder to record a digital at least uncompressed version of that. And then we were eventually on to internal recording on the magazines. And then and then finally ended up with like this 3.2k, which is, you know, which is, you know, we can get sort of ultimately do that. And the reason that we did 3.2k is because it was it's a really nice, linear, no rounding error scale up to UHD. And so the last few seasons 3.2k, which was a version, which was a format we worked with airy to create, specifically for Game of Thrones, and now it's a very popular format. And we did that so that we could actually window we windowed a 2.8k image out of that, because we put tracking marks and things around the outside of it, so that we had, you know, all this tracking information buried in the image where we didn't have to then, you know, we didn't have to actually comp it out. We just cropped it out. It just became a part of the image region we didn't use. And so there was lots of cool and tricks.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:54
So I have to ask as well, but how many cases enough we're at 12k Now your show.
Stephen Beres 1:20:00
Yeah, I mean, I don't know, you see, I don't really, you know, maybe I don't entirely subscribe to the Aerie model of you know, KS don't matter at all. And maybe I don't entirely subscribe to the, it's the race to the most ks and when we get there ever will be it'll be the best. I think, you know, it depends on the show, it depends really on how much does that K cost you? And I don't mean money wise, like, what does it mean, you know, early days of the read workflow, right? Like, what, what, how much work do I have to put in, you know, my iPhone shoots 4k and shoots 4k All day long, and I didn't even notice it, you know, so yeah, I mean, that shooting for kids shooting it on a lens, the size of a teardrop, but, you know, it's, it's still doing it. So in that case, it doesn't cost me anything, why not. But if I'm shooting a major feature, and the difference between going, you know, UHD, or greater than UHD, and really, everything's UHD. So like, the version 8k 6k versus Shooting standard, you know, 4k, it really depends, right? If it's easy, if it's smooth, glassy, smooth, and red coach certainly makes that easy. You can shoot a gay, and you don't even really feel it, you know, like, yeah, it's big, the files are heavy, all that sort of stuff.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:05
But then but you have to think about the workflow down the line. It's kind of like the river, like if you if you start here, well, how is this gonna affect your final? And like, are you going to be able to cut or you're going to be able to cut raw, or you can't, okay, so you know, you gotta go offline, then you're gonna have to redraw, reassemble. And don't even get me started with proxies. You know, that's always a fun little process.
Stephen Beres 1:21:27
Hopefully, we're almost at the end of that. But I say anytime anybody says that, then there's another, there's another new hire format, and you have to do it all over again.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:35
It's just, it just keeps, it just keeps going and keeps going at a certain point, you just got to go. And then a lot of filmmakers out there listening, you know, they get caught up with the gear porn, which is what you know, it's all about the gear porn. It's all about like, what's the latest isn't the latest that dude, if you're a good storyteller, you could shoot it on an iPhone, it doesn't matter. I mean, it look, it matters to a certain extent. And yes, obviously, you need to get the the aesthetics in there. But talking to someone like you who's dealing, you know, who's working at a very high level with, you know, a company like HBO, working on some of the biggest television shows, in history, production wise, and every other way why? Dealing with that kind of workflow. It is, I mean, there's very few other TV shows probably, other than Game of Thrones that handle the kind of workflow that you add the size. And the vastness of what you guys, it was just the was, it was the biggest show. Even even even Mandalorian. Doesn't doesn't do that.
Because there, it's not as big of a show. It didn't it doesn't have the budget that you had on the show. What was the budget on those episodes? It was like, it was, it was, it was like 10 million or something.
Stephen Beres 1:22:45
It was an undisclosed lot of money. It was undisclosed. Okay. It was an undisclosed a lot of money. But But yeah, you know, and I appreciate that. And we all you know, David and myself, everyone who worked on the show, really, genuinely appreciate that, you know, not not just that people appreciate that. It's a very expensive show, but that it is a show that people loved and you know, and then it kind of made a little bit of a dent in the zeitgeist for a little while and just what an incredible amazing privilege it is to just be even adjacent to something like that. You know, and I think a lot of people you know, sort of think about it as as a great relationship maybe a relationship that for some people didn't end the way they wanted it to and never does. It never does. It never does. Nobody likes being broken up with nobody likes being broken up with so
Alex Ferrari 1:23:35
You know, I dont mean, interrupt you but I had a I had David Chase on the show. And we were talking about Sopranos. And I don't think I asked him about the ending but I did hear what he he literally was so tired of it. He's just like, the song I'm going to use I use the song because it pissed off the crew. And I just cut because like you've never the there's very few endings to a show that satisfying. I think breaking bad for me was a really great ending. Breaking Bad was a wonderfully satisfying ending to an epic, epic, epic show.
Stephen Beres 1:24:10
I love Breaking Bad. And those guys have done such a great, you know, job with that with that show that? Yeah, it's hard then. But like I agree with you, I think that you can count on one hand the number that that that satisfied everyone and I guarantee you there are people who are viscerally upset with the way that Breaking Bad ended. Oh, it's the way that any other show ended, right? Because you're always gonna find somebody.
Alex Ferrari 1:24:30
It's always love. I mean, the best ending of all time is The Bob Newhart Show. Yes, that's by far the best ending.
Stephen Beres 1:24:38
It has a problem with that. There's nobody that
Alex Ferrari 1:24:39
I mean, I can't it's like the like, what is going uh, what? It was amazing, amazing ending to a show. I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests sir. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Stephen Beres 1:24:55
Well, I think you know, the number one thing that people I think overlook is You know, understanding that everybody who is working in the industry now, was somebody trying to break into the industry at one point, amen. Yep. And that a lot of people working in, you know, the kind of roles that are one or two levels away from where you will start, do not have a fan base, you know, if you're the assistant editor on a show, first of all, you're very findable, which is a little bit terrifying. But it is just the fact of the matter is that, you know, you're in IMDB. And you know, what, if I really love a show, I really liked the way that it's cut. You know, I really like the way, you know, I can call the editor and I can say, hey, it was really cool, you know, well done. And, you know, if you're in town, sometime, we should get lunch, the average film, you know, you're not going to be able to do that. But you know what, you could email the second assistant editor. And you could say, hey, I really love your show. Do you have time for coffee? Can we do that? And the funny thing is, is like I tell people to do that all the time. And some people do it. And they're successful way more often than you would ever think. Because again, the second assistant editor on the show does not have a fanclub, Walter merch, hard to approach genuinely blue, beautiful human being really nice guy, the Oracle of all filmmaking you can't call Walter, you know, but you know who his second assistant is? I'm not going to tell you, but you could find out. And I'll guarantee you, you know what, I'm not gonna say his name. But he's a he's a very nice guy, super cool guy. If you're in the Bay Area, I'll bet you, I'll bet your coffee,
Alex Ferrari 1:26:25
I bet you he'd gone for coffee or dinner or lunch or something like that. And I found out I found in my, in my years that DPS, and editors, and production designers, and those kinds of heads are much easier to get to than you might think. And if they aren't, you're right, the first assistant is, I mean, they're soup, they're much easier to get to, if you just want to have a conversation if you want a network if you want it. And it isn't, isn't it the way it goes? Like, it's It's Sunday night, you need someone for Monday morning. And you're like, do you know anybody who cut this thing, and you're like, I just met this guy. I think he's been editing for a few years, I think he's available, I'm going to give them a call.
Stephen Beres 1:27:14
More than anything, they know that you're not a crazy person. You know, like, you can go and you can make. And I always say this because you know, people drill this, like, you have to make sure you go to your networking events. No, no, it's like a, like a friggin business card. No collector Expo, you know what, don't collect a single business card, it doesn't matter. Make one meaningful connection with one person. And you've done everything you need to do that night. Like seriously, if I remember that we had a conversation and that you seemed cool. And that you seem to know what you were talking about. And that you were genuinely interested in the stuff that and nobody's interested in what I do. But you know, if you're a DP or something like that, you're genuinely interested in the work that that person does. And not just like a lot of Game of Thrones and like, Yeah, well, thank you so much. We're so happy that everybody loves Game of Thrones, and we love you for that. But I have, you know, I can't remember how many people have told me that. But I do remember the people who said, you know, how did you do those aerial shots in the Battle of the Bastards? I heard you did something with cables. And I mean, I would love to just like if you have five minutes to chat about, like how that all worked? And like, what did you Where did you even start sort of thinking about that? You remember the person that you had a little conversation about something that they were actually interested in? Something that you actually do? You know, so you can like pull the work that you do out of the big thing that is this culturally significant sort of show
Alex Ferrari 1:28:38
When it'd be funny is like now I'm going to tell everybody if you want to meet if you see Steven anywhere, just ask him what's workflows? The workflow? Like? What was the what was the post workflow? What was the post workflow? Like on on Game of Thrones, like, how did you get from the camera to if someone walked up to you? And I promise you no one you won't forget that guy. Or gal?
Stephen Beres 1:28:58
What's your favorite builder smoke? Like,
Alex Ferrari 1:29:01
What? Did you work on the Montage?
Stephen Beres 1:29:07
Like, it's yeah, that's that person. That's yeah. And that's the thing. It's like, just make one connection. A real thing. That's not just like, Hi, I'm Jim. I just got out of film school, and I want to be a camera man. Like, that's awesome. Jim, like, like, good luck, like, go shoot a bunch of stuff and put it on your Instagram and make sure that you know, you're taking photos and you're showing people what you can do with a camera. And that's kind of all the advice I can give you, you know, I'm probably not going to reach out if I if I need a camera person. You know, we wouldn't but you know, like you said, you know, if it's Sunday night and you're you've got that shoot Monday morning or like at this point, we just need a warm body. That's not weird.
Alex Ferrari 1:29:41
You know, that weird part is so important. And people don't underestimate like, can I sit on a room with this person for 12 hours and I killed them? Can I be on set with that person? That's so valuable talent is talent and experiences experience, but at a certain point. I will I will take the guy who's a little less experienced, or the guy who's doesn't who hasn't done it as much for someone who's a pro and a complete ass?
Stephen Beres 1:30:07
Yeah. Oh, for sure. And that's the thing. It's like, you got to realize, like, you know, it's the mob, right? You're with your crew more than you're with your family. And so if you hate the people that you work with, why would you ever you get to choose them, you know, you're gonna take someone who maybe is a little greener, that just needs a little bit of help every once in a while. But you know what, they're always there. They're always cool. And not just like, well, they got there and sat in their car for three hours before call time, like some kind of a psychopath, like something. And they're, they're there and they don't have to read your mind. So many people are, like, anticipate everything that could possibly happen on set and have it ready. And like, I don't need you to have friggin clothespins clipped all over your body, you know, like, I don't really need them that often. You know, it's just like, just come in, be willing to like, a solve a problem. Like, you know, if you think that you might have something that might solve the problem that we're in right now. Like, don't go up to the director and be like, I think if we relate it like this, it'll work like no, but like, talk to your department head say, hey, you know what, you know, we've been playing with this, like, I think if you maybe do join it, it's just an idea. Like, we want to give it a try, like we can, you know, I'll help you out there or something like, again, if you're cool. And you know, you sort of reach the place that you are just be you know
Alex Ferrari 1:31:17
Just be just be I always the biggest advice I always got from people like, what's the biggest advice you can give someone coming into the business? I'm like, don't be a dick. Don't be a dick. That's huge advice to you. And it's too small of a businessman. Look, you and I, we just met and we know probably a dozen people. Yeah, in common, if not more, Oh, absolutely. If not more, and we've never met, and if I screwed somebody over somewhere, or I was addicted somebody along the way, if Michael, if I would have screwed up, Michael back in the day, I'm like, stormed out and made a scene you might have seen me walking out like Who the hell's that? I'll never forget, what's that guy's last name Ferrari. I'll never forget that guy for that room. And then years later, we come to bite me up. It's just it's too small of a businessman. It's a very, it's such a small business. It's such a small business, and I'm alright, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Stephen Beres 1:32:16
Well, I think just generally, like, just don't take it. So personally, don't invest so deeply in being upset with whatever it is right? Like, yeah, go, you know, if so many God, I love to stew on something like somebody does something. And I work in a very large, multi billion dollar, you know, media conglomerate, so there's always some guy trying to do something that's gonna, you know, I want more territory from our department or whatever else, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:32:43
It's the office, it's the office. It's like pirates, but the office
Stephen Beres 1:32:46
It's like, exactly right. You know, and it's just sort of like, the sooner you realize, like, just let it go, man, you know, what, don't do want it. And I still I don't know that I've learned that lesson. Alex. Honestly, I think that's something I'm still trying to learn. It's like, you know, what, the amount of sleep that I leave that I lose over like, you know, somebody's trying to like, you, what do you do that, you know, it's not worth it. It's never worth it. You know, I think the you know, the easiest thing to be is just sort of like, you know, what, my fault moving on, you know, like, let's just, you know, what I don't want to argue about this is it's my fault. Okay, fine. Let's go. Let's keep going. Let's get through this. Let's get to the next thing.
Alex Ferrari 1:33:22
Will it matter in five years?
Stephen Beres 1:33:24
Yeah. Will it matter in five minutes?
Alex Ferrari 1:33:27
It's like does it will it matter in five years, just you gotta eat let it process it, let it go through you and just let it go? Because if not, you're gonna trust me. I was an angry and bitter filmmaker for quite some time. It's so
Stephen Beres 1:33:43
It's like the natural state
Alex Ferrari 1:33:45
Of the of the creature of the creature that is the filmmakers like the angry and bitter family member like how dare they talk about things that like I Why haven't they seen my genius yet? This is conversations
Stephen Beres 1:33:55
Online reviews don't it's the same thing that's an approach you can take to the entire l all of life.
Alex Ferrari 1:34:01
Don't don't get read the Ridley Scott has never read one review of his movies. And all he does is just pop out movies left and frickin right. He's like at NBC. And then he's led two or three years old. It's insane. And last questions
Stephen Beres 1:34:15
He does not give a shit. He does not give a shit about you. You know what your review that you're writing about really
Alex Ferrari 1:34:19
He didn't give a shit about you. He did not give a crap when he was 40 Do you think he gives a crap when he's 82? That's exactly right. He's every minute that passes. Every one of those filmmakers are getting a minute older and giving less of a shit about what you think.
Stephen Beres 1:34:36
Right? We should all live that way.
Alex Ferrari 1:34:38
Unfortunately, you don't have to wait till you're 80 to do it. But like I like to tell you and you as well. I am I give a lot less crap about stuff that I did when I was in my 20s
Stephen Beres 1:34:49
Yeah, it all doesn't it all doesn't matter as much as you think the great film on that topic film called brick from the 1990s. Yes, murder like a new artist.
Alex Ferrari 1:35:00
Oh God, who's the guy who did? Oh, God. Last yay. Right Ryan Johnson?
Stephen Beres 1:35:06
Ryan Johnson Yes, of course. Yeah. So and so you look at that movie. And it really is about like, these are high school kids. And admittedly something sort of dire happens. But it's like, what if the one thing that happened in your high school was the biggest thing that ever happened in the entire world, and that's sort of like the thesis of that film. And I think it's just so great, because everybody is so invested at this being like, you know, just this amazingly, life changing sort of level setting, sort of, and it's just, I think it's good. It's like, well, in our own, like, I talked to my daughter who's seven. And he talks about the things that she does in school and like, there is important to her Oh, my as the thing that I did today on a show that 9 million people are going to watch. So we get to like, her. That's her world. That's everything she knows. And so it is just important to her. And you have to sort of just take yourself out. Remember how big the planet Earth is in our galaxy. And give yourself a little perspective, every once in a while? I Oh, nothing we do matters.
Alex Ferrari 1:35:56
Nothing we do matters. And I know way more than I need to know about my daughter's social circles, and all the drama and all the drama that happens in the daily basis. The meetings that are happening, oh my god, it's Oh, God. It's just it's like he said this to me. He did this. She did that to me. Can you believe that? This is happening? I'm like, I don't, I don't. My I don't need my brain. I don't need that to fill my brain. It's kind of like my it's kind of like my wife, who will be watching a show or someone said something about Star Wars. And she's like, No, that's a Padawan. Why do I know that? This is your fault, Alex, I don't need that in my head. Why do I know?
Stephen Beres 1:36:33
I'm sure my wife feels the same way about vintage Landrover ownership. She's like, No, why do I know? I don't know. I don't even want to know that. But I do. And it makes me angry. Yeah, she knows what the people we love.
Alex Ferrari 1:36:43
She knows what a green screen is and what a bad comp is now.
Stephen Beres 1:36:48
And you're the same way, I'm sure but like, none of our family members can watch anything with us because we're just like, ooh, that's an unmotivated light. Like, oh, where's the light coming from the floor guys? Like, how did we not kind of watch the show? Shut up?
Alex Ferrari 1:37:02
Well, that is the best lit interior car in the middle of nowhere. Like where's this like coming from?
Stephen Beres 1:37:07
Where's that coming from? Bad Matt line there. Got a little bit of a power window. There's still a boy.
Alex Ferrari 1:37:13
Oh, I've seen that. I've seen that all God. I've seen that on big shows. I've seen that power window just like fly by. And I'm like, Oh, how did that? How did that pass? You see? Oh, Jesus. Stop it. I'm just trying to watch the show. And last question three of your favorite films of all time.
Stephen Beres 1:37:30
Three of my favorite films of all time. Number one favorite film is Ghostbusters. Not for the reason you think but because it's because a bunch of nerdy scientists saved the world. And I think that, you know, that, that at a time in my life where the idea of being very deeply into technology and gadgets and making things was not exactly the most popular thing is pre
Alex Ferrari 1:37:50
Big Bang, it was pre Big Bang, Big Bang Theory, no
Stephen Beres 1:37:54
Nerds were not cool. And all of a sudden you have three deeply nerdy and not for the same reason not everybody was Egon not everybody is the glasses pushing nerd. But Bill Murray deeply on popular antisocial person, you know, and you have all these amazing characters. And you know, they end up you know, saving the world. And I think that that is that was a pivotal that was a pivotal film in, you know, you know, for me, and I still watch it a lot. Oh, so much. So, you know, and so yeah, and I'll pick up non non traditional films, what dreams may come, which is a amazing film, a runway. And so I think if it was from a visual when I use the word visual language a lot because I'm an artsy studio executive that uses fluffy dumb words, but the visual language of what dreams may come it established that concept for me. That picture told such a deeply sad, such a rich, textured story by just looking at it. You could look at stills 20 stills from that movie almost pulled from anywhere, and it tells an incredible story. cinematography was beautiful acting was haunting
Alex Ferrari 1:39:05
The visual effects they won they won they won the VFX obviously
Stephen Beres 1:39:09
They did the walking through a painting the paint being
Alex Ferrari 1:39:13
Sticking onto like what do they call it when it's a little it was it was a little film too it's not a film that's like talked about a lot and it should be it's one of my favorites Robin Williams films. It's It's I mean obviously postmortem it's even more amazing to watch now and more tragic to watch a film like that. But the visuals of that film are Yeah, oh, god the story gets me it gets me every time.
Stephen Beres 1:39:37
It's an amazing story and I think you know and again I you know and of course we'll just check all the film school kid boxes of like of course Curacao, of course, all of that. I think probably probably close encounters was the me the last. You know, if I had to pick three movies that that really matter to me. Close Encounters when I watched all the time. I watched it a time in my life where it was awe inspiring and amazing. And the visual effects were incredible. But they were subtle, and it felt like this could really happen. And they blended into the story in a way where, you know, you're not even sure if it is this guy just crazy. Is this real? Is this happening? And then later in life, you know, I went to see it. And, you know, I see it all the time. And I sort of realized it's actually like a story about Richard Dreyfus losing his mind and his family, and you know, and turning away from
Alex Ferrari 1:40:29
You literally leaves his family he leaves, leaves his family
Stephen Beres 1:40:33
And that scene is tough to watch. Now, I mean, having kids obviously having a family, seeing Richard Dreyfuss, overcome by this sort of mania, this manic state where, you know, his wife and child leave in a panic because he's shoveling dirt through the window of their home, like all of this sort of stuff. It's just, it's a great film. And, and it's a perfect, you know, sort of exploration of that genre of, you know, the, you know, the the 70s 80s adventure movie, what's happening, it's, um, but then also, you know, it's funny because my wife and I went and saw a, the, the remastered version of it. It just recently, and, you know, I'd sort of said, Hey, have you you know, I didn't get to see this movie in the theaters. This is so cool. You know, that like, you know, that we get to go see it in this big I've seen several times with this remaster was fantastic. And, and I said, you know, sort of what's your, you know, what's your favorite part of close encounters? And she said, um, you know, I think that it's a you know, it's it's probably the, you know, the tentacle part the water tentacle thing, and it becomes a people's faces like, that was pretty cool. And it's, oh, well,
Alex Ferrari 1:41:40
That's the that's the Abyss
Stephen Beres 1:41:45
Had seen close encounters. He said, Oh, what's it about him? So alien? So they're communicating with people in this this thing? And they're making this mountain? And if you remember that, no, I don't think I've ever seen that. And, and it was sort of like, and I realized, like, Oh my God, you're about to see Close Encounters of the Third guy
Alex Ferrari 1:42:00
For the first time. And you're gonna see it on the big screen,
Stephen Beres 1:42:04
Like a 40 foot bed right now. Like, seriously, the hairs are standing up on my neck. Like, you're gonna see the most amazing version anybody's ever seen of this movie. That is like, absolutely transformative. And you're to see the first time and like, Oh, my God, that's gonna be so great for you. And it wasn't she loves it is an amazing an amazing movie. And it was a great screening. We had a wonderful time and and yeah, so I think that you know, anyways, those those three can't wait for the new Ghostbusters. Jason Reitman is exactly the right person. Yes, carrying on it looks good. See? So happy can't wait, you know. And so yeah, looking looking very forward to strapping on my proton pack and heading to the theater for for Ghostbusters,
Alex Ferrari 1:42:42
My friend I appreciate you coming on the show. This has been an epic conversation of geeking out. It's been it's been a lot of it has been a lot of geek if anyone's still with us. Thank you. We appreciate it. We appreciate you hanging in there. I told you at the beginning. This is what you were gonna get and you got it. So hopefully it inspired a few people to look over. If you're looking for a job I think HBO is taking people so you never know
Stephen Beres 1:43:08
They're always taking people we and that's again we want to radicalize you to the HBO way of doing we want the best people doing the best work here with us so so please, you know if if you are a if you are a filmmaker, if you are interested in getting into the industry, you know, don't don't overlook us we want the best people doing the best work
Alex Ferrari 1:43:29
And mentioned that you heard about it on the indie film hustle podcast that that's a really quick way to get the job. I'm just throwing that out there really quickly
Stephen Beres 1:43:36
Alex gets a yeah, you can use his offer code when you apply for a job,indie film hustle 21 applying for a job
Alex Ferrari 1:43:49
To get fast tracked into into a position.
Stephen Beres 1:43:53
Alright brother way I appreciate your time. Thank you. This is immensely entertaining. Super fun. I love it and happy to come back talk about anything anytime.
Alex Ferrari 1:44:02
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