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IFH 494: Adventures in Bad Distribution Deals with Heather Turman

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I am delighted to have as a guest on the show today, Filmmaker, comedian and podcaster, Heather Turman. She’s the creator and writer of the feature film, Stuck, starring Joel McHale, Heather Matarazzo, and SNL’s Chris Redd. And the host of the Indie Women Podcast on Youtube.

Darby finds herself in trouble with the law and is sentenced to house arrest. Now she must serve 30 days in the home she used to share with her ex-boyfriend, which he now shares with his new fiancee.

Heather has appeared in films like La-la Land, or the 2019 TV series, The Room Actors: Where are they now

At age 18, Heather moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion for entertainment. And she’s since built a successful career as a comedian, writer, and producer — one that has taken her touring to over 75 cities across the USA.

She is an LA Westside Showdown two times top-finalist and has appeared on the FOX series Laughs and the Seed & Spark original Everything Is Fine! stand-up comedy special.

She is most known for writing, producing, and directing the hilarious original web series, Conversations with Future Stars which you should check out.

Heather shared with me in the interview that she discovered the IFH podcast at the beginning of the pandemic and binged every episode. Now, this is particularly special to me that she recognized and enjoyed the wealth of knowledge the show provides. So, having to sit down with her is an absolute full-circle moment.

I was thrilled to have had such a raw and transparent conversation about her experience with her.

Enjoy my hilarious conversation with Heather Turman.

Alex Ferrari 0:14
I like to welcome to the show Heather tournament. How you doing, Heather?

Heather Turman 0:18
I'm well thank you, Alex, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:20
I'm better we are seeing the others. I think we're on the other side of this thing. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel free, I don't have to wear my full hazmat suit anymore to go shopping, which is nice. And other of air, we were talking about how you found me that you discovered my podcast at the beginning of the pandemic, and you've listened to you said all of them. And I said, That's a lot. That's a lot of episodes. And you said

Heather Turman 0:48
it was a long pandemic? Yeah, I started going on walks, you know, every morning with my, you know, overly ridiculous mask. And, you know, it's sort of start my day. So I dug it and became a fan. Thanks for doing this. What a great, just what a great resource and inspirational, I think, you know, tool for everybody. So thank you.

Alex Ferrari 1:10
I appreciate that I appreciate I do what I can I try to I try to help as many people as I can many filmmakers as we can. And we're going to talk about why we have to protect them sometimes from our business and in our conversation. But before we do that, how did you get into the business?

Heather Turman 1:25
Oh, man, I moved to Los Angeles blindly at 18 right out of high school, not knowing I'm one of those I didn't know, I knew I wanted to be an entertainment. But I came from Michigan. And you know, and at the time. I remember I got a book that was like, you know how to break into Hollywood off of like, Amazon was pretty new, like this was 2005. And so you know, it was still like digital media was just sort of starting. And this book did not prep me at all. For me, it was

Alex Ferrari 1:55
shocking for me. Shocking. No,

Heather Turman 1:57
exactly. It was awful. So I came here blindly. And I knew I wanted to write and and make films but and just be involved. So I had, you know, got started, I actually booked a commercial and met a fellow Michigander on it. And we produced a short film together in 2006, called subdivision and so that was sort of my first foray into producing my own content. But then I fell into stand up comedy. And so I spent the last several years I mean, the last decade really, you know, touring the country and that kind of thing, but in the middle of it, produced a web series, and a couple other short films, and then come 2000 in 2015, my writing partner and I had sold a feature script, but it didn't get made. So you know, it's that thing where it's like, well, this doesn't do anything. For me. All it does is give me a check, you know,

Alex Ferrari 2:50
which, by the way, big accomplishment. So that's not

Heather Turman 2:55
Yeah, no life goal achieved. Absolutely. And it's still my favorite script. It's just that sad thing, you know, the thing that most script that was most proud of sold, and it hasn't been made. So there was this feeling of, you know, I did this really difficult thing, but my name is not on the screen. So people don't can attribute my work, you know, to me, and so, I said to my writing partner, let's write a one location that we can shoot ourselves. And so we did that. And we produced we wrote and produced stuck, which we partnered with the director, she came on board as a producer as well. Julian Arman, Dante, and yeah, and that's sort of where since then, you know, it's been it's been more filmmaking drama with a distribution world and all that stuff. But But yeah, I guess I've just been in been in the industry, my whole adult life. And

Alex Ferrari 3:52
yeah, that's awesome. So I can only imagine 18 coming from Michigan to LA. I'm sure that you did you find. Sure. No,

Heather Turman 4:02
nobody was predatory. Nobody was all sorts of stuff.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Nothing. Everything was I'm sure fine. They gave you work right away. Soon, you were paying all your bills comfortably. I'm sure it just it was a smooth. So yeah, smooth transition.

Heather Turman 4:16
Didn't you know, slave away in restaurants at all?

Alex Ferrari 4:21
Exactly. I came to LA probably three years after you did, but I'd already been in the business for 10 years, at that point. So I came a little bit more prepared. Not much more, but still enough that I was able to hit the ground running, but still it's Oh, God, if I would have killed a team they would have would have destroyed me. Yeah, yeah. I feel lucky to still be standing. No, I want to ask you something. Do you believe in today's world that you need to if you're going to be in the film business? I mean, LA is LA. It always will be LA, I think for people outside. I mean, I came from Miami, you know, so we're both From small markets, if you will, in the film industry markets. So I always felt that when I got here a year here was like five years there for me, it was like almost like dog years, in the amount of experience exposure to good and bad to the industry. Do you feel that is still the case today? Or could you go to Atlanta or a Vancouver or you know, other Louisiana or other Austin, other areas and still be able to build up that career?

Heather Turman 5:31
I absolutely think you can do it anywhere now, especially because of in addition to all the advancements, technology's made in the last 1015 years, but the pandemic has, you know, sort of exacerbated that aspect of it. Like, it's, I guess that's kind of the wrong word, because that's sort of making something worse, but it's, it's, it's made it so that, you know, everything's through all meetings are like this. I mean, many,

Alex Ferrari 5:59
it's more, except this is much more acceptable. Like, I've been recording podcasts like this for a long time. And people were like, Oh, god, it's on zoom, or it's on Skype. It's not, it's not. And now, it's on the news. And in documentaries, it's it's not very acceptable to do this. Yeah. And before, you really need to be you need really to be in the room with an agent, or, or with talent, where now it's somewhat more acceptable early.

Heather Turman 6:25
Yeah. And I feel like slowly but surely, you know, you're seeing with the capabilities that independent filmmakers have in other markets, and how much cheaper it is, you know, California, of course, has employment laws and permit laws and all these things that make it so incredibly costly for on the independent level, it's it those laws are there for big Hollywood, you know, and it's great on that level, we people need to get paid fairly when we're talking about millions and, you know, millions of dollars, but when we're talking about an independent project, it just, it becomes so much more difficult here that it's unreal, you know. And so, as time goes on, I become more and more interested in the cost in the concept of, you know, going to a small town and then making films there, you know, because it's just, it's more possible. I feel like these days than ever before, without feeling like you're not at all connected, you know? Yeah. And also,

Alex Ferrari 7:22
I think when you're outside of LA, people are much more excited about filmmaking, you know, what do you want for free? Exactly. When I shot my last film, I shot at a park city during the festive Sundance, I was shocked at how how many people like all the businesses were still excited. I'm like, oh, you're shooting a movie here? Yeah, well, would you I was shocked. I was shocked. Because I was like, oh, there must be over it because of Sundance. But they're not they were super excited. And, and shooting outside of La because in LA, they're like, okay, even the local deli is gonna go I need I'm gonna need $1,000 for locations for five hours. Like they already know there's, here's the contract, they already have the setup. Like they're all sharp about

Heather Turman 8:02
Absolutely. Anybody who anybody here who has any sort of property or business at home, they are very hip to the concept that that is a filming location. And they will absolutely make sure to exploit anyone who comes to them looking for at least shoot. So I

Alex Ferrari 8:20
had a friend of mine who has a house down the street, and he's like, Oh, yeah, this this new show on this new cable show wants to rent my house. I'm like, Well, how much are they paying you? They're like, Oh, it's 10,000 for two days. I'm like, so that's their, that's their line. That's their barometer. So now when you show up the level, I got paid 10,000 I'm like, that's our budget for the film.

Heather Turman 8:42
Which is it's so interesting that you you know, you say that because that was we when we went to do stuck, it took place in a home. So we needed somebody to give us their their suburban looking home for 10 days for nothing. I mean, how do you how do you? So I know I mean, I went door to door and I knocked and and face to face. Yep. And we found a house and they 300 bucks a day.

Alex Ferrari 9:08
Okay, so it was there was something there was some some

Heather Turman 9:11
jumping, and their child was an actor. So that helped. We were like, we'll throw our part in the movie. That's

Alex Ferrari 9:18
and seen all right, there we go. That's, that's how you do it. No one. My first film I made was all in LA, but it was just my house. My actors houses like it was all friends, you know, friends or acquaintances that we knew that would give us their house for the day or, or a couple days or something. But that's brave. You just went knocking on doors.

Heather Turman 9:39
Yeah, we did. We definitely did. And we had had another house that we really liked. And the woman was totally interested. And, you know, we even we brought the director to look at it and the DP and all that stuff. And then when we whip out the contract, and we talk about money, she's like, Oh, no, like absolutely not for $300 a day. I was thinking more like 10 grand a day. So she knew the neighborhood. Of course, it turned out we had chosen it was it's like in Studio City. And it turned out to be one of the most sought after neighborhoods. Because of the look of it, it really looks like suburban America in the center of LA. And so they do all kinds of commercial shoots there. So all the people in the neighborhood were very aware. And the thing that gave us their home for 300 bucks had moved from Texas, like a year before. So they hadn't been approached yet. You know, so it's really just lucky. You know,

Alex Ferrari 10:36
they weren't, they weren't hip. They weren't hip to it yet. It's but but you're outside of La you don't get those problems outside of LA. They're just so they'd be so excited to like see a camera and a crew and didn't even have to have a star in it. Just any like, that's just an exciting. And we as filmmakers, we forget that there is an excitement for people like when we first saw film set. I got it. Oh, yeah, it was a huge thrill. But we're so like, yeah, it's another day at the office.

Heather Turman 11:02
Exactly, exactly. But it's true. And I'm out of out of state in a small town. Not only is it not only are people excited, but they're just like, Yeah, do you need extras? You know, do you need What do you need? I need food. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 11:15
we'll cook for you. Oh, yeah. Do you need Do you need a police department? We up? Yeah, I'll call my boy up. And he'll come over and yeah, it's, it's it's pretty. It's pretty insane. Now tell me about your film stuff. So you told me that you kind of put it all together in one location? How did it come to be? And how did you like, put it all together?

Heather Turman 11:32
So I'm Dave and I, David, David Michael. He's my writing partner. And he also produced with me as well. I approached him and said, Let's write in one location. So we did have a few other locations, which of course, were difficult ones a doctor's office and courthouse. I mean, a courthouse is hard. But we found a museum in culver city that has a that has a

Alex Ferrari 11:59
pastor standing

Heather Turman 12:02
a standing courtroom and so 1500 bucks, you know, and then I have a friend of medical sales, so she hooked us up with the doctor's office. And so 4500 bucks for locations. You know what I mean? Which is pretty, I mean, that's incredible, you know, in LA. Yes. It actually because of that I got hired to do location scouting for a film right after that, because they couldn't believe what I was able to get. I'm like, I think it's because I'm willing to go knock on doors. You know, you don't get it with the egos in this town. Most people aren't willing to do that. But I was so Um, but yeah, we you know, we wrote this one location and it's about a sort of a adults like a, you know, like a woman child. irresponsible pothead. She's a nurse, and she gets into trouble with the law she sends to house arrest. And she is couchsurfing at the time. So her last legal address was her ex boyfriends house, so cut to her serving out house arrest for 30 days with him and his new fiance. And we a friend of mine, Larry lebeau. runs an organization called New filmmakers LA.

Alex Ferrari 13:11
Of course. Yeah.

Heather Turman 13:12
Okay. Yeah. I love Larry. He's the friend that I met on the commercial in 2006.

Alex Ferrari 13:19
Amazing, yeah.

Heather Turman 13:20
Yeah. I mean, Larry is just the greatest. We like literally we didn't. We tried to cheap out and not get permits. And when you got permits,

Alex Ferrari 13:33
huh, you got permits?

Heather Turman 13:35
No, we didn't. I was gonna say, Amen. Yeah, no, then the cops came. And so we were told we had to, because that neighborhood, like I said, Everybody in the neighborhoods like you guys didn't fire us like, yeah. Oh, Larry. Larry, I know. And all the work that he does, you know, with film LA, he was able to call and and literally have the governor expedite us a permit. You're supposed to be like a 72 hour wait, we got one like immediately, which was, you know, and that just goes to show that your friends in this business are the most important, you know, part of this business? Yeah. And Larry recommended, I asked him about a director, I said, I'm producing, you know, my first feature that I wrote, can you recommend some solid directors and he I said, preferably a woman because I did want to, you know, sort of pay that forward. And especially It was a female lead, I just wanted to go that route. And so he recommended Julian Arman Dante who had been in the business forever, and I had recognized her from her acting work she was in like girl interrupted and bad teacher, all kinds of stuff. And so we met with Joanne and she was like, totally down, but we didn't have enough money to pay her. So she was like, the, the amount she would, you know, be willing to work for so she said, let me partner as producer trying to build up my company. And so the three of us work together as as producers, and you know, I was Initially looking to make a micro budget $50,000 film. And when Julian came on board, it's like, no, we're gonna do this a little more grown up style. And so we ended up doing it for 150k. And, you know, we scored in terms of cast and that really, you know, it starts Heather matarazzo who is now my wife. I met her on the movie, and now we're married. Yeah, the night the one good thing that that's bleeding out of the eyes for an indie film brought me was was that my friends are like, hey, at least you got a wife out of it. I'm like, Yeah, I got double screwed. Um, yeah. But um, but, uh, so Julian, of course, was friends for 30 years with Joel McHale. So she had Joel up and, and said, Will you play with us for a day. And luckily, you know, that we had this role, the role of the judge is, you know, one day, sort of bookends the movie beginning and end. And he was willing to do it. And once you have that name, even though it's a small part of it, we were able to go out to other people from there. So I made direct offers to Kate Flannery. And, you know, Kirsten vangsness, from from criminal minds. Yeah. And just in that kind of stuff. And then Heather, and Heather came on board and agreed, and, and yeah, and then we made the movie.

Alex Ferrari 16:23
So the key to getting getting actors on a low budget film is if you can tag one name and taxon name, yeah, it's about one. That's one thing I've always realized is that nobody wants to be the first to the party. Nobody that's in money that's in cast, that's in everybody. Nobody wants to be the first to come in. But if you can get one other person to come in, that's even somewhat of a recognizable name, or face, or respect, as inactive, because there's that could be worth nothing to the box office, but be very well respected by other actors. Absolutely, that can attract other actors. Without question, yeah. And it's always it's the exact same thing for my first film, I have one called friend called a friend called the friend call a friend. And everybody just showed up and, and played, and it was,

Heather Turman 17:12
yeah, and played. And it's great. I watched both of your films, by the way, thank

Alex Ferrari 17:15
you so much.

Heather Turman 17:15
And I love them, they do look beautiful. And I was especially impressed by on the corner of ego and desire, because you know, you listening to your podcasts that you know that you did shoot it off of a, you know, a script, man, and in Sundance as it's happening, it's just it's cool. The story behind the movie is is especially cool.

Alex Ferrari 17:37
It was absolutely insanity. It was it four days, 36 hours shot an entire feature actors had never met before. It is a really insane story. I don't advise anyone doing it. Unless you have some. If you've got some years behind you, and you can fall back on that experience, then yeah, but I like I like that one. But Meg, for me, even is even more impressive, because I've just shot that thing. And, and and now normally, and now knowing what you went through and knowing that we made that movie in LA for about five grand. Yeah, it's amazing. It's absolutely amazing. It's It's sad. But of course paid. I mean, everyone got paid. But it was all favors and no permits. No permission. Of course. What's the permit run permits? Like, what is

Heather Turman 18:25
it was like it cost us 1200 bucks for the one and that was not telling them we had other locations that was lying and saying, yep, everything's at this house. So if we had if we'd had to get one for Culver City, and the doctor's office, it would have been a different story.

Alex Ferrari 18:39
Yeah. Right. So that's, that's why it's so cost prohibitive to shoot here, especially for an indie and that's why you got to kind of go you got to be a gorilla about it. Yeah. You know, I've known I've had other people on the show who've shot in LA. And I mean, but they there's other there's other filmmakers I'm thinking of, they were brazen, like they'd show up with grip trucks. And like, they would just get out in front of a location and just start shooting. And yeah, they're like, wait to the cops come, we got an hour. Let's see how long it takes before the cops come. And even when the cops show up, our producer sent to hold them back for 15 minutes while we finished the shots. And then they go in. But they got I mean, they shot the entire city is pretty insane. Yeah.

Heather Turman 19:23
Yeah. I mean, that really is how you have to do it. You know. I was chatting with a female filmmaker the other day and she said that sometimes you can sort of that she's like, I'll play the female card with an officer like, Oh, we have to get permits because you know, like, into like that

Alex Ferrari 19:39
like, and then she twirls her hair she doesn't know twirls or has like oh my god, do I need a permit? No, yeah, I could just shoot this amazing. Like, sorry, that's my valley girl. So I apologize.

Heather Turman 19:54
I mean, that's that's that's the performance she would put behind. You know what I mean? Um, Because, you know, you got to play what cards you have, you know, and they're gonna be like, Oh, this is a woman's making this movie. Okay, it's not real Move, move ahead. Well, the other thing,

Alex Ferrari 20:11
the other little trick is for everyone listening, always have a film student ID onset. So you always bring a film student as an intern on set. So if a cop does show up, and you're doing something that's a little bit, you know, not official. You're not hurting anybody stealing anything. It's just unofficial. You can always be Oh, it's a student film. And you bring this thing you show them the student ID and like, we're here to help the student. And yeah, you know, but if Nicolas Cage shows up, that's a problem. So you have to have money. Exactly. wants it? Yeah. No, I remember we shot a film. I was part of a project years ago, that was shooting on a dv x 100. A camera. I think you might remember that. Can you remember that? Yeah. It was a fantastic camera. And I otzi showed this in Florida. I otzi showed up because it was we had, I mean, we had script trucks and everything. But then when they saw the camera, they said, we're good. And they just walked. They just we had big stars that we had an Oscar nominated, but he wasn't there that day, thank God. But when they saw that they're like, these guys obviously don't know what they're doing. It's a camcorder. It's okay. We're fine. It's Yeah, it's it's a dolly but they don't know what they're doing. It's fine. Totally. But, but that is, that is another trick for everyone listening, always have a film student onset just for those occasions? Because they will it will it get you out of trouble and get you out. And don't ever try shooting on Santa Monica Pier.

Heather Turman 21:40
Oh, yeah. I wouldn't recommend those touristy areas. That's probably that's definitely they see you Kai. I mean, you're asking for it. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 21:47
unless you shoot it with an iPhone. If you're shooting with an iPhone, and it's all under cover, you might get away with it for a few minutes. But don't build on top of you so quick. Oh,

Heather Turman 21:56
yeah, it'll swoop in I yeah, I, I remember, for my web series in 2012, we needed an exterior. I'm sitting in with the editor. And we, we need, it's supposed to take place inside the Scientology center. And so we're looking at the cut. And I'm like, we need an exterior we do. So we grab his camera, we can see dp that too, we grab the camera, jump in the car drive to the celebrity center. And he's standing on the corner filming it for like, within 10 seconds, like oh, swarm of Scientology security on bikes, just like that's a pretty serious camera, you know? And he's like, yeah, and they're like, yeah, you better get out of here. And they like, took my license plate was really crazy. But, uh, well, you know, when you're going to those types of places,

Alex Ferrari 22:44
did you get the shot? Just, we got the shot. That's all that matters. That's all the matters. You got to get done out, get out, run, run, run.

Heather Turman 22:52
I might be on some kind of list, but we got the shots.

Alex Ferrari 22:54
It's perfectly fine. It's perfect. It's absolutely perfectly fine. Now, you mentioned that. You mentioned that the manager had a couple issues with distribution. Can you elaborate a little bit about what cuz this movie was originally finished in? This was finished. It came out in 2019. Okay, came out in 2019 originally originally came out. Yeah, that's it. Yeah. So what happened and and everyone prepare yourself because this is I'm sure. Your story?

Heather Turman 23:27
Yeah, um, well, let me just start by saying that, you know, no shade to my two producing partners. But they are definitely from a different generation than I'm from. And, you know, I was really feeling like, I trusted the concept of self distribution. And I felt like, you know, I was doing a lot of research at the time and Sundance had a whole thing about, you know, doing your own, just like they had a whole workshop all this different stuff. And, and I really felt like because of the the cast, I mean, you look at like Felicia Day, she has a huge online presence. And like, all at the time, Joel, of course, you know. And I came from the comedy scene. So I had tapped, Alexis Rizal, who was YouTube presence, who I had cast in my web series. It was her first job ever in 2012. So I had hit her up. And I had cast a guy that I had known at the time, Brian Jordan Alvarez, who after the film, God willing grace and became the character who married Jack's character. So he got an Emmy nomination and he blew up. And I tapped Yeah, and I tapped Chris read from the comedy scene as well. And now he's on SNL. So it was like we got I got very lucky with the comedy scene and the people that I really saw talent and that blew up. And so knowing the, just the reach that all of those people had, and that's like, not even Joel you know, and then not even Kate from the office and not even the crime, Criminal Minds for kearson bands ness and not even Heather matarazzo so I really felt like we could release this on our own. But, you know, the people that I partnered with just, they were a little, you know, they're used to the old school way of like, you find a distributor. And that's the only way, you know. Yeah. And so I even brought like a sales agent friend into the mix, but my co producers, one of them didn't want to give away 20% which I'm sure haunts them to this day. And so we, because it was a sales agent friend of mine who's legit, you know, he sells movies for a living and I really feel that would have been the safest way to go. Unless we experimented and tried to do it ourselves. Um, but yeah, and so this company had approached us through slated, which, you know, I don't I, if an indie distributor is seeking people out, I feel like that's kind of a red flag I entered. Like, I feel like

Alex Ferrari 25:55
unless you're unless you're at a film festival, and you just got down to screening and they walk up to you like, Hey, we're a distributor, we love to film your movie, that's different. But if they're if the soliciting movie if they're soliciting you, which happens all the time, unless it's in even if it's a big distributor, I mean, a 24 is generally in that emailing people.

Heather Turman 26:16
Exactly, exactly. And you know, because they're getting flooded all the time. And they have their connects. And so it's, you said it perfectly. Because yes, if you are at a festival, and you show your film, and somebody comes up to you after and is like, I would love to distribute this, Here's my card. But if they haven't seen the film, and they're just soliciting you, it's probably a red flag. But we met up with them. And the guy, the head of the company, they had a handful of cute films, like I watched all the trailers and it was like, okay, you know, it seems like this company really is looking to, they all sort of fit within this brand. And so it was like, okay, they seem like they know what they're doing. And the contract they offered us was amazing. Amazing. It was tell us the details. It was so we made the film for 150,000. And we crowdfunded a, you know, a majority of that. I would say that about almost 100 was crowdfunded. And the other 50 was the three of us. You know, owning up, ponying. Yeah. Which we didn't expect to do. And then it was like, Oh, shit, we spent too much money. Here's for me, here's from you, you know? And so, we they offered us 300,000 minimum guarantee, which was, you know, we only had to make, we only needed to make like, 60 grand, you know what I mean? So, right.

Alex Ferrari 27:38
So they gave you an mg $300,000 mg in 2019. I'm assuming around that time. Yeah. Because I'm trying to because the game changes so often. It depends on when you got that deal, if it makes sense in 2018, that we got the deal. Released in 2018. Still ridiculous. That's not a thing that happens. But go ahead.

Heather Turman 27:59
Yeah, yeah. And so because at that time, Netflix had stopped, you know, they there was a time that Netflix was giving out 500 grand for an indie film, but that went away, you know? Um, yeah. And so he, so that was in our contract. 300 grand minimum guarantee. And, um, and yeah, and they paid marketing. So they paid marketing costs that was in our contract. And obviously, that's the big thing, like we've done enough research to know that, that's how they get you is that they promise you all this stuff, and then you get the bill. And it's like, oh, they spent it all on marketing. So we get 12 cents, you know,

Alex Ferrari 28:33
what was that? What was the top on their marketing? What was it? Was there a limit on their marketing or not?

Heather Turman 28:38
There was not a limit, it said that. I know. I know. It's bad marketing. Yeah. But he said marketing was a team decision with the producer. So we were supposed to have a say in that as well. So you know, it's like, I mean, this deal sounds I mean, it's in theory,

Alex Ferrari 28:56
in theory, it sounds wonderful so far.

Heather Turman 28:59
Yeah. But yeah, we have not seen a dime. And every other film, that's what this company has, with the exception of maybe like one or two others has pulled their film from them. And you know, gone to court got their money back and this distributor is under investigation with the FBI for major fraud. A friend of mine came out of the woodwork. Oh, go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 29:22
No, no. off off. So they offered you 300 mg. So when you delivered the film, I'm assuming a part of the contract as soon as the film is delivered, some money is really it was

Heather Turman 29:32
after it was after quarter one from exhibition. So exhibition began, may have of 2019 and so once quarter one and he was like, oh, maybe you know might be but realistically, it'll probably be like, you'll get your first checks by the end of it'll be during the second quarter that you'll see. You know, was that money

Alex Ferrari 29:52
was that $300,000 supposed to be broken up over multiple quarters it was going to just won't be one foot one fat check.

Heather Turman 29:58
So that contract was for by 40 months, we would have that 300 grand. So

Alex Ferrari 30:05
spread out mg, it was a spread out over four down months. So you're talking about,

Heather Turman 30:11
okay, August 2022 is when it's up, but we haven't seen a diamond and it's clear we're never going to. So that's

Alex Ferrari 30:18
a pretty it's a pretty, I've heard of flat out people not paying m G's or distributors not paying em G's, but the way they've structured that deal was, you'll get a little bit of the whole 300,000 from now until four years along, which is generally how mg is work. I'm G's work like, you deliver the film, mg is you're here to check, maybe break it up over the first year, something like that. I mean, that Netflix does it over two years, if you can, if you get it, and now they're going to pay you until after the agreements over. So if they licensed it for two years, well, your first check starts at the end of let's because it's Netflix, so they're just, you know, flux they cancel. Yeah, exactly. Okay. And you said your friend came out of the woodwork.

Heather Turman 30:58
So yeah. And then a friend came out of the woodwork and said, Oh, are you we're I didn't know that you had worked with him. She was actually She's a friend of my wife. And she had hit her up and said, I didn't know that Heather was working with this, this, this guy? And she said, Yeah, he's the distributor for the movie. Why? You know, and she said, Well, 10 years ago, I, me and several actors came together to make an indie film. And we'd had about 150 grand that we'd all chipped in, like, you know, three grand five grand, they'd all paid for it. And a week before, and he came on as a producer, and a week before they went into production, the money was gone. And he ran away with it. And so and so then I started doing a ton of that's how that was the first red flag because that was right when the film was coming out. And so I'm calling my producing partners, and I'm like, red flag, red flag, red flag. And one of them thought, one, the distributor had fed one of them. He partnered with them on another project. And so he was basically sitting next to them feeding them all of this. bs about how it's a disgruntled filmmaker, that suing them. And that's probably must be what I'm talking about. And I'm like, that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a different thing, like 10 years ago. And I'm, you know, maybe he has turned over a new leaf and is trying to make things right. But I think we need to talk about this and see what if we can get out of this. And I just, you know, my team didn't, didn't agree with me, essentially, at the time. And then later, it came out that that person was, I mean, I guess I can't even really say that part yet. But yeah, um, long story short, the Yeah. So now the distributor is supposedly still going to film festivals I've heard and still telling people that he wants to distribute their films, under this company, that's no longer in good standing. If you look it up, it like doesn't exist anymore.

Alex Ferrari 32:57
But he just opened up a new a new company if he wants to, and that's the whole thing again.

Heather Turman 33:01
Exactly. And that I had read about that I'd read about the bankruptcy, you know, plan where they were filing bankruptcy, and then going and buying all of their assets. And basically, you know, owning your film in perpetuity for nothing. And so when I read up on that, I was like, I think this is what he's doing. But he didn't end up filing bankruptcy. And it turns out that, because he's the only one on the company, and that kind of stuff, he still will end up being held liable. But at this point, it's like, we're kind of just we're gonna wait till the 40 month mark, when if we don't see that money, contractually, we'll get the movie back. But I mean, it's gonna be over four years old. So it's, you know, and we probably will still have to hire a lawyer and spend more money. So it's just something that like, if I can impart any sort of wisdom on any filmmaker who's going through this is just like, do your due diligence and everything that you preach about, about knowing your audience, finding your audience, and, you know, making people excited about the product before you release the product? Like you then can release your own product and you can really have a bankroll if you do things, right. If you crowdfund and you don't owe people money back. Why wouldn't you release it with a knot? give someone that power, you know, what, so?

Alex Ferrari 34:19
So right now, the movie is basically in limbo. You have no idea. It's it's, it's out. It's out there right now. It's out in the world. Yeah, it's around the world. But you haven't gotten a check yet. And it's been a long now, since you were supposed to catch up.

Heather Turman 34:31
I mean, so I mean, two years. We choose we are I know that he worked with an aggregate company. So he then of course, didn't even know how to get films up who was

Alex Ferrari 34:44
who do you work with tri coast, never heard of number 35. Right coast, really never heard. They're an aggregator.

Heather Turman 34:53
They are a distributor, but because he knew them and I didn't think he had the ability to get the films on the platforms. So he signed with them as an app aggregator for as an aggregate for all of his for his whole slate.

Alex Ferrari 35:05
That's another middleman. So that's another middleman that's taking a chunk out of your money.

Heather Turman 35:09
Exactly. Well, which, you know, we owe nothing to them that like, you know, their their contract wouldn't underwrite ours, it's just that thing of

Alex Ferrari 35:21
they'll take money out of his car, which will then take money out of your cut.

Heather Turman 35:25
Yeah, which we're not gonna see a cut Anyway, you know what I mean? Like, he's a criminal. That's really all there is to it. He's, you know, his I know, he had a court date for the FBI thing, like week or two ago, so he could be in jail for all I know, right now. But he, uh, go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 35:41
So where's your film available right now?

Heather Turman 35:44
It's, it's on Amazon. And last I it was on all of them. But tri coast recently dropped all of his films because of all the legal drama. So they ended up cutting ties with him. And so all of their So, you know, they got rid of all of his film. So I don't know if he's how capable he has been of getting it on somewhere else.

Alex Ferrari 36:06
Right now. So right now, it's only on Amazon.

Heather Turman 36:10
As far as I know. Yes. It was on Apple TV. It was on all it was on all these, but I think that it got pulled? And to be honest, I haven't checked it. But I definitely saw on Amazon. Somebody just watched it the other day and hit me up.

Alex Ferrari 36:21
So would you which cases obviously they're in breach of contract? Yeah, term breach of contract. If they're off of all the platforms, why don't you just take control of the film again,

Heather Turman 36:33
and just Oh, so I tried to do this. So I tried to do this. And I, again, you know, my, when you're partnering with people that, that you don't have an existing relationship with, like, I tried to go behind everyone's back and go to try and get the hard drives and do things that way. Like I was, I was trying to just be like, if you if you're a criminal, I'm gonna, I'm playing with a criminal here, I'm gonna go steal my movie back, you know, and, and I went there, and they'd already turned the drives over to him. So he has the hard drives. And he sent me a couple texts saying, like, you know, we are I hold like, I, we still hold the copyright. But the contract, of course, assigns the copyright to him. So where we've left it right now is one of my producing partners, spoke with him on the phone. And and basically, let him convince him that like, Oh, it's it's tri coast fault, I'm in a, I'm at odds with them, you know, and I'm just like, dude, you cannot, he is a criminal, we're never gonna see this money. And they're like, well, I don't want to pay for a lawyer. So let's just wait for the 14 month mark. So that's where we're at now. But it's been such a mess and such a nightmare. And I feel like I was not listened to this entire time by my producing team. Do you know what I mean? And so it's, it's, it becomes incredibly disheartening to and I think that that's the thing if, if you're going to go into if you're going to partner with other creatives on a project, make sure you're on the same page about distribution before you work together? You know?

Alex Ferrari 38:09
No, without question. I think distribution is I mean, I've talked about distribution and nauseum on this show. But I feel that it's just something that it nobody wants to talk about everyone, let's talk about the creative part, and the fun part. And hey, it's cool. And let's all talk about that. And we'll go to the premieres and walk red carpets, and Hahaha, and our egos will be stroked, and it'll be great. But when it gets to this point, everyone just has different views. And most, I'm gonna say 99% of filmmakers are completely ignorant of this process, speaking to 1000s of them, and connecting with 1000s of filmmakers on a daily, weekly basis. And what I hear all the time, most just don't know what even professionals are having issues in today's marketplace, let alone people who have no idea what's going on. Because there's there's a lot of like you're producing partners sound like they have the 9096 mentality. of them. Yeah,

Heather Turman 39:03
you know, Mm hmm. Yeah. And it's and it's changing. You know, it's a, it's an evolving world. And it's changed so drastically. And I agree with what I've heard you say on this podcast before, and that if you want to know what's gonna happen with film, watch what happened with music, and it's 100% true. And in some ways, it's good because we are at that place where everyone can make a film. But you also now you are competing with everyone. And so what you may cast to either you have to know your audience, inside and out, or you have to make something so good, you know, be that rare, amazing, universal story that that touches and reaches everybody. And not everybody is going to be able to write or create that that film. And so, you know, it's just it's changed so much and and it's so important to be aware of the options, and also to think like a business person and I think that's the thing because this As a creative field, so many people don't have like, I feel like I'm like, I'm split brains, like I was always good in math and science and good in English and the creative. So like, this stuff adds up for me, but like, a lot of the creatives that doesn't, and so they get taken advantage of I mean, even just the concept of agents, why agents exist, you know, because the creatives don't in general like that. They're their artists, you know, they're not thinking about the business side of things necessarily.

Alex Ferrari 40:27
Yeah. And I look, I think there are places for, I want to say agents, but managers have, eventually, one day I'll get an agent maybe who knows. But you need a you need some, especially when you add a certain level, you do need someone negotiating for you. As long as I'm not saying you don't, yeah, yeah, you definitely do that. Yes. But reps are great. Yeah, reps reps are fantastic. But it gets silly sometimes. And then then there's also those reps that just sit around doing nothing, you go out and get all the work, and then they take the 10% or 15%, or God forbid, 20 if you've done a really bad job.

Heather Turman 41:01
But at the end of the day, there is that second set of eyes, reviewing contracts and making the deals and a lot of times they make you more money. And so it's worth the money that you pay absolutely, absolutely

Alex Ferrari 41:14
no shade to agents or managers at all.

Heather Turman 41:17
I just the business aspect that like creatives need that some that business brain, you know, helping them along the way,

Alex Ferrari 41:24
you know, without without question, you know, I wish I wish I can tell you that this is a brand new story that I've never heard before. But you've listened to my show enough to know that this is not the case. I'm always fascinated by new techniques, new new scams, new ways to screw filmmakers. It's it just I don't know, I don't know, I guess I just come from a different cut from a different cloth because I just don't want to do that. To Life is too short. Like you're gonna, I don't know, this is my feeling. In 100 years, no one's gonna remember any of us anyway. Right? So you know, why don't you try to do some good while you're here, try to help some people try to express yourself be true to yourself. And that's basically what it is. Because, you know, if you just I don't know, it's not we're going down a whole other conversation. But it just upsets me that that filmmakers are treated this way. And it's, but you were saying something about music. That's what I was trying to get back to. With music. You're saying it's easy to make movies, it is super easy to make an album, like it is, it's so much easier to make an album there's so much more competition in music than there is in film, and watching what successful independent artists like Chance the Rapper, and Drake and these kind of guys who came up completely without an AC label, and did it all on themselves. That's inspiring. And we think we have a lot of competition where nothing compared to music. I mean, there's so everybody, and their mother thinks they can write a song or sing a song and put an album together and sell it. But that's where you need to focus on like what are they doing? What are the successful artists in that field doing that we can copy and you know and model in our world because oh God, and it's only getting tougher, so sorry, guys. No, this is that. I don't want to be that completely downer on this. But it's only it's only getting tougher. Like you just said Netflix isn't buying things like that anymore. And you know, many filmmakers I talk to everyday like, Oh, I just want to get enough that. No, you don't. You're never gonna get on. You know, do you have Jason Statham on? Okay. Yeah, you'll get good. Yeah. Bruce Willis, maybe? You know, yeah. It's it's genre. It's genre based. Big Star vehicle films is the only thing that they're by outside of their originals.

Heather Turman 43:43
Yeah, no, it's, it's true. And I do feel certain, you know, independent artists that are finding, it's almost like, like, when you especially when you look at someone like Jim Cummings, right after winning Sundance that didn't get him. You know, hollywood didn't come calling. Then he crowdfunded the feature that even that didn't get Hollywood coming. Finally, after crowdfunding, you know, this third now, you know, he's with CIA and taken seriously, and they're like, Okay, this guy's legit. But like, nowadays, it's like, you have to do it, you should just take one film, and I just feel like now it's cultivating a like a voice and, and brand through your work. That's, you know, it's like when you were talking about what the music what the musical artists do. For me, it's, they are really good at, at doing them like they know themselves inside and out. And they they have, they are a personality, and their their music fits within that personality. Like I feel like filmmakers have to do that same thing. You know where this these films are representative of my voice. Those films are representative of their voice and build that brand and then you can sort of step outside A little bit and and not just always, you know, then you don't have to always like when you're first getting started, yeah, make the vegan chef movie, you know what I mean? Like, and then find your audience. But then like, it's really funny and people start taking you seriously, like, start being like, that was a funny movie, I never, you know, I caught it because I was dating a vegan were over. But that was a great, great comedy, then maybe they'll tune into your next comedy, you know. And so eventually you can build out a brand and a voice,

Alex Ferrari 45:28
I think, I think you have a much better chance as a niche filmmaker doing niche stuff than you do if you're trying to do like a broad, broad spectrum stuff. Because everybody we talked about, look, there's probably arguably no better filmmaker who has a direct connection to their audience than Kevin Smith, Kevin Smith has cultivated over the last 2025 years. 30, almost 30 years, an amazing relationship with his audience. He understands who he is, he understands the kind of films he makes. And he talks directly to the audience. The thing that a lot of people don't understand is that he had studio backing to get his voice and his brand out there. So did Spike Lee. So to Robert Rodriguez. So to Quentin Tarantino, all of these guys have a big, have a big money behind them to launch this, they might not have it now, like Kevin Smith doesn't do studio movies anymore, really, he does mostly. But his brand is been established out there so much because of the studio system, that that they ride that way, it's the same with actors, you know, actors have one or two big movies, and then they'll ride that for a career, you know, don't really, you know, don't I'm not gonna say name specifically. But there's actors who were in the 80s and 90s, in big, blockbuster films, but then their career kind of petered off. And then now they're, they're working actors, but they're still off, they're still, they're still being paid off of that recognizability off of the big studio pushes. And for an independent, I think the only way you can get noticed is in a niche market. And then hopefully, and then hopefully grow from there. But be happy to stay in that lane at the beginning, and then maybe venture out but if you can, I always tell people, and you've heard this, if you could just make a living doing what you love to do. If you could just do this, Mike,

Heather Turman 47:20
you won. You won. Pick up one and don't know Yeah, I was gonna say yeah, you want like, this is it. And I think that like that's the thing with you know, because of the stories like Robert Rodriguez and you know, Richard Linklater, and everybody that you hear that had that beginning, you assume that that's going to happen for you. And so you have a having an attachment to the outcome of your film is the worst thing that you can do. Just make it because you love it, and share it with the world. And if it makes people happy, then that will make you feel good. And that's it.

Alex Ferrari 47:52
Enjoy the process. Because the end, the end goal is quick. If you're there for the awards, if you're there for the screening for the applause. That's very short amount of time in the whole time, the entire process of what you're making every day in, day out. If you don't love what you're doing. It's it's that's why so many filmmakers are so sad. Like they wouldn't ask you to like now what? Yeah, I mean, I don't have these problems. But many other people have had these problems where there's like, they win the Oscar, they win the award, they they make a hit, and then they're like, Oh, god, this is all I've been focused on my time. I don't know what to do now. Yes, I hope we have this problem. Great. I mean, I got I made 100 million now what do I do? Like I hope I have these problems. But But and I think you've seen it in the films that I've made. I just enjoyed the process. And I had no attachment to outcome. None.

Heather Turman 48:43
Yeah, no. And that's why I think I was so inspired by it. I had, you know, stumbled on the podcast stumbled on your book, and everything you were talking about in the book. I was like, well, which by the way, this was very funny, because when we were doing when we were looking for distributors, I my wife had done us a small film called girl flu. And they were with glass house, I believe is what it was called. And I was looking through their Rolodex of films at the time their slate. It was that who it was, and I saw handled.

Alex Ferrari 49:15
This is Meg. Yeah, they did international distribution for me.

Heather Turman 49:18
Yeah, so I saw this the trailer for this is Meg. And I watched it way before I heard your podcast way before I, you know, read your book. And so then as I'm reading this book that is speaking to me, and I'm like, this is exactly what I was trying to say, when we were building stuff out is I was like, let's really target like, you know, it was just that thing that I had had these instincts but didn't execute and didn't, wasn't taken seriously by my partners. And so when I was reading it, and you said like, Oh, my first film this is mad. I'm like, that's so funny. And that made me then go watch it because I was like, well, this feels a little bit Kismet because I had stumbled on an indie trailer. I mean, who does that you know? And then it turned out to be yours and and I loved it and coming from the comedy community, you know, Sean Paul offski. And oh, I didn't know. Yeah, just Jill. Yeah, I didn't I don't know her, but a friend of mine know her. And so I really enjoyed it. And it both of your films feel like the same director though. You know what I mean? Like, I guess you all have, yeah, I guess you have a style and a voice.

Alex Ferrari 50:24
Yeah, there's an energy, there's an energy behind it. But then if you watch my earlier films, they have absolutely no, like, it's completely different energy than their action and, and, you know, thrillers and things like that. But it's, you know, look, if the Coen Brothers can make raising Arizona, and blood simple. You know, everything can happen then. And we're humans and we evolve. Absolutely. in your life. Yeah. Look at Spielberg. I mean, he hasn't made a really big popcorn a movie in a while. He's a very serious filmmaker now. And they're great. And I love all his movies now, too. I do miss him going back to that. But I think he's, he's like, I've done that. I'm good. I don't need to make et anymore. I'm not I'm not the filmmaker. Yeah, I'm not that filmmaker anymore. Now I have to ask you, what is the right? I know, right? What is filming films like that? I know, what is the biggest lesson you've learned from making this film?

Heather Turman 51:19
One is the thing that I'd say two, I would say. First and foremost is the thing I mentioned about not having an attachment to outcome, because I feel like emotionally, it was such an incredible grief. And as a result of him sort of coinciding with that is the is compromising man. Like, if we're gonna go through the effort, and I think this is what I really learned is that I mean, I have started directing, I've dabbled in some shorts that would cost no money, they were just experiments. But I, I definitely want to direct for sure now, because when you go through the effort of, you know, building a world that you write on, on the page, and then go through the efforts and all the hours and labor that's involved in producing a film, especially when you're the type of producer that's knocking on doors and, and you know, when we can't find patrol cars, I'm going on Craigslist and seeing who's selling, you know, a black crown. Vic, can I pay you to not sell that just yet? And you borrow it for my film? When I hit up an ambulance and say, Can you guys come by for like an hour, I mean, all kinds of different, you know, stuff that I was willing to do when you do that kind of groundwork and you don't have final creative say, it's like, you know, it's a big heartbreak and, and especially if you know, you're just don't compromise that much. Just make sure that you really stick to your guns and you know, the product you want to make, so that you are not bullied or, you know, pushed out a little bit or just, yeah, I mean, compromising with with artists is not is not cool. Don't do it. Unless it's like a small thing.

Alex Ferrari 53:04
It's it's a tough the making film is probably one of the toughest artistic endeavors ever created. Because there's so many different, it has all the arts in it, all of it, it's all wrapped into one thing. And then also you can't do it alone. You need to compromise with others you need. Anytime you have other words, collaborate, you do collaborate, but as any director at any level will tell you, I don't care if it's a $200 million budget, or if it's a $50,000. Budget, you gotta compromise. Yeah,

Heather Turman 53:34
but if you are the and what, but what I'm saying there is that knowing, knowing what to compromise on, do you know what I mean? Is is and so that's what I mean, really know the product you want to put out, so that when those times come, it's like, yeah, I can bend on that that's not important. I think, you know, there's that thing Quentin Tarantino, something about music, like he was not willing, he needed the money to pay for the song because he knew that that for sure was going to really make the scene. And so it's the thing of and make the film and, and so knowing those things, and not bending on on what you know, is going to make the film and what you know that the film really is. But yes, of course, you have to compromise because you are, like you said, it's a collaborative environment. It's so many different moving parts. And so of course, that's going to happen, but yeah, I just mean like the meat like you can't compromise the meat, it becomes a different movie.

Alex Ferrari 54:27
No, no question. There was one. There's a funny story I heard years ago about Michael Bay on his first film, which was bad boys. And there was a shot he wanted and if any bad boys fans out there will know this shot towards the end when there there's a shootout in the airport. This guy explodes out of an airplane and crashes into something and it was like a big event and they and Michael really wanted it and and at that time, Michael was completely disrespected. He's a commercial director that like at whatever. They didn't really respect them and he's like, I need the shot. I need the shot. I want the shot. And it's like, no. And though he's like, how much will it cost to do the shot, he's like, it's gonna cost you 50 grand into the shot. And we'll come in an hour too early and set it up tomorrow, if you want to do it, and he goes, I'll pay for it. The next day before the take, he took the check, and placed it in front of dailies in front of the lens and recorded it. So everybody knew that he was paying for the shot, but he got a shot. And you got to regardless if you'd like Michael Bay movies or not, you got to respect that. You got to respect it.

Heather Turman 55:28
100% Yeah, yeah, I, I ended up having to sell my car to pay off the crew. And I remember, at the time, it was so simple. I know. And so that's why the distribution things even worse, but it's like, so I had done that. And the crew, though, knowing that I was doing that. He had said the kind of things to me and just, I know that I'll always be able to work with them again, you know, because of that. And so, you know, you definitely have to make those sacrifices when needed.

Alex Ferrari 55:57
Yeah, exactly. And hopefully you don't have to sell your car. Hopefully, hopefully, you don't have to sell your car. Now, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to trying to break into the business today.

Heather Turman 56:11
Just make make make, start small, tell small stories, learn how to how to direct actors in a in a, you know, in a one room story and get bigger from there. And just learn that that's it. Get started and learn and start. Start small. So you don't overdo it. You know, like I said, I wanted to do a $50,000 movie. I'm happy with the movie. It's a rockin little indie. But um, you know, it was much bigger than I intended it to be or get and, you know, it put me financially in a hole for about two years. And so don't go too big too soon, you know? Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 56:46
I agree with you. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Heather Turman 56:50
Oh, man. I'm gonna get laughed at about this. But the Brady Bunch movie is one of my

Alex Ferrari 56:58
favorite first first time after 600 and some episodes of all my podcasts. Brady Bunch never ever one. Everyone should have you ever seen it? Of course I have of love that are so it's so

Heather Turman 57:08
it's great. It's fun. It's great. And just it's brilliant directing because it's you know, the Brady actors are in a whole different world than the rest of the cast. You know, it's it's brilliant. And it's so funny. So I love the Brady Bunch movie is one of my favorite films. And recently and growing up. Oh, man, everything Charlie Kaufman ever did.

Alex Ferrari 57:29
That station? I mean, yeah, yeah.

Heather Turman 57:33
Yeah. Eternal Sunshine. And, and lastly, I'd have to say and then just recently, I think I love booksmart. It was my favorite one of my favorite films in the last decade. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 57:43
Very, very fun. And then where can people watch stuck? Even though you won't be getting paid off of it yet? But where can?

Heather Turman 57:53
Yeah, we watch it because I want people to see you know what? My wife gave a killer performance. And I've seen people say that where they're like, wow, Heather matarazzo This is her first adult lead since Welcome to the dollhouse like she Yeah, what, uh, yeah, you know, and, and she killed it. And she did such a great job. So I want people to see it for her. And so it's on Amazon, and I believe, do a Google search because I haven't done one in a minute. And I'm sure you can find it on other platforms. But it's out there. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 58:23
it's on Amazon. And hopefully, one day we'll, we'll get some money for it. Yeah. I'm gonna

Heather Turman 58:30
write a book about the experience. I'll make my money back there.

Alex Ferrari 58:33
There. That's the film shoprunner method. Fantastic. I love it. Thank you so much for being on the show. I pray and thank you for being so raw and honest and and transparent about your experience in your journey. Hopefully, this will help some filmmakers out there listening. So thank you again, so much.



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IFH 244: Inside the Worst Movie Ever Made (The Room) with Robyn Paris

Right-click here to download the MP3

Many of you know I have an obsession with Tommy Wiseau’s horrible masterpiece The Room. The joy I have when I watch is something that can’t put into words. So when I ran into Robyn Paris, she played Michelle in The Room, I lost my mind and completely fanboyed out. If you don’t know about The Room check out the trailer for The Disaster Artist, the film about the making of the worst film ever made.

She was awesome to chat to so I invited here on the show to discuss her experience making The Room, how much [easyazon_link identifier=”B077TCV2L4″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]The Disaster Artist[/easyazon_link] got right and to talk about her new mockumentary series about the actors of The Room called The Room Actors: Where Are They Now? 

Robyn is current crowdfunding on Kickstarter to finish the series. If you are a Room fan like me give her and the other Room actors a few bucks so we can continue laughing.

Here’s a link to the Kickstarter!

Enjoy my honest, entertaining and even educational chat with Robyn Paris.

Alex Ferrari 5:24
I would like to welcome to the show Robyn Paris, thank you so much for being on the show. Robyn.

Robyn Paris 5:28
Thank you for having me, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 5:30
It was it's been it's a joy. It's a pleasure. I'm giddy to have you on and talk about a talk about a project. I'm sure you're you're tired of talking about this point.

Robyn Paris 5:43
Well, I know I can't escape it. So I might as well embrace it and have fun with it.

Alex Ferrari 5:46
You know it for everybody who's who's isn't aware. Anyone who's listened to this podcast knows that I am a raving the room fan. I am fascinated with the movie. And Robin and I met at Sundance this this year. And we actually Robin is in the movie a little bit if you want to talk a little bit about about our movie, the one we did together, we could talk a little bit about that before we jump into the room. Sure. We're shooting the the, the the party scene, and lo and behold, Robin is there. And my producer comes like Robin Parrish, the actress from the room is here. She wants to be in your movie. I'm like, I'm like No, she's not. There's no possible way that she actually is here. And he's like, No, she is there she is I'm like, Oh my God, we have to write a scene for her right now. And put her in the movie if she wasn't in the movie. So how did you what was from your perspective because I haven't talked I talked to because that that whole movie on the edge of and for everyone who doesn't know it's on the corner of ego and desire, my new film, that's such a blur to me the whole process? Because it's done so quickly. From your perspective, how did you get introduced to the film? How did you say, Hey, I'll be in it. And so from your perspective, I just want to know how you felt about it and how you got into it first of all?

Robyn Paris 7:07
Yeah, I mean, it's a little bit of a blur for me too. Because it's like, it was like wanting, it was really, right. And we were at a party at Sundance, and I was just talking to a few people. And they were saying that you were doing this film and that you were in the next room shooting some scenes. And I was like, Oh, that's really cool. And then somebody mentioned that somebody on your you guys had recently seen the room the night before

Alex Ferrari 7:34
We literally the whole crew sat down and saw the room. I was the only one who had seen it before. And the experience was, as you can imagine.

Robyn Paris 7:43
Yes. I mean, yes, I get it. I love the room like a fan. I love seeing it. It's so crazy. It's so funny. So yes, they mentioned you guys were doing you were just in the room and that there had been a scene in your movie where one of the main characters talked about how the room was his favorite movie. And that Oh, somebody said, Oh, wouldn't it be funny if you were in in this movie? And you like just showed up? And I was like, Yeah, that'd be great. I'd be happy to do that. Just let me know what you want me to do. Right? I'm just here dancing, having a few drinks. So they need a movie. And the thing I know they wouldn't I think they talked to you. And then I talked to you. And then like about 15 minutes later, 20 minutes later, I was we were shooting the scene? I think so.

Alex Ferrari 8:28
It seemed it seemed like that. I think it was I think it even was a little bit more than 15 or 20 minutes. Because from the moment that they said that you were you wanted to be in the movie to the point when we got to you. It's probably an hour. Okay. It was just because we were shooting that like, you know, one of the biggest scenes of the movie. It was Yeah. And we were battling drunks. And it was like, you know, trying to get them out of the sights. And it was insane. It was

Robyn Paris 8:51
How you did it. I'm amazed that You shot me in the middle of that party. Because it was really loud. There's a lot of dancing like tons of drunk.

Alex Ferrari 9:00
It was tons of drunks. I was battling off a drunk drunk actors that I would recognize who will remain nameless. Other people in the industry that would just you know, Hey, man, you making movies like it was just, it was it was insane. And I had no security to block everything off. So I was just trying to, you know, the funniest thing is that we were shooting one of the scenes and literally as I yelled action, I turned around, and there must have been 20 people with iPhones recording it. And I'm yelling and I'm thinking to myself, you guys are all industry. Are you kidding? You've never been on a set before, let alone a set with like three people. It's not like we're not on this set of Avengers. You know, this is not that impressive, guys, I don't understand. But 130 in the morning when you're drunk and you see a camera and some lights apparently everyone goes crazy. It's right at Sundance and as their and we shot our scene in and I think five minutes.

Robyn Paris 9:58
Yep, I believe it was two takes max and five minutes.

Alex Ferrari 10:03
It was two takes you did fantastic. And a good friend of ice Sebastian played your agent.

Robyn Paris 10:08
That's right. And I had just met him the night the day before. Right? knew him. At least that was fun.

Alex Ferrari 10:14
But that was and then that was it. And then you were gone. And I was gone. Yeah. Next morning, I was like, Oh, that's so funny. I was in a movie last night. And then I say, like, what? Like, yeah, I was in a feature last night. Yeah, shot some scenes for a movie last night at a party at Sundance. And every, you know, you're not the only one RB who also plays a part in the movie, RV. bato had the exact same thing. He was in another party. And he actually kept telling me, I gotta go, I gotta go shoot a movie. And they're like, you've got a screening? What? Like, no one understood. Like, he's like, No, I'm actually in a movie. What? Like, no one, no one got it. And then I send you the trailer, and you're like, Oh, my God, it's a real movie.

Robyn Paris 10:57
It looks so good. I am so blown away that you shot that in 36 hours. It was unbelievable.

Alex Ferrari 11:05
It was done quickly with Josh. And it was an experience. So. But thank you, again for being in the movie it and it was an absolute thrill to work with you for those five minutes. Well, thank you for a minute of it. It was super fun. I can't wait to see your finished movie. So how did you get into the film into the movie? And how did you get into the business in the first place?

Robyn Paris 11:27
So I moved to LA and to the end of 2001 to be an actor. And the first audition I had when I got to LA was for the room? No, yes, the very first audition, I responded to an ad in backstage West. And you know, set my headshot. And they called Greg sestero was doing the casting, who ends up playing Tommy's best friend. And he called me and I went to the set audition. And so that was the first you know, movie I was in. When I got to LA

Alex Ferrari 11:56
Literally off the turnip truck. You can straight the room. The casting? What are the odds? I mean, like that's like the first day of literally, you get off the bus this like, oh, let's just go over to the room. The most craziest experience of your life, literally, the timing couldn't have been better.

Robyn Paris 12:17
I was from how you look at it. I know it could not have it's really like a combination of the two both both Best and Worst thing to ever

Alex Ferrari 12:26
Now what was the casting process like for the room?

Robyn Paris 12:29
It was insane. I mean, if you've seen the movie, the disaster artists, they capture it pretty well. I came to the set. It was broad daylight it was there were ton of people there. And Tommy had a stand in front of a camera and he was like, Okay, now your best friend just died, go. And then he'd want you to be like, wailing with tears. And then 30 seconds later, he'd say, you just won the lottery go. And then if you didn't switch on a dime, he'd be like, what's wrong with you? Your best friend died? He have no, you have no heart. You know, and that's how it went. So it was a miracle that anybody got cast and that I don't know. I mean, I think I got cast because I showed up first to the audition. I was the first one there. And I talked to Tommy one on one. And he just asked me a bunch of questions about myself. And then I at the end of the conversation, he was like, Okay, I think I costal and I'm like, do you want me to audition or

Alex Ferrari 13:26
So you didn't audition?

Robyn Paris 13:28
I actually did. I did audition. So I you know, more people showed up and then I did the standard audition with everybody else I read the chocolate is a symbol of love scene with Greg Ellery who ends up playing Steven. And then I did the whole chicken, you know, at what act like a chicken. That's one of the things I throw in that Tommy said, Your best friend just died. You won the lottery act like a chicken. And so I did all that. And yeah, so I did audition. But I but I'm still convinced that the actual reason I got it was because I was the first one there.

Alex Ferrari 13:58
So I mean, this is your this is your first big Hollywood audition. And I use that term very loosely. Yeah. Very, very loosely. You have no other auditions to kind of refer back to.

Robyn Paris 14:12
So you got in Chicago and I had audition there. But yet none in LA.

Alex Ferrari 14:17
Right. So no la auditions to for you to kind of go back to how many people on the as far as the cast were concerned. We're kind of newbies in the sense like have maybe done one thing or two, but you know, didn't seem that anybody was like super super seasoned other than my mother, except,

Robyn Paris 14:33
I think oh, yeah, the mother may be but every last person was super new. I mean, yeah, you know, I think to agree to do the room. You probably had to be pretty naive. I just thought no one would ever see it. I knew it was bad, also, so you wouldn't ever see it.

Alex Ferrari 14:52
Did you read it? Was there a script?

Robyn Paris 14:54
No, he wouldn't show us the script. There was a script, but he would not show it to the actors because, quote, I quote Tommy, you're just going to try to steal it. So he thought we were going to steal it. And so he wouldn't share the whole script. So we'd get like three pages. And then he'd say, okay, you're going to shoot these three pages tomorrow. And we'd get it a lot the day, or maybe the day before. And we'd have to just memorize those lines. And I never knew where the scene Val in the context of the entire movie or the narrative, had no idea what you know, which, which scene came first, which scene came set, like, that's why it was so hard to get any kind of our character arc or anything,

Alex Ferrari 15:31
Which was, which was interesting, because now that makes so much more sense when you watch the room. Because there doesn't seem to be like a beginning, middle, or arc or anything. It's just like you have you. You as actors have no idea what's going on. You're just kind of thrown into a scene and like, act. Like what happened before? Did I did I get shot before? Then my mother died before like, what? And that's every scene is like that, which you have to argue is quite genius, if that's what you're going for.

Robyn Paris 16:01
Like for total confusion on the part of the actors and characters and every scene

Alex Ferrari 16:05
And as a crew as well and everybody else as well. Yeah. Now, how was how was the crew while you were working? And how many how long were you actually on? on the on the set meaning of shooting on production?

Robyn Paris 16:20
I was there for a few weeks. I came in. I was a midseason replacement. Juliet who plays Lisa was originally Michelle. And the first three leases quit. And I no surprise, surprise, I think it was when they realized they'd have to do a love scene. And they were like, Okay, I'm out of here. So yeah, and then so Lisa was playing Michelle, she to lease and then they needed to fill the Michelle characters. So that's when they did additional auditions. And that's when I came in and filled in the spiral. So

Alex Ferrari 16:55
They were ready shooting. They were already shooting when you did the audition.

Robyn Paris 16:58
Exactly. They had already shot a cup for a couple months.

Alex Ferrari 17:01
And how long was the final? Like, was it six months shooting a year shooting? How long? Shoot?

Robyn Paris 17:06
I think it was like six months? Yeah, I remember in the disaster artists, even they characterize that it's like, going,

Alex Ferrari 17:13
It just kept going in the money. And the money always was there. He just always had the money.

Robyn Paris 17:19
It was like a bottomless well of money. And there are three different crews. I was when I was there. And I was only there for a few weeks, though, I think to at least two or three crews that that were different crews, they would quit and then a whole new crew would show up. Because they would Yeah. So they kept quitting. They were professional crew. And I guess they just got fed up with stuff.

Alex Ferrari 17:44
Yeah, there were an LA crew. They were an LA crew that was like, Okay, we'll deal with this for a day or two. But this is enough. We can't we can't take this anymore. Because I'm assuming it wasn't the most professional set in the planet. No, that's a good assumption, say the least. And what was Tommy's directing style? Like?

Robyn Paris 18:06
Yeah, we can call it that. Well, let's see. Like for this Juliet, where we have that pillow fight. Do you remember that scene?

Alex Ferrari 18:15
I remember all the seeds. Okay.

Robyn Paris 18:18
So we had just met her literally 20 minutes before and we're on the set. And then, and we're just talking, we're doing the scene. He goes, You don't even seem like you know each other. You lose your best friends. Why don't you have a pillow fight? Girls have pillow fight. That's what girls do. So Juliet and I are like, Yeah, right. That's what we do. We have drink wine and beat each other with pillows. So we just that you know that he directed us to do that pillow fight. You probably remember that. And other than that, a lot of times he was actually in it. And so whenever he was in the scene, it was hard for him to direct, right. So that's where that whole controversy comes in about the script supervisor Sandy skull, err, sure, directing it directing the room, which he would help for sure. He would help Tommy when Tommy was in scenes, like tell Tommy where to go and help with blocking and stuff like that.

Alex Ferrari 19:12
But at the end of the day, do you want that credit? I know I don't get that that like if you are the ghost director of the room. Do you want to be known as the ghost director of the room? Like I?

Robyn Paris 19:28
Yeah, it doesn't make sense. Because I mean, everyone can. The reason it's bad is because autonomy.

Alex Ferrari 19:35
I mean, it's the reason why it's good and bad is because autonomy, it's 100% Tommy it is that exactly? Because there's things in it like I mean, you just I mean Well, the first of all, obviously, all women when they're in their 20s have pillow fights and drink wine, obviously. Yeah, that's my experience. Every last woman, every last woman It is part of the DNA. So the best example The best explanation of Tommy ever is, as a director I've heard was, imagine an alien comes down to earth takes over a body. And then this is the movie. It thinks that would be a movie that mother Earthlings would enjoy. That's good. Yeah. And I was like, that's because it's such a look, we've all seen bad movies. We've all seen bad movies. I mean, I saw a troll too. And I think a little bit of my, my soul left me. I liked the documentary about the trolls. Joel, too, was amazing. Much better than the movie. But we've seen bad movies. They've been bad movies throughout history, Edward movies, I mean, forever. But there's something so magical about this movie. It's hard to. It's hard to pinpoint it, but from my analysis, and maybe I'd love to hear what you think, why people react the way they do to it. It's that it is authentically, Tommy, there is nothing bullshit about the movie he is not trying to be. It's, it's what he it's his. It's authentic.

Robyn Paris 21:11
Yeah, it fully embodies Tommy, it just is everything that Tommy is.

Alex Ferrari 21:17
And the authenticity, you can literally come because of I would go to try to direct a bad movie like horribly that is, you know, you would smell it. Like, oh, this is a guy who's just trying to be a bad movie. We've seen those movies before, like, shark NATO, like, you know, they know what they're doing. They know this is a bad movie. They know. It's ridiculous. They're just having fun. It's a self awareness there. But Tommy has absolutely no self awareness, and thought he was making Citizen Kane.

Robyn Paris 21:46
Yeah. And that's, that is your right why it is so magically bad. Because the earth it's so earnest. And he's it there's such an effort to be good. Yes. And it fails so spectacularly that that is deeply I don't know why it sounds that destek. But that is deeply funny.

Alex Ferrari 22:06
It is it is it's just it's it fails on so many levels, like when we were watching it that night before we shot the scene. Everybody was there, like why is there another shot of San Francisco? What's going on? Why is that there? Oh, my God, like, all my professional filmmaking friends would never see this. They're all sitting there going. After like, 20 minutes, they get it. And there's some people in the audience that did not do this is just horrible. I can't watch this. Yeah, but the people who got it, they jumped on the ride. And we're just like, completely on board. And that's the kind of movie it is. But it's a fascinating, fascinating character study. And I think the disaster artists did a really interesting job with the relationship. And with Tommy, and all that. What did you think of disastrous,

Robyn Paris 22:53
I really liked it. I thought it was hilarious. And I thought James Franco did a really good job at capturing Tommy. I mean, midway through I forgot I was even watching James Franco, it seemed like Tommy, and I thought they captured the friendship and the story really well. And it would balanced a lot of, you know, humor with pathos and like sincerity. And I thought it was great.

Alex Ferrari 23:17
Yeah, I love that. I love that. Then when we were sitting down talking for a few minutes, you said that the disaster artist got a few things that they took some creative license with? What are the things that were kind of different between the disaster artist and reality?

Robyn Paris 23:30
Yeah, the very end when everyone's cheering in the theater at the premiere of the room. That didn't happen.

Alex Ferrari 23:40
The phenomena did not start off with a bang.

Robyn Paris 23:44
It was a slow burn. It's a slow burn. People obviously cheer now, but at the screenings of the room, but people knew we were where people were laughing, certainly. But that was a good try. And people trying to contain their laughter in the theater because they knew that Tommy meant it to be a searing drama. And instead, it was a laugh out loud comedy. I was sitting two rows or a row behind Tommy and I was trying so hard to contain my laughter but it I ended up crying. I was crying with laughter. Because you know, when you try to stop laughing, it gets even worse. Right? And so a lot of people were like that, like, we were really trying not to seem like we were laughing. But we all were. And then after that after the movie, there was a party and no one was everyone was just asked like our jaws were on the floor. And we were looking around like, Oh, my God, what was that? Right. And I didn't approach Tommy because I just knew I couldn't lie believably. And I didn't want to have to, you know, I didn't want to say that was amazing, or

Alex Ferrari 24:44
Did he feel it? Did he? Did he understand that he that it was not well received? Or was he still in delusional world?

Robyn Paris 24:51
That night of Yeah, I don't know for sure. I feel it because I feel like he it didn't go well. From his purse.

Alex Ferrari 24:59
Okay. to, like, he

Robyn Paris 25:01
Must have heard the chuckles I don't know he must have. But okay. So in the disaster art is when he and Greg go to the lobby, and they discuss it and Greg's character is like, you know, you made something that people aren't enjoying. Listen to them. They're loving it, and then you go back in there and then they die. No, I do. I don't believe that that happened that night. Perhaps it did a week later, a couple weeks later. Sure. But yeah, it took a little while to kind of re reframe the narrative or

Alex Ferrari 25:31
Reframe the situation in general. Yeah. What was the reaction of the other actors that you saw? How were there any that were absolutely pissed. Other people that were just could not stop laughing that it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, whether reactions is you don't have to use their names, but just what are the actions of some of the other actors?

Robyn Paris 25:49
Some of the other actors were devastated? Oh, and then others were just like, Okay, well, we know it was gonna be bad. But this was really, really bad. They weren't for me, it was a hat. There was so many things that were really a happy surprise. Like the things I didn't know were in the room that were so funny, like the rooftop scene. I mean, all of the rooftop scenes like

Alex Ferrari 26:12
For you got so you basically got the joke. Right away.

Robyn Paris 26:16
I, my husband and I were dying, laughing. And then the next morning, we woke up and we were quoting lines to each other from the room, and then we were crying with laughter again. I mean, we were just seriously laying there laughing so hard. We were crying. So for me, I was like, Well, I don't think anybody will see us. But if they do, it could get a cult following because it is crazy funny.

Alex Ferrari 26:35
So you You're so you literally caught that right away. You caught what this could be. And you were basically reacting as a room fan. Right away off the first screening.

Robyn Paris 26:46
Yes, because I was in so few of the scenes that, you know, and I was like, Oh, yeah, my scenes are fine. I wasn't devastated by the scenes I was in. They were totally fine. And I thought I just enjoyed the rest of it. Like how crazy it was and how irrational So yeah, I just thought it was hilarious. From the beginning.

Alex Ferrari 27:07
And obviously the pillow scene was the highlight. But chocolate, of course, of course, of course. Put your put your insults in your pocket. I'm sorry, I can't have it. Now what is the weirdest thing you saw on the set?

Robyn Paris 27:29
Um, oh, well, I didn't physically see this actually see this. But the makeup artists they had Well, I had to get airbrushed every day because Tommy didn't like freckles. And he had got him so he got airbrushed every day as well. His entire body. Obviously. Obviously, rikes got to look flawless on the screen. And

Alex Ferrari 27:50
Then use the term flawless is a loose word. He used a certain range. What's doable? Yes.

Robyn Paris 28:00
So the day they had to do the bus scene, I came back it was like the next day after they shot the naked butt scene with Tommy

Alex Ferrari 28:08
And the total button in the belly, but you

Robyn Paris 28:10
Will not know the belly button hump. I didn't mention that. Okay. I didn't really know about that the recycled sex scene until I saw it on screen. So that was a treat. But they said you will not believe what happened. I said What happened? They said yesterday we had to airbrush Tommy's butt. And then we had to keep touching it up all day long. The makeup artists Oh my God. That was that was the thing I heard about when I came back to the set but I just you know people quit all the time. There was a documentarian following us around all the time on set filming us behind the scenes. So literally, we couldn't even change he would follow us. There wasn't a changing room for the actors. It was just a little tent. And so in order to change, we had to duck behind cars in the burns and saw your parking lot. And then the documentarian would be following us with his camera. I remember telling him like, dude, I'm trying to change here. So yeah, that is

Alex Ferrari 29:10
Great. Because obviously as he says, His asked is what's going to sell international? Yes, yes. You really want China? Yeah, he's huge in China. So and then you obviously kept living in LA so when you kept driving by the billboard, what was the What was your feeling when you first saw this billboard? I was like, that is still up. I can't believe it's still there. like three years right? It was like two to three years I think it was might have even been five years. Where's the money coming from? No one knows. No one knows no one still to this day. Nobody knows where the money came. So. So for anybody who's listening It doesn't mean we're talking about in LA for five years. There was a billboard on wasn't like on I don't even know where I remember. What street it was on. It was on Island and fountain. So it's a fairly, fairly predominant Billboard. And it was this shot of, of Tommy with the room with his, with his number on it to set up screenings. And it just stayed there. It became like this landmark in LA and everyone's like, what is this room thing. And I remember when I got here, I got here in 2008. And one was room shot 2000 2002. And it came out 2003. Right. So by then it already been five years. So it already picked up the the cult following at this point, where I walked into a theater and I saw the poster, like midnight showing of the room and every animal and I asked my la friends, like, what's the room, they're like, Oh, you've got to see the room. And that's the way the whole thing went. Like the whole phenomenon of the worldwide is like you have to see the room. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Robyn Paris 31:05
Yeah, it was a lot of it was word of mouth. I mean, I think most of it was word of mouth. But because the mouth word of mouth was so passionate and people who saw it loved it so much it worked.

Alex Ferrari 31:17
And now do you have you? I'm assuming you've gone to some screenings. I'm assuming you've signed an autograph or two? Yes. What is What is your reaction as going to the screenings? And then have are there Have there been any like conventions you've gone to like, I mean, sure, comic book conventions, or movie conventions or anything like that, that you've attended.

Robyn Paris 31:38
I haven't gone to any conventions. When I go to the screenings, a lot of times I'll go with a group of friends and we'll dress up. A lot of times I've worn bigs because I like to be a fly on the wall to react. I've been to a couple screenings in my hometown of North Greensboro, North Carolina. And that's been really fun. And they I was on the news, their local affiliate. Yeah, talking about being in the worst movie ever made. Right? Well, girl makes good

Alex Ferrari 32:08
In the worst movie ever made. Yeah,

Robyn Paris 32:11
Great story. One day, I'll have something really great I can talk about. So yeah, so I love going to the screenings. I love meeting the fans. And just, you know, everyone reacts to it. And I enjoy it. And I like I get some new out of it every time I go.

Alex Ferrari 32:28
And the way you reacted to my act, or in, in my movie as a fan of the room, I'm assuming is the way you react to other fans, like yours. So he was so humble. You were just kind of like, oh, you're a fan? Oh, great. Oh, you want to talk about Tommy? Sure. I'll tell you. Like, I'm sure this is like a daily basis, do you get recognized on the streets?

Robyn Paris 32:48
I mean, sometimes I do, but it not that much. I stay. I live in West LA. And I'm like, in my area most of the time. And I think if i when i i got recognized a couple times at Sundance. And then if I'm off in the Hollywood area, I get recognized more, but I guess because I think there's just more people there who have seen their room. And so I just not like I get recognized that much.

Alex Ferrari 33:13
Yeah. Now, at what point, did you because we've talked about this a little bit off air? At what point do you accept what this is and go along for the ride as opposed to fight it? Because I'm assuming there were some actors who just wanted to have nothing to do with it. I want my name off of it. I don't want to be involved with this. But you decided to go the other way. Like, you know what, this is fun. I'm going to jump on board. When would when was that moment in your in your life?

Robyn Paris 33:41
Let's see 2008 Entertainment Weekly did a four or five page spread about the room. And I was interviewed for that. And I guess it had been slowly gained traction up until that point. And people have been telling me that I was in film school. Mentioning Oh, you know what, a lot of celebrities are becoming fans. And, and you know, I guess Paul Rudd is a fan and all you know, and I was like, Oh, I think it'll just run its course, you know, that's great. But you know, and then when Entertainment Weekly did the full spread, I was like, Oh, crap, it's not going anywhere. It's not gonna go

Alex Ferrari 34:14
It's just growing

Robyn Paris 34:16
And I think I was sort of out of film school not really embracing it that much. No, I just really didn't. I didn't really think about it that much. Because I was, you know, I wanted to be taken seriously. And I feel like if you advertise that you're in the worst movie ever made. It doesn't really necessarily lend itself to people respecting you.

Alex Ferrari 34:39
Good for the branding.

Robyn Paris 34:41
Exactly. But so I thought, you know what, I'm just going to ignore it. It'll go away. And that just did not work. And I think I was at a screening in Hollywood and I had a blonde wig on I was with a bunch of friends. So we were there to have fun and Michael Cera was in line behind me and we started talking to And he's like, Well, why are you in a blonde wig? And I said, Oh, I just like to be a fly on the wall and kind of not, you know, not have people know who I am and stuff and he's like, why not? You should just really embrace it. I mean, this is one of the most fun things there is to do in LA, I like to come I you know, I come here all the time to see the room and, and I was like his, you know, it's not that I was, I mean, I was obviously there. So it wasn't like hiding from it fully. But it that was good advice in terms of embracing it, because I realized I cannot it won't go away. And

Alex Ferrari 35:33
I'm really bad tattoo. On their on your face on your face. Right there front and center. It's a mike tyson tattoo on your face. You're not getting rid of it. It's not.

Robyn Paris 35:44
So that's why I decided eventually to do the mockumentary because I write comedy. And I'd had been a comedy writer for a long time. And, and I just had this idea of, wouldn't it be funny if these room actors kept trying to escape it and they couldn't, they could not escape the room, which is basically true. And just exaggerate it and poke fun at it and have fun with this struggle of these actors trying to escape from being in this the worst movie ever made, and never being able to do that.

Alex Ferrari 36:12
Tell me a little bit about the movie that you're directing?

Robyn Paris 36:15
Yeah, so it's a mockumentary web series. And it features all of the actors from the movie The room seven out of nine of us. So Tommy and Greg aren't in it. And it basically follows them as they struggle with either embracing or shaking the stigma of appearing in the worst movie ever made. And most of them are trying to shake it and they can't. So we just see everyone suffering in their own way. Like Juliet is married to her, her first stalker, and the stalker basically stopped her around the house reenacting scenes from the room. And so that's that's her life. Danny Philip plays Danny in the room is working Danny's because it's the only place where he could get hired. And so Danny, people come in to Denny's. They recognize him as Danny from the room and they start reciting lines. And then he can't he like, he ends up taking it out on them. And he gets fired. And yeah, so every episode features a different Well, the first three episodes feature to room actors. And then after that every episode features one room actor.

Alex Ferrari 37:20
Are you in? What are you in one of these episodes?

Robyn Paris 37:22
Yes, I'm in Episode Two. Okay. And I'm married. I've been married eight times. And I keep getting divorced because every guy I marry does the room. Oh, face behind my back. face that my boyfriend in the movie makes. Oh.

Alex Ferrari 37:43
And I'm assuming they always want to do pillow fights. Oh, yeah. I can I kickstart that pillow fight in that. So yeah. So you do now? Is this a web series? Or is this going to turn into a full blown document or mockumentary that you'll release as a feature? How is it how you doing it?

Robyn Paris 38:01
Well, I have four episodes done now. And each one's about eight minutes. So it's about 30 minutes of programming that I've already done. And they're out there. They're on Funny or Die, and they're on YouTube. And then I've got six more episodes written and ready to film. And I'm just trying to raise money for those now and about to do a Kickstarter campaign to get the funds to shoot the remaining six. And it's going to be also in front of your eyes Amazon platform soon. Oh, you're signing contracts with them now? Yeah. So that's really exciting. And yeah, so when it's all said and done, it'll be over 60 minutes of stuff. So I don't I don't have plans to edit it together into a feature anything. I think I'll just keep it as the web series, because there's so many different room actors, that kind of fits to just have each episode focusing on one or two of the room after

Alex Ferrari 38:50
How did you and how did you get everybody to be on because I'm so everybody embrace this at this point.

Robyn Paris 38:56
Yeah. I pitched it to Juliet, Kyle, Carolyn and Greg sestero. When I saw them for a documentary mini documentary Greg was doing about for the book launch of the disaster artist. And they were all interested and you know, so I said, Okay, I'll send you my short that I'd written and at the time, it was just a short 10 minute movie, I send to Juliet and she got back right back to me. She's like, Oh, my God, I love it. Let's do it. We've got to do it. So she was really encouraging and help. It was kind of a catalyst for saying yes, we should definitely do this because I was nervous. I was worried they wouldn't want to make fun of themselves or because I have Juliet. She starts out drunk in a bar and wearing sexy red dress and she's hunched over like a drink. And I was like, I don't know if Juliet would want to make fun of just, you know, the fact that she was in this movie, but she was totally game and excited about it. And

Alex Ferrari 39:46
What a Greg and Tom we think about all this, and how come they're not in the movie.

Robyn Paris 39:51
So Greg sestero is super supportive, and he couldn't be in it because he had signed a non compete agreement when he made the deal with the disaster artist. Oh, we shot this way before the disaster artist came out. And, and but he was really supportive. So he signed our poster and some of our Kickstarter rewards. And he reposted our original Kickstarter campaign and shared it and stuff. But then Tommy. Tommy was Didn't he first came to me and he was like, why don't you invite me? I'm like, Well, I'm happy to invite you, you know, it's love to have you. So will you be a part of it? And he was like, well, you have to pay me $250,000 I'm like, yeah, so that's not gonna happen. And yeah, so then he gave me a hard time about my Kickstarter campaign. And he wanted me to blur out the poster. He wanted me to blur out footballs, roses, chocolate, and spoons, all of which were in my Kickstarter campaign because he owns those wooden spoons.

Alex Ferrari 40:54
What do you think owns the rights to dispose? Please? No, no, you have to let me know. What does that mean?

Robyn Paris 40:57
I'm just joking. I'm, you know, he does own the rights to his movie poster. So I did blur that out. After I did that he, you know, came back he's like, now you blur out the spoons. The Ballade chocolate. You blot the football. You blow out the roses, you know, I'm like, no. Copyright.

Alex Ferrari 41:13
I was like, he can't have copyrights on those spoons. He can't now the way as a fan thing, anyway. Well, no, no. Okay, what? Alright, so everybody who's not who has not seen the room was listening. In the movie, there's framed pictures of spoons? Yeah, for no apparent reason. In the movie. Do you know what the reason is that Do you even have any ideas? Has anyone ever heard

Robyn Paris 41:35
They came with the frames, you know, they were just the standard photos that came in the frames. And I don't know why anybody would sell. Because usually it

Alex Ferrari 41:44
Was like, oh, who put spoons? it like, That's ridiculous. I've never seen one of those.

Robyn Paris 41:52
I've never seen that either. Other than the room. But it worked out beautifully.

Alex Ferrari 41:56
Because throughout the movie, there's framed pictures of spoons. So every time the audience sees spoons, they throw plastic spoons at the at the screen is so for everyone listening, which is one of the most fun parts of going to a room screening is throwing those spoons. I really thought I was I was a Rocky Horror Picture Show guy for a long time when I was in high school. I loved going there with the rice and the the toilet paper and all the things that you would throw during it. So I'm assuming the room is the new generation of that. That's what a couple journalists have called it. They call it the new Rocky Horror Picture Show. And that's going to live for it's not going to go away. I don't think it's going away anytime soon.

Robyn Paris 42:35
I don't I don't think so either. Because, I mean, I went to a screening and there was a bus of 15 year olds that had come from the Inland Empire with their parents at as a graduation gift to get to ride into Westwood to see a screening of the room

Alex Ferrari 42:49
And they have to see it here. This is like Mecca. You have to you have to see it in Hollywood. In order to see it. It's it is by far one of the most fascinating Hollywood stories ever. It really is. And I do agree with you. I think the disaster artists did injustice. The book was wonderful. I love the book. I read the book cover to cover. I was just as I was reading it, I'm like, No, this No, this is so funny. fix it. This couldn't have happened. No. And I actually had the pleasure. While I was directing some commercials I hired a sound guy. His name was Zolt. I don't know if you know who Zolt is. Zelt was one of the audio engineers on the room. Oh, wow. And it went like wildfire on the set. That he was the guy who was the sound guy in the room. And we found this great sound fence. It was sound fantastic. And I would just run to him like Zolt first of all great name salt. Secondly, is it true? He's like, yes, this is all true. Because there's a really thick accent. It's all true. He was a maniac. He's a maniac. He was fantastic. But it is but so how I'm By the way, since you now work with all the other actors. How are they doing? What are they doing? Are they they've kind of how do they venture off into other things of after the room?

Robyn Paris 44:12
Yeah, so Juliet lives in Texas now. She's married and she is does graphic design, I believe. And Kyle is still in LA he plays Peter in the room. He's still here he does still does acting and he has a day job. I think it either Sony or Disney doing their tech for their text. And then Dan Jagan lives in Texas also he is in, I believe, banking or insurance. He seems to be doing pretty well. Philip lives in Arizona. He's a journalist. He just got married like a couple of days ago. No like last week, okay. And then Carolyn is here. She lives in the South Bay and she is an actress still. She does commercials and print work and things like that. It's a Greg Ellery he just moved from Illinois, back to California. And I'm not sure what he's doing. He was away for a while he just rejected the room. He was a holdout on my show he, I had emailed him and he didn't respond about being in it. And I did the Kickstarter campaign without, but with all the other actors. And finally, I heard back from him saying, Okay, I'll be in it. In it, he's awesome. He is a funny, funny guy. So I'm really glad he's in it.

Alex Ferrari 45:26
And then who else and then you and you now are a doc, you're a filmmaker, as well as an actor still.

Robyn Paris 45:32
Um, yeah, mainly writer, director and an actress. For I don't send mice I don't go out like I was a commercial Actress for a long time. But I decided to focus mainly on writing and directing. And then I'll put myself in stuff or make my own projects, or if my friends make projects, I'm in theirs. But I like I had been in I was in the room. And then I was right after that, I was in one other bad movie. And I did some good movies and some good shorts, too. But I thought, like, especially some in Chicago, and then some out here, too, they went to great festivals. But after I was in those two bad movies, I was like, You know what, I'm not going to do another bad movie. I'm not going to do a movie until I know for sure that it's great. That's good, you know. And then I went to right after that decision, I went to film school at UCLA, and

Alex Ferrari 46:19
Not a bad, not a bad film school to go to.

Robyn Paris 46:23
No, I loved it, and studied screenwriting, MFA in screenwriting, and then was focusing on writing and then just recently started drafting. And now I'm in a phase where I'm just kind of making a ton of things that I write myself, and then I make and I put myself in them. I'm not necessarily the main character, but I throw myself in wherever. And yeah,

Alex Ferrari 46:44
Now do you were in? You're also in another documentary called roomful of spoons. Can you talk a little bit about that doc and the controversy behind it?

Robyn Paris 46:54
Yes. So that was filmed so long, I think I filled my part in that in 2013 years. So that's been in the works for a while. And, you know, he used to have a good relationship with Tommy. His name's Rick Harper, the director of that, and then it just they had a falling out and Tommy got mad and, and so then Tommy has been very upset about the film, which is a documentary and looking at the remaking of the room and Tommy's background and where Tommy is from and how Tommy got his money and all this stuff. They even go to Europe, they go to Eastern Europe, Poland, where Tommy is from, and they interview his family members.

Alex Ferrari 47:38
They found his family. Yeah. No wonder he's losing his mind.

Robyn Paris 47:45
So he was really mad about that. And he tried, he got a court injunction to shut down prevent the release of that movie. Tommy did so the movie never got released? Well, apparently, the court injunction was lifted. I thought it was back in December, Rick made an announcement his Facebook page that it had been lifted. But there were some still some legal issues in the way and I don't think it's been released yet. I know he was going to play it a couple festivals and Tommy stopped those from happening. So yeah, I was really worried for a while time he was going to try to do that with my show. But he hasn't at all like I haven't heard from Tommy at all since that Kickstarter campaign I did back in 2014. So he's been totally fine with my luckily with my show, look,

Alex Ferrari 48:35
Because you don't want it's kind of like Do you want to hear from Tommy or you don't want to hear from me? It's like,

Robyn Paris 48:40
I mean, yeah, Tommy's. If I heard from Tommy and he were nice. I would be happy to hear from Tommy Sure. I just didn't want to hear any threats from Tommy, which he had been when I first did the Kickstarter. He was threatening me. Yeah, like the thing about blurring all this stuff out. And then you know, I will try to take you down from Kickstarter and stuff like that. And I kept saying, look, this isn't about you. It has nothing to do with you. It's about the room actors and what they're doing now. And I think once my show came out, he realized that and literally haven't heard a peep, right?

Alex Ferrari 49:13
Because you're not so you're not you're you're kind of making fun of it. But you're kind of you're filling your you're putting gasoline on the fire of the mythos of the room with this movie. You're not kind of trying to go after him personally.

Robyn Paris 49:27
Yeah, exactly. I mean, making fun of all the rest of us And sure, yeah, there's room jokes. There's a ton of room jokes but they're designed for room fans, but it's not targeted at Tommy and his background or anything like that.

Alex Ferrari 49:38
That's it's it's been an adventure and it's an adventure that will be with you for a while it's and I don't even know if something like this happened to me. I don't even know how I would have reacted. So I'm so thankful that you came on the show to talk about the inside the inside scoop on the room and and your project not working by the way. Can people support your project?

Robyn Paris 50:02
I'm about to launch another Kickstarter campaign. And I'll give you the link so that when you enter this, hopefully it will have launched. And that's going to be in a few weeks.

Alex Ferrari 50:11
I'll put, I'll put the link, if you have the link, you could say it, but I'll put it in the show notes. Either way.

Robyn Paris 50:15
And I'll also if you want to watch the show, if you haven't seen it yet, you can go to YouTube, forward slash Robin Paris, and you can watch the whole show there or Funny or Die forward slash Robin Paris, is it?

Alex Ferrari 50:26
Okay, if I put those in the show notes as well, I could just actually put the clips there so they could watch the whole thing? That'd be great. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So if you guys want to watch the first four episodes, it'll be in the show notes as well. Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions that I asked all of my guests. Okay. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today? Obviously, not to go for casting at the room, but

Robyn Paris 50:51
You do is you try to appear in the worst possible movie.

Alex Ferrari 50:55
Right, exactly the worst that will become a cult favorite, and will live on in infamy for the rest of eternity. Good.

Robyn Paris 51:02
You're like, that's the first thing you do.

Alex Ferrari 51:07

Robyn Paris 51:08
The second? Well, I guess I would say use what you have in a way because as a writer, you know, they say write what you know, which to some extent is good. For me, I've been writing about all kinds of things, all kinds of comedy. But what gave me a chance to direct and I found that I loved directing, and I want to keep doing it, every chance I can get was taking something that happened in my life and making it funny, something that I actually struggled with, like being in the room and make trying to make it work for me. So I would say if you're a filmmaker, and you want to get something off the ground, think about what you have to offer in your specific life, like what have you lived, that you could either poke fun of if you're a if you do comedy, or that you could actually just you know, if you're in drama that you could bring to life and show a dramatic moment in your life. You know, write a short Write, write something that you can pull from your own life. And then and then when you either do a crowdfunding, you can speak from personal experience, you can say, this is why I'm doing this and you have like a real passion for for the reason you know, your motivation for why you're doing it. And I think people will respond to that, and we'll help you, we'll help you by being on your crew or giving you some money through crowdfunding or, you know, family, because it's something they know you care about. And I guess it would just take this to do it. Because I think there's a lot of fear involved with putting yourself out there and kind of just taking a step in a direction you've never gone before. And I think just for me, I faced a lot of fear with when I did this project, just our people listening, this is stupid, or they could just kind of be like, Oh, you're just acting from the room? Like what do you think you could do this, you know, but I think you have to face that fear. You really have to, you can face it is by just taking a step in the direction every day to face it.

Alex Ferrari 53:00
Right? And at the end of the day, you have to you have to walk your own path and not pay attention to what other people think or other or be free of the good opinion of others, as they say, in many ways.

Robyn Paris 53:12
Yeah, 100% don't trust yourself if you think something is great, and you know you can make it great. believe in that.

Alex Ferrari 53:19
I made it work for Tommy it is weird because it did it did no he got everything he wanted. I mean he literally got everything he wanted. And he wanted to be worldwide famous. He wanted to be taken seriously by Hollywood which in in a kind of way he did with the Golden Globes. You know, he almost got it for the Oscars as well but and he did it was it was nominated for Best Screenplay.

Robyn Paris 53:45
Yeah, so Oscar and now he was in these other two movies best friends part one and part two, which he's getting decent reviews for people are saying Tom he's actually good in this role written for him. He's really good.

Alex Ferrari 53:58
Right! He can't stretch but if you if you hit if you hit it down the middle with Tommy you're gonna get something good. Yeah, I can only imagine that it's like working with him on set like as a director trying to direct Tommy was Oh, oh my god. You can try you can hire him. I'm sure it's 150,000 1000 Yeah, at the show up anywhere $250,000 It's my really bad Tommy impression is mine is horrible. Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Robyn Paris 54:34
Wow. Um, let's see. I love this is so like, you know, go literature, AP class or something. I really love The Great Gatsby. It's a great book. I loved it. And I read it a couple times. I don't think I fully got it when I was younger and I read it then I read it later as an adult. And I guess what I like is the striving and the desire to be more than you are Because that's what I find relatable. And I just feel like for me, like, I mean, I came to Hollywood I was I had dreams of I'm going to be in the filmmaking industry. And I had no connections. I mean, my dad's a dentist, like, my parents were all back in North Carolina. Nobody knows. We know, we know nobody. And I kind of just felt like, with the Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby, that that character of just trying to kind of come to someplace where you don't really fit, and trying to make a name for yourself. That was relatable to me. And it's kind of sad. But like, and hopefully that's not, you know, it's for me, my life, I think is good. And you know, things are going great. And I'm really excited. But there's something about how challenging I think it is in Hollywood to kind of make your way sometimes.

Alex Ferrari 55:52
It's extremely challenging. It really is. But you have to keep like, like Gatsby, you have to keep striving. Yeah, you have to keep striving no matter what. And just just keep hustling, as I say, all the time. Got to keep that hustle going without question.

Robyn Paris 56:08
Yeah, totally, totally. And I think things are gonna work out better than they did in the book.

Alex Ferrari 56:14
That's sort of a downer. And if that's a spoiler alert, guys, I'm sorry. The books been out for a little bit. So that's, that's on you. Right. And there's been a few movies as well. Sorry. Cut that out. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Robyn Paris 56:36
Oh, yeah, I think in life as the film business to not worrying about what people think. And we touched upon that before. And also not feeling that I, I think I should have tried directing earlier. But I always thought that no one will listen, like, no one listened to me. I thought how? Why would they listen to me? Why would a whole crew of people

Alex Ferrari 57:04
I get that I get you have no idea how much I get that from, from people who contact me, they're like, how do you handle like a group of people and like, I go, I go either, if it's a guy or girl, I go, guys, you've got to be able to control you're not control but take command of the army of your of your of your squad. Because if you don't, though, you won't be able to make it and unfortunately, you picked a career that takes a group effort to make it's not painting it's not, you know, writing a song in a guitar. It's it's a very expensive, very collaborative art form.

Robyn Paris 57:40
Correct? Yeah, correct. And you if you don't believe in yourself, then it's very hard, I think to command a the respect of a crew. And for me, it took me a while to get there. And now I feel like I'm fully there. Like, I totally believe in myself, but and I think I had kids also, and I think having kids and like, telling everybody what to do all the time was just helpful for me to just learn how to treat like that. I feel like the crew is maybe it also took me getting older. Yeah, and, and I think you just get maturity when you when you get older, and you know how to handle things better. But I feel like I treat a crew not in a condescending way. But kind of like, you know, we're all family. We're a family on a set. And we need to all collaborate and listen and work together well and respect each other. But the respect each other is really important. And that means no attitudes, no kinds of no complaining. That kind of thing. I don't like I would I just don't tolerate that. You know,

Alex Ferrari 58:44
So, if an actor comes up and goes pay me $250,000 you don't you that's not working. Right? Yeah, that's just not gonna fly. You know, it's happens all the time. Right. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time? Obviously, besides the room?

Robyn Paris 58:59
Okay. Yeah, besides room cuz that's a given right. Back to the Future is my all time favorite movie. I love that movie.

Alex Ferrari 59:06
I love the trilogy of the trilogy in general.

Robyn Paris 59:09
Yeah, me too. I love the third one. Also a ton. Et and I just said so great. And well, so I have a lot of colleagues that I like, but one of the very first comedies I ever saw, and I just like made me want to be a screenwriter, I think was Tootsie or just made me want to be an entertainment?

Alex Ferrari 59:29
Sure. I just love and I love cross dressing.

Robyn Paris 59:35
Doubtfire 2

Alex Ferrari 59:36
Mrs. Doubtfire, Some Like It Hot.

Robyn Paris 59:38
Like, oh, love Some like it had the first script I ever wrote. The first feature I ever wrote was these were these two women who dress as male talent managers to struggling actresses, who dresses male talent managers in order to manage their own careers.

Alex Ferrari 59:52
That's a did. That sounds familiar. There was a movie that did was I don't know if it was a gag or some I remember Something like that. Not too but like, maybe have an episode of friends who knows? Yeah. You rarely see women dresses men and no, you don't know. Right? Generally it's always the other way around. But Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and to Wong Foo. Oh, I haven't seen too long. Oh, you have to watch foo. As I'm laying out all the cross dressing movies the last 15 years. My audience is like Alex, I had no idea you have like, I just know them. I just, I just know them. Don't ask why. Now, where can people find you in your work?

Robyn Paris 1:00:37
Okay. Oh, yeah. So Robin Paris, calm and Robin's with y. And then I might the room. mockumentary calm is where I have information about the show. And then I met Robin Oh, Paris on Twitter and at Robin Oh, Paris on Instagram. And official Robin Paris on Facebook. If you want to, like me there or whatever follow or all that stuff. You know.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:00
I know. It's weird. It's weird. It's weird. It's weird. It's weird. Like, can I tweet you? I'm like, I can't stand doing I can't stand what anyone says, Can I tweet? Like, I'm a grown adult. I'm a grown adult. I'm saying tweet. No, it's it's, it's like the weirdest thing for me still, but I get it. It's the world that we live in today. Robyn, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. And thank you so much for being so honest and raw about your experience. In honestly, the best movie ever made. Without question and, and the pillow scene alone is is worth the price of admission for anybody.

Robyn Paris 1:01:36
That's right. That's right.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:39
Thank you so much, Robin. Appreciate it.

Robyn Paris 1:01:40
Thank you for having me, Alex. I really appreciate it too.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:44
I want to thank Robyn again for coming on. And just just being so kind with her time and talking about the room again, that she's price talked about that movie just nauseum for the last 10 years. So Robyn, thank you so much for being on. And guys, if you are fans of the room, you've got to watch our mockumentary series. I have two episodes on this in the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/244 finished episodes so you can watch what she does what she did, and and hopefully help her with her Kickstarter campaign to finish off this series. It's super fun. And if you're a fan of the room, you've got to watch it. So thanks again, Robyn. If you haven't already, guys, head over to filmmakingpodcast.com, and leave a good review for the show. It really really does help us out a lot. Just do it on your iPhone. Do it on your computer, on your laptop, on your iPad, wherever you can get to the show. Please just leave us a good review. And five stars would be really, really helpful. And help us be found by more and more filmmakers so this information could get out to them. And as always keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon. I did not hit her I did not. Oh Hi Mark.




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