Want to learn how to write for Netflix? Join Story Expert John Truby for his FREE webinar May 25th


Screenwriting Books You Need to Read – Top Ten List

1) Screenplay by Syd Field

The first book I ever read about screenwriting. Syd Field is the forefather of the how-to for screenwriting. He cracked the code of the three-act structure and paved the way for all other screenwriting gurus that would follow. As far as I know, he created the terms like “turning points,” and “pinch”, and much of the language that screenwriters use to describe elements and devices used in their scripts(FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

2) Story: by Robert McKee

Immortalized by the film Adaptation, McKee delves deeply into the components necessary for making a great script. I find his principles of “controlling idea” (which closely resembles Lagos Egri’s concept of “premise” in The Art of Dramatic Writing) and “gap between expectation and result” incredibly useful. I always turn to McKee’s teachings for guidance. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

3) The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

Vogler takes the workings of Joseph Campbell about myth and archetypes and breaks it down into easy to chew, bite-size portions. What makes Campbell so special? His writings about the universal appeal of mythological tales have inspired many other storytellers to create great pieces of work with timeless resonance — does George Lucas ring a bell? (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

4) Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger

Seger’s book I found as a great companion piece to Syd Field’s Screenplay. What I particularly like from this book is her method of ramping up conflict by the use of “obstacles,” “compilations,” and “reversals.”

Also, check out Linda’s amazing podcast interview here: Making a Good Script Great with Linda Seger (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

5) Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

You can see echoes of all the other aforementioned writers in this book. What I like about Save The Cat is that it’s a stripped-down, fun read with a lot of helpful information. I especially appreciate Snyder’s Beat Sheet which shows with almost page number accuracy where to place those particular plot moments that help keep your story moving. Some might find it formulaic, but I think it functions very well and points to exactly the kind of scripts Hollywood has come to expect from writers. One of the best screenwriting books. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

6) How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flynn

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out on how to write a screenplay along comes this book to point out where you may have gotten it wrong. Despite the length of the title, it’s a quick read and VERY illuminating. As I skimmed through the examples of what not to do, I discovered what I was doing right, and most importantly what I was getting wrong. They say you learn from your mistakes, and reading this book sure helped to show how. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

7) The Complete Guide to Standard Script Formats by Cole Haag

This book was a required textbook back when I was at film school. Some of the formatting suggestions may be a little outdated, especially if you have Final Draft or Movie Magic screenwriting software, but there’s still a ton of knowledge to be gained about proper formatting. The quickest way to spot a novice writer is by how unprofessional their script is formatted — this book shines a light on the Hollywood standard. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

8) The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier

Not only do I dig this guy’s first name, but I found his book to be more current as far as the conventions of formatting. It covers a lot of ground with how to write a screenplay and everything else that goes with being a screenwriter and Filmtrepreneur, like how to register your script and how to write a query letter to literary agents. It’s a broad overview, but one of the most informative screenwriting books. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

9) The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri

This is actually a book for the aspiring playwright, but most if not all the principles can apply to screenwriting. Egri gives examples of poorly constructed scenes and explains why they don’t work — then compares and contrasts against scenes that do. This is one of my favorite books, and one I strongly recommend. One of the best screenwriting books out there. (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

10) The 101 Habits Of Successful Screenwriters by Karl Iglesias

(FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE) Have you ever wondered how successful writers do it? If you’ve reached this point on my top ten, I would say, “of course you do!” There are good work regimens and not so constructive methods. This book gives us a glimpse into how the top Hollywood writers work, how they fight writer’s block, as well as deal with the daily grind of writing. I found it very insightful and definitely worthwhile. 

BONUS: Pulp Fiction – The Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino

A must-read for any screenwriter. Tarantino…nuff said! These are our Top Ten Screenwriting Books You Need to Read. We hope they help you on your journey as a screenwriter. Remember just keep writing! 

David R. Flores is a writer and artist (aka Sic Monkie) based in Los Angeles. He is the creator of the comic book series Dead Future King published by Alterna Comics and Golden Apple Books. Website: www.davidrflores.com & www.deadfutureking.com

Transcript for Robert McKee Interview:

Alex Ferrari 0:04
I'd like to welcome to the show, Robert McKee. How are you doing, Robert?

Robert McKee 0:08
Very well, very well. Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 0:10
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I am have been a fan of your work for quite some time. I've read your first two books, and I'm looking forward to reading your new one, which we'll talk about later character. But I was first introduced to your work in the film adaptation like so many. So many screenwriters and filmmakers were how, by the way, how, how was that whole process? I mean, it was a very odd request, I'm sure that you got when you got that call?

Robert McKee 0:40
Well, it certainly was, my phone rang one day and producer named Ed Saxon calling from New York and, and he said I am mightily embarrassed. This is a phone call I've dreaded. We've got this crazy screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and, and he has made you a character in his screenplay, and he has freely cribbed from your book and from your lectures, and he has no permission to do either. And, but we don't know what to do. So I said, well, send me a script, you know, I'll you know, see what's going on. So they sent me a script, and I read it. And I saw immediately that he really needed my character as a central to the film, because he wants me to, he wanted my character to represent the the imperatives of Hollywood. And that you have to do certain things certain ways, blah, blah, blah. And, you know, which is on one level nonsense. Such rules, they their principles, and there's genre convention, but anyway, but so I was a typical kind of need to slander Hollywood in favor of the artist. And, and they wanted me to do the slandering. So, but I realized that without my character there to provide some source of conflict. The story didn't work at all. So I said, and so I tell you what, I made two phone calls. I called William Goldman. And I said, Good, he was, you know, a student of mine. And I said, Bill, they there's a film and they want to use me as a character in it. What do you think? And he said, Don't do it. Don't do it. He said, it's Hollywood. And he said, they're out to get you don't do it. I said, Yeah, but I'm okay. But suppose I had casting rights. And he says, Okay, okay, who do you want? I said, Well, let's say Gene Hackman, is it? Okay. Okay. It'll be Gene Hackman, with a big pink bow around his neck. If they want to get you, Bob, they're gonna get you don't do it. So then I called my son. And I said, Paul, you know, and he said, do it. I said, Why isn't because Dad, it's a Hollywood film, you're gonna be a character in the Hollywood film. And he said, it'll be great. Do it. So I talked to Ed Sachs, and I said, Kenny, three things. One, I need a redeeming scene. I said, you know, you want to slander me fine. But then you can't leave it at that. You got he got to give me a redeeming scene. Right? To I have to have the controller the casting, I won't tell you exactly who to cast. But you got to give me a list because I ended need to know their philosophy. I mean, for all I knew this was the Danny DeVito Dan Ackroyd School of casting,

Alex Ferrari 4:28
you know, fair enough.

Robert McKee 4:31
I said, and very importantly, the third act sucks. And I cannot be a character in a bad movie. So we need meetings, they're going to have to be willing to rewrite. And, and those are my three conditions. And, and they agreed to them. And, and so they sent me a casting they gave me my redeeming scene and then they they they sent a list. Have the 10 best middle aged British actors alive? You know, everybody from Christopher Plummer to Alan Bates and I, and and I looked at the list. And I said, I want Brian Cox. And they said, Who's Brian Cox? And I said, He's the best British actor you don't know. Because Brian had been a student of mine up in Glasgow, and I'd seen him on stage in the West End of London and, and what I didn't want, see all those actors. They're all wonderful. But there's always actors have this Love me Love me thing, no matter what they want to be loved. And there's always this subtext like my heart's in the right place. And I really, you know, and I don't want to be loved. I really don't want to be respected, I want to be understood. And I want to inspire people and educate, but I do not want a bunch of people following me around like a guru. Right, loving me, right? And I knew that Brian would not do that. And, and then we had meetings and about the Act Three, and eventually got to a never got to a perfect accuracy. But it got to a point where I could sign off on so and it was, so they took my son to a screening at so at Sony and I said, you know, we think ball, and he said, Dad, he said, Brian Cox nailed you. Which I thought was great. So you know, and it was, it was, but that's not the, you know, I was I put myself in a funny date. So it's not just, but yeah, it was, um, it was a difficult choice. But I think William Goldman was wrong, that, you know, there was a way to you have your cake and eat it too. And I think an adaptation is loved. Oh, and millions and millions of people. So, so it certainly didn't hurt my brand.

Alex Ferrari 7:20
It didn't hurt your brand or business, I'd imagine. It's the term irony comes to play where you would be working with Charlie Kaufman, on a script, where your character is the establishment that he's trying to get away from and to give art but yet you are working with him to put the script together and finish the third act, which is amazing. Charlie,

Robert McKee 7:42
Charlie's one of those guys. He's got, you know, a great talent. But he's a bit delusional. What he wants to achieve is the commercial art movie. He wants it both ways. He wants to be known for making art movies, but they have to make money too. And a lot of it because he knows that, you know, his career. If he loses money, it's over. And so and, and so he wants to he wants to create the commercial art movie and a salsa dance understood, you know, things, the notion of the commercial art movie, you know, the, the, the English Patient and films like that. And I you know, in the meetings with a spike and and, and, Charlie, I, you know, I pointed out to Charlie, so you can't have it both ways. It's a you, you know, you if it's a true art movies have a very limited audience period. And art filmmakers understand this. And they budget accordingly. You want 30 million

Alex Ferrari 8:59
for an art film?

Robert McKee 9:03
Was 5 million we could, but Okay, so anyway, but it was. Yeah, the irony of it is wonderful.

Alex Ferrari 9:10
So, so you've worked with so many screenwriters and filmmakers over the course of your career, what is the biggest mistakes you see screenwriters, new screenwriters to the craft make?

Robert McKee 9:24
Well, it's not mistake so much. Yeah, I guess it is a mistake. But, uh, there's two problems. One is cliches. And they think that it that they want to be, you know, like an artist, they want to be original, but at the same time, they want. They want to be sure that it works. And so they recycle the things that everybody's always done. And they've tried to recycle them with it. difference and which is absolutely necessary, I mean, that's I get it, you're not going to reinvent the wheel, you have to just spin it yet another way. And, but then they get very easy once they sell their soul. It's hard to get it back. And, you know, you can pour on your soul for a while, but you've got to get the cash to get back. And, and so that's the war on cliches is not some, you know, it's not a fault, it's just a problem everybody faces. And, but there's a greater problem. And it's the willingness to lie. In an effort to tell their story to get it out, somehow they get it together. And they will write characters and scenes, and whatever that that lack credibility that they know perfectly well, in their heart of hearts is pure corn of some kind. And it's a it's, they're bending the truth. It's not it's, there's something false to some. And, and, and to, to, to get to something that is really profoundly honest. And it doesn't matter what the genre is, from action, to comedy. to, to a you know, as an education plan, something very interior doesn't matter what the genre is, there's truth, and then there's lie. And somehow they think that because it's fiction, that gives them a license to lie. But but they don't have that license, they have a an obligation to express the truth of what it is to be a human being and in whatever genre, they're they're writing, they have a, they have a an obligation, if they're writing comedy, to really stick a knife in some sacred cow and expose the bullshit of society. I mean, they, you know, it's not enough to be amusing. comedy is a is an angry art, that savages, all those things that, that that that are false in life, and starting with politics. Right. And, and so there's they, there's a willingness to, to fit and lie and in order to please that, okay, let me take a step back. I bulldozing cliches and truthfulness are all the byproduct of the young writer, especially the young writers desire to please they want to be loved, they want people to love what they do they want to please people. And so they write what they think, is pleasing for people, whether it's all the cards in fast and furious. Right, or the sentimentality or whatever they want to please people and and which is fine, but you can't please everybody and so you're going to write for a certain mind a certain audience a certain mentality and an educational level and taste and whatnot in a certain group of people that you know, are out there, they're like you pay and and you can't please everybody. And and so, a film like for example, Nomad land is certainly not trying to please there's an audience for it, that will get it and enjoy it and and recognize this as a deep truth about our society and about human nature.

But it's, it's not going to have a mass audience. And because it will turn off more people than it will turn out. And, but it's, it's a excellent film is an honest film. So that's the I think it's fishing around here. Because when you open the door and say, you know whether

Alex Ferrari 14:53
you're wrong, there's 1000s of things

Robert McKee 14:57
to bring up, but if I can do it down, it's that it's that the willingness to please results in recycling cliches, and basically not telling the the, the, the dark truth of things. And so you have to be it's tough, you have to be disciplined not to copy other people's success, but to, to write what you honestly believe to be the

errors in the central new genre.

And, and be rigorous about that.

Alex Ferrari 15:36
Now, one of the the hallmarks of a good story is conflict. How do you create conflict in a story?

Robert McKee 15:46
Well, depends on where you start. If you start with a choice of genre, let's say you're going to write a thriller. Right? You know, the source of conflict immediately by that choice. I need some kind of psychopathic villain. Right? I need Russell Crowe, in unhinged. Why? And so that's done for you. So that the genre sort of automatically tells you, right, on the other hand, if you're telling a family story, and that will be called domestic. Until the characters are a family and it's a family with problems, wow. The conflict could come from any direction. Who's with? Is it the mother? Is it the father? Is that rebellious children? Is it Whose is it? Some some, you know, older grandfather grandmother figure that's pulling people strings, and you know, whatever, given a family what's wrong with this family? And so you have to figure out what is it and is it social, or psychological? Is it instinctive is a deliberate you have to think your way through all that. And so you, you you start with a family and you create a little you know, a cast? And then and then you ask the question or what's wrong with this family. And a million different things can be wrong in human nature inside of a family. And that requires knowledge, you have to understand people, you have to understand that you know, the mother, daughter, mother, son, Father, daughter, Father, Son relationships, and, and you need to dig into your own experience. And ask yourself, you know, what was wrong in my family? What What do I believe, to be the truth about families? And, and, and that the genre doesn't give you that answer. And so, you have the answer will come from your depth of understanding of human nature, human relationships of a certain personal kind in this case. And, or if you're writing comedy, so as mentioned, the starting place of writing a comedy is to ask yourself what is pissing me off? What in this world is pissing me off? Is that relationships? Is it men women? Always it? Is that the is that the the the the social networks? Is it is it politics? Is it the military? Is it the church? Why what what is what what do I hate? What's pissing me off? Because the root of comedy is is anger. The comic mind is an angry idealist comic comics are idealists who want the world to be perfect or at least and when they look around the world they see where sorry, sick one place it is. And, and they realize that they're complicit, they're part of it too. And so what spacing me off then it points them in a direction to an institution or behavior in society. me like I think that great comedy series. Curb Your Enthusiasm. You know, and, and, and yes, you know, what is pissing me off and he will finds really egregious fault in, in, in people's lack of propriety. Or, or logic or clarity of thought, you know, why should there be a handicapped stall in toilets? Right that no one can use except the two times a year that a handicapped person comes into this particular toilet. Okay. Right. That is

Larry David, that is an egregious absurdity and it infuriates him. And so he goes into the handicap stall, and sure shit, this is the day

a guy in a wheelchair. So, um, so that, you know, that that's, those are the various things, you know, you, you look at yourself, as a writer, and you you have to understand your vision of life, you have to understand the genres. When you make a choice, there's certain conventions. And, and a, you can bend those conventions, what breaker if you want, but not without an awareness of what the audience expects. And so somehow, it'll between picking the setting and the cast, the genre, and then looking inside of yourself, like your comic wouldn't ask you what's pissing me off? You find your way. If I if you're in conflict, and the the most importantly, you know, it has it that you know that that conflict has to be something you deeply believe in. Now, or, or you will do what we were talking about earlier, you will fall prey to cliches because you'll you'll create false conflict, false antagonist empty, a cliched antagonisms. And like that. So it's a very important question. Now.

Alex Ferrari 22:28
So as far as one thing a lot of a lot of screenwriters try to get away from is structure, saying that structure and trying to fall into side of a structure is, it's like holding me back as an artist and I need to be free and I need to run free like a wild stallion, I personally find structure to be very freeing, because it gives me a place to go. How do you approach structure?

Robert McKee 22:55
Well, in this day, people have a course accused me of imposing structural rules in my teaching, and it's nonsense. When

I am opposed to structure, it's inhibiting my creativity do not know what the hell they're talking. They just don't they use the word structure. But they wouldn't understand or know story structure, if it fell from a height under their foot, okay, they just don't know what they're talking about. structure in every scene, ideally, is a turning point of some magnitude, the character's life, they go into a situation wanting something. And something in that moment, kind of prevents them from getting it. They struggle with that. And they either get what they want, or they don't get what they want. Or they get it at a price or they don't get it but learn something. Change takes place. And it's in a simple scene is minor. And then these changes per scene build sequences in which moderate deeper change wider change happens, these sequences build x in it. And then that climax is a major turning point that has greater depth or greater breadth or both have impact on a character's life. And so minor moderate major changes are building a story progressively to an absolute irreversible change at climax. Now, why would anyone object to what I just said? Why would anyone think that you can change Do concrete scenes in which nothing changes. And do that three scenes in a row and people will not be walking up. They come there, they come to the writer, they read a novel, kind of trying to have insight into life as to what forces in life positive and negative, bring about change outwardly or inwardly in characters lives. I mean, that's why we go to the storyteller. And so and so why would you not want change? Or why would you want repetitious change? Because the same change degree of change, that happens three times in a row, you know, we're bored. So because it's not giving us what we want, it's not giving us the insight that into character that we want. And so people who say they're opposed to structure don't understand what structure is it they don't understand, it's a dynamic and a progression of minor moderate major changes. And so I have no patience with that kind of ignorance. Hear the people who say that are the very naive, ignorant, really, people who think that if they just open up their imagination, emotion, picture will flow out of it.

Alex Ferrari 26:30
Very true.

Robert McKee 26:32
And, and they are childish in that way. I mean, you open up your imagination and see what flows out, then you have to go to work on it. And you have to step back from every, every time you you know, or let me put you this way. What in truth is it to write? What is writing actually, like, as an experience, you open up your imagination, and you have an idea for a character or two or three, and you write a page, things happen? Action reaction dialog, that when you write a page, that takes 20 minutes, then what do you do? You read that page? And you could take it does this work? would he say that? Would she act like that? would this happen with it? Is there a better way to do this? And is this repetitious? Is there a hole does it make sense, you constantly critique what you've written, and you go back, and you rewrite it. And then you read it, again, you critique it again. And this goes on all day long. And so you go inside to create, you go outside to critique, you create, your critique you curate, and the quality of your critique that guides your rewriting is absolutely dependent on your understanding to make judgments, when you ask the question, does this work? You have to know what works and what doesn't work. And, and so that on one level, everything you do is structure. Its structured to have a character say x and another character respond with y that structure action reaction, that the person who said x did not expect to hear why

Alex Ferrari 28:36
right exit Exactly.

Robert McKee 28:39
And that structure that beat of act reaction and human behavior, that structure. So is I said, People say this, say it out of out of emit amateur understanding of what the creativity, what the act of writing really is.

Alex Ferrari 29:07
And I, whenever I've come up against that, when I say no, every you know, every movie has some sort of structure. Most movies, especially popular movies have structure. And your definition of structure is wonderful. They always throw out Pulp Fiction, and I'm like, no Pulp Fiction is an extremely structured film. Do you agree?

Robert McKee 29:28
Yeah. I've when I was we were talking about when I was when they were doing adaptation, and I was working with Charlie Kaufman. Charlie had exactly that attitude. I said, the third act doesn't work. We have to restructure it. And in the end is his face went into a panic mode. He didn't want you know, scared the hell out. He said, I know. I know that. It needs some, you know, just it'll come to me it was a clo and whatnot. And it's as easy as I don't write with structure. He said that I don't write with structure. I said, Charlie, would you like me to lay out the three act design of being john malkovich as because it's a three act, play, want to hear them, act 123. And, and he almost ran out of the room. He didn't want to hear it. He wants to live in the delusion that it somehow flows, and there is no structure. And when in fact, subconsciously, at least being john malkovich is a three activist

Alex Ferrari 30:48
is a great, it's

Robert McKee 30:50
a model, it's a model, BJ Mack is a model three act design. But it's but to the romantic like, Charlie, he doesn't want to hear it. Because he thinks that that's going to constipate his creativity. And I have to agree with it. If he wants to write out of this notion that it's all a flow. And if he is aware that there's a, that there's a design happening, it would, it would inhibit him. So it's because he's a good writer, he's very talented. So it would be better for him to live in that delusion, and let it all pour out. And then he goes back, and his taste guides the rewriting and so forth. And, and, and so if you're talented, like Charlie and, and the idea of structure is frightening, then you should listen to those feelings. And not think about structure and just, you know, do what you do, and hope it works.


that's rare.

Alex Ferrari 32:10
Very, very, very rare. But yeah, but and so for everyone listening, you have to understand that someone like Jeff Hoffman is writing. And as he's writing, he's subconsciously working within the three act structure, honestly, on a subconscious level. And even the great writers is like, Oh, I never even think about outlining or plotting, is because they have such a grasp of the craft, that it's already pre wired in them. It's like me building a house, I wouldn't even think twice about how to pour a foundation, or how to how to how to lay out the walls, because I've done it a million times. I don't have to sit there and think about it, it's just done. But that is rare, and it takes sometimes years to get to that place or you're a prodigy, which happens once in a generation or twice in a generation.

Robert McKee 32:57
And and you're absolutely right. That's very, very well put and, and in fact, it goes beyond that you have been watching the stories on screen you have been reading them in novels, you've been to the theater, that form form is a better word than structure that form of action, contradictory reaction and reaction to that and a giant dynamic of action reaction building to change that is so built into you as a as a reader as an audience member from I don't know two three years old. Mother read your little you know, bunny rabbit stories, right? Your bunny rabbit goes out and something happens that not happy for the bunny rabbit and then you know of bunny rabbits mother comes along and pictures things whatever it takes, I mean that that form is ingrained in you from from the earliest. And so you do know it?

Alex Ferrari 34:08
Without question. Now you do more dialogue is something that is you've wrote an entire book dedicated to dialogue. Obviously, your first book is story. But your second book is dialogue. What are the three functions of dialogue in your opinion?

Robert McKee 34:25
Well, there's many of them and certainly one of them is is the obvious one of exposition by various means. So for examples simple in writing dialogue, a character has a certain vocabulary so for example, you you've done construction on houses, right? Some sure I And so how many different kinds of nails Do you know? From spiked to tact of,

let's say 10? Yeah. Okay. Now most people may know, to me one nail on a screw, basically, that's all they know.

Okay. So if if in there, if a character in their dialogue uses the, the carpenters terminology. And even metaphorically, you know, call something a five, many nail, right? The fact that he knows the difference between a temporary nail and pipe and whatever it is, his exposition is it tells us something about the life of this character, by the very word, the names of things that that this character uses in their vocabulary helps us understand the whole life of this character. So if somebody grew up, you know, around boats, and they use nautical terminology, right? And so that they the language inside of the dialogue, all that just the vocabulary alone gives us exposition, it tells us who is this character? What's their life been like? Etc. Okay, then, at the same time, the characters talking about things that are happening, or have happened. And when somebody says, you know, you're not going to leave me again, we are to instantly know, that's it, she's already left them once, at least before

Alex Ferrari 36:46
it says it says volumes with one word.

Robert McKee 36:49
Yeah, there's no word again. But so we have an insight into what their life has been like, in this relationship. And so that's number one is is, is exposition. And number two is action. When people speak, what they say, is an action they take in order to get what they need and want in the moment, but underneath that is what they're really doing. And it's what in the subtext, the action they take in the subtext is what's driving the scene? So when somebody says, Well, I didn't expect that. Right? What they're really doing, perhaps, depending, right, is attacking, criticizing the other person for doing something that's completely inappropriate. What they say is, well, I didn't expect you to say that I didn't expect you to do that. I didn't expect that. But what that is, is a way of attacking another person for inappropriate behavior. And so it's right. And so and so the dialogue is the text by which people carry out actions. But underneath the dialog, is the true action. And it that's based on a common sense, understanding that people do not say out loud and do out what they're really thinking and feeling. They cannot, no matter how they try, if they're when they're, when they're pouring their heart out and confessing to the worst things they've ever done. There's still another layer, where they're actually begging for forgiveness, let's say, right? So by confessing, actually, you're begging for forgiveness or whatever it is. And so dialogue is the outer vehicle for interaction. And, and the great mistaken dialogue is writing the the interaction into the dialogue. stead of having somebody confess, did they beg Please forgive me, please forgive me, forgive me, forgive me. Right. And, and if somebody is actually begging, there's got to be another level of what they're really doing underneath the baking. And, and so you have to, you know, the writer has to think to that by begging. What that dialogue is actually a mask for manipulating that person. Do what you have to do, right. And so, exposition, action. Okay. And then, you know, just beauty. Just Just wonderful dialogue, in character, and all that, but but a way of creating a surface that is that it draws us. Because, you know, we just love to see scenes where characters speak really well. in there. And even though even if we're using just gangster talk, good gangs, your dog, it's right to talk to each other and that kind of rap and that kind of unite. Right? That's, that's a form of beauty. It's wonderful, you know, it's pleasurable, right. The dialogue ultimately ought to be pleasing, and in his sense of kind of verbal spectacle. And so that's just, you know, that just three off the top of my head functions, but there's is there's much more right and I, I like I'm sure like you, we all love. Wonderful, memorable quotable dialogue.

Alex Ferrari 41:24
Yeah, very much like it's so obviously Tarantino and Sorkin and Shane Black and these kind of screenwriters, their dialogue is just, it's poetic in the way that they write something, certainly is, certainly, and the genius of them is they're able to do the first two things you said, within that poetry, as opposed to just poetry for poetry sake,

Robert McKee 41:46
which is, you know, that is that just decorative. They all happens all at once. You know, you're getting exposition, see who these characters are, whatever actions or reactions are driving the scene, and it's a pleasure to listen to.

Alex Ferrari 42:03
Now, one thing I've noticed in years and even in my own writing descriptions, in a screenplay, a lot of screenwriters, when they starting out, they feel like it's a novel. So, they will write a very detailed description about a scene or about something, where from my understanding, over the years, less is more and it becomes more of a of an exercise in Haiku is than it is in the novel writing. Can you kind of talk a little bit about the importance of of compacting your description?

Robert McKee 42:37
Well, it does need to be economical. Of course. On the other hand, it has to be vivid,

Alex Ferrari 42:44

Robert McKee 42:46
And that's, you know, where does that balance strike you that the ambition is to project a film into the readers head. So that when they read their screenplay, they see a motion picture without camera directions without you know smash CUT TO for transitions and, you know, Dolly on and you know, and you know, pull focus, whatever nonsense, you got to use the language and description to create the effect of a motion picture, then you only use ideally, you only use the master shots, it you you only the the the shots, the angles, the setups, camera setups that are absolutely necessary. And no more you do not try to direct the film. And, and instead, you project a motion picture into the readers head. And, and, and so you need to it over, often in overriding and when, in fact, was not only overwritten, but it's not vivid. It's because writers rely on adjectives and adverbs. And what they need is to know the names of things. You know, he, he, he picks up what we're talking about before a big nail. Well, you know, big is an adjective. And so, put an image in the readers head, he picks up a spike. Spike is a vivid image. A he, he walks slowly across the room, will slowly is an adverb. Right? Right. And so you name the action of verb is the name of an action. He pads across the room he ambles, he strolls he saunters. He you know, Waltz's is an active verb without an adjective, adverb, concrete nouns without adjectives. And we see things and we see actions. And it becomes vivid. It reduces the word count. And, and here's here's something a good it's a good note for writers take your screenplay. And, and search the verb is or our urge is an are throughout your descriptions and eliminate every single one of them. know things are nothing is in a screenplay. Everything in a film is alive. And action. So you know, a name the thing. So a line like a big house, there, there is a big house on a hill.


And what's a big house a mansion or a state? a villa? What's a, you know, a hill, a mountain. At add and add and turn it into a villa sits just that verb sits is more active than is a big house sits with a spectacular with this spectacular view. And so easy, a big house up high with a great view. And it's an image and it's active, it sits sprawls across, whatever. And so active verbs concrete nouns, and and make us see a movie. And every writer finds every good writer finds their own personal way to do that. And Paddy Chayefsky wrote elaborate descriptions. Harold Pentre described, nothing, nothing. He would just go interior kitchen dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, dialogue, describe nothing. And because his attitude was, we all know what a kitchen looks like. And they'll probably play it in the garage anyway. But if they mess if they mess with my beats of action reaction and you know, in dialogue, then they're in trouble. Okay, so every writer has to find their own way to accomplish the task of a vividly projecting emotion picture in the imagination, as you turn pages who make them see a movie.

Alex Ferrari 48:23
Now, your new book is called character. And I wanted to ask you a couple questions in regards to character because, arguably, I always like to ask the question, do you start with plot or you start with character I always say to people, you don't like Indiana Jones, his plots aren't nearly as memorable as Indiana Jones James Bond's plots aren't as memorable as James Bond. Like I don't you throw me the plot of thunder ball. I don't remember. I remember scenes, but I do remember James Bond. And that's what draws me back to his stories. So, can you talk a little bit about the difference between roles and character?

Robert McKee 48:58
Well, a role is a generic term. And so hero is a role villain is a role victim is a role. You know, sidekick is a roll. goon is a roll. shopkeeper his role in the role is as a position in a in a cast. as defined by its relationship to other characters, and or a profession. Like waiter, asked driver. And, and they're generic, they wrote something waiting to be filled by a character. And as a character comes into a story to fulfill a certain role but it's a it's a You know, it's it's a, it's a generic to that to that genre. And so if you have a family, the roles are mother, father, children guide, they're okay, those are roles, characters are our unique human beings, we inhabit those roles. And and there's a design of a cast, such that the protagonist, and the central character at role is the most complex character role. And they are they, they're, depending on the genre, they are the most dimensional character of all. And they are ideally, they, they are the center of good, there's a, there's a positive human quality, not every way certainly, but there's, there's some quality, within the complexity of that character, with which we recognize we empathize, we recognize a shared humanity, the character is then in orbit around that character that protagonists are less dimensional, but they can be dimensional as as well, then you go all the way out to the second third circles, where you have people only playing a role. cashier, restaurant cashier, okay. Now, even when you're writing a scene where your character goes up to the cashier in a restaurant, to pay a bill, and discovers that his credit card is cancelled, right, you have a clerk standing there, at the at the take, who takes the credit card and finds that it's, it's been rejected that clerk character, he be very useful to imagine that role, very specifically, what kind of human being, you know, is she or he, it because it does the, the way in which that clerk that roll says responds to your card is canceled. Your card didn't go through the, the, the way you write the words and gesture for that character gives her a trait. And so roles have traits and, and to make, even that moment, when there's a human being behind that, that trait. And so if she's sarcastic, if she's fed up with with the job itself or with with people whose cards never work, or she's sympathetic because her cards don't work.

Alex Ferrari 53:19

Robert McKee 53:21
so, even in a in a simple role like that, you try to write it with a as a specific trait in the way in which he deals with that moment. And it creates a character for an actor. And so the actor come in there and realize, Oh, this is an antagonistic clerk or this is a sympathetic cleric, or an indifferent or bored or falling asleep, or glancing at her watch constantly, she just wants to get out of here, whatever it is, you give her a trait. And that makes her a character, she sends the GM to life and it gives the actor something to hang their performance on. And so dimensions the protagonists, the most dimensional of all dimensions are contradictions within the nature of the girl. And so you populate that with in my book on character, I look at characters everybody from from Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey has an eight dimensional character, all the way up to Tony Soprano, as a 12 dimensional character Walter White, as a 16 dimensional character. And so and so the complexity of character today given long form television, especially, is at is becoming your astronomical And then you have to give all the, that every one of these dimensions if a character is, is kind and cruel, okay? Sometimes they're crying, sometimes they're cruel. Therefore, you're going to need a cast of characters where the protagonist, when they meet character a, they treat them kindly character B, they treat with, with a slap with cruelty and, and so you need to design a cast around each other characters. So that when, whenever any two characters meet, they bring out sides of their dimensionality or traits of behavior that no one else brings out of them. And so, every single character is designed that whenever they encounter any other character, they bring out each other's qualities in ways that no other character does. And, and when you have a, you know, when you have that kind of cast, where every single character services, every other character, and no redundancies every relationship is unique. every relationship develops a different aspect or a different dimension. Then you have a fascinating group of people that creates a world that the audience can really

Alex Ferrari 56:38
dive into,

Robert McKee 56:39
dive into now, you know, when characters when and carrot one characters behave toward each other in the same way, no matter who it is. That, you know, that's it's a boring and do it's false. People do not treat other people, different people the same. Everybody behaves in a uniquely subtly but uniquely different way, depending upon the relationship. And it takes a lot of concentration and imagination in the writer to realize that every relationship brings out different sides of the character's nature.

Alex Ferrari 57:21
Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests. Robert, what are three screenplays every screenwriter should read? You see? I don't answer that question. Okay. For this reason, I don't want people to copy anybody. Okay, fair enough.

Robert McKee 57:46
And so if I say, you know, if I named my, you know, my favorites, like, say, trying to tell people you know, then run to study Chinatown and emulate it. And that's a mistake. The really important question to ask people is, what's your favorite genre? Because they should be writing the kind of films they love.

Alex Ferrari 58:15
It's a good point, what

Robert McKee 58:16
I love, what are my favorites may have nothing to do with their favorites. And so the first question is, you know, what do you love? What kind of movies do you go to see what kind of things do you read? What do you love? And then seek out those? And the second thing is that if I name favorites, and, and that they, you know, they're in their pieces of perfection. Okay. What does that teach the writer? They got a model of perfection. Great. Okay, that's important, you should understand you should have an ideal, what you're trying to achieve. But one of the ways to achieve it, is to study bad movies. break them down and ask yourself, why is this film so boring? Why can't I believe a word of it? Why does this fail? and break it down and study it? To answer what this What does it lack what went wrong, etc. Okay, and then rewrite it.

Alex Ferrari 59:37
Just thing,

Robert McKee 59:39
rewrite it. fix that broken film. Because that's what you're going to do as a writer. Your first draft is going to suck. And you're going to go in and try to fix your broken script. Try to bring it to life. Try to cut edited shape and rewrite it reinvented, you're going to read it over and over again, right? Having fixed broken films, not just one, but many, many, many take bad movies, studying them and make them make them work is practice for what you're going to have to do with your own screenplay. Because it's not going to work in the beginning, it's going to need a lot of work to work. And so having rewritten bad films to make them work is, is a real learning experience. And so I say, study good films are of your genre, so that you have a an ideal that you achieve, rewrite the bad ones to teach yourself how to fix broken work. And so, and that's a personal choice. I can't say what that should be for those people. For every one of them, loves whatever they love, which may or may not be what I love.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:00
Now, where can people find out more about you? And where can they purchase your new book character? Amazon? It's pretty much it is pretty much it nowadays, isn't it? It's pretty much it nowadays, isn't it? Amazon.

Robert McKee 1:01:17
bookstores, I'm sure are opening up. And if you know if you love bookstores, as I do, you know, you can go to a bookstore and get it. But the most direct way that will be there in your budget for the next morning. It's incredible what they do, what Amazon does, and bash, you know that the other other Barnes and Noble stew or whatever it is, but yeah, it's very simple. You just go to amazon.com. Right? Just write the word McKee. And comes story, dialogue, character, in hardcover, in an audio and in Kindle,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:05
and everything else? And then how can people read it? And how can people learn more about you what you offer?

Robert McKee 1:02:13
Ah, the go to make peace story.com. The key story.com will take you to our website. And we have a upcoming. We've been doing webinars now for a year and a half since the plague hit us. And they've been very successful, very, very pleased with it. And in July, we're doing a series on action. Nice on the action genre. And so these, these are every Tuesday, three Tuesday's in a row. And they're two hour events, hour and a half worth of lecture and a half hour of q&a. Then on Thursday, I I give an additional two hours of q&a.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:01

Robert McKee 1:03:03
And because I realized how important it is for people to get answers to things they're working on. So So Tuesdays and Thursdays for three weeks in a row. And there's you know, four hours of material each week. So and we will we will look at the action genre in depth with lots of illustrations and examples of an adage and I love giving these acts. webinars. And it's a favorite of mine. Actually,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:38
I love a good action movie is it's hard to come by nowadays. So I appreciate it. Robert, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to to my audience and I appreciate all the work that you have done over the years and help so many screenwriters as well. So thank you so much for everything you do.

Robert McKee 1:03:54
It was a lovely chat. Great chat. Nice talking to you.


Top 15 Indie Filmmaking Podcasts (Oscar® and Emmy® Winners)

Indie Filmmaking Podcasts have been so important to me over the past few years. Indie Film Hustle entered into the podcast space in 2015 with the launch of its first original podcast series, The Indie Film Hustle Podcast.

The response to the podcast was so amazing that after a few short months the show became the #1 filmmaking podcast on Apple Podcasts & Spotify, and still maintain that honor. I’m truly humbled and thankful by the response.

The show is only as good as the indie filmmakers who listen to it. Thank you all for the support. I have put together the Top 15 Indie Filmmaking Podcasts from the IFH archives. This list will be updated every few months so keep checking back.

Click here to subscribe on iTunes,  Spotify, Stitcher, or Soundcloud.

1. Oliver Stone

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

2. Joe Carnahan

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

3. Richard Linklater

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

4. Edward Burns

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

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

5. Jason Blum

I’m excited to talk to a fellow low-budget independent filmmaker today.

Granted, he does low-budget films on a completely different level than I or most people do at this point. But if we are going to talk about budget filmmaking, it is only fitting to have expert horror film and television producer, Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions.

That is a testament to his company’s high-quality production. Blumhouse is known for pioneering a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality micro-budget films and provocative television series. They have produced over 150 movies and television series with theatrical grosses amounting to over $4.8 billion.

6. Edward Zwick 

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

7. John Sayles

John Sayles is one of America’s best known independent filmmakers, receiving critical acclaim for films including Eight Men Out (1988), Lone Star (1996) and Men with Guns (1997). He’s also written screenplays for mainstream films such as Passion Fish (1992), Limbo (1999), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) and did a draft of Jurassic Park (1993) for Steven Spielberg.

8. Neill Blomkamp

Ever since I saw District 9 and learned of all the mythical stories behind the short film becoming a feature, I have been a massive fan of today’s guest, Neill Blomkamp. Though Neill is here today to talk about his new sci-fi horror fiction film, Demonic, we also chatted up about his other films that have been successful over the years.

9. David F. Sandberg

So many times we hear those mythical stories of a filmmaker who makes a short film and uploads it to Youtube in hopes of a big time film producer sees to and comes down from Mount Hollywood and offers him or her a deal to turn that short into a studio feature. Today’s guest had that happen to him and then some. On the show is writer/director David F. Sandberg.

David’s story is the “lottery ticket” moment I speak about so often on the show. His journey in Hollywood is remarkable, inspiring and scary all at the same time.  He created a short film called Lights Out. That short was seen by famed filmmaker and producer James Wan (Furious 7, Aquaman, The Conjuring) who offered to produce a feature film version at New Line Cinema.

10. Albert Hughes

I can’t be more excited about the conversation I’m about to share with you. Today on the show we have filmmaker and indie film legend Albert Hughes. Albert, along with his brother Allen began making movies at age 12, but their formal film education began their freshman year of high school when Allen took a TV production class. They soon made the short film The Drive-By and people began to take notice.

After high school Albert began taking classes at LACC Film School: two shorts established the twins’ reputation as innovative filmmakers. Albert and his brother then began directing music videos for a little known rapper named Tupac Shakur. 

These videos lead to directing their breakout hit Menace II Society (1993), which made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and grossed nearly 10 times as much as its $3 million budget.

11. Taylor Hackford

Sitting down with one of the big names in this business this week was a really cool opportunity. I am honored to have on the show today, Oscar® winning director, producer, and screenwriter, Taylor Hackford.

Taylor’s has directed films like An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), White Nights (1985), Proof of Life (2000), Dolores Claiborne (1995), Against All Odds (1984), Parker (2013), the iconic Ray Charles biopic, Ray of 2004, and The Comedian (2016) just to name a few. He also has served as president of the Directors Guild of America and is married to the incomparable acting legend Helen Mirren.

12. Troy Duffy

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

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

13. Barry Sonnenfeld

I can’t tell you how excited I am for today’s episode. I had the pleasure to speak to the legendary director Barry Sonnenfeld. We discuss his idiosyncratic upbringing in New York City, his breaking into film as a cinematographer with the Coen brothers, and his unexpected career as the director behind such huge film franchises as The Addams Family and Men in Black, and beloved work like Get Shorty, Pushing Daises, and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

We also chat about the time he shot nine porno films in nine days. That story alone is worth the price of admission.

14. Alex Proyas

I can’t be more excited to bring you this episode. On today’s show, we have the legendary writer/director Alex Proyas, the filmmaker behind The Crow, Dark City, The Knowing, Gods of Egypt, and I, Robot.

Alex Proyas had a huge influence on my filmmaking life. The Crow was one of those films I watch a thousand times, in the theater, when I was in film school. He began his filmmaking career working in music videos with the likes of Sting, INXS, and Fleetwood Mac before getting the opportunity to direct The Crow.

15. Sean Baker

Sean Baker is a writer, director, producer and editor who has made seven independent feature films over the course of the past two decades. His most recent film was the award-winning The Florida Project (2017) which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was released by A24 in the U.S. Among the many accolades the film received — including an Oscar nomination for Willem Dafoe for Best Supporting Actor — Sean was named Best Director by the New York Film Critics Circle.

His previous film Tangerine (2015) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won an Independent Spirit and two Gotham Awards. Starlet (2012) was the winner of the Robert Altman Independent Spirit Award and his previous two features, Take Out (2004) and Prince of Broadway (2008), were both nominated for the John Cassavetes Independent Spirit Award.

Bonus: Eric Roth

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

Bonus: David Chase

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

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

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

Bonus: Billy Crystal 

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


How to Make a $1,000 Feature Film with Mark Duplass

Make a feature film for $1000? Sounds crazy right? Well if you don’t know Mark Duplass you should get to know him. Mark and his brother Jay Duplass are most widely known for making the indie film hits The Puffy Chair and Safety Not Guaranteed. Mark Duplass has gone on to be a very successful writer, producer, and director.

Mark Duplass is an extremely talented film director, producer, musician, actor, and screenwriter. He along with his brother, Lawrence Jay Duplass, have created film industry waves in a very short time period. Be it filmmaking or successful TV series, everyone loves the work of Duplass Brothers.

Being Filmtrepreneurs they have initiated their own production company Duplass Brothers Productions and have been into the directing business since then. Widely known for their films The Puffy Chair (2005), Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011), and also The Do-Deca-Pentathlon (2012).

Jay and Mark Duplass have also co-created the renowned HBO TV series Togetherness.

Both of these talented brothers grew up in a suburb of New Orleans. They fell in love with film at a young age and they started making videos on their father’s Panasonic when the brothers were 6 and 9 respectively.

They would shoot versions of The Lone Ranger as well as The Sermon on the Mount. According to the Duplass brothers, when they look back over this period and the activities which extended to their teenage, they seem to recall an inner self of experimentation.

Things got focused and serious once Jay made this self-realization that he did not want to go on with his filed after spending four years as psychology majors which he was studying at the University of Texas, Austin. Mark Duplass was a singer-songwriter which he had to eventually give up because of increased condition of tendinitis.

Jay remained an extra year in the school so that he could study film and also got his brother Mark Duplass enrolled there so that he could act in his projects. Which was usually extremely cute bits of valuable silliness pretty much inspired by their obsession with the Coen Brothers. Mark has himself admitted that we were trying to be them but it was not going well.

After some time, Jay got his hands on a profitable and worthwhile commission to film a documentary about gardening which was some sponsored material on the behalf of an Austin startup, gardening.com.

The company crumpled before the film was finished even but luckily for the Duplass brothers, not before paying for their efforts. With that money, they bought a Canon GL1, got themselves a camera operator, and a photography editor so that they could begin on their second scripted feature film which was a rip-off of Rocky but in running shoes called Vince Del Rio.

And before they had even finished its edited, the duo decided that I was simply unreleasable which Mark Duplass has often referred to a steaming pile of dog diarrhea.

The Duplasses had no money, no ideas, and a terrible period of lack of faith in their filmmaking skills. So in desperation, Mark thought of making a movie which was part of their childhood. Fast and affordable and off-the-cuff. Mark Duplass went out to buy a $3 MiniDV tape which is the entire production cost of the movie and also improvised the total of what was to become the This is John of 2003.

It was a seven-minute short that started as an exercise, which results in triggering a psychological collapse because John rejects his numerous attempts as being too conscious or too formal. This was the course that so well summarized the creative journey of Duplasses’.

Though This is John might have sounded and looked like a home movie, it had a hint of life to it and that is why it was accepted into the shorts program when the Duplasses’ submitted to the Sundance and guess what? It was addressed as one of the five short films to see.

Right after two years, these brothers returned to the Sundance with The Puffy Chair which was an endeavor which they drew from their own lives. Starring Mark Duplass and his girlfriend (now wife) Katie Aselton this film concerns the relationships between men, women, fathers, mothers, and friends. Mark finds a replica of a lounge chair on eBay which his father used ages ago. The road trip that was taken to deliver that chair to him in Atlanta took very interesting twists and turns.

To some of the viewers, the movie touched something deep and affected them with its spooky familiarity. Making something so amazing with so little money sent a huge shockwave through the film industry which made it possible to think that anyone could step up to make a movie.

Although the traditional distributors kept their distance from the not-too-fine cheating after the film had spent a year’s time on the festival circuit, Netflix’s budding film distribution arm, Red Envelope Entertainment made its first acquisition. It is said by Sarandos of Netflix who was running Red Envelope, that he was drawn to the film for the wonderful home-viewing potential it possessed.

The follow-up feature of Duplass brothers in 2008 Baghead, was a mellow horror whose story revolved around a quartet of struggling filmmakers who head back to the woods for the weekend as a last try to pen down a feature film which would give them a head start to their careers. And they found the plot of pretty clichéd stories which gave the actors a set of guidelines to explore human interaction.

The Mumblecore Movement

A new movement called Mumblecore had the Duplass brothers working with directors like Joe Swanberg and Andrew Bujaski. But still, the boys had potential and momentum which soon gave them the chance to take up the traditional first step thing that all directors do to boost up their career i.e. making their first-ever studio film.

Willing to work for less, they cast all of the Puffy Chair fans in the production of Fox Searchlight Cyrus. With a $7 million budget and storyline of a creepy mother-son relationship, it was certainly an out of the box thing. The Duplass spent three years working on Cyrus. The movie revolved around a depressed man in his 40s, which was problem for Fox Searchlight who were suspicious of estranging the viewership. They wanted to portray him as down but not too much of it.

The film grossed $7.4 million which happens to be the most successful Duplass venture to date.

It soon became quite apparent that the movies these brothers were interested in making were aimed at a smaller audience with limited box-office appeal. But yet, if they underperformed in theaters a large audience was enjoying the work of Duplass brothers on the small screen and their movies surely were having a profitable afterlife.

Since The Puffy Chair came out, the Duplass brothers had been toying with the idea of HBO and now seemed the perfect time to actually take the chance. Jay came up with the idea of series which would star Steve Zissis who has Mark’s senior in high school and had had a stall in his acting career after Baghead and Do-Deca-Pentathlon.

So that is how the idea of Alexander the Great took birth which happened to be a pilot about an actor who was struggling with his career with mental health issues. HBO loved it and asked to add more characters making it a relationship show and that is what they did.

Before the premiere of A Teacher at Sundance, Fidell had sent the Duplass brothers her feature making them her fan. That is why she was their first choice when Mark Duplass got an idea for a movie of a young reboot of Days of Wine and Roses which has physical abuse instead of alcohol. Graciously accepted by Fidell, by the end of the day, she was officially signed up both for the writing and direction of what was to formulate into Six Years. And in March at SXSW it was bought by Netflix.

The most astonishing development in an already amazing career apart from the movies and TV shows that this dynamic duo made, the Duplasses have grown into a royalty which helps like-minded filmmakers gain benefit from the business model which they seem to have created.

The Duplass brothers helped a friend in giving life to his film and this revelation that they could actually save the struggling career of a filmmaker with some time and money blew their minds away and always grateful for the emotional as well as financial support by their parents they saw this way to put it back in the world.

Producing multiple films per year, which

  1. Strictly follow the line of low costs.
  2. Protecting the vision of the filmmaker.
  3. Eventually giving the final product to the audiences as fast as possible.

The Duplass Brothers have signed a four-picture deal with Netflix. And they are taking a similar approach to TV. The first film from that deal is Blue Jay starring Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson and directed by Alexandre Lehmann (check out his interview here). Meeting by chance when they return to their tiny California hometown, two former high-school sweethearts reflect on their shared past. Check out the trailer below:

They helped few filmmakers in making 10 episodes of the show of an animated series Animals and much to their surprise, not only HBO bought them but signed them for the second season right away. And four months later, the Duplass brothers got a two-year deal.

These brothers have the magic beans to turn any idea, no matter how trivial it may be, into a profitable TV show or movie.

Can you really make a feature film for $1000 bucks?

Mark Duplass had a packed house for his amazing SXSW Keynote Speech. He was spitting out Indie Film GOLD though out his talk.

If you didn’t get a chance to hear his talk, here are some topics he covered:

  • Learn your craft  by making short films every weekend for $3
  • Write a Feature Film for less than $1,000
  • Have a strong day job (whatever you can get) while working towards your goal
  • Put money away to travel to Film Festivals and future films

Coming from the “Mumblecore” indie film movement, a style of low-budget film typically characterized by the use of nonprofessional actors and naturalistic or improvised performances, he had some great advice for independent filmmakers:

“You should design the aesthetic of the movie so that it doesn’t feel like less than a $200,000 movie but it feels squarely like a $1,000 movie.”

I’ve seen so many filmmakers attempt to make The Avengers on the budget for craft services for one day on a Marvel set. You are setting yourself up to fail. When starting out work within your limitations. It worked for Robert Rodriguez on his indie film classic El Mariachi.

Mark Duplass stated that $1000 is in NO WAY a budget a feature film should be made for. Here is what Duplass says:

“It’s not an empirical number, it depends of the city you live in and the scope of your story. But when I think about that movie, it’s doing a couple of things.

Borrowing recycled hard drive from people. Getting the Ultrakam uncompressed app on your iPhone. Most of it is food and you really want someone who can cook.

I recommend having your editor be the ‘DIT’ person who takes the Media in – and they have a lot of downtime, so you have them help you light, and you have them cook.

And you should be having a crew that’s really, really small. So that money should be mostly spent on food and then you are going to spend that on festival applications.”

Mark Duplass dishes out some amazing advice to independent filmmakers in this keynote speech and awesome Q&A. To see the entire SXSW Keynote check out the video below, DO IT!

“Instinct is very, very important, and we believe in it through every part of the process… When it’s time to create and get that stuff down, we believe in the gut.” – Mark Duplass


Top Ten Best Screenplays Ever Written

If you want to be a screenwriter you have to read screenplays. There’s no better place to start than reading the masters of the craft. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) published this list of the top ten best screenplays ever written and I would have to agree.

My personal favorites on this list are Casablanca, Chinatown, and Annie Hall. Click on the links below and start reading. Happy Reading…then get to writing.

Screenplay by Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. Based on the play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola.

Written by Robert Towne

Written by Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles

Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

Written by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman, Jr.

Written by Paddy Chayefsky

Screenplay by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond.

Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo.

Screenplay by Frank Darabont. I had to add this remarkable screenplay to the list.


Want to read more screenplays by the best screenwriters working in Hollywod today?

The Bulletproof Screenwriting collection of screenplays are organized by screenwriter's & filmmaker's career for easy access.


Quentin Tarantino’s Unreleased Film: My Best Friend’s Birthday

Few directors are as high profile and equally controversial than Quentin Tarantino.  The man is a lightning rod for criticism and praise.  Make no mistake, there is no middle ground here—you either love his work or are physically repulsed by it.  However, one objective fact remains: he is syllabus-grade essential when it comes to the wider discussion of cinema during its centennial.  His impact on film has left a crater too big to ignore.

Having broken out into the mainstream during the heady days of indie film in the 1990’s, Tarantino has influenced an obscene number of aspiring filmmakers my age.  80% of student films I saw in school were shameless rip-offs of Tarantino’s style and work.  I was even guilty of it myself, in some of my earlier college projects.  Something about Tarantino– whether it’s his subject matter, style, or his own character– is luridly attractive.  His energy is infectious, as is his unadulterated enthusiasm for films both good and bad.  Despite going on to international fame and fortune, Tarantino is a man who never forgot his influences, to the point where the cinematic technique of “homage” is his calling card.

Why is this admittedly eccentric man so admired in prestigious film circles and high school film clubs alike?  Objectively speaking, his pictures are pure pulp.  Fetishizations of violence, drug-use, and sex.  By some accounts even, trash.  If you were to ask me, it’s none of those things that make him a role model.  Tarantino represents filmmaking’s most fundamental ideal: the notion that anyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from, can make it in movies if they try hard enough.  Any producer’s son can nepotism his way into the director’s chair, but for the scrawny teenager in Wyoming with a video camera in her hand and stars in her eyes, Tarantino is proof-positive that she could do it too.

Born in 1963 to separated parents in Knoxville, Tennessee, Tarantino grew up without privilege or the conventional nuclear sense of family.  He was raised mostly by his mother, who moved him out near Long Beach, California when he was a toddler.  He dropped out of high school before he was old enough to drive, choosing instead to pursue a career in acting.  To support himself, he famously got a job as a clerk at the now-defunct Video Archives in Manhattan Beach, where he gained an extensive film education by watching as many movies as he could get his hands on, and cultivating an eclectic list of recommendations for his customers.  He found himself enraptured by the fresh, dynamic styles of directors like Martin Scorsese, Sergio Leone, Brian DePalma, and Mario Bava, and he studied their films obsessively to see what made them tick.

This is noteworthy, because most directors traditionally gain their education via film school or working on professional shoots.  Tarantino is the first mainstream instance of a director who learned his craft by simply studying films themselves.  Before the dawn of the digital era, aspiring filmmakers had to have a lot of money to practice their trade—something Tarantino simply didn’t have as a menial retail employee.  What he did have, however, was time, and he used it well by gaining an encyclopedic knowledge of the medium and making a few crucial connections.

When he was twenty four, Tarantino met his future producing partner, Lawrence Bender, at a party.  Bender encouraged him to write a screenplay, which would become the basis for Tarantino’s first film: MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY (1987).  While the film didn’t exactly prove to be a stepping stone to a directing career, and still remains officially unreleased, it served as a crucial crash course for the budding director.

MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY was intended to be a feature length film, but an unfortunate lab fire destroyed the final reel during editing.  The only surviving elements run for roughly thirty minutes, and tell a slapdash story that only emphasizes the amateurish nature of the project.  Set during a wild California night, MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY concerns Mickey Burnett (co-writer and co-producer Craig Hammann), whose birthday is the day of the story.  His best friend, Clarence Pool (Tarantino himself), takes charge of the planning by buying the cake and hiring a call girl named Misty (Crystal Shaw) to… entertain his friend.  Along the way, things go seriously awry and Clarence must scramble to save the evening.

At least, that’s what I took away from the story.  It’s hard to know for sure when you’re missing more than half of the narrative.  My first impression of the film is that it reads like a terrible student project, which is more or less what it is.  It was filmed over the course of three years (1984-1987), all while Tarantino worked at Video Archives.  The characters are thinly drawn, performances are wooden, the technical quality is questionable, and the editing is awkward and jarring.  However, Tarantino’s ear for witty dialogue is immediately apparent.  It sounds strange coming out of the mouths of untrained actors who don’t know how to channel its intricacies and cadences into music, but it’s there.  The myriad pop culture references, the creative use of profanity, and the shout-outs to classic and obscure films are all staples of Tarantino’s dialogue, and it’s all there from the beginning.  There is no filter between Tarantino and his characters—it all comes gushing forth like a fountain straight from the auteur himself.

In his twenty years plus of filmmaking experience, Tarantino has been well-documented as a self-indulgent director, oftentimes casting himself in minor roles.  It’s telling then, that the very first frame of Tarantino’s very first film prominently features Tarantino himself.  Sure, it might be a little narcissistic, but it makes sense when taken into context; his characters are cinematic projections of him, each one signifying one particular corner of his densely packed persona.  Why not begin at the source?

His performance as Clarence Pool is vintage Tarantino, with an Elvis-styled bouffant, outlandish clothes, and an overbearing coke-high energy.  It’s almost like the cinematic incarnation of Tarantino himself, albeit at his most trashy.  He even goes so far as outright stating his foot fetish to Misty in one scene, a character trait we know all to well to be true of Tarantino in real life.

For a director who is noted for his visually dynamic style, the look of MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY is incredibly sedate.  Of course, the film’s scratchy black and white, 16mm film look is to be expected given the low production budget.  For a film where the camera never moves save for one circular dolly shot, an astounding four cinematographers are credited: Roger Avary, Scott Magill, Roberto Quezada, and Rand Vossler.  Visually, it’s an unimpressive film that contains none of the man’s stylistic flourishes, but Tarantino’s rapid-fire wit more than adequately covers for the lack of panache.  A distinct rockabilly aesthetic is employed throughout, from the costumes to the locations.  It even applies to the music, which features various well-known surf rock, bar rock, and Johnny Cash cues.

Much has been made of Tarantino’s inspired music selections, and his eclectic choices have served as a calling card for his unique, daring style.  Music is an indispensable part of Tarantino’s style, from its overt appearances over the soundtrack to certain recurring story elements like the K-Billy radio station (which makes its first appearance here).  His signature use of off-kilter, counter-conventional music sees its first incarnation in MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY, where he employs a jaunty pop song during a violent fist fight.

Watching MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY, it’s clear that Tarantino’s films have always been unabashed manifestations of his personality and his influences.   Tarantino’s storylines and characters exist in an alternate reality, where extreme violence and profanity are more commonplace.  There are whole fan theories that draw lines between his films and connect them together into a coherent universe.  For instance, there’s a moment in the film where Tarantino’s character, Clarence, calls somebody using the fake name Aldo Ray.  Attentive listeners will note that a variation of the same name would show up over twenty years later in the incarnation of Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS (2009).  Further adding to the theory of Tarantino’s “universe” is the fact that MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY would go on to form the initial basis for his screenplay TRUE ROMANCE (which was later directed by the late Tony Scott).  There’s even a kung-fu fight in MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY, which would become the genesis for his fascination with the martial art form over the course of his filmography.

It’s interesting to watch this film, as it bears every hallmark of the traditional “terrible amateur film”.  It has none of the slick polish that Tarantino would be known for, but it makes sense given his inexperience and meager budget.  Everybody’s first film is terrible.  But Tarantino’s unstoppable personality barrels forth, setting the stage for the firestorm he’d create with his debut feature.

MY BEST FRIEND’S BIRTHDAY didn’t lead to anything substantial, simply because it was never released.  It’s a dynamic illustration of auteur theory at work, where the director’s personality shines through regardless of the resources or story.  We can literally see Tarantino finding his sea legs, feeling it out as he goes along.  The film is basically an artifact, but it’s much more than that:  it’s both a humble introduction to a dynamic new voice in film, as well as a (very) rough preview of the radical shift in filmmaking attitudes that would come in the wake of Tarantino’s explosive arrival.

FREE Screenwriting Master Classes: Top Ten List

Screenwriting Master Classes: Top Ten List

What you are about to listen to is probably the equivalent of taking at least five years of screenwriting courses or classes at a top tier film school.

BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts) has an amazing collection of FREE screenwriting lectures from some of the biggest and most successful screenwriters in the world.

There’s easily between 15-20 hours of remarkable content here. Take a listen and get ready to take notes from these masters of the craft of screenwriting and storytelling.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcast, with guest like Oscar Winner Eric Roth, James V. Hart, David Chase, John August, Oliver Stone and more.

Also, keep a look out for the bonus content at the end of the post!

Joss Whedon – Screenwriting Master Class

Joss Whedon’s work ranges across both film and television was strongly conveyed as he discussed the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and Toy Story (1995) through to his recent cinematic interpretation of Much Ado About Nothing (2012).

Having debated the thematic elements of Buffy and Angel (1999-2004), the interview moved towards The Cabin in the Woods (2011) and The Avengers (2012). Whedon’s emotive intentions in his writing remains steadfast, advocating how “the end game is getting people to feel, and if you can get them to think? Bonus”.

It was clear how much his “absurd love of story-telling” motivates him. Whether writing for the big or small screen, Whedon’s passion for “build[ing] narrative structures” and always working to give his audience something unexpected permeated the interview and has warranted high expectations for his projects, including The Avengers 2 (2015).

With an array of unforgettable characters, emotionally heartfelt and witty scripts, and more end-of-the-world apocalypses than you can shake a vampire stake at, writer and director Joss Whedon has established himself as one of the most original voices working in the film and television industries over the past 20 years.

Charlie Kaufman – Screenwriting Master Class

Kaufman – one of the few contemporary screenwriters whose name commands top-billing status alongside his films’ directors – has quickly established himself as an uncompromisingly original and imaginative talent.

1999’s Being John Malkovich, in which the eponymous actor plays a fictional version of himself, earned Kaufman a BAFTA Film Award for Best Screenplay – an award he picked up again for Adaptation (2002) and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004).

Failure is a badge of honour. It means you risked failure.

Nancy Meyers – Screenwriting Master Class

Screenwriter and director Nancy Meyers is an Academy Award nominee for her script Private Benjamin (1980) and Golden Globe nominated for her screenplay It’s Complicated (2009).

Across a career spanning 35 years her credits include Father of The Bride (1991), The Parent Trap (1998), Something’s Gotta Give (2003), The Holiday (2006) and The Intern (2015), starring Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway.

In an inspiring lecture laden with advice for up-and-coming writers, Nancy Meyers discussed creating characters, producing and directing her own work and her concerns for the film landscape in Hollywood.

[thrive_leads id=’8866′]

Brian Helgeland – Screenwriting Master Class

Brian Helgeland stands out as one of Hollywood’s master screenwriters of intelligent crime film.

After cutting his teeth in horror (Nightmare on Elm Street 4 was an early credit), he quickly jumped to A-list status with an Oscar® win for the pitch perfect noir thriller LA Confidential and Oscar® and BAFTA nominations for Mystic River.

As a writer, Helgeland is highly prized for smart, muscular thrillers like Green Zone directed by Paul Greengrass, and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and Man on Fire, both directed by the late Tony Scott, as well as Payback which he wrote and directed himself.

On writing crime film, he says:

“It strips people down to their basic elements. It gets to the hunting-gathering heart of the matter. I don’t want to write about the ennui rich people feel. I could care less. I want to write about what’s in people’s heads, hearts and between their legs when they either are in prison, might go to prison, have a gun in their face or are pointing one”.

In this lecture, Helgeland urged screenwriters to ‘fight’ to assert themselves in front of studio executives, argued that films should be ‘commercial’ (that is, profitable on some level) and paid tribute to Cool Hand Luke screenwriter Frank Pierson.

Scott Frank – Screenwriting Master Class

Scott Frank, a remarkably diverse writer whose films have grossed over a billion dollars at the box office. During writing the screenplay for Kenneth Branagh’s 1991 thriller Dead Again that he says he really learned his craft.

Frank cemented his growing reputation with a brace of Elmore Leonard adaptations – Get Shorty and Out of Sight – and has since gone on to pen films as diverse as Minority Report, The Lookout (which Frank also directed) and Marley & Me.

Frank began his candid, funny and informative lecture by explaining that when writing he finds it useful to follow a set of rules that he has laid out for himself.

He confessed that they are a set of rules that may only work for him, whilst also noting that

“rules are something to cling to when ideas fail.”

His first and possibly most important rule was

“why you decide to write something doesn’t matter, but how you do it is important.”

Frank revealed that he was initially motivated to write Out of Sight because he wanted a bigger house but that it ultimately turned out to be

“the single most enjoyable job of my career, and is perhaps the work that I’m the most proud of.”

He explained,

“It’s okay to write something just for the money, and it’s also okay to write something just because you want to.”

John Logan – Screenwriting Master Class

The man behind Russell Crowe’s brilliant line “At my signal, unleash hell” in Oscar® Winning film Gladiator, John Logan is widely regarded as one of Hollywood’s most prolific writers.

John Logan has collaborated with some of the most visionary directors of our time: Tim Burton, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg.

He is notable for the diversity of his projects: in 2011 alone his writing is at the heart of the Academy Award® Winning animated comedy Rango, Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut Coriolanus, James Bond’s Skyfall directed by Sam Mendes, and Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator and Hugo.

What I say to to young writers is: read your Shakespeare. Read your Shelley. Read your Keats. Read your Byron. Love language.

He discusses the techniques of writing for the big screen.


Do you Want to read all the television pilots from the 2016-2021 seasons?

Learn from the best storytellers and television writers working in Hollywood today. Netflix, NBC, Hulu, HBOMax, Amazon, CBS and more.

Guillermo Arriaga – Screenwriting Master Class

Arriaga came to screenwriting relatively late in life, having been a university teacher and novelist before meeting his collaborator Academy Award® Winning Director  Alejandro González Iñárritu, with whom he made some of his better-known films – Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel. His work is famous for utilizing a fragmentary, non-linear approach to plot, which contributed to Amores Perros’ winning countless awards.

The first rule of screenwriting, or any art, is having no rules.

Emma Thompson – Screenwriting Master Class

The writer and actor’s feature screenwriting debut Sense and Sensibility (1995) remains one of the definitive Jane Austen screen adaptations.

In 2001 she wrote the Golden Globe-nominated Wit for director Mike Nicholls, and in 2005 penned the family hit Nanny McPhee. She returned in 2010 with the sequel Nanny McPhee And The Big Bang.

Emma Thompson described how her writing routine involves yoga and Hoovering, reflected upon her early acting experiences at Cambridge Footlights, and explained why ‘if you can’t fail, you can’t do this job’.

Aline Brosh McKenna – Screenwriting Master Class

Relatively new to the industry but with a string of commercial successes to her name already, Aline Brosh McKenna is one of Hollywood’s current ‘It’ writers, with a particular finesse for romantic comedy.

A first feature credit on Three To Tango (1999) led to Laws Of Attraction (2004). McKenna’s feature script for box-office hit The Devil Wears Prada (2006) was adapted from Lauren Weisberger’s novel.

McKenna’s sharp and sassy screenplay for The Devil Wears Prada was nominated for a BAFTA and a Writers Guild of America Award.

Nick Hornby – Screenwriting Master Class

Nick Hornby is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and award-winning author. His most recent screenplay is an upcoming adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s acclaimed novel Brooklyn (2015), directed by John Crowley, many consider a front runner for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars®.

Prior to that, he adapted Cheryl Strayed’s NY Times bestselling memoir into the film Wild (2014) which was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, and starred Reese Witherspoon.

Nick was Oscar® and BAFTA-nominated for his screenplay adaptation of Lynn Barber’s memoir An Education (2009) directed by Lone Scherfig and he adapted his own memoir for the screenplay of Fever Pitch (1997) starring Colin Firth.


Want to read more screenplays by the best screenwriters working in Hollywod today?

The Bulletproof Screenwriting collection of screenplays are organized by screenwriter's & filmmaker's career for easy access.



IFH 039: How to Write the Million Dollar Screenplay

We’ve all read in Variety or The Hollywood Reporter of some no-name screenwriter selling his or her screenplay for a million bucks. Ever wonder how they did it? What structure did they use? What “tricks of the trade” were employed?

May I introduce Paul Castro, the original writer of one of my favorite films August Rush. Paul Castro is a produced, award-winning screenwriter and world-renowned screenwriting professor.

Structure…is the canvas on which we paint with words.” – Paul Castro

His project, August Rush was produced by Warner Brothers and starred the late great Robin Williams, Keri Russell, Freddie Highmore and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. The film took Paul Castro into the belly of the Hollywood beast.

august rush, paul castro, the million dollar screenwriter, million dollar screenplay, screenwriting course, screenwriting courses, screenwriting Teacher,, film school, independent film, moviemaker, guerrilla filmmaking, tarantino, indie film, film crew, cinematography, short films, film festivals, screenwriter, screenwriting, filmmaking stuff, screenplay, UCLA School

The business of screenwriting can be tough, but while a student at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, he was a finalist for the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Award for directing and producing his original screenplay Healing, and landed a three-picture screenwriting deal worth $1 million.

The lessons he learned not only from selling August Rush but many other Hollywood screenwriting adventures were invaluable. He later went back and became a screenwriting professor at UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, teaching thousands of students over his ten years of teaching.

Paul Castro teaches screenwriting from the inside out.” – Richard Walter, UCLA Screenwriting Chairperson.

After being a screenwriting professor, script doctoring and consulting Paul decided to create the ultimate screenwriting course. He calls it “The Million Dollar Screenplay.” –

I took the course myself and all I have to say is WOW! Paul teaches with an elegant style that’s extremely understandable and straight to the point. Success leaves clues and so do masterfully crafted screenplays that sell for millions of dollars.

Paul Castro shows you those secrets. Not trying to do a hard sell here but I just love this course.

What clearly resonates with me is Paul’s love for and dedication to his students and to storytelling. He is a composed and practical artist and teacher, yet highly imaginative in his approach.” – Michael Eisner, Former CEO of The Walt Disney Company.

Here’s some of what Paul covers in his course:

  • Professional screenwriting techniques
  • Plot development for the big screen
  • Creating compelling characters to attract movie stars
  • Winning dialogue
  • Structure to serve as the blueprint for your movie
  • Scene construction to evoke suspense
  • Sequence writing to manage an ensemble cast

After taking his course I reached out to him and asked him to be a guest on the podcast. What followed was not only a master class in screenwriting but also lessons on the film business and he also discussed how to discover your own voice as an artist. Pretty mind-blowing.

Enjoy this whopper of a podcast episode and if you haven’t seen August Rush do yourself a favor a watch it. It’s worth watching for Robin Williams alone!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:05
Today guys, we have Paul Castro. He is the writer of one of my favorite movies of the last 15 years or so. 20 years Oh, August rush starring the late Robin Williams, Freddie Highmore career Russell and john Reese Myers is a wonderful, wonderful film. He's a master, lecturer, and teacher, screenwriting teacher, he's been teaching at UCLA, one of the considered arguably one of the best screenwriting courses you can take to become a screenwriter and the amount of the Academy Award winners and you know, sold screenplays have come out of that. A program is remarkable. So what Paul did was actually create his own course called a million dollar screenplay. And he basically took everything he taught at the UCLA film school, and put it in this course. And I have to tell you, it is remarkable what he's been able to put in that scores. It is really, really great. So when I took the course I had to get him on the show, had to talk to him. I want her to get deeper and deeper into what he's doing and how he's doing it. So sit back, relax. And and like I always say, prepare to take some notes because there's this one's a doozy. Get ready for our interview with Paul Castro. Well, man, thank you for taking the time out to come on the indie film hustle podcast. I really appreciate it, man.

Paul Castro 2:07
Sure, Alex. Absolutely. I'm happy to do it.

Alex Ferrari 2:10
So I want to jump right into it. So how did you get your foot in Hollywood's door which is a screenwriters. I think one of the ultimate questions for all screenwriters like, how do you break through there's so much noise? There's so many people trying to do it. How did you get your foot in the door?

Paul Castro 2:26
Yeah, it's a valid question and one that is asked perpetually throughout the years by up and coming screenwriters and even my friends who have also taken similar paths. I was on the east coast and I was in a suit and tie job out of college in the Washington DC area. And it wasn't terribly pleasant. And I made the decision to go to Hollywood in the attempt of trading daydreams for dollars as a professional screenwriter. And I thought UCLA film school would be the best path being that the majority of Oscar winners have come out of that program. So I thought that would be a good start. So I drove cross country in my truck, and I was excited to go to UCLA there was only one challenge Alex, which is he got rejected.

Alex Ferrari 3:24
You already packed up you bought the you bought the T shirt. You bought the hat, the mug?

Paul Castro 3:27
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, everything. And so I, you know, I contacted or attempted to contact the chair to the department to no avail. So I went to UCLA and I put in the mailboxes of every film professor, the top 10 reasons why they should reconsider my application. And I just, you know, printed it out and put it in their mailbox in hopes of some type of response. Fortunately, the chairperson of the department called me up and said, Oh, wait, got your top 10 list was very funny made us all laugh. Nice. Oh, well, great. Am I in Nisa? No, absolutely not.

Alex Ferrari 4:08
But thank you for the hustle.

Paul Castro 4:09
I appreciate it. Exactly. So a year later, I did apply again. And fortunately, I was one of the 18 to get in. And it was it was a good year, I was glad looking back on it that I didn't get in because it gave me a chance to really hone my craft and write and take seminars and read books and do everything I could humanly possible to inculcate my self into the system in an organic holistic way. So at UCLA, we had to write a full length feature, feature length screenplay, Alex every eight weeks, for three years, Jesus.

Alex Ferrari 4:51
Yeah, that's insane. Like I took me forever to write my first feature scripts.

Paul Castro 4:55
Yeah, right. Holy cow. So and those scripts couldn't keep up were invited to leave the program. So I felt Wow, I gotta get this done. So yeah with so I got really lucky because of that pressure because I had to come up with ideas. Of course, I have a nephew named Anthony and he at the time was five years old. He was like a redheaded Harry Potter type kid. And he was born on August 5, and he kept looking off into space and kind of pondering life a lot. And I say what's going on? What are you thinking about little guy? And he would say, Well, do you hear the train in the distance? Yeah. Do you hear the kids playing soccer? Yeah. Do you hear the birds chirping? I go, Yeah, he goes, put it all together. It's music. And I went, Whoa, okay, that's trippy, right. So it just kind of stayed with me. it resonated with me. And when it was time to come up with another idea for UCLA. I thought, Hmm, what if this kid had like this amazing musical ability simply because he could take sounds from everyday life. So I wrote a screenplay called noise and noise was about a young musical prodigy named August rush, who uses his gifts to reunite his estranged parents. And I came up with the name August rush because Anthony is born August 5, and Geoffrey Rush won the Oscar for a movie called Yeah, yeah, that movie. That's awesome movie. Yeah, it was a musical movie. So I thought, Okay, that makes sense. So, yeah, so it was just one of those things. Okay, here goes another screenplay. And the chairperson of the screenwriting department at UCLA, Richard Walter, who to this day is a dear friend and mentor and wonderful person. So Richard said, Hey, I really love this screenplay. May I give it to a producer friend of mine? And I said, Absolutely not. No.

Alex Ferrari 7:08
Nice, nice. No, no, no, please, please don't do that.

Paul Castro 7:12
Yeah, please, I want to I want to marinate in eggs and work at Starbucks for the rest of my life.

Alex Ferrari 7:18
Not that there's anything wrong with Starbucks.

Paul Castro 7:20
You know what? Starbucks is part of my daily ritual. And there are many days when I go man, I just wish I could just chill here and meet people all day and work.

Alex Ferrari 7:29
It's how much how many screenwriters are at Starbucks on a daily basis here in Los Angeles

Paul Castro 7:34
And the best ones are the ones that work there probably

Alex Ferrari 7:37
You know, the funniest things is that and this is hard for people outside of LA to understand is, when you walk into a Starbucks, any Starbucks in the Los Angeles area, you will see a laptop with final draft open and I've not yet found one that is always somebody working on a screenplay or if not you will hear someone talking about the story that the killer right now.

Paul Castro 8:01
You know, you're right. You You know, if you get pulled over by a cop for not wearing your seatbelt, you could always ask him. Hey, how's your screenplay gone? Oh, how did you know?

Alex Ferrari 8:12
Welcome to LA Hollyweird.

Paul Castro 8:14
Yeah, so anyway, so that was the situation and it was, you know, serendipity, cosmic choreography, a plethora of luck. And so I met with this producer, and he really liked the screenplay. He also liked something else I wrote called a gift for mom. And I was fortunate he gave me a three picture deal. Wow. And it was pretty substantial. But you know, I mean, just one of those things is just very lucky. There are screenwriters, I meet on a daily basis that are enormously talented that have still not, you know, I hesitate to say aided because what is that really, as long as you're being creative and contributing to the world in some way, shape, or form with your creativity? I think that's success. But

Alex Ferrari 9:03
But being able to make a living doing what you love to do is the dream in one way, and that dream is very true. You don't have to be a billionaire. You can you know, you can and that's something we preach it in the film also is like, you know, what, what is success to you guys? Like is 100 grand a year doing what you love? Is that enough? Is 50 grand a year? You know, living in Kansas? Is that enough? You know, like, yeah, that's the question you have to ask yourself, but anyway, sorry, I digress. Yeah.

Paul Castro 9:29
Right. That is a wonderful way to approach it. You know, what is your definition of success? First of all, what is that, you know? So that's, that's how I got started. I got very lucky.

Alex Ferrari 9:45
You were at the right place at the right time with the right project.

Paul Castro 9:47
Yeah, exactly. And I guess, you know, I mean, I definitely don't want to project false humility, but there's a lot of luck to it. But I also do have to say I wrote a lot by that time. When I sold August rush, I had written probably 11 feature films is maybe 12.

Alex Ferrari 10:07
That's a number. So I've interviewed a bunch of different screenwriters and the number is 10 1112, before something gets sold, is that's a, that's a good number. I mean, there are the the oddballs that sell it, like their first script or second script or something like that. But generally, you have to kind of, like, get all the bad scripts out that say, say, Yeah, get all the bad writing done early.

Paul Castro 10:28
Right. And I think you already know my philosophy. It's not right about what you know, it's right about what you know, hurts. You know, everyone has their little owies from life, something that's happened to them. Usually it's from childhood that has stayed with them, and the writers who are brave enough to go into the belly of the beast of that situation early on. You don't have to write the 910 1112 scripts, they can actually nail it on the first or second or third time. Right. And, and you don't have to write about that situation. Alex, as you know, it's writing about that emotion. So what is an emotion that is okay, so when the wave retracts of something that was horrifying or embarrassing or shameful to you, when that wave retracts, what are the seashell gems left behind? What is that emotion

Alex Ferrari 11:27
And that's the that's where some of the best writing has come from, in a lot of ways, especially when you're starting out I'd imagine. I mean, I've heard from many different I mean, I've read every screenwriting book and everything and, and and a lot of a lot of the Guru's and a lot of successful screenwriters as well always say, you know, at the beginning, you write what you know, or that pain that you're saying about then later on, as you become better with your craft, you can start creating the Harry Potter's of the world and things that aren't based in reality. Is that something Do you agree with? Or what's your point of view on that?

Paul Castro 12:00
No. Again, I would suggest never second guessing the market and what the market wants and what could sell or should sell. You look at something like Erin Brockovich, okay, right that ever sold now, but Julia Roberts said, Hey, this rocks, and then you have a movie.

Alex Ferrari 12:20
And Steven Soderbergh was like, yeah, I'll do it.

Paul Castro 12:24
It's like that everything came together. So I'm a big believer, Alex, in, you know, give yourself to the world and come from the spirit of contribution. Yeah. And yeah, the universe will conspire on your behalf.

Alex Ferrari 12:42
And that's a great, that's excellent. That's really is excellent. That's a great, that's great advice. Now with August rush, I've always wanted to ask a screenwriter this story. How was the process of getting a story you've got you've got it sold Now, what is the process of the journey that it went through to get it onto the screen? So like, how did the development process go? I mean, you don't have to I mean, I know this is a very long question. But just you know, as you know, just give us a Reader's Digest version of it. Like how, what was the journey, like for August rush to get it out to the big screen, because it was released by obviously a major studio with major stars in it. So it's not a slight little indie film. It was a it was a big studio movie at the time. So how was that process?

Paul Castro 13:24
Yeah. Well, it was it was an involved process. So I'll walk you through it. And actually, now it's another process because August rush is going to Broadway.

Alex Ferrari 13:34
Oh, how awesome is that? Congratulations.

Paul Castro 13:36
Yeah, it's fantastic. I'm excited because I think it will translate well to the stage. So yeah, so the Writers Guild only requires, you know, two rewrites and a Polish at the time when I sold it. But I was a young new writer eager to please. So I was in Writer rewrite. And some people would say hell, but I don't think it was I think it was a wonderful training ground for me. So over a two year period, I did I don't know 1617 drafts of that script. How many years? Yeah, tune it to two and a half years.

Alex Ferrari 14:16
So you're basically in development, as they call it, development help

Paul Castro 14:19
Right. I never want to I never want to use negative connotative. Fair enough. Fair enough. Yeah. It was challenging and it trained me well for my feature in Hollywood. Okay. And I often joke you know, something really tragic happened in that process. They got better.

Alex Ferrari 14:44
Amazingly enough, right? Yeah, cuz

Paul Castro 14:45
sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it doesn't but but it did and and then after about two, two and a half years, my agent, manager, lawyer, business manager, they had an intervention and said if you keep rewriting for This project we're going to resign because it's ludicrous. And an intervention that's brilliant. Yeah. Well that's how I looked at it because they sat me down. Is it enough is enough? Yeah. So I went on, you know, and I was doing other projects at the time. I did. You know, I had the good fortune of working with Stanley, you know, founder of Marvel Entertainment on two projects, and you know, I had other things going on, but I really loved dog construction, I of course, hoped it would get made someday. So a couple of years went by and came really close to getting made different directors attached and reading it and liking it. And then the producer did a movie with Robin Williams, and said, Hey, can you take a look at this script? and Robin read it and said, Yeah, but my part has to be more substantial. I believe that's how it went down friends. So the producer wisely hired two writers and they gave it another polish and pass and rewrite. And then about a year and a half later, I believe Robin officially became attached to the project and when Robin Williams is attached to a project you know, that's good news for everybody. So yeah, so fortunately then things were off to the races and then Freddie Highmore and Keri Russell and Johnny Meyers and yeah, it became a real thing.

Alex Ferrari 16:31
So the second that Robin got attached everything kind of opened the doors the floodgates kind of opened up everything got speech, the gut got hyped up a bit as far as speed is concerned.

Paul Castro 16:40
Exactly. Everything was coalesced and off to the races.

Alex Ferrari 16:45
The funny thing is I had an opportunity to meet Robin once and I tell you I've never met a human being and he was so calm and very you know he was not the the person that persona he portrays You know, he was that kind of energy energetic guy, but he that day he was very calm with his wife. And but you could feel the energy coming off of him. It was something that was tangible in the air like you could sense and I don't want to get into all the kind of like, you know, vibey stuff, but it literally you can sense the vibe of the man it was I never met a human being like that before. But I got it. I got it.

Paul Castro 17:22
You're you're onto something and I don't mind you getting it the vibey stuff. I mean, by the stuff it is everyone has energy and and and what is your energy? And are you are you comfortable with it? Do you like if you like what you're projecting to the world? Is it enhancing your life? Are you empowering people or depleting people are then powering you or depleting you? It all starts with energy. And that's what resonates from a great script. It just is vibrating the same way you just described. Yeah. And that's great. What Robin Williams?

Alex Ferrari 17:54
Yeah, he was he was amazing. And one one quick note, I actually was like, watching I think a documentary something on the matrix, the matrix boys, or boy and girl. And they, they that was in development hell forever, because it was forever and it took him they rewrote it, you were saying you rewrote it rewrote it. they rewrote that for five years. Five years. And that's why that script is that movie is so good. That's amazing. Yeah. But to your point, like, you know, sometimes that rewriting process is helpful.

Paul Castro 18:29
Yeah, you know, something takes over if you surrender to it, and you're not kicking and screaming. Right? Yeah. Right. We're all very precious with our work sometimes. And, you know, I would encourage the opposite, you know, when you just allow it to flow naturally organically and take input and you know, take in, you don't have to always use you can go Hmm, that's interesting. Maybe for my next trip. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 18:56
It's it's a lot of a lot of working with or collaborating with people a lot of times in Hollywood, from my understanding is that that, that that kind of mentality works really well, kind of going with the flow, kind of like, you know, just kind of riding the waves, because if you try to go against the flow is when you have problems.

Paul Castro 19:12
Yeah, that's a really good point. On the same note, we all as creatives need to have a strong clear vision for what we want to communicate creatively. And, you know, we're not typists, we get paid for our point of view of the world. And I really believe that's why new writers and old writers, veteran writers, can all be successful because everyone has a different point of view of the world. Alex, right. Yeah, you and I are born and raised in New York, and now we're different places. But, you know, your point of view of the world is very different than mine. And I celebrate that and that's why we go to the movies.

Alex Ferrari 19:50
And that was the that's the thing I always try to preach here as well is that filmmakers a lot of times they just like I'm going to be the next Tarantino. I'm going to be the next David Fincher. I'm gonna try to copy this or that and I'm like, you'll never be the next Tarantino because there's only one Tarantino and there's only one voice. I think only all the successful writers and filmmakers all have a very loud and distinctive style and voice. And that's what people don't get coming into the business. They all want to try to emulate the next. Oh, that's a big, so I'm going to do that. I'm like, well, that might that might work once, but it won't sustain a career. You know?

Paul Castro 20:29
Yeah, that's a good point. And you know, when you say they all have a loud voice, sometimes the loudest voices are the subtle, slight voices that just have a big impact because of their subtlety and their nuances.

Alex Ferrari 20:43
Well, like Wes Anderson, I mean, he's not a very loud personality by any stretch, but his movies are they scream is

Paul Castro 20:49
his style. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 20:53
And Buster and Buster Keaton, for that matter, as well. I mean, he was obviously silent. But his style, his style of humor, and his style of storytelling is something that was very distinctive. So So let me ask you, when does a writer need an agent or manager is another big question a lot of screenwriters ask?

Paul Castro 21:13
You know? It's a great question. And I think it goes back to the approach of contribution. Okay, most writers and I was there to where you use, I need an agent, I want an agent, I need to sell something, I want an agent or manager. And you first have to ask yourself, what do I have in my vault? to contribute to this agent? Or manager? Yes. Yeah. What a value. Yeah. Instead of

Alex Ferrari 21:41
instead of looking at an agent, or a manager is like, what can you do for me? You should flip the script a bit. And that's awesome advice.

Paul Castro 21:48
Yeah, absolutely. So you know, when I when I was in LA, you know, you know, Joe manganiello. When he was an actor running around LA, he was also the type of guy who, Hey, Joe, what are you doing this weekend, I'm driving two hours to San Diego for a little play, then I'm not getting paid for and driving two hours back, which I've Oh, by the way I've been doing for the last month and a half. You know, it was a person who is on purpose, not paycheck, looking to contribute at a high level. And the rest of it just, you know, came like an avalanche of abundance for that guy. And it happens for most successful people if they're coming from a place of contribution, circling back for agents, first of all, new writers and all writers and anyone in the creative arts, especially media and entertainment, first needs to realize that agents are not scumbags. Now, are there scumbags in every single profession? on the planet? Yes, yes. Well, it's politics,

Alex Ferrari 22:51
obviously, obviously, not politics. They're on the up and up, of course,

Paul Castro 22:57
but but there's going to be that in any profession. So if you're coming to Hollywood, and saying, oh, all agents are bastards, then yeah, that's gonna be your experience. But I think they're great. If you're contributing to them, they're going to be wonderful, and they're going to contribute to you and they're going to enhance your career. So I would suggest having a body of work besides just one screenplay. I would, you know, 2345, maybe some pilot episodes for TV. If you have some non scripted reality show ideas, you know, sculpt that as well. Let them know that you're you're just not a one trick pony you have, you're in this for the long haul, and you have an arsenal to contribute to them. And they're stable.

Alex Ferrari 23:43
Right? That's a great, that's amazing advice, actually. Now what and this is, I

Paul Castro 23:48
love that you say that's amazing advice, actually, as if the actually part means usually your advice is terrible, but

Alex Ferrari 23:54
not you, not you. But as a general answer to these kind of questions. I know I'm sure. A lot of times people will just like oh, well you know, you got to do this and that and it's like, okay, that's an answer, but it's not like so what I try to do with my guests is I really try to dig for questions that I want to know answers to. So like, that's like, I've always asked him like, what, what do I need to do to create get an agent or manager? Should I even need one as a director at this point in Mike in my life in my career, and like, well, you have to and that's all about what we were talking about earlier about marketing is like you as a creator are marketing yourself to an agent and manager and selling yourself to them to go look, this is what I can do for you. Because it's already assumed that they can do something for for the writer if they're choosing the proper agent or manager. So exactly,

Paul Castro 24:44
it's a good point and Okay, so if I said to a writer, would you like Aaron Sorkin's agent, they would probably say What? Oh, of course, of course, but what if you don't write character Driven talky type movies that are very deep and insightful and poignant. What if you are the popcorn summer blockbuster action adventure guy or horror film guy is Aaron Sorkin's agent, the right guy for you probably not maybe down the hall, his colleague, maybe she's the right agent for you. Maybe she is the one that has sold a bunch of horror films. So I think targeting the right representation is just as important as if you should have representation or not.

Alex Ferrari 25:38
Now, this is a big question. As I as I'm digging deep here. What is the difference between a screenplay that actually sells and one that doesn't sell? And I know that's a real broad term, so do the best you can?

Paul Castro 25:52
It's an easy question to answer. Oh, good. You know, in Hollywood, they don't buy screenplays, they buy emotion. So if you can make a reader feel something on a very visceral level, then they cannot be ignored. Haley Fox, I always mentioned Haley by name, because she was the development executive at the production company that bought my first screenplay. And she was so passionate about it that she says if you don't buy this screenplay, I am going to quit and I've been here seven years, but there's no need for me to be here. Wow, she felt that deeply about the material. Now, when writers are coming from a place of truth facing that hurt that we talked about those little alleys from childhood that they say little obviously I'm not making light of it, they're very substantial. And they they can take that that hurt or that rage and put it on the page and then eventually makes to the big stage of of, you know, cinema, or television. It's because somebody felt something if they felt deeply about it, and it can't be ignored. And those are the screenplays teleplays pilot episodes that sell because people all have that response. You look at Eric Ross, Forrest Gump.

Alex Ferrari 27:24
It's amazing.

Paul Castro 27:24
Robert Zemeckis gave it to Tom Hanks when he was going on vacation to Europe. And Tom said, Yeah, I really don't want to read anything. I'm on vacation. And he's and Zemeckis said well just read like the first 10 pages on the flight and by the time the flight landed, Tom Hanks was attached to Forrest Gump. And the rest as they say is history. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 27:45
they're talking talking about emotion like there's a show I watch now one that I'm loyal to on on TV It's called The Goldbergs and and Adam Goldberg is the writer and creator of that and that's literally he's taking his hour weeks every week and putting them out on the screen and but that authenticity it's not like another 80s show. Oh, it's another Oh, we're all making fun of the 80s which I'm a huge 80s fan that's probably one of the reasons I like it so much but the characters the family the and then every week at the end he shows a video when he was shot when he was a kid Are you like oh this is just brilliant. That's that kind of stuff that you're talking about that's so emotional in his genre

Paul Castro 28:27
yeah and and Adams been doing this a while right yeah, so he's so he's finally come to the point where is he now i'm going to give myself this is this is the real hurt. Hmm. And in real estate, the three most important things are location, location, location, and in writing, especially screenwriting. It's conflict, conflict conflict.

Alex Ferrari 28:48
Yeah. And there's a lot of conflict than that.

Paul Castro 28:53
Now I get if I rewrote myself, it would just be one conflict. Exactly. Exactly. In economics.

Alex Ferrari 28:59
Real quick. Now I know loglines is a big, big question. A lot of times for starting up screen starting screenwriters like how important is it? How important is it in the selling process? Is it something what's your experience with that?

Paul Castro 29:12
Yeah, I think it's really important and it's overlooked and it's underrated. In the process. If you can not sculpt, have vibrant, lean logline that's going to fully communicate your screenplay, or your television show idea, then you're not ready to go any further. It's one of the most most difficult parts of the process Alex, it really is.

Alex Ferrari 29:40
I know I've had to write a couple of their pain.

Paul Castro 29:44
And you're gonna have to try it out with friends and families and rewrite it and see when they glaze over and when they get excited, and you're gonna have to keep working on it until it's really just nailed, right?

Alex Ferrari 29:54
And it's like every word means something like literally every single syllable mean something because the real estate So sure, it's almost like a Twitter tweet. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Yeah, you have to make it really concise.

Paul Castro 30:20
Yeah, I like that the real estate real estate is short. That's a good way of putting it. It is and people don't have time to really, you know, before I was even represented, I would, you know, try to get agents on the phone. and at what time I got more diviner, he was an old Hollywood agent, very famous at the time, and more, sadly has since passed, but it was after hours, and I called you know, one of the big three I think more it was with ICM at the time, and his assistants are gone. So guess who answered the darn phone more diviner and Mr. Vaughn All right, when a film's doing okay, what do you got? What do you got kid? Yeah. And I literally had to pitch that thing and Title Genre and the pitch and that was it. Yeah. And off of that he wanted to read the screenplay. And it wasn't because I just took it off the top of my head. Fortunately, I had heard this before, copious times at UCLA where they hammered into us. This is very important, so I was prepared. And there's been times when I've read new writers and I've I read their screenplay. Oh my god, this is fantastic. And they go, Well, you didn't seem very enthused when I first pitched it to you. Well, that's because your pitch was well it's kind of like you know,

Alex Ferrari 31:42
it's kind of like Forrest Gump meets hostal you know, it's kind of

Paul Castro 31:48
Yeah, and it's challenging when you're using other material to pitch your your your materials such as saying it's like this and like that, because what if the person hasn't seen one of those or both of those? right?

Alex Ferrari 32:02
Exactly. Yeah. And and anytime i've i've actually asked this question before on the shows like if you you know, it's kind of like the matrix meets you know, Cinderella I actually would watch that movie. But one key thing if you are gonna do that, and it is kind of like a lot of times unnecessary evil to have that in your back pocket because someone's going to ask that question sometimes. At least that's what I've been told. Make sure that you use movies that have been hits so it's like Ishtar meets the fantastic for the new one. So it's like not really going to help you sell your product

Paul Castro 32:39
although there have been movies that were not hits that just you know people loved or great reviews were correct yeah I'm came later on so my whole life you know the holidays are coming up and on TV we're gonna see it's a wonderful life as we do every year but when that first came out it wasn't well received at all.

Alex Ferrari 32:58
Yeah, well seemed like Shawshank Redemption picked up its steam much later on after its initial release.

Paul Castro 33:03
Yeah, and I it's funny at titles I know we're not on the title subject. Yeah, like I need to bring it up. Anyway, those titles are so important. That was the worst title. Yeah, I mean, but but it was from a Stephen King novella, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, right? So being that it was the great Steve, Steven King, are they going to say no, we hate your title. But that was a situation I think if the title was a little different, it probably would have had a bigger audience. But that being said, it's a masterpiece and Frank Darabont and Stephen King I mean, wow,

Alex Ferrari 33:38
I know it's absolutely but yeah, you're right. Like that's the one of the worst titles in history, there was a new movie that that just came out with the worst title is The Sandra Bullock movie, and Billy Bob Thornton. Our brand is crisis. I saw the poster for that. I'm like, wow, who came up with that? title? It's like, I'm sure it's a fun movie. And I love Sandra Bullock I love everybody in the in the movie, but I'm like, and it died. It died a miserable horrible death at the box office. Yeah. And I imagine that the title did not help the situation.

Paul Castro 34:10
Yeah. That's a really important aspect of the whole process. I mean, let's talk about Okay, if you're a parent and you have a newborn on the way, let's decide, you know, I don't know should we eat? Let's not even think about it. It doesn't really matter. Okay. Now, this is your child, you're going to put a lot of thought into what that person's name is. You know, a dear friend of mine, Luke fantino, who's at Warner Brothers marketing. Such a smart guy and he really I really think he has the crystal ball and if a movie is going to do well or not simply because he can look at it from a helicopter point of view and a micro point of view and all these nuances we're talking about

Alex Ferrari 34:57
titles are titles are extremely empowering. And and I think and again, it's goes back to marketing and branding and and, and a lot of screenwriters and artists in general filmmakers don't look at their art as product. But if you look at it as product and market it and sell it as product, even though it's art, you have so much better chance of selling it to whatever aspect you're trying to sell it to in the business. So if you're trying to sell it to an agent, sell it to a production company, sell it to an audience, sell it to the person you're just pitching it to. There's it's always about selling it and promoting it and packaging it in a right way to get the attention or the the end result that you're looking for.

Paul Castro 35:40
Yeah, you're absolutely right. It's an interesting craft, because it's not only a craft, it's a profession. And it's where art and commerce meet. And a lot of these production houses, many majors, the big studios, the marketing department has the final word on if the screenplay is going to be greenlit or sold or bought. It will go through all the proper channels. But if the marketing department goes, Oh my God, we love it. But we don't know how to market it. And guess what?

Alex Ferrari 36:11
It's done. It's done. Yeah, it's done. Unless you're doing it independently, and you've got your own money. And you're going to do it that route. It's It's rough. Absolutely. Now talking about production companies. How do how does a screenwriter should a screenwriter submit their work to a producer or a company?

Paul Castro 36:30
Well, it's challenging because a lot of them don't accept unsolicited material for various legalities. That being said, some will have open processes where you have to sign certain forms, and then they'll accept it. Again, I would target a production company that does your type of material. I would find a person in that production company, not just blindly send it there. I would get on the phone, build a relationship with them, meet them on social media. And, you know, I think the best approach is to ask advice if you're a new writer in this industry, you know, you don't have all the answers. And oh, by the way, I don't have all the answers. I'm constantly asking advice from people. You know, I had the good fortune of sitting down for a couple of ours with Michael Eisner. And I've known Michael for five, six years now. It's probably been like seven years now. And I'm always looking for advice from him. But I'm also looking, how can I add value to him? Right, but I'm always trying to, you know, what, what are your needs? And how can I say she ate those as a production company? What do they want to do? Do they want to make art? Do they want to win an Oscar? Do they want to make money of course they want to make money. And there's nothing wrong with making money. This is an industry where, you know, great make money, you know, right? If Alex's screenplay gets made, it's going to employ 1000s of people and there's going to be all these other ancillary business entities that are going to benefit from Alex's screenplay it could be on HBO and Showtime it could be on an aeroplane going to you know, Europe, it can be in a hotel room while I'm there with my you know, whatever. So so it's a really interesting world in the fact that once the property is add there to the world, many people can benefit from it. And of course, when I say property, that screenplay

Alex Ferrari 38:38
Exactly, exactly. Now, I'm going to get more personal into your process. What is your process of writing a screenplay? If you don't mind? This is just a basic you know, as NPCs What do you What's your process of books, I always find it fascinating. Everyone approaches the craft differently. So I'd love to hear what how you do it.

Paul Castro 38:56
Yeah, so the idea is obviously paramount. So does the idea really rock your world? Is it something that you're thinking about a lot is almost haunting you. And if you can package it into that logline package is not a good word for this. But if you can create a logline where you've captured what you initially responded favorably towards your idea, then you're on to something. So I do the logline. And I work a lot on that as far as just sculpting re sculpting it, you know, like you said, wisely, every word counts right? And even if it's the right word isn't the right word for the lyrical nature of your logline. So you have to see how it fits into the overall scheme of things as

Alex Ferrari 39:49
well. loglines are generally it's an it's an art form in itself.

Paul Castro 39:53
Yeah, absolutely. And then for your audience members after that may not know what a logline is. It's a one liner, I often say is a one liner. Is that a logline? Because I'm not even sure where that etymology

Alex Ferrari 40:03
Where's? Where's the login? Where's the line? Exactly.

Paul Castro 40:07
So once I have the log line, I do a two page movie, which is basically two pages double spaced of, if Alex and I were walking to the bus stop, and Alex says, Hey, man, I gotta go. What did you see last night and I tell you what my movie is, as we're both going in different directions. It's that fast. It just really broad strokes, but it's more involved than the log line. And then I do a 30 to 60 beat outline. And but I hit some did that my phone off? I saw

Alex Ferrari 40:47
I can't, I cannot I cannot work like this

Paul Castro 40:49
now. Yeah. Good to say. Yeah. So so the outline hits, various speeds. And as you know, Alex, you know, the opening pages are very important, especially page one, the opening images, the inciting incident, the end of Act One, which I say is page 17 page, then page 30, then page 45. Then page 60, which is the tentpole of your movie, page 75, page 90. And then what is your finale? Those are the main beats that you need to get first, before you fill in the rest of your beats. And you know, when people go, Well, how do I know what beat goes next? Well, I always say the best movies are good news, followed by bad news. Good news, followed by bad news. And, but they are increasing in intensity as the screenplay or movie progresses. So if there's a good news moment, there's going to be an equally powerful bad news moment. And then the next good news moment is going to be even more substantial. And the next bad news moments can be more substantial. And it has to adhere to the law of rising action. Okay, because of the best movies, it grows in intensity, that's what keeps us riveted, right? Yeah. So then once you have the, the outline established, you know, character breakdowns. Now, with my character breakdowns, I like to do the protagonist and the antagonist. And it's in first person, and they're just kind of ranting, okay, they're just kind of talking. And you're getting their personality, you're getting their vibe, and you're getting who this person is. I know a lot of writers and a lot of actors, you know, what was their favorite color? What ice cream did they have when they were three years old? That's cool. If it works for your process. For me, that's not my process. I just kind of like to capture the voice of the character and the energy of the character. And then it's off to the races.

Alex Ferrari 42:59
And then you just start start filling in those gaps. Yeah, yeah. So the outline. And similarly, when I write the outline is everything to me, like I have to have, it's this, it's basically the foundation of the entire story. So without these points of like a guide, you're just lost in my opinion. I mean, everyone's process is different. But for me, it makes it much easier because you're like, Okay, I need to get to this point here. Okay, just got a boom, boom, boom, that's point here, boom, boom, boom, here point. So having those key points, is there just kind of like mile markers on the journey?

Paul Castro 43:31
structure is paramount. I mean, you're a professional. And this is not a nother thing. new writers go, Well, I want to be a writer, I hope to be a writer. No, you are a writer. And you are a professional writer. When you start acting like a professional writer, and professed professional writers, they outline, they sculpt, they make this the blueprint on which they're going to create and that's what structure is, it's it's the canvas on which we paint with words.

Alex Ferrari 43:59
That's, that was actually quite beautiful.

Paul Castro 44:05
So when the studio is going to hire you for an original piece of spec script that you've written or for a rewrite, they're hiring you for your expertise in this craft as much as they are hiring you for your abundance of creativity and execution.

Alex Ferrari 44:26
That's Yeah, absolutely. Now, let me ask you, the age old question, what is more important plot or character?

Paul Castro 44:35
You know, you know, I mean, that's a tough one to answer, because I think it's a symbiotic relationship. It's the balance. It's the Yang, the yin and the yang. It's the space between the notes makes the music, right, it's this. I mean, this is this is what we're all talking about. So I would never put more weight on one or the other. That being said, the best stories are about one thing. Okay, so you look at a commercial success like the movie taken in recent years. Yeah. Okay. That entire movie is about Liam Neeson Doing what?

Alex Ferrari 45:21
just killing and kicking everyone's that's the way to go going, going to save his daughter.

Paul Castro 45:27
Right? His daughter has been

Alex Ferrari 45:29
kidnapped, taken sorry. kidnapped, horrible, horrible they've taken much better. So he just

Paul Castro 45:35
wants to get her back. So that is what the whole movie is about. In jaws they need to kill the shark. Exactly. So, you know, the best movies, I believe, are about one pending question that needs to be answered by the end of the movie.

Alex Ferrari 45:55
So how what would be the question for Star Wars? You tell me, I would imagine it's the boy's journey to God. I've seen that movie a million times. And I'm a huge fan of it. But like how can you and it's probably the most, the best example of the hero's journey ever done to film I can't say I don't know. Like Isn't it about Luke's journey to find himself and become a man eventually his his his journey from being a boy to being a Jedi along the way and a path and you know, God you see it's getting very convoluted here.

Paul Castro 46:34
Where Where does he find his power

Alex Ferrari 46:38
within himself? There you go. That's it. That's the story.

Paul Castro 46:42
Andy in Shrek Shawshank Redemption, you know, the Tim Robbins character. This is a man who felt imprisoned and only experienced freedom by going to jail for a crime he didn't commit. Right? So he could have been a you know, a son's in car car, Sir, it is a free of being incarcerated his whole life and continued to do his accounting or banking. But he would have never felt free unless he had that experience.

Alex Ferrari 47:20
That's very true.

Paul Castro 47:21

Alex Ferrari 47:22
So it's always finding that one thing it's about

Paul Castro 47:27
Yeah, it is. And there's a great line get busy living or get busy dying.

Alex Ferrari 47:33
That pretty much covers it, doesn't it?

Paul Castro 47:38
I mean, that's the that's a great line in the movie. And it basically is the movie, isn't it? Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 47:43
the whole movie is basically in that line, get busy living or get busy dying. And that explains that movie. So well. I talked about that movie constantly on the show. Because it's, it's it's one of my top five. You know, it's it's amazing. Now, you have been you've done. You've been busy not only as a screenwriter, but as also as a teacher, and instructor and you've created this awesome course called called the million dollar screenplay. How did you come up with the course? And what was the purpose behind it?

Paul Castro 48:14
Yeah, so I taught at UCLA for over a decade. And I've spoken around the country at various events when they've invited me on the craft of screenwriting. And I thought, Okay, well, a lot of people are always asking about the million dollar screenwriter or the million dollar screenplay. What is that all about? And it's not about selling the million dollar screenplay and becoming a million dollar screenwriter. It's about having a body of material that's going to influence the masses positively through your art. So I thought, well, how can I communicate that in a course. And I thought, well, I'm going to teach the same thing I taught at UCLA and the undergraduate program, and then the master's program. And structure is going to be a big part of it. And I'm going to hopefully put it in a form that's digestible to whoever wants to take the course. And it's not going to be, you know, 25 or 50 hours long, it's going to be two hours long. And they're going to get as much from it as if they were in a master's program in screenwriting. So it's a

Alex Ferrari 49:26
really condensed version of everything. So like, it's basically the logline of your course. very condensed and right to the point. Well, that's

Paul Castro 49:36
right to the point, you know, I am super blessed Alex, I have a daughter and she's amazing, right? And someday she may want to become a screenwriter. So I thought to myself, well, if I were going to sit down with her and walk her through this craft and put her in the best possible position to succeed as a screenwriter, what would I do? Teacher and that's what the course is.

Alex Ferrari 50:04
That well I've already started taking the course I haven't gone through the whole course just yet I've started taking the course and I was so blown away just by the beginning of the course that I reached out to you. I was like, Oh no, I gotta get Paul on the show. I gotta get Paul on the show. I gotta, I gotta spread the word. I got to spread the word I drank I drank I drank the Kool Aid, sir. Thanks.

Paul Castro 50:21
You know you to me is a nice platform for education and I'm proud to be on their site.

Alex Ferrari 50:26
Yeah, it's an awesome it's an awesome awesome course. And that's great. It's I just discovered it myself. Udemy and they are amazing and and I'll make sure to everyone to have links in the show notes where you can get the the course and stuff. Now on a psych aside question. Um, I have, just because I know you've been, we're probably around the same vintage. So we there was a time where there was the rock and roll screenwriter, arguably to say that Tarantino is probably the last rock and roll screenwriter today but there was that moment that moment in time when there was the Shane blanks, Shane blacks of the world, and the Joe Astor houses and they were making 2 million a pop 3 million a pop sometimes 5 million, depending with back end or bonuses on screenplays. What are those days completely gone? And how different is the landscape? The screenwriting landscape today?

Paul Castro 51:24
Yeah, well, deals are structured in all sorts of creative ways. And when you're dealing with agents, and you know, so you look at someone like an Aaron Sorkin okay. And I'm not going to the I certainly like the Steve Jobs movie, but I think social network was, was a great movie. So if Aaron Sorkin got his quote, so what I don't know what he's getting these days, probably two or $3 million a screenplay. But there's a chance maybe they said, Hey, Aaron, can you take a million on this and get some back end points? I don't know if they did that deal. I have no idea. But that could be super lucrative for a screenwriter. So when you look at just what's in, you know, the trades of what a screenwriter made on a script sale, I wouldn't look at that I would look at, you know, the deal behind the deal. Right. And that is, yeah, I'm sorry. No, go ahead. Go ahead. No, you go ahead. I want to hear you

Alex Ferrari 52:26
know, I was due to your point to your point, I was actually watching a documentary on Arnold Schwarzenegger, where he's, uh, you know, I've studied Arnold's career for many, many years, child of the 80s and stuff. But he was talking the business side of things. And he said, he asked that they asked him the question, which was the most lucrative film you've ever made? They made the most money on do what do you think the answer is to that? I'm sure, you know, his whole filmography? What what's movie do you think he made the most money on?

Paul Castro 52:57
That's a good question. I would imagine Terminator he had back end points. When we got to the sequels today,

Alex Ferrari 53:03
to this date. The most profitable film he ever did was twins.

Paul Castro 53:08
Really? Did he get back end points?

Alex Ferrari 53:11
They structured a deal that was it's kind of almost like the George Lucas. Oh, don't worry about the merchandising rights deal. Because him and Danny DeVito and Reitman, Ivan Reitman, the director, they all walked in to you. I think it was universal. If a mistake was universal, or Fox, I forgot who it was. I think it was universal who did it and they walked in and he talked to the President and like look, we're all gonna do it we're all gonna do it for like no money. We just want to we just want like, and it was an insane amount of back end points, something that no one had ever done before. But the studio was like Oh great. If it's a Hey, we'll make some money if it's not a hit, we don't take you know, because Arnold was asking for 20 million at the time and you know, all this kind of stuff. And he didn't say the number but he says it's the most lucrative things. So back end points and especially depending on the kind of deal you can make is it's very lucrative, I mean, look at look at I mean, Keanu Reeves in the matrix movies jack nicholson on the Batman movie he pulled like 60 million off of that because he got a piece of the merchandising I mean it's insane

Paul Castro 54:11
yeah is the the gift that keeps giving and you know, that's where good representation comes into play because as a creative I would encourage you to try to negotiate those deals yourself and even if you have the ability to negotiate those from your you know, upbringing or past life experiences you know, it's better to keep you clean as the creative I think

Alex Ferrari 54:37
it shelters you a little bit from the the messiness that is the business.

Paul Castro 54:41
Yes, it could be you know, involved. So then you look at the guild's right, like so you have the Directors Guild, the DGA, and then sag Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America, W GA, and Producers Guild of America. Those guilds are set up to protect the creative person. So you You know you can look up you know, the August rush deal I think it was in March of 2000 and go Wow, that was a big number but it's really about you know the life of the movie afterwards and there's no better time to be a creative person as screenwriter especially because just go to your local cable operator and see how many channels are on there.

Alex Ferrari 55:24
And not even let's not even talk about streaming

Paul Castro 55:26
streaming and Netflix and now Amazon's in the game and Hulu and YouTube. Absolutely. And it's going to keep going and growing as it should. And new forms that are no longer new forms webisodes are fantastic so

Alex Ferrari 55:42
I'm not do suggest film it detects screenwriters kind of also put their dip their toe like I mean that screenplays are for feature films is, you know, that's the golden trophy, if you will, that's that's the thing that everybody's like, Oh, I want to see my movie in the big screen. But it's, you might take a different route, like now like, oh, maybe you could get something done on Hulu or an Amazon or Yahoo or things like that, that might have been very much more difficult time trying to get done more mainstream, but get your foot in the door. And now you have something to show do you suggest them stuff like that?

Paul Castro 56:15
Yeah, absolutely. I don't think any Avenue has a monopoly on how a writer should be produced and out to the world. And, you know, again, don't be so precious with your work. I don't want to have an Oscar. So unless I get a studio deal, it's not going to accept anything now. Get yourself out there. You know, this is all about, you know, sharing your gift with others. This is a short journey. I mean, I hate to say it, but 100 years from now, most of us are not going to be here. Right, right. So you know, I just read Nikola Tesla's books, actually, there's a few books on him. And after I read the first one, I kind of became addicted to his story.

Alex Ferrari 57:01
He's amazing. Yeah, amazing, amazing man. And this

Paul Castro 57:05
was a person who was like, yeah, let the Edison's of the world make crazy cash. I'm just gonna keep creating, and I'll be okay. And he was right. It doesn't mean you should be frivolous and irresponsible with you know, well, he

Alex Ferrari 57:18
could have been he could have made a couple of choices. Just a couple of, you know, patents, just a couple could have been doing a little bit better. He didn't have to have such a tough time. But there's a better balance. It's all about balance to Edison's on one end. Tesla was on the other. You should be somewhere in the middle.

Paul Castro 57:37
Yeah. And Tesla had a few few patents as well that he did sell. But yeah, you're right. You're absolutely right. And then you know, it's funny that that his name is Tesla. And then they the new car company, Tesla, you know, followed that it was named after him, right? And look at the amazing, innovative things Tesla Motors is doing. It's unbelievable.

Alex Ferrari 57:57
It's crazy. And I can't wait for you know, the price to come down so I could afford. So and one thing I wanted to say I wanted to cover real quick because you mentioned this earlier in the podcast that with managers and agents and this is something I want to kind of stress the people like let's say you have less you're starting out screenwriter, you have one screenplay. And you have the opportunity to pitch Aaron Sorkin and let's say it's aligned with Aaron Sorkin. You might not be Aaron Sorkin's agent, you might not be ready to be thrown into that kind of world yet you might not have the arsenal yet the experience you had to like be thrown into a writers room because you haven't done it yet. Or you haven't had the experience. You haven't written those, you know, 20 screenplays or 10 screenplays? You haven't gotten? You haven't worked out your craft enough? Is that a fair statement to say? Oh, to be wary of that? Sometimes. I mean, obviously when an opportunity knocks, you know, take it, but you should be should be cautious, cautious about that kind of stuff. Right?

Paul Castro 58:59
Well, let me let me understand your question. So you're saying just so I understand that, if you are given the opportunity to jump into the big leagues waters of the big leagues, you know, but

Alex Ferrari 59:13
you haven't, but you haven't, but you haven't done right, but you haven't done miners leagues yet. And they're like, all of a sudden, I'm in the I'm in the, you know, starting lineup of the Yankees, but I've swung the bat 15 times in my life. So is it smart to jump in there? Because you'll never get that shot again? Or is it? Do you see what I'm saying? Cuz I'll give you a real quick story. I was I was brought in after I did one of my movies. I was brought into some major agencies and major, you know, talent agencies and, you know, agents and managers and I had a lot of meetings. And there was this one agent that I had a meeting with, and he was smelling me out, you know, he was trying to kind of figure out what I could do, and I didn't come from the place of what I could do for him. I came from the place of what you can do for me, and, and I was also realizing that I was just not ready yet. Like I was not ready. Yeah, yeah, sure I could direct the movie and I could do things. But if thrown into this into the into the deep end of the pool, would I have survived, I would, I would have survived but would have thrived in that environment. So that's the kind of, you know, maybe I'm coming from a fearful place. I don't know, I would love to hear your point of view of like, what you should do if something like that happens. And obviously, we've all heard stories of people, like Robert Rodriguez who got the shot, and he flourished and doing what he does. Yeah, what do you feel? We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Paul Castro 1:00:42
What's your Well, you know, my belief system is jumping, the net will appear. And you look at somebody like Robert Rodriguez, who you just mentioned. So El Mariachi, he financed by becoming a personal lab rat, we're doing pharmaceutical experiments on him. I mean, this was a person who was he's gonna get made no matter what was driven, is driven, but he was driven not for fame or fortune, he would just wanted to express his creativity to the world. So I would say, Okay, if you were going to give advice to Alex of yesteryear, how would you have approached those precious coveted meetings that you had differently?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:29
Well, the thing is, I've gone through the path, I've gone through the game a few times, you know, with my first film, got a lot of attention, I got studio calls, I got that stuff. And then I wasn't ready. I didn't have a script, a screenplay ready. I didn't have any other projects ready. And the heat was on me. But I didn't have anything else to show. So basically, everyone's like, that's nice. You did this really great short film. But there was nothing left, like I and I couldn't make it fast enough. And then by that time, the spotlight was gone on to the next guy, and the rest is history. And then it happened again, when I released my met a few other projects of mine, and I've gone through this Gambit a few times, never making it to the beat, but I've had, you know, serious meetings with serious guys and people. What I would say to the old out, and it's just like now turned into a session, I appreciate it. What I would say to the Alex of yesteryear is to not be so would not not be so eager to impress people with what you can do and your prowess. Be, but be more coming from a place of expression as an artist, on this is an artistic, artistic point of view, it's become, show, share your voice, and share your voice share who you are more than trying to be the next this or the next that. And that's a mistake a lot of filmmakers make on the business side, I would have done more research, I would have prepared myself better to go into these meetings that go into the Battle of these meetings. In that sense. It was kind of like going in, you know, it's like going to a knife fight or go into a gunfight with a knife. You know, it's like you brought a knife to a gunfight. It's similar, similar mentality, I was not ready yet. And also mentally, I wasn't there yet, as well. So I think more homework would have been my advice on the business side, and more expression of who you are as an artist, for better or worse if they people like you or not, and also not trying to please, everybody, because you will never please anybody, everybody. And that's something I've learned doing indie film hustle. And being online is you can't please everybody, you know, my point of view is not going to be everyone's point of view. And that's okay. I mean, there's certain people who look at Howard Stern, who's made hundreds of millions of dollars on his point of view, whether you agree with him or not, you know, it's it's, you know, some people think he's a pig, some people think he's awesome, but it's just the point of view. And that's all you can really do as an artist is express yourself as who you are. And that's the people who I think become successful in whatever Avenue, they go down.

Paul Castro 1:04:07
Yeah, excellent point. And, yeah, and that's a very honest assessment of where you were at the time and what you would have done differently because he had to be, you know, a little bit brave to really take a hard look at yourself and who you are and who you are, and who you want to be. And, of course, all want to be the best version of ourselves. Right? Yeah. But that being said, I think you could have made that relationship successful. Yes, with the right approach and spirit, which you identified. And, you know, you mentioned a couple of key things you've said during this chat, which I think is interesting. You said in one of your stories, you said you're never going to get this opportunity again. Right. That's how a lot of people think, of course you are no one is one shot or nothing? I mean you know you'll never work in this town again over if you wrote you know Schindler's List and is an agent going to go oh no you pissed me off two years ago I'm not going to now it's a masterpiece so they're going to get it made. Yeah. So I think let your material do the talking for you and don't talk yourself out of a deal which a lot of writers do they get very excited and they don't know when to go Okay, I'm just gonna shut up and let the experts talk and do my job right and I'm talking to myself as well by the way

Alex Ferrari 1:05:42
Yeah, I feel I feel you on that one no question about it Alex

Paul Castro 1:05:46
one thing you said also which before I forget I'm gonna mention is going into battle Well, I would change your your, your inner voice, what battle there's no battle This is beautiful. This is going to be a lovely waltz. And it's going to be an under the moonlight Waltz with Mr. or Mrs. Agent. And by the end of it, you know, we're going to part ways and they're going to be feeling great and a little bit wealthier than before. And I'm going to feel great and get to do my craft at a high level, how beautiful and now

Alex Ferrari 1:06:23
I'm, I'm going to tell I'm gonna say something here because I love what we're doing here. It's It's wonderful. And I'm actually getting a lot out of it personally. So I really appreciate it. But what I think is that a lot of filmmakers, screenwriters, artists in general, and you know, I've been around this business for a long time, and I've been in the trenches. Most of that career. I've, I've dabbled in, you know, I've gotten worked on projects, I've got Sundance, I've worked with Oscar winners, I've worked with people, you know, a different project, my project, I've never gotten to that level, yet. But what I've noticed is is something I'm working on as an artist, as well. And this one indie film hustle is kind of teaching me is that I have a lot of armor on. And I have a lot of like, like you said that battle terminology. When my inner my inner voice, my inner spirit is not that kind of guy. But being beaten up by the business for so many years in different avenues of the business, whether it be in post production, where I come from, or screenwriting or filmmaking, or anywhere, artists generally will just throw this armor on and then it's the guard that armor starts getting heavier and heavier and heavier to the point where you can't move and you can't even do anything. where someone like you just said, you know it's a it's a waltz, it's a float. When you think of a waltz, what do you think you don't think of anything heavy, you think of something very flowing very smooth, very just, you know, it just kind of going with the flow. And I think a lot of artists, as the years go by become more and more disgruntled. In a lot of ways I'm that person as well, I have been and I've been kind of trying to get myself out of it. And just hearing you analyze my terminology has shined a light on like, man, he's absolutely right. It's not a battle. And if you walk into a meeting like that as a battle, then it's gonna be a battle. But if you walk into a meeting like that with a much more open energy and just like, Hey, this is the way it's gonna go. And if it's for you, great if it's not, there's another opportunity down the street. And that's the that's something I wanted to kind of say to everybody listening that, you know, this business does beat you up a lot. And I'm sure, Paul, you you can attest to this. I mean, it is a brutal business in many ways. But it doesn't have to be and you can kind of make things flow for you. And I think a lot of people who are working at the highest levels. Aren't these kind of Bulldogs, sometimes they are. But a lot of times they're not.

Paul Castro 1:08:55
And it depends who you're dealing with. And surely what you're what circles Have you created, okay, yeah, they have and, and getting, getting beaten up, but who wants to be in that industry going to battle trenches, these are all war terminology. So who wants that? So as a new writer, I would encourage you to do this exercise. Write list of adjectives of what you think the entertainment industry is. And if your adjectives include brutal, pretentious, fake, and then the list goes on and on and on, then I would encourage you to re think and revamp that entire list. the entertainment industry, my list is they're creative. They're generous. We influence the masses positively. There's this wonderful thing we do, which we get people out of their daily routine and we put them in the moment to where they don't Don't have to think about yesterday or tomorrow. They're right there in the moment. And there's residual value for people who read our screenplays and watch our movies, they can go back to their life and be if their life is beautiful or chaotic, tumultuous, or joyous, they're going to come back with something of value to contribute to the loved ones in their life. So you know, the holidays right Thanksgiving. What is Thanksgiving? It's giving thanks right? What is collaboration it's co laboring. So start appreciating because when you appreciate things increase in value when a house depreciates it loses value when it appreciates it increases in value. So if you get into the habit of appreciating things in your life even the little you know kicks in the shin every now and again and just appreciate it Wow What did that teach me? I mean I look at the entertainment industry and you know have I had my challenges along the way sure you're in you know, a career for a decade or two decades you're going to have those times when you go wow, that really hurt that was painful that hurt my feelings This is emotionally trying and you have to look at it and go Okay, well that's true. And then you have to ask yourself What did I do to invite that into my life? And then once you own bad Okay, what have I gotten from this it wasn't the last experience how can I use this for future endeavors? You know, if I meet an unsavory person in the entertainment industry even at a high level meeting, I instantly recognize and I think to myself Haha, how can I help this person? How can I contribute to them? How can today be the day when this person will no longer be unsavory because of the energy I'm bringing to this dynamic and how can we create something of value

Alex Ferrari 1:12:05
and that is that is the key I think with everything we do in life is to be able to create value for people and I think one of the reasons why this podcast and and indie film hustle has been so well received is I wholeheartedly am trying to create value and I I'm kind of experiment for that I'm an experiment for that because at the at the core of what I'm trying to do with with this is to help people because I was just tired of seeing so many filmmakers walk through my doors in post production and just you know, and I don't want to use this that negative terminology but but eaten alive by the business in a lot of ways with their beautiful films and they don't know how to market themselves they don't promote themselves they don't think about the long term that all this kind of stuff. I was like, You know what, let me see if I can shine some light and help some people along the way so they don't have to go through the pains that I went through or that I've seen.

Paul Castro 1:12:58
You're doing a great job Alex and it's really beautiful and altruistic what you're doing for writers and creatives, not just screenwriters, but anyone could get value from what you're doing. And I think it's awesome. And you look at someone like it's a right now I'm going to deal with Shirley MacLaine Oscar winner. I've done copious projects with surely and surely is a person if you look at her career, she's been working for what over 55 years or something

Alex Ferrari 1:13:23
she worked on, on among other movies, but what I love is the Alfred Hitchcock movie, Family Plot, if I'm not mistaken, she was in that one, right. So no, no, that was the one that was the one. Yes, that

Paul Castro 1:13:35
was her first. Yeah, that was the first movie. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:39
What a first movie that was. Right, exactly.

Paul Castro 1:13:41
She got you know, she was on Broadway and take. I think Hitchcock was in the in the audience and saw her. But so Shirley's had this career now because Oh, what a lovely, beautiful career she's had. It's just like sculpted out of magic, right? But you look at her career. There were times when she gave her belief systems about metaphysics, quantum physics, past lives, aliens, that were her beliefs were not in alignment with mainstream media and the mainstream thought processes correct. People would even allow that type of thinking in their realm. And you know, people really responded harshly towards her and what she was doing and she could care less. She traveled she did more movies she did Broadway she did Vegas, she sang she danced. She wrote books. I think she has seven times New York Times bestsellers. And Shirley MacLaine was and is a purpose who's a person who's on purpose, not paycheck, and as a result, those situations never even heard her. Right? She just kept going. She went, Hmm, interesting. Bam, kept going. Okay, so you Alex are now at a point where from your experiences you can look back on that malt that you experienced and go, Hmm, now I have a different perspective, I can look at it through a different lens. your listeners who have not yet jumped into the deep waters of the entertainment industry can look at their life now and ask themselves, what journey do I want to have in the entertainment industry. And I would encourage all of us to not write our Oscar speech just yet. But to write our lifetime achievement speech.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:35
Oh, that's great. That's really great.

Paul Castro 1:15:38
At age 90, when you're up on stage, and your friends and family and kids and grandkids and everyone's up there, what body of work? Did you contribute to this world?

Alex Ferrari 1:15:50
And that's a question you should ask yourself, what do you want to contribute to this world? Not what you can take from this world or from this business for that matter of factly? Well, I will ask just a couple questions. I asked all of my guests Well, first of all, Paul, this has been an eye opening and enlightening interview, I have taken as much as as you're giving I've taken as much as hopefully the audience will take out of this too. So it's, it's been eye opening for me. So I really appreciate your amazing energy, man, I really do.

Paul Castro 1:16:21
It's been very beneficial for me as well and really big fan of what you're doing.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:26
Alright, so to the last two questions, I always ask my, my all my, my guests. What is the most underrated film you've ever watched?

Paul Castro 1:16:35
Okay, are you asking a two part question or

Alex Ferrari 1:16:37
I should and the second part is what are your top three films of all time? So go ahead.

Paul Castro 1:16:43
Yeah. Okay. So, you know, there's a movie called kolia it was a foreign film. I believe it's KOLY a, okay. And I believe it was checklist avakian. And it was amazing. It was amazing. just brought me to my knees. So that would be one that I think most people don't know about. Okay. And the next question was my top three

Alex Ferrari 1:17:14
Yeah, and that could be the top three that you can come up with today. Because that always fluctuates depending on the room and the time period.

Paul Castro 1:17:21
Yeah, you know, there's so many great movies not only in our wonderful country, but other countries as well. So there's a Chinese movie called farewell to my concubine ever saw Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:17:34
yeah, yeah, that was Oh yeah. while ago yeah, that was during my video store days.

Paul Castro 1:17:40
Brazilian movie called central station for that one now is a good friend. Yeah, the same producer who did City of God Donald Rambo did central station you see that? God is amazing, too. Yeah, fantastic. And then, you know, look at look at the young filmmakers of today that are just coming out with such interesting material and just you know, breaking all rules and boundaries. Paul, I'm a big fan of Paul Thomas Anderson. I think he's really great. You know, Wes Anderson is great. You know, then you have you know, the females. Audrey Welles is one of the great female writer directors that I think is underrated and has not shown us her best work yet although most of her work has been extraordinary. Allison Anders, and so I look at the person even Francis Ford Coppola had the good fortune of sitting down with Francis in class at UCLA Oh

Alex Ferrari 1:18:42
yeah. Oh my god that must have been a heck of a day

Paul Castro 1:18:44
oh he's like three hours with Francis Ford Coppola it's like what

Alex Ferrari 1:18:48
just he's just talking talking shop

Paul Castro 1:18:51
yeah just talking shop and this is you know a long time ago but he he was such a creative young he came in very stalwart and you know, the legendary director, but then once we asked him about, Hey, what are you working on? He turned into a little kid. And that's those are the best creative people right? I mean, we're all just splashing in the baby pool and playing in the sandbox and finger painting Really?

Alex Ferrari 1:19:21
That's a good Yeah, I have twin daughters so I end there in that era and that age now so I I feel you I feel it's fascinating watching them grow well,

Paul Castro 1:19:31
how old are they?

Alex Ferrari 1:19:32
They're going to be four and a couple that in a few weeks Oh

Paul Castro 1:19:34
my God, what a full age right? Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:19:37
they just it's every day is something new and and I'm introducing them to like, you know, different like they know who the Hulk is. They know who Yoda is like, it's so so like when anywhere we're in anywhere in the world. They'll like they'll point at Yoda or the Hulk icons on the advertised like that eats your hall gets it. So it's and that's starting to introduce the you know, introduce them to story but I'm seeing what Stories kind of resonate with them. Obviously, frozen is the greatest movie of all time. Oh my God, if I hear that song One more time.

Paul Castro 1:20:11
Let's just let it go.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:13
Ah, oh, it was rough. That was a rough one. But yeah,

Paul Castro 1:20:18
it's great man. And you know, your daughters, you have a responsibility to them, you know, what is responsibility responding with ability? And, you know, Walt Disney, you know, Bambi, you know, he saw how kids reacted and realized from that point on, this is a real responsibility I must take seriously

Alex Ferrari 1:20:39
Right because yeah, Bambi was in a lot of I don't know about you, but you have a daughter, too. How would your daughter know?

Paul Castro 1:20:45

Alex Ferrari 1:20:45
Six. She says she's a little bit ahead of us. The the Disney movies, the old stuff. I can't I can't show them Pinocchio. I know. There's like there's, I mean, they're turning into donkeys. They're drinking. They're smoking. There's, there's abduction. There's like it's like craziness. It's like, it makes the grim movie the grim stories, like seem tame. Yeah. Yeah, it's some of the Snow White's way too harsh. Like, I can't like even the book. Like I got them the book and they get scared by the imagery of the book. I'm like, Oh, I'm like I can't I get so I'm stuffing more with the Pixar stuff. And even then some stuff like, you know, hesitant about but yeah, it is a responsibility. No question. isn't a great man.

Paul Castro 1:21:33
Don't you love being a father?

Alex Ferrari 1:21:34
It's a wonderful man. It really is. I know this. This whole interview is just all of a sudden just turned it to dad's talking. About I really meant I can't wait let me get one last quick. One last piece of advice. If you have one thing to one piece of advice you can give screenwriters just starting out what would it be?

Paul Castro 1:21:53
Right. Right, right, right. And just just enjoy the process. Don't be so hard on yourself. as artists we feel so deeply so we get hurt and our feelings hurt and we beat ourselves up and you know, give yourself a break. Okay? The way that you handled things in the past does not have to be the future. Start reacting differently and be kinder and gentler with yourself create and continue to write on.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:24
On that note, Paul thank you again so much It's been an amazing amazing interview amazing podcast so thank you so much for your time sir.

Paul Castro 1:22:32
Thanks Alex. Thanks a lot and To be continued.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:36
I love I love that interview man he Paul gave us so much good information and I'm just such a big fan of August rush I do love that movie a lot. So and I again I can't stress enough how amazing that course that he that he has put out million dollar screenplay is I've taken a lot of screenwriting courses over the years and it really encompasses a lot of great great, great information and it's very very affordable for what you're getting. And in the show notes which are going to be at indiefilmhustle.com/039 there will be a coupon code that we'll be putting on the show notes so you can download the course at a discount a huge discount for for the amount of stuff that you get on it. It is amazing, amazing course. Thank you guys again for listening. Please don't forget to head over to filmmakingpodcast.com to leave us an honest review of this show. It helps the show out dramatically. It is growing so so fast. I can't even explain it. So thank you again, so much for all your support guys. I really really appreciate it. Keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I will talk to you guys real soon.




  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

IFH 031: Linda Seger – How to Make a Good Script Great

Linda Seger is a legend when it comes to screenwriting coaching and script consultant. She’s been coaching for over 30 years and pretty much invented the job title. After reading her best-selling book, “Making A Good Script Great” I had to have her on the show.

She’s  best known for her method of analyzing movie scripts, which she originally developed as her graduate school dissertation on “What Makes a Great Script.” She founded the script consulting industry, becoming the first entrepreneur who saw script consulting as a business, rather than an offshoot of seminars or books.

Linda Seger has consulted on over 2000 screenplays and over 100 produced films and television shows including Universal SoldierThe Neverending Story IILutherThe Bridge (miniseries,), etc.

“When I arrived I had an idea. Three days later the idea had become a complete and rich outline. Linda’s warmth, guidance and insight helped me structure my story and discover the layers that made it come alive.”  Sergio Umansky

Her clients include Oscar® winning writer and director Peter Jackson, Sony Pictures, and Ray Bradbury. Unlike other screenwriting gurus, Linda Seger is not a screenwriter but has focused exclusively on consulting and teaching.

Linda Seger has written 13 books, 9 of them on screenwriting, including the best-selling Making a Good Script GreatCreating Unforgettable Characters, and Writing Subtext(FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSIONS HERE)

Ron Howard has endorsed Making a Good Script Great, saying he uses the book when making all of his movies beginning with Apollo 13

Not a bad recommendation. Take a listen to this master class on screenwriting with Linda Seger and get ready to take notes!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:02
So today, guys, we have a great guest, Linda Seger. She is the grand mama of the scrim script, consulting script teaching, being a screenplay teacher, she was the one doing it before anybody else was doing it. She's been doing this for about 30 years. And she wrote an amazing book called making a good script great. She has consulted on over 2000 screenplays over her career and over 100 produced films and television shows. Her client lists include Oscar winning Writer Director, Peter Jackson, Sony Pictures, and Ray Bradbury, just to name a few. And even Ron Howard has endorsed her book, saying that he uses it on every single one of his projects, and started doing so ever since Apollo 13. That's a pretty good endorsement. So without further ado, here is Linda Seger. Linda thank you again so much for coming on indie film, hustle, we really appreciate you taking the time to talk to the tribe.

Linda Seger 1:41
I'm happy to do that.

So for for those of you for those of in the audience who aren't familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your history and what you do.

I am a script consultant and I was actually the first script consultant I made up the name I made up the job in 1981. I've worked on over 2000 projects from since then. Then I started writing books, I have 13 books out and nine of them are in screenwriting, and I do seminars on screenwriting around the world. So I've been to I believe, 34 countries now on six continents. And I usually do those one to three day seminars but occasionally longer. I'm going to Norway in November for five days and do a seminar in Oslo fun so so they're kind of exciting. It's it's all related around screenwriting.

Fantastic. So since you were one of the first people if you were actually the first person to do this, can you explain to me what in your opinion what the craft of screenwriting is, as you see it?

Well, the craft of screenwriting has to do with understanding the structure of a story, and being able to create beginning middles and ends. It's an understanding that a story has a plot line that has direction, and it has subplot lines that have dimension and that feed in and intersect and integrate with that plotline. So for instance, if you were doing a crime story, the plot line or the directional story is I gotta solve the crime. But the detective has a sweetheart, and maybe a relationship with a parent and maybe problems with the boss. And there's other these relational dimensional aspects. So the writer has to balance these and know how to structure them, then every movie, no matter what genre, there is something that this movie is about an idea we might say it's about the human condition and who we are and what our identity is. And so the writer has to know how to integrate the theme. Then of course, there are characters you have your major and your supporting and your minor. And the writer needs to know how to give dimension to a character, but also direction. So if the detective is solving the crime, they got to keep on that narrative track and keep solving the crime and not just decide to take a little vacation. And then then drama. You know, movies are cinematic. So they have to understand how do you create images? How do you make those images cinematic, visually exciting, original, unique. So I always say that screenwriting is an art craft and it takes creativity. And the art side is mainly that voice of the screenwriter, what is that, that you are that is special that's unique and that you give voice through the genre you choose through the kind of characters you Decide to portray through the stories you tell. So you're always working on all three of these aspects to learn the craft to learn how to be a better artist.

And so what since you've been teaching for so long, and what In your opinion, what is what can really be taught and what can't be taught and I think a lot of people have this assumption that they go to someone like you and they'd like you're gonna write, you're gonna help them write the great, you know, the great American screenplay, if you will, or the Oscar winning screenplay. I want people to understand what what can actually be taught and what needs to come from the actual writer themselves.

The craft can be taught, you can actually learn how to structure a story. And it will immediately improve the script. The artists something you keep having to hone and learn and to have the courage to show your voice because a lot of times people say, Well, I'm going to write a script, kind of like that last big hit. This them, it's it's not really who they are. And so you have to find what that voice is, and have the confidence to keep letting it get out there. But all these things are crap. I had an experienced which clarify this for me. Many years ago, and executive from a production company said to me, Linda, we finally figured out what you do as a script consultant. She said, we had a series of scripts come in, and they were so beautifully crafted at such a high professional level. But the artistic side and the originality was not at that same level, and we couldn't figure it out. We then discovered they had all come to you, as a script consultant. And we understood what you did that I said, I can only bring the craft, I can bring the craft up to a very high professional level as a consultant. And people can do that reading my books, or reading any books on screenwriting, go into classes, but the art has to then be raised up and said, I can't make the art get up to that professional level. But I can encourage and nurture the art. In many times learning the craft helps nurturing the art

Alex Ferrari 7:20
Very much like I don't know if there's a good analogy or not like a chef you can you can teach someone how to scramble eggs, but too, and anyone could scramble eggs, but at a certain point is that artistic aspect me I'm sure you've had some amazing scrambled eggs in your life. And probably some bad scrambled eggs in your life. And it's similar. It's like the person who, who understands that craft and, and really gets it and then also throws in themselves into it. As an artist. That's when magic happens.

Linda Seger 7:48
And there's so many different parts to that crap. I having worked on so many scripts, and before that I was a drama teacher. I taught theater at colleges, universities, I directed plays. And then when I entered the film industry, I took a series of classes, most of them through UCLA extension, just to change my mind. So I started to see scripts from the viewpoint of film, not theatre. And we could say film and television. And over these 30 plus years, one learns a great deal. So as the years have developed, and I worked on more and more scripts, I look more at things like scene transitions. How does that writer move from one scene to the next? Are they overusing flashbacks? Are they overusing voiceovers? Or do they need more voiceovers? Do have they not set up their style? How do they set up their genre? And so I'm always learning. And of course, when, whether they come to me with the class or come to me with the script, we're all in a sense, I have continued to learn about the craft and the art of screenwriting all these years. And it's a lot easier Of course, for me to do my work I have a lot more to draw on. But there's so much to the art and craft of screenwriting. Some people think it just flows the same know, the best writers, they ride and they rewrite and they hone their craft and they become more confident in their art. It's a continual process. And it isn't that it just rolls off of you. And suddenly you have an Academy Award winner.

Alex Ferrari 9:46
Right? There's, there's so many people who just watch a movie and go, Oh, I can do that. I can write a script that's easy. It's similar. Like I just listened to Mozart Symphony. I'm gonna write this if it's the same concept like you can Just because you you can you can consume it and enjoy it doesn't mean that you can do it right off the bat. It takes years and years and years of work to do. Now, what are some of the biggest mistakes you've seen screenwriters make over the years beginning screenwriters?

Linda Seger 10:12
Well, when I first started, most of the mistakes were structural, that they didn't get their story going, they didn't get it focus. Sometimes the first turning point was actually at the midpoint and they just did not have that clear sense of beginning middles meant, as the years have gone on, I have found that even the beginning, screenwriters are at a higher level, because they have usually read books and maybe taken a seminar or two, before perhaps they come to me with their scripts. So one of the problems is always originality. Yet, how do you have How are you able to be unique and different, and learn to put that out there. Sometimes it's a problem of development, that the writer is not developing the characters developing the conflict, developing the storyline, they're just sort of doing a lot of things, but it's not really happening there on the page. So I think development is a huge, you know, is a huge thing as well.

Alex Ferrari 11:30
Now what, um, over the years, I was gonna ask you, um, can you explain to people what a studio reader it does, because I know a lot of people who really don't understand exactly what the reader doesn't, and what their point is,

Linda Seger 11:45
Right! a reader who is sometimes called a story analyst, and I did that for several years, when I first entered the business. They are the people that read the scripts, and they might be handed him scripts a week. And they go home, they read the script, they write a synopsis, usually a page or two, then they write a paragraph or two that says, I recommend this or I don't recommend it for the following reasons. So let me just give you a couple for instances. I was the reader on the body guard. And remember that the

Alex Ferrari 12:24
The original, the original bodyguard,

Linda Seger 12:26
Yes with Kevin Costner,

Alex Ferrari 12:28
But that was originally with Steve McQueen. Right? It was an older script, if I'm not mistaken.

Linda Seger 12:32
Oh, I don't know about that. It was Lawrence Kasdan.

Alex Ferrari 12:37
Right. Oh, yeah. Okay, go ahead.

Linda Seger 12:39
Yeah. And this is the one that was made with Whitney who, of course, of course, when I read it, it was about a feminist comedian. And I recommended that, but because I said, I think it's very commercial. I think it's, you know, quite a good script, but it's got a big story hole in the middle of it. So in a rewrite, this has to be addressed. The person I read it read for at that time, was Jane Fonda's company, okay. And that their executive says, Oh, we think this script has problems. And I said, That's what I said. And it was I was reading is a tryout for an ongoing job with the company and they didn't hire me. They just decided they didn't think that script was that good. Well, then the script got made. Huge, huge moneymaker huge theater piece, I felt somewhat vindicated. Sure. And so my job, in a sense, was in that one paragraph to be able to say, this is what is good about the script. This is where the problem is in a rewrite, fix the problem. But they did. I was also the reader for the Christmas story. Great movie that plays. And there were two of us who were readers that EMI films, and we just thought it was fabulous. The two of us talked about it before we went into the meeting with the vice president. And we both agreed, it was just terrific. We went into the meeting, and he was lukewarm. And we pushed up that. So a story analyst or reader is not a decision maker. And they're really not there with the authority to solve problems. They can just point the way. They're really there to do the synopsis that somebody can read this, who's the next person up the totem pole and can say, Oh, yes, this sounds good. Or no, this reader has turned it down. We're not even going to bother. It doesn't have to be read by anyone else. So

Alex Ferrari 14:47
They're basically a gatekeeper.

Linda Seger 14:49
Yes. And the authority that they have is that when i when i would be a reader if I highly recommended something Somebody else had to read it. And if I turned it down, probably it would never get read again. So that's the only authority they have. And it's a different job than the script consultant whose job is to analyze in a self assess, and help solve the problems in the script.

Alex Ferrari 15:19
Right, but they're pretty powerful gatekeepers because if they don't let you through the door you're not going to get any farther they might not have the power to make the movie but

Linda Seger 15:27
yes, they already go through the door and one when I read for HBO films many years ago one of the things I would try to do is to follow what happened to the script that I recommended because of the next person disagreed with me and passed on it that really said I had not made a good decision and most the time that script went up at least two levels above me that said I was sorting them out and most as a reader I would say I recommended one out of 25 but I knew another professional reader who said hers was maybe one out of 75 she was a great reader but somebody else said to me that's that's being a little bit too much of a filter that right you're not letting some stuff in Yeah, because you might be missing some things that are going to be terrific with the rewrite like like

Alex Ferrari 16:26
the body guard. Yes. So, there is some unspoken rules in regards to how you present a screenplay to be seen by a reader is a general statement or by to be read by a producer or something like that. Things like formatting obviously. I know the the guy came in with the word the little gold tassel things on the side of a screenplay Please forgive me. Oh gold castle things do you know the things that go into the the things that hold the script together when you handed it.

Linda Seger 17:00
Page spreads but yes,

Alex Ferrari 17:01
yeah, there's like unspoken rules of like, if you put three in there not gonna

Linda Seger 17:06
remove the Brad's first thing I said don't even send me the Brad's it just gets thrown away. But yes, that is the correct and you have a title page. That's your name all your contact information on there and usually have like a colored you know, front and back. And the prescript is generally going to be less than 120 pages. And many times somewhere 95 105 that is very workable, and certain margins. Most people will use final draft or screenwriting formatting program to make it look in the correct font, all that so and then new hope it's a it's what's called a page turner. Read it, they keep turning the pages. Dialogue tends to be short, 123 lines and then the next person has their dialogue. And description tends to be fairly short and concise. There is a saying with readers, you want to see a lot of white,

Alex Ferrari 18:10
right, I've heard that I've heard that

Linda Seger 18:12
Don't have a big black dialogue don't have three paragraphs of description

Alex Ferrari 18:16
Unless it has Quinn Tarantino's name on it.

Linda Seger 18:17
Yes. whatever they want. Exactly. Good idea for people getting into screenwriting, to read scripts in your genre. So if you're a romantic comedy writer, read and study the Harry Met Sally or, you know, these I tootsies, probably my favorite. Do you love that one? Those? Were the proposal. I mean, whatever it is that you that has done well, maybe even a company that's been up for some awards, read them, watch the movies, see the similarity between the two, read early drafts if you can. And if you can read the shooting draft.

Alex Ferrari 19:02
Now let me let me ask you a question with you. You said a movie like Tootsie. And this leads to another bigger larger question. Do you think a film like Tootsie would even be made in today's Hollywood system?

Linda Seger 19:12
I would certainly hope so.

Alex Ferrari 19:14
I would I would too. It's an amazing script. It's a great but in in the world that we're living in with you know, every other movies a superhero movie or a now new Star Wars movie or, or anything that's already been based on something in the past. Do you see even Hollywood being open to like I rarely ever see originality coming out of Hollywood as much anymore?

Linda Seger 19:35
Yeah, what happens is they get into the sequels and they get into it was good last year, and they have become as I understand it, more and more closed to new writers. So what they do is, they come up, they want to do an adaptation or whatever. They go through their Academy Award list, right? And a lot of times and Things get rewritten that the difficulty, particularly with studios, studios feel they always have to bring in another writer, no matter how good the script is. And I've been working with the script that I've been that actually, I've been sort of helping set it up. Because I happen to know, some producers, I thought who would be interested who are. And they were saying, Let's go to the studio, I said, don't go to a studio, they're going to take this beautiful writer off of it, we're going to put on another writer who's not right for the shannara, then that writers not going to work. And I said, it is going to be in development health for the next three or four or forever years, it would be much better let the studio come in when you have the picture made. And I think that's what they are going to do with this. So one of my favorite scripts I've ever worked on how to 2500 scripts, probably the best script. It has been in development hell at a studio for three years now, you know, and it was, there was I thought it was ready to shoot, you know, now, things do go through rewrites, you get the director on board to get the producers on board. And so say well, okay, that's the process, no matter how good the script is, it is going to go through this process. But okay,

Alex Ferrari 21:24
Enough's enough.

Linda Seger 21:25
Yeah. But with a production company, the writer is more apt to be part of that process. And even sometimes, as a script consultant, I'm part of that process as well. So we we meet and we're a team and you're able to listen to what the producer says and say, I see what you want to do. Okay, here's where we could do it. And then I'm talking to the writer, we're all together, working it out together, rather than simply taking this script and handing it to somebody else.

Alex Ferrari 22:00
Now, can you explain the concept of on the nose dialogue, which I think is and cliche dialogue is, which is I think when some of the worst offenders in screenwriting today,

Linda Seger 22:10
Cliche dialogue, is those things we always hear? Which is yes. I can't tell you how many times as the someone says, Yes. It's, it's overused. And on the nose dialog is say, Oh, I see you're at this party. You're also eating shrimp like I see you. Right? We have so much common we both have gone for this trip. Are you attracted to me?

Alex Ferrari 22:41
like normal human being spotted speak,

Linda Seger 22:43
As opposed to the subtext is, you might have two people talking about the strip and saying, well, it's very, you know, it's very juicy, I love to say, and all of a sudden, you say this is really a love scene. One of the loveliest scenes to watch for subtext where it's not on the nose is in sideways, my mile sit down with a glass of wine, and she says, Why are you so into Pinot Noir? And he says, Hi, well, Pinot Noir, and he says, you know, it's so brilliant and, but it's subtle, and you have to coax it. And I think Myles is talking about himself ever seen. He's really saying to Maya, if you could only coax out my brilliance. Like what happens with Pinot Noir. It is so rich, and it's so wonderful. And right. When I show the scene in a class, I tell the class while you're watching the scene, keep in mind, they are not talking about wine, it's the love scene, they're talking about each other. And it's so cute because you suddenly start hearing the giggles. You get it get what's going on under the surface. So you're trying and one of my books is called writing subtext is called the subtitle is what lies beneath. And the whole idea of how do you get resonance. Just to give you another example, which is going to be used in the new edition of writing subtext is that if you're doing a movie, like the proposal, and somebody like Sandra Bullock with her handsome young assistant says, I'm preparing him for this important meeting. It's a that's on the nose. But if she were to say, I'm grooming him for this meeting, now you have another level of meaning going on, because of course, they are going to end up as bride and groom, right so that the writer keeps working with the better choice of words that has resonance or that has an underlying meaning without just saying it.

Alex Ferrari 24:55
Right, right now there's and there's also writers that actually make a living, just coming into The cleanup dialog for sub and adding subtext where there was a lot of on the note stuff.

Linda Seger 25:04
Yes, yes. And there the rewrite that meant the uncredited rewrite in many cases, and many times that person is given a very specific assignment. If you remember Romancing the Stone years ago was one of my friends triva Silverman, who was for many years, the executive story consultant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was called in to make Joe more likable. So they said you don't like her. And so she started going out was her job to go through the script. She was a great comedy writer. And just to go through the script and say, What do I start adding? Course Joan became more likable with the cat and giving her the food when she finished her book to help celebrate. And this those little tidbits

Alex Ferrari 25:56
and adds a lot those little little little little things that you add to a character is is is massive over the course of of the storyline. Now can you can you paint a picture for me of what a working writer is in Hollywood today? Not the million dollar Shane blacks and Aaron Sorkin's of the world, but like the rest of the W ga cuz I think, because I think a lot of writers get into the screenplay game because they all think they're gonna win the lottery. Same reason why filmmakers want to make a movie because they think they're going to go to Sundance and make, you know, get get a win the award and Harvey Weinstein is going to write him a check for, you know, 5 million bucks, and the rest is history. And I think I want to kind of break that notion of the million dollar lottery ticket kind of writers, and what the rest, because there's a lot more at the bottom of the mountain than there is at the top. But there but there are working like people who make a living doing that. So what can you paint a picture of what an actual working writer is in Hollywood,there.

Linda Seger 26:52
First of all, a lot of writers who gain some kind of a reputation are called in either because let's say an independent producer, has option to book. And let's say for instance, they can't afford a Writers Guild writer, who might start at 65,000. And they're thinking I could afford 25,000 30,000, I can afford that bigger price. And so they option a book, maybe for very little money, depending. And now they're looking for a writer. Now what happens sometimes with inexperienced producers, they choose the wrong writer, they choose the person who's not writing in that genre, which is what, so they're writing a romantic comedy. And they say, well, this person is known for is really well known as a writer, let's get them and maybe their drama writer, action writer, but they need to find a writer. And so there are many experienced writers in the Hollywood or around the country, who are very good at what they've done. They've probably written five scripts, maybe they've had one movie made, maybe they've had something optioned. And they are hired to turn that book into a script, or somebody is written a script, and it needs a rewrite from somebody more experience. So the writer gets hired. Now they can get right hired by a production company, maybe a small one, because they can get hired by a studio if they're well known. But they are hired specifically to write it. Or those people who say, Well, I want to write my life story. I want to have a screenplay based on me, I've had this happen. A lot of money,

Alex Ferrari 28:45
Right! Those are always wonderful scripts, I'm sure.

Linda Seger 28:48
Yeah. And what happens though, is that the writer is in a bind, because this person who wants their life story told, doesn't know what a script is. And they're trying to satisfy that person, because that's the person paying them knowing that probably, it will either never get made, or it will get made low budget and never see the light of day or never get any place to get a release or anything. So what so writers, like there's lots and lots of experience people out there. love these writing jobs. Now sometimes they don't get these writing jobs in Hollywood. Just give you a few examples. I had a client who moved to Florida we had worked on an adorable script that took place in the south a very light, lovely charming romantic comedy. She couldn't get it made. She went over to England and she reset it in a village in England instead of maybe it was Alabama and she got it made over there. So so many times the writer has to be thinking about, I shouldn't go the Hollywood game, I don't think I'm going to get any place, right, or the writer director that does a movie, very low budget, gets it into film festivals and maybe gets a job out of that. I had a writer director that I worked with who did a film for $7,000. And I'll tell you, that film looked really good. And

Alex Ferrari 30:28
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Linda Seger 30:38
It took place on a desert, it's called far from ascension, and I don't disclose anything I work on. But once the film is made, it's to everyone's advantage, right? It was the title of it, sure, and very limited sets. But sometimes people can get movies made for very little, or for 100,000, or for half a million. I know a Producer Director that I've worked on some scripts she's given to me, and I think I've recommended some and she's gotten them made. And she said, I'm very good at raising money for these, you know, small budget movies, and we get them into screenwriting festival, you know, various film festivals. And then she said, we get a release. in certain places. It's never going to be the release like a studio film. But they get made. And actually a movie I worked on with that she did is she said, we won the award for Best inspirational film, and we beat out Warner Brothers.

Alex Ferrari 31:44
That's always nice

Linda Seger 31:45
For the award is that that's pretty cool.

Alex Ferrari 31:48
No, is there a place where writers can actually you know, where would you suggest writers send their scripts to kind of get feedback because it's you know, it's tough to stuff to get a script, a screenplay or even read, but like festivals or contest or groups, what would you suggest?

Linda Seger 32:03
Yes, well, the first thing is don't ever send anything anyplace, without having other people having read it. Now there's different levels of readers, you certainly can start with people that you know, you probably know some writers, trade scripts with your friend, just make sure that you don't give your script to somebody who is negative, and is going to demoralize you. There are people that will demoralize a writer, and they won't write for years. And I know some of us, right, of course, writers. Sure. So that's the first level is dis people, you know, the second level, for very little money, you can have it read by a story analysts. And they're going to just do a couple pages of notes. And, you know, they'll give you some feedback. And that can be helpful to know how will a story analysts. Look at this. I know some people who are wonderful story analysts, so anyone ever wanted a recommendation or see ads all over me, that can be 50 or $100. For that, then the next level is the script consultant. And that's the people like me whose job it is to really analyze the script to look at the strengths, look at the weaknesses, figure out how to make the weaknesses become strengths. So very, and I have all sorts of levels of services from extremely detailed to one or two pages that really give writer a sense, this is what you have. Is this worth investing a lot of money in because maybe the story is not good enough anyway? Or you really have something here, right? No, no guarantees, and whether it will get made. Then Then, after you've gone through some steps to get professional feedback, entering screenwriting contests and see what happens that it would if you can get a one of the top three like a third place, second first winner, whatever. And there are loads of screenwriting contest. So you want to try to make something happen with that because if you get a first place now when you show that to a producer, you can say By the way, it won first place, like recently one of scripts script, I'd worked on one first place that the worldfest Houston Film Festival for screenwriting, and I mean that's worth a lot that's sure their full award to get so you want to have something that if you write to a production company, they have a reason to read your script.

Alex Ferrari 34:50
Anything anything that could give a little cachet to the script.

Linda Seger 34:52
Yes. And if you can add to say I've been writing for several years, I've written five scripts. This one, I think fits your company. By the way, it's it's also won the screenwriting awards and was chosen as something that can help make them want to read it.

Alex Ferrari 35:13
Now, you touched a little bit about this earlier about other markets besides Hollywood, which a lot of people always focus on Hollywood or just the American market. But there's so many emerging film markets around the world, you know, that are just embracing filmmaking, and just blowing up as far as the market is concerned. So how can screenwriters leverage those markets and helping them get their screenplays made?

Linda Seger 35:35
Well, the first thing is, if somebody is not from the United States, don't try to go to Hollywood go to your own country, you probably have a better chance. I have a client coming in. Next week from Mexico, he went to Columbia film school. He said, Every one of us who were from outside the United States have gotten films made since we graduated Columbia to 1215 years ago. He said not one of my us colleagues at Columbia film school have gotten filmmaking was that was the US market is really tough.

Alex Ferrari 36:11
Although they made they've made it in their own countries.

Linda Seger 36:14
Yes. And so right. And so when the US market is the toughest, so when people from Germany or England or wherever, say, Well, I want to get a film in Hollywood said don't even bother, try to get it made in your own market, because you have a better chance in that market. And then Hollywood will come after you. Because they've seen this film, and they think it's great. And well, let's get that you know, that writer. So now the other thing is somebody who is from the US can always go to another market. And say what, what are some markets where I actually could get my script into somebody and who's doing work or doing co productions at other markets. So Canada, for instance, or Germany, or England got it, if you've got some scenes in Germany, go to German producers. And if you've got scenes in England, goat England, producers, and this sad kind of bypass, or if you don't bypass the US market, go to a production company, not a studio, it's hard to get your script into a studio anyway. And maybe don't go to the biggest production company, don't start with Ron Howard's company, where you probably won't get it read anyway, or get in the door. Try to find what those smaller companies are. Look at the credits of movies that you love, and don't look for a universal production. Look for that fourth name down that those precursors, and of course, sometimes with smaller, you know, smaller producers are trying to find that writer who's just wonderful, but less expensive.

Alex Ferrari 38:05
Will you like, like, um, I don't mean to interrupt you, Reese Witherspoon, she actually created her own production company, and started taking in scripts. And she got some really great scripts out of that, out of that, and she also produced Gone Girl, she she actually got that she got the rights to Gone girl.

Linda Seger 38:25
And look for those actors. If you want to go after an actor look for the actors that have production companies, because you have a better chance with that. Then some other way. And then you know the thing with agents, people say, Well, can I get an agent or manager say, well, it'll take you years, you might do better, getting a deal. And then you can go to an agent, because you have proven something about yourself. It's really, really hard to get an agent. And it's very, very hard to get your agent as a new writer to work for you and make anything happen.

Alex Ferrari 39:02
Yeah, I know many writers in LA, that have that problem with their agents and managers. Oh, yeah. Cuz they just want to look, they're in the business to make money. And it's much easier to sell someone who has an Academy Award, or has a proven track record than to hustle, a new guy coming up? Yes. Now do you? do you suggest screenwriters, right screw or short films or short screenplays to see if they can get that produced in a way to build a track record up?

Linda Seger 39:30
Well, especially if they're directors themselves and want to do a short film short films have great opportunities at film festivals and short films can prove who you are. They show your ability. I work on quite a few. I say quite a few. I mean I work on short films. And one of the things I always look for is to find out something in that short film that makes the writer Director known. So don't just do another car chase, they can get Michael Mann to do the car chase, they don't mean to do something interesting, whether it's in the writing of it or the approach to it, so that you can start getting awards with the short film and someone looking at it says, oh, that directors that they're not only good at what they're doing, but wonderful script, you know, great job of directing. So again, you have something to show. And it doesn't have to be a 30 minute film. There's a lot of fabulous films of six minutes or 10 film. In fact, years ago, I worked on a short film, it was called there is no APR. And the two characters were named May and June. Nice, too. It was six minutes, it was two women on their way to Las Vegas, where one was going to give a quickie before us. And the the writer said, I want to do this little film, and then I'm going to do a feature. And she was sort of dismissing that little film and I say her name is Sherry Norris. And I said, Sherry, take that little six minute film very seriously. So she hired me as a script consultant, she hired a directing consultant, and the film one audience favorite award at the Elven a film festival. And she then went on to do an adorable little romantic comedy called duty dating. And she might have done a film since then. But it was interesting, the same everything you do you do with the same professionalism, as when you finally get the opportunity to do the feature, right. Don't ever dismiss anything.

Alex Ferrari 41:50
Now the structure of of a short screenplay, a short film screenplay must be obviously much different, in the same but much more condensed. So you have to get to those beats much faster, I would imagine, right?

Linda Seger 42:01
Yeah, I still structured in the 3x structure, clear beginning middle and, and even with this little, there is no APR. I looked very carefully at the structure. She had her turning point she had her development, she had our conflict. Everything was in there, but you only have six minutes to do it.

Alex Ferrari 42:22
So it's a much it's even a tougher chore chore than doing a 90 minute script. At that point.

Linda Seger 42:27
Well, I don't know if it's tougher, a different, you know, tough, and it is interesting to see how well many of these do I think every short film I've won I've worked on has won awards. And and sometimes I remember one, one writer early on many years ago said you were the only person who believed in this. And he said and that kept me going and I did my little short and it won these five awards. And now what a What a nice thing is to start to see and get some kind of success because you can write for years and years and years and not get any feedback that tells you Oh, you did a good job on that.

Alex Ferrari 43:14
Right. And that does help as a as an artist, you want that reinforcement? reassurance, if you will, like hey, I'm on the right track, I'm actually good at what I'm doing. Maybe I can keep I should keep trying to do this because it's a it's not a it's not a sprint, this is definitely a marathon

Linda Seger 43:32
Not to figure, it is going to take you years. So unless you love doing doing it unless you love the writing, don't even bother. No one is waiting for you. That is going to keep you going as you feel inside yourself passionate about what you're doing. And you are keep going through the learning curve.

Alex Ferrari 43:55
Yeah, absolutely not 111 thing i i've when I've been when I wanted to start studying screenplay writing and, and all the books and you obviously your your books are on the top of that list. The one book that really kind of, or the concept, I guess was Joseph Campbell's hero's journey, which that kind of changed the game for for storytelling in the last 3040. When did that come out? He when he released that?

Linda Seger 44:24
Oh, I know that it was in the early to mid 80s after Star Wars came out, which I think was more like 77 or sitting right? At seven. But when Star Wars came out, and Joe and George Lucas started to talk about how he had to use Joseph Campbell's theories. Then people started to look at Joseph Campbell. And then Christopher Vogel wrote the book called The writer right, which deals with the hero's journey and I did some parts in my making a good script. On the hero's journey in the first two editions, and I actually told Christopher, I said, you need to write a book on this. And if you don't in two years, I'm going to that's not the book I want to write. Right. Then once in a while, Chris, thanks me. He said, I really glad you pushed me because that book has been extremely well received and done extremely well.

Alex Ferrari 45:25
I've read that book. A lot of times. Yeah.

Linda Seger 45:27
Yeah. Like I do with doing seminars on that so one can get Joseph Campbell kind of put down into screenplay form by reading Chris's book.

Alex Ferrari 45:37
Right It kind of like yeah, cuz the Joseph Campbell's is more mythology. It's not focused specifically on filmmaking. While Chris Chris's book is that's what I loved about his, his book as well. Now, when they're when there's writing a screenplay, and then there's also marketing a screenplay and getting your voice out there as a screenwriter, do you have any tips on how you can get that script that they finally made out there until the world like, actually gets seen?

Linda Seger 46:04
Yes, well, that's, that's the golden ticket. That's a whole world in itself. But one thing people can do. They can go to conference screenwriting conferences that have pitch fest. One of the best is those the great American pitch Fest in Los Angeles, that's usually in June, it is put on by a woman from Canada in Calgary, a name signal now who is just fabulous, it is so well organized, she gets so many people there to receive pitches, hundreds and hundreds of people go. And so you have an opportunity to do that five minute pitch in front of people who actually have the ability to buy your your Scout, then story Expo in September has a pitch fest which is getting bigger and bigger. And it's the same thing. You go there you have your one sheet, plus you have your screenplay in your briefcase. And when they say I'm interested, you give them the one sheet in the next day, you send them the script, if they say they're willing to read it, get up there really quickly,

Alex Ferrari 47:13
Very quickly.

Linda Seger 47:15
And there's been a lot of successes with something like these pitch fest. There's one, I think there is one in Canada. And I would even suggest that some of the Americans go up to Canada and do that with Canadian producers. And again, you might have a better chance.

Alex Ferrari 47:36
Just less competition is less competent, and there is a cachet. Maybe not in Canada, but other parts of the world that like oh, this is a US I'm an American Screenwriter, a Hollywood screenwriter, it might have some more cachet might have more pull in marketing.

Linda Seger 47:51
Yes, yeah. There are some things where people put their Synopsys on wine. And you have to be kind of careful about that, because it's easier to steal. That. And I do know some people have done well with that. I think there are some of those sponsors of those kind of Synopsys that actually say they can get it into producers and giving in the executives and maybe the executive sort of thumb through there and just take a look to see if there's anything of interest. I don't know. Just overall when the senate decided they're probably quite low, but then everything is quite low.

Alex Ferrari 48:34
No, can you can you really briefly talk about loglines, which is something that a lot of people don't talk about, and the importance of them?

Linda Seger 48:41
Oh, yeah, log lines are that one line that immediately encapsulates your story. For instance, if I said a shark threatens a tourist town on a fourth of July weekend, yes, jaws

Alex Ferrari 48:56
I love et et was fantastic. No joke.

Linda Seger 49:02
And something withdraws as you listen, that log line, it has conflict on it. You use the word threatens, it has high stakes, it's the fourth of July weekend, which says this is the tourists dollars, as he says, and it's a sharp so it's the man against monster story in one line, you have so much information. And so a writer works and works on that log line because if you go to a pitch fast, you might want to have that log line to pull the person in immediately that you're pitching to. The other thing that you work on is what's called the elevator pitch, which is the 22nd pitch. So you get into an elevator and you press the 12th floor and you turn around as Steven Spielberg is standing behind you. That's when you go into your I have a script. Shark threatens

Alex Ferrari 49:57
Pride on pitch that story to him. I think he knows that

Linda Seger 50:00
That pitch to say, I had to say that because I just happened to have this opportunity. Yeah, let me see what that person says. And you, again, make it very, very concise. Michael Haig has written a book called, I think it's selling the selling your script in 60 seconds or something like that. It's about pitching and it's about treatments and, you know, these these log lines, and it's that whole idea, you have to be able to get that script very, very concise that somebody immediately gets, what's the genre? What's the stakes, what's the conflict, give me something about you know, my, maybe my main character might be in there. Give me lots of information.

Alex Ferrari 50:49
So um, I want to just to kind of close off our interview with two movies that I wanted you to kind of talk about a little bit and two of them were considered to the great, great screenplays ever written. But one, and they're very different from each other. One movie is Shawshank Redemption, which is considered probably one of the greatest films ever made, at least by IMDb standards. What makes that movie so ridiculously amazing. And from an F talk to every every scope of life, you know, for every everybody from you know, millionaires to you know, kids to me, like people love that movie. And it wasn't wasn't widely loved when it first came out, but it's grown and there's this thing about it. Can you kind of break that down? And then the other movie? story? Sure. I'll tell you about the other movie afterwards, which was you think about? And then I'll go to the Okay, and the other one is Pulp Fiction. Like how that that magic? what that is?

Linda Seger 51:54
The greatest movies of all time? I'm not sure I would

Alex Ferrari 51:57
Some of them. I didn't say most, but some of them

Linda Seger 51:59
Say they are both, you know, they're both very good. They're both excellent. And I say well, what is it about them? Shawshank? I think the the feeling for the characters. And their situation in their context is so strong. When you imagine with Morgan Freeman, he just pulls you into that story beautifully. Tim Robbins, and memorable scenes, one of the things to look for in a movie is what are the scenes you probably have not seen before the carry so much emotion so much feeling it because that's where you go into the art of the craft where Shawshank is based on Stephen King's story. Sure. When I think of Shawshank and I think of that scene where Tim Robbins goes into the room and locks the door and plays a piece of classical music, it's an opera, and he puts it on the intercom and it just floods the prism and everybody just as brought to a halt by the beauty to bring beauty in that and that oh my gosh, that feeling of that scene. So sometimes in movies when you analyze them you for instance, structurally, Shawshank I think the resolution is too long in that movie. And so from just a purely structural craft viewpoint, I think it could have been tighter. But from an artistic viewpoint, just a story that pulls you in and the twists and turns of the story. The fact that this guy kept getting his Rita Hayworth you could dig behind them and what it took him and themes of determination. So you can look to say it's a great story. It's great characters is acceptable roles that really bring great actors to the table. It's a theme that is expressed. And it has in that case, the twists and turns. Pulp Fiction is such an original piece. You have very little money to shoot it with low budget, lots of fascinating things that mean the guy has just shot the person and he starts quoting from the Bible. Oh my gosh, what is and the sure hand I think the thing with Quentin Tarantino. By the time he did Pulp Fiction, he knew what he was doing. He said he had spent 10 years doing a movie that couldn't even be released. It was so awful sure that he did Reservoir Dogs then he did Pulp Fiction. And I remember in that opening scene in the cafe, that when he stopped that he starts to cry Credit is belly dancing music I mean it happened years ago I I started surfing music, took belly dance to that sure killer piece of music starts the movie again in a totally different place at I totally trusted Quentin Tarantino knew what he was doing. He was not going to drop that same way we're going to come back to it. And to feel that sense of a writer director who knows what they're doing and has it sure and confident hand

Alex Ferrari 55:34
Right, that's a great analogy of that

Linda Seger 55:36
How he just interwove all of this

Alex Ferrari 55:40
And still hitting the beats still hitting that he hit. He hit that hero's journey, oddly enough within that structure

Linda Seger 55:49
Say and he also I analyzed Pulp Fiction in terms of its structure and it's beautifully structured. I think right at the midpoint is the story of the watch, which acts as kind of a fulcrum for the first half and the second half does and the interweaving is really fascinating because he'll drop something for a while but then you know he's going to come back to it

Alex Ferrari 56:16
you know the funny the funny I'll tell you real quick funny story about the pulp fiction is I was listening to an interview with Robert Rodriguez and he was talking about he was he was you know, they're best friends and they've been and they were doing the movie at the time. And just like George Lucas had at screening of Star Wars for you know, the Paloma and Coppola and all that and everyone said oh poor George poor poor George he just yeah well maybe next one George Spielberg was the only one that kind of like you might have something here. Clinton did the same similar thing with with Pulp Fiction he brought in all his his his friends which for filmmakers and writers and stuff and Robert was the only one that wasn't there he was off shooting somewhere but after the screening he talked to some people and one of the one of the directors who we remain nameless because no one knows who it is because quitting won't say who it is he's like you know I'm gonna have a stern talking to about with with Quintin about this I mean he needs to learn how to make a movie I mean this is not right what he's done I think he's gone off course and then he was going to make that phone call but then quitting was over in France with a can so after he won the Palme d'Or is free calls him up it goes I was gonna give you a stern talking to but what the hell do I know?

Linda Seger 57:32
Well in Pulp Fiction has what I call the loop structure is that you loop it back and Quintin who quotes some somebody else says a story has a beginning middle of end but not necessarily in that order correct and in my book advanced screenwriting I talk about different non traditional structures and use Pulp Fiction as the example of loop and just an unusual structure but he knew what he was doing

Alex Ferrari 58:04
That confident hand is is something that that I it's a great it's a great description of the of Quentin Tarantino was a filmmaker he he's gonna go down his route no matter what what you think about it but he knows he's going to take you in this journey is kind of like when I saw Birdman last year and and I was like Oh, I forgot what a real directors

Linda Seger 58:26
Yes, somebody knows what they're doing and they This is not their first rodeo right just like took you through this first time they have done this

Alex Ferrari 58:35
And it's so I just still remember watching Birdman and going this is what a director's like you like you watch it when you watch a Scorsese movie or one of the you know the big but I hadn't seen a movie so original and it completely and he took you on that journey and you trusted him the entire time and it was it was a one and I'm so glad I won the Oscar It was like such an odd choice for you know for the for the academy but I thought it was a wonderful choice. So last question, my dear is the toughest question of the mall. So prepare yourself. I asked this of all of my all of my guests. What are your top three films of all time?

Linda Seger 59:11
Oh, okay. The best

Alex Ferrari 59:14
In your opinion.

Linda Seger 59:15
There's so many but let me just mention a couple I particularly find is gems. One is always Amadeus.

Alex Ferrari 59:24
Yeah, you're not I just had someone say Amadeus is a wonderful

Linda Seger 59:28
Big diamond was a really big one. You know, like Gone with the Wind. Those are the big diamonds. You know, if you say the top three films, I wouldn't know how to answer that. I could answer it in terms of movies that I am incredibly fond of. Yeah, no rules. No rules. Like my some of my favorite. Now. People know I talk about witness a lot and I have talked about it for many, many years. I think it is one of the best structures. films. And these guys really knew what they were doing telling the story. Who is I have a special feeling for witness. My husband who at that time was the guy was dating sorta kind of proposed to me in the middle of the barn raising same sort of kinda. And then the proposal became specific and now we've been married for it'll be 29 years next year. Congratulations. So I have a real feeling comedies I put to it See, right off the top very thematic, very strong, just in a wonderful acting wonderful characters, great idea behind it. So those are three and then I'll just mention what I call a little gem, the little diamond stand by me, I love grants are made to me is a great example of a very small film of 12 year old boys, and how a film can be about that and pull somebody in who ordinarily would not be pulled into that film. If somebody said what is one of the least interesting things to you, is I would say 12 year old boys because they make me so nervous, that they walk on railroad tracks and trains are ready to come. You know, all of that. And I said, I love that film. I just think it's a great example of dimensionality and heart and having this little directional line, let's go find a dead body. Now all stuff about friendship. It's just, I call that the little diamond. Absolute gem of a little movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:45
Wonderful list. Wonderful list. So Linda, where can people find you?

Linda Seger 1:01:48
LindaSeger.com is my website. My email Linda at LindaSeger.com seger, think of Bob Seger if you're not sure how to how to find me. And it's the same spelling. And then I got a full website. There's a whole lot of stuff on there. So people will probably find interesting,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:11
And you have many even 13 books,Correct?

Linda Seger 1:02:14
Yes, there's nine of them on screen writing.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:19
Okay. And then you also do court you also do consulting, as well as workshops every once in a while.

Linda Seger 1:02:24
That's what most of my work is script consulting. And then I do seminars. So my next one is Norway. And I was in Europe all summer long doing Vienna, in Germany and England, in Paris and the tough life. tough lesson. Yeah, tough life. I think I did seven in nine weeks, and I just went from one country to the other with a little vacation time in there. So, but I'm pretty easy to find.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:50
Okay, fantastic. Linda, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us. We really appreciate it.

Unknown Speaker 1:02:55
Okay, and you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter, and also sign up for my newsletter.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
Absolutely. Thanks again, Linda.

Linda Seger 1:03:03
Thanks so much.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:04
I really love talking to someone who has such a strong grasp on the craft of screenwriting, you can just tell that Linda knows it inside and out. And I learned a ton just by listening to her and talking to her and this in this interview. If you guys haven't had a chance to read her book, go out and get making a good script. Great. You will thank me for it. We will leave a link of that in the show notes that you can get at indiefilmhustle.com/030 and I'll have links to her all her books there as well as her official site as well. Don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us an honest review for the show. It really helps us out a lot. So thanks again guys for taking a listen. I hope it was helpful. Keep that also going keep that dream alive. I'll talk to you soon.




  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

IFH 019: How to Make Terrifying Horror Films with Edwin Pagan

Making scary independent horror films in the current marketplace is difficult to say the least. Today’s sophisticated audiences are getting harder and harder to scare every day

When many filmmakers start out they make a film in the horror genre. It worked for famed filmmakers like Guillermo del ToroSam RaimiGeorge RomeroJames WanJohn CarpenterWes CravenRoman PolanskiDavid Cronenberg and Alfred Hitchcock just to name a few.

In this week’s episode, I’m joined by the aficionado of horror films Edwin Pagan from LatinHorror.com. We discuss what it takes to make terrifying horror films, the difference between Latino horror films versus Korean or American horror films and what is truly terrifying.

We also packed this scary episode with indie filmmaking tips on the do’s and don’ts of indie horror filmmaking, adventures of a working cinematographer in New York City and what it really takes to scare the hell out of your audience.

Don’t listen to the episode alone. Happy Halloween and be safe everyone!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 2:40
Edwin, thank you so much for joining us on this Halloween edition of Indie Film Hustle podcast.

Edwin Pagan 2:46
Thanks for having me on, man, that's a pleasure after you know, knowing you for so long and seeing you do this, this new initiative, which was fantastic. I like what you're doing with it, brother.

Alex Ferrari 2:55
I appreciate that, man. Thank you so much. Yeah, we met God, this is 2004 2005 something like that. 1004 Yeah, something like that. We met Yeah, around the time. Broken was around and we met at a leap from the National National Association of Latin independent producers. So yeah, we worked on a bunch of projects then. But yeah, it's it's another thing that a lot of people don't realize relationships, you know, like you you meet people and you create these relationships over years. And they do they they're very valuable in the future without without question.

Edwin Pagan 3:30
Oh, absolutely. And in fact, you know, we talked about your, your, what you're doing, and one of the ones I listened to the other night was a precisely about that you were talking about how filmmakers need to really build relationships and not just think that because they're on social media, they have a direct link to people's, you know, attention, right and I think that's something that's happened with people like you and I, who you know, know each other for quite a while aren't in contact all the time. What can say let's let's roll on this and it gets done because we know what's there does it there's an undercurrent of history, etc. That isn't we know

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Exactly. It's like if you know, if I if I called you up, I'm like, Hey, man, I want to do something with Latin horror, you know, and because we have that relationship, you'd be like, yeah, and like, you know, when we when we when we decided to do this podcast, you just call them up. It's like, hey, let's Yeah, let's do it. As opposed to just being a cold call. Right? And just like not knowing you, but that relationship. I mean, we're talking what 10 years now?

Edwin Pagan 4:25
Yeah, I know I don't know if you'd call me I know what I'm getting. So it's like you know, I know I know what you know, the curatorial processes is become secondary, because I know what I'm getting already.

Alex Ferrari 4:34
Exactly, exactly. And that that's, that's something that a lot of filmmakers don't get I get constantly bombarded with. Now, since indie film hustle is growing at such a rapid pace, I'm starting to get you know, people just sending over scripts to like, hey, can can I you know, where can I get money? I'm like, Who are you? Like, what's your name? Hi, how are you? Like, you know, and I I had another guy the other day contact me on Facebook and he was so sweet and so nice about everything and then we started a conversation and then I started to build a relationship with them a little bit and but he took interest in what I was doing and he was just it's just basic like manners almost you know

Edwin Pagan 5:18
Well you know that's the problem with social media it's become that's all eliminated you know people people want to say what they want to say and make it gospel and then they want to cut to the chase when it's their turn to do something and there is no manners You know, there is no no protocol and you know and with as you know, we both know this business takes up so much of our time that you got to have protocol because you got a wedge in there at the right time and not become a nuisance or else you know, your emails get blocked

Alex Ferrari 5:47
Your emails get blocked in you never get seen which is what that podcast that that was podcast God I don't even remember the number of of it's the are you in any filmmaker spammer? Right? Yeah, because I thought it was something that we should someone should say. So, anyway, we went off topic or we haven't even started our interview yet. So I wanted to I want to ask you you tell everybody a little bit about why you started Latinhorror.com

Edwin Pagan 6:16
Sure. You know, I mean, as you and I both know and other filmmakers that are listen to this, you know, you work on these big projects on times and I work a lot as a producer and a cinematographer. And what happens is you know, you come off these projects and all of a sudden you're you're you're crushing through a sugar rush, because you feel like right now there's nothing else on your plate, you know, and you're feeling for something and I remember one time this was in the in the beginning of 2008 I was kind of looking for something to keep me occupied innately with my skills and interests that would do that between projects and I knew that writing would probably be part of it. And you know, I'm a big horror fan and I'm Latino. And when they when I was thinking about that it just struck me those three words kind of floated around my head for a minute and I was like oh Latin horror but you know if I didn't think it would be out there I would think that that there wouldn't be interest so much I knew I was interested but I said no, I can't be that easy This must already have been grabbed up the idea you know the website all of it and when I started looking around no there was no website with that name that with no magazines with that name they were nobody there was no one really talking about it in that regard. I mean, if they were talking about Mexican horror, or Spanish horror, etc Yes, because it was in a nationalistic keyframe but as a whole you know as us talking about says this thing genre nobody was talking about that and I only came across a couple of DVDs as an anthology with three like b grade movies out of Mexico they were being sold sold online. And they were packages Latin horror, because when you bring it over, you can't say Hispanic or Mexican horror that much. You have to say you know, Latinos, this is Latinos. So they said LAN horror, it was more as a as a title than then a brand or a genre. And I started working working on the website throughout that year and launched it on Halloween. Okay, 1008 my friend of mine wanted to put up his part of the website or place where people could register and I allowed him to do that and I hadn't checked back on it in a couple of months when I came back I had around 3000 people that had registered now Wow, I blew my mind because it was like oh, that there's a big interest for this but you know, they you know, it was an even split between Latinos and non Latinos because horror fans are avid Yeah, if you hear anything, Horry, you're going to it and they were like, you know, what's this thing? He's talking about Latin horror. And at the time, I was using a monitor that was first came rockin espanol now we have Latin horror because they went through the same when they were little kiddos were doing rockin espanol people were like what's that even though her name kind of told you what it was right now you don't have that issue. You know rockin espanol is is what it is. And I think the same over the last you know, set of years almost like seven eight years, people have come on board with the concept as well I have people about 20 or 30 DVDs that I get a year where people have self proclaimed the genre they're working and as Latin horror you know, it's not so far fetched for people to say that and click with it anymore you know and it's expanding so you know, I can't claim to have created the genre you know, people working in it, they just hadn't sort of consolidated into a brand or or genre it's kind of like saying with we're taking ownership of it under this umbrella that I can claim but you know, it's it's it's it's really is to make sure that it just moved forward and that, that we're all working together and can you know, take ownership of our own genre, the same is you know, Japanese, or, or Italian or Korean horror, you know, and so now, little by little, we're also fleshing out what that is, you know because when you first come up with a concept you still you know have to really historically carve it out and what does it mean in a trajectory over time and you know those have come before and created work that fits and sort of you know, create the brand in a way that makes sense for everyone not just because you had an idea

Alex Ferrari 10:20
Now I have a question for you now i i love i love good horror, you know, I'm not I'm not a huge like, I don't like blood and guts. You know, I enjoy the old slasher flick from the 80s you know, those are fun, but I'm not you know, it's not something I actually go after. So I'm not familiar with a lot of Latin horror to be honest with you, other than obviously good Mo. That Dora which is he's probably the, the leader of the of the movement, right and what he does, but and I think this is a this is a broader question in regards to Latin culture in general, but I know Mexican I know Mexican horror, I've heard of Mexican horror, is there Nicaraguan horror is the Colombian horror is there as a teen horror,

Edwin Pagan 11:00
There are spurts of it. I think one of the one of the biggest South American Central American countries that sort of on the cusp and the leading cusp of it is Valentina right now. You have great food a lot of great and you know, one of the things that's interesting is that in this past year, the country proper you know, the government actually started trying to revive their film industry. And that came as a direct result of the Argentinian filmmakers that are working in genre there but specifically horror who were getting a lot of tension outside the country and the country looked at itself and said you know, we really have to push this and you know, it's interesting that the genre report itself is the one that's kind of reactivated the industry there. You know, Mexican horror as you said, you know, they've been doing it forever they're really good at it. Spain is at the leading end of a lot of horror films. And I think you know, what, really what we're talking about is that the differences and I think the total some that are best quite a few years ago when he said and I'm paraphrasing here, he said that American Horror attempts to destroy the physical the body right, we talked about that slasher porn and all of that, which you know, it can be fun sometimes, right? You want to see how the best new gimmick to destroy a city can be fun, but it gets old after a few films and it's the same gimmick right and but Latin horror on the other spectrum is about destroying the mind and the soul. Right? So it really goes back to the suspense, the supernatural and what's lurking in the shadows. You know, there's all these characters from Latino folklore like l kuko. Law, Your Honor, yeah, weeping, sure, etc. And one of the things that makes that particularly terrifying, like in the case of Google, for instance, is that when your parents tell you, you have to go to bed, or you have to finish your homework, or also Google is going to get you the fact remains that they never explain exactly what Google is.

Alex Ferrari 13:04
Can you tell me I actually I've actually never heard of nkuku I've heard I've never heard of I'm Cuban Okay, so I have not heard I've not heard of a cuckoo I've heard of your own I've heard a ton but never

Edwin Pagan 13:17
El Kuko it but that's the interesting thing about el kuko It's a lot in Mexico and Puerto Rico. And it's it's it's it's not described in any fashion, it's just some ether of being that if you don't behave is going to come in the middle of the boogeyman, and the boogeyman to some degree, you know, the crack and whatever but but al Kuko there's no description of what it is. And because of that your mind fills in the blank if you're like an eight year old child in a room and your mother tells you better go to bed and cuckoo is gonna get you that you're ducking under your mind is filling in what l kuko is because it's never described, right? And I think that you know, that goes to our idiosyncratic literature traditions of sort of Latin America, Spain, Mexico, South and Central America where we have a long tradition of the of storytelling and a lot of it is Gothic, a lot of it has to do with our our religious faith, you know, beliefs and, and we fill in those blanks and so to us, going to see a horror movie and as you said, a good horror movie, you're making this distinction between the stuff that has all plot and then this happens, and then that happens in there's bodies falling heads are coming off, versus Latin horror, which is a lot grounded in story in character, mythology, right, and mythology and our idiosyncratic traditions of storytelling. And that's a big thing that's making a difference where a lot of people are gravitating to it because, you know, even an American, you know, culture coming on board because they're looking at it the way they looked at their horror in the 40s 50s and 60s, where it was more about that, you know, and I think people are sort of like thirsty For that again and so you're starting to little by little see the dial turn back the other way, where a lot of these movies that are coming out and you know, so called slasher porn are not doing so well at the box office because people you know, people at the end of the day are intelligent, they want their, they want their, their buttons pushed in a way that that, you know, that pulls that adrenaline out and sort of takes them to another level. And even though the slasher films do that, and I'm a fan of them to some degree, it isn't the same as when you you know, you're you're sort of manipulated, like a puppet on a string by a master like someone like el mo and others who really know how to do that in a way that it isn't just a cat jumping out of the cupboard, you know, right. It really holds you you know, you have white knuckles on the theater seat versus, you know, just whip lashing back because, you know, something jumped out all of a sudden, and that happens, you know, and there's blood in Latin horror, to some degree, but it isn't. It isn't about that. Well, yeah, like characters still. Always king and queen,

Alex Ferrari 16:01
Right! So like when you I was watching an interview with Guillermo the other day in regards to his to Pan's Labyrinth. And like, and you start to and it starts thinking back you think of when I thought of good mom like, Oh, yeah, he's, uh, he's that horror guy. I mean, obviously, he's done many other things. But you know, he's before it's like, oh, yeah, he's the horror guy, he did this. But then you start thinking back, like his films are not violent or bloody in that sense. They're not they're very psychological. And it was a great, great line that he said, which was awesome that somebody told him when he did Pan's Labyrinth that he goes, it's a really good movie, maybe you should bring down the violence a bit. So it can reach a broader audience. Again, because I don't care about but broader audience, I want its audience to enjoy it. You know, there's people who love it and know people who will hate it. But it's, that's why I wanted to make my movie, which is such a great statement to say as a filmmaker.

Edwin Pagan 16:54
And you see that even as in his lifestyle as a working artist, where he'll do a big blockbuster like Pacific Rim and sure we'll go back and do something like he's doing now with Crimson Crimson Peak.

Alex Ferrari 17:05
Yeah. Which is in there's not really anybody else that could do something like that in a studio level at this point. Like there's just there's nobody else that the studio would give. And it was such a low budget to write Crimson peaks not

Edwin Pagan 17:16
It's relatively You know, I think where you're seeing the bigger scale of the budget is almost in the promotion of it, but I think that as blockbusters go this is this is not a tentpole film now but it has that production value because he's such a genius when it comes to production design and sort of building out the world of his films that you know, they they're 10 times larger than the than the fiscal a lot and it's gonna, you know, show and then he pulls it out.

Alex Ferrari 17:46
And then he just said also that his budget for visual effects on the entire movies like three 4 million bucks, which is insane for a scope of a film like that, but then you start but he's knows how to do it. He like, he learned a lot in pants, like he did all of that for like 2,000,002 to three.

Edwin Pagan 18:01
Well there's, there's one thing that a lot of people don't know is that actually when Guillermo del Toro started he started out doing makeup effects, special effects, typical effects and effects so he knows that world inside out that's where he started before he started directing. So you know he's one of those people who's a natural born illustrator, an artist and visual artists and so you know, to him that goes hand in hand there is no dis you know, no separating Guillermo from the visual artists so you know, you know he gets kudos for being this amazing director. But he's he's a he's a born natural visual artist and you know, the Gothic and the mccobb is his his Wellspring and so when you put those two things together Ain't nobody pulling it out of the hat like he can

Alex Ferrari 18:48
No no no he is very unique voice in in the world today especially as a filmmaker no question. Now let me ask you a question. Why do you love horror films so much?

Edwin Pagan 18:58
You know, that's an interesting question. I still to this day, can't answer that. I mean, I love I love what how they make me feel I like the suspense that's, that's born out of it. You know, whenever I go to a dark theater, and I'm sharing this experience with three 400 other people. But the genesis of it began actually when I was a kid, my my sister at the time, my sister's a lot older than she is about 18 years older than me. So I was about, I don't know, 789 at the most, and my sister would you know, at the time she was gone. She was dating the gentleman that ultimately would be become a husband and father of her children. And my mother, on the other hand, wasn't having it. And she had me go along on these dates, you know, and I guess they liked horror, you know, or it Wow, her her fiance's knack of taking her that because he knew she would have to wrap her arms up, and they would always take me long, you know, and the first movie we ever saw together was Tales of the crypt, the original bridge. Production for Wow. And then the next movie that we solved together was the exorcist. Oh, you know, you know, top heavy stuff. I don't think I should have even been seen at that age. There was something about it the fear and the thought that remained with me Oh, you know, like weeks afterwards. And it wasn't a few like I was cringing on the covers, it was like, I want more, it was almost like I became addicted to it to some degree, you know. And then you know, as I was able to go to the theater on my own with my friends, etc, we would always gravitate and then again, I was I came of age as a as a teenager, etc, in the 80s. So this is Yeah, you know, Halloween and all these fantastic the thing which is one of my favorite movies. You know, I grew up in that time where all these movies were out. And they did have a little bit of the gore, they did have a lot of, you know, the Friday hitting the floor, but they were also character driven. And you know, we're talking a lot about the visual effects were practical effects, which always seems to sell and we'll be more than just 100% Digital. And, you know, I just, I don't know I think I was lucky in that sense that I was I was exposed to it at the right age became hooked to it. And you know, grew up in an age where horror was the the flavor of the month, people were really into their horror films at that time.

Alex Ferrari 21:23
I remember. I remember having Friday. I mean, they used to sell Friday, like action figures. I mean to kids, it was like it was the 80s where you can sell an R rated movie merchandise. There was like I think the Robocop Yeah, the Robocop toys.

Edwin Pagan 21:39
You know, your parents said, okay, you're gonna go to movies, that's all they you know, he's gonna be somewhere safe. Exactly. You know, they weren't like too too keen on vetting the content and imagine better or worse, I think, you know, it had a pronounced impact on me and I think that was the genesis but you know, got hooked and have been a horror lover and patron ever since.

Alex Ferrari 21:58
Now what? What makes a good horror movie?

Edwin Pagan 22:03
Well, I think we go back to the basics of nkuku I think a good horror movie is the movie that sort of keeps you in suspense until the payoff right and and and, you know, and again, if we go to the distinction between American Horror movies, and Latin horror movies, or non la or non Latino horror movies, not just keep picking on the American Horror movies. Part of what happens is that you know, from frame one, and the non Latino horror movie, people are dropping heads are coming off, people are vanishing. And we don't kind of take in you know, yeah, we're a little spooked. But there's no we got to get out of here. There's no something really terrible is going on here. And we're sort of negating it, you know, like 50% to 90% that anything really horrible is taking place that's why people keep dropping right there. There's like, they keep falling into the mousetrap even though there's already a mouse, you know, kind of cut in half there. And, and in a Latino horror movie, from frame one, we believe that there's something going on that there's a spirit that there's a demon that there's an entity that there's some sort of otherworldly phenomenon going on. And so we we that's it that's done that's a done deal. We take it for granted because of our religious beliefs, etc. And then we go forward, wanting to know why it's happening. How can I get rid of it? How can I, you know, get back to normal. And one of the things that you'll see in a lot of horror movies that a lot of it, it's it's unresolved sort of otherworldly tension, for instance, that somebody died in the house in a very horrific way. And now the spirit is in limbo until someone can find out who it was that killed them and sort of bring around closure on that right. And again, it's story based so there's this whole sequence playing out throughout the movie where we're interacting with this thing and not just trying to avoid it even though it's it's definitely interacting with us.

Alex Ferrari 23:57
Now, what would it you might have the answer to this is just where was the origins of horror? Like what's the oldest horror story? I mean, I'm thinking I'm going back to like, you know, the Christmas carol with the ghosts, but like, Where's the some of the first Genesis like that the Greeks talked about, you know, all the

Edwin Pagan 24:17
Greeks, the Greeks definitely talked about tragedy, you know, the foibles of man etc. there and in it in it, and there's a lot of darkness in those, but I think a lot of it came from Europe, you know, when the plagues of going on, right, even before that, we're talking about the Middle Ages where, you know, the Gothic era was in full play. We're not talking about Gothic in the sense of England, in the 1800s 1700s 1800s. They were now writing about it, but you know, it goes way back where

Alex Ferrari 24:47
100 1300

Edwin Pagan 24:49
1300 where you you'd certainly see these things playing out in a very real way where people were taking it as Gospel to some degree. That what is making these things happens we're not natural but you know maybe another another world from some someone was causing this to happen and then you come into the you know the 16 1700 1800s where you have even Nursery Rhymes based on these plagues we know this which is a feud and then you'd ring

Alex Ferrari 25:19
Around the Rosie

Edwin Pagan 25:21
Listen to the words you're talking about we're talking about the black plague. Why are we doing this to my four year old

Alex Ferrari 25:26
I know I was singing because I've twin daughters now they're almost four and and they were singing ring around the Rosie pocket full of posey and I'm like and then we all fall down I'm like that that's about the frickin plague.

Edwin Pagan 25:40
But I think that I think that what's colored a lot of modern you know movies horror movies has been definitely the Gothic period in England where they were masters of sort of that that storytelling technique you know when Frankenstein was written you know, these Dracula Sherif Dracula and, and also you know, the the grim that the Germany the grimms, fairy tales, etc, but then you have it sort of like then colored by the, by the palette of German Expressionism and sort of that, that look which if you if you sort of look at the, the directors of the 20s and 30s that came here and started even working in Hollywood, most of them were like from Germany, etc. And, and they brought over into those horror films that that palette of German Expressionism, which kind of is like a precursor to film noir, etc. But you know, that, that if you look at any horror film, where even if it's in color, we're still using that sort of that palette of darks and shadows, chiaroscuro, for lack of a better word, where we're doing that, you know, and I've had incidents on our films that as a cinematographer, where I kick over like, by mistake or or someone does, and it hits the floor, but doesn't if the bulb doesn't burst, I look at him like, Oh, that's perfect, leave it there. It looks fantastic, you know, creative, some new shadows. We hadn't even seen or you turn off a light by mistake and you say, Oh, that's better. It was over lit before this is much better, you know, right. And so you have this whole this whole psyche coming out of out of those periods, that's still what's kind of coloring cinema today, the best cinema that's actually a Crimson Peak. That's where you can see the emulador flourishing the best because he's going back to these romantic Gothic novels as an inspiration for the work he's doing now. And that's he lives there.

Alex Ferrari 27:27
Right! Yeah. And I've seen that I've seen that video of his Bleak House exam which is just insane his house of I mean, it's like it's a playground, it's it's so beautiful. Like the the man is built is the ultimate man cave.

Edwin Pagan 27:44
I know I would kill to have something like that. And you know, I wouldn't you know, I think I was just telling my girlfriend last night I said, I'd settle i'd settled for the man room instead of like, you know, that mansion. He has it. It's interesting, because I was at the New York Times building just last night, and they were four times talk. And Guillermo del Toro was the person who was supposed to be the featured guest and then they announced just before we went in that he had gotten ill and wasn't going to be able to to attend you know, so it's kind of a bummer. But you know, the man is all over the place the oh god man is and and but he loves it, you know, because he's he's not only promoting himself, but he's also you know, he has that Midas touch that when he finds young talent, their work gets greenlit and and he's moving it forward. And you see his distinctive style even though he's not the one directing a particular film that he produces or comes on his executive producer. You see his his thumbnail, a thumbnail print all over it, you know, and he's remarkable in that sense, you know, and hopefully, I mean, it just keeps opening up doors for other people working in genre that a respectable to the craft to continue to blossom. And you know, we can get more intelligent or films out there.

Alex Ferrari 29:01
Exactly. Now, with that said, What do you feel how do you feel about all of these found footage, Paranormal Activity style horror films?

Edwin Pagan 29:09
You know, I'm not into it. I got to say, you know, I've seen one or two that have captivated me for an hour or two. But for the most part, you know, I remember years ago, I went to see the one that started a lot less Blair Witch share here in New York at the anthology film archives, because I think that the filmmakers originated here in New York, and I think they did one of the early screenings here in New York, and I went to see it and you know, I mean, I had gotten caught up with the mythologize.

Alex Ferrari 29:37
I was brilliantly marketed really Oh my god, brilliant. I couldn't tell

Edwin Pagan 29:41
what was real and not and then I went to see the movie and I think 45 minutes and I actually left. Oh, really? Yeah. And if it hadn't been I saw it later on because I wanted to really see what really happened but I remember leaving sneaking out. And then you know, if it wasn't for the fact that it was a free screening, I probably would have went to the box office and they're mad at me. money back right and that's not and that's not to put the movie down it's just that that particular you know we all have a taste for things some are quiet Some are just naturally part of what we desire and I never really sort of bought into the that particular style sub genre of horror and you know, I don't know for me it just doesn't do it for me you know with the whole shakey cam which I've seen done very well in other films like wreck Spanish film, you know, but for the most part I don't know I haven't yet to seen something that's blown me away in that genre so you know I mean others would have a different take on it but you know, all I can be all I can answer that from my personal point of view.

Alex Ferrari 30:42
Yeah, I mean, I when I saw Blair Witch, too, I saw it. I didn't I don't remember if I knew what was going on. The only thing I did, I thought that was missing and clear which is at the very end when the camera falls on the ground, right? I just wanted to see a pair of floating feet yeah, that's all I needed. Yeah, I get chills even thinking about it if I would have just seen

Edwin Pagan 31:06
Those guys those guys have done well and they work

Alex Ferrari 31:09
Yeah, Edward Edward. Edward Sanchez is the direct one of the Co directors Yeah, yeah, he's working he's working now on from dusk till dawn the series

Edwin Pagan 31:18
Yeah you know Yeah, they know everybody starts you got to think about this is like the formative work right so

Alex Ferrari 31:24
God no but it was look I will never take anything away from I think they have the one of the most brilliant marketing campaigns in the last 30 years on essential movies

Edwin Pagan 31:32
And they started to genre pretty much you know, they pretty much take that away from them and you're saying that you know personally on my end found footage films are not my my cup of tea but other than that, you know, it's not a it's just about taste sometimes.

Alex Ferrari 31:45
Now what's your favorite sub genre of horror that there are many different genres of horror What's your favorite kind of

Edwin Pagan 31:50
Orland I'm still taking you know I'm still finding that people are doing really interesting things with the zombie genre which is very hot obviously which is very hot but I think that it's also just it's a good thing to play with because I think that you know, I mean, what what more horrible an idea than anyone you know, can all of a sudden turn against you and eat you

Alex Ferrari 32:15
And eat you

Edwin Pagan 32:17
Eat's you alive alive. It's not like they're gonna like tranquilize it for you alive, right? You're being consumed and going through that pain. So I think that you know, I become a big zombie fan on there's a lot of shows obviously that a lot of walking dead you know, the lead up after that, etc. But I think that still people are exploring it in interesting ways. And you know what's interesting? Here's a little trivia for people that may not know the Godfather I should say the grandfather of the zombie genre is Latino Of course George Romero. George Romero Cuban American from the Bronx I didn't know he was Cuban. George's American bro

Alex Ferrari 33:06
Wow, I didn't know it was

Edwin Pagan 33:08
South Bronx right? created the genre zombie genre as we know it that's not to say that zombies didn't exist before that because you know there are films that they appear in in some form and particularly with films out of like you know that covered supposedly show Haiti with the Voodoo etc where they share like the sort of walking slaves you know, where chemicals are thrown in their face and concoctions and all sudden they're there at the beck and call up the master. So but in terms of what we know, the zombie as what it's kind of evolved to he's he created that in Night Night of the Living Dead, right? And then I throw little zombies and Latino.

Alex Ferrari 33:48
I know, right? It's, a lot of people don't know that. You're right. A lot of people don't understand that the zombie started but with George in that black and white movie, which which fell into public domain. And I don't understand I really one day would love to know why that happened. Yeah.

Edwin Pagan 34:04
Well, I know that it was a mistake that the producers did at one point, obviously. Yeah. And it went into that the exact things he never really talks about it too much. He just cracks up about how they messed up big time. Yeah. And he uses more expensive words, because he's like that when he's being interviewed. He just like, you know, he just throws it out there. But you know, it's funny because I think there's Latin horror on on Saturday, October 24th. Here in New York City, is doing an event where Bobby sanaria who's a very well known bandleader musician is going to be we're going to be showing the film with the Bronx music Heritage Center as a public event where we're going to be showing the movie made a living there in black and white. with Bobby and his bandmates actually doing the score to the movie like they did in the QA. That's gonna be a nice little event.

Alex Ferrari 34:58
Oh, there's so much fun.

Edwin Pagan 35:00
Yeah, you know, so that kind of stuff, you know, so obviously, you know, if it was in public domain, we probably couldn't pull that one off. Right. You know, it's it. You know, it's sad, though. But you know, like he says, he said in interviews before, you know, the world is better for it to some degree, even though his bank account isn't

Alex Ferrari 35:17
Right, because everyone now gets to see it. And it'll probably get farther distributed, if you will.

Edwin Pagan 35:22
And then look what it's caused with the fact that, you know, it wasn't a patented idea.

Alex Ferrari 35:26
No, it wasn't exactly

Edwin Pagan 35:28
So the hoariest I probably wouldn't have gotten to the level if they would have had the reins on it.

Alex Ferrari 35:33
I can and like movies like was it not a Dawn of the Dead? This the one in the mall? Dawn of the Dead? Yeah, that was like you You look at his it was George that did that one, right? Yes, he did. Yeah, that that movie, all the

Edwin Pagan 35:47
And the 30 others of the dead.

Alex Ferrari 35:50
Yeah, exactly. But that specific one, I remember watching something's talking about the basically social commentary he was making? Oh, exactly. It wasn't just about a bunch of zombies, it was about exactly about and so you can start looking deeper. And, you know, into it than just, you know, of course, there's some blood and guts in it. But if you look at it, he was making social commentary about the times and things like that, which was what good art should do, regardless of genre.

Edwin Pagan 36:14
And you know, and it's interesting, because film scholars and you know, people that deconstruct images, exactly, particularly in film, have noted many times that more than any other genre, horror does kind of become a frame of the times, if you look at many of the horror films, you'll see that they're sort of echoing a lot of the concerns and passions of the time, in a different way. So it's known for sort of kind of becoming a sort of a time capsule for the period in which the film was done. So then

Alex Ferrari 36:43
Why is it now that apocalyptic zombie movies have become an zombie genre has become so popular in today's world? That's a good question.

Edwin Pagan 36:54
I think I think, and I read an article recently about that, I forget who wrote it, but you know, they were making the comparison with you know, everything that's happening now with terrorism, and how all these borders are being erased. And whereas at one point, your enemy was was, you know, you able to point out your enemy, because you were both wearing uniform,

Alex Ferrari 37:13
Right, but when was one of the Black Cat one was wearing the white hat, right?

Edwin Pagan 37:16
And now that's been erased. And so you know, a person down the street to be somebody looking out to the, you know, to destroy you or attack you, and vice versa, because, you know, we do it overseas as well. And so, you know, I think that's the genesis for sort of the what's happening now with all of this stuff, that it could come from anywhere viruses and things of that nature,

Alex Ferrari 37:36
Economic hits,

Edwin Pagan 37:39
There's a ton of thing, you know, the whole global economy, and how all this sort of blurring of borders is now creating all these other, you know, blowback effects.

Alex Ferrari 37:49
Very, sounds very true. Now, let me ask you, do you think it's tougher today to scare an audience member than it was 20 years ago?

Edwin Pagan 37:56
I think so. I think we're very jaded. You know, I myself, I'm going to go to a good horror film or you know, what I think is going to be a good horror film, because, you know, you can be deceived by the trailers and all the publicity and sometimes much better, you know, in short runs, like a teaser, or a trailer or posters, and, you know, and you go see the film, and I'm sitting there practically laughing at how corny the execution of it is, or how bad the story is. Right. And so I think, I think, you know, and I think but that's true of modern audiences across the board. I think we're, you know, MTV educated us to be more sophisticated of how much information we can take in in a minute with the fast cutting in this and then you know, just the linear time kind of consumption of images and and, and we're more into intelligent you know, I mean, a lot of the stuff that we were afraid of in the 50s 40s and even before that, even in our Latin American literature, now we look at and we're like, no, that's an old wives tale. And so for someone that really you know, come out and really pull the strings in a way that really makes our adrenaline sort of bubble up and you know, in our psyche get engaged in that way and that dark space, it takes a lot more effort and I think that's one of the reasons they're going back to old fashioned storytelling like the Gothic novels the suspense the thriller, you know, instead of the slasher you know, the slasher is a good it's a good you know, it's good like a roller coaster ride but if you really want to get scared you go into the haunted house,

Alex Ferrari 39:25
Right and the thing is a slasher film I think in a lot of ways is a lot easier to make them a psychological thriller or something that gets you in your bones or in your mind.

Edwin Pagan 39:37
I would have to agree with that to a certain degree because also you know, it's not a blanket statement one you know, the technique of having to make a lot of those. Those slasher films pay off takes some skill. Oh, that's um, but I think when you have to really like finesse, the story, the acting and let those things play out. You know, as you shot it on set and then how it is Cuts later when the editor and you are in there, you know, cutting the film. There's a lot of skill in that because you know, how long do you hold a shot?

Alex Ferrari 40:08
How, How much blood is in the shot?

Edwin Pagan 40:11
What you don't reveal, you know, and sometimes, you know, holding back some information. So the right moment is all it takes. Right? So it isn't about Oh, look at this, look at that, look at this. Sometimes it's just like, Alright, you play with the audience, you hold a little bit of information that, you know, they're thinking about that they're going to sort of, you know, because everybody wants to figure it out. We go to horror film any film these days. And from frame one, we swear we already know who the killer is what's going to happen.

Alex Ferrari 40:36
It's so tough. It's so tough, being a filmmaker and a storyteller now.

Edwin Pagan 40:41
Part of your job these days is how to, like you know how to become that ringleader that's making, you know, the lion jump through the hoop and all of a sudden an elephant comes through and it's like, oh, what just happened? Yeah, it's like, it's it's a tough genre. But it's, you know, I think it's a genre that you know, every year they they, they they announced the death of the horror film and house, but you know, it's the studio's themselves because it's always they announced that that starts coming to the fore when their big 10th film comes and then on their low season, they're putting out these more low budget films that provide a bigger you know, return on the investment also in horror as a back end, it's you know, it's crap. It's the game they play. So film films, horror films are not going anywhere, anytime soon, or anytime in long run. So as long as we are in, we have the capacity to still feel fear. And, and that sort of high end emotion of you know, self preservation in the face of here. It's not going anywhere.

Alex Ferrari 41:41
No, agreed and and that was I was just watching something on Hitchcock the other day, it was one of my favorite directors of all time. Oh, yeah. And the master of suspense, and he did a lot for for suspense, thrillers, not as much horror, but suspense. I mean, he was the guy, he was the master, and how he shot psycho specifically in black and white, because he didn't want to see any blood because he can't stand blood. He said he couldn't stand blood. So he shot it in black and white, and that you barely and you and during the infamous shower scene, you never, ever see the knife go in, ever. Oh,

Edwin Pagan 42:17
No, no, it's just up in the air. It's coming down

Alex Ferrari 42:22
Shot of the eye shot of this. And it's masterful. It's why everyone studies it. It's why everyone studies it. So you're also not only a horror, Maven, and fan, but you're also a cinematographer. So what made you want to jump behind the camera as a cinematographer? as out of all the jobs you could do in the film business? Well,

Edwin Pagan 42:42
I started there. I you know, in the South Bronx when I was about 10 years old, my mother enrolled me in the the boys club so I you know, the Madison Square boys club Hill Avenue clubhouse in the South Bronx, as a way to keep me sort of reined in, you know, this is the 80s and all this stuff is happening. You know, actually it was when I was 10, it was the 70s. And so, you know, a lot is going on in the South Bronx. Oh, yeah. And so she, you know, she was raising me as a single single parent, and she we had just moved into the area. And she found out about the boys club and enrolled me there. And you know, I made friends very quickly there. And one of the things I discovered early on after becoming a member at the age of 10, was that they had a darkroom in the basement. And there was a gentleman there who was the art director for the boys club Ernesto lanzado, who sort of became my my teacher and mentor for about eight years while I was you know, learning my craft and it's ironic because I had only tripped into that as a bunch of my friends and I had gone into the woodshop right next door and the pottery room to get some place where we can go outside and help each other with clay have a cleaning industry and but when I went by the dark room, which was outside of those other two rooms, I stopped at the doorframe for a moment because it was you know this room is painted black it was Ernesto was in there with two other students and I was by the door a little too long and he said well you're either in or out because he just during the class and I left of course so they went to be with my friends but I came back the next day and he started telling me when they met what they could teach me that it would be fun that it would be creative, I had nothing to lose and I started coming to the classes I was hooked and I learned how to take photos develop black and white film make my own prints

Alex Ferrari 44:27
This thing this thing film you speak of what is that?

Edwin Pagan 44:30
Oh chemical process. Is this salt silver salts on an acetate that you know it gets exposed?

Alex Ferrari 44:39
You're speaking gibberish sir. Are you okay?

Edwin Pagan 44:43
I have fever fever. You know, and I was hooked I was hooked the magic of it of watching. You know, a print come to life after you. you expose the paper and scan it in the developer. It's

Alex Ferrari 44:57
It's magical, really.

Edwin Pagan 44:58
It's magical and You know, but by the time I was about 1718, I was called into the director's office Rob Porter. I still remember him Kylie's great man. And and they asked me if I was interested in taking these two classes at School of Visual Arts that they had some vouchers for one was in production, the other was in cinematography. So I went, you know, the the week of the the first class and I was in producing, you know, at the time, I'm 1718, you know, crunching numbers, creating schedules, I was like, This is not for me. And so I went back the next day, I said, Well, I don't know about that producing class at the time. And he says, Well, that's fine, we'll give this one to another student, another member of the boys club, but go tomorrow and check out the one on cinematography. And of course, that fit like a glove, right? There was nothing they were doing there that was foreign to me or was an interesting except now we're working with with moving pictures.

Alex Ferrari 45:51
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Edwin Pagan 46:01
And over the years, I just, you know, little by little got into cinematography proper, and ending up on people's sets being kind of like a shadow. And little by little being given jobs, smaller jobs to do until, you know, eventually I was the cinematographer on on projects in both small and big. But in New York, mostly, you know, smaller budgeted films all in the work, but it was a great proving ground and, you know, Jesus Christ, it's of what now it's like, you know, 2530 years that I've been a cinematographer,

Alex Ferrari 46:35
And you've been most and most of that time you've been in New York,

Edwin Pagan 46:37
In New York, for sure, you know, so I've worked almost with everybody in New York, who's done something. And the interesting thing is that, you know, I've directed as well and written as well, but the one thing that I would still do an atelier, if I'm given the choice as cinematography, you know, I like directing. But, you know, there's always that that passion that you would do whether you there was nothing else you could do. And I think photography and, and, and, and cinematography are still the things that I gravitate to the most, you know,

Alex Ferrari 47:07
Now, can you tell me a little? Can you tell me a little bit about the New York independent film scene? Because I'm from LA, and I'm originally from Miami, as you know, right? So I know the Miami film independent film scene, and I know the LA scene, but I don't know a lot about other than what I've read and stuff like that. Right? How is it on the street, like, if you will, of the indie film scene there?

Edwin Pagan 47:28
Well, you know, one of the things that happens in New York that I think doesn't happen as much in other places is that you know, people really come together and you know, it's kind of a testing proving ground or good way to learn. And a lot of people work on a lot of people's they cross pollinate projects. And so a lot of people go to film school here, or just sort of get into the the craft just by osmosis, because you know, they're around people that do it or are interested. And so you get a lot of people that sort of working on small projects, and, and are looking for people to work with them. And you know, a lot of people that have the skills when they're in between other projects, sometimes even if they're seasoned craftspeople will work on smaller, smaller films, because there's creativity on smaller projects that sometimes doesn't happen on bigger budget projects, in terms of the fun that you can have, and you know how loose it is. And so, I got into, you know, what, when I, when I started really becoming a cinematographer, I started sort of hanging out with other filmmakers that already had a little bit of a track record. And I remember one time distinctively a friend of mine who I had said that I wanted to get back into filmmaking because I got also got into theater for a while. And after a small period there where I wasn't doing any film. A friend of mine, Sonia Gonzalez, who was a filmmaker itself, basically mentioned that a small group was forming in New York, called naleo, the National Association of Latino independent producers. And the organization itself hadn't been around very long at that time, they were forming chapters, the National Board was sort of evolving. And I started going to these meetings and you know, there would be 25 3040 people there, they would meeting at that time at WNET 13 on West 30th Street. And, you know, it was like, just so I mean, you know, it's even hard to describe there was a feeling about all these young people that were creative, sort of getting together and showing their sample work or you know, showing up next, or something that they wasn't working development, etc, or even showing work that was already had been broadcast because he had some people coming in that had more experience. And, you know, over the years, that group grew, I mean, it's grown from what it was, at that time, probably about three or four chapters to now like, I think over 18 chapters across the country, you know, it's it's a force to be reckoned with, but a lot of people that at that time that I was part of it, have gone on to do you know, major work, you know, Alex Rivera, Christina ivara, Sonia Gonzalez, you know, just dozens of people who cut their teeth during that time just by interacting with each other and have gone on to do you know, like, you know, serious work and TV, and film and documentary for the most part. And but New York is like that New York, you know, people want to get together and I've gone to LA and I've done projects in LA, both commercials and narrative work. And if you're if you hit the floor in LA, on the West Coast for a period of time, and you talk to people about your project, they also Oh, I'm in I'm in but when you're getting ready, getting closer, it's all about what's the budget? And what's the line item for me. And you know, and I can respect that right? Because I get pretty antsy when I get the script. And it's all you know, this is a no budget thing. But you got to have a little wiggle room, you know, and but you know, but that's how LA and LA is all business and it's that's what you go there to town to get to create and work and and the work there is primarily business. That's how you earn your living. And I think in New York, a lot of people do other things as they're developing their craft, and a willing to sort of roll their sleeves up with other filmmakers to get the experience through. So there's sort of a effervescence that bubbles up here in New York among independent filmmakers that you probably don't see anywhere else. And another thing that happens in New York is that because of the the transportation hub, the infrastructure for people to get around, you can say we're going to meet in an hour and you can have 25 people meet at that location because it doesn't take it isn't that hard to sign it kind of get there. Yeah. You want to have a meeting, even if it's a membership meeting, and you have it in LA and people are coming out from the outer regions or the Hollywood Hills, or whatnot. You know, it's gonna probably take them an hour, two hours or three hours in LA traffic, right? And so that's a turn off. And it's a little harder to do it there. But New York, it's always been you know, and you have an app the inactive film hub in New York, you know, the the television industry is popping in New York always has Yeah, there were pockets of time where, you know, it wasn't so much but there's always activity in New York, you can't go out on a weekend or any weekday and walk anywhere in New York, where you don't see some evidence of a film in production, whether it's small or large, you know, it's just it's just part and parcel. People don't even get taken aback anymore by seeing a film production, you know, they just want to get by, you know,

Alex Ferrari 52:22
That's an event. It's very New York. I don't know, I don't know if you know this or not, but I lived in New York for 10 years. When I was growing up. I was I grew up in Queens. And the one thing I noticed and people always ask me about LA and New York and like, what's the difference as far as the film industry is concerned? And what I always say is like, if New York if film if the film industry literally left New York tomorrow, New York is New York, right? But if if the film industry left Los Angeles today it's gone the city would the city would come crumbling down around that's

Edwin Pagan 52:56
That's a fantastic observation. I hadn't looked at it that way. That's very true.

Alex Ferrari 53:00
I mean, New York's New York I mean in New York has millions of other industries while Um Don't get me wrong, LA is a you know, it's a third second biggest city in the country. And its massive, but it's based in built on in the film industry. So if you took if you took the film industry out completely like it, the whole city would fall, I think would fall apart.

Edwin Pagan 53:19
It would dry up somewhat, you know, you're in New York. I mean, I think you're right, because I think New York is New York, and there has happens to be filming. Right? Exactly. You know, the city. I mean, they'll lose the they'll lose some income. And it's like London,

Alex Ferrari 53:33
Like like London, I need that there's some film in London and there's a lot of film in London. Don't get me wrong, but if all the film industry left London, London will be London, London will be London. La is very distinctive that way. Yeah. So after shooting so many indie films over the years, what are some of the biggest mistakes you've seen filmmakers make?

Edwin Pagan 53:52
Oh my god,

Alex Ferrari 53:53
It's gonna be a long podcast.

Edwin Pagan 53:55
Short. I think preparation I think people take pre production for granted. I think that's I love pre production. I love sitting down with the people that I'm going to work with in the mud later on. And sort of toss out ideas I mean, you have the script, you have the director's vision. But there's so much that so much fun that can be had at that point. And I mean, fun. You know, I think people look at it as joy and they think they just want to get to the nitty gritty and that's the fun and you know, being on set and shooting is fun. But what but that pre production that time leading up to it where you get to, like see source material or, or look through color palettes or say, you know, these are the costumes. These are the things that we could do. How do we execute this shot? Well, let's look at things that have been done before. Let's try to come up with something that's an eight year film a signature shot that only will be seen in your film and a reason for it. And I always talk to directors about that when I'm shooting for them. I'm saying, Let's start thinking of a style or, or shots that you want to execute that you think might be hard to do, but that are innate To the storyline not just a gimmick that you know you can come up with nice shot, put it on a dolly and pull it off of a dolly and have the guy go in the rest of the way with a steady cam and like I

Alex Ferrari 55:09
Am Cuba style, right?

Edwin Pagan 55:10
Exactly. But But, you know, I'm talking about shots that are signature that, you know, if they weren't moving, they could be a poster. And pre production is amazing. I think a lot of emerging filmmakers and sometimes even more seasoned pros don't take the time to enjoy that process because I mean, it's so much there's so much creativity that can happen there. And and not just from you and I always tell directors, this that are emerging to when I'm on a panel or something is like, Listen, be open, don't worry about it. Because what happens is at the end of the day, any any any anything that happens on your film, that's magic, they're not going to say what's the cinematographer, they're not gonna say it was the writer, they're gonna say, Wow, what an amazing shot. So and so that who's the director, right, whether it's a man or a woman, and and so you know, that's that's a point when in the process where you can really sort of absorb a lot of information that you know, people are helping you to polish and and and, you know, and tactics that you can employ and even ways to make it better, because I think that, you know, there's the script and then there's things that the actors bring to it or other people that are talented that are part of the crew, whether it's above or below the line that can add something to it. So if you if you sort of like you know, if you lock your way, self away mentally in that it's only going to be your way or the highway, you're not going to be very effective as a director and I think those are the ones that we normally read about in the trades, where the battles happen and people are walking upset because it's like, you know, you know, unless you're on our tour where your your your vision is so razor sharp that unless it's done your way people are not going to know that it's your work. There's a difference, but you've earned that right?

Alex Ferrari 56:49
Right. James Cameron, James Cameron wasn't James Cameron when he did his very first movie. Exactly. You know, neither was Michael Mann,

Edwin Pagan 56:55
Even VMO Torro. So a short of his that was an early piece, which was okay. And that's probably as much as I can say it was okay. Right. But you know, now look at him now. He's amazing, right? And so we all start somewhere and I've done short films that Don't ever show. I don't know maybe it's like some in some Park. I become, you know, known and somebody wants to throw it on his look at back when Yeah, well, I'm developing. I'm not you know, it's not going to be seen. Of course, of course, you know, we all get there. We all have to do it.

Alex Ferrari 57:28
Yeah, I was actually just, I just did a post on indie film hustle about glim Tarantino's first film, yes, the the my best friend, my, my birth, my best friend's birthday. And when I found it, I I'd heard of it, but I never seen it before. So I thought I wanted to kind of bring it to everyone's attention. Because when you watch it, you you see the seeds of genius, right? Kind of like you can see the dialogue, you can hear him hear his voice there. I mean, it's not a good film. So it's very, very bad. But you can sense and see that and it's such a wonderful thing to go back to some a director like clementina, or any, you know, you know, Master of his craft, or her craft and go back to their early, even first work to really see what it looked like from that point to pulp fiction.

Edwin Pagan 58:21
Because I think we all have our own voice. I think you know that. The other mistake young, emerging filmmakers, yeah, make that it's like, you know, they get so caught up in wanting to

Alex Ferrari 58:31
Be the next kid. No, they'd be the next Guillermo. Right?

Edwin Pagan 58:34
Exactly. What's my style that you know that they get bogged down by trying to create style instead of just doing what they would do in any way, you know, there was nobody else around and then that becomes style, because style is really an imprint of who you are, and how you see things not something that gimmick you come up with, although that can be part of it. You know, I think it's you know, there's a reason why certain filmmakers will have a certain shot in the in the older films over and over, but they use it at the right time. You know, there's a language to it. And we, we realize it because we've seen it before, but we also that we had never seen it. It's not something that would jump out at us. It's it's integral to the storytelling.

Alex Ferrari 59:17
And that's one thing I always tell filmmakers to the they don't. A lot of people always want to be like, I want to be the next Quentin Tarantino I want to be the next kinomoto tour. I want to be the next Robert Rodriguez. I'm like, you're not gonna be that that's not that's not that shouldn't be your, your goal. Your goal should be the next Eddie book on the neck. Right? Alex Ferrari, you know that be you. And if you notice that all these guys are talking about they're all being themselves, none of them copied. And other than Tarantino who copies from everyone who's now made it an art of copying everybody filtering it through his filter,

Edwin Pagan 59:51
But he's uh, he's the he's like one of these ultimate cinephiles like in his work, he's just paying homage to everyone who has blown him away before right so in that sense, he as being him in the sense that correct the ultimate you know person that provides our images to other people that he admires

Alex Ferrari 1:00:07
In his voice though, but in his or in his voice and his taste and his tone and a lot of filmmakers always get caught up and I've seen so many filmmakers just like trying to be this or trying to be that movie or this is hot now so I'm gonna do this I'm like, you're not you're not gonna make it happen it's not happening. So can you give any advice to any budding cinematographers in the audience?

Edwin Pagan 1:00:30
Yeah, I think I think the one thing that's being lost these days with all this digital platform which is you know, it's it's a it's a blessing and a curse and and a curse. Because I think what's happening is people are forgetting the true nature of optics, learn learn your lenses, learn the language of cinematographer you know what what does a wide shot convey what is a shot, you know, shot through a longer lens a telephoto lens convey and and you know, instead of your films, there's, there's a way of using these lenses at the right time, and particularly when you're doing coverage, and what what look does it provide through to the to the palate, because not only are there different types of lenses, and different types of lenses give you a different aesthetic look, but various focal lengths just to provide a different things. So I'm gonna just a statement somewhere, exclamation point. And one of the things I see a lot happen these days is that you know, somebody who just rent the zoom lens, a wide tool, moderate telephoto, and instead of using various points of the lens instead of using primes but I mean if you're on a budget and you get a zoom lens, that's okay. But use the full scale of the lens at the proper time if you're going to do a close up or a very you know, sort of portrait shot go to the far end of the lens, you know, go a little bit more telephoto, and instead, what I see is they'll they'll still be on the short end of the lens on a 24. And instead of like going and zooming in and getting a shot with a particularly amount of depth of field is that they'll actually just get closest to the the actor or actress. And so now you have a 24 millimeter lens foot from the actress and they're looking like they award right instead of it being sort of a beauty shot or more something that brings focus just to what's in their subconscious, you know, and, you know, and but on the other hand with the fact that everybody is now using these DC DSLRs it's everybody wants to their shot to be blown out, you know, they have like a shallow depth of field. So every shot has a shallow depth of field. And so you know, it doesn't work, you have to learn the language, study films, study or study your craft, study your craft.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:48
Now, how would you approach selling and marketing an indie film? indie horror film today in today's world, like you've seen a lot of filmmakers trying to do it? What How would you approach it? or What advice would you give to an indie filmmaker trying to get noticed?

Edwin Pagan 1:03:03
Well, I mean, social media is one way obviously at this point, there's no no way around it. In fact, it's it's kind of flipped on its head now that that's what we're taught should be the thing. I mean, there's still some filmmakers out there that are so young, that that's all they've known. I know, I know, I don't know, they don't know, the old advertising, the old marketing, and magazines and TV commercials. So there's different ways of getting the word out there. I think we get stuck with this social media thing, which is, which is an advantage, but you still have to use the old the old world tactics of refining your message and getting that message out there. Social media is just one tool. Whereas marketing and advertising and publicity is is is is a craft just like filmmaking, and I think if you forego the craft of marketing and publicity, and you think that Facebook and Twitter and Instagram is going to do it for you know, that's just a message out. But if you don't tweak it and make it interesting, and get it before the right people, you're back to square one because everybody's doing it, you know what I mean? There's you don't have don't you don't have the fountain of youth at your disposal. You know, nobody, nobody stands out is beautiful. If everybody has the pill that makes them you know, beautiful, then it's like, what's his extension? You know, and so I think the thing that I would say to emerging filmmakers, is partly what you said in your, in your podcasts about connecting with people, and having the tact and tenacity to follow through, have the tact in the sense that I don't bombard people and be obnoxious, you know, find the right way to get yourself introduced, even if it takes three or four times because I think if you if somebody hears your name once, and it's in a very casual environment, and then they hear it in a newsletter, and then they hear it the next time you meet them, they say, Oh, yeah, yeah, I remember we met so but if you bombarding them you just become that obnoxious person. That is just occupying their time and just you know, I mean, who wants that? And then be prepared, be really prepared, that when you get that moment to shine in front of someone, that you're going to be able to answer all their questions right better than anyone they shouldn't be filling in the blanks for you, there's nothing worse than going into a session where you're, you know, you're pitching a project at any level. And it doesn't have to be only when you're in the big studios, it could be with anybody and someone with a small production company who's looking to do films can also be your stepping stone, you know, someone that has no as much budget as you do at this point, but the fact that you're going in and you You're the one that should know that project better than anyone, when when I, when I've seen I've gone into a room or been in a room when somebody is pitching a project, and they're stumbling, and I'm filling in the blanks for them, that's not good. You should be the one in that room that knows that project better than anyone. And also the part about passion. I think people seem to think that they have to turn it on when they're in front of people, you know, and they think that being that being passionate as being overly bubbly, is my passion. You know, passion is when you're homeless, and you're still making films, I went through that not a lot of people know that but I went through a period where I was homeless for about four months sleeping in my office. Because I had gone through a separation I was still making my films nobody had a clue and passion that didn't happen in the room when I went in and all sudden I started smiling my passion was that I wasn't going to give up my craft and that I had the tenacity to work on it every day even though I was I was trying to decide before between a cup of coffee and printing out a page in a script, that passion you know, that's I think people need to kind of reorient themselves in these terms that are floating around and I think what your podcast is is one of those places because you're giving them the real source you're giving them the real information that most panels aren't telling them

Alex Ferrari 1:06:45
I appreciate that I that's what I that's why I started indie film hustle man I really wanted to kind of get that out there and because I see you know both of us have been around the game long enough and we've seen so many filmmakers coming through our doors in one way shape or form that they just get eaten up by the system and just a little bit of information a little tweaks here and there can make such a huge difference to a filmmaker trying to make it and and now you know the goal of indie film hustle is also just to kind of build a career make a sustainable living doing what you you love to do and it's and it's also something I'm trying to do you know I'm you know I'm going to be shooting a film next year and in doing different things to try to sustain myself as as a filmmaker just doing what I love to do.

Edwin Pagan 1:07:33
And I think that's the distinction with this stuff that the way we do it and I've certainly seen it in your podcast is that we're not preaching from the platform of the podium we're like we're in this also you know where squirrels trying to get nuts as well. Were out there just like you are we're just giving you information on what's worked for us. Right and a lot of it is common sense it's just basically saying let's not go get caught up in these conventions of social media and how people have become so rude because they just want to cut to the chase that people at the end of the day is still people and you're still gonna rub people the wrong way if you take the wrong approach so step back settle in get prepared and then use the right approach at the right time you know it's no different than trying to pitch a horror movie to a station or network that all does comedies your research it's like back in the days when you see a proposal then you sent them out and you did your research and you pull their annual reports and you knew that this particular organization wasn't the right fit so you move on right so make make sure that your your pitches are mission mission match so that you're not wasting your time or someone else's right I think you'll you'll never get back at the door even when you have that comedy

Alex Ferrari 1:08:42
Right and that I think a lot of stuff is a lot of filmmakers today are using the shotgun approach which they just you know spray and scatter you know the you know the newsy just like the drone eventually they'll hit something and and that's usually gonna just piss people off you know and like you said even when you do have that comedy script because you never took the time to build that relationship up

Edwin Pagan 1:09:01
Yeah no no that's that's the worst thing you could do and and you know and we have the tools these days at our disposal oh my god if we would have had this back oh my god can you you know with the with the with the field being as limited as what they're still having these tools

Alex Ferrari 1:09:16
Can you imagine what 80s Films would have been like in today's technology? like can you imagine what like Jim kata would have looked what what the can what the cannon boys would have done

Edwin Pagan 1:09:29
So it's a blessing and a curse at the same time it's just a matter of like navigating that so you get more of the blessings and less of the curse. You know you don't want to you don't want to be that cursed filmmaker. You know there's old term a friend of mines Derek Partridge uses all the time. He did. He's done quite a few films together with me that a miracle Spanish Harlem and a lot of others. And he says you know when you when you get the stank, you know you get the stank that just state you know, it's your reputation. You get that thing. And no matter where you go people can smell it. You know, it's just like part of you. And if you do it wrong for too long a period you end up getting the stank.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:08
It's tough. It's Yeah, I know. I know what you mean I've known filmmakers like that, that they get that stank that they screw people over or they're not doing it right or it and all of a sudden, like it's a small it's as big of a business as it is. It's extremely small. Exactly. It's extremely small. I mean, and you have no idea who that one person that you screwed over. King has a connection to I mean, look at our relationship we've known each other for 10 years. We know a lot of the same people, right? We don't run in the same circles but we do know a lot of the same people and if I would have screwed you over you would have screwed me over God knows how many jobs over the last 10 years that might have affected that's right you know, or, or connections or things like that and people especially the younger filmmakers, they don't think long game they only think instant and if they could just start thinking about the long game a little bit more I think more filmmakers will be more successful. So I have two more questions for you sir Sure. They're very very difficult questions so be careful

Edwin Pagan 1:11:13
What's happening for breakfast this morning

Alex Ferrari 1:11:15
Where do you see Latinhorror.com in five years?

Edwin Pagan 1:11:19
Actually that's not a very hard question because I'm definitely I've been working on a game plan for that Well one of the things where we're developing now is a platform called metal marketing I love that one yeah me other marketing which

Alex Ferrari 1:11:31
Which can you translate can you translate that for the audience

Edwin Pagan 1:11:33
Temor marketing Temor is fear in Spanish Okay, so we've kind of taken the the the Spanish convention and as part of the name and the English to finish it off, we have the marketing one of the things I like to do is make sure that people understand phrases that you know, from our culture and no different than you know, saying a schmear on a bagel you know, we make use of those kind of conventions as well and the temor marketing is a platform and you know, one of the things I get a lot from publicist is can you promote this film can you promote that film and that's fine when I was developing the thing but these people are working these people are sending me these press releases from the office from nine to five you know and getting paid so and I've been doing this long enough and covering the rent in other ways but also you know, getting advertising every once in a while and then it occurred to me that you know, why do we have to do this just as a as a as a trade off as a hobby or as a trade off because I get a lot of access to screenings and and and actors and directors that are doing these films, you know, kind of almost as a trade off for publicizing their films and I don't publicize the ones that I don't like if you're gonna see something in Latin horror is because we we were reviewing it because we liked the film to some degree we may not like all of it will say so. But if a film is really bad, it's just I'm not wasting my time reviewing a film that's bad. And so we created via the marketing which is going to be continuing to launch rollout which is a platform for us to do marketing for the sector that's trying to reach the Latino and that loves horror films. We have a really substantial database that we built over time that is not based on spam These are people that have said I want more of what you're offering or what you're talking about. So I think what happens to a lot of publicity companies is that at the point that they get a job that say that they're going to do a romantic film they have to then find the people that are probably geared to to you know, leaning toward that kind of genre and so they start looking out for the blogs etc that kind of feature that the same way they trip over Latin horos website when they're looking to promote horror films and so I figured you know there's time to cut out the middleman and generate that income for yourself instead of doing it for someone else at no cost or as a as a trader and so that's launching that's going to be a build that's almost like a sidearm marketing soldered on it's entirely for profit business there's going to be sort of you know headline horror as the as the engine powered by as sometimes I see on websites and you know and and and and the other thing is that we're going into production ourselves we've we've produced a handful of short horror films on the Latin horror label. And you know, there's a point where reaching out to different companies to see how we can partner up for them to find content and partner with people to produce films. Now, originally low budget features, but you know, we'll scale it up as we go for it. But the beautiful thing about Latin horror and horror as a whole is that it's one of the it's one of the genres that the return on investment is the greatest because a lot of the horror films are done for relatively small budgets. And as you see, week after week when these films the really good ones roll out is that the return on investment is astronomical in some sense. That's why people keep making them and hoping that they hit that pot of gold, you know, like apparent on my table activity shows and actually, you know, even paranormal activity, the produce That have kind of taken notice of the Latino audience because the last one they made was all Latino characters and it was based on Latino mythology. So you know they recognize the audience so that's that's one of the things that's out there those two things you know me other marketing and also you know Latin horror producing its own content in partnership with other entities.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:20
Very cool. Now the toughest question of the evening. What are your top favorite three horror films of all time?

Edwin Pagan 1:15:27
Oh, that's that's easy to without question the exorcise the thing. Okay. And the one that I saw the first time ever even though it's kind of a campy British made film is the tails of the crib, the original

Alex Ferrari 1:15:42
The original tails of the crib, not the one that from that was Cinemax they released the original

Edwin Pagan 1:15:46
Yeah, they've done a couple of verses Sure. And it's a it's a great film too you know it's a really interesting film but the original is something can be about it and I think just because it was the first horror film that ever swana theater that spooked me out it's it's always going to be on the in the Pantheon for me

Alex Ferrari 1:16:02
Very cool yeah the thing is like that that

Edwin Pagan 1:16:05
The original what actually I shouldn't say the original the second because it was done one in the 50 the black and white one

Alex Ferrari 1:16:11
Oh yeah, that's the first thing Yeah,

Edwin Pagan 1:16:12
That's right because it's different you know, even when they made the third one people were like, oh, how could they you know, like well he did it the carpenters thing was also a remake

Alex Ferrari 1:16:23
Right right But he did such a good job that people forgot about that

Edwin Pagan 1:16:28
It's an amazing

Alex Ferrari 1:16:28
And the funny thing is that they originally they thought it was you know they called it pornography and it was horrible and he was he couldn't even get arrested and and and now it's looked upon as like he's a genius you know and you know and I was just I actually just saw they live the other day

Edwin Pagan 1:16:46
Oh yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:47
What a great flick that was you know,

Edwin Pagan 1:16:49
I'm currently doing that here now you know revisiting all his canon of films as as an image but also as a as just orient orient orientation So

Alex Ferrari 1:16:59
Yeah, I haven't seen I haven't seen big trouble Little China since I was since I was a teenager so I actually found my list of it's on my it's on my queue to to watch now because I went through a little john Carpenter now after I saw the interview with him and um, Robert Rodriguez on the director's chair

Edwin Pagan 1:17:16
Yeah. Listen listen to us talking about these things this is like when you know that someone who loves film you know talking like little boys yeah oh yeah because this is we we live and breathe this and you know even if the the industry went away we'd still be locked up in our homes cracking open the DVDs until the point that the DVD player wouldn't work anymore

Alex Ferrari 1:17:37
Or or actually crack opening the Netflix queue or the Amazon because that's a whole other conversation that you know I've I've I've talked I've talked to some people in regards to the this generation will never understand video stores right they won't understand the the magic that was at a video store that you can go down the aisles finding a new stuff you know things that you would have never seen looking at a box grabbing it feeling it that amazing artwork you know we were the artwork promised you something that obviously was not going to happen. Oh, like like I worked in a video store when I was in high school so was it the my favorites were Slimer Slimer ROM the girls of Slimer ROM on the bolo Rama which already exists already babes in the slammer Rama bola Rama Thank you. Obviously Toxic Avenger, a New York a great Indian New York Film. Yeah by Lloyd

Edwin Pagan 1:18:36
And that one is tossed around a lot is being remade and and never gets really.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:41
Because actually I'm trying to get Lloyd on the show. I really want to get Lloyd on the show because I've met loads a few times at festivals and stuff and I think his story is such a unique thing about what he's done and how that's how the industry has treated him over the years you know, I mean he obviously makes his trauma con style movies it's his it's his stuff. And whether you love it or hate it and it all kind of started with a Toxic Avenger I remember watching Toxic Avenger and I'm like, What is that? It's but if you remember there was a moment in time where there was a Toxic Avenger TV show, like a cartoon show that was like lunchboxes and stuff. And Lloyd said that I won't point the studio stepped in and like killed it. Like they weren't gonna they didn't allow him to do it anymore that's what he says back in the day who knows if what's the truth or not but but he's a very interesting story of an endeavor he's as independent as you can get at this point in the game and it's fascinating but yeah, like going through the video stores and seeing that one those kind of

Edwin Pagan 1:19:44
Also that's that that's a great period in in the genre was like everybody was doing it you know, even though it was you know, it was hard to make these films you know, like you're talking about a lot of them we shot on film and all that. It's like people still rolling them out. You know, there's like People were being very clever and getting getting their films made

Alex Ferrari 1:20:04
But the thing is also back then literally all you had to do was make a film yeah and you would sell it because there was not enough product out there so even if it was a horrible piece of crap that you shot on 35 mil and put it out it was going to get sold you were going to make some sort of money with

Edwin Pagan 1:20:23
I gotta say whenever I go to the horror section of Netflix man it looks like that's still happening today well yeah now they need some content yeah throwing up everything up there

Alex Ferrari 1:20:32
It's it's it's it's bad it's bad but you know so anyway where can people find you?

Edwin Pagan 1:20:39
Well they can find me in two places they can go to Latinhorror.com which is the the page it's been applied about eight years now you know they can also find me you know as a photographer as a still photographer that's been shooting for like 40 years they can go to the pagan image calm and that's more just my work as a photographer are both in the South Bronx and since then kind of social documentary photography and journalist has a lot of articles up there that I've written as well

Alex Ferrari 1:21:07
But how is that possible if you're only 30 sir?

Edwin Pagan 1:21:14
I wish I was with the information that I have

Alex Ferrari 1:21:18
We could do some we could do some damage bro.

Edwin Pagan 1:21:20
We could do some damage body blows body but um definitely those two places you know and and emails are up there people really want to reach out and just talk and you know I do answer my emails. You know, it's ironic because people you know, you tell people yeah, they can reach out and they all say they will. And you know, the a lot of the people that have become friends over the years with me is people that really followed to and like you say, you know, they they sort of get an interest in you and you get an interest in them. So I'm always willing I'm always really willing to give information to young emerging young filmmakers you know, to the to the limits of my ability be him because I'm not the I'm not the kingmaker but you know, but the the idea still holds true that if you have a little bit information and you're willing to share it with people that haven't gone that route yet, you know, you're sort of passing it forward and I'm always willing to do that so if you know if anybody wants to reach out on either end whether it's about photography or cinematography, or just a horror genre, particularly the Latin horror genre or anybody that wants to talk 80s horror and that's fine give me a you know, give me a buzz send me an email. I'm willing to do that, you know, that's that's where I live. That's not you know, that's not a soundbite or a paragraph on the page. That's why I am so you know, where you started, I'm more than happy to, to kind of like you know, chill with you for a minute. Very cool.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:38
So everyone, definitely check out Latin horror, calm if you guys are horror fans. It's a great site. And it's an intelligence site, which is rare to find nowadays, when you when you talk about horror, it's very intelligently written and were very well put together and very well curated. So thank you so much for coming by and sharing some time with us in the indie film hustle tribe. I really appreciate it

Edwin Pagan 1:23:01
it's my pleasure to come aboard and I'm not saying this lightly when I think I think your podcast is gonna go far because it's definitely you know, you putting out some some information there that's that most people are not willing to give despite their you know, the secret of that every panel or every book or every article, you know, that's they're not secrets, they're just more the same package to sell. Your stuff is actually, you know, you're talking about what people are not talking about. And I think, you know, filmmakers in general should take advantage of that.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:30
Thank you very much. I appreciate that, man.

Edwin Pagan 1:23:33
Yeah, man. And like always, they will be sangra, my friend.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:39
I hope you guys had as much fun listening to that, as I did. Having that interview with Eddie. He's a trip and very knowledgeable about not only Latin horror, but horror in general. Don't forget guys head over to Latinhorror.com if you're into horror films. Eddie's got a great site. And it's, like I said, intelligently written, or critiques and information about not only good horror films, but the sub genre of Latin war, which is pretty awesome. So guys, don't forget to head over to filmfestivaltips.com that's FilmFestivaltips.com, so I can share with you my six secrets on getting into film festivals for cheap or free helped me get into over 500 Film Festivals all around the world, and hopefully can help you guys as well. So and if you guys are digging the show, and apparently by the download numbers, you guys are digging the show. Thank you so so much for all the all the love that I've been getting. For the show. I'm gonna keep trying to do as many of these shows as possible, sticking to my two, two episodes a week schedule. So if you really really love the show and want to help us out, please head over to iTunes. And leave us a honest review of the show. It helps us out dramatically on the rankings of iTunes. So thanks again guys so much for listening and have a scary Halloween a safe Halloween. And don't forget to keep on hustling. I'll talk to you guys soon.




  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)