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IFH 130: Elijah Wood and the SpectreVision Team – Creating a Brand & Making Killer Films

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SPECIAL SUNDANCE EDITION of the Indie Film Hustle Podcast

I wanted to do something special for the Indie Film Hustle Tribe this year. I’m in Park City, UT interview some AMAZING filmmakers, producers, agents and actors. In celebration of Sundance, I’ll be releasing a podcast a day during the week.

I wanted to launch this special Sundance Film Festival series with a bang. In this episode, I speak to indie film favorite and all-around amazing human being Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings, Sin City) and his remarkable partners Josh Waller, Daniel Noah and Lisa Whalen (Company X) over at their company SpectreVision.

I have to say that this is by far one of my favorite interviews I’ve ever done. It was part of the filmmaking masterclass, branding lesson, James Lipton interview, and party. I learned a ton from the gang and really felt the passion these friends and partners have for making the kind of films they want to see.

All of these Sundance Series episodes will be co-hosted by Sebastian Twardosz from Circus Road Films and a co-production with Media Circus PR.

Alex Ferrari 0:06
So without any further ado, here is Elijah Wood. Josh Waller, Daniel Noah and Lisa Whalen from SpectreVision. Hi, I'm Alex Ferrari.

Sebastian Twardosz 6:20
And I'm Sebastian Twardosz. Thanks for joining us. We are here with spectrevision. And company x. Yes, yeah. Alright, so I want to introduce everybody real quick. And then we'll just get right into it that Daniel Noah, Elijah Wood. Josh Waller and Lisa Whalen. Thank you got it. Right. All right. Well, um, do you want to go through the I think the first question really is one that you've probably heard before, but we'd like to just get it and

Alex Ferrari 6:46
How does this happen?.

Sebastian Twardosz 6:47
How does this happen? The four of you

Elijah Wood 6:50
It's a long story. He's the best at doing it.

Alex Ferrari 6:52
Let's go.

Sebastian Twardosz 6:53
Let's go

Elijah Wood 6:53
Let him go up the mic.

Alex Ferrari 6:57
Well, what is tell everybody what SpectreVision is.

Daniel Noah 7:00
Sure okay. So so the the three of us who started speculation, we met in what Walter and I've been friends for last several decades. Yeah. And we met Elijah on a film that never got made that that was in development that I had written. And while I was directing, Elijah was was attached to star and, and even though that movie never happened, we the three of us became close friends and kind of bonded around a shared love of genre films. And at that time, in 2010, the kinds of movies that we really loved were the kinds of genres that we really loved, were not generally being made in our country and in our language. So films like let the right one in and the orphanage. And so we we founded the company to try to create a hub for filmmakers who are interested in that kind of filmmaking. But also, the other thing was kind of that the company was born out of a frustration that the three of us had felt that it was often very hard to find producers that we felt were material driven, and as passionate as we were as talent, they were generally very transactional. And so we kind of it was, had a very like, like Goonies kind of quality to it of like sitting in his apartment and deciding to try this thing and kind of like writing up an oath and making a pledge to each what was the oath in the pledge was that we would always be motivated, we would always react to material from the heart and not look at it. transactionally? Can we transact off this that the first response was a heart response. And if we had a passionate response to a piece of material, we would commit to it, and then figure out later how to bend the economic reality around that movie.

Alex Ferrari 8:44
I like the economic reality.

Sebastian Twardosz 8:49
What is the difference with company x? What is that?

Daniel Noah 8:52
So do you want to take that one?

Josh Waller 8:54
Lisa, Lisa, should take that one.

Lisa Whalen 8:56
The difference basically, is that with company x, it can be anything Spectre vision, you know, these guys spent a lot of time crafting, you know, beautiful company with a beautiful mission. And, but it's really specific what a spectrum is, and film is, and we can't always classify it exactly. But it's really specific, it's unique, it's compelling. And we wanted to be able to do things kind of outside of the genre space.

Elijah Wood 9:25
I mean, I think the thing with with spectra vision over time, is we would come across so many films where we would fall in love with something, but really, it doesn't quite fit within the confines of this thing that we're trying to create. And with company x, it gives us this freedom to do anything, you know, there would be some things that we're like, ah, somebody else is doing this or it's a little too broad. It's not weird enough for whatever the fuck it is that we're trying to do is vector vision that we can't always articulate. There would be there would be these things that we'd have missed opportunities with that we would like. Love and want to be a part of and with company x, it gives us that opportunity to actually invest in things that are sort of outside the bounds of what we're trying to do with Activision.

Josh Waller 10:09
So I think a perfect example is like, what if someone had approached?

Alex Ferrari 10:12
He's got too much for you, he's talking to Josh talk, you

Elijah Wood 10:26
Now, like, what if someone had approached us with like something like When Harry Met Sally? Yeah. I love that film. I adore that film. Is that film a spectrum vision film? Absolutely. It does not fit within the brand that we create.

Daniel Noah 10:41
He met her and killed her.

Elijah Wood 10:44
By the way, it's where my mind goes on immediately when I watch.

Daniel Noah 10:48
Just copyright Yeah.

Josh Waller 10:51
You heard it here first.

Daniel Noah 10:55
We should just end the interview, because that's the only thing

Elijah Wood 10:57
That's gonna be quoted. But like, if we want to do a movie like that, we can't do it with inspector vision. But that doesn't mean that I don't adore the script, adore the filmmakers adore the actors involved. And don't want to see that film get made. So what are you going to do like defer it to some other producers that you don't trust more than more than your own partner? So it's like watered down let's do this

Josh Waller 11:27
It's like watered down let's do their craft for a long time as well?

Yeah. Why can't we bring the same principles that we brought to all of the films within Spectre vision? two films of all genre?

Sebastian Twardosz 11:37
What are your principles?

Alex Ferrari 11:41
With films with the with the films you made.

Elijah Wood 11:45
Yeah. What are those for us? Like our main very simple, we're always trying to do things that other people aren't trying to do. So if it's if it feels like within the genre space is being weld covered, those aren't the kinds of movies that we want to make. We're looking for. I don't know we're looking for things that things that won't. It's a heart response, but it's it's something that we feel isn't being expressed, how do they get to you? A good example, actually is the greasy strangler, that is a movie that probably wouldn't have been made, if it hadn't been for us, and the other maniacs involved to sort of rally support behind Jim Hosking to get that movie made. That's a really good example,

Daniel Noah 12:30
Like minded friends.

Alex Ferrari 12:32
So your base, so basically, the films you were trying to make are things that would might not have a chance anywhere else. Well, we have some case, in some cases like this, there's just no chance that this movie, and there's some quality there,

Daniel Noah 12:43
A girl walks home alone at night is my favorite example, because it's so clean is that like, that was our first film. And when we told people, hey, we're mean, we got our first movie going. It's got a really long names called girl walks home alone at night, it's, it's in black and white. It's in Farsi. It's a horror movie that has nothing scary in it. And it has no stars. And everyone's like, what are you doing?

Elijah Wood 13:08
I don't understand. I mean, really exemplified what we were perfect. Like we back for all exemplifies who we were, if there was ever anything that was like an easy way to define ourselves at that time, all we would have to say was that film, and the reason we got behind that film, it felt like, Okay, this is kind of the it's it, it almost like it fit within the context of our mission statement.

Alex Ferrari 13:39
Now, I read somewhere that you said, you guys said that profit is not always money. It's other things as well. There's other kinds of profit. Can you explain that?

Elijah Wood 13:48
Well, yeah, I don't know. Which is that for me, it gets actually it dovetails into the question that was just asked, which is like what we're looking for. And to me, it's like, it truly comes down to the heart responses between the three of us and now the four of us with company x, where it's like, we just have to connect with something and I think because the three of us and now the four of us are such different people.

Josh Waller 14:17
We are partnering that's exactly what we want to hear like very different personalities.

Yeah, like I'm the asshole it's true, and I'm okay with that.

Alex Ferrari 14:28
You were a marine.

Josh Waller 14:30
That's true I still am memory. Okay, so I want to hear Okay, I didn't want to pull out the marine I have to put like

Sebastian Twardosz 14:36
Why did you Why did you join? Why did you do it?

Josh Waller 14:39
Why Why did I join the Marine? Yeah. Well, I was not expecting that question.

Sebastian Twardosz 14:45
I wanted to it's a big it's a it's an important part of your life.

Elijah Wood 14:51
James Look, it's a very deep question. I'm a I felt that at 17 I needed a bit of direction. I knew I wanted to be involved with film and the arts. But I didn't know how to go about doing that. I also knew I didn't want to be stuck in like hometown kind of syndrome where you stay there, you get someone pregnant, you end up working some job that is just strictly manual labor for the rest of your life. I just didn't want to get caught in that. So I was like, No, there's something easier. I'll join the Marines. And I'm also a fifth generation marine. Oh, my great grandfather founded the Marine Corps Association. And there would actually be no yet whatever. Anyways, yeah. So there was a bit of a pole there to go into. Yeah, there was a bit of a calling that my even my dad said, when I came home one day in high school, and was like, you know what I did today? And he goes, No, what do you do? I said, I signed up, I signed up for the Marines. I joined the Marines. And he was like, what, cuz I basically had this hair. He was, I was, I, like, danced. It was a musical theater. And it was like, oh, and my dad said, Great. He was like, well, don't do it because of some stupid tradition. If you're gonna do this, yeah, that was super cool. That was the only cool thing No, no, it was, he just said, Do it for yourself. And like, what that I heard that and like, what I can say is that, like, I've been able to take my experience in the Marine Corps, and bring it to our mission. As filmmakers, there's, there's a certain amount of like, I went through something where it's like, it's one of those situations where if I can do this, I can do anything. Alright, making movies. Don't make me fucking laugh. Like, it's like, you just set your sights on the goal. And you don't stop. It's just that simple. And that's what like I was able to take on that and like kind of bringing the arc

Daniel Noah 17:02
Mitchell and he and while he runs production for us, and runs our sets, you you do it with the mindset of the military. And but I would also, by the way, be tremendous warmth and kindness, as well.

Elijah Wood 17:15
But I would say 95% of it is warmth and kindness. The 5% is like the part that like I will get caught up in which is just like the eye on the prize. That's my own life.

Sebastian Twardosz 17:28
So you gotare you always on set then always good.

Elijah Wood 17:31
I try to be there's there we've always talked about, like, if we want to be successful as a company, as in war. I think that's relevant, that there has to come a time where you're like, I'm not going to be able to person to be the person that's in every place at every time, it's going to come down to us, hiring people that we really believe in, and that we really trust. And then we say we believe in you and we trust you so much, that we're gonna let you go out and do our thing, because we're like minded. And that and that is filmmaking, is surrounding yourself with the people that make you make you look amazing and look like they're smarter

Daniel Noah 18:14
And looking out for each other to make sure that you know, mistakes don't happen. I've been watching. I've been here as he talks, three more minutes.

Elijah Wood 18:28
It's second read the serie the screenplay page. So you write about this. You know, Daniel slowly watched as

Alex Ferrari 18:40
Cut to a close up, cut, cut. Get closer.

Josh Waller 18:45
Danny, we got to get your story to, oh, we're gonna know what

Alex Ferrari 18:48
I was gonna ask you. Um, there's a lot of young filmmakers who are watching this and listening to this. I want you guys to talk a little bit about because yeah, you guys thought about talking about the material being important. He knows we'll talk about the importance of the filmmaker, the importance of being able to and this is something a lot of young filmmakers don't understand this, that you have to be able to get along with someone for a lot, because this is a journey making a movie and you can be flexible. Yeah. So tell tell. Tell the filmmakers as you guys get along. Yeah, obviously there's Yeah, there's there's a gap. But yeah, can you talk about, like what you're looking for? What your advice would be?

Elijah Wood 19:20
It all starts with a vision, ultimately, I mean, for us as producers, we're looking for material, we're looking for films that we want to invest our time in. And sometimes that's four years, five years, right? So we're looking for filmmakers that have a unique vision that we you know, couldn't find it any other way. But yeah, to your point, it's also about the notion of being flexible, and I don't know

Alex Ferrari 19:51
I guess, sometimes sometimes I've worked a lot of filmmakers. They get these these tunnel visions. And then when you work with experienced filmmakers, like yourself, You know, you got to bend, you got to move, you got to kind of just because that's the way the business is,

Elijah Wood 20:04
But to a certain degree that I think that's where we come in, yeah, you're there to guide we meet filmmakers that have a specific vision, and we can help them in that process in regards to getting it made. Got it, you know,

Daniel Noah 20:15
And we, you know, it was never by design, but we've ended up working with a lot of first time filmmakers and, and we kind of noticed it one day. And I was puzzled by it. And I realized, you know, we're looking for unique visions, and I talk all the time because I run development. So my job is bringing these projects and it makes sometimes come from other places. But you know, I always talk about this concept of outsider art, is that term, you guys actually hear what they term? Yeah. Which is to say, you know, an artist with no formal training. And sometimes that lack of training can produce something really, really powerful. If you even just google outsider art, like in terms of visual arts, you are incredible, you know, like someone who looks their drawings look like a child's drawing, you know, but it's kind of thing that someone might train 25 years to achieve, but this person because of the way they were born, and the way their brain is wired, they just happen to nail it right out of the gate, you know. And we've had, I mean, I think Lucas, Amman, who's a young filmmaker, that we're making a film, an incredible visionary film with this year, called popsicle is a great example of that. And he had cold contacted us on Facebook. And that was back when we had the bandwidth to read those that. And I remember I read, I saw his thing. And I thought, this pitch sounds really interesting. So I reached out to him, and we read it read his script, and it was magnificent. And we called him and it's been, I don't know, maybe four years. And a lot of that time it was spent training him really, to be ready to handle it, because it's a big film. And so it speaks exactly to what you're saying is, is, it's, I think, I think a lot of people in our position would have immediately passed him over, right? Because it's work. Yeah. And there's a lack of, you know, he doesn't have the professional experience. But for us, we're going that doesn't matter to us. The visions is what matters. Yeah, we can help him get ready for the professional demands. That's easy, in many ways. But I think what Lisa said is really vital is that that I think what what what all directors need to understand is that it is one part a certainty, but vision and another part flexibility. And and sometimes what you want to do is just simply not achievable, for whatever reason, and you have to be ready to change it up on time. So if you are in touch with the sort of emotional intention as a director, and there are 100 ways of achieving that emotion, it's not just the one that you have in your head, you have to be ready to drop it on a dime, and then that's what happens on set. And that's when you know, if you forget it. But like that is the test. I agree

Elijah Wood 23:12
That it's the test is when like when that really gets going tough. Yep. When you're forced to go, Okay, how do I figure it all the things that I think that we are most, I myself as a director, but also we as producers, I feel like the things that we're the most proud of? Are the things where where it didn't go the way we want it. Yeah, it was the times when like, it was like you're not gonna get that money that you really wished you had for this scene. I always feel like you're gonna you're gonna happen you're gonna have to you're gonna have to rely on your team and like get real getting get truthful and go, okay guys. I shot let's I shot listed this whole thing. It was at another location that we can't get, what are we going to do? And, and you just trust each other. And those are always the scenes that end up being like the most magical, the most relevant, and the most just truthful,

Josh Waller 24:14
I found that one of the most difficult personality traits of a young filmmaker is rigidity, surprisingly, is is a real terror about someone's messing with my vision. You're dead, you're dead, you're dead, if that's how you're approaching it like

Elijah Wood 24:33
But the industry doesn't set you up to not be rigid because you have to start going into it you don't know where to where to find the producers that you truly are there's also an amendment to that, you know, we worked with Lily on the poor on a lonely on the poor on on girl walks home alone at night, and she had a rigid perspective. Absolutely. That was unquestionably her And it became very clear as producers when we met her, we don't have a lot to say here like

Daniel Noah 25:06
Same with Jim Hosking that we realized really quickly just get out of the way

Elijah Wood 25:09
This is her like, it was very clear, clearly her film and same with him. And so to counter that, like sometimes there are filmmakers that you encountered that have a sense of what they want. And to a certain degree, you have to buy into that or you're ultimately going through with their vision.

Lisa Whalen 25:28
That's why it works for the four of us. instinctually.

Josh Waller 25:33
However, which the and that that's a benefit for those filmmakers. Also, and we know this, both of those filmmakers heard every single one of our notes, yeah, they they heard them, they took them into consideration. And whether they took those notes or not, is irrelevant. But they heard them.

Lisa Whalen 25:54
But I think that's why it makes sense.

Daniel Noah 26:01
We've never done an interview like this. I love it.

Lisa Whalen 26:08
I'm gonna write the ship here. Thank you. That's why it makes sense why we work with a lot of first time filmmakers is because they're such a good the three of them are so good at creatively being the support system they need. And the kind of reality of getting a first time filmmakers movie made is kind of where I come in and go oh, this insane idea that you have I'm going to translate it to this and this is what finance ears want to hear. So the combination of them having full support creatively

Daniel Noah 26:45
Why was that the prop

Sebastian Twardosz 26:50
Funny that you should I actually planted that prop. We have a we have a drinking game here.

Lisa Whalen 26:57
Wait, this isn't enough for you.

Sebastian Twardosz 27:02
There's a drinking game so there's a danger tonight. I teach at USC

Elijah Wood 27:10
I think this is our favorite interview we've ever done.

Sebastian Twardosz 27:15
There's there's a number for every bottle. You roll it three times we mix those drinks, you name it, and then you shouldn't and actually Tim league came up with the idea came up with the idea we haven't totally created this game. What does it call? Do we have shot shot? So this is the games every so this is sort of our favorite prop that we like to keep around. Right But we haven't number we haven't set it up yet. Right now.

Lisa Whalen 27:51
It's okay. He wants the mic?

Sebastian Twardosz 27:54
Well, it's it's nice, so

Alex Ferrari 27:56
I'm gonna make this point. I see that. That Lisa is a balancing force.

Daniel Noah 28:02
Yes, we like to call she's our Wendy.

Alex Ferrari 28:04
Yeah, she seems like a balancing force to you guys. I could see the energy just on the couch.

Elijah Wood 28:09
I really feel that I am not as strong of a human without my partners. That's very Wait, no, my God. I know that sounds super sappy. I think that, to me is the core. I'm not gonna get emotional. But like this is this means a lot to me this stuff. Yeah. And like, shut up.

Sebastian Twardosz 28:38
Just get it out now because your going on stage later

Elijah Wood 28:42
Where you can emotional.

Josh Waller 28:44
James what's your favorite color?

Alex Ferrari 28:47
If you were a tree?

Josh Waller 28:49
I can't I don't know. Jim's anyway. No, I was gonna say that, like, each of the filmmakers that we've worked with, have become our close friends. And like, we started the company. And like, yes, we wanted to start it to, you know, watch films that we wanted to see. But we also wanted to form it, as you know, respectively as like a director, producer, an actor and a writer director as like to try to be the producers that we truly wish that we had. And I don't know that even. I'm speaking as a director that like I've had that yet. You know, and like to date, like all of the filmmakers, we've worked with our friends. And when you surround yourself with your friends, you just want to support them and make them be the best version of themselves. And that doesn't necessarily always coincide with what they think they want to watch and that that comes down to trust. And yeah, we were we've been talking I'm about this a lot over the course of this past week, you know, just with this film because Marianna Palka the writer, director and like lead actress of bitch. You know, she's been a friend of ours for a very long time. And we believe in her. And like, before we made this film, it was like, we want to show them we want to show the world. Mariana 2.0 I said that her

Elijah Wood 30:25
I said that her unlike even beyond what people

Josh Waller 30:29
I said, like we're gonna challenge you, like, in a good way as friends challenge you, as family should challenge you as people that love you should challenge you and are willing to say, like, I love you. I love your passion in this moment. This moment, you are wrong. And, and, and, and, and. And that's okay to say, because it's coming from a place of love. Sure. And that, that little like that dance starts to happen. And that's when like things. No, no.

Alex Ferrari 31:02
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Lisa Whalen 31:13
He makes it sound happens. He makes it sound really easy, though. Like they're just friends with all of these super talented people and so that these movies get made, but it's so easy to become friends with you guys that it's like they're becoming friends with the filmmakers. They're filmmakers first usually often. You know, I'm

Alex Ferrari 31:31
I'm really like, Yeah, he's like, you're awesome, sir. Yeah, you're awesome, sir. I got to put that a

Lisa Whalen 31:36
Cut him off.

Sebastian Twardosz 31:39
I didn't want to miss out on Daniel story too, though. Because you you you actually started as a writer, you went to NYU Tisch did? And then so what was your story from there?

Unknown Speaker 31:49
Well, I, I started at what I thought I wanted to be an actor. And hopefully, as I think a lot of filmmakers do that sort of Waller because it's the closest you can get to making films or, you know, telling stories is just pretending. I was I started studying acting. And within weeks after mean, meaning like in college, I realized that all of my interest my scene partner, and making sure that it was a good scene, and I actually had no desire to be in the scene. So I, yeah, so but but I have this profound passion and interest in the craft and art of acting. You were very unusual in that way. Yes, that's why we're here to announce that Elijah Wood will no longer be here first. We're leading with that that's actually leading with that just usurped when Harry killed Sally that

Alex Ferrari 32:46
It killed with her killed nobody, he brings up something

Elijah Wood 32:52
Of working with a fellow actor in an acting class and being more interested in the scene and facilitating the scene than performing himself. That's how I feel as an actor. I'm far more interested in in facilitating the ultimate vision of the director or the thing that we're creating than being you know, the star or standing out as the character, I just want to be a part of making this thing work.

Lisa Whalen 33:18
But he has his business

Elijah Wood 33:21
It extends to why I want to be a producer. I love filmmaking, it all just comes back to this ultimate core of the baseline is we're all here trying to create something that we're really proud of, at the end of the day, and I love and I've been fortunate to have a career as an actor. What that has facilitated is ultimately, the experience of working with a lot of people in a creative environment. We're all working together to create something that they really believe in. That has been the thing that I'm addicted to. And so as an actor, the mo I'm always just looking for that I'm looking for, you know, ultimately sure a role that I want to play. That's interesting. That's challenging to me, I love doing that. But more importantly, I just want to be a part of a thing that that guy's trying to do with another group of people. You don't I mean, dude, you're such an asshole, and

Daniel Noah 34:23
I just was like, it just went in a completely different direction right now. No, no, but I'd like this to pay a little homage to my partner and my friend. Is that like, I feel like you're such an intellectual. And you get your intellectual side out with the producing side. And but you're also you have like such a strong physicality and you get that through. You get that kind of like that box checked. With acting Sure. You're like I need to like this catharsis is an actual physical catharsis. I needed to happen. Through my acting for me to be sane as just a human being, you know?

Alex Ferrari 35:05
But, but isn't it like, some of the best actors are exactly they, they they want the other partner in the scene to be better. I like the horror.

Daniel Noah 35:13
I find there are two things or two. Yeah, they're they're the they're filming there they're the actors who get who burrowed deeply into the the very, like deeply deeply inside that character and that's where they live and then there are actors like you who are more a total filmmaker it's a term I like to use a lot where you're you're doing that work, but you're doing it more in service of a greater design, you're more aware of the greater design you're not just myopically focused on your character and both ways work you know, I mean there's great you know, they're great great film actors of both of both types

Elijah Wood 35:54
That's so interesting to hear about your process in trying to be an actor right? He's ultimately you realized

Daniel Noah 36:01
Yeah, I'm also terrible that's another

Elijah Wood 36:10
But that's irrelevant in that process of discovery you ultimately realized I'm more interested in facilitating these group of people to make the scene or whatever it was that you were working on good Yeah. And that led to your right your role as a writer and a filmmaker

Daniel Noah 36:26
Well I think now you know like you know for me like I Mabel to write I can direct the movie I can produce the sound itself noxious I do three things but but Okay, okay yes

Lisa Whalen 36:38

Sebastian Twardosz 36:39
I'm actually interested in transition because you were a writer you w j did all that Yeah, what was working and then what was what wasn't working or what changed that you decided to go with

Elijah Wood 36:49
a more passive stance in there in fairness, which part of the producing part and never something that you wanted

Daniel Noah 36:56
Oh no, I had no inclination that I would be a producer none whatsoever well i was i came out I made a I wrote directed like a no budget film a long long time ago. So what's it called 12 it's you can't see it it's not available

Sebastian Twardosz 37:12
Well we could change that

Elijah Wood 37:15
We know people Waller also very positively reviewed on by Ronnie tarkio

Alex Ferrari 37:28
Very cool writer of Dr. Strange 2000 Yeah.

Daniel Noah 37:33
Anyway so I um so I made this film and then and and then kind of like Hollywood came calling and and and I found myself working as a writer like a studio writer and yeah, so I was you know writing Writing Studio movies and selling TV pilots and I did that for years and nothing got made except one thing

Josh Waller 37:50
Yeah, that's the problem

Daniel Noah 37:52
Yeah, so I you know, I had this terrible crisis it after doing it for you for a few years in which I had had the kind of a bucket list project which is one of my favorite authors is Graham Greene. And I love the cinema of Graham Greene and I had always wanted to adapt the graham green novel so I convinced universal to pay me to write an adaptation of a gram Green Book. And I was I couldn't believe it by the end of the process, it had been so perverted from from the source material and I don't mean that like you have to throw away the book when you adapt it that's healthy this was something else this was changes that were so clumsy and I was like to use the analogy of when you're a kid and you've got your popcorn and your dad wants some and puts this giant hand like gets all over the cap like that was how it felt working with the studio was like Jesus like be a little careful about what you're doing when you reach into the bowl You know, it was so it was so distorted from and changes that just seemed arbitrary and I was so disappointed and then I got the call from an agent like great news. They're they're going to continue developing the project and I said what does that mean? They're they're going to keep it in active development. What are you telling me and what I realized was Oh, I'm being told that I'm being fired and replaced by a bigger writer right? And that is considered a success. Right?

Sebastian Twardosz 39:17
So yeah, and because it could get made and he'll make some money but

Daniel Noah 39:24
It won't be the movie that will be the movie that I that I was excited about right? It won't be something I'm proud of. The only thing it will do is make me money and give me another thing like another notch on my belt. And so I realized I don't want this this is not what I want with my life and and it was really hard to let it go because there were you know, I knew there were so many people who dreamed of being a Hollywood screenwriter and, and that I felt like I had no business turning that away. But I did. And I and I kind of went out in the wilderness and I told all my reps and I said I'm gonna focus on independent film for two reasons. I want to be able to take matters into my own hands. And not be at the mercy of someone else and to I've realized that I want to tell stories about people intimate stories about people I'm not interested in all this, you know, gunplay and it's not it doesn't get my juices flowing. So they all drop me like there was not even a moment of like pretending to be supportive like it and and I had to kind of like complete completely start over and so you know eventually then you know I met these guys and you know here we are and and now you know i'm i'm I couldn't be happier. You know this is I got what I wanted. We're making small movies with people I care about. And movies I'm proud of

Sebastian Twardosz 40:41
And you may make some other films too actually, you're gonna

Lisa Whalen 40:47
Let me be clear about what I mean by small, intimate I mean intimate. Yes, yeah, we will we are incapable of running and non intimate. Friends.

Alex Ferrari 40:58
We can kind of tell based on this interview.

Sebastian Twardosz 41:00
Yes. What I would like more more more from you guys. There's one thing because you know, the specter fest. Are you going to do more spectrum fest? Because I think that's very interesting.

Alex Ferrari 41:09
Can you tell? Can you tell everybody about what Spectre fest is? Yeah.

Daniel Noah 41:13
Specter fest?

Sebastian Twardosz 41:15
Oh, I know. It's loaded. Oh, no. Okay,

Daniel Noah 41:20
No, no, no, it's that's okay. spectrefest. So we have a really nice relationship with cinna family in, in Los Angeles, which, which is like, I mean, widely considered the best repertory cinema in the country? Yeah. Well, very different. Very different. No, no, very, very, very different. Very, very. There's room for both. So it started with Hadrian Vila who's the artistic director approaching Elijah and me and because we both knew him and saying, Hey, would you guys want to like do a weekend of horror stuff? And we're like, yeah, that sounds great. And we started like feeding him these ideas and he was like, you have a lot of ideas like do you want to do something more than a weekend and it exploded into this thing that lasted for a month and it was really successful. So it you know, curation is a huge part of the way we approach producing we talked about that all the time that we you know, and that's one of the reasons that we're so fussy about what we will and want to take on for spectrum vision is that we talk about it as a record label that when you like a band, you go well what other bands are on this label? This label has earned my trust and and while they're also different, but they all have certain things that are in common and and you start you become a fan of that label. There's almost no film entities that are like that. There are a few a 24 Yeah, draft house, you know, Miramax back in the day. Annapurna yeah but but so that we approached specter vision that way and also like not repeating ourselves and so uh, so the curation was something that was really already very much in our in our in the way that we operated and and we just found that we really loved it and it seemed to work and it's also great because we get really early looks at New filmmakers and we get to meet them really really early in like you know, things that haven't been released yet we see them when we screen their movies months in advance and I mean, I'm blinking an example but I feel like we have movies that have come out of that festival. So yeah, so we do it we do it every October and the reason everyone laughs is that spectrum fest is in a state of transition that was

Josh Waller 43:37
Present came out of that That's right.

Lisa Whalen 43:39
Yeah, factor fest is the curation the fact that people seem to be interested in what what you guys are curating where we're curating isn't something that has to live in October you know like it so we're kind of just figuring out what is the next world for spectrum fast so yeah, this was a while from now we'd be like we have a great thing to tell you about Spectre fest

Daniel Noah 44:09
And I love it I you know, I love I'm a ham and I love talking you know doing interviews and stuff and you know, we've had incredible You know, we've

Sebastian Twardosz 44:16
I wouldn't know

Daniel Noah 44:20
I mean sitting in your seat you know, we've had like Eli's marriage Can't we you know, he's a friend we convinced it you know he's got he never does anything and we you know, we convinced him to come out and do an evening with us. Like we brought Larry Fessenden out who was a huge You know, he was a huge impact on me as a young filmmaker and did like a two hour conversation and just really um, and you know, I think also like we're always learning to it you know, from from the from these.

Sebastian Twardosz 44:45
Speaking of Shadows of Empire, I've always wanted something to happen on set. When German expressionist cinema they all wore lab coats. I thought it was a coolest thing. Like Dr. laptop. You should bring that back. That's like the coolest thing ever. lab coats on set everybody was it

Daniel Noah 45:01
Feels a little vaguely ominous.

Alex Ferrari 45:04
What are you gonna do for visitors on the hell's going on? One thing I find fascinating about speculation in general is that you guys are very clear about your brand. Can you talk about the importance of when you create a company or an entity? How important is because you literally bought the company have to kind of

Elijah Wood 45:21
Look, it was, it was the most important thing. When we when we started our company, we literally met at his house, we sat around and we were like, what are the movies we want to make. And we made like a kind of like a bucket list of the films that we want to make, with varying genres within the context of horror, the notion of identity was everything to us when we started. Every year, that was all we had. And that was all that we were focused on. The choices that we would make the filmmakers that we wanted to make films with, and ultimately the scripts that we found all related back to this notion of Who are we? What are we trying to do?

Josh Waller 46:02
Who are we? Because it couldn't be like, if everyone directed it towards like, who is Elijah Wood? As an actor? That's a different question that had to be like was the con, who are we as like a group? Yeah. And like trying to figure that out,

Elijah Wood 46:19
And what is Spectre vision, and ultimately, trying to craft a space that became familiar to people based on that identity of, oh, that's who they are, that's what they do, we can go there for that thing you had, I mean, it was trying to establish something that was like, based on a certain number of films and a certain sense of taste and focus. This is a place to make this kind of film to attract these kind of filmmakers and these kinds of distributors. And that then would, you know, in theory, establish us as a home for this kind of thing that would then allow for for a certain amount of growth and ease of getting these kind of things made that ultimately were a little harder to make initially. You don't mean it's perfect.

Josh Waller 47:09
So we're unanimous we chose initially that we were unanimous over you were nothing at all in terms of selection in terms of like, like, what the three of us because we felt like going into like again, like how different the three of us were when we got it started. It was like the three of us could not be any more different. But for some reason the universe has connected the three of us and we become close friends,

Sebastian Twardosz 47:38
Guys, it's working seriously because they're succeeding. I mean,

Josh Waller 47:46
Dude, like, like, we just relied on our friendship. And now they if we're like, it's it's kind of like, Oh, god, this is fucking dumb sounding. It's totally Three Musketeers type shit. It's like all for one one for all. We we were kind of like, if the three of us agree on something, then it must be working because the three of us are very different people. And we're very close friends.

Lisa Whalen 48:17
But I think to like that that magic in a bottle of that is like when when I was deciding if I was going to come take the job these maniac. musketeers, right? Yeah, be the forethought Musketeer.

Elijah Wood 48:35
Don't forget,

Sebastian Twardosz 48:37
I call that the intersection

Lisa Whalen 48:42
Okay. When I was deciding if I was going to move cross country to work with these lunatics. I asked around to everybody else like so. Are these guys. And unanimously people were like, Oh yeah, spectrums is great. The brand is really strong. And I was like, Well, what about their business? Like, that's what I'm, that's what I'm doing. I'm moving across the country, like, what's the deal with their business? And they were like, I have a job. And they were like, I, I don't I don't know anything about business and that but, but they're great. Like, he says, like, okay, okay, so they had put something out into the world that people couldn't even communicate, but they knew they liked it.

Elijah Wood 49:24
But that's a crazy thing for us to like, we that was our goal. That was the thing that we had set out to do, set up in a in you know, establish an identity, establish a sense of a brand, and a sense of who we are. And also like, a space for which there's a comfortability for artists to come and express themselves right and be supported. That was it. And the fact that within two years of having had conversations at his house, the three of us with our ultimate goals in mind, the kind of movies that we wanted to make that there was A sense in the industry of who we were was insane to us. Yeah. And also to Sundance and that's still a crazy notion right? Because all we ever did was just lead with what we believe and heart and trust in material and trust in our vision and somehow that has managed to come back to us very quickly and been received by people in the artistic community and it's it's way beyond

Lisa Whalen 50:34
That's why we had to make company x because you can see it's not that spectra vision is a brand that you can just throw any movie into right that it's like we want to do this you don't want it kept coming to me and saying like, we want to make this movie but does it make sense respect division? It was like, Well, what do we that's that's what we do. So there had to be something else where we could participate in these films that we were so passionate about, but that just didn't fit in that scary

Daniel Noah 50:59
A great example of that although it's company x company. It's funny that I mean it is people are saying that it has horror elements which I think kind of surprises us but but that was a good example of something that I don't you know, it didn't really meet the kind of genre requirements of spectra vision and thank God we had another avenue for it because that movie is so vital. Company x gives us an opportunity to do that in a way that doesn't confuse the clarity of the specter vision thing which is it is about specialism genre is about is about the unknown and as another phrase it like something very unique and I like a term I like his museum grade pop art, I think is a very nice and clear kind of

Elijah Wood 51:46
Exploration of the uncanny of the uncanny yes you know yeah, it's relatively specific

Alex Ferrari 51:51
Yeah I'm pretty I'm very grateful that there is an entity like you guys out there because there's so I mean seriously we're grateful to I mean, seriously because there's so many like all the movies you released what are the chances of they actually getting made elsewhere? You know, like and you put that art out there and and you're wondering like how come it's come back to us so fast is because it's coming from the heart and you can see it you can hear their voices you love you love but you but you the love for what you guys do is just just just spewing off you guys so of course it's going to come back to you so quickly. It's it's really remarkable. You guys are doing Thank you. I wish there was like another 20 of you guys. Well, we don't know companies. No, no, no, no, no, no. You know what?

Josh Waller 52:33
Towards those 20 companies

Alex Ferrari 52:35
Yeah, you get you get residuals, of course,

Elijah Wood 52:38
But there are Yeah, I mean, yeah, between 824 and Annapurna Drafthouse, you know, kay period, but they're the stuff they're producing, there's really interesting people and entities that are out there making great films for just go for it. Yeah, totally. China fucking exciting time. It's not, it's not in a dire for film, we're in a really interesting time where there's so many different methods for which a movie can be financed and distributed, that it's equal playing ground. And there's great taste and and you know, festivals, like Sundance, allow for some of these movies to get a platform. The greasy strangler was released at Sundance last year, that's insane, that will be so fucked up. And it found it found in the audience. We're also seeing, we're seeing equal opportunity within the context of a sort of meld of genres. Prior to like four years ago, films like that would have only been in the midnight section. And we're seeing those kinds of films genre, bleeding into other sections of, of the festivals, and that is a shred Oh, and that's very exciting. I don't know, I think we're in a really exciting time for filmmaking. And we're really psyched to be in the midst of it. And you know, meeting all these people,

Josh Waller 54:05
Honestly, contributed. Like there's a really there's a really strong community that's growing right now. In like the filmmaker community. It's just really that the web is growing. And it's it's a web of, it's a web of honesty. The trick is guard when I was about

Sebastian Twardosz 54:34
The trick, though, is still getting more people to see

Lisa Whalen 54:36
Well that's the problem. I think, I think that to take it a little bit out of the heart and into the business side of it is that there's so many platforms right now that need content. So we're in a really good spot because we can create TV or film or streaming or just everything is just watchable narrative. And so we're in a great one, all those voices are getting to be heard. And maybe they're not getting to be heard in a normal theatrical platform, but people are seeing them and they're loving them. And

Elijah Wood 55:10
That is premiering on Netflix like,

Lisa Whalen 55:12
Yeah, it's awesome. By the way,

Alex Ferrari 55:14
Can you guys talk? Can you guys talk a little bit about the business side as far as distribution? Because I know that's a big mystery for a lot of people, and especially how it's changing daily. Pretty much now like every other day, there's some new way of getting it out. What are the what's your like, model for distributing like a movie like bitch, like, how is that going to go through the pipeline?

Elijah Wood 55:33
Honestly, I don't know, I just went through this experience making this film with making Blair for Netflix. If If you can get your film finance, and made with full creative control, he kind of doesn't matter. I mean that, like, we all hold on to that sort of, you know, ideal of something being released theatrically that we can all have the dream of something coming out. And having a relatively nice, theatrical run. That's awesome. Those days are kind of over. It's Yeah, it's what's more important to me, I think, and should be to other filmmakers is, what's a scenario in which you can your film can be financed, and you have the ultimate creative control. That's the important thing, not the distribution model. Do you have the freedom to make the movie that you want to make with the relative budget that gives you that freedom to make it to get make it the way Get the way the way that you conceived? That's way more important than the run of the film. As it turns out with something like Megan's film, we got that made through Netflix. So that's going to be seen by 94 million people, right? Right. On a platform that's fucking insane, bigger than a theatrical and he totally and he got full creative freedom to do that. So that's the most important thing to me. And I think you know,

Daniel Noah 56:54
The, in the years since we started we've added this arc of understanding about letting go of the old model and and you know, like, when I was coming up the term straight to video met you fail. Yeah, you're done. You're done. Yeah. But But now, I'm even I've even gotten to the point where I when I hear about theatrical run, I'm like,

Alex Ferrari 57:16
Why would you do that?

Daniel Noah 57:17
Yeah, like, a lot of money. I don't know. Like, you know, and I think that for filmmakers, the spiritual reward of the theatrical experience isn't this it's festivals you that's where the filmmakers get that that that feedback that and but we're but we're most average consumers see these films in their living room, and that's just a reality. Reality.

Sebastian Twardosz 57:43
Look, it's iPad, it's actually more intimate. Now the people you bring it to you and your bed, or whatever. And it's far more intimate. Like when I grew up the TV's like way over there. My beds here, TVs over there. But now it's like you're watching it like this. It's actually much more intimate.

Daniel Noah 57:56
I don't watch it like that a watch on 55. Because we're older

Alex Ferrari 57:59
Cuz you live in an ivory. You live in an ivory tower, sir.

Sebastian Twardosz 58:03
Kids watch it like this

Lisa Whalen 58:05
I know, I don't want that. That's a generation. That's the thing. Like everybody, I've been in a lot of meetings coming coming from a corporate space where people everybody wants to figure it out. And I was previously in TV so that that model is even more messy right now. Yes, then film, and film, we have a million opportunities with TV, they need to try to figure out the opportunities to go to TV studies while you're including streaming, exactly everything. And you know, everybody in the room is going well, this is how my kids watch TV. So this is gonna, this is the future. And it's like, the truth of it is, nobody knows, nobody knows that your kids are gonna watch TV in 10 years. Nobody knows how it's gonna be different when they have their kids. You know, so it's, it's being flexible. And you know how it's hard to be flexible? If you're a giant corporation, but what we are is a very pivotable we're all very late. But you know, we're able to, yeah. But um, it's, it's nice to be able to with each movie, just go. We don't know how that's going to get distributed. But we have these five options. And then we're going to pursue what's best and find the best partner for the film and its content. What makes sense. But nobody should.

Sebastian Twardosz 59:23
I think we should we should kind of wrap it up. I think actually. Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 59:27
Thank you guys. So much. Can I ask you one more question. One for Elija and one for everybody. As

Sebastian Twardosz 59:36
One question in 20 parts?

Alex Ferrari 59:37
One and a half I could please know Elijah as a as an actor who's obviously done a lot of films. Yeah. What do you look for in a director because I know a lot of directors are listening to this. And they you know, working with an actor of your caliber, what do you look for in it but what helps you or what helps you and what what do you look for when you're working with a director

Elijah Wood 1:00:00
I'm someone with a distinct voice. I mean, I don't know, I feel like half the time I'm responding to material. And the other half or in tandem, I'm responding to a director. No I know sometimes there is okay. Sometimes there is but I mean, I'm looking for someone who has a unique voice you know, making it just sort of set a recent example. I don't feel at home in this world anymore came together because a lot of reasons but I had fallen in love with Megan's work as an actor initially. Blue ruins extraordinary. I met him at Fantastic Fest, and Austin was like, Oh my God, this guy's incredible. And he was like, can I send you a script. And for me, that was an incredible honor. This was someone I admired. And he'd written something so I read it and fell in love with it. Um, so that was about this person, having written something, both someone I'd already had a sort of relationship with in regards to his ability, but also something that he read that he wrote that I was in love with, um, I don't know, man, it it ultimately comes down to a specificity of vision, be it in the material itself, or within the context of the director. Okay, but I'm always looking for something that I emotionally respond to. And it's not different from what we're looking for as filmmakers. From the standpoint of what we're doing with Spectre vision, we're looking to get ourselves behind something that is unique and different and something we've never read before or we've never seen before. filmmakers or material your material that we're wanting to sort of get our, you know, get behind and that's the same for me as an actor.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:01
Very cool, great answer. And then the last question is always asked us of all my interviewees three of your favorite films of all time any of them at this moment?

Daniel Noah 1:02:10
Yeah, well, my favorite films vertigo, excellent. Three, or you have to go with one each McCabe and Mrs. Miller with vertigo

Elijah Wood 1:02:23
How we say Harvey Oh, that's

Alex Ferrari 1:02:25
Great. That makes me That's awesome. Yeah, that's a great movie

Josh Waller 1:02:29

Lisa Whalen 1:02:34
I'm go nostalgic because I was just talking about this earlier. I know this is silly clue.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:40
Wow. Which which ending which ending?

Lisa Whalen 1:02:43
The Tim Korean

Alex Ferrari 1:02:44
Okay, okay.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:02:46
We have to do yours though. So what's your favorite?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:48
My favorite? Um, oh no, you guys put me on the spot.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:02:51
Oh, come on. Your favorite.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:53
Blade Runner

Lisa Whalen 1:02:56
Check out that score for Blade Runner. 2049

Alex Ferrari 1:02:58
I cannot wait to see that. Yeah, you're nice and you're sir.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:03:03

Elijah Wood 1:03:05
I have never cried more in a cinema than watching you. I don't even like talk you when you first saw when you first saw it. No. So there was the 2k restoration. Yeah, but I saw it said you

Daniel Noah 1:03:18
were not the one with the added scene.

Elijah Wood 1:03:19
No, no. The God forbid. And I had never seen in the theater. I'd seen it so many times. Sutton theater for the first time in stitches. I have never cried more. Wow, the impact was absolutely devastated. Wow. Yeah, dude, that that was heavy. I'll never forget that.

Sebastian Twardosz 1:03:40
I actually named my son you know after my two favorite movies ET and Star Wars Elliott. His first no his first

Daniel Noah 1:03:45
No, your sons named et and starwars?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:47
That is awesome. If that's true.

Daniel Noah 1:03:49
E.T Star Wars dinner!

Sebastian Twardosz 1:04:00
It's Ethan. E t. And then Han. I think that I got that through.

Lisa Whalen 1:04:12
Yeah, what's your wife like? Ethan? That's a good name. And then she was like, get tricked into a nerd name.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:19
No one will ever know. Guys, man. Thank you so so much is awesome. Yeah, yeah. Thank you guys. I cannot tell you how much fun I had doing that interview with Sebastian and the crew from Spectrevision. They were so awesome. And I can I hope you can tell that we were having an absolute ball. during that interview. Afterwards, they said to us that they had never done an interview. They've never had more fun doing an interview ever. Like that was the best interview they've ever had, ever. So we're very humbled and grateful that they gave us that, that, that great review on this interview. So I hope you guys learned a lot. I'm talking to Elijah and to Noah and the Daniel and to Lisa, their, their passion for what they do came through so clearly that it inspired me. And I hope it inspires you to continue to do what you do, and not give up and to be very, very pinpoint sniper focused on what you want to do, and what kind of movies and what kind of stories you want to tell. And when you create a brand accompany whether that brand is you, as a filmmaker, a company or something along either company or yourself, you've got to understand your brand. And really focus on that brand. And your brand might be like a Steven Soderbergh who jumps genres all over the place, Kubrick did that all the time, he never made the same movie twice. So that could be the brand, you know, or you could deal with the island that does a specific kind of movie, and so on. So just keep that in mind. But don't give up. And again, it was so so so inspired, and blessed to to have them on the show. So, guys, if you're listening, Elijah, Daniel, Josh and Lisa, you guys were awesome. Thank you so so much for dropping some knowledge bombs on the indie film hustle tribe. And I also like to thank Subash and tortoises from circus Road Films, as well as Adam Bowman from three ring circus. Without him, you wouldn't be hearing the audio that you're hearing. So thank you guys so much for listening. And, again, I'm going to try to do it weekly or daily this week, get you as many of these podcasts out as possible. I got some awesome guests coming up. So stay tuned guys, right. Now I'm gonna go rest for a little bit because it's probably gonna be another crazy night here on Sundance. And it's, if you guys haven't noticed, or if you haven't heard of you haven't seen any of the photos I've been posting. It's effing cold out here it is. Blizzard stuff. I feel like I'm in the shining. That's how much snow there is outside. I literally feel it's shining. And jack nicholson is gonna come in at any moment. So it's kind of crazy. But I want to do I'm making this effort because I want to get all this stuff out to you guys. While it's going on at Sundance, so please hit me up. Let me know what you think of this episode. And all the sudden that stuff that I'm doing. Of course, the show notes are going to be at indiefilmhustle.com/130. And you'll get contact information, perspective vision for Sebastian, and everybody else that we talked about in this episode. So as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. Stay warm. And I'll talk to you soon.




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IFH 111: Sean Baker: ‘Tangerine’ How to Shoot a Sundance Hit on Your iPhone

I’ve recently been looking and studying alternative shoot methods to shoot a feature film. One name that keeps coming up is Sean Baker. His ground-breaking film Tangerine made more noise at the Sundance Film Festival than the winner that year. The film was also produced by the indie film legends, Jay and Mark Duplass.

Tangerine was shot completely on an iPhone. Yes, an iPhone. The great thing was that after his Sundance screening no one in the audience or at the film festival knew that the film was shot on an iPhone.

What I respect about Sean Baker as a filmmaker is that he didn’t focus on the technology when promoting his film, he let the story, actors and film speak for itself. If you haven’t seen Tangerine you are missing out. 

I wanted to put together a post that highlighted what can be done with minimal filmmaking tech and a great story. Sean Baker has definitely what can be done in today’s filmmaking world.

Below are a ton of videos explaining the process Sean Baker and his director of photography Radium Cheung, HKSC went through making Tangerine, as well as a bunch of videos explaining tips and tricks on how to turn your something you shot on an iPhone into cinematic gold. Enjoy my conversation with Sean Baker.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:01
So guys, today on the show, we have um, first of all, I'm really excited to have this guest on the show Sean Baker, the director of the Sundance darling tangerine, the man has shot a movie or shot a movie on an iPhone, and that was the the big, big event. He made more noise and I think the winner did at that year Sundance, which is 2015 and his ability to to make a movie look amazing, great story. Very energetic if you guys haven't seen tangerine, you've got to watch it. And he shot it all on an iPhone. And it was remarkable to watch and I really dug in deep on how how he was able to do it what he did all the technical stuff, as well as like, you know, did he have permits on the shoot all that kind of stuff, and the story behind the movie and, and what happened to him after Sundance and so on and a really an exciting interview to have with Sean. And I wanted to bring them on the show so I can show you guys that look. It's all about the story. It doesn't really matter if you have the latest render the Ravens Alexa, latest, Alexa or whatever, the next big, you know, 15k camera is it's about a story. And it's about using the camera that's probably going to use be used to tell that story. And he chose the iPhone, you know, that wasn't a no budget movie. It wasn't like he just ran out with five grand and made a movie had a budget. But he decided to shoot with the iPhone because it was the right tool for the right story at that time. And the next movie he's shooting right now, which we'll talk about is being shot on 35 millimeter. So it that's something that as filmmakers we have to understand we have to choose the right medium and the right camera for the right format. For the kind of stories we're trying to tell like Darren Aronofsky did with Black Swan and the wrestler which he saw on Super 16 millimeter and how Christopher Nolan shoots IMAX on a lot of his movies because that's the format that he likes to use for his storytelling. So I wanted to bring him on the show to really kind of show you guys what's capable of being done and Shawn is amazing gives a lot of great great knowledge bombs. This episode. So sit back and enjoy my conversation with Sean Baker. I am very grateful for our next guest, I'd like to introduce Sean Baker to the show. Thank you so much for jumping on the show, man. I appreciate it.

Sean Baker 5:14
Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 5:15
Oh, thanks, man. Thanks. I'm a first of all, man. I'm a huge fan of tangerine and Greg the bunny. But we'll get we'll get to both of those later. But first of all, I know a lot of people like to say that you were an overnight success. Which is wonderful to say. But you've been actually doing the hustle for about 15 years if I'm not if I'm if my math is correct, right?

Sean Baker 5:39
No, it's a little longer actually. Decades more like I mean, I don't want to give away exactly how old I am. But, but it's over 20 years, actually. So it's yet easily over 20 years, because I made I actually shot my first feature. four letter words and 96 which is 20 years. And so and yeah,

Alex Ferrari 5:59
And what did you shoot on when you shot that movie?

Sean Baker 6:01
We shot that on 35 millimeter.

Alex Ferrari 6:04
What does this what is this 35 millimeter you speak of?

Sean Baker 6:09
Which is such that it almost makes me cringe. I know. You're totally joking.

Alex Ferrari 6:15
Yeah, there is somebody who is listening. Yeah, like, what is this? 35 He speaks of? Is this a new camera?

Sean Baker 6:21
I know. I know. Scary. It is. But no, I actually it was weird, because at the time, I had purchased the short end off of 12 Monkeys, The Terry Gilliam film, and that must have been what like two years prior that like 94? I think so we

Alex Ferrari 6:41
Actually sitting in a classroom, they were sitting on a refrigerator for two years.

Sean Baker 6:45
Yes, yes. But, uh, or my parents freezer or something. But they were all you know, it was totally good. We never lost, we never had one problem. And two years later, we shot the film. But then it took me a while post production is always is always a problem for me. Always a problem for me. It's post production either leads me into some sort of spiral, whether mental, physical, whatever. But basically, that took me over four years to figure out the proper way of cutting that film. And but I was in my 20s. And you know, time is, is definitely a different thing in your 20s it goes by way too, way too fast. And you don't even realize it was that door? Yes. And it was during those four years, actually, that Greg the bunny was, was established and discovered and sort of fell into my lap. So it was that was happening at the same time. So But anyway, I know I just rambled but it was it's been over 20 years. Yeah, and that overnight success thing is I don't I think it's such an incredible rarity if that really is ever really does happen to somebody. I don't think there's even even Tarantino out of film before Reservoir Dogs you know, like everybody. Nobody's an overnight except

Alex Ferrari 8:00
I think the only guy that I can say that was an overnight success was Robert Rodriguez. Because yeah, cuz he literally just busted out with El Mariachi. And before that he was doing short films on VHS at home. So I think he literally right, almost an overnight success. Right? He was trying tree can you imagine that man 23 And that kind of pressure and attention and you know, the whole town chasing you. I mean, how he's survived is beyond me.

Sean Baker 8:28
Right now. It's very inspirational. It's just shows that you know, it's that hard working, proactive mentality. That's very, that's important. And, and it's what leads to I think, ultimate, you know, ultimately, exposure it just even if you have to just keep on knocking on that door. That door of the industry for 20 years, eventually they, they they, they they listen,

Alex Ferrari 8:52
You know, and that's what I that's what I preach at Indie film hustle all the time. Like guys, there's not a short game here, man. This is a long game.

Sean Baker 8:59
It's literally it's literally last man standing. You know, it really is. It is you're right. You're right. It's crazy. It's crazy. And so you really your lifestyle and your quality of living can suck for 2530 years until you finally you know and a lot of my friends who I went to high school with are are almost retiring, if not already retired. And I feel like my career is just beginning while they have made enough money over the years in banking or whatever to retire. It's really crazy.

Alex Ferrari 9:32
Yeah, no, it's it's it's it's it's a brutal. Um, we're scaring the hell out of everybody listening. Yeah, but so how did you get into the business? Why did you why did you want to get into the business in the first place?

Sean Baker 9:45
Oh, it's all the way back to first grade quite honestly, I was. You know, I was one of those kids. I was gonna be a fireman or, you know, construction worker and the next day my my mother brought me to the local library. Were they were showing, I think, from what I remember. Now, of course, it was first grade. So I'm not sure whether I'm just making some of this up or whether the memory is really there, but I think they were showing 16 millimeter short scenes from the universal monster films. So I remember sitting through the scene in which the mummy rises and gets stabbed. There was the, you know, Dracula rising for the first time and then there was of course, Frankenstein the burning mill sequence At the end of James Welles Frankenstein. And that just stuck with me it just seared right onto my you know, prefrontal cortex I was just like, pre frontal low I was like, Oh my God, that image of just the of Boris Karloff looking through that. Yeah, looking through that spinning mechanism of the mill. I just remember going home that night and saying I want to be a filmmaker. And so my parents were you know, they had the super aid equipment around because of family movies. Home Movies then a few years later VHS kicked in and I was like one of those kids like what you mentioned earlier with Robert Rodriguez like making making tons of those like a real like, and they were most of them were rip off you know, they were remakes

Alex Ferrari 11:22
That's what you do when you're starting out you you literally copy completely but then eventually you find your voice

Sean Baker 11:28
Right but there was like, you know space wars instead of Star Wars. I think some of them we didn't even like retitle them we just did Red Dawn. Okay, we're gonna make our own Red Dog. Which is an incredible like, I love I would love it

Alex Ferrari 11:43
You should actually post that somewhere shot seriously, that must be amazing.

Sean Baker 11:47
It's a time capsule because it shows the way that kids growing up in the 80s How how nuclear war and how the threat of you know a war with with Russia at the time was actually a real thing and how it was actually in our nightmares and that was something that it's so today watching it is such a completely it's mind blowing to see little 13 year old going you know, commie scum it's really but anyway so throughout the my high school junior high in high school, I did a lot of that I even went I even I was living out in New Jersey, my parents about in New Jersey, so I actually got to go to like film courses at School of Visual Arts during my high school years, and then when I got into NYU Tisch and I spent the four years there making some decent films 16 millimeter. I'm, I was proud of a few of them. I I actually didn't make a senior film because I was still sort of editing my junior film. Instead of making a senior film, I actually produced somebody else's senior film. And but during that whole time, I was just sort of, I think I was being very much influenced by a whole new way of, you know, the whole the European and in the cinema, because I I did not know much about it. Going to NYU, of course, I knew the biggies. I actually was even a I was a projectionist and a theater manager in a small little cinema that's now closed in New Jersey. And they, during the days, they showed Disney films, and at night, they showed whatever the new foreign film was, you know, so you know, you I got a little taste of that stuff. But it wasn't truly I don't think it was a focus until I was at NYU. And I discovered, you know, the French New Wave, really the front. I mean, of course, I knew about the French New Wave, but I and I had seen the classics, but I never really like it was like diving into Eric Rohmer, and really discovering that stuff. And that opened up the world to like, and then you have you had placed I don't know where where are you based?

Alex Ferrari 14:16
I'm in I'm in LA.

Sean Baker 14:18
You're in LA. Okay. In New York. And LA is so great right now in terms of, you know, different cinemas and everybody's perspectives. Oh, it's so great. It's wonderful.

Alex Ferrari 14:29
I just saw Lawrence of Arabia and 70 mil the other day. Oh, were forgot that damn thing that theater. But it was down the street and they were showing like vertigo the next day. The next week. I was like I couldn't make but they're like, do that stuff all the time here. I'm from Miami originally. So there was nothing like that down there. Really. And here like every week, there's something new like a whole Brian De Palma retrospective and you know, like, oh,

Sean Baker 14:53
Yeah, it's great. It's great. And thank God and now now you have all these, you know, archivists who are, you know, and all these blu ray labels who are making sure that the original negatives are being restored and rescan to 4k, it's so it's so it's great. It's a great time for, you know, making sure that you can see all these old classics in the proper way. But anyway, um, so in New York, New York was wonderful as well. And it still is, it's, it's, it's changed a lot. But at the time that I was at NYU, you had like, you know, Kim's video was like, the big thing where you could see almost anything you wanted to see. And then there were, of course, all these retrospective houses and there was the, there was a cinema village and Bleecker Street Cinema and which was dying, which was at the very end of its run, when I came to NYU, but it was still there. And you still had 42nd Street if you wanted to take advantage of that. Yet the last year or two of of the deuce. And then and then there was Anthology Film Archives, and that's where I've discovered I got to see like Rocco and his brothers on 35 millimeters. So that was really like, Okay, I'm going to pay attention now to the Italian Neo realism that brought me back to, you know, to seek and and then I think that by the time I graduated, I was I was really and Richard Linklater was out there and sugar Berg and I was like, You know what I'm going to try to I'm going to make one of these small personal films. And, and I happen to be lucky enough to land a job at a small publishing house right out of NYU. And that allowed me to cut my teeth on some of their industrials, which in one or two happened to be like a nice commercial, like a slick commercial. So I was able to put money aside and that's what allowed me to buy that Rostock for four letter words. And then that that happened, and so yeah, that's really the way that it

Alex Ferrari 16:59
Started up.

Sean Baker 17:00
That's yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 17:02
Now you're talking about Greg the bunny. That's, that was such a fun show, man. How did that come about? How come how did that come to being?

Sean Baker 17:08
Well, we Okay, so it was during that time where it was Dan Milano Spencer Shenoy and, and I were just basically waiting for things to happen, you know, a few years after NYU, and we didn't know exactly I was in, I had this film that I didn't know how to cut. You know, I wrote it in a nonlinear style was supposed to be sort of like a rush, Amman, sort of mystery train thing going on. But what happened was that it wasn't working. So it was taking me all these years to figure that out. And then we were all doing our odd jobs and our temp work. And I remember one night, it just happened to be that there was this Dan Molano had a little puppet sitting around that his apartment in the East Village. And I think it came from like a short film that he that CRISPR Ghosh actually was was who I co wrote, tangerine with and starlet with, he was the one who actually, he's like the fourth unofficial member of Greg the bunny, because he's actually the one who found the bunny puppet back in the day. And so, so Dan Molano, picks this thing up and starts riffing on it with it. And I have this VHS camera, and I just pick up this VHS camera, and we just start documenting him. And he just starts improvising, like you wouldn't believe. And we realized, you know, we already knew Dan was like this comic genius, but to see him put up, make a voice, you know, create this voice, and just start riffing, we're just, we're an all and we thought, why don't we put something up on Manhattan? Neighborhood network, which was public access here in Manhattan? That's awesome. Yeah, we, this is pre YouTube, you know, the way you got exposed back then got exposure. And we next thing you know, we Morris, William Morris was actually watching this stuff at the time that we watch public access. Yeah, there is. Yeah, that's they had that's how they look for fresh talent, you know, going to film festivals and watching public access.

Alex Ferrari 19:22
Back in the day back in the day.

Sean Baker 19:24
Yeah, so we, we next thing, you know, somehow through through Gil Holland, who is a independent film producer, who, you know, you look him up, he's, he's, he's done a ton of he's helped bring a ton of movies together over the years. He actually was the one who I think connected us with IFC, the you know, the, the No, not the distributor, the the actual channel UFC channel, and they asked us to do these Greg the bunny interstitials which were basically just us making fun of independent film. I mean, we were parodying independent film, so we're able to do like five to 10 minute little parodies. We did a you know, David Lynch parody, we did a blue. What is it? Any every everything you can imagine? I mean, we had like, Yeah, we had even the Godfather somehow wound up on there, even though that wasn't really an independent, but you know, we just, we, we parodied these movies and and then, that just started rolling, you know, and a few years later, you had Neil Moritz and bringing it to Hollywood. And you had, we had one year in which it was on Fox. And the year, the year that it was on Fox was, was both our best and worst year, and also it best because it got us our fan base, and we were able to, you know, we had Seth Green on the show, Sarah Silverman, Eugene Levy, and it was like, the year that just basically said, okay, at least we, the, the public knows we exist. We, I feel as if it was creatively terrible. I mean, you know, it wasn't, wasn't our vision. But it gave us the opportunity to then continue after Fox, we went back to IFC, this time, with even longer parodies with bigger budgets. And we did that for a nice two year run in like, Oh, 506. And then after that, yeah, and then 2010 and shout factory actually put out a DVD of both seasons. And then and then MTV gave us a spin off in 2010. I guess I was Wow, six years ago. But and that was a spin off with the other character by the name of Warren the eight. So basically, we had like this thing that kept me afloat and kept us afloat over the years, it was a great way of having fun practicing with improvisation comm comic improvisation, which is something that because I learned how to do that, I think how to work with my actors that way with Greg the bunny, it led to the way I work with all of my actors today in these in these features. And it was, it was a way of you know, paying rent in which we didn't have to get a nine to five it was a it was a way of just you know, we weren't getting rich, but it was basically just keeping us afloat, keeping us fresh, and also just allowing us to experiment and, and to hone our craft, you know,

Alex Ferrari 22:37
I mean, seriously, that's like the that's the filmmakers dream right there. Like you're able to do what you love. Sure, you're not living the entourage dream, as I like to call it but you're live. You're making a living, and you're making a living doing what you love to do you get to play, you get to experiment. I mean, Fincher did it in his way with commercials. So it'd be right and all those and Spike Jones and those guys, that's how they made a living. But if you can find a way to make a living creatively, my God, that's like the DRI Yeah. And then something will probably

Sean Baker 23:06
Exactly and and I feel as if, you know, there were, you know, of course, there were those years where I had to resort to you know, doing between seasons and I would go and do you know, industrial type stuff I would edit and but I always tried to keep in the industry somehow I didn't want to like just go off and do something completely outside not even related to film and TV at all. I always tried to stay even if I was editing other people's stuff or shooting stuff. I always tried to stay within the industry just so that I I felt like I was just keeping, keeping my practice up, you know,

Alex Ferrari 23:45
Keeping you keeping your skills sharp. Right. So um, so how did tangerine come to come to light, man? How did you get the idea for tangerine?

Sean Baker 23:54
Well, I So okay, so So really quickly, I'll just do this in 30 seconds after Greg the bunny came about I still said I want to make cinema I and I made I co directed this film called takeout with shuicheng XO, which was a tiny little standard definition, almost like a dogma 95 ish film here and it was in Kino Lorber put it out there. And it was like a real Neo realist little slice of life about a undocumented Chinese worker in Manhattan. That led to me saying I like this. This realm I'm working in I like, even there, you know that. There's still there's humor still in here, but I'm talking about serious issues here. And I think that that's where I want to go. That led to Prince of Broadway, Prince of Broadway. Got me a little more note. Got me some festival circuit recognition. We got to travel the world with that film that got released. Eventually Lee Daniels helped us get it out there. By by presenting it in doing a special presentation thing. So now I had takeout and I had prints of Broadway. And I think what really helped me there is that those two films, got nominated for Spirit Awards. And they sort of competed against one another in the same year. And, yes, that's what it looked it made it look to the outside, that it was like a one two punch thing, but it actually wasn't. Yeah, take out was made a couple years before it just took forever for it to get exposure. So so, you know, we we were the it was released the same year as Prince of Broadway. And I think that, that together, got me those two films together got me attention. And then at that point, thank God, you know, Ted help, came on board and helped me find financing for starlet and starlet got, you know, did its whole got released through music box, did it, you know, got its nominations and everything like that. And that actually is what led me. Well, no, that was a weird period of time there because I thought that starlet was going to open all the doors I needed to have open, you know, and I was in a place where I was like, oh, no, I don't know what's gonna happen here. Because I couldn't find the money for a bigger budget film. And Mark and Jay Duplass were told me, Hey, if you ever want to make a micro budget film with us, we love Prince of Broadway. And if you can do give us like a prince of Broadway, we would be more than happy to finance it and find, you know, to co finance it. And I and I said, Oh, I don't want to do another micro budget. These are too hard. They're sucking the life out of you. And they, they're just, they're just, you know, they're really just, I thought I made too many I've already made three, why do I have to make any more? I already have made four at that point. Why do I have to make more, but life just works. It dictated that I have to make another one, you know. So we were I remember calling mark and I'm saying I said something like, I guess I'm ready to make another one. I can't believe the budgets gonna be like, less than like, a third of what I did starlet for but Okay, here we go. And he was like, Okay, what's your idea? And I said, the center of the corner of Santa Monica and Highland. And he was like, Oh, yeah. Excellent. All right. Yeah, there you go. Let's do it. And I said, okay, but now I have to start the whole immersion process. Because with all these films, I do a lot of time, I spend a lot of time in the environment that I'm shooting, because I feel it's the only right the only way to do it. So there's that whole immersion thing I have to do and that takes months. So Chris and I had to go and just start like literally pounding the pavement and going up to people and asking them what they know about the area and etc, etc. And eventually we found my tailor and Katana Kiki Rodriguez. Kiki was introduced to us by Maya. And, and it was after it was just spending time with the both of them and their friends and hearing a ton of different stories. And finally, there was a story that Kiki told us that was semi based on a real experience in which, you know, which is the main plotline of tangerine in which a, you know, a transgender sex were finds out that her boyfriend has been cheating on her and she's off to find this cisgender woman who is part of the affair, and that was really what just stuck with us in terms of wow, that is dynamic. And it's it's also has a lot to say. And there's, there's so much to read into there. So let's do that. And, and that's really how it came about. As we got closer and closer to production and realize that unless we truly ask people to work for free completely, I would not be able to shoot on any anything, you know, any high end camera, so I can maybe shoot on one of the DSLRs. But everybody was doing that at the time and I wanted it to look different. And then then as we got closer and closer, and I realized wow, if the iPhone has now gotten to the point where it has totally acceptable video quality, and with the with a few other tools involved, I can really elevate this to a cinematic level and then that's really where it was like okay, and then it'll help us also, with working with all these first time actors and some of the non professionals and people off the street. They won't be intimidated by an iPhone. So I remember It was really that was one of the deciding factors. And I called up mark, and we started talking about this. And Mark was very supportive of it. He was like, yeah, man, do it. Let's do this. And we shot some tests so that we knew it look good. And Technicolor actually gave us a wonderful favor and allowed us to put it on their big screen over there.

Alex Ferrari 30:22
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Sean Baker 30:32
So, and when we saw that it was holding up on the big screen, we all were excited and said, Yeah, let's move forward with this. And I, I remember going to Sundance that year, thinking we were going to be one of many.

Alex Ferrari 30:49
We're on an iPhone an iPhone.

Sean Baker 30:51
Yes. And it wasn't we were like the only one which was really strange to me. So, so I'm not saying we are the first film to be shot on an iPhone, but I did that year at Sundance, we are the only film on the iPhone. And I think that that really just that first screening in the what is it? The Eccles library?

Alex Ferrari 31:13
Yeah, that's a big, that's a big ask.

Sean Baker 31:16
It's and see how big that thing is. You know, we weren't even in that one. We were in the next section. We were in. We weren't in main comp.

Alex Ferrari 31:25
Oh, you weren't a main competition?

Sean Baker 31:27
No, we are in next.

Alex Ferrari 31:29
So okay, so then the do you want, but you won Sundance didn't you

Sean Baker 31:33

Alex Ferrari 31:34
You didn't win Sundance, I think, you

Sean Baker 31:37

Alex Ferrari 31:38
You just just made the most noise.

Sean Baker 31:41
We made noise, I guess. But I mean, the next section looking back now, at that year, I'm so happy we're in the next section because like,

Alex Ferrari 31:52
Explain the next section. Explain the next section.

Sean Baker 31:55
It's just a another, I guess it's just like a, a section, the way that can has their main comp but then has all these other sidebars in a way? I guess it's it's just considered, you know, a side category that focuses, I guess, the way that somebody can look it up. But basically, I think that the way Sundance describes it is that they're, they're focusing on like, I don't know, innovation, and up and come Yes, the future of film. You know, Locarno has that section two, they call it the filmmakers of the future something so a lot of the festivals have these sections. And with this was a year in which James White was in competition, I think what else was in next? Next was really strong that year. So So I was really, you know, honored to be a part of that section. And you had never been in before. No, no, no, we was weird because we were on their radar. I just don't I think that, uh, I think what happened was that starlet was given to them too early. And that's a lesson by the way, you asked me to think about like lessons learned. That's a big, that's a big lesson. It's extremely I learned that early on, actually. You you really, really have to make sure your film is 100% percent preventable when you're presenting it for the first time to anybody to anybody. I I think that I, I unfortunately, gave them starlets at like almost a two hour cut. And it was just like, it was like this is way too long. And you know, they didn't know whether or not whether or not this film would be good or not. They had no idea so so you know, but but they did. They did at least I think I kept on their radar. And then of course mark and Jay helped out I think, yeah, I mean, you know, they're just they're their names on the film alone helped get the thing, you know, exposure? Sure. Yeah. Of course. And and Magnolia. They were the most excited about it at Sundance, and I love magnolia. You know, they put out wonderful films, they put out my two favorite films from the previous year. Force majeure. And, well, it's not one of my favorite films, but I definitely respect it necromancer. necromage Did I just say necromantic Nymphomaniac

Alex Ferrari 34:44
Yes, Laura

Sean Baker 34:44
I'm, yeah, I'm I'm Laura's Vaughn tree or is one of my favorite directors of all time. So the very fact that I'm on the same from my film is being put up by the same distributor as his stuff meant everything in the world. So I we were very excited about magnolia. and they said that they would give us a theatrical run, which was very important to me. Because with all of my films, except for my first I've had a theatrical run. And I want this to continue. You know, even though I know we're, we're really getting close to cinema in the theaters dying, I feel as if there's still, you know, there's still Yeah, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 35:23
So there's definitely magic there. Now, can you explain a little bit about the tech that you used when shooting tangerine

Sean Baker 35:30
It was it's not complicated in any way, shape, or form, it was literally the iPhone five s at the time, right? Shooting 10 ad, with an app called Filmic Pro, which is a great app, now, it's advanced along with the phone, so you can shoot 4k, you know, log on your new seven if you want. But at the time, we were shooting five s with Filmic Pro there, they had this wonderful feature, they have this wonderful feature on there in which the there's a the out, you can actually change the compression quality. So you up you can up the the quality of the compression. So it's actually it looks better than than the video you would normally get from just, you know, going into camera mode on your phone. So anyway, so there's that app that we use, then there's we use a an anamorphic adapter, not a lens, because you really you can't you have to use the iPhone lens or using an iPhone, but it's an adapter that fits over the lens and allowed us to shoot in true scope. So we were shooting 235, we stretched it out in post, Filmic Pro allowed us to shoot a 24 frames a second. And we colored it in well, I cut on Final Cut on Final Cut. And then we we colored in results. So basically, it was a very simple process. It wasn't as you know, quote, unquote, pimped out as everybody likes to think it was it was very, very simple.

Alex Ferrari 37:06
Yeah, no, I actually did some research on on how you did it. Because I was very curious. When I saw the movie I was I'm a colorist I've been a colorist for almost 20 years as well. And, you know, I was really curious. When I saw it. I was like, wow, it looks really good. And it's a very unique look, it's not something that you would get from other digital format. So I was really curious on how you did it. So I did a lot of research on how how you put the whole thing together and everyone thinks was like, Oh, it was like, you know, you spent you know, $5,000 pimping and like, no, it's no, it was a few things like you just said, yes. But But I also and I love and this is one thing, a lot of filmmakers. Since we talked to a lot of filmmakers, they're like, oh, you know, you should you know, the tangerine was shot on an iPhone. I'm like, Yes, tangerine was just shot on an iPhone. But shot that was his fifth movie. And he knew what he was doing, you know, and it's not like a bunch of guys just grabbed the phone and they just got out of film school, like, Hey, let's go make a movie. It took you know, you have to know what you're doing. And you know, it's not like you just grab the phone, like you said and adapt or the proper, proper app, things like that. So that's the thing that doesn't get explained a lot. And people just say iPhone Sundance feature, and that's all they hear. But there is a lot right. There's a lot of other stuff that you did to get what you got.

Sean Baker 38:20
Um, yeah, I mean, you know, I just I I guess that I just wanted to make the film look as good as it could look as unique as possible. And shooting those tests really allowed us to find a look, you know, and and also you shooting in Los Angeles, Los Angeles has a certain look, it really does. No matter what anyone says. Everybody every city has its every place has its own look, and it almost dictates a style. And Los Angeles dictated this orange style on us. It just simply did because of the we're shooting a lot of magic our stuff we were shooting towards. So we took advantage of that low winter sun. That low winter sun is enhanced by the pollution in the air that gives us this beautiful these beautiful orange sunsets. And so we just kept shooting that stuff thinking that it would Okay, cool, man. Are we overdoing it? No, not really. And so, you know, just kept moving forward with that. And it gave us this tangerine look. And it's part of the reason that we actually settled on that. The name on the title tangerine

Alex Ferrari 39:27
That's awesome. That's awesome. And now how many people are on your crew?

Sean Baker 39:31
Oh, it was tiny. And it was really just like my, my really close team. Yeah. Darren Dean. Shi Ching. So both of whom, you know, I've worked with before

Alex Ferrari 39:46
And they were and what were they what were they?

Sean Baker 39:48
Well, you had those two doing production. They were both producers, Darren, but then she Ching was also costume design and continuity and she was also acting And she also was the woman behind the counter at donut time. And so she had to do continuity while acting pretty insane. Then you had Christopher Ghosh who was the CO screenwriter. But he is he's the type of writer who is present on set all the time. I mean, we were, we were rewriting stuff as we were shooting, so it was important to have him there. And, and he was also doing, you know, we all had to be our, we all had to be production assistants, you know, we all had to like, go and get meals, you know, when you know, and then you had iron Strauss, who was specifically sound, and then radium, Chung, and I shot it. And that was literally it. I mean, I don't, I'm trying to wrack my brain. The actors, of course, were always helpful, you know, car and car gleon played Razmik coming in and helping us we had, you had PJ redzone. Yeah, or James red zone. And you had, of course, the girls, my Kiki, and helping us out in terms of navigating through their, their, their neighborhood and their worlds. So that was really it. I mean, like, and Mark and Jay, were incredibly hands off in terms of produce. Executive producers, Marcus and Carrie Cox, who also put money into it were extremely hands off. That it was it was really, it was this sort of, I it was, it was almost, when you're in that mode of like, almost desperation, where you're like this, this one has to get recognized, you're in this weird bubble of just, you're just like, it almost goes back to it felt like making some of those VHS films in high school, you know, we're just making it up as we're going along. And just not not making it up in terms of the story. But just like, trying to figure this thing out is with the very little money that we had. Part of the just really quickly part of the style actually just came from the energy of that area, I mean, you can look at my other work, and you can see it's much slower and much, you know, it's not as as hyperactive. And this film was, I think part of it was iPhone, and part of it was the energy of the area. It may it was just telling me to move the camera more and more and so I had my little my 10 speed, I don't know if it's tend to be but I had my bicycle on set and that was sort of the dolly. So I'd be on my bike with my with my left hand on my handlebar and my right hand holding the little stabilizer, which I forgot to mention, but that was the other tool. It was like it was a it was the tiffin smoothie made by steadycam and are made by tiffin. And basically it was this little This was before there was the internal stabilizer in the iPhone. So you needed this in order to shoot on the five s and it actually looked really good and it allowed me to get a lot of different angles and get on my bike and you know, just just go do 360s around my actors and and be very free with the camera so so yeah, yeah, that's that's really how it happened.

Alex Ferrari 43:19
Now, did you I know you just recently moved out back to the East Coast right?

Sean Baker 43:23
Only to do post production on my new film. We're here in New York we're taking advantage of the tax incentive here for post and and my girlfriend Samantha Kwan is actually in a play Viet gone which is part of the Manhattan Theatre Club so so it's a it's because we both need to be here at the same time so

Alex Ferrari 43:47
I didn't know if you knew or not that donut time is closed.

Sean Baker 43:51
I did I always thought you know what? So I very upset to hear about that.

Alex Ferrari 43:56
Yeah, I drove by the other day I was like, Well, no,

Sean Baker 43:59
I actually was trying to get the signs but we could not contact the owners and then on top of that if I had all the money in the world I would definitely make that my production office that would be awesome thing

Alex Ferrari 44:12
I know. Oh, can you imagine that? Yeah, people who don't know that corner like I've driven it a million times. And like they don't have the energy in that corner it's pretty insane.

Sean Baker 44:23
Yeah, it's weird. It's like it's it's with Prince of Broadway. I caught the the end of an era when i The film is about the West African hustlers who sell counterfeit goods in the wholesale district. Well, the wholesale district is really now like the Ace Hotel and like all this, this gentrified section of the city. They've all moved down to Chinatown. I caught the very last bit of that era. It looks like I did the same thing happened with tangerine because that area has completely changed. You have you know the donor time has closed Do you have, you know, galleries moving in there? It's a very, it's very different than it used to be. I mean, for three decades, it was a, it was almost like an unofficial Red Light District, which was not only focused on, you know, trends, gender sex workers, but also, you know, gay hustlers and cross dressers, and it was a, and that lasted all the way up to maybe like, two years ago. And then yeah,

Alex Ferrari 45:29
And that was it. No, I had this is a question I've been dying to ask you. Did you have any shooting permits? Or did you just go really the whole thing?

Sean Baker 45:37
No, we did. Actually, we did. Okay, we had permitted we permitted for different corners, and we tried to blanket permit up and down Santa Monica. We, and of course, we permitted in when we were shooting in the interior interiors of locations, we always had. permission. The only thing that we stole was the bus in the subway.

Alex Ferrari 46:04
Okay, because that was just too expensive to get the permits.

Sean Baker 46:07
Yeah, we didn't have the we Yeah, insurance would not, would not handle that. So we Yeah, I guess these few years later, we can admit that we still have stuff.

Alex Ferrari 46:21
Don't Don't Don't be Don't Don't be ashamed. It's okay.

Sean Baker 46:24
I but I also always want to emphasize that, you know, it's, it's I can, as a as an independent filmmaker, I, there's a responsibility, I have to tell other filmmakers, you really have to do what's safe. So it's about safety. You know what I mean? Yeah, especially. So

Alex Ferrari 46:44
That's why I was I was dying to ask you, because you're like, it's one thing to kind of, like shoot in someone's house that's really controlled. And you know, you, you know, not to get a permit, maybe, but like, right on the street on that corner, or anywhere within a two mile radius of that area. I was just, I was wondering, I'm like, like, did they really just run and gun it? Or did they actually do it? Yeah.

Sean Baker 47:06
It was a, it was a combination. I mean, you know, we didn't let people know, we were shooting. So therefore, you had a lot of people in which were made, you'd have to chase them down after the fact and get their releases, because that's required in the United States. It's not required. It's not required in another country, or some other countries. You know that right? I mean, like, you can go to, yeah, you can go to Taiwan, you can go to, you can go to Korea, and you can shoot on the city street and not have to get anybody's permission, because it's a public space. That's the way it should be. But you know, we have a very litigious, you know, society, and we're all looking to cash. You know, it's just ridiculous. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Alex Ferrari 47:48
Unless you're a documentary documentary, then that kind of opens it up a little right.

Sean Baker 47:52
But then, of course, then there, we've reached the point where we're blurring the line. You see, I like to say that I make hybrid films, which you know, blurs the line between narrative and Docu. So where do you then how do you then say, well, this day, I'm shooting in a docu style. So therefore, I think I should be allowed to get away with certain things. And you know what I mean, I just faced this with my, with my new film in which there was this constant. It was a union film. And which changes everything, by the way. Yeah, but when, but, but when you're shooting, and then you see somebody on the street, and you're like, that person looks amazing. I wonder whether that person is a character and you start talking to that person. And if that person like, is interesting enough, you're like, oh, wow, I should just make and I should just improvise a scene right now with this guy, or this girl, and then you do it. But if you're doing it, like, if you're doing it, under sag rules, or under union rules, you have to Taft Hartley, that person, you have to suddenly pay it before that, before you even turn the camera on. And if you agree that you're going to be shooting that person, and that person is going to speak, you have to give that person whatever the day rate is, which is like $900 That would be an impossible way to make the film's I've made up to this point, like, you simply can't do that you have to, you know, there should be another there should be another way of working in which people can, you know, you almost contest the waters and then agree whether or not that person if that person makes it into the final cut, then the Taft Hartley that person, that's the way it should be. There has to be a way now that we've actually moved into a place where we are making these hybrid films, we have to figure out new ways of you know, of making them like the legality of making them and they end the the logistics of making them they that has to change. It really does because it was incredibly frustrating on my last film, where I was suddenly felt as if I was unable to make, I wasn't able to do what I've done before. And the whole reason I'm making this film and have the opportunity to make this film is because of the films I've made before. So suddenly, I'm in a place where I'm like, Hey, thanks for me give me so much more money. And I but I can't give you the same product. Because we are now you can, you know,

Alex Ferrari 50:20
No, no, I agree. No, I agree with you. 100%. And yeah, I just finished doing my first feature. And it was great. Oh, thanks for that. Appreciate it. And I tell you, you know, we we kind of ran running Gunda yeah, there's just no, there's no way like, you know, when you're at a bigger level, and you have bigger budgets. Yeah, I'm all about it, man. But when you're just hustling from the street level up, literally, with tangerine, from the street. You know, yeah, you kind of just have to have some sort of freedom. And I know that unions are starting to work a little bit more with with indie filmmakers, because so many of them are just leaving. They're just like, You know what, I'm screwed. I'm just gonna go elsewhere to make my movies and all that runaway, all that runaway productions happening, especially here in LA, but it's just sad to be a balanced man. Like you can't expect there has to be you can't expect guys like you and me to have to pay the same thing that Avengers does. Right? You know, that's true. It just doesn't make any sense. But now we brings up a good point. Have you? Did you do any improvisational improv is improv in tangerine? Or was it all scripted?

Sean Baker 51:26
Oh, no, there's there's a ton of improv. There always is with everything I do. I asked for improv. Improv takes. So there will be some scenes will be very tightly scripted. But even if they are, by the second or third take, I'm saying hey, why don't you put it into your own words? You know what I mean? Like, don't memorize this stuff. As long as we are getting the point across and we're hitting the beats. That's all that matters where it's like, if we get from point A to point B, that's all that really matters. And so yes, there was improvisation

Alex Ferrari 52:03
How much and how much of it made it the final cut? In your opinion, percentage wise, that was improv versus scripted?

Sean Baker 52:08
Okay, it's really hard to say but maybe like, see, it's hard to say because after a while, I will blur suddenly telling them Yeah, I was intentionally telling them don't learn this line. But basically, what you're saying is that you have to, you know, you're mad at this person, because of this reason, you know, so it's giving them the general sense. I have to say, though, that Kiki, and Maya, they delivered some of my favorite. Well, and no, the entire cast Mickey O'Hagan, who played you know, Dinah in the film, they have, each one of them has a diamond, you know, each one of them has gold in some of their improv. Kiki, one of her lines was, she comes from the hills, she's a hillbilly, you know, that that was her. That was her, Maya Taylor saying, you know, you know me so well, don't you? That was an improvised line, or you see right through me, don't you that and that line is so important, because, you know, critics have picked up on that, and the trans community actually has picked up on that line as it being very, a very important line for the film because it's for once, you know, the, the, the exchange is being seen through the eyes of the sex worker instead of the, you know, the customer and and so therefore, it's, it's aligned like that, that I just have to say, thank you so much to my actors for because they brought something to the table that not that elevated the entire film, you know what I mean? The entire experience so, so that's why I love improv and that it all goes back to Greg the bunny, you know, it all goes back to Dan Molano being such a freakin genius and me being like, how do we capture this genius? You know, how do we how do we write? Right? We work how to. And so over the years, I've figured out a way of working with my actors, where I'm basically part of the conversation, I just cut myself out, you know, so you'll sometimes like in starlet where they're all on the all the, all the three of them are on the couch, smoking weed, and just smoking about talking about whatever. I'm sort of like the fourth part of that conversation, but I'm just behind the camera. And I'm sort of, like if I hear something that I, I think could develop into something into a one liner or something funny, I'll say, Hey, let's go in this direction. And then oh, can you repeat that line, but this time, give me this at the end of that line? You know, so we're basically helping one another, figure out the best way of delivering the material and and I think that that's really just like, improv is what makes me the most excited especially because I'm the editor. I'm the editor and editing is so monotonous and it's it puts me into a really bad state. But if I if I can at least

Alex Ferrari 55:06
No, no, no do any bad. I've been a cutter cutter for 25 years did I know which

Sean Baker 55:12
Okay, you know, yeah, yeah, it's really, it's a lonesome place. So it's the only way when you're there, though, you want to be excited and you want to be entertained. So a lot when I get when I have like five takes, and they're all slightly different because of the improv that keeps me thinking and keeps me awake. It's not just about, Oh, does the continuity work on this shot? No, it's about like, where is the best material. And it's actually like rewriting while you're in post production, because you're given a lot more to write with, you're given like, you know, if five ingredients instead of the one ingredient being repeated five times, you know what I mean? So

Alex Ferrari 55:52
No, no, absolutely. Absolutely. I love working with actors to improv and, and that whole storytelling process. Absolutely. It just, it makes it much more fun, and lively. It keeps you awake. Like you said, it does keep you awake, because I've edited movies that are like, the same, like five takes of the same exact lines being said, just with different infant infant, you know, like how the face looked at this and that, and that just becomes monotonous. But when you have five different takes, and then trying to cut those, by the way trying to cut those with other coverage, when they're not the same. That's yeah, becomes even more fun.

Sean Baker 56:23
Yeah, that's the hard part is very hard. Yeah, very hard. But you know what, you figure it out. And thank God that audiences will accept, like jump cuts, these days, they'll accept jump cuts, and there's a certain style of filmmaking that leans towards the Docu style, which will allow you to like to get away with a lot more stuff than you would in then you know, in then just traditional lockdown camera stuff. Even though I do have a lot of lockdown camera, I really do have a lot of lockdown camera on the new film. But I had a lot of lockdown camera. It's just you don't think about it. But I actually do have locked down cameras in starlet and tangerine. And these days, you can play with the you can actually use matting and comping to help you, you know, fix problematic scenes, you know by like by by, you know, splitting the screen in half and using the earlier part of the second take on the right side and using another part of another take on the left side. You know, that sort of thing. If you have a lockdown camera, you can do that. Yes. And I've been doing a lot of that stuff that actually that that opening scene of tangerine is actually a lot more complicated than just a shot reverse shot. It's actually there's a lot of that stuff going on in there. You just don't see it. You don't see it. Actually, yeah, I had to play with the traffic. Because the traffic's going in every which direction if I just you know, but But on that corner. In order for it to work continuity wise, I had to do a lot of that cheating in post.

Alex Ferrari 58:10
That's awesome. Now, can you tell me a little bit about your Sundance experience? Because I know a lot of people listening it's that is the holy grail that is the top of the mountain for a lot of filmmakers, though I know, you know the reality it isn't. But that is such a notch on the belt. Like how was your experience going there? Because obviously, this is the first time you were there. Sure you had J and Mark's name on the movie, which got you a little bit of attention. But at the end of the day, if the movie is not good, it doesn't really matter. So before the first screening and after the first screening, I'd love to hear your experience because I know I read that Steven Soderbergh prior to sex lies and videotape in 1989. B, he literally was sitting alone at that one diner that's on Main Street that everyone is at. And nobody even knew who the hell he was. And then the second it was really, he there was just a, just everybody. Well, he was a rock star. He became a rock star all of a sudden,

Sean Baker 59:02
Yeah. Well, I don't know. I don't know if that's actually a mic. Listen, I'm neurotic. I'm crazy. So it's like the whole time it was actually not the best experience in the world in terms of, you know, I was just, there's a lot of babysitting going on because, you know, you're looking after your crew and your actors and you're hoping everybody is having a good time and not freezing. And, you know, there's there's a lot of that just logistics of going through the week. I actually, you know, you don't want to party too hard either because you have business to do so. So a lot of it was just about anticipation of who's going to buy the film and for how much and then for me looking back at that time, it's a it is a little bit of a blur, but what I do remember the most significant part of the of the whole week For me, was being in the room with Magnolia with Mark, with my agent and with Josh Braun from submarine, which is a sales agent agency that just and just listening to Magnolia give us their pitch about what how they would release the film, hearing mark and the others talk about what, what we would like. And that was really like, okay, good. I'm learning something here.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:32
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Sean Baker 1:00:42
I've been in the industry for over 20 years, but this is fresh to me, I'm learning how a film is acquired, and relate and how the relationship is formed between even though I've done this before, this was the Sundance one, this is the Sundance experience, because you know, I sold starlet on a Vimeo link, it showed it showed at South by Southwest did all right there critically. But music box didn't even see it there. They they saw it on a Vimeo link. So this is a very different experience. And that was what I that was the takeaway, where I'm like, this is very interesting to see the way that Mark do plus works, the way that things are negotiated. That was really great. And so the rest of the time was really just about you know, doing all that press, which is, you know, it's it's, it's, it's fine. It's fun, you're getting exposure, and

Alex Ferrari 1:01:38
Yeah, you opened and it opened up some doors for you obviously.

Sean Baker 1:01:42
It did it did it. It actually, you know, led to, to, to me being able to find financiers for the newest film, which is the first time I'm working, you know, above a million dollar budget. And it's also just, it's also was it allowed me to, you know, to work with a movie star, you know, like, you know, Willem Defoe is is, is is an incredible actor. He's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:16
So it talks about you, did you tell us about your new project?

Sean Baker 1:02:19
It's called the Florida project. That's what it's literally called. It's not the working title. It's called Florida project. And

Alex Ferrari 1:02:26
I'm assuming you see, I know

Sean Baker 1:02:27
Some people, some people didn't even know that until like the wrap party. They're like, what are you gonna call this? And I'm like, What are you talking about? Florida?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:36
Did you shoot a Florida? Yes, we did. Where did we just shoot?

Sean Baker 1:02:40
Okay, well, here's this. Here's the crazy and very sad part. We started shooting less than a week after the shooting at the pulse club. You know, we were shooting in Orlando and Kissimmee. And so we had that going on that that week, we had the little kid who was unfortunately killed by the alligator. Yeah, that other shooting. I mean, it was a very strange summer there. It was a very, you know, and then they just got hit by the hurricane last week. So it's such a it's that area, why not had a break?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:16
This is why I left. I mean, it was a rough it. Yeah. A lot of stuff happens in Florida, unfortunately. Yeah,

Sean Baker 1:03:21
Florida really is I mean, it it. I looking back, it was like a trauma for us. I mean, we really is a very traumatic experience. I mean, but we were shooting we also put ourselves in that situation. We put ourselves in the dead, you know, in the in the middle of the incredibly hot summer in the middle of Central Florida. Right.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:45
Mr. 30 pounds.

Sean Baker 1:03:47
Yeah, yeah, we're shooting 35 millimeter. We're using moat primarily kids, because it's like a little rascals movie. So you have like kids 35 millimeter sun, you know, and then plus all the other craziness going on. It was we just like set ourselves up for just an incredibly hard shoot. But in the end, I think we got something I'm in post production now. So we'll see. I mean, I know that the performances are incredible. I really am very happy with my cast.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:21
Now, how did you work like and this is, you know, directed to Director How would you direct William Defoe, like how do you do that? How is that conversation?

Sean Baker 1:04:30
He is, you know, most of the time, just letting him do what he does best, you know, just he has he and he brings his, his, you know, masterful, you know, instincts to the table. So he, you know, 99% of the time we're on the same page where he already he understands the character, he understands the scene. And it's more about just tweaking and when When I'm when there was something that I thought we weren't on the same page about, it's simply a conversation. And the great thing about Willem is that he's such a nice guy. He's like, the nicest guy in the whole world. So I never I, of course, I was intimidated, but it wasn't that much intimidation. And plus, on top of that, it was just such an incredible as I said, incredible heart credibly hard shoot, that there wasn't a lot of time it was, it was like, We got to get this right right now. So let's just figure it out. And we Dessau would figure it out and move on. He was just, you know, he, just an incredibly nice guy who was very easy to work with and who wanted us to experiment. You know, he almost I bet he almost wish we shot it on the iPhone. So there was more experimentation. But, you know, we're shooting on 35. We're suddenly like, you're, you're really, you're almost down to two setups an hour when you have Yeah, yeah, yeah. When you have an iPhone, which is 100 setups an hour if you want it to be so it's a very different way of making a film.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:15
Why did you choose 35, by the way,

Sean Baker 1:06:20
Because, ultimately, I feel it's a project by project. It's on a project by project basis for this film, I felt because of the subject matter. And because of the environment that I really wanted that cellulite look, I mean, look at I there's i i love the way that tangerine looks on the iPhone, I feel that there's no other way we could have made that movie for that budget. And and even if we had a multi million multi million dollars to make tangerine, I still, you know, feel as if the iPhone was the proper way of doing it. But that doesn't apply to Florida project. I'm Florida project, I needed a slicker look, I truly feel as if you know, the organic nature of celluloid is so incredibly beautiful. And that I wanted to capture that I wanted to capture the Floridian colors, etc, etc. Plus, on top of that there is another thing that I think a lot of filmmakers aren't talking about need you we really should be talking about this stuff. More like the way that Nolan does. And Tarantino is that we have to hold on to this medium. It's very, we're letting business tell us how to make our art where we're, you know, we're having the industry say, oh, it's easier and cheaper to shoot on digital. So therefore, guys do that. Well, that's horrible. I mean, that's not we're filmmakers. First and foremost, we should choose our canvas. You know what I mean? This is not we shouldn't have it dictated upon us. And, and I think that, you know, we cannot lose celluloid. I mean, if we should have that choice to shoot on it if we want to, and if we have the money to do it. And I think that we have to fight to do that. And there there are filmmakers out there, like, you know, James Ponsoldt. And, and Ty West who are saying, Look, I'm gonna, I'm shooting on 35. You know, you are I'm not making the movie. And that's how I'm, that's how I'm starting to go where it's like, there will be reasons for me to shoot digitally. But, but if I can shoot on 35, I'm going to because ultimately, the image is an incredible image that you really cannot, no matter what anyone says you can not imitate with digital. Not yet. You can't and not really. Absolutely, yeah. So that's one of the reasons and then also, there's that archival thing that nobody's talking about either. That, you know, even if you shoot digitally, I feel as if you should do a film out now you can say well, where will I find the $50,000? I don't know. I don't know. I'm trying to find $50,000 to do a film out on takeout because I feel that takeout is a film that deserves it and and it would look the way we really wanted it to look if I was able to do a film out but film out costs you know so much money so right you know, it's it's it's this weird sort of this is just a dilemma that we've always been having to face that we're we're working in the most we're working with the most expensive art form, which yes, you know, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:09:28
Yeah, I know I trust man. No, I wish we could just grab a piece of paper and a pen and draw something or or write a song or play an instrument and you and you're good but no, we we've picked the pretty much the most expensive form of artwork maybe other than an architect.

Sean Baker 1:09:43

Alex Ferrari 1:09:45
So um, so last two questions. I asked my all my guests the same two questions. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in life or in the film business?

Sean Baker 1:09:59
The little longest to learn? Well, I Oh, god, that's a hard one. Because see, I one of the lessons that I teach, that's a hard one, I, one of the lessons that I learned early on, but I'm still having to always remind myself is is just to just just to do it, just to be proactive, and don't wait for anybody to tell you when or when not to do something, I think Amen. I think that that's the lesson that even to this, to this day, I have to remind myself that that's how I, you know, I got to make my last couple of films because I made those first three on my own. Even when people told me oh, you should wait until you know, you get a backer, you know, you should wait until whatever until you're working. And I and I, and I didn't wait. And because I didn't wait. It's because and that's why I'm, you know, able to, to finally make somewhat of a living in this industry. So I would say that's a lesson that, that you're always going to be shot, people are going to pressure try to pressure you out of it. So that's a lesson you constantly have to, you know, keep relearning and keep, you know, being on top of that, you know, you just really have to be your own motivator and, and, and really your own cheerleader.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:39
No, no, no question about it. I couldn't agree with you more, my friend. It's yeah, I was the I forgot one of my guests said this that I know, it was actually Robert Rodriguez, I was listening to an interview he did, or lecture he did. And he says that karma. The universe conspires to help you once you become active. The thing about it is sitting down that you can't there's no opportunity for the universe to give you anything. Like it's not gonna like you know, Mark Duplass is not going to knock on your door and go here. Here's the money. Let's go to Sundance, it doesn't work that way. Like you have to get that momentum going and just do whether it's good or bad. That's indifferent. Just did something good will come out of it. Exactly. And what are the three of your fit was three of your favorite films of all time? In no particular order?

Sean Baker 1:12:25
Oh, gosh, yeah. This is funny, because I get asked that a lot. And it's always the list always changes show, I realize that like, it just happens to be and you know, in October of 2016, I guess the films that mean the most to me right now are I would say Lars von Trier is the idiots that really hasn't changed actually, for quite a long time. Because, yeah, I consider it extremely see. That's where, like when people say, Well, wait a minute, you're talking so passionately, about 35 millimeter, but that film is a standard definition video film. You know, it's like, that's where I'm also at the same time, I always have to remind myself that ultimately, it is not about you know, the, the format, it's about the content. That was something that that's a lesson that probably I'll never learn. So much so, so yes, it is that film and then I would say a march of the wooden soldiers, the Laurel and Hardy, you know, comedy? Yeah, yes, awesome. Babes in Toyland. I just I love that film so much. And I consider that comedy one of the, you know, it's hardly aged at all. It's almost 100 years old. And oh, my gosh, God, this is a heart is so hard. I can't believe I would have to say Harold and Maude.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:59
No, yeah, that's been on that's been on the list of many of my guests.

Sean Baker 1:14:03
Yeah. Yeah. It's hard to deny it. So

Alex Ferrari 1:14:07
Harold, the mod is an awesome, awesome movie. Now what is now where can people find you online?

Sean Baker 1:14:11
I am. I'm on Twitter at. Let me see what my handle is. I think it's at littlefilm. It's L.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:20
I'll put the link in the in the show notes. Don't worry about that.

Sean Baker 1:14:24
Thank you. Yeah, no, thank you. Yeah, and I have a just to say, one of those professional pages on Facebook if you want to want to find me there. And but most of my stuff that I get out there is through Twitter, and it's really just a lot of like, it's pretty geeky. just me talking about like what blu rays I've watched.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:52
But um, well, that's why I met on Twitter as well. So Oh, there you go. Yeah, yes, it does work. You know your mate. I'm still never, I never am shocked at who I can connect with on Twitter. It's fascinating. I've gotten so many amazing guests and talk to people and just connected with people that it was Twitter. It's just through a tweet.

Sean Baker 1:15:15
I, I actually think that social networking and just the internet in general is such an amazing new way of, of work. Also, if you can apply if you can figure out a way of, you know, using it, exploiting it to, to as much as you can in film. You know, I cast my new film. Well, I did a lot of casting with tangerine, through things like you know, Instagram and Twitter and the snap. But the the new film, Florida project has one of the leads who I cast through through Instagram.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:54
That's insane. Yeah, it's, it's pretty, it's great.

Sean Baker 1:15:58
Yes, she never acted before, but I knew her personality was was incredibly interesting. And she had the right look, and she was funny. And next thing you know, she's holding around against Willem Dafoe.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:11
And that's the way the world works, my friend. That's the way the world works. Shawn. Matt, thank you so much for taking your time of your busy schedule. I know you're in post right now. So thank you for jumping on the show and dropping some knowledge bombs, man.

Sean Baker 1:16:22
Oh, thank you so much.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:24
And there you have it, guys. I told you, Sean was awesome. I was so happy to have him on the show. Because I was dying to ask him a whole bunch of questions about how he shot this thing. And I think we got into a pretty deep into into how he made tangerine. I'm excited about his new movie as well. And if you want any of the show notes, head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash 111. And in there, you'll also have a complete explanation of all the gear he used iPhone filmmaking stuff, and all sorts of cool stuff. So definitely check out the show notes on that one at Indie film hustle.com forward slash 111 Don't forget to head over to free filmmaking podcast.com And leave us an honest review of the show. It really really helps us out a lot guys i I know you're busy. I know you're right now but right now listen, if you if you're on a you're on mute right now, you're in a train somewhere, or you're sitting around waiting, listening to this at a coffee shop, just take a second, go over to your iTunes, leave us a review. Leave us a good review. It really helps me out a lot, man, I really, really, really appreciate it. And don't forget to head over to free film book calm. That's free film book calm and download your free filmmaking audiobook from Audible. And that helps support the show and keeps us going my friends. So thank you again, so much. I've got a lot of cool stuff coming up for the holidays, got some new stuff I'm cooking up. And I'll give you updates on this as Meg as I get them. So oh and by the way, I'm going to be heading over to AFM next week. I'm going to be there around on Monday. And I'm going to be checking things out over at AFM. I've never been to AFM. So I'm really curious about AFM and see what all the hoopla is about. So I'm going to be checking that out. And then I am going to also be at Sundance this year guys. I'm going to make that announcement. Now I am planning to be at Sundance regardless if Meg gets into Sundance or slam dance. This year, I am going to be heading over there. And I'm going to be doing some live podcasting. I'm going to be doing some pictures videos streaming the whole ball of wax while I'm there. So keep an eye out for all of that stuff. And you'll be able to see the Sundance experience through the indie film hustle lens, which is what I hope hopefully we'll be with Meg in one way shape or form that would be awesome. But But either way, I'm going to go over there and I haven't been there in close to a decade. So I can't wait to go there and share that all that stuff with you guys as well. So thanks again guys, and keep that hustle going. keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.




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