We have all been there. A film project that just goes on and on and doesn't seem to have an end in sight. While you are waiting for the punishment to finish your life starts to take a downward spiral into a black hole. You look up and five years have passed and you wondered what the hell happened? That is exactly what happened to today's guest filmmaker Theo Hogben.
Theo reached out to me to tell me his story in an almost 2000 word email, by the way, please do not send me long emails I just don't have the time to read them. For whatever reason, I started to read his email and his story of his five-year odyssey making his short film, A Most Savage Beast, caught my ear. His journey down the dark rabbit-hole of filmmaking is a story I know many members of the IFH Tribe have gone or are going through right now.
I hope his story will inspire you to start or finish that film you've always wanted to do. To finish the screenplay you've been noodling around with for years. Get up off your butt and make it happen for yourself. Theo's story is one of a phoenix rising. We all get knocked down but this business is all about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.
Enjoy my conversation with Theo Hogben.
BTW, here is the EPIC email that Theo sent me:
So here is the story of the five-year short. It’s not an inspiring one but it is my weird tale nonetheless.
I used to live in Norway in my early twenties, I have a film degree, which barely got me any jobs, and the ones I did get I made so many mistakes on set. It took me ages to learn how to be a normal person and humble. I was a terrible young man to work with. Anyway, all these opportunities passed me by due to my attitude, a lesson that was hard to learn.
Back one feverish night while I was living in Norway, I wrote a short script for a feature I had already written. Not being the confident chap, it sat dormant for a while as most projects do. One day I was doing some video work for a friend of mine, she is an artist, and now lives in LA, I believe she is doing quite well there. Anyway, after seeing how good I was at making these short music video vlogs, I had been doing she suggested I should make a short. I bashfully protested a little, I wanted to make it but just did not know anyone or how to even begin, I have the skills to do it myself but not the confidence.
Anyway Annie the artist said she would help me out by casting a few actors she knew from around the area, I thought that's a good start. At some time my roommate introduced me to a funding company in Norway, being a foreigner there I half-heartedly filled in the application not expecting anything. But to my surprise a week later I got a contact from the organization granting me funding for the project. The film was now becoming a thing as it had money behind it.
My plan was to rent a small camera and shoot the thing in the locations around the city I knew I could get access to. In my world, these are bars, which I had in abundance. Everything seemed to be going smoothly. At this point, I contacted an old DOP I knew and asked if he could do the camera work for me. He told me he couldn’t but knew a guy who could. This guy was called Robert, who essentially is a godsend.
So I sent Robert the script and loved it and we decided to meet and start planning the film. I had no idea what would happen next as the film erupted. At this point, I had a few friends here and there working on the project. We only really had the budget for the equipment, set, and food, so I wanted to keep everything small. What I didn’t know was that Robert was a lecturer at a local film school. He had a wave of students all ready to film something over the summer to improve their skills. All these students were 10 times more talented and knowledgeable than me.
Over the course of the next week, the crew went from around five of us to twenty-six. (Remember this is my first real film.) So we ended up going the whole nine-yard building a really detailed set (Which I had never done) getting a great camera, which turned out to be an Arri Alexa, we used the lights and the dollies from the school he worked at. The film was becoming massive and I was probably the least experienced person there was at the head of it all. Robert knew what he was doing when it came to camera work. I had never seen anything this organized before, I was used to the run and gun world of filmmaking, not these amazingly organized sets.
Anyway, the shots sets actors, and locations were now organized and we shot the film over a week in Oslo at the different locations. I was not used to being in the director's chair and found myself trying to help out on set but seemly just getting in the way. I learned after a while to glue myself to the monitor and drink as much coffee as a human pessary. Oh and never feed your cast and crew pizza, that was a big one.
Anyway… We did a good shoot. I luckily had done a lot of rehearsals with the actors so when it came to it on the day everything went quite smooth. We wrapped the last day with a 20-hour shoot and we were ready to go.
So we are nowhere with the principal photography done. The total length of the making of the film at this point was at about a month or so. I sent the rushes to the girl who said she would do the editing for me. This was the first film for her, but I had seen a few things that she had done before so I knew she would do a good job.
We made a few rough cuts and some weeks went by. The film was almost there. Then my editor said, she could no longer do it as it was getting in the way of school and other things. She was also very tied, she was the kind of person that put everything into what she did. (I can say now that all that paid off eventually and she is now is a great job.) But at this point, she was burned out. I told ‘no worries’ I would finish the edit. I carried on editing it for a while longer. For some reason, I could not get the thing right. Then the shit hit the fan. My computer broke, now remember I am someone who works in bars, I can’t afford to get a new computer, this is Norway, it's not cheap.
So I asked around for an editor, no luck. A few said they could do it, Robert said to give him the drive. I figured he knew everyone and would find someone. So I did.
What happened next was a bit strange. So one day I rang him and could not get hold of him. I was not able to get hold of him for several weeks. I was getting a bit worried…I mean shit, he has my film. So eventually I get through to him. Turns out he has been working on Snowman, (which was a massive flop in the end). He was becoming really hard to contact. But then I got dragged in and I also began working on Snowman in between my other jobs. Because of this, we were not able to get hold drive for another six months.
Also at this point all the people who I wanted to work on the project were not taking my calls as it had been so long, I couldn’t blame them, it was getting ridiculous.
When I got the drive I was in full-time work and was not able to make the time for the project. My personal life was also deteriorating in the chaos which meant I was either working or arguing not a great combination. Eventually, the project sat on a shelf gathering dust. I thought about the project every day, I wanted to finish it, it was short for crying out loud, how hard could it have been.
During this time I moved to several different places and eventually back to the UK where I am from, it was never my choice to come back by I came anyway. While back here I fell into a deep depression. It was not my choice to move back. I had sporadic work, no job opportunities. I had not lived in the UK as an adult and it was depressing compared to the mountains of Norway. I had basically lost all hope, working at a factory earning minimum wage. I was so down, I felt I had destroyed every opportunity I had ever received at this point.
Then… And don’t get too cocky, I heard your podcast, it helped me more than you know.
It was telling me to get off my ass, not be such a winy little bitch force myself to rise above. The drive sat on my shelf still unfinished. I bought a copy of ‘Rebel Without a Crew’ I listened to every podcast possible. I kept learning, I saved and got a new computer. At that time I made my first feature doc (didn’t go anywhere). Every aspect of my life now became devoted to film. I go to the gym every day. I never felt better.
I got the edit back up and finished it, I had tried a few times over the years borrowing friends' computers and such but, I couldn’t even look at the thing it was almost hatred for the film I had once admired. I was becoming more like myself at this point, no more complaining, no more wine. I finished the edit. I learned after-effects to sort out some of the problems. I started going to film festivals and meeting people. One girl helped me film the last part of my film which I needed for a TV replacement part of the film. It was looking up.
One thing I was terrible at tho was coloring, I had tried to learn it so many times. I don’t know why I just was never happy with my work. An old friend I had been talking to was a high-profile colorist and he offered to do it. Unfortunately, he kept the drive for three months then changed his mind. I can’t blame him sometimes people have the stuff to do and he was doing this as a favor.
Eventually, I got someone who I contacted through Instagram that offered to help me. She did an amazing job and the film was finished. Now we are at around five years after the initial shoot. There are loads more things that happen but that is the main story.
Where am I now? I work for the BBC, I have a feature doc under my belt, that short is going into festivals around the planet. I just got a film grant that is more than I make in a year. I'm happy again. I owe it to you. I honestly had been close to giving up, my passion was like a spark in snow but eventually, it caught fire again. Now here I am with a lot of lessons learned writing my first feature in a cafe ready to go again.
If you want to watch the film it is my first and I would love your opinion. (I can imagine you get sent shorts all the time.) So sorry for the massive email.
Never stop what you are doing because there are a million people out there like me that will be there now and in the future looking for that push.
Alex Ferrari 1:01
And the today's guest His name is Theo Hogben and he is a filmmaker and tribe member. And his story was really remarkable, because he was telling me about a short film that he had started. And that was sitting on his hard drive for close to four years. And there was no reason really that he hadn't finished it. He had just kind of built up this monster in his head. That it you know, for whatever reason, his life was falling apart. He was really in a dark place. And you know, it was kind of lizard albatrosses thing on the shelf, that was kind of a sign of his failure as a filmmaker. And he had heard a few of my tough love episodes here on the podcast. And those episodes really kind of got the spark going again for him where he finally got up off his ass, and did something about it finished his short film and is now moving forward in his life. I mean, he went down to the point where he was a 30 year old man living at home with his parents, he had to move back in because he had fallen so deep into a dark place, financially and emotionally and spiritually, and physically everything. And he really just needed a way out. And this short film ended up being his way out. And he started to clarify his, his mission in life, his his calling what he wanted to do, and I felt that this story was something that we all need to hear. Now, many of you know, my book shooting for the mob, and that Chronicles, arguably the darkest time in my entire life, and how it took me years to come out of it and to become a filmmaker again. And I think we all go through that at one point or another in our lives where we are going for this ridiculous dream of being a filmmaker, right? It's a crazy dream. We're nuts. We're, we're pirates. We're carnies, whatever you want to call us. It's kind of nuts, to become a filmmaker, because there's no stability and so on and so forth. But for whatever reason, it is a calling. It is something that once you are bitten with that bug, there is no vaccination for it. There is no cure for it will always be with you. And I thought that this story would kind of shine a light on it and to let you know, if you're listening out there, that you're not alone, that we all go through it and feel was gracious enough to come on the show and be completely vulnerable and honest about every aspect of his dark journey. All the way from going down into the pit to all the way back out of it and showing all the ugly warts and all. And he really wanted to come on to kind of pay it forward. And his hopes are that this episode and his story inspires somebody else out there listening in the tribe, to get up off their butt, and either start working on their movie, finish working on that movie, start or finish writing that script that had been on for four or five years. Whatever your situation, you're not alone. We all are going through it. We have gone through it, or if just getting out of it, or we're going through it right as we speak. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Theo Hogben. I like to welcome to the show Theo Hogben man, thank you so much for being on the show. Theo.
Theo Hogben 5:50
Lovely to be here. Thanks.
Alex Ferrari 5:52
Now, have you the genesis of how you got on the show is very interesting, because it's a very unlikely way to get on the show. But you sent me an epic email, which, as anyone who please everyone listening, I do not read epic emails, I just don't have the time to read like full blown, you know, Bible sighs. But Theo sent me this very compelling story about how he made or lack of making his short film. And I was really, really impressed with the honesty and everything that he put into the email and I said, You know what, I think this might really help. Help a lot of the tribe listen to the story. So I reached out to you, I said, Hey, you know, you want to be on the show. And I think you crapped yourself when I said that.
Theo Hogben 6:43
Oh, yeah, man, I was so happy. But you know, it's really weird right now is because because I listened to your show so much. And I do other things when I listen to the show, obviously, like, when you get recommended you want to you want to listen to podcasts while you're doing some way of driving somewhere. And it's really, it's kind of spitting out because it feels like I'm listening to the podcasts and I'm like, oh, what else am I gonna do right now?
Alex Ferrari 7:07
Your your subconscious mind is completely out. Yeah, cuz it's, you've associated my voice with doing odd things around.
Theo Hogben 7:15
Like I'm always listeningto Indie Film Hustle in the gym or something. So it's like,
Alex Ferrari 7:19
Actually if you want to do a couple burpees or some push ups while we do this episode, I completely understand. Absolutely. So but I think thanks again Theo for for reaching out to me. And and before we get started, man, how did you even get started in this business?
Theo Hogben 7:39
Um, well, the weird thing is like, I always wanted to be a filmmaker. I never really had any kind of people in my life that really knew anything about it. I grew up on a farm in a county called Gloucestershire, England. Actually some impacts from here as well. So got that.
Alex Ferrari 8:01
You got that going for you?
Theo Hogben 8:02
So yeah, got that going? for us. It's kind of like the Harry Potter town. Everyone sounds like hobbits here. I've lost I've lost my accent. I've been away for a while. But yeah, I always wanted to be a filmmaker. I always wanted to tell stories. However I could and obviously went through school I went to university to study film and then ended up in Norway and I tried to break into the film industry there get whatever job I could and it was a real uphill slope when you go to another country where you don't speak the language. You don't understand how people live and work there compared to what you've done like your fresh faces like growing up a second time. But you know, made it through tried to make some ohms here and there. Eventually, you made my short which I'm guessing you guys will hear about later. And, and honestly I don't think I can't see myself doing anything else. No matter how far how low I get or how well I do or if I do work well on something else maybe the goal is always to make films there's there's nothing else man it is a sickness it is it is a it's a horrible sickness that we have. It's true You know, we have it's it's always tell people, you know, being filmmakers like having herpes, because because occasionally it flares up and you just have to deal with it. Or it's it's subtle, and it's quiet in the background. It doesn't you know, it's just, it's in hibernation, but it's always one thing I was saying to some people today was like, so the amount of money that I spend on film festival submissions. Oh, yeah, so I wrote so I didn't like it. Some people need types of drugs, some need sex, some some need the gambling for me. I spent the All my money on submitting to film festivals,
Alex Ferrari 10:03
Which you should have, you should have downloaded my free guide on how to submit film festivals for free.
Theo Hogben 10:11
I did I did actually, I've submitted quite a few for free, but some of them they just they will not budge.
Alex Ferrari 10:16
Sure I get it, I get it. You know, it's funny, you know, because, as you were saying that, like no matter what I do, no matter how hard it gets, I have to be a filmmaker. And, you know, a lot of times we as filmmakers, especially when we're not in the you know, we don't know any other filmmakers, let's say or we we have very few filmmaking friends. You feel like you're alone. You know, you feel like I'm the only one that goes through this and I felt the exact words that you've said were exactly the thoughts in my head throughout my career like I tried leaving the business multiple times. Because it gets so difficult. You know, you know about I'm sure you know about my book that you know, the mob, you know, when I almost made the movie for the mob. Yeah, that almost destroyed me, right? Yeah, that almost destroyed me. You know, there was so many those kind of, almost there, Almost there. Almost there kind of thing, and it's brutal. But at the end of the day, there's nothing that you can do to get rid of this. It's herpes. It's you're just stuck with it forever. But a good herpes. I think it's a good herpes depending on how you look. I absolutely love the way that's being described now. You'll never look at filmmaking the same again. I'm that's why.
Theo Hogben 11:28
I'm so I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Listen, this is the phone call. I didn't really want to make it. But yeah, I've got filmmaking.
Alex Ferrari 11:36
I've got I've got I've got filmmaking, it's, there's no cure, and there's no vaccine for it. So I'm just it's just gonna, it's just gonna be there. You should probably get yourself checked. You should probably get Oh, that's horrible. Oh, that's horrible. Oh, God, I've gone down. We've gone down the wrong path.
Theo Hogben 11:56
Oh, say well, I'm gonna have to tone down my sense of humor. Like setting it's, it's atrocious most of the time.
Alex Ferrari 12:02
Fair enough. Fair enough. Now you the reason why you're on the show is because of your film, your short film, the most savage beast, which is a perfect title on so many levels. In this process that you went through, what was the genesis of this film? And why did you want to tell this story?
Theo Hogben 12:23
Okay, so basically, it was that none of you did you get to watch the film?
Alex Ferrari 12:29
Yeah, yeah, I watched it actually looks really good. Like it had really good production value. It had a great little story to it. It's interesting. That's why I was asking, like, what made you What made you want to go down the road with this?
Theo Hogben 12:43
Well, basically, as I said, it was four years ago now, when we when we started and the way I wrote it was actually watch the family. Time. And the thing is that Emily is quite a cute film. It's a very, you know, she's she's loving the things she does she does to help people. And I thought, what if someone twists that? Just a little bit? Because what she's doing is So, I mean, if you took a little if you looked at it from a different angle, it's absolutely horrific. What she said she's manipulating everyone around her. And then obviously, I'd started with that kind of small idea. And then I thought, Okay, what if it's a bit more obsessive? What's the end goal of the main character? Why does she want to do this. And in the end, I kind of transferred transformed this character that which essentially, I wanted to turn it into a god. So in the film, it's actually Cupid. It's female representation of Cupid. And then all over the film, there's scattered little bits of little bits of things in each scene, which tell that story.
Alex Ferrari 13:53
And that was that was it? Well, that's a good way of always. And that's a great idea for anyone listening, if you just take something that's looking at it one way and just completely take it from another point of view, you can create some original, some really a nice original material without question. Now you started you started on the on the path for this film. Tell us the process, like what was the budget? And how did you get the cast and the crew and all that stuff? And this is also by the way, your first thing you've done, right?
Theo Hogben 14:20
Yeah, this is the first the first short movie I've made like under myself, I wasn't a student project. It was basically all under me. And it just is, yeah, it was crazy. What happened. I just didn't expect it.
Alex Ferrari 14:36
So what so well, first of all, what was the budget?
Theo Hogben 14:41
Okay, um, I don't know whether I should say this budget because I've taken your advice and I've obviously read Rebel Without a crew. Should I want to sell it one day, to be honest, it's a short film.
Alex Ferrari 14:52
It feels to stop that stop that this is just a short film. Just tell us how much it cost.
Theo Hogben 14:57
Yeah, it was it was about it was about 40,000 Norwegian kroner Wow. Which, yeah, which it's about, I guess that's 4000 pounds. What's that in dollars? I've never,
Alex Ferrari 15:07
That's actually less that's actually like, well, depending before or after Brexit? I don't know. But, but I think as of right now, it's probably like, I don't know. 50 $500, something like that. $6,000 something like that.
Theo Hogben 15:22
Yes. $6,000. So I got about 30,000 from the Norwegian government, they've got like this young people's funds. That's really nice. I was about 26 at the time. So I was like the kind of cut off right to get that funding. And I was really lucky. I got it. And a friend of mine in my, I lived in single color collective. So it's kind of like a apartment, but you have six people living there. Yeah. And well, he got me onto a basically and said, this is you should definitely apply for this funding home. I'll just give it to you. And that's how it is with Norway with the with the funding system, you come up with some idea of throw money. Sometimes it's fantastic. I never realized that before.
Alex Ferrari 16:07
So we all should move to Norway is what you're saying. Got it? Oh, my God. Yes. Sorry. So you have your money, which is amazing. So you've you've got it funded? So is any of this none of this money is coming out of your pocket? Or is it all kind of external?
Theo Hogben 16:23
No, a lot afterwards also came out of my pocket. At the time I had bought, I've worked in a bar. So I kind of saved my tips, I save whatever I could up to put into this film. And what happened was I, you know, I saw in the mind, the plan was to kind of get a few friends together to make, you know, my first short film, which I thought was going to be, you know, it was going to be a small thing I didn't expect it to, to Yeah, to be what it ended up being. But so I had a friend called Annie, she actually lives in LA now. So she gave a shout out to her. And she's an amazing musician. And I made a few music videos for her in the past. And one day, we just got talking and she said, you know, you should really try this. I know some active friends that you can that you can bring on board with this. And we should actually make something of this and I said, All right, okay. All right. Okay, so yep, we got the actors. And I rang a few. Yeah, I rang a few cinematographer friends that I'd known from because I what I would do is like I would also be a freelancer. So I've would get the odd job here and there in the film industry is like a PA or been effects are a few times in Norway. You know, set set system, things like that. So I've met a few people in my past that I you can help. And as one cinematographer, he's sent me in the direction of another one called Robert. And Robert was basically the best thing that ever happened to this film.
Alex Ferrari 17:52
He was fantastic. It looks fantastic.
Theo Hogben 17:55
Yeah. So he was the DLP. And it's just something that I did not expect. So what happened was, I went for a meeting with him. I sent him the script. He's like, yep, scripts. Amazing. Yeah. What do you want to do when you want to start, we can have a meeting, went over and met with him. And someone that hadn't really made his own film before. I was just shocked by how professional this guy was. Like he had so many apps. He knew everything you needed to know about camera angles. He was well connected. He, he was like a lecturer at one of the universities in Oslo. So he knew everything that you could possibly need to know about making a film. Yeah. Yeah. So then it started and I brought the few friends that I had together. I said, Okay, we're gonna shoot on this day. And then he brought the people he knew together the set because people just wanted to work on projects. And I think over the course of a week, it went from a crew of about five people to a crew of 26.
Alex Ferrari 18:57
What, what, yeah. Okay, so, I'm gonna, I'm gonna stop you there for a second as I wanted, I'm going to point out a few things as we tell the story that you tell the story. So I'm assuming that the DP that you hired he he's a working dp, he's very well established and in he's used to working on bigger budgets, right?
Theo Hogben 19:19
Yeah, yeah, he's, yeah, we actually after we done the principal photography of this film, we were working on snowman together with Michael Fassbender. Okay.
Alex Ferrari 19:31
Yes, yes, yes. Okay. So he's used to working on bigger shows. So when you come when you bring on a dp of this magnitude and this experience, a lot of times they don't understand the budget or they just don't understand how to create the look or actually do their job without a certain amount of support. So I have dp friends of mine who couldn't do couldn't light something without at least 10 guys to do it. Then I have a dp, who does everything himself. And the image will both be similar. It's just different perspectives and doing it. And that's a big mistake that a lot of independent filmmakers make at that when they start off is they bring in someone like this was really professional, really high. But then all of a sudden, they what, what they bring along, it's kind of like the baggage that they bring along that you can't handle it. So in other words, like, Oh, I can give you an Alexa for free. Oh, great, but I only have a laptop to edit with Well, you're not going to be able to make this thing work. Because you can't handle the workflow. So always look at you always have to keep that in mind when hiring crew. Especially, you know, key members like the DP because can they handle this budget? Are they used to handling this budget, or they're not going to give you attitude? Because they don't have you know, 15 guys doing something that a low budget dp could only do with like, by himself or with one other guy. So I just I'm pointing that out as kind of like a lesson for people listening be aware of it. So is that why ballooned from five people to 26? Like there was just a lot of people that that he needed or like, what what were all these crew people all of a sudden that y'all
Theo Hogben 21:08
know, but base This is the interesting thing. All the people that came on board, they were generally students, there was very few people there that were actually just not, not full time professionals. It's not not filmmakers, or students was just because all the students that came the weird thing is they all went to this one university I should give I don't know if I should give a shout out to them because they were that good. But the it was cordoned off. you edit stuff, right? So I don't know if this Yeah, no,
Alex Ferrari 21:38
no, I won't. I won't be editing this. So whatever comes it comes. Don't worry about it. It's all good. Yeah.
Theo Hogben 21:48
Yeah. But basically, they all went to this university. And they were so much like, more talented than I had ever realized that the university I went to here in England did not teach us anything. Fair enough. And I saw these Yeah, I saw these guys came out. They they knew how to light something fantastically, like they knew how to put all the dollies together. They knew how all the grip stuff worked fantastically. They knew how to set up a schedule. So so that everything ran really smoothly. Everyone knew how to stay in their own lane when they when they were on set. Nothing got confused. No, you had the job. He did it. And you did it well. And no one complained or, I mean, it was it was it was absolutely over the top how good they were. And these guys were students.
Alex Ferrari 22:37
So what's so which is was just so so far, everything seems to be moving along quite nicely, sir, you have a budget that was given to you by the government for the most part. You've got a nice dp who knows what he's doing and loves your project. You've got talented people working for free as students. I so where is the train going to get off the tracks? Because it seems like it seems like everything is is moving along quite nicely, actually nicer than general. Generally, most short films. Would we agree? Sorry. It's Don't worry. It's coming. Okay. So so during the production, was there anything that happened? You know, when when, when when did the fit hit the Shan as they say?
Theo Hogben 23:27
And I love it now I'm so stealing that from now. So basically, yeah, so actually, for the for the principal photography stage of the film, it went smooth. It went really well. We did like we did long day. So 15 hours on most days, and then 20 on the last day, on a five day shoot. We shot in places where I worked. So bars like night, the film takes place in bars, so I used what I could of course, you know, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But then then Principal photography for the finished and it was time to edit.
Alex Ferrari 24:01
Okay. post production, the beast post production, the savage beast of the thing.
Theo Hogben 24:08
The most savage beast. It was, it was the thing that I also didn't really account for in terms of budget, because obviously we spent the money on cameras food set, all the things that we did, and I had a friend that said she would edit it for me. And she she did, she did an amazing job editing it. And my assumption was that it was going to be edited and then then we can put it out and it would be fine. All the way to go. Wrong. I was.
Alex Ferrari 24:37
So what happened, sir?
Theo Hogben 24:38
Okay, so we got the rough edit back. And my friend she's Korean. She's She's amazing editor. But she put her heart and soul into everything she did. And she just, she burned herself out editing it. She was editing so much then but she did an amazing job. And I said, I was like, it's okay. You can stop doing it. What I'll do is I'll step in, and I'll finish the film. And and yeah, that was it. So I let it go, it was all good. And then I started editing it. And I wasn't happy with it basically, like, I just couldn't then I tried finding another editor as well. I couldn't seem to find anyone something was happening, it wasn't going right. And at the same time, my home life was descending rapidly. It was, everything was going downhill for me, in terms of work, money, love life, all that kind of stuff. And when you when when you're making a short film, you're either doing it because you're not getting paid for it or anything, you're doing your day job. And then in your free time, obviously, you're making the film that that's Yeah, that takes up most of your time. And for me, my my free time was spent dealing with, you know, life problems. Oh, yeah, life has a way of doing that. Exactly, exactly. So at the end of the day, time was moving on. And it was getting further and further away from from reaching our goal, because we wanted obviously the film and to be put in festivals by the end of the year. And that kept going.
Alex Ferrari 26:19
Sundance deadline is what you were looking at.
Theo Hogben 26:24
I'm just gonna ask you, I, I actually had I as a kid, I gone to the Berlin festival. So that was the that was the one that really hit me that I always wanted to get in. Yes. Interesting. One. Um, yeah, just basically, my life then fell apart. Because of all these things that were happening happening around me and I, what I did was I had all the footage on me and I gave it to the DLP Rob, and I said, Dude, can you find someone for this? See if you can, if you know an editor, if he knows something's like, yeah, I'll see what he said. Yep, I'll see what I can do. And what happened next was snowman. snowman. We started shooting snowman. And Robert, because he was the I think he was the assistant, assistant dp on it. He was on set the entire time. I worked as a freelance, right, so I would go in occasionally. But yeah, he was he was on set all the time, barely getting breaks. And I couldn't get through to him. So I couldn't get my hard drive for quite a few months. Oh, wow. Yeah, exactly. So and the thing is, when you're making a film, if you lose that momentum, you kind of you forget what your your vision was in the first place. So that's what was happening to me and all these lessons. I was learning at the same time, I had no clue about it. And yeah, things obviously went from bad to worse. I ended up working in the bars at the same time thinking that I've got this film, I've got the principal photography done. It's so close to being done. What is wrong with me? I can't seem to get like if I want to be a filmmaker, I can finish a short film What is wrong with me? And I just yeah, just made made you feel worse.
Alex Ferrari 28:12
Well, let me ask you a question. Why do you think that you because you Yeah, sure that the issue you didn't have a hard drive for a couple months. That's That's fine. Mistake number one. Always have a backup. So we understand that now. But there's there's a big it seems like there's a bigger underlining reason why you weren't finishing it because it's not it's you know, I understand about outside influences. I get it. Trust me, trust me, I understand it. But if you truly want to get it done, you figure a way out, you figure it out. If there's 24 hours in a day you figure something out. And that might fly for a couple months to three months here and there but then if it you know, you're talking about yours now, there must have been some deep underlining reason why you didn't want to finish it Do you eat can do you even know what that is? Or have you ever thought about it?
Theo Hogben 29:05
Yeah, I don't know. It just it became this Crux. Like I it just it's like the drive sat on the shelf. And I like once I got it back from Robert that is the thing set on that that thing at this point. Like I hadn't lost interest. It was always in the back of my mind like that. The little the little devil in the back of your head. That's always that's always there. And yeah, it just sat on the shelf gathering dust and because because it was such a thing, like, every time I looked at it was like you haven't been able to even make a short film, it became this kind of weird spiral that you didn't want to look at it or you didn't want to work on it because it just all this negativity that surrounded this small thing. That should have been done very quickly. But because of all these the essential problems that you couldn't face like another thing I couldn't face it. That's another problem I had was that myself, like myself, I couldn't turn around and say, you know, Theo, it's you as well. It's there's something holding you back. I don't know what it could be. But it's, it's in the back of your it's always in the back of your mind. Maybe you think you're not good enough maybe. Maybe there's this chaos that's that's swirling around in your head that's saying, you know, you're not you're never gonna do it. Like Yeah, it was horrible. Yeah, no,
Alex Ferrari 30:34
I understand I understand. So the, you know, I get it comment I get it so badly I've you've no I understand it took until I was 40 to shoot my first feature. Yeah. Because Because of this, because of these, these these stupid voices in your head of these kind of constructs that you create in your own mind. And, you know, this is a great example of a spiral like you've created a negative kind of tornado or downward spiral in your own mind. And it just builds upon itself. Again and again. Until you can't, you can't do anything, you can't move, you can't move towards anything because you're just on kind of like a constant attack by your, from yourself by the words and the ideas and the thoughts in your own mind. We're now it did this stop being about a short film A long time ago. You know it right? It's just like this is more about demons are things that I'm dealing with as a human being, but then also as a creative as a filmmaker. And going through all of that is just so rough. But I think all filmmakers go through a level of this at one point or another whether it's, you know, Spielberg after he made 1941, you know, you know, because that was a huge bomb after he had so many big hits. And then he had to kind of like, whoa, wait a minute, am I even is that it for me? You know that, you know, at that, I mean, we should all have these problems if you're Spielberg, but but or it could be something as as you know, as what you're going through which a went through, which is this kind of negative voice that keeps back in the head. And I know everyone listening right now, at one point or another has that kind of negative voice saying you're not good enough imposter syndrome you've got, they're going to figure me out. And then it just starts building and building too. And you literally had something you had a physical representation of what you couldn't do, and it was sitting on a shelf. So it was even worse for you. It wasn't a concept because a lot of filmmakers think like I did, like I was like, Oh, it's it's the feature film that I can never do. And I talked my way out of it. You'd literally had a finished product on your shelf or close to finished product on your shelf. And you were afraid to tackle it again. Is that fair to say?
Theo Hogben 33:05
Yeah, absolutely. it it's it's just it's weird. It's so it's so strange. Because generally as a at this point in my life, like I had sporadic jobs I've I've never really managed to have like a full time job. I've worked in bars. I've worked as a freelancer. You know how it is. You take your son? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. But it was just it was just the shield. And it was absolutely ridiculous. Because this is a person generally I'll do anything in terms of an adrenaline rush. I'll just jump out and you know, I'll go to parties I'll contact people that I probably shouldn't be contacting at my stage in my career or something, just you know, walk in the door ball swinging, you know? Yeah, but I just couldn't work out why I didn't want to touch this. This film just sitting there. And it was such a such a small thing. He was a short film for crying out loud. Like why couldn't I do that? Ah, it gets better. It gets better in the end folks. I'm gonna tell you how to get over that.
Alex Ferrari 34:09
So okay, so you beat so this and this lasted for three to four years? Four years? actually
Theo Hogben 34:15
got worse. Yeah actually got worse after Norway. So
Alex Ferrari 34:20
why did it get worse in generally just your own personal life?
Theo Hogben 34:24
Yeah, basically I ended up coming back to the UK where you know fell into depression and all that stuff like Yeah, no, that's not a DD like the food in England's not as good as no way like a lot of fast food here a lot of fatty foods a lot of things they're gonna make you feel really bad inside. Yeah, so again, going surprised I ended up working in a factory. Yeah, I couldn't do you know the kind of jobs that just were making me really down like really uncreative jobs. Basically being a robot.
Alex Ferrari 35:01
Oh, and that's and that is absolute torture for creative, like doing this kind of monotonous, monotonous kind of work for a filmmaker or a creative is brutal and and I was editing for a long time and I had I had to full time, I've only had two full time editing jobs ever in my life like not freelance. And I was promptly fired from both and I'm very proud of my firings. Because I just couldn't handle that kind of like, in and out and yeah, mines was even still a little creative. But if it was like doing promos for the same show, which was a horrible show again and again and again. It was it was brutal. It was brutal, brutal. And I went through I went through that myself during some of the toughest, toughest times of my life as well. So I feel you brother, I feel you know,
Theo Hogben 35:54
thanks, man. The thing is, like, I mean, I can say all these things, but at the end of the day, like it wasn't it wasn't as bad as I could make it out seem like I you know, I had a roof over my head, which which I can't complain about, I may have been eating terrible foods for like a quarter Burger King and stuff like that. But, you know, I was I was still alive, you know. And even through all this, that like down period of my life, there's still a throb inside the back, throbbing notion in the back of my mind saying that film's not done, and you're a filmmaker. Now, even even if the film's not done yet, my brain is still telling me you're a filmmaker. You may not be doing it right now, but you are a filmmaker. There's only one way out of this. And that's to make films or die dry.
Alex Ferrari 36:41
The funny thing is that this is the brutal nature of our own mind. Our own mind will tell us that you're a filmmaker, but yet beat you down for being a filmmaker. And that is it's I always use the example of the the cake at the end of the dinner. If you have a huge dinner, and your stuff you've ever had that dinner that you've just had to stuffed you like literally unbutton your belt, you're like I can't, I just can't even anymore. Then someone busts out some cheesecake or a cake or pie. And then you're like, well, your mind tells you go ahead just It's alright. You will work out a little bit more tomorrow. Go ahead. And you eat the pie says gluttonous you're eating this piece of pie right? And then later that evening, you're taking your clothes off in front of the mirror. And what does that same brain tell you? You fat pig? I can't believe you ate that. It's like literally the same voice you're like mother effort Come on. like are you kidding me? And that's exactly sounds exactly what you were saying. And like oh, you can't do that movie. Oh, you can't do this as a short too short and like you've built this monster up that is this this short film, but yet your mind still saying hey but don't forget your filmmaker like exactly go ask yourself dude like go after yourself Come on already.
Theo Hogben 37:59
Doesn't matter if you have to crawl through the mud for miles and miles and miles or you got to climb a mountain one step at a time you're gonna get there
Alex Ferrari 38:07
it is a sick it is a sickness man we are we have a sickness it's it's this it I mean, we I've talked about it being the Kirby's, but all Honestly, it is a sickness, it is something that we have that we cannot get rid of. And once it's in there, it's very very, very difficult to leave. And, and and honestly shouldn't leave if you have a burning son feel a burning sensation. I'm sorry, I could not have Freudian slip. If you have a burning of burning fire inside of you to do something, you've got to go out and do it. This is too short of a life not to play it safe. Like why in hell? First of all, if you're in the film business, he ain't playing it safe, buddy. You know, that's just not gonna happen. That's just not the way this business works. So I'm, I'm fascinated by your story. But it's a story that I've walked my path I've walked myself and just different flavors of it. That's all you see.
Theo Hogben 39:02
hearing that from you. It just to me, it just means that I'm on the right path. I'm walking in the right direction doesn't matter where I am, whether I'm at the beginning of the line, or I'm going 1000 billion miles to go means I'm still walking direction. I feel like Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber. Well, Sony? Yeah, one in a bit more like 1 billion. So you're saying there's a chance?
Alex Ferrari 39:25
That is basically the mean for every independent filmmaker ever? Because it's like such like Sundance. You mean there's a chance? Yes, of course. There's a chance you and 20,000 other filmmakers were submitting this year.
Theo Hogben 39:42
So continue so. Alright. Alright. So basically the factory stuff happened and then my girlfriend she moved back to Sweden. And I couldn't afford the flat so I had to move back in with my parents. And as a 30 year old man. Oh, that's that's like that is the ground. Right there. Let's that is my failed.
Alex Ferrari 40:04
as as as low as you can go.
Theo Hogben 40:06
Yeah, got it as low as you can go. Bottom. I got a job working at a meat delivery company.
Alex Ferrari 40:14
It sounds bad. It sounds like fascinating work, sir.
Theo Hogben 40:16
Yeah, well actually, you know, it's really it's actually quite funny because I used to have to like walk around this white shirt and I wrote on the front free hugs and there is nothing better than walking down. One of the streets thing was known for like the most murders in that city, wearing a shirt saying free hugs covered in blood.
Alex Ferrari 40:37
Spray. That's, that's a short film right there. I have to tell you, that is a short film out there, right there. You know,
Theo Hogben 40:43
I was a vegetarian at the time as well.
Alex Ferrari 40:46
Even all my guys, you're your meat delivery guy. And you're like vegetarian? Oh, yeah. God, the universe is cruel. It's cruel. It's cruel. You know what I find funny though, as I'm listening to your story, it sounds to me that most of the things that are happening to you not all but most are self done. Like you're doing it to yourself. Like sure there's external. There's external issues. Sure how you deal with those external issues is the only thing you have control over. But you are your worst enemy. You are, you know, like you're saying, Oh, I'm a filmmaker, I had to get a job at a factory how to do this, where someone else might have thought, you know what, I gotta hustle another way to make some money? How can I make money in the film business somehow? Can I do this? Or can I go do that or, you know, whatever that might be. And trust me took me years of doing that to look to I got so low. I'm gonna tell you, I don't think I've ever said this before publicly. After that whole mob thing. I got so low in my place. And this is I think this was close to rock bottom was a rock bottom yet because I hadn't filed for bank I was about to file for bankruptcy. That's when it was that was that was the bottom for me. But I was I was weeks away from that. I went to Hollywood video with an application to become a video store clerk again, when I would have been in the business at that point for almost almost 10 years, making a living as an editor. And I was so defeated, that I literally went to Hollywood video and put my application in as a video store clerk back in the day. And and then they said, How much do you make an hour? I'm like, I've been making like 50 bucks an hour for years. And the manager just looked at me He's like, Yeah, I don't think this is gonna work out for you. But it was brutal. But I feel you I feel you we all did stuff that you know. But that was all mental though. It was completely my own doing. I could have easily broken my way out of that if I had the strength to or how to guide someone to guide me out of it.
Theo Hogben 42:56
I yeah, I know how it is. But nice thing about hitting that rock bottom is that you know where the rock bottom is. You can't go anywhere. You can't really go lower. You can go you you can only go up you can you know you've got something to jump off of now if you know what I mean. Yeah. Yeah. So that's, that's a nice thing about it.
Alex Ferrari 43:16
So you get down to so now Where are we? We're like at year four at this point. where we're at? Well,
Theo Hogben 43:23
we're up three and a half at this point, actually. Okay, we're gonna have a, um, yeah. So this is so this is the point I discovered your podcast actually. Okay. So, basically, I started I started listening to, you know, one or two episodes of indie film hustle. And it was and it was all these stories essentially, about people that you know, when, like me didn't have any money didn't have have anything to go on, but still kept this creative dream going. kept that dream alive. Hey. That's all I'm gonna try and make you blush. Good. So by the end of this, I appreciate so, so yeah, so at this point, I you know, I started listening to all these small things about distribution, little bits like that. What I could do, just to just to get off the ground to actually start making some money. And it was it was also some of the small podcasts you did where where you were talking about, you know, stop crying about it. Like you, you are the leader of your own destiny. You are the person that has to pull yourself off the ground. You are the No one's going to do anything for you. You know, apologize and no one do what you need to do to get where you want to be the tough love. Tough Love. Yeah, the tough love to you know, and I'm living in an environment where everyone's saying, you know, all that film stuff is nonsense, go out and get a real job, things like that. Like I had so many exterior factors slamming down on me saying this is not For you, like you've been trying this thing in Norway for ages, you've been trying this thing your whole life. Why don't you just give them like, like, and because of you and because of the podcast, it's and not just this podcast, like I started reading like, as soon as I started listening to podcast Hell, I went and bought a copy of Rebel Without a crew. Probably one of the best books I've ever read helped me. You know, unendingly I was actually supposed to go for medical testing this month. Nice. Yeah. But I failed on one of the early screeners. Um, and yeah.
Alex Ferrari 45:36
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Theo Hogben 45:46
So they wouldn't let me go. But hey, that's one for the future. I'm going to do it again. I'm gonna get the money together to make a film that way. So
Alex Ferrari 45:54
yeah, but you start but you started listening to the podcasts, you start reading books, you start educating yourself, you start slowly pulling yourself out.
Theo Hogben 46:02
Yeah, the before that I wasn't exercising, either. I started eating healthier, I started going to the gym all the time, whenever I could. And the thing is that when you start doing all those small things, like even if it's just a little bit a day, like just being a little bit creative a day, or just or just doing something good for yourself, like getting your endorphins up naturally not through some fast food, or, or drinking or whatever it is, it starts to snowball, all the good things will snowball, and then you'll start doing them naturally. You'll want to do them more, and it will bring you out of some kind of little slump that you've been in.
Alex Ferrari 46:39
Yeah, the one the one thing I wanted to kind of point out that you said, which I think was really important is when you said the statement that your brain was telling you, your mind was telling you. You've been trying to do this for years now. It's not working. What are you doing? You know, oh, no, that
Theo Hogben 46:57
wasn't my mind. That was in my mind. That was my father.
Alex Ferrari 47:02
He put your mind but you had a conversation with yourself something in regards to your dream and not being able to achieve it? Hmm, I remember I have to go back and listen. But anyway, regardless of that, you hearing that from exterior or interior conversation, it was coming from your dad or was coming trust me, my dad said the same thing.
Theo Hogben 47:19
Yeah. But that's, that's for most creatives, I think.
Alex Ferrari 47:23
And I want everyone listening. I'm sure everyone listening has had that person in their life, or has that conversation with themselves at one point or another. And I want you to be very clear that we all go through it. And that's a test. It's a test to get through it. And you have to get out of it. And it's just part of the path of the filmmaking path. It's just part of what we have to walk. You know, unless you get a lottery ticket at the very beginning of your career like Robert did. Rob Rodriguez Did you know that's a one in a billion chance? Generally speaking, what we You and I are talking about right now is pretty much the majority of what filmmakers go through. Would you agree?
Theo Hogben 48:07
Yeah, I think it was, it's in Lloyd Kaufman's book, Trey Parker says, if you want to make money on the in the film industry, you may as well just go put all your money on 31 black or something, because the chances are probably going to be the same.
Alex Ferrari 48:22
But as they say, What's that? What's that old? Say this if you want to, if you want to create a small fortune in the film industry start with a large fortune.
Theo Hogben 48:34
Oh, so true. Yeah. Oh, God. I was really.
Alex Ferrari 48:40
So you were able to pull yourself out little by little, doing little things every day. And just kind of building on that. So you're like, literally, I look at it in my mind. I'm creating you're you're basically Batman at the bottom of that pit in Batman, whatever that Dark Knight Rises, you know that Bane threw him into that pit and slowly but surely, he's trying to figure out step by step how to get to that rope how to get out there. And between the podcast between the books between you taking care of yourself between you eating and being creative, a little bit every day? These are the stepping stones that are slowly allowing you to start seeing the light. Is that fair to say?
Theo Hogben 49:19
Yeah, absolutely. It's just a little by little every day. It's not a it's like it's not a sprint. It's not like some kind of aha moment, like LED lights not going to, you know, shoot through your curtains or something in a dramatic form. It's it's about the little things, building those little things.
Alex Ferrari 49:36
And then you finally and you finally start getting out and then you start looking over on the shelf, I'm assuming.
Theo Hogben 49:42
Yeah, I start looking over the shelf. I find that hard drive. I find that hard drive. I managed to get a actually that's one thing I missed out earlier. I did edit it myself and my computer broke at the time.
Alex Ferrari 49:55
So why why why wouldn't it have course it did.
Theo Hogben 49:58
Yeah. Yeah. That was one thing. I missed out. from the past, but still, you know, it's a small thing that shouldn't have mattered, but whatever it was, but I go, I fix the computer, I fix the computer situation at this point in my life now, where I was actually able to start editing it again. I started, I brought that film out. And I said to myself, I'm not leaving this goddamn thing until it's finished. I don't care what happens in my life, if everything else gets ruined. I'm going to say that I did this film, I finished it, no matter what. And honestly, that's a crazy, crazy way of thinking I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. But I pushed myself to the point where I got this done. I learned a bunch of new things to get it done. Like I never colored before. That was one thing, you know, downloaded the Vinci learn to do that. I never actually got the coloring, right. So I asked a friend to do it. And he he, he worked on what do you work on? Fantastic, fantastic beasts. Harry Potter film, and he tried to do it. But he never got time. So I had the things sitting with him for three months that extended the time but at this point, I didn't even care about how long it was taking the The only thing to me was that it's gonna get finished. Like I thought about it every day.
Alex Ferrari 51:09
Right? It was just it was the elephant in the room.
Theo Hogben 51:13
Oh, yeah, it was the elephant in the room. But I was no longer allowed that elephant sit on my shelf. You know? I don't know if that's the right analogy. I'm just gonna fight the elephant. But no, you know,
Alex Ferrari 51:24
you stop ignoring it. And you start saying like, okay, it's let's take let's take this guy out for a spin. You know, and it might be a slow process, but we're moving. It's a step by step process.
Theo Hogben 51:35
Yeah, he like I said, even if it's a mountain, you get up at one step at a time. You just you just got to keep saying that you're going in the right direction. Don't look back. Don't let anyone distract you. You go as long as you're going in the right direction. You're doing the right thing. It may take a day, it may take 10 years. Yeah, as long as you're going in the right direction. Um, yeah, but anyway, I I found another colorist who actually did it within a week on Instagram. Her name was Emily. The I think her Instagram tags Emily the colorist. Yeah, but we aren't. We communicate Caden through Instagram. She helped me out she does amazing job. And I've done all the sound design myself did most of the mostly I did all the after effects. myself. I learned how to do that.
Alex Ferrari 52:21
Excellent. Yeah, just
Theo Hogben 52:23
just to get this thing done. And yeah, then it was done. And then
Alex Ferrari 52:30
then you had something it was done now it's now it's time to spend money on submissions.
Theo Hogben 52:35
Oh, yeah. But that was the thing. I you know, it's really weird because I'd stop drinking. You're drinking soft drinks. So I had like one can of Dr. Pepper in my car ready to crack up for the so it's such a sad story. Like that. That was like my reward.
Alex Ferrari 52:55
You know what, man but that's but those are the sort of process that is a small little thing, man it is. So it's so important to to, to take care of yourself, man and to treat yourself every once in a while man, if that's a can of Dr. Pepper at the end of it, brother Enjoy your Dr. Pepper man, it doesn't matter to pepper I've ever heard. I'm sure it was. I'm sure I'm sure it was, you know, in listening to your story, man. And and I'm assuming at this point, you you want your goal was to finished a movie? I'm assuming there's no lofty goals? Or else? I'm sure I'll tell you what is what are the lofty goals tell me?
Theo Hogben 53:36
Well, let's go even bigger because the film is now going into a bunch of festivals. So I'm super happy about that. I spent a lot of money on the festival entries. So what actually what I would do was, I try and select small town festivals really cheap. Like first time festivals or ones with really cheap submission fee. So I could submit to those rather than going in with the big ones and just spending a ton of money which I didn't have, obviously. But yeah, it's worked out really well. We got into one oxytoca in like, middle Mexico. Nice. Yeah, I
Alex Ferrari 54:12
know that one. Yeah, I've been in that one. Yeah, yeah.
Theo Hogben 54:14
So we're going to there in October, and I'm really looking forward to it. I mean, this is to me, that's the big festival. And it's nice to see that. This this four years of kind of, of a journey is actually paid off to something and while we're going to be that we're going to be pitching obviously we got a feature plan now. We got to see quarter the short plans. We've Yes, since then, we made a documentary called just another toy story about Thai orphans. I've set my company up in the UK and in Norway. So so obviously we can start making money from small videos and things wherever we can. start the process often actually start our lives going nuts. So you started building.
Alex Ferrari 55:01
So you're building you're building a lifestyle and a company in a career for yourself, basically.
Theo Hogben 55:08
Absolutely. I've been doing freelance work at the BBC now as well, that's it's lovely to tell people that you work for the BBC as well. Lovely company.
Alex Ferrari 55:17
Yes. Yeah. But it was a dark, but it was a dark, it was a dark journey out of the woods, if you will. And out of that hole.
Theo Hogben 55:26
It was a dark journey. It was a long journey. But it was, it was one that kind of, is definitely a crucible for me, it may not have been so extreme or anything. And at the end of the day, the story is not it doesn't have like this massive explosion of an ending like you finish the film. It was it would be like, kind of. That's pretty explosive to me,
Alex Ferrari 55:47
brother, I have to tell you, it's pretty explosive to me. You know how many, you know many filmmakers I talked to? who still have that movie on the shelf? Or even worse, they still have the idea. They haven't even discovered yet. Maybe that's the thing. Yeah. You got sorry. No, no, no, you go Go ahead.
Theo Hogben 56:04
No, but yeah, that's the thing like most creative people, you will you will bleed ideas, you'll probably come up with like 1010 ideas day I know I do. It's all about the execution of it. So get that idea write it down, see what the best ones see what the easiest ones and make at that current time is with the equipment and the things you have made a short about a T rex and my brother in the yard the other day came out great loved it. It's It's, it's, it's about doing the creative things that you enjoy. And having that finished product, even if it's like a small, a small, silly little thing, like I just did in the yard with my brother. Like it's, it's done, and you have something to show and you're happy about it. And it just it just fuels that creativity and that happiness, just constantly making something
Alex Ferrari 56:55
without question and you know, I'm gonna, I'm gonna tell you something that this business in general, this, this path that we've chosen, the filmmaking path, will test you multiple times throughout your your life, and it will continuously beat you, and will throw obstacles in front of yourself throwing obstacles in front of you on your path, and will just, you know, you're walking all over all of a sudden, and you'll just get a right hook out of nowhere, or you'll get a gut punch. And then sometimes you'll you'll really stumble and then you're in a hole for four years, I was in a hole for about three, it took me about two, three years before I could come back out even look at anything in the film business, after my, my, my pummeling with the mob. So I get it, I get it. And I think everyone listening and really, you have to understand that you, you will be tested by the Universe by this business, by whatever you want to call it, but you will be tested multiple times. And it honestly, is kind of like it's kind of like being a forged in fire. Because the film business is so difficult, and is so tough. to just be able to make a living, and especially in today's world with so many people, you know, we're talking about 10s of 1000s of people jumping into this business a day, in one way, shape or form. It's so difficult now that if you don't have that Rhino skin, if you don't have the shrapnel if you don't have the scarring, or the or the scorch marks on your back of walking that path, you won't make it i think i think you should look for them because it will harden you and make you a better filmmaker. You know, I've had the pleasure of speaking to many of these, you know, these high end people in the business, you know, you've listened to the podcast, you know that I've talked to a lot of these filmmakers who, who are at the very top, you know, at the very top level of their game,
Theo Hogben 58:59
you want to talk about imposter syndrome. Yeah, like right now I'm like, Oh my god, I'm just like some small guy that made it short. And you've got the people you've got on this show. absolutely incredible.
Alex Ferrari 59:09
Right. And that's what I love about this show is because I can choose who the hell I want on this show and the kind of stories and the kind of knowledge and information and inspiration that I can put out there. And you know, on the on paper, this doesn't make any sense. Why would I have a short filmmaker who didn't have their film made, or had a tough time getting their movie made, and it's out and it's you know, and it didn't win an Oscar, you know, it didn't do a whole beam didn't make a million dollars from it. But this this process, this journey is special. And it's something that no other podcast talks about in this way to at least to my knowledge, and it's information that needs to be put out there because I want people to know that this is what we all go through. That's why Rebel Without a crew is such a great book, because it was the first book to ever kind of make you feel like oh, there's somebody else. out there, mind you, His story is quite a you know, magical lottery ticket. It's a lottery ticket, we're shooting for the mob, I always call it the companion piece for Rob Rob, because it's the complete opposite direction. It's the anti lottery ticket move book, and story because it's the reality. But it was the first book that kind of, you know, made me go, Oh, I'm not alone. And that's why I wanted that I wanted you on the shows. It's just so important to put this kind of stuff out there. Because obviously, it affected you. And I was just talking, you know, doing some tough love episodes, and it really hit you. I couldn't imagine. I could only imagine if you would have heard this podcast by somebody else in the situation. What would happen to you? hopes?
Theo Hogben 1:00:45
Yeah, I hope someone listens to this and thinks like, no matter how low you get, like a 30 year old guy living with his parents, like, like, how look like I mean, that was rock bottom for me. Now I'm finally you know, on my way again, back out gone, going back to Norway, where absolutely love it. Yeah, but even if you get that low, like, you will still have that spark, like, because the you'll know, it's there. If it gets extinguished, you'll you'll probably be quite I actually saying that I have had a friend who was an additive for a long time. And we actually had a we had a company in Norway, and I worked for him called jackfruit. And he, he basically, he was an editor and his, he just got so with the, with all the marketing videos and things like that he just got burnt out with the whole thing. He wasn't afraid of anyone didn't like it. And yeah, his I don't know if his flame ever got extinguished. But I rang him up a few days later, like he almost lost his house, things like that. And I rang him up a few days ago to tell him about the film because you want to promote it. And he said to me, like, yeah, I stopped, I stopped with the filmmaking, I stopped with the, with with editing and everything. And I've never been happier. He works in a factory in Norway, but he makes a load of money doing it. He's secure. He's got a wife and two kids. And he's, he's actually happy. So there's that temptation as well, that you could be happy, but I wouldn't want to be I want to be a filmmaker.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:19
Regardless, you know, but at the end of the day, those tests that I talked about earlier, that's really what it is. It's a test like, is this for you? Like, are you gonna come out the other end? It's okay, if it's not, like, you know, I, you know, if I go out for an NFL football team, I'm probably not gonna do real well, if not, everything is for everybody, you know, and it's okay. And it's not, I'm gonna quit, or I'm not going to give up. You know, what, there's people who want to, you know, sing songs or play the guitar or, you know, be a screenwriter or, you know, be a filmmaker or be a painter, or a sculptor, or anything in the arts or anything anywhere. And any kind of, you know, I want to be an entrepreneur, until they really until, you know, like Mike Tyson says, everyone's got a plan to get punched in the face. And, and it's extremely true. So it's not for everybody. But those tests are there to to really make you realize, if you really want to do this, your journey in the path you had to walk was your proof to yourself that you like well, I went through all of this, and I still want to do it. I had that happen. And I haven't happened twice to me. Two big times. One was the mob the second time I'd left the business. And I opened up an olive oil store for God's sakes. And I was gone from the business for almost three years, but I never stopped. It never stopped. And then I opened up indie film, hustle, and the rest is history. But it never I never it never was ever extinguished, ever. But it was always quiet. It was always in room in remission.
Theo Hogben 1:03:57
If you went way I look at all these terrible stories that you hear about people like trying to pull themselves up from the thing like I don't think of them as like, I don't look at this, that part of my life is a bad thing. No, I look at it as a it's a story. It's It's yet another story that I can use to put into my creativity.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:15
Without without Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker cannot become Luke Skywalker. Exactly. You need to go through shit. You need to go through stuff in order to, to test yourself to see what you're made of, you're only going to get stronger if you lift heavier weights. And it's not pleasurable. Am I wrong, it's not pleasurable to lift more. It hurts. You're tearing down your muscles, you're tearing down your body when you do that, but it rebuilds stronger. And that is the perfect analogy for this business. Every time something bad happens to you. Every time a challenge happens or your project falls apart or something. It is just another way for you to get stronger, and get that Monoceros hide out Running.
Theo Hogben 1:05:01
I'll give you a great example from recently actually actually turned turning like a negative thing into a really positive one. So you'd like most you know, I'll go and I'll write in the cafe. Mine is cafe Nero, like we all do. Sure. Yeah. So I'm sitting there, I got my headphones on. I listened to white noise. Sometimes when I write really good, really, I recommend it for anyone that struggles to concentrate. Yeah, so I'm typing away and then some woman starts talking to me. Okay, sorry, take my headphones off. He said, I think it's disgusting. What you do, and you know, it's me. I'm like, I'm like, okay, it's my lopen. Usually, it takes like a few sentences before someone says something like that to me. Like how you come in this cafe and you don't buy anything, and you sit here and usually like your office. Fair enough. There was nothing on my table. Because you know, the cafe staff are really good. And they cleaned everything up all the stuff I've been buying over the day. I explained this to the woman and she didn't want to. She basically seemed like she wanted to argue I called one of the baristas over said, How often do I come here? He's like, oh, you're here every day buying, buying stuff and working? Yes, we like you. Yeah, the woman got angry at this and stormed out said she was going to complain. So. Yeah. So what I did instead was I wrote a compliment letter to the cafe saying how nice they are and how good they are. And I come there every day to write and it's, it's just, it's helping my creativity. It's helping me get my film company off the ground. It's doing it's doing amazing things for me. And anyway, this letter they, buddy of mine is a journalist, and he got wind of this letter. And he published it in the local paper. Yeah. So in this letter, not only do I come off, like I was actually trying to be a nice guy and do the right thing. It's also spread all over the paper, now my film, and everything possibly about it, links to the trailer, whatever I can get in there. So I enter in, basically, because this woman and basically not liked me sitting there typing, it's actually helped my film, get promoted, and get the trailer to the eyes of more people. So it's an example of turning negativity into something positive.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:19
Isn't it funny how the world works? Isn't it funny how the universe works? I mean, if you wouldn't, if you would have been sitting at home wallowing about why my life sucks. As opposed to getting up off your ass, going to the coffee shop every day and being creative in a small way, then, you know, you're not writing an Oscar winning script, you know, you're just in a small way. Because of that consistency that you showed up one day, this crazy woman shows up. And because of her craziness, you have a wonderful free marketing opportunity.
Theo Hogben 1:08:03
Absolutely trying to like every every negative thing you see like that, there will be some positivity and there will be something that you can do to turn that that negative thing into something positive. Anything almost
Alex Ferrari 1:08:16
But my point. My point is that because you just kept grinding, and keep moving, and you're actually doing something for yourself, and you're actually actively working towards your dream. And assistance came, a wind of help came. But if you would have been sitting at home, it wouldn't have been there. And I hope that's what somebody's listening right now gets from that comment is that you've got to get up off your butt. And you got to do something every day. It's kind of like what um, Steven pressfield says in the War of Art, which is a great book about resistance and things stopping you creatively. Have you read that book? No, having a car to read the War of Art, every creative ever needs to read the War of Art by Steven pressfield. It is a short book, but it is it'll change your life. And in the book, he says that we have something called resistance and that resistance is the Oh, don't get up in the morning early to go to the gym. Oh, don't. Don't go sit down to write now. Oh, you Why don't you just you know, you go to Facebook first, that that thing that stops you from being creative. That is called resistance in his world. And it's so true, because we all go through it. We all have that inner dialogue because like, Oh, well, maybe I'll just let me just watch this YouTube video and then five hours later, you got you've gotten nothing done. It's our job to break through resistance. It's our job to go out there and do something little every single day, that discipline to to get us closer to our dreams. And it's like you said earlier, it's a long it's a long game and it's definitely a long game. Now I want to ask you, man, what was the biggest lesson you learned from this entire process?
Theo Hogben 1:09:56
Honestly, I can't wait I wrote all this down. I knew you were going to asked me, so I prepared for this. So basically, the lesson I would say is just don't stop, don't back down and don't give up and bleed if you have to, like, just don't stop, get up every morning. Always do. And don't stop doing it.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:18
It's kind of like, what Rocky Balboa said. And in the movie, Rocky Balboa is a great inspirational speech that Stallone wrote, which was, life is gonna hit you harder than you ever know. And it will bring you down to your knees. But what makes a champion or what makes you go forward is it's it's how hard you get hit and keep moving forward. Because you're gonna get hit. It's just about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. And that is success. That's beautiful rendition of it. It's a horrible rendition of it, but you know what I mean? It's, it's horrible. He does so much better. But sly if you're listening, anytime you want to be on the show, open, open open invitation, sir. But But seriously, it's that's what it's about. It's about like, How hard can you get hit and you're dropped down to your knees? And you hit and you move in at 30 with your parents? Can you keep going forward? Or are you going to give up? And that's an analogy for life essentially.
Theo Hogben 1:11:21
It's just yeah, basically, you got to get out of that place. That's that's that's your goal for that part. Anyway. I would say comfort is the bane of progress. I would that that would be how I put it. Comfort is the bane of progress.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:35
You've got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. You know, quote, that's why I take cold showers every single day. I never take a warm shower, and I can't take a hot shower anymore. Because I can't I have been taking cold showers now for three months. And one day my wife left the hot water on and it hit me I was like, Oh, this is horrible. And I turned it off. My body is now accustomed to freezing cold showers. And it's there's reasons to do it. There's health reasons and physiologic physiology. I can't say the word reasons, physical reasons to do it as well. But for me, it was about breaking through my own mindset of what I had to get uncomfortable with it. And trust me those first few weeks brutal, brutal, brutal, because every thing your mind tells you about not taking a cold shower is exactly everything it tells you about not making that movie about not writing that script, about not doing going to the gym, about everything that is going to better you that's when your mind stopping you why because it's out of its own comfort zone. It wants to it wants to stay in that little construct in that little box that you've created into you eventually can break through it. And now, taking cold showers is my new comfort zone. So writing five pages a day should be your comfort zone that you're aiming for making a feature or two a year or making 10 shorts a year. That should be your comfort zone. And that takes time to break through. But try Cold Shower brother do it for like a month to 30 days and see what happens. I'm totally gonna do the cheapest cup of coffee you'll ever live. You might talk about waking up in the morning. Whoo it's a lot easier to do it in the summer than in the winter. I can tell you that much.
Theo Hogben 1:13:23
We go Yeah, we're just coming out this summer here so Alright, moving back to Norway. cold showers. That's an interesting
Alex Ferrari 1:13:31
Go for it man. You know, I'm telling you everyone listening try Cold Shower do whole research on it when when half when half method is another guy who just takes cold showers constantly and, and you you there's a whole thing about that I could do a whole episode on just showers
Theo Hogben 1:13:45
Like it's like it's in the stoic, stoic guidebook, isn't it? or? Yeah, stoicism?
Alex Ferrari 1:13:54
Yeah. Yeah, like Ryan holidays book, the obstacle is, is the way which is such a great book, you should read that book as well. The obstacle is the way as opposed to an obstacle or a problem being a problem. It's no, that's what's gonna get you to where you need to go. It's it's a great, great way to look at it. Now what advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?
Theo Hogben 1:14:16
Well, that's the thing. I'm still breaking in myself. So but it would be it would be destroy your social media, like use it and abuse it. To get your material out there and find people. Don't be scared to ring people up who you think are up there in the industry. You've you've got to pester people, you've got to you've got to be there. You've got to take every every chance you can get if you get the email of someone high up and you want to get a job. Make sure you email them Don't be afraid to do it. Obviously when Yeah. And make as many films as you possibly can to show them that you you have the ability. Lloyd Kaufman, what was it quantity over quality. I think he said, so you know, and yeah, you will learn from making those mistakes on a constant basis and you will constantly improve. Massively, just don't be scared.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:13
Yeah, very easier said than done right. But yeah, it's like yeah, just don't be scared. Just go out there and do it. I get it. I get it.
Theo Hogben 1:15:20
This is my moment to say something inspiring, but just don't be scared.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:26
It will be okay. I promise you, it'll be okay. Now, can you tell me what book has the biggest impact on your life or career?
Theo Hogben 1:15:33
It's really weird. I would have you know, I would have said live on Lloyd Kaufman, reservoir crew or something like that. But it's basically someone gave me this book that was called I can make you rich now.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:45
Yeah, Yeah. Yeah.
Theo Hogben 1:15:48
No, no, it's it's actually the by this guy called Felix Dennis. The one I'm, I'm
Alex Ferrari 1:15:51
Oh, okay. Okay.
Theo Hogben 1:15:53
Yeah. So I thought it I thought it was gonna be like, you know, one of those typical, really bad self help books that you know, you buy for $1 or something in a bargain bin. But this one was really good, because it was the anti self help book. Basically, this guy was absolutely relentless in his kind of mission to make money and you can apply it essentially to filmmaking as well. And he, and it's about kind of that obsession that you you constantly have, and it's okay to have that obsession, but understand that other things are gonna fall by the wayside. You can't have it all if you want, and it is possible, but your main goal may actually take the place of other things in your life, but having that is, okay, it's okay to do that.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:41
Got it. Now, what is the biggest fear you had to overcome to make to make this film specifically,
Theo Hogben 1:16:48
I finished this by the sound file sounds with picking a hard drive up off a dusty shelf, but
Alex Ferrari 1:16:54
Just pick the damn hard drive up back.
Theo Hogben 1:16:58
Again, it was Don't be afraid to talk to people to ask people for help to ask people for advice to say to people who are basically fueling the doubt in your mind like no, I'm gonna do this. I'm not scared of doing it. Stop saying all these silly things to me. I you know, I don't care what you say. It's about standing up for your for yourself to yourself, essentially. Like not doubting yourself. That is the hardest hump to get over.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:25
Now, three of your favorite films of all time?
Theo Hogben 1:17:30
So I would say once. Yeah, great jumping. Yeah, cuz that was the first film that showed me. You know, a beautiful film doesn't have to look beautiful. If you know what I mean.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:42
Theo Hogben 1:17:43
Yeah, it was it was, you know, I loved that. It was Yeah, it really hit my heart chords. Life Aquatic with Steve zissou. Was Anson. Yeah, it's just a habit. I just love that film. Like, if you ever see you know, it's a spoof right.
Alex Ferrari 1:18:00
Of which will Oh yeah, Jacques Cousteau.
Theo Hogben 1:18:02
Yeah, yeah, you've seen the original.
Alex Ferrari 1:18:04
No but I know who Jacques Cousteau is. But no i haven't seen
Theo Hogben 1:18:07
Well, it's the because it's absolutely hilarious because the original slavery I think it was made in the 50s and they had this whole different take on environmentalism back then. So they wait so that's like a bunch of jokes. They seem really random in The Life Aquatic and then when you watch the silent world you understand and how funny it actually is. There's so in in the silent world the way they take a census of a reef is well use dynamite. They blow it up specimen jars. You know, these guys are environmentalist.
Alex Ferrari 1:18:42
Theo Hogben 1:18:44
This is one line that I didn't get the first time I saw it, but after seeing that film, I saw The Life Aquatic and then Wilson basically runs out they're like, Hey, we go into the reef and then you hear him go. Oh, get the dynamite I highly watch it. You will appreciate it. And the last ones the fall
Alex Ferrari 1:19:06
Which ones out when I heard that one
Theo Hogben 1:19:07
A toss him saying I can't say a second name. Right. Okay. I think I'm the guy that did the cell. Did you ever ?
Alex Ferrari 1:19:14
Of course. Yeah. Remember the cell?
Theo Hogben 1:19:15
Yeah, he's got this phone called the fall. And I'd recommend it for anyone out there. It's one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen. It's got these amazing colors in it. It's a really cute story about a guy telling a telling telling this fabricated story to this girl in a hospital bed. And it's Yeah, it's it's absolutely cinematography wise, it's probably one of the most beautiful things you'll ever see. It's It's crazy.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:45
Very cool, my friend and where can people find out about you and your movie and your work and your production company? All that good stuff.
Theo Hogben 1:19:52
All that good stuff. Yeah, so got a website for the film which is www.mosavagebeast.com And yeah, production companies www.tyronfilms.com. Nori Norwegian company. Yeah, and yeah, I got Instagram, Twitter and it's all under my name Theo Hogben. So all that good stuff.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:17
All right, I'll put it all in the show notes my friend.
Theo Hogben 1:20:20
Fantastic Vimeo too
Alex Ferrari 1:20:22
Theo man, I want to really thank you for coming on the show and being so you know, vulnerable and and honest and truthful about your journey and your process. And I really do hope that this helps somebody listening to it today, man. So thank you for paying it forward in the way you have. So thanks again, brother.
Theo Hogben 1:20:40
No worries, man. Thanks so much, Alex. Well, for me as well, like I wouldn't have been able to get where I am without listening to the podcast. Like it's Yeah, it helped me like, you know, infinitely.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:52
I appreciate that means a lot. Thanks again, man.
Theo Hogben 1:20:55
Thank you so much.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:57
Again, I want to thank Theo for coming on, and dropping inspirational bombs on the tribe today and being so raw, so honest, so transparent, and telling us all about his journey, the warts and all. So Theo, thank you again, for sending me that email. And thank you again for sharing your story with the tribe today, man. We are all extremely proud of you, man. And I really hope you do well with your short film and with your films in the future. If you want to check out Theos film, and get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/340. And if you haven't already, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com subscribe and leave a good review for the show. It helps me out and helps to show out tremendously. So thank you, again, so so much. Now I wanted to give you an update. I know I get I get at least every week an email or message asking me Hey, Alex, whatever happened to ego on the corner of eagle and desire your movie you shot at Sundance, we want to watch it. Well, my friends. I have been as you know, busy with filmtrepreneur. And with all the other things I've been doing, and I haven't had a chance to really get everything together, I already have a distribution deal for it, it will be available on Amazon. At first we're just going to release on Amazon and indie film hustle TV, it will be available for rent on those two platforms. And then we'll move it out to iTunes, Google Play and all the other places around the world. And it will be available but we should be releasing it sometime in September. I am delivering the film very soon. And you will be seeing a new trailer for the film. In the next couple of weeks. I would say next two to three weeks you'll see a new trailer for the film, and where to go get it and where to preorder and so on. So we should be releasing at some time in September. And we'll just keep an eye out for because I can't honestly I can't wait for you guys to see it. I love love love on the corner of ego desire every time I watch it I giggle I think it's I find it hilarious. And any filmmaker who's ever watched the digits like they're pissing themselves with laughter? Because it is it is definitely Best of Show meets Spinal Tap for independent filmmakers without question so and if you haven't seen what I have already on on the corner, ego and desire, just head over to egoanddesirefilm.com if you want to check out the current trailer and or the new trailer by the time this podcast airs, and check it out guys, so I appreciate it. Thank you all for all your support. As always, I've got so many things lined up for the tribe in the coming months. If you think I've put out a lot of stuff so far for the tribe. You ain't seen nothing yet. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.
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- Theo Hogben – Official Site
- Theo Hogben – Vimeo
- Theo Hogben – Facebook
- Theo Hogben – Instagram
- A Most Savage Beast – Official Site
- A Most Savage Beast – Facebook
- Alex Ferrari's Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Story) Book- Buy It on Amazon
- Crazy Cafe Story Article
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