As filmmakers we all have challenges to make our films. Today’s guest had to deal with obstacles that most of us would never have to. We have on the show filmmaker Tzvi Friedman and he has on heck of a story to tell.
Tzvi is a writer and director based in NYC. He was born and raised in an ultra-religious community where almost all cinema was contraband. Growing up he secretly watched countless movies under his covers and sneaking off to the cinemas. At 18 he started making films, becoming a social outcast, but that didn’t stop him.
He has since directed multiple short films. At 21 he crowdfunded $10,000 dollars and made his first feature Man.
Tortured by his inability to feel emotional or physical pain, a man finds murder to be his only respite – until he meets a lonely woman whose compassion awakens something inside.
After he finished shooting the film, by some miracle, veteran producer Cary Woods (Swingers, Scream, Godzilla, and Rudy) discovered his film and jumped on as an executive producer to help Tzvi finish the film.
Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Tzvi Friedman.
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show. It's the Tzvi Friedman, how're you doing?
Tzvi Friedman 0:15
I'm doing good. I'm doing good. How are you Alex?
Alex Ferrari 0:17
I'm doing good brother. I'm doing good, man. Thank you for coming on the show, like we were talking about earlier, before we got on the air is I get, I get hit up almost 20 30 times a day now. Without question by filmmakers wanting to be on the show. And I try to make I try to make as much room as I can. But at a certain point, we can't hear the same story again and again and again. You know, like, you know, I've made my movie for 5000 bucks. That's great. And if it was 1991, I'd probably have you on the show much faster. But your story actually kind of has a very unique, it has a few unique elements to it. So we're going to get into that as well. But can you tell the audience a little bit? Because you were talking earlier. You've you found me. You've been listening to me for a little while. So how did you find me? And and how have I been able to even help you? On your on your path?
Tzvi Friedman 1:04
Yeah, sure. So basically, you know, when I decided to get into filmmaking, I knew right away, I wasn't going to do the college route, the film school route, for various reasons. So you know, YouTube, to me was sort of the, you know, wealth of information. Everything is on YouTube nowadays. And you can also listen to various channels, and one of them was Indie Film Hustle. I mean, I have a lot of friends who listened to you and all your channel, you know, pretty popular among us some, uh, we call the underground filmmakers. So, yeah, so we just listened to it. And I also saw your evolution, which is pretty wild. You know, like, I remember, you were talking to, you know, sort of like mid level producers and directors and now you're talking to Oliver Stone. And you know, it's pretty, pretty crazy. And congratulations to that.
Alex Ferrari 1:53
Thank you know, I've been I've been very, I've been very humbled and blessed to be be speaking to the people I've been speaking to lately. And it's been, it's, it's been humbling to say the least, man. And it's, I'm glad and a lot of my audience have heard just told me that they're like, man, I've seen you when I was there at the beginning, when you were just talking to like, you know, you know, just young filmmakers. And now you're, you're talking to, you know, legends and things. And it's been very, I look, man, if I can get any information out of those guys, and gals, and bring it to the underground filmmaker, to an independent filmmaker who didn't have the opportunity to sit down for an hour to talk to I would I want to, I want to be able to do that. So, but thanks, man, I'm glad. I'm glad I've been of service to you on your journey. And I always find it fascinating how you how people find me, and like and how it you know, because I don't get to talk to people often. You know, listeners I generally, and you see them at a film festival every once in a while. So how did you get started in the business? Man, what made you want to jump into this ridiculous business?
Tzvi Friedman 2:55
Was a good question. I don't know if I made the right choice no I'm kidding. Um, it wasn't really like that. It wasn't really so much of a business. And like most of us, you know, it was, um, you know, I was obsessed with movies from a very young age, I didn't really know that somebody made movies, you know, you don't realize that there's like, somebody orchestrating the, you know, the story. I'm actually I think I wanted to be an actor to tell the truth on way back like that. Like, I think that I wanted to be in the movies. That's all I wanted. From a pretty young age. And then I'm not sure exactly when I realized that there was a director, I think it might have been a mini doc about the making of Lord of the Rings. And I remember seeing Peter Jackson, it was like two in the morning or something. It might have been the hobbit I'm not sure. Anyways, and he's driving to like, pick up the DP or something. And just like the whole vibe, and the whole, you know, they're all joking around. And I think that might have been, you know, when I started to realize that there was this one guy, you know, there's puppeteer, basically. Um, and then I just became obsessed with the concept of the director, you know, and, yeah, yeah. So
Alex Ferrari 4:03
I remember I remember in The Lord of the Rings, Docs, this is when the First Lord of the Rings came out, that he released that same DVD set that just had like seven hours or 10 hours of like, how they made it on each movie. And the one thing I always never forgot is that he had his, he had his crew carry around a lazy boy. And that was his director's chair. Like a recliner, like a full not like a director's chair. He like how to full recliner and they would just carried around from set to set, and he would sit there and he do everything and then he get up. I was like, why hasn't that become a thing? I have no idea.
Tzvi Friedman 4:41
Well that's Peter Jackson though, you know,
Alex Ferrari 4:43
If you're Peter Jackson, and you've already released the first Lord of the Rings, I think you can get away with this stuff. By the way, everyone listening. If you're an independent filmmaker, do not I repeat, do not bring a recliner on set and say it's your director's chair. People will hate you
Tzvi Friedman 5:00
Yeah. Yeah, sorry. No, no, no, just about the director's chair. I remember, you know, my first few short films, I never sat down, you know, just sure the whole time adrenaline rush. I remember seeing Roger Corman, you know, very some interview of his not too long ago, he must have been pretty sure he's still alive, right?
Alex Ferrari 5:21
Yes, he is still alive.
Tzvi Friedman 5:24
And he was saying how, you know, asking, like directors advice, and you think he's gonna talk about lenses and whatever, or whatever it might be. And he says, just make sure to have a chair to sit down. And you know, that was his. That was his advice.
Alex Ferrari 5:38
I spoke to a steady cam, I think that the inventor of the steady cam, and he goes, What's the best piece of advice for anybody who wants to learn a steady game, and he's like, good shoes. Comfortable shoes is the biggest piece of advice. Now, tell me a little bit about your background, before you jumped into filmmaking? Because from what you told me in your email, you know, filmmaking is not really looked nice, very positively by your family. So how did what would that? Because that what are the struggles you had to deal with with that?
Tzvi Friedman 6:12
Yeah, so you know, I'll speak vaguely a little bit, because I don't want to get into much rattled, but I'm sure but basically, I come from a religious community or ultra orthodox community, Jewish community. And I think like a lot of very far right, religious communities. That's a far right, I don't mean politically far out, I mean, religiously, very conservative. They have a weird relationship with movies in general, and with Hollywood business, just the concept of Hollywood, Hollywood is sort of the Boogeyman. For a lot of people, in my community, and on Yeah, it's a, I think, um, a lot of it has to do with, you know, Hollywood sort of was the, the front runner of the, you know, counterculture revolution. And I think a lot of it started there, you know, a lot of, you know, just the way, Hollywood, you know, the sexuality in Hollywood, you know, 60s and on, you know, Rebel Without a Cause all these movies, you know, were seen as a threat to, to religious communities and to my community. So that's part of the part of it is like, so Hollywood's this big, scary thing. And there's a lot of immorality there and things like that. Um, and then, yeah, I think that's, that's really what it is. So in my family really was the same thing. You know, modern movies, I wasn't able to see Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean and stuff that's, you know, pretty much tailored for kids even that, you know, because there's a fear that it has traces of, you know, either ideologies that disagree with the religion, you know, postmodern idea, and things like that, or, you know, explicit scenes and, you know, stuff like that. So, um, so that's basically where I come from.
Alex Ferrari 8:03
So alright, so then you you see a little film called Star Wars. What happens after you see Star Wars? By the way, you're not the only one who saw Star Wars and like, James Cameron did that too. So that you're in good company that Star Wars changed your life.
Tzvi Friedman 8:19
Yeah, I hope that was unique, but I guess, not so much. Yeah, no. So So I had a neighbor who was, you know, also religious, but more modern than me. His parents were more chilled, so they let him see a lot of stuff. And he would just rant and rave about Star Wars. And I didn't know anything about it. But I just, I just knew I had to see this thing. He had the toy lightsaber, he had like, video games. So I just, um, yes, I just looked it up one day on my dad's computer. And I saw a new hope in like, parts, I'm pretty sure at one time, if not the whole thing, or part of it was just on YouTube. This is, you know, I don't know, 15 years ago, whatever it is. Um, so I saw the first the first Star Wars and, and, you know, I think I always had my mom would read us, like science fiction and books. So it's not that I you know, I, I knew about these worlds, but only in my head. Sure. And then when I saw Star Wars, the first time I actually saw it on a screen that that in movies, people are able to do this, they're able to, you know, create these crazy fantasies and these worlds and it was as simple as that. It just, you know, it was it was like the Big Bang for me, you know, it was Yeah, and I just became obsessed with Star Wars and playing Star Wars with my brothers and having lightsaber fights and stuff and right so I think the Star Wars obsession really was like the story of the bug that bit me you know,
Alex Ferrari 9:45
Yeah, the as I as I like to call it the beautiful disease, or the beautiful infection that is filmmaking, one because once you get it, you can't get rid of it. No matter how hard no matter how hard you try, or no matter what obstacles are up and to be in your way. It's something you just have to do. Just have to do. So which brings me to your first movie, man. How did you you know living in the in the environment that you were living in not getting much support I'm assuming from your family or community? How did you generate the not only the energy to make it but to find the money for it and all that whole thing? So how did that whole process come along?
Tzvi Friedman 10:24
I didn't know I didn't dumb and think as you can see.
Alex Ferrari 10:28
You look, you look as you look as old as I am. And I'm joking!
Tzvi Friedman 10:35
Oh, yeah, it's so basically trying to get the timeline. Right. So basically, I went to Israel, actually, I went to study in Israel, you know, on the hopes of becoming like a big rabbi or whatever. And it was a very intense thing. It was a good experience. But it just didn't work out for me. A lot of good friends who went there to study. But I was a movie addict, the movie junkie, like, that's how I got through high school. Like, you know, there was a time where I was dorming. And in a very serious religious school where, you know, if they would catch you with watching a movie, you were thrown out. And we just watched movies under our covers, literally, I remember seeing Schindler's List in my dorm room on a tiny phone, you know, for the first time,
Alex Ferrari 11:17
I'm sure, Stephen, I'm sure Stephen exactly how he wants you to watch it.
Tzvi Friedman 11:20
So, so basically, so basically, when I came back, I got a job as an assistant teacher in a school. But it was just a soul crushing job. And, and I just had this, you know, like, buzzing my ear, like this little whisper in my ear. And then eventually, um, and then I had a friend who passed away, sadly, and, and right before he passed away, I was talking to him about I want to be a director, you know, and he came from the similar we grew up together, went to school together. But he, but at the time, he became more open minded and everything. And we both we saw a Goodfellas we saw, like all the classics together, I saw Goodfellows in his grandmother's basement, you know? So, you know, he was very positive about it. And he said, You know, I think you should do this, and then he, and then he literally died a week later. So, yeah, he was, he was an incredible guy would do dinero impressions and all this. So. So that really compelled me, I think, like, I remember being at his funeral and his burial. And I just felt really angry. And I just decided, like, I'm just gonna try to do this, you know. So I basically, um, you know, I had this idea for a short film. Turns out the short film was gonna cost like, $100,000 to make, you know, that's how it goes. And you first start, you write a script, it was like a mixture of Blade Runner and all these different things. And, and I remember, like, I went online, I was looking for a producer, and I found some girl on Upwork I don't remember one of these things. I wanted the, you know, the film sites. And she said, Yeah, well, I'll produce it, you know, so I meet with her, she said, Oh, first we have to make a trailer, you know, like a sizzle reel, or whatever, to raise money through Indiegogo. So basically, we ended up getting $2,000 from this. Basically, I used to work with special needs children. So there was a kid I was taking care of, and his dad was like a big fan of this movie obsession of mine. So he gave me like $2,000 cash on the spot for the trailer. Amazing. So we made this trailer. And it was an utter disaster. I mean, it just didn't work out and we raised like $100 is like my older brother who gave them money you know, like on Indiegogo was pretty embarrassing. So then, you know, it was like back to square one again. I'm like, How in the world is this gonna happen? It just is, you know, the trailer was pretty good, I think but it just didn't fly. It just didn't work out. And then I remember I was watching Vice News did a thing on Christopher Nolan's following they interviewed him about zero budget and I was watching his advice and he basically said just take a camera you know the the thing that they say but to me the thing about him certain filmmakers you could see like you could tell they sort of come from the underground world but here's the guy who made inception and all these things. And then I saw a following and it's this real you know guy yeah, like glued together you know with popsicle sticks or whatever it's a brilliant film brilliant but um, but it just it's It's unbelievable to see that he went from there to there. So I basically he did it advice I took a camera I shot a short film you know, I only money was to the camera and stuff into the makeup artist. And I felt it was okay you know like I put it out there some people liked it. Some people didn't. But um, but that's that's basically how it starts just kept making short films. Then I produced a short film for this thing called the indie film collective. I was an interesting experience. And then we made another short film. And then just over time making all these short films, I picked up a very small following on the internet. I mean, when I say small film, I like maybe 10 15 People, whatever it is, but it was enough that at a certain point, I just decided it's time to make a feature film. And, you know, and I kept trying to make feature films or like trying to get or get it off the ground, but it just never worked, you know, and my older brother, he's a pretty well to do successful business guys completely self made. And he just said, you have to you don't be embarrassed, just have to ask people, you know, and again, you know, where I'm from. People don't really know what that like, there's no such thing as somebody's going to make movies. It's, it's bizarre, you know,
Alex Ferrari 15:32
I know the feeling. I know the feeling.
Tzvi Friedman 15:34
Yeah. It's what the other people do, you know, like, it doesn't it's not a real profession that could ever happen. So I think I was at my friend's engagement party, or, you know, ultra orthodox engagement party, and I just summed up the cards, and I just started asking people upfront, I said, you know, could I have money for my movie? And they're like, You're movie what? You know, and I think I quickly explained why I was like, trembling. Yeah, making a movie, you know, and then Christopher and all I can just try to explain to them, and a lot of the guys there that just very kind people very generous and said, whatever, let the kid go do his high school play or whatever they were doing, you know, we I raised like, $800 to $1,000, literally that day, just from asking people, you know, just basically bullying people to giving me money. And then with that seed money, we I joined forces with a friend of mine, and we basically started raising money online crowdfunding on Indiegogo. And we raised like, $8,000 that way, and I put in another 1000 of my own, and we basically managed to get the budget together. Um, but yeah, but there was no, it wasn't easy. Let's put it that way.
Alex Ferrari 16:38
So so then when you get the movie done, then you're now and you basically got it in the can. But from what you told me, you basically, were kind of kicked out of your house, and you were like, sleeping on the floor on a couch with your sister. You know, we all have struggles as filmmakers, man like there's no question this is you're trying to get your feature. May we all got a bag, we get a bag and you know, sometimes steel. Do whatever you got to do to get the movie done. Yeah, exactly. And, and that's the insanity of being a filmmaker, but, but you have the extra stress of also not having a place to live in at this point. And all that stuff. How did you break through that man? How did you break? Because I've never experienced that. I always was curious.
Tzvi Friedman 17:21
Yeah, yeah. So. So also, throughout the shooting, we shot once a week. So I was shooting once a week. And when I'm shooting, I feel like you know, you feel you, you're on top of the world when you're shooting.
Alex Ferrari 17:30
Oh, yeah, it's a drug, it's a drug. Absolutely.
Tzvi Friedman 17:33
It's a drug your high, you know, and then I would come home and not, you know, my siblings are amazing, you know, my brothers, they're very supportive and stuff, you know, but I don't blame nobody, you know, like, how are they supposed to know what the hell I'm doing? I you know, and it's not just, it's not just a religious thing. A lot of parents aren't, you know, regardless, any, anything in the arts is insane. So I would come home, I come back here, and they'd be like, you know, there was, you know, you're kind of like a rock star when you're directing. And then you come home and it's like, you know, you it's like, coming back to the slums. You know, you're, you're, it's like a descent. So it was really pressing, in a way it was like, swinging between these different worlds. And, yeah, and then. So the shooting itself was, there was a lot of a lot of stress in not just the production, but just the, like this dichotomy or duality that I was dealing with, going from basically sinning, you know, doing the grave sin of right, you know, making movies, which is this again, like, sort of, like, taboo satanic thing, and then and then coming home and you know, whatever, participating in the Sabbath and all this stuff, and then yeah, then we finished we wrapped shooting, it wasn't the most satisfying production, you know, again, it's, it's the first feature film, sure it for a penny. And then I come home and, you know, I'm again, I don't want to tell tell you too much about I'm sure. Basically, it's a combination of, you know, I wasn't I didn't have a proper income. You know, I didn't really I wasn't making money didn't have a real you know, my parents were very worried about me, you know, I didn't have a career path. And then again, it's the movies it's all these things coupled together. And I basically just pissed off enough people and they were like, you know, it sparks flew and I basically was told nicely to leave and I went to my older sister, you know, who was living in Queens and I just I was just sleeping in her husband study on a mattress on the floor. And it wasn't that bad though. They were pretty good to me and all and um, but I was really desperate to get a job you know, it was kind of like the Wake Up Calls like alright, this movie dream probably is not going to work you know, I made this movie wasn't edited at all. We didn't caught it just a bunch of hard drives at this point. It was just hard drive just sitting there my editor Christian who works for complex media who I met a whole different story but he edited all my shorts basically. He put together a trailer for me and a reel because I you know I call I'm like frantically saying I'm doomed. And he was, he's always been like, he's my right hand, man, you know, like, it's not for him, I wouldn't be anywhere. So he was really supportive. He's like, I'll make you a real don't worry about it, he made me reel made me a trailer. And I put it into a resume and I just started applying to film jobs, because I didn't want to go back to being an assistant teacher, whatever it might be. Um, and, and I went to Mandy, my older brother, I was so broke, I didn't have like, $1, you know, filmmaker. So my older brother, he paid for my Mandy subscription, you know, for like, a month. And I'm just applying to like everything in the world, you know, Pa D, should I remove old picture, low budget horror movie and all this stuff. And I applied to maybe 3040 things or whatever it might have been. And then I applied to a director gig like a horror movie director gig. And of course, you know, that would, that would have been great, you know. And then like, a week later, I got a call from some guy, the producer of this horror movie. And he's like, is this three Friedman? I'm like, yeah. And he says, um, you know, I saw your resume or whatever, why don't you come down and let's, let's have a chat, whatever, let's get lunch, whatever it was. And I was like, oh, yeah, I'm gonna get the job. You know, I'm so desperate now, at this time at this point. And I remember it's snowing, freezing cold, I go out there. And like, a second I meet the guy, he's like, you know, I don't think you're the right fit for the job. And I'm like, Oh, great. Another one of these, you know? Yeah, meeting time. Um, and then he says, but um, I saw the trailer for your feature, I saw some of your shorts, and I really like it. And I sent your work to my friend Cary Woods. I have no idea what that is. But again, this guy, this guy, you know, he thinks he assumes I know, you know, like, he doesn't realize like, you know, where I'm coming from, you know, that I've no, you know, connection with the business whatsoever. And he's like, he wants to he really wants to meet you. So when I leave the meeting, I call up my editor, Christian, and I say, Oh, my God, this guy. He said, Cary Woods his whole thing was I looked up, I Googled Cary Woods right after, and I saw his credits. Um,
Alex Ferrari 21:52
He's a legend. He's a legend. Yeah.
Tzvi Friedman 21:54
Yeah. And Christian, my editor. Again, I love him. This is to disparage him, but he just was like, come on. And you know, you because you know, people, he's been in the business much longer than me. And he's in a much more professional, severe. And he's had horror stories. So he was like, you know, I wouldn't just don't get don't get your hopes up.
Alex Ferrari 22:13
Right. I would say the exact same thing if you were talking to me.
Tzvi Friedman 22:16
Yeah. And like, I waited for like, a week, I was like, should I call back this guy and ask him and like, I was waiting with my phone. They're like, you know, and then I get a call from this producer again. And he said, Why don't you come over Friday evening, for dinner with carry, he'll be there, you know? So I go, there I go, I go to this, like penthouse again, like, you know, I didn't grow up poor or anything, but you know, just regular middle class. Sure. Family, five siblings, a, you know, everybody that lives very simply where I come from, and all of a sudden, I'm in this, you know, crazy apartment. And there's Carrie, and he looks like right out of his Wikipedia page. You know, it's a little weird. I was like, I kind of thought, you know, but, um, and, you know, like, we didn't really talk March, you know, I didn't, I didn't try to sell myself or anything. But it was it was weird to be in a place where like, everybody was filmmakers. on a on a slightly high end on a slightly in a much higher level than me all in the business. And who appreciated my work, which is really surreal. For that's a cool experience Yeah, it was, it was also like another type of high, you know, like, I was used to always feeling guilty about my work. And, you know, at one time, I would show it to my work to my parents, but they just didn't understand it. They thought it was bizarre. You know, and, you know, my dad would watch very, my dad has a good taste in movies, but it was more very conventional, very formulaic classics. And here, I'm trying to make like a button. Well, weird, experimental, right? Yeah. And he's like, you know, what's with the hands, or whatever, you know, so getting that or even my religious friends who love movies, but like thing, like, they want to watch like Michael Mann's heat or something. They're not, you know, sure. Are all French movies. Um, so basically, yeah, so that was a really great feeling. And then a few days later, Cary texted me said, Hey, let's get let's get coffee or something. And we got coffee. And you know, we just talked movies, and he has all kinds of crazy Hollywood stories. You know, your hero complex is Robert De Niro. So in Marvel, here's my favorite actor. So we spoke about that he worked with Warner Hertzog on Playboy, just endless stories. And he also was an agent before he was a producer, you know, so he's all kinds of stories about that. And then what I don't remember exactly the timeline, I don't want to distort the facts. But but more or less, he basically called me up one day and he said, Hey, I'll help you. I'm going to try to help you finish your feature film. I'll see if I can get some investors and whatever. Um, and, and yeah, that like my, you know, you can imagine I was like in seventh heaven. Um, and then we got investors. He got me a lawyer. And then he actually connected with this unbelievable film producer Jonathan Gray, who's an indie film producer. or also did a bunch of pretty flannel pajamas and blue capris, and you name it, he did a lot of very critically acclaimed films Dark Knight, not the Dark Knight Dark Knight, which went to Sundance couple years ago. And he basically became a producing partner with carry on this film. And he gave us an office at his studio, gigantic Studios, which was insane. Just like Monster just squatting there. And me and Chris Christian and I, my editor. We just were coming there and I was able to pay Christian finally, and I never paid him in my life. Am a few dollars, you know, that was nice. And yeah, that's a sort of the story in a nutshell. I don't know. I'm just wow, man.
Alex Ferrari 25:40
That's that's that's a pretty remarkable story. Because that was the twist that that also added another layer to this onion, that is your stories, because like, you know, trying to get your movie made all this kind of stuff. But then all of a sudden getting a major producer like Carrie woods on board, who's a legend. He's an indie film Legend. I mean, from swingers to kids, and so many other movies he's made over the years, you know, to get him on board with essentially a first time filmmaker, I was fascinated by how the hell did this happen. I always love these little stories of how people connect and how things fall apart, fall into place. And it's just luck being at the right place, right time. Like, in what I don't want people listening to understand this is that there is no path that you can copy. You know, I wasted a good decade trying to figure out how to copy Kevin Smith pass or Robert Rodriguez's path, or Ed burns path like these, these guys, you can't can't copy their path because their paths are unique to them. So the time frame when that happens, so you place an ad, go for an interview, they happen to watch your short a I have a friend of like there's so many things that were magical,
Tzvi Friedman 26:54
It insane, insane.
Alex Ferrari 26:57
It's luck. It's luck. But if you didn't have all those shorts, if you didn't have a trailer, if you hadn't had a movie, ready in the can, nobody would have it, this wouldn't have happened. So it's it is truly when luck meets preparation. And that's exactly your story. It's It's pretty. It's a pretty magical story. So now, where are you with the movie? You're still finishing it up in post, so you're getting ready to put it out to the festivals.
Tzvi Friedman 27:22
Yeah, so we are we already submitted to a bunch of festivals, but it's still a quote unquote working progress. We're doing the music now. That's where we're at now. So we're picture locked, we're doing the music, literally, like we just started yesterday. And also the color which we're basically finished. Um, and yeah, we're just we're just trying you know, you know, nowadays you have you know, it's not like it used to be now you have literally 10s of 1000s of films, you know, everybody with their $100,000 movie. There's just a lot of competition it's very easy to get lost in the pile. Um, and yeah, it's it's really it's sort of playing a lottery you know that a day.
Alex Ferrari 28:05
Yeah, it's it's pretty in you know, if you've listened to the show, and you've seen the show, you know, I've talked about distribution and how to get your movie up there and stuff. It is very difficult to get an independent film with no you have no stars if I'm a mistake you have no faces are stars in the movie.
Tzvi Friedman 28:20
We have some future stars I'm on my right to say that to be nice. We, particularly the main actor in our movie. On time, he was on the Broadway show, cabaret. Sam Mendez is a production but he's a brilliant actor. Brilliant. His name's John Peterson. A shout out to John Baba he he's really remarkable you know, these series that we've been showing the movie to now like we you know, we're showing it to all sides forever they're all like wow you know so the thing is if Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 28:52
Yeah so but but as far as distribution is concerned, yeah. Yeah, if I walk into distributors room and like, Hey, I got a lot of future starts it's gonna be like, get the hell out of here. But no, but not not lack of talent, but lack of star power means recognizable faces. Right? So without that it is difficult to do it unless you can a kid into a film festival that could be you know, that likes it and gets some awards and maybe get some attention. But you know, it just as a non it's an you haven't asked me for this advice, but this is what I would do. I would use Kerry Woods his name as much as he allows you to use it to open doors for you because that name does carry a lot of weight in the indie film space. And that they're like, wait a minute, if Kerry's executive producing this guy's film, I should maybe watch it because of his track record. So you've got an ace in the hole without question. It's not gonna help you it might help you a little bit in distribution but it will definitely help you in the film festival circuit without Question
Tzvi Friedman 29:55
Yeah, there you know, I got like, I don't know how what I'm allowed to say but like you
Alex Ferrari 29:59
Don't Don't say I don't want to get in trouble don't get in trouble.
Tzvi Friedman 30:02
Exactly. I don't either want to get in trouble but no definitely carry but not again, not just Cary we have, we have a lot of the Cary sort of built an army around the
Alex Ferrari 30:10
Right. So um, it's amazing that he, it's amazing that a producer of his magnitude who's done so many films over the years, still is hunting for that, you know that diamond in the rough. It just trying to grab something and trying to help a filmmaker along and that's another part of the story that I love is that someone like him is not too high up in the mountain. We're all the gods, the filmmaking gods live, like mountain Olympus, you know, where Spielberg and Lucas and all those guys live? That they're able that he's still willing to to do because it doesn't have to mean he's completely doesn't have to do anything. But he wants to because he loved the process so much and wants to help young voices come out. So that's a really, that's a really pretty awesome part of the story. So I'll gotta get Carrie on the show. One day, I want to talk to Carrie.
Tzvi Friedman 31:04
Thank you. I think you do it. Yeah. Yeah, he's, he's just a really, I mean, you know, I don't know why he decided to do this. You'll have to ask him.
Alex Ferrari 31:14
You're like, Man, I don't know why I'm here. I don't know how this happened.
Tzvi Friedman 31:19
Kind of like, you know, the movie being there. Which is actually when it carries favorite movies. Oh, yeah. Oh, I love the colors. Yeah, just like he's just like this, you know, um, I think he's supposed to be on the spectrum, if I'm not mistaken. And he's just, just like, stumbling into you know, power, you know, the powerful people and and all these rooms, and you're just like, whoa, what am I doing here? And I get that all the time. You know, like, I'll be at an like, again, like, once you meet these people, all of a sudden, you're at these events. And also, you're meeting these people who somebody people inspired you to, like, do this thing now. And you're just, it's bizarre, and you're not sure and they ask you like, who are you? And you're like, I'm not sure who I am. But um, you know, security? Yeah. But um, but Buckcherry is a really righteous guy. I think he's a really, he's just a really good person, you know, above all else. He's he really, he's, like, a real cinephile. He really loves, you know, even though he might have produced some really big commercial movies, too. But he, he just loves cinema. And, and I think he just really wants to try, you know, he sees himself sort of maybe again, I shouldn't, you know, you have to ask him, but my read is that he really feels like a guardian of cinema. And, yeah, and that's why I got lucky, you know, I bumped into him, but um, you know, but yeah, that's why he again, he didn't he hasn't just done this for me. I'm not the only but pretty much. Many of the directors he's worked with were all first time directors, you know. And
Alex Ferrari 32:51
Doug Liman Yeah. Doug Liman with swingers and John Favre, and that whole crew, I mean, helping them along, and the list goes on and on. I mean, he's helped so many filmmakers
Tzvi Friedman 33:02
Alex Ferrari 33:04
A couple guys, a couple guys,
Tzvi Friedman 33:05
A second, like legit movie, like, I might did like a low budget, indie that went to a bunch of festivals, but his, his second, you know, like, more studio film or whatever, Carryade that happen. And, yeah, the list goes on forever. But um, you know, yeah, so it's really cool. And also, another cool thing is that Cary's producing a film called Maggie Moore's, which is a Jon Hamm movie right now, you know, in New Mexico. So it's just funny how we're making our little $10,000 movie and stuff and Carrie sending us notes. And then he's, you know, busy with these guys. It's really weird.
Alex Ferrari 33:38
It's and I just, I also, I also wanted to have you on the show, because I want filmmakers out there listening to see that this has happened Still, these kind of little, this lottery ticket moment, there are these are kind of lottery ticket moments. I mean, look, look, you're not making the next Marvel movie yet, or anything like that. But you are definitely on a path that will hopefully build a career for yourself and having a champion help you and we all everyone needs a champion Spielberg to look, you know, every one of the gods, the filmmaking gods that we look up to had a champion. If it wasn't for Steven Soderbergh, Nolan wouldn't have gotten insomnia. And without insomnia, he wouldn't have gotten Batman and the rest of that goes on and on if there's always a champion. So I'm just glad that that, that we could put this kind of story out there for filmmakers to hopefully hold on to and go look, there's a hope you got to just got it. The thing is that you just have to do the work without expectation because that's exactly what you did. You did the you didn't have any expectation of anything happening to you. Other than hopefully this is going to get made and hopefully I'll be able to do another one, let alone teaming up with carriers and becoming Oh. Let me ask you, I want to ask you about what is when you were on set, I always like to ask the question when you were on set, shooting one day a week, which is fascinating, which is awesome. Yeah, it was awesome. What was the toughest day on set, like that day that you felt everything was gonna come crashing down around you? And how did you overcome it?
Tzvi Friedman 35:16
That's almost every day, but many days. I'm like, we just have crazy, crazy stories. I mean, again, not. Not anything new but but fun. You know? So we were operating with like, it was a tiny who, first of all, like, some of our crew pulled out, you know, last shock. Last, Shocking. Shocking. Exactly. So we have to do the scramble, Facebook, all that all that jazz. Went to makeup artists like I don't you ever saw manbites manbites dog,
Alex Ferrari 35:43
Of course. It's amazing, amazing film, everybody listening, watch man bites dog. It's on criterion,
Tzvi Friedman 35:50
They keep killing the sound mixer. The reservoir. So that's basically what it was like, we were going through makeup artists like a revolving door, you know? Because again, we didn't really have money. So that's how it goes. Right? Nobody first you know, very people want to get and it was in the middle of the winter. But the second day, the second the second day, which is the second week, it was going to be one of these 18 hour days, and we're shooting in multiple locations. And we were at the beach, we decided to make it into the film and None None of this footage. And all of a sudden, again, I don't want to I love my crew and everything. But somebody said, Oh, we don't have we didn't have anything, we could have dumped the footage and we didn't have enough memory cards, let's just put it that way. It happens, bro. It happens. You're like one memory card, you know, and so that that was like one of the that was you know, I just started I had a full on panic attack. Um, and whenever we ended up having to drive over again, and laptop and good memory card was crazy. I mean, something as simple as that, that we didn't prepare for obviously, it was a little ridiculous. But still, we had like, I don't know what it was like a 64 gigabyte, you know, like, the whoever was supposed to bring that stuff didn't bring that stuff. That was one of them. And then we had another shoot. Well, also, we were shooting in a lot of places that were given to us as a favor and paying for it. Sure. So one of the places we were shooting at, I just remember being terrified of like things breaking, you know, and of course, we ended up breaking something. And then it was the whole thing was like who's gonna talk to the owner who's gonna make the call. And we'll just read tickets just together with the whole supervisors, just like fear because like, everybody was just like, let the kids do their thing. Let them play a little bit, you know. And then the craziest thing was, we were doing a reshoot of scene, a murder scene. And this is like, this is after the 10 weeks. This is like, this is like a few weeks later, we finally managed to get everybody available. And we're shooting a scene. And it turns out, we didn't realize that when we shot there a few weeks before dislocation was were a homeless man would sleep it was his territory. And he remembered us from the first time and he came he started like cursing us out. And my lawn producers span is from Colombia. So he speaks Spanish. So he understood what the guy was saying. But he didn't want to like tell us what the guy was saying because you don't want to scare us and we wanted to get finally conservative. He's like, I think the guy my break the camera, and I saw one and I turned around there pulls out a knife and he puts it to my AC'S neck. And he's like basically saying, you know, I'm gonna kill you if you don't leave. You know, so the first thing I did was grabbed the camera and Ron, you know, and and the whole crew followed afterwards. I was like,
Alex Ferrari 38:32
What happened to the AC what happened to the AC.
Tzvi Friedman 38:35
He was fine. But he said we you know, we just like walked away slowly like we did you know? And the guy just chased us out of there. He chased us out of the location. We couldn't go back we couldn't get any more coverage. And that was it. That's all we had. I'm afraid to go to that train. Stop now because it's near a train station.
Alex Ferrari 38:52
Wow. Yeah. It's crazy stuff and never ceases to amaze me the stories you hear about productions especially indie. No budget productions. It's there. Man, I've been there. I understand it. I I've been there's too many times to today. I haven't had anyone pull a knife on us. So that's a new one. I haven't had that. But there has been other stories to say the least. Now, I want to ask a few questions. I asked all my guests, man, what do you what advice would you give to that underground filmmaker listening like you've been listening to me? And what advice would you give them to get there, you know, to get into the business to do what they love to do?
Tzvi Friedman 39:32
Yeah, so like you said, like, there's no roadmap. Anybody who tells you there's a roadmap and end of the day I think it's bullshit. I remember I got a PA gig actually like on a big set called the good fight. CBS show. My friend Sergio was my line producer on my film. He got me in there. And I was like, I was trying. That was at one point. That was my thing. Like I just kind of get on a big set and I have no idea how right you don't go on indeed and get on a because it doesn't work that way. So it turns out these have to meet someone who knows Mondo can get you
Alex Ferrari 40:00
Networking, networking networking. Yeah,
Tzvi Friedman 40:02
Yeah. Which to me is kind of it's that's really frustrating to me about the about how the business it's like this very elitist, high barrier entry type thing. So I finally get on I'm gonna stand in PA, I'm given a radio and stuff, you know, and my job is to stand outside of door. I'm like, just like 1000 PhDs and I'm gonna stand outside the door and just tell people to be quiet, right? My job basically is to do nothing, but I got it was good money, but like, I did nothing the whole day. And by the by, by breakfast, I'm just trying to talk, you know, network speak to people find out like, how do you get into this mysterious place? And I remember I met the production designer of the show, and he was covered in paint, like his pants and everything. And I said, Hey, like, how did you get here? How do you and he looks at me with a big smile. He's like, you're here. I was like, Oh, thanks. Wow, great advice. But, but the point is, that there really isn't. And I remember I asked them, you know, how the actors have PA is also, you know, like the treated like royalty that can't touch the ground. So I asked them, the PA to one of the actresses like, you know, about the director, I'm like, How do you know how she got here? And she's like, you just have to do it. You know. So the point is that even when you're in the US the, you know, the inner chamber, the machine, yeah. Yeah. Like, nobody really knows. It's like, I remember seeing an interview with David Lynch. When he was doing Twin Peaks Season Three in like a cafe some woman was interviewing him. And she asked David Lynch, you know, what do you what's your advice to filmmaker, you know, asked to make a living or whatever. And he's like, I don't want to talk to such a filmmaker. You know, he was trying to say that if that's your goal, then, you know, he, you know, it was he's a very he's a purist. You know, he's
Alex Ferrari 41:44
He's an artist. He's a pure artist. Yeah,
Tzvi Friedman 41:46
Yeah, it's pure artist. But But I think it's true. Even if you do want to make a living off filmmaking, you know, you're gonna be in for a lot of heartbreak, probably, again, I'm, I'm in the very beginnings of this, I can't really, you know, give like real sagely advice. But I just think from the little that I've little path that I've traveled is that just make just, you know, make films tried to believe in yourself and on. And, but again, like some people want to I again, I don't want to impose my my thing, because I had my I put it this way, I just did my thing. I wanted to make my kind of film. I made the film, I wanted to make some I got lucky. Some people recognized it, and they appreciated it. And that was that but but who knows, you know, Ridley Scott made his made his first his first feature at 40 years old again, again, he was a big commercial director. You could you could point to that. But there plenty I mean, David Lynch was like, 33 I think what he did a raise your head? And so who knows? You know, there is no, there's no path. Ad. Yeah, there is no path. That's basically the advice that there is not no advice.
Alex Ferrari 42:52
Yeah, it is. Yeah, I get asked all the time. What that is, is like, just do what you love to do. And try it just don't don't bet the house on it. Because this is a very difficult path, digital question. And I've talked to everybody from the biggest guys to, to, like, you know, people just starting out like yourself, and it's always about, you know, how do I get in? And what do I do? I'm like, you just got to do it. And, yeah, you'll meet someone, you'll connect with somebody, maybe someone you met not now, in six years, they'll open a door for you that you didn't know about. It happens, it's happened to me, it happens all the time. It's just it. That's the thing that's so frustrating about being a filmmaker. It's unlike being a doctor or lawyer they have those are direct paths to making a career. You know, an engineer like these are direct paths. Filmmaking is just like, it's like, it's like a musician or like, arts in general, there is no, there are some paths you can take, but like to be a filmmaker to be a director to tell stories like that. It's tough, man. It's tough. But Is it doable? I talk to people every day on the show that it worked out. You know, I was able to make a career out of it as well and, and still love to do what I love to do. It's just about doing it, man. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Tzvi Friedman 44:20
Hmm, I think, um, just as a director, what I found again, like there's no universal because the honest, that's the thing, the arts are so subjective, which is why there's such a diversity of artists in so many different paths in the art world, because it's not a science. It's not a doctor. So, you know, it's not like look for a surgeon. Yeah, like, he'll tell you, you know, don't move the knife left because you'll kill the person. But um, but for an artist is very different. But for me, personally, what I found is that I used to think I remember I used to be a big Ridley Scott guy.
Alex Ferrari 44:53
Oh, I mean, Blade Runner. I mean, Jesus Christ.
Tzvi Friedman 44:56
Yeah, Blade Runner is one of those, you know,
Alex Ferrari 44:59
Top 5 yeah, no, no, no question.
Tzvi Friedman 45:02
No other masterpiece. But anyways, I remember him saying like, you know how, you know, I storyboard everything. And you know, like, really? He's a tough guy. And premeditated, you know, and I remember being terrified, watching his interviews, he said, you know, if you're ninny, then this is not for you, like all the you know, and, and as I used to go into during the short, that's the, he says that it I remember seeing him say that, I remember, I would storyboard everything and just like, try to be like, very calculated, you know, and, and like, basically not let my actors breathe and, you know, be this tyrant on set, I'm going to be like Cameron and Scotland, you know, and again, it obviously it works for some for, for some people, but what I found, at least for the low budget world, is that oddly, ironically, it helps to sort of, like, let things go, like, for me, that's what I found, like, I was the biggest that I went from this feature, but this feature I came in with all these plans, and oh, boy, did I have to throw them away pretty quick, you know? Yeah. I found that, like, the magic for me happens when, when it you know, I'm avoiding the cliche of collaboration, but that's kind of what it is, like, you know, I got lucky my DP and I, we did two short films after the feature, I got like a really good relationship with Him in a really good relation with my editor, and my composer and the main actor, in my film, have a very, almost like a telepathic connection with him, you know, and we're able to sort of vibe with each other. It's kind of like a dance. And we just, you know, you have to leave, I think, for me, it's leaving room to just allow people to breathe, and let's try to let the movie sort of let it take its own form, let it come alive. It's like this organism that, you know, you only could control to a certain extent, and then you just let it live. And in fact, it ends up making the film better. I think, for me, when I allow the chaos, let the chaos take over. The chaos is good. It's not bad. You know? That's, for me. Probably the biggest creative lesson that I learned, you know,
Alex Ferrari 46:56
Fair enough. And three of your favorite films of all time.
Tzvi Friedman 47:01
And the there are none, but I could come up with three like very important films to me. Sure. Um, the 400 blows, I think would be one of my favorite films of all time Francois Truffaut. I would say I'd have to say, Christopher Nolan's Inception
Alex Ferrari 47:24
Tzvi Friedman 47:25
Yeah, I have to say that one. Um, and I would say Fellini's eight and a half. Again, this is the mood now you know, your top three change, you know,
Alex Ferrari 47:37
Oh, no, that's just the three right now. Yeah, like a band plays on by Fellini,
Tzvi Friedman 47:41
I asked me when I was 10 years old, it would have been Star Wars, Star Wars and Star Wars, you know, so it just changes but right now, as a as like a filmmaker, when you're studying the craft, those are the films that really, to me, are like the most important films to me at inception to me, at least of the modern era of movies that's like to me like the Citizen Kane, my city might what I consider the citizen game for me of modern cinema.
Alex Ferrari 48:04
Well, my friend, I appreciate you coming on and being raw and honest about your story. And I wish you nothing but the best I hope man does very well and in the scene out in the festival circuit. And I hope to have you back when you're doing the next big Marvel movie or something.
Tzvi Friedman 48:23
Yeah, it's been pretty thanks for having me on the show. And it's it I still can't get over it. I'm talking to you is pretty odd listening to this voice, you know, Indie Film Hustle Podcast Talking to you, it's just it's, it's cool. And it's an honor. And it's also like, is this real? But um, okay.
Alex Ferrari 48:43
I appreciate you, brother.
Tzvi Friedman 48:45
Likewise. Yeah. Great to meet you Alex.
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- IFH 534: Swingers, Scream & Rudy – The Art Of Producing With Cary Woods