Get ready for a crazy ride! On the show this week we have indie filmmaker and screenwriter, Kevin Lewis. He’s been active on the scene and directed several indie films between 1996 to the present. Kevin's vastest film is the trippy indie (soon to be a cult classic) feature, Willy’s Wonderland, starring the legendary Nicolas Cage.
Lewis has definitely paid his dues. He started out making films in Highschool with his VHS and Super 8 comers. Between the short film releases amongst his peers earlier on, to internships at Columbia Pictures, he was in the right position to secure a scholarship into USC Film School where he graduated from.
The Method, Lewis’ directorial debut was his first feature film right out of college. It is about four guys' college life centered around a theater production of a bank robbery and how to make it better.
In 2003, he directed and wrote Malibu Springbreak, about two Arizonan girls who headed out to the Malibu beaches for a spring break of partying and fun in the sun.
He met an actor on the set, Jeremy Daniel Davis who didn’t play a big role in the film, but Lewis stood up to producers and kept Davis's scene. Fast forward to some years later, Davis joined the production team of a project he was working on at the time and the two kept in contact.
The universe realigned and Davis popped up with the script of Willy’s Wonderland for Lewis out of the blue. This cosmic aligning of a movie, Willy’s Wonderland was directed by Kevin and released in Feb 2021, after his thirteen years of filmmaking sabbatical.
The action-comedy horror film stars Academy Award® Winner Nicolas Cage – A quiet drifter who is tricked into a janitorial job at the now condemned Willy's Wonderland. The mundane tasks suddenly become an all-out fight for survival against wave after wave of demonic animatronics. Fists fly, kicks land, titans clash — and only one side will make it out alive.
Get ready for a wild ride. Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Kevin Lewis.
Alex Ferrari 0:09
I'd like to welcome the show Kevin Lewis, man, how you doing Kevin?
kevin Lewis 0:16
Doing good, buddy. How you doing?
Alex Ferrari 0:17
Good man. I'm doing I'm doing as good as we can in this crazy world, man. But But thanks for being on the show. Man. We are going to get deep into your latest film. Whitley's Wonderland, which is just insane. It's, I can't wait to get into the deep, deep end of the pool on that. Before we get going, then how did you get started in the business?
kevin Lewis 0:42
So Alex, I am from Denver, Colorado, and I came out to St. Film School. And, and it's funny, you know, even before I started the film school, I got an internship at Linda oaks at Columbia Pictures of the studio. And I worked there and I went to film school and from there I interned with reading Harlan and john McTiernan,
Alex Ferrari 1:06
who, during those years already and john were both light at the time. veers did,
kevin Lewis 1:13
yeah. So what's funny is I interned with cutthroat Island and Last Action Hero, so I don't know I'm probably not a good luck charm, but
Alex Ferrari 1:22
I would get you off the set. So
kevin Lewis 1:27
it was kind of it was really cool. Like, I learned so much. I mean, at the core local building were ready was it was so funny, because like, downstairs, it was a new guys. And it was Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin. And, you know, like, they just did Stargate. Right. And I was in charge of like, you know, the scripts and like reading scripts and coverage and stuff. And, man, you know, I would also be in charge of taking the scripts down the infirmary and this red wagon, they were just piled high. And I would have to put them in the fire and burn them and you just felt so guilty, kind of depressed, because I was like, I was just seeing all these writers and you know, and actually, some are pretty big now, you know, but you putting their scripts in the fire is watching these this great work and sweat, blood, sweat and tears go up in flames. It was, it was like, welcome to Hollywood kid. You know,
Alex Ferrari 2:16
I never actually knew that was an actual bonfire that they actually it was
kevin Lewis 2:20
I took them I took them in and so yeah, but I learned a lot there. And, and then I, right out of film school, I made my first movie. The method was Sean Patrick Flannery and Robert Forster and Natasha Wagner. And we, we, we went and went slam dance with it, you know. And so that was my first movie, and we big borrowed and stole I got a panda vision camera from panda vision. They let us have that, you know, and I shot it in a couple weeks.
Alex Ferrari 2:50
You know, and, and this was in I think, if I shot this about 9596.
kevin Lewis 2:56
Yeah, yeah. Five. Yeah. So
Alex Ferrari 2:58
it was red. There was no alexes. It was 35 or nothing at that. At that point. Yeah. And when you were when you were coming up, and you were interning for Lenny and john, you were telling me off air that you also you also have a couple of run ins with Mr. Spielberg. And and Mr. Lucas as well.
kevin Lewis 3:18
And yes, I did. So I was on the set of I was I was at Sony. And that was when they were shooting hook and Dracula they directly after hook. And I ran a Mr. Spielberg and asked him if I could hang out with him and john Williams, and they were working on some of the post and he had cheeseburgers in his hands. He said, we're keeping it kind of private, but thanks. You know, and like I said, and you know, he could have a security guard escort me out, you know, but he was so nice. And then you know, Dracula, we snuck on a set of Dracula and thinking, yeah, I'm going to watch Gary Oldman work. It's gonna be amazing. And it was about five seconds before the first ad was like, get get what are you doing here? You know, but those were magical times, man. The studios were bustling. making movies. It was. It was pretty incredible. And you know, another cool thing too, is when I graduated, USC, Spielberg and Lucas, were the speakers at the graduation. They were getting honorary degrees. And they spoke to the whole graduation class. And then they went to the film school and stayed, spoke and gave out our diplomas. So I went and shook both of their hands. And I told Spielberg he's the reason I'm here. And he said, knock them dead kids. And that was just really, really special. I'm not I'm not a big on graphs and things like that. But I'll tell you another thing, one of my favorite directors, Sam Raimi. And so when I came out here, it's shrine. They used to have the conventions at the shrine, pop culture conventions, and so we went and he was signing Army of Darkness and I got the school. Exclusive poster with Bruce and everything and he signed it and he said, you know, Kevin looking for your name on the big screen, keep them rolling Sam Raimi? And then I was like, wow, and then down the road Bruce signed it and said, Kevin, ignore what this guy says below. But I saw the poster framed and you know, yeah, I'm not a big autograph fan. Like I said, My my, my grandfather was Tom Telly and he was in the Caine Mutiny with Humphrey Bogart he was that the actually the cast that that Humphrey Bogart replaces and he was known for a lot of world war two movies you'd like the tough Irishman destination Tokyo and stuff and interesting enough he he got blacklisted him and like King Vidor, john wayne actually asked them are you gonna vote for McCarthy? It was all that era and he says no your business and labeled him a communist. And he didn't get worked for years and then he got picked up work with Danny Thomas did a variety show and hired my grandfather. But why I'm saying that is because I remember growing up with my mom and she was had books of these autographs of her Charlton Heston her his little girl like all these amazing actors, and it Cary Grant, all these just incredible on their lap. And so I just would look at it, you know, and it'd be like, you know, the right, you know, their autographs, you know, and so, I was just never, never a big fan, but with Sam Raimi, that was just something special, you know, and, of course meeting, meeting, Mr. Lucas, and Spielberg, you know, like, come on, right.
Alex Ferrari 6:34
Right, exactly. I'm not a big autograph guy either. But like I was telling you before and like I got back here, of course, our graph in the back. I didn't, I didn't, I didn't actually get him to autograph in front of me. I wish I would have been a thing but I just bought because it's secure. Of course, our The only other The only other autograph that we probably ever want to buy Stanley Kubrick, and that would probably be I will. And I've looked into it and I'm like, I can't really justify that price right now. So your
kevin Lewis 7:04
favorite Kubrick film?
Alex Ferrari 7:06
This is a I love it. I absolutely love Eyes Wide Shut. I'm a fan of all of his films, but for whatever reason, Eyes Wide Shut really got underneath my skin and it stayed there ever since I saw it as an as an adult. I thought when it came out and I did fine. Which was a quote unquote a dog was in my 20s I didn't count that as an adult yet. My life at least. But But Eyes Wide Shut. There's just something about that movie really just got into me and all of his films. Just take a hook into you. Like, I mean, I watched I watched Clockwork Orange differ. That was a year ago and I was watching the first 20 minutes. I'm like, it's like a 20 year old did that today. It holds? It's in no way. You imagine a studio releasing that today? Can you imagine? Oh?
kevin Lewis 7:59
No. One of my favorite movies 2001 Can you imagine that? And it's so funny because I was talking to a friend of mine. I'm like, okay, so if they did 2001 today like the Donna man sequence is cut, it's gone. It opens up. And you know, they're they're checking the monolith out the mother's attacking right? It's like attacking the first 30 minutes of the movie. And you got Clooney, right? You got Clooney, and like the voice the monolith will be like Brad Pitt or something. Right? You know, and then like the whole, like the stars tell secrets. Forget that. Like, that's, that's, that's us. huge fight with between two words and CGI, you know, like, even never make that movie ever. It's like, that's my favorite movie.
Alex Ferrari 8:41
It's a miracle that that movie got made when it got made. And, and it it only made a lot of money. Because of the time it came out. People started getting high and tripping and going. And it became a huge hit it found the zoo how
kevin Lewis 8:56
they would go. Yeah. college kids. yes
Alex Ferrari 8:58
And that's how that's how it became so they would get
kevin Lewis 9:01
do we could talk they would get high IQ? I don't know, we got so much.
Alex Ferrari 9:07
I don't know. I mean, we I could do a whole Cooper. I mean, as I could talk to everyone, everyone who listens to this or knows my, my most of goobric. And I've gone deep, deep, deep deep down the rabbit hole. So I can I can talk to days about his filmography go into the deep crevices of it. But anyway, so I wanted to tell you about the method, your first film, you worked with Robert forester. I worked with Robert as well, on a film that I did, and I you know, and you work with Robert tree, Jackie Brown. So he was still he was Robert knowers. But people have forgotten about him. And he's the first to that he was the first to say this. And that was before quitting, kind of pull them pull them back out and like Hey, everybody, this is a really good acting gadget you're looking at? Yes. Yeah. So you worked with them before. I worked with them in 2010 And oh, my God, man, what up when a pro? Didn't class? He gives you the the letter opener.
kevin Lewis 10:11
You know what? No, actually he did not.
Alex Ferrari 10:13
You know? You know that story?
kevin Lewis 10:16
Yes, yes. He gives that. Yes. So what's interesting is he came on. And it was funny because he's like, you know, Hey Kevin, he news, the low budget movie and he's like, I would have done this for free if I would have known, you know, and it's like, oh, no, but it was so funny. So I'm sitting there, and I'm working with them. And I'm like, okay, so you know, Shawn's gonna come in here and you're going to, and I just stopped. I was like, Oh, my God, you were Dan from the black hole. And he's like, Yes, I was Kevin, you know, and I'm like, I'm like a geek moment. Black Hole. I love black hole. I don't care what anyone says. I love that movie. All the TVs and all the figures. JOHN Barry scores. Awesome. Yeah, you know, and, and I'm like, I'm like, okay, I could go totally like Chris Farley here. I got like, rein it in. So I was like, okay, that's cool. Okay, so anyway, so I was like, Oh, my God,
Alex Ferrari 11:10
you know? And it dawned on me, because before, this is pre IMDb, so you really not really like it only? And did you just like, wait a minute. She was like, oh,
kevin Lewis 11:22
cuz you do like a line reading with me. You know? And I was like, Okay, then. Okay. Robert. And he was like, Oh, my God, you know, and he was just, he was just the coolest. And I would run into it, Robert, it at that time he was with, he was telling about quitting. He was going I think the swinkels or single I was swears. It was in LA. It's the diner and he was witness. Yeah, there you go. Yeah. Okay. And Quentin was talking about, you know, the script, and he's going to do it. And he was like, Ah, you know, we'll see you never know, whatever. And how cool is quitting man to do that, you know, and I was so happy for him. I
Alex Ferrari 11:58
heard I heard, I heard. Robert was telling me when we were working together, he's like, I know, how was it to, like, get on to, like, how did you get on Jackie Brown was quitting because it was, I mean, it's quitting second, or third movie. And, and basically, he, he could do whatever he wanted after Pulp Fiction. Yeah, he can do anything. And he picked Jackie Brown to do it. And he's like, Robert Taylor is quit and Quinn's. Like, I think I'm gonna cast you as as part. He's like, Rob Roberts, I was put into splitting I, I don't think they're gonna let you cast me. In this part. It's too big. And quitting turns them, I cast whoever I want. And at that moment, Robert goes, Oh, I'm back, baby. It's great. So
kevin Lewis 12:43
Robert, that's awesome.
Alex Ferrari 12:45
He was just like, great. Oh, my God. I think I'm gonna get another shot at this. And he wrote, and he wrote, I mean, Oscar nomination and he had made from that point on, I mean, even Orman's in the breaking bad movie that was unjustly, or I think that amazing stories. So anytime I see Robert, I just stop and watch him. Yeah, it was so amazing to work with him. I think at that point in my career, which is looking like, what, 11 years 1112 years ago when I was working with him. I've worked with good actors, but had worked someone like Robert yet. You were the guy like him like he came in prep. He had taken time. He's worked hard. And you're just like, that's an old school. Like just flashback.
kevin Lewis 13:31
That's old school. That's right. last
Alex Ferrari 13:34
act craftsmanship. And he came in and just and I directed them to three things he was doing do for me on this thing. And he's like, Are we done? I'm like, we were done in the first time. I just kind of want you to celebrate. It's so amazing. That's awesome. Well, yeah, so that was our connection to the method was so cool. That's a great
kevin Lewis 13:59
Alex Ferrari 14:00
So um, so men your new film, bro? Willie's Wonderland. You know, I literally just watched it before we came on before we came on zoom because I wanted to do really fresh on it. Dude, How the hell did that movie come from?
kevin Lewis 14:17
Well, it's really interesting. So just Davis who played siren Sara. She was in an acting class with Gio Parsons, who wrote the script. And he first read the script. And she took it to her husband, Jeremy Daniel Davis. And he read the script and he loved it. And he optioned it and then he brought it to me. And I go back with Jeremy way back. And you know, I like to I love to tell the story to a movie called Malibu spring break is for crowded entertainment. And that you know, in the 80s they were known for like my tutor and all the TNA movies Gala. Deena that was like their star wars and I I wrote the movie in like, two days, three days, I shot at nine. And you know, you know, when you're working, you know, looking at, you know, Director looking for work, man, you know, you take it, you know, and I just really believe like, the more you get behind the camera, the better and it's not like now where you can go and shoot something with a red or your iPhone. It's like, like you said, Alex was like, it was a 35 millimeter I shot. Malibu Spring Break 35 millimeter, you know what I mean? So anyways, I did that movie. And I met this actor, Jeremy. And I put him in with his first movie. And it was great young, young kid, whatever. And I promised him this the scene that we're going to do, like improv scene. And near the end of producers want to wrap it up and whatever. And I was like, You know what, I promised him this thing. I'm going to do it. And we did it. And flash forward years later, I'm working on another project. I'm working with another producer. And he's like, yeah, you know, Jeremy. And I was like, Jeremy, Jerry Davis. He's like, yeah. And Jerry came in, and we reconnected and he actually tried to help me with this movie I had Mads Mickelson attached to do. And he tried to help me with this film, you know, unfortunately, didn't pan out. So years later, Jeremy brings the willies, you know? And what's funny about that, it's like, if I didn't do Malibu spring break, I wouldn't be here talking to you, buddy. You know, and, you know, everybody sometimes like, Well, you know, you shouldn't do this. I remember an agent told me, your career is, you know, going to be defined on the work you turned down rather than the work you do. I was like, I think that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life. Right? Like, who's gonna know what you turn down? Like, I was just not in that, you know, I wasn't in that position to turn it down. And anyways, the point being, and you know, it's funny, because I made the method and it went to slam dance and got distribution. It did. Okay. And then I made a movie called downward Angel. And with Matt Shultz who get the detachment theorists, and actually I we cut a cut a reel for him in the show, Rob Cohen's, will you get that? That job? And Jonathan banks from Breaking Bad there, and then we made that movie. And what was cool at that, at that time, blockbuster was alive and well. And so we made it, you know, for a really low, low budget, and that we sold the blockbuster for like four times as much. And actually, on there was a Hollywood Reporter, and it said, the killer bees. And it was like the president of blockbuster. And he had contaminated man poster with William Hurd on one side and downward Angel on the other, you know, and it's like, it was just the coolest, you know, so I did that. And I worked with and then, you know, I just I did Malibu and but you know, like I said, I wouldn't talk to you here it wasn't. And so when people say, well, they're filmmakers, or should I do this? Right? Yes, you should, you know, go out and make make movies, whatever you can do. Now, the technology is there. You don't need, you know, the 16 mil and a 35, which are great. You don't need it. Now. You've got you have an iPhone, even, you know, like, go write your scripts work on your stuff, you know, if that's what you want to do. So I was in that mentality of just you got to do it, you want to do it, you do it by any means necessary. And that's how I've always kind of operated.
Alex Ferrari 18:11
Yeah, so I mean, and perfect example is Peter Jackson, you know, his first film with Africa, that is to stay alive or bad taste bad taste, though bad taste that
kevin Lewis 18:24
Alex Ferrari 18:24
that taste and he did this, which is exactly what its title is, it is extremely bad taste. It's a really Rocky, or bad or B movie level kind of effects. And yet he goes on to juice, Lord of the Rings when the Oscars and all that stuff. And I remember hearing the story, you know, I heard this already that Peter Jackson when he was when he got hired by Bob Shea at new line to do. Lord of the Rings. Bob Shea hadn't seen bad taste yet. So he signed the deal. He's prepping and then all of a sudden someone walks in. It's like, yeah, this is your director. And they showed him bad days. And he's like, Oh, my God, what have we done? So like, How so? But obviously worked out. But you know, that was any cause from bad taste to $450 million. Shooting three movies in a row that no one really had done anything at that level before. I was insane. It was an insane thing, but I agree with you. 100% I did a lot of stuff when I was coming up as a director as an editor. I mean, sometimes just whatever they men pay the bills. gotta gotta you know puzzle. Yeah.
kevin Lewis 19:39
Yeah. And, and that's the thing. It's like, and again, I'm not I it's like you talk about Peter Jackson. And I'm not comparing you know, it's so funny. We live in this world now where to me everything. You have to be kind of a disclaimer, right? So it's like, I'm not comparing myself to these guys. Okay, so I'm not but you know, James Gunn started with trauma. trauma, right? Yep. You James Cameron doing Parana, right, Roger Corman. And you know, Purana I mean, it's like, you got to start out somewhere. I mean, not all of us could be, and I, God bless him, and I love him, and he's deserves everything like Christopher Nolan. You know, like, every movie, the guy does just amazing, even following his first movie I loved you know, and so, you know, I mean, and so that's the thing. It's like, there's just so many different ways, right in this business and how you do it, you know, and I always felt like I was gonna work myself up, I was a workman's, the workman's director, that's how I felt, you know, I wasn't gonna be this guy who just makes real wonder kid, you know, early and just hit this movie. And I just know, I just never felt that you know, and, and so it's so refreshing to have Willies. Because, you know, I never really had a budget on my movies. And even this movie is not big budget compared to what we talked about and what movies everyone sees. It's funny, it's one of my films, dark heart, it was at a film festival. And I remember everybody leaving and heard someone saying why, like, dark night better, you know, and I was like, Well, you know, I like dark night better, too. It's Christian Bale. And, and Christopher Nolan, you know, and Heath Ledger, and it's a $200 million movie, right? So mine was the catering budget, there wasn't even the catering budget on that. So the thing is, it's like, you know, now I got Willies. And, you know, again, then I shot in 20 days. Okay. And you'd appreciate you'd appreciate this as a director, I wrote, I did a 70 page shot list. For every sequence of the movie, the whole script shot listed, shot for shot,
Alex Ferrari 21:39
and how to get the can and how much of it is you get after you get in the kid.
kevin Lewis 21:44
Alex Ferrari 21:45
Nice. That's, that's really good. Because I always show up with like, I got 50 shots for this season. And then the first day he goes, That's nice. And then at the end of it, I got I got 10 I got 10. I got 20%. So I always over press on certain scenes, as you said,
kevin Lewis 22:05
yeah, we had that the first day do is like, Kevin, you get a 40 day shoot here, you know, but the thing is, is like I can condense them, whatever. But it's still with the shortlist going in. And you know, it's so funny. It's so funny, too, because we were talking about was like Lawrence of Arabia in the morning and the Dukes of Hazzard in the evening. So it's like, you know, you're sitting up these shots for the punch, Poppy, beautiful shots, you know, and then you realize after lunch, you still have five pages left, right, you're like, Alright, alright, let's just
Alex Ferrari 22:37
kevin Lewis 22:38
We're gonna get a handheld, and we're going to run around. So I knew like going in, I'm like, No, I don't want to fall in that trap. So I
Alex Ferrari 22:46
had a great, great analogy, Lawrence of Arabia in the morning.
kevin Lewis 22:51
totally right. And so basically, it was like, you know, I would work with my dp and the production designer, and everybody and everyone was on the same page on this film. And everybody showed up with a smile on their face in the morning and left at the evening. And I feel like you can tell on the movie, like we were having fun. It's a very self aware movie. It's called Willie's Wonderland. I'm not trying to make some big statement about the universe. You know? I just want people to have fun, you know, check their brain at the door. And just go on the ride with with Nick and these eight crazy psychopathic animatronics, you know? And so that's
Alex Ferrari 23:31
so for everyone listening because not everyone has seen the trailer yet or seen. Can you tell us what the movie is about?
kevin Lewis 23:40
Okay, so yes, it's about this drifter that drives up into a small town. His car breaks down, need to get it fixed. And he has no money and so they make a deal with him. They're opening this kid's place like a Chucky cheese want to be called Willie's Wonderland. It was a defunct was opened decades ago. And they're reopening it and they say, Hey, we clean it for us. They'd be cleaned for us. We'll get your car fixed. He agrees. And he goes in and mayhem ensues, you know, that's when they got the wrong guy.
Alex Ferrari 24:10
They got Nick Cage. Right, exactly. And when mayhem ensues, it's basically killer animatronics coming after, like, your animal. So the concept is, it's very, it's a very high concept. Pretty, pretty straightforward.
kevin Lewis 24:28
Not Not a lot of high concepts, right?
Alex Ferrari 24:34
It's straightforward. I didn't love about the movie. You're absolutely right. It is extremely self aware. So it's you. It's not like watching the room, which is completely not self aware. And it doesn't know what to do that but
kevin Lewis 24:47
I really want to see that I love Franco's movie the disaster are living through. But no, I've never seen it. It's on my list. The disaster artists reminded me of the days like we were talking about making a method and The glorious 90s like, it's just I love that movie. So I want to do the room.
Alex Ferrari 25:05
Alright, so when I talk, alright, so everyone now is going to go, oh god, he's going to get into the room. Now, I'm not going to get into the room, guys. But in fact, this is what you have to do. You can't watch the room alone. You can't. It is, it will be a horrible, horrible, horrible experience. So either you if you can't have people over, do it virtually. But if you cannot talk to other people, and it's even better if you can talk to other filmmakers, if you can talk to other filmmakers while you're watching it. That's what makes the movie fun. Because if you just didn't watch it, you like this, this is really bad. Like this is extremely bad. And everything you see in the disaster artists is there. It's all true. It's all true. And out and I'll tell you my connection to the room after after we get off there because the audience is really hard. But But yes, don't. That's the mistake. Don't ever watch it alone. Like I made the mistake of watching troll two, which is a really bad, worst movies about them by myself. And I felt dead inside when I left. But I like I know I swear to God, I felt like a little bit a little bit of my soul was taken from me. And when I walked in, it was so horrendously bad. I was offended to my soul. And I felt dark inside. It was just like, it's so bad. It was it was not like the room. Like when you watch the room it is you're just you feel so good. That's why it keeps going because people love it. There's so much fun and it's again, I will stop about the rope. So Alright, so now we're back to Willie's Wonderland. So let's go back to how did you get Nick Cage man like? And before we begin, and before you answer that, can we all agree that Nick cages is a national treasure? Let's just put that right out there right now. Nick Cage is a national stripper.
kevin Lewis 26:50
For sure. He He's a genre to himself, right. I mean,
Alex Ferrari 26:54
that's awesome. That's a great way to get in the cage. Yeah.
kevin Lewis 26:58
Yeah. It's like, Okay, what do you got? What do you got? I got a sci fi movie. I got a horror movie. But I got a Nick Cage movie. It's like, Okay, give me the Nick Cage movie. Right. So basically, what happened is Joe geo wrote the script, he did a great job with the script. We developed it with them, Jeremy and I. And you know, we got a casting director, we made an offer to his manager, Mike nylon, might not even liked it and passes in Nick and Nick liked it, and they became producers on it. And I'd tell you right now, I've said this before, but I'll say it again, Nick is three things then. You know, we know he's an Academy Award winner. No, he's an amazing actor. Like that's like done right. But he is a fantastic partner to do a picture with to work with day to day to try to get something off the ground and make it an inch shoot it with him like amazing, him and Mike every step of the way. supportive. And the third thing is he's just a damn good guy, man, like Nick's Nick is the real deal. He is solid. And I'm a big believer and she had Mason on corny to people. But when you meet Nick, you can just feel the energy. And he's true, man. He's no BS, you know, x, there were times man. Like, you'll appreciate this, again, making films like we would set up with second team and I'd have the stuff I'd have to double in you know, and double or stand in. And it'd be like holding the punch box we'd be you know, checking the focal length of the lens or that Nick would just come in and hold it. Okay, he wasn't in his trailer. You know, he wasn't he was there with us the camera crew right there. He was in a video village. He was there. And I can't tell you how supportive we didn't get in one creative disagreement. We saw the movie I I he worked his tail off, you know, with the fight scenes, was there in the gym in the mornings. It just work in it man, you know, never late to set you know, always on time always prepared, always ready to go. always pushing, always trying to figure out what how we do it the best way. Like, I've got nothing. I mean, I can just go on and on for hours about Nick Cage. He deserves everything he has and more. I just I love that guy and could have made this movie without him. You know, really.
Alex Ferrari 29:14
And and what I love about Nick man is he is he is a national treasure. And he is in that he's become I don't know if he's always been this but he's very self aware of who he is. And his brand and what he's doing. He's extremely self aware of of me. Netflix show the history of personhood, which is like, Well, of course Nick Cage has the host that like to do that.
kevin Lewis 29:43
He's a movie lover man like us, like he'll be here. You're just he's like, he loves movies. You know, and that's what you get with Nick too. It's like, he's a film fan just like us, man, you know, and he, he gets it. You know, I'm not actors would have shied away from this part. You know, and it's a challenging part. And I was just, I was so happy that he that he just knew, we just knew I had a gut feeling Alex that he was going to want to do this movie. I just, like, I just think he's gonna get it. It's going to get it. He's, you know, a lot of actors, I can save lives, you know,
Alex Ferrari 30:18
right. And he was like, it's right down his alley and he says, this is a strike down write down in this. I heard a story with Werner Herzog when he was directing Nick in Bad Lieutenant to your piece that he said that it I think this was in his masterclass even when there's masterclass. He was saying a story that he was, he went on, on onset and he didn't have a shot like Warner's corner was one of her thoughts. Yeah, doing stuff that was a little bit. And if you remember that movie, it's pretty it's pretty
kevin Lewis 30:51
off the big wanna write with a wide angle lens.
Alex Ferrari 30:56
All that kind of craziness. And, and I think that was wrong. I think the crew wasn't with Werner. And, and, and I think he was fighting the crew a bit if I remember the story correctly. All I remember Africa is that at lunch or something like that, Nick, got up on the table or on top of the car, and he addressed the entire coronas. Like, I'm finally working with a director who's got a set of balls on him and who's brave, who's a true filmmaker, and bla bla bla, and just completely built him up. And it's one of the hertog I mean, at that point, his career. Bar, Nick wanted to support what this this this madness that Werner was doing, because that's the kind of look you signed? up. Maybe that's what you can get. Yeah, exactly. They're guilty, though. Like, yeah, yeah. Yeah. No, don't look for anything. Don't look for goodwill hunting. Isn't that Warner? Or Terry, you're gonna get those different kinds of films. That's why
kevin Lewis 31:54
you hire these guys. That's why you hire these guys. Yeah, no, I totally. I totally believe that. You know, another great story with Nick is the last day of shooting for him. For lunch, he hung out in the dining room, the set, and he signed anybody and everybody's stuff from the cast and crew, posters, DVDs, whatever. He took his whole lunchtime to do it pictures with everything. I mean, that's just, I mean, come on, right. Like,
Alex Ferrari 32:24
he's just the coolest. That's amazing. All right. So say we were talking earlier about you directing Robert and going, Oh, my God, you're the guy from the black hole. What was that moment for you with Nick? Because I mean, I'm assuming, you know, there's a couple of movies and Nick's filmography that you probably are a fan of just like pull the Kalam I'm directing the cake. How does that work? within yourself? How did you deal with that? And what was there a moment Did you? Did you mean cuz you were working with another producer? Did you get what I want moment? Did you finally geek out? Or did you never get in front of it? No,
kevin Lewis 32:58
it's cool. Like, when I met him, I built a you really clicked and we did he did wardrobe, you know, and we got the Willie shirt on him. And we're picking the jacket and everything and I just felt really good. We walked around set showing him. We I know it was Nick Cage. But you know, he's an actor in the movie. And he carrying the movie out explained to him the vision of it, given my shot list, you know, as I hey, man here, you know. Yes. I mean, there's parts of you that go oh, my God is Nick Cage. But I knew that we had a movie to do. And the coolest thing for Nick was like the first day so the first day we shot all the driving stuff, okay? outdoors, because that we shot everything outside Willies, because they're still we're still getting Willie's prep for this on the soundstage. And I'll never forget Alex he, I did the first take and it was just awesome was him with the drinks and whatever. But the first take actually was him with with Emily given the punch, pop. And I was like, that was great. And then we got him doing the whole opening with the car and stuff. And I'll never forget when I said make this great look at this shot. And it was the wide shot of the car and him with the with the tree. And he was looking at it. He was always looks great, whatever. And I'll never forget when he's like, well, we're in it now. And I was like, Yes, we are like we're in it now. And you could just tell like it's just he's such a team player man. And and I mean, and this is just yet.
Alex Ferrari 34:27
And I've heard stories of guys. I his level was actually First of all, no one's at Nick's level. But he's got Yeah, sure.
kevin Lewis 34:36
Alex Ferrari 34:37
but actors who are accomplished, who are that kind of, you know, box office level. Players who are nothing repaints with the actors who helped destroy films that they're on because of their attitude and their and their work ethic and things like Oh, that's
kevin Lewis 34:53
great. Oh, man, I it's so funny because a couple of weeks ago, I read an article. It was the Director of Hoosiers and he was talking about Gene Hackman and I love gene. I think Gene Hackman is a national treasure. I love gene man. And I was reading this article, and it was just like, Gene, I made everything miserable, I guess, you know, and I was reading it. I was just reflecting on myself and going, how would I have handled this right? How I was like, God, Nick was just so the opposite, you know, and, you know, He spoiled me man, like, you know, and I've worked with other actors and divas and things like that. And so I kind of know that too. But then it's like, you know, life's too short. You know, to do that, in my book, I, I like happy sets, man. I like when the crew enjoys each other. And we're, like a family. You know, I just feel like the best work comes from that. There's other directors that like chaos, they just work in chaos, and that's who, or actors or whatever, like, that's what they do. And they, and they, they thrive on that, you know, but I'm a very positive person. I like positivity. I'm not a big fan of the negativity. Especially, you know, I was, I'm lucky to be here talking to you. I was in the hospital with COVID pneumonia. And I almost didn't make it, buddy.
Alex Ferrari 36:06
Oh, man, I'm
kevin Lewis 36:07
sorry. Yeah, I got I was in it for two weeks. And I got released right before the movie came out. And I was, I was in bad, bad shape. And, you know, it really just brought everything to light on so many levels. But the point is, is that life is just too dang short, man. You know, and I used to, I used to, like, even stress out like, all the movies coming out, like I got to see everything. And I'm not a film fan. And what if I don't see everything and stuff? And it's like, there's so much out now with content. I was really worried that worried about Willie's? Like, how do we break through the mold? Right? How do we, how do we do that? And I was like, you know, Kevin, just stay true. And just make the best movie. You can you know, and, and so like, now, it's like, you know, there's so many films like I don't even care about anymore, man. Like, I can't see everything. You know, I can't do it. It's like, I look at my blu ray collection still, but I'm a huge physical media fan. You know, and I'm like, you know, if I just sat down to watch all these movies again, I wouldn't make it right. You know, like, so it's like, I just, you know, you know what we're doing Nick and stuff. You just enjoy those moments, man. Like, that was such a was an amazing time. It was before COVID. I mean, we wrap February 28. I was on a plane back home to Orange County, March 1 on a Sunday, and then two weeks, I believe. COVID le shut down. I went to the cutting room that Monday and worked with my editor for two weeks, and then we got shut down. So we all had to do this moon remote post, you know,
Alex Ferrari 37:38
um, and that's crazy. And then when you actually when one thing I was, as I say I love Nick's character in it, and by the way, the way the movie breaks through, it's extremely simple. It's nutcase beating the hell out of Chucky cheese. I mean, let's just put it that that which was a patch that you had me at hello, like, it's like, Okay, got it. But what I love about Nick's characters, one, he's never had to memorize less dialogue. Because, you know, he doesn't have dialogue at all, which I'm assuming probably also, as an actor, he probably was like, I've never has he ever done a movie, I'd know that I don't think he ever had. No,
kevin Lewis 38:23
I think that was one of the attractions you wanted. He was channeling Charles Bronson from once upon a time in the West. That's one of his favorite movies. And yeah, right. And then we're talking about other films. Like, again, I love drive. Like, it's one of my favorite movies of the decade. Like I love that movie. And if you think about Ryan Gosling's character, like he doesn't talk much, but he does talk. Okay, but you know, and I was thinking like Mads and bahala, rising, you know, like, he didn't talk a lot. I think at the end, he does, but it was like, cat What? I don't know, man, you know, we're film buffs. Like, have you thought about? How could you count on on five fingers? How many characters in these films and not talk? Like, I think it's pretty rare, right?
Alex Ferrari 39:09
It's extremely rare, especially having an actor of his caliber doing it as well. Which it's now I can't remember an actor not speaking at all in the entire film. Other than the occasional grunts which well that's in the cage grow because I've heard that 1000 times. Yeah. It's when he's fighting, which is great. Um, but I also love about Nick's character in the movie his which was called just called the janitor. There is no name to it. Or not the janitor the it the janitor?
kevin Lewis 39:38
I saw the janitor is the janitor.
Alex Ferrari 39:42
Which is great. After that, he is never scared. Yeah, yeah, just a matter of fact about it. That is such a I don't know if that was in the script, or if that's something that you brought to the table. But what that was you and Nick but I love that. He's not saying There's a giant animatronic guy preacher trying to kill him. He's like, oh, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah. I gotta take my break. And like, it was just so what's out, but he's just like, gotta go. Yeah,
kevin Lewis 40:14
I love that too. And that was in the script. And I, you know, it's funny because you see reviews, it's like, I wanted to see Nick Kay's running around, like, you know, hiding from these guys and like figuring out how to find like, who wants to see that man? I know. I know. So. No, no, this movie. So the the buzz words for me. Every time I was like, I were making this movie. It was always punk rock and a rave at two in the morning. Like, that was like my vibe of this movie. And it was a midnight movie. It was a movie. When we went saw Evil Dead two, we drove an hour and a half out to see it. And as some Podunk theater, right. That was it was a Midnight Madness film. That's what I wanted on this movie. And I love I love that he's not flinching and everything I just think that's great. It's so it turns the genre kind of on its head to be honest with you, you know, because that's what you're expecting, right? You're expecting hiding out and whatever, then they're going to, they're going to work on like do the will have a MacGyver scene where they build a weapon to fight the creatures, you know, in a team with a team where they got you know, like,
Alex Ferrari 41:23
like my favorite. He did it because they shot totally, they were horrible shots, horrible shots. I think one person died in the entire series. I still remember it because it was such a shock when someone that the demo was thrown out. I went out and that guy died. I'm like, wait a minute, someone died. Like it was frequently because there was even a great, there was everything.
kevin Lewis 41:44
Literally, and it was always a montage of the music and Mr. T like, picking the battle? You know, George part did Oh, so like we kind of had that like, Nick. Nick's hiding out, you know, and then he's got the kids and then they're gonna
Alex Ferrari 41:57
sell it. Man, that's, uh, you you leaned into this so well, because other directors might have pulled back and said, You know, I need that scene where Nick is fighting? Like, no, you understood the story, Nick understood the story of like, Look, Nick Cage versus Chucky cheese. That's at the end of the demonic Chucky cheese. That's it guys, that's this is not a deeper than that. Let's go down that road. And if we if you nailed that you've got a strike.
kevin Lewis 42:28
And you can embrace embrace it, right? embrace it. And, and that's how I felt too. Like, you know, I had 20 days to shoot, like I said, and so, you know, I didn't care. It was we had a shopping cart. like to use it for a shot. Like, I don't get old school. Like we're just going to get these you know, and that's kind of how I did it. Let's turn our weaknesses into strengths. You know, we don't have I don't have a techno crane. Okay, I don't have all the fun these tools. I don't care. We'll figure it out. But be what Sam do, you know, and how inventive he was? Right. And so that's how I kind of approached it. You know, and I approached it. Really with the, you know, one of my favorite movies about making movies is the big picture with kevin bacon. Bacon. Yes.
Alex Ferrari 43:11
What an amazing movie. Oh, well,
kevin Lewis 43:15
Christopher Guest I think directed it. I love that movie. And I remember the poster I have it. And he's in a shopping cart with a camera, you know, and that was I was like, that was like my every time I thought about like that was Willie's that's how I wanted to do it. I want to do Grindhouse, you know, just old school practical effects, you know, 80s vibe, you know, return Living Dead, Evil Dead, all those, you know, and even though there's a place in the 80s it's got it's just got the soul. You know,
Alex Ferrari 43:48
there's no way I was gonna ask you about that because the music is tapped into massage with the music, the music is very thin, and has that kind of vibe to it. And I was like, Oh, he's in obviously, you know, the old video games and the and that was from a call of duty. Well, just the whole concept. The whole thing look like there's something made out of the pharmacy. Yeah, yeah. I mean, those those those kind of places are throwbacks from the 80s. I mean, they might still be around today. Not as much today with COVID. But they they're just throwback, that's when they started and that's kind of in the creepiness because if you look at the you know, you look at those old places and let's just call it the it's just so you look at Chucky cheese, and those those giant rat moving around, and you're it's freaky, dude. And when I first saw the animatronic guys show up when I first saw them on the screen, I'm like, Oh, that's creepy. And but the thing is that it just makes so much sense. Have you ever been in a Chucky cheese? And if you've been to an old school Chucky cheese like back in the late 90s Gee, that creepy man, they were creepy. They were not they were Disney FIDE. They were just Yes. Creepy. It's
kevin Lewis 44:59
good. So, you know, I grew up with Showbiz Pizza. So like the Rockefeller explosion and all that, and I had so many birthday parties there and went to so many birthday parties there. And so when I read the script, I was like, This is showbiz man. And then it evolved into Chucky cheese, right? And I got four kids. So two of them are teens to them, or five and seven, two boys, two little guys. And so they've all gone to Chuckie cheese. And what's so funny is, you know, right before shooting, I was like, let's go to Chucky cheese, I need to do research. And I'm like, I can't go alone, or I'll be escorted out by the cops who does a pedophile, right? So check it out little kids and their birthday party. So like, I need you kids. Now you've got to go. And it was just cool. Because I was really concerned with tapping into the psyche of these animals. Like you just said, they're creepy, but why are they creepy? Like what? What really, and I, I was watching kids and stuff. And then I would I was thinking about what I was through. And I was going on the net and looking at stuff and and I was like it right movie, it was a great movie. But like, Why are clowns creepy, you know, and stuff. And I think it's the ambivalence. I think it's that you're supposed to it's supposed to be this kitty and friendly. But like with a clown. It's got the white face right then and it does feel
Alex Ferrari 46:12
kevin Lewis 46:13
That's right. dead eyes, athletes and the animatronics that these big eyes and mouth. There's music playing. There's audio playing dialogue playing, but it's not synced up right? The mouse just moving right. And the eyes are just blinking. And so Ken Hall did such a great job with the creatures. And that was one of my big things I want to big eyes and a mouth. And so he put pulleys inside the suits. It was stuck men and women in the suits. And they would move the pulleys and the eyes would blink and the mouse would open. That was big for me. Because that to me show that these are real animatronics. They weren't, you know, CG or puppets or whatever we we didn't have, you know, it's funny starting out. It's like, well, we're gonna build this animatronics. It's like, yeah, we're gonna eat our 2d tattoos on set with the remote control and indie level film like, no way. Actually, what's kind of cool is I saw this live skit, and it was with Tom Hanks. He was a guest star. It was Bill Hader, and they played this like Pop and Lock thing in his Tunnel of Love. And I'm in America. So
Alex Ferrari 47:16
kevin Lewis 47:18
That's what I showed everybody. I said we could do this, we get dancers or stunt people, we put them in the suits. And we'll make this work, you know. And so that was kind of my vision, always. But I was so worried I didn't want people to watch this moving on. I just got dudes in suits. It's guys and girls in suits, like this is lame. And so if you notice, like, I never shoot like really, really full frame until like the end, you know, because I wanted bits and pieces and the light lighting was very key. So that really kept me up at night. Because I just didn't want these animatronics to look like it's just there's the budget, you know, puppets, you know, algae was a puppet. But I didn't want them to look like just cheesy, you know, there was a segment and a sea monster vibe I wanted but I just didn't want to go all the way there. Right? And so there's, we call this movie a tightrope movie, it really walks a fine line. It could have been a really bad movie, you know it, you know, and some people think it is, but I I just feel like yeah,
Alex Ferrari 48:15
like I feel everyone everyone is when it comes to critics and people with their films. I heard I heard a great quote the other day, there's like, you should never take advice from someone about your film who's never made a film. And Wow, it's so true. My friend number nine said that. It's so true because at the end of the day, like I'll read a quote about one of my films or all that and I always tell people like you feel bad about reviews you type in Shawshank Redemption, bad review, type in Star Wars bad review, type in godfather review. I mean, I remember seeing Lucas on the set of Phantom Menace with a T shirt of a bad review of Star Wars. Like he literally printed really view on his shirt. He's walking around with a bad review of Star Wars on a shirt. And he's like, you know, like, how much crap is George gone over the years? For? Yeah,
kevin Lewis 49:12
sure. You know,
Alex Ferrari 49:13
I mean, people people clap on Return of the Jedi people crapped on I mean, it's constant. And whether I like them or not what I like all the prequels are evident. I like the new other. It doesn't matter if the filmmakers doing what I was gonna do. And it's art and it's art, dude, it's art. And if you don't like it, great. There's about a thought about 500 other pieces of content just created right now, just as we were speaking, that's 500 pieces, and there's another 500 pieces. You can get 1000 things It doesn't matter. You know what,
kevin Lewis 49:45
you know what's interesting too about that, too, is a friend of mine was saying how, you know he's not affected like Oh, they make a bad sequel or something because it doesn't ruin the other movie for me because I still had that movie. I had that experience. Okay, it's not that movie but but it's Because some people go, oh my god, you just just raped my child and you destroyed it, you know, whatever. And it's like, Hey, you still have if you didn't like the prequels or whatever, you still have new hope we use the original Star original Star Wars. You still have Empire whatever. Like, like, what why? Why is like stuff you know coming? It's just like Same thing with what we're dealing with Willie, sometimes like, Oh, just banana splits are your five nights at freddy and it's like, why can't you just coexist everything? I think we help five nights at freddy. I mean, I, I don't know anything about five nights at freddy, you know, I really don't. My son's a gamer. He's 16. But I stayed away from it because I didn't want to be influenced by any other you know. And same thing with banana splits movie. I just watched it recently, you know? And it's like, Okay, so, you know, now it's like, I just think we could all coexist. So, like you said, bad review. To me everything else, the Godfather comes out. People like it, they get godfather to write, you know, it's like it for me with these reviews too. I love the audience, you know, growing up Siskel and Ebert, right, but now its power to the people. its power to the people, people like yourself with these great, you know, podcasts and stuff like that. And so, I love reading these audience reviews because they, we've brought smiles and joy to a lot of people. And I just think that's so cool. You know, especially with what's going on with COVID and the political landscape, like, just sit back and relax and have fun. Like, you know, like the movies, some movies we made in the 80s. Man, they were just fun. You look at return living dead. You know? I mean, why? Right? So that was the intention behind this.
Alex Ferrari 51:36
I'll tell you, anytime, anytime I get caught up in that kind of stuff, which as an artist you do anyone talks about about your work? It does. But you just got to go you have to ask yourself in 100 years, who cares? In 100 years, no one's gonna care about what that person said in 100 years. No one's gonna remember Siskel and Ebert people have already forgotten our generation remembers, you know Siskel and Ebert. But, but it's already fading. You know, all all these movies. You know if anyone's gonna remember cutthroat island? Is anyone gonna remember the last action show in 150 years? No, one's gonna remember Arnold's dude, Clark Gable was the biggest movie star in the world. And only a handful of real fans and older people really love him or Charlie Chaplin, like, you know, they're in 500 years. Who cares? Yeah. So do what you can while you're here, and that's all that matters. I was talking to a director the other day. And he said this. He said, that's really, really amazing things like, Look, man, I don't care about someone talking about the films I make in 100 years. I'm sorry, I care about making the movies I want to make right now. and enjoying that ride. And that experience, man, and that's all this is about. And if you don't like it, turn off the TV. Yeah, watch, go to Facebook do something else. But this is my last movie into like, Oh, you know, he's tried to I don't care because the people who get it, it's for them? Yes,
kevin Lewis 53:09
yes. And that's what is like Willie's made it for them. I made it for all the bad boys and girls in the pop culture collector like myself, and you, you know, and it's like, would get this movie and then there's some people that that the title will is Wonderland, man, like you kind of know what you're getting into. It's pretty. It's pretty obvious, right?
Alex Ferrari 53:26
I mean, it's either it's either a porn, or a great, great porn title. I mean, you have to say then the only change for the porn parody. They can just straight up.
kevin Lewis 53:39
Do they still do porn parodies by the way? I mean, that was like the biggest thing
Alex Ferrari 53:43
all man back in the day when when I used to. This is years ago, years ago. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, intercourse intercourse with a vampire, Batman.
kevin Lewis 53:54
Oh, yeah. Indiana Jones in a black hole. Like the
Alex Ferrari 53:59
Indiana bones in the black hole. If I remember. Yeah, cuz, okay. So, I was in a video store and I worked with two video stores in my in my youth. One of them had the curtain. You know, the Yeah. Obviously, video curtains or saloon doors. So one of them hadn't one of them didn't. I would I would sometimes go back and I would hit myself with these parodies. And they were
kevin Lewis 54:28
Oh yeah, we did the safety we go in and lab at Edward penis hands. And we're just like, oh my god.
Alex Ferrari 54:35
By the way, if no one's ever seen everything you can do yourself. Because there's not just one. There was like seven of them. Like he can't How? I remember I heard someone told me that Tim Burton got a copy of it. And couldn't think he was dying when he was watching it. Because it was like, I don't want to get into the process of it. But he has it the hands and everything. And he was methods The actor was message he had the whole Johnny Depp thing going on is so brilliant the Soviet sorry guys we have gone well look we're talking about what was Wonderland This is what's going to happen so if you want I have to ask you one question that has Chucky cheese as Chucky cheese called yet
kevin Lewis 55:23
and I feel bad for Chucky cheese man you know the good COVID I think it just put it under real what's interesting to Alec was was when I when I was doing research at Chucky cheese before I went shot the movie, you could already see things changing. They were like three broken animatronics just sitting there like this. And they had like a LCD screen. And it was like use your phone and it had like the animated Chucky cheese and stuff like that. And the kids were doing that and you just saw like, this is a new generation man. Like they're not going to know the animatronics anymore. You know, you could just feel it though I
Alex Ferrari 55:55
had my daughter's I've been I've been to way too many Chucky cheese in the last five years. Because it's It's madness. It's madness. You can only stick it for so long. But for kids, it's great. And you would just see off in the back the dead animatronics they're just that was that was what happened back then. But they just sit there and they're dead and that's what it's think that's what kind of really Wonderland kind of tapped into is that thing that like those guys in the back that can kill us now because you always in the back of your head you're like at any moment that rats gonna jump off and just start stabbing
kevin Lewis 56:37
someone you know what's funny? What's kind of in joke? I kind of got a kick out of his friend Gabriel did the artwork for the movie so all the cartoon the animated Willie's I want it to be like a Hanna Barbera Woody Woodpecker, right. So like if you shirt right. And what and what was great is like, if you look at Chucky cheese, and even showbiz and all these other places, the animate animation is looks so different from the animatronics. Like you got the Chucky cheese animation. It's like the cute mouse and with a buck teeth. And then you look at the freaking animatronic and he's like, He's scary. But you know, his eyes, you know, I just always got out of that. And so that was one of the things I want to do with our movies. So if you look at like Willie you know, coming out you know, hey, you know Hey friends, you know that and then you look at the animatronic Willie the creature Willie, they look so different. Right? You know, and I just got a kick out of that it was kind of inside joke. But that's what these places are. Real talk about em Wah, to who did the score. Oh, I mean, he did such the voice of Willie. And in the script, Billy didn't have much of a voice. He did the birthday time and stuff. But he really talk and when when Mr. was working on the score, he was doing the Willie as a placeholder, and we all loved it. And he just did such a, such a fantastic job. And he did the birthday time song before we even shot. So it was so cool. Like he did that. And he put it on a Chucky cheese commercial. And it had a birthday time song. And I played it for Nick when I met him. And I gotta just showed it to him. And he dug it. And then when I was shooting all the animatronics, we had it. So we played on set. So it worked really well. And I knew it was a hit because the next day, you know, you'd have the cast and crew come in and go, I can't get that damn song out of my head. It's just crazy. And it's creepy and including nightmares. You know, so he does such a great job and, you know, six little chickens and no,
Alex Ferrari 58:30
I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
kevin Lewis 58:37
Well, it's a great question. You know, man, I've said this before, I'll just say it again. I just stay true to yourself. And I always picture like, there's this road, right? Like, we're just all going on this road, this journey and the road could be the creative journey of your script of your story or whatever. And I know that sounds maybe corny, but I just feel like there's people on the side that pushing you off the road trying to push you off and that that can be changed your story to meet this or you know backstab your friend, you know, I mean, they're just there's millions of stories, right? And you need to stay true to yourself. movie making moviemaking is about faith. You have to have faith in the material that you're doing the story, the narrative, right? You have to have faith in the people you hire you bring on you as partners as collaborators. And it's a team sport. It is not it is not solo. And you know, the days we talked about Kurosawa, and all that, that's great, and they're amazing. But you know what, more than ever, especially now it is a team sport. And you need really good people, and you need to stay on that road and be true to yourself and be able to look yourself in the mirror. And the thing is, it's art and commerce and sometimes they just don't meet right. And it says the movie business and we're not making poetry. You know where we can just put it in shelve it. Whatever we are when it was doing Willie's, I was thinking about the odd And so you know, if that's what you want to do, do it, you know, you want to make no little films or personal or whatever, you know that you're making it for an audience. And so you always should keep that in mind. But honestly, you know, Alex, you just have to have faith, faith in the material, and stay strong and stay true to yourself.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:20
Good answer, sir. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
kevin Lewis 1:00:27
Oh, man, that's a good question, too. Yeah, I've got one. I love people, okay. And I love listening to their stories I love you know, I always feel like I don't, it's really weird, like about doing these things in the podcast and stuff, because I'm talking about your own stuff. But I always like listening to other people, I love to listen to you for a couple hours, but your history and whatever. So I love people. And making movies again, it's like a family. And you get together in for a short period of time, and you put great art, you create your film, whatever. And what I learned, and it was a hard lesson. But it's like, that was then. And this is now. And so just because you made a movie. And you're with these nice people and whatever, you know, they have their lives and they go on, you know, and I used to think everybody was my friend. Right? And I realized, everybody has agendas, personal agendas, and it's hard. You know, because you think, well, we're all doing this together. And then you realize, no, they have an agenda. It's for them. They're manipulating this, you know, they're, they're doing this to suit their needs. And it's a really hard thing to swallow sometimes. And there's people that you think are your friends are not, you know, and so that was the hardest thing for me was, you know, we're all in this together. And we're going through kind of a war. You know, my dad was in the military. And greenbrae, you know, and he was always talking about Vietnam. And he was talking about drive on drive on the bullets, they don't mean nothing. And I'm not comparing moviemaking as war, okay. It's different to different things. But it is trust, it's in the foxhole with people that you need to trust, and there's a lot of pressure, and there's a lot of things going on. And, you know, like I said before, you have to stay true and things and there's some people that just have agendas, and that aren't your friends, you know, and so it's, it's, it's a tough thing to learn because like I said, I thought everybody was like on the same page. This is starting out making movies, not now I already know this. But you know, starting out, I just thought like, everybody, you want the same thing. We're all whatever, and it's not. And so I kind of lost a little bit of loving humanity to be honest with you. Because I was like, Okay, now you have to be guarded. Now you have the and now you see things. And now you can see why, you know, directors maybe don't want to sign an autograph, because someone might put it on eBay. Or you know what I mean? Like, there's just things like you see, and it's always and it's usually to deal with money. I hate to say it, but, you know, I told my kids, if you ever have a problem, you have what, why someone's doing this or something happened. It's usually the dollar bill. So usually nine out of 10 and I know that sounds kind of bitter. But it's the truth. I'm sorry to say. So, you know, don't mistake purity sometimes for the almighty dollar. And that's why I say art and commerce very hard, you know, to, to congeal into them to be one you know, and and unfortunately, with the movie business, commerce usually wins. We're talking about Kubrick, you know, and some of these other great filmmakers. And to me art one, you know, so anyways, that's a long, long way around it, but
Alex Ferrari 1:04:07
yeah, absolutely. Good answer, man. And the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.
kevin Lewis 1:04:14
Okay, favorite films of all time. So Raiders Lost Ark was the movie that I saw where I mean Star Wars just like you like it. It was made by God. I didn't see George Lucas make this film. It was just like, and you know, let there be light. And by the way here Star Wars, right. But readers was the movie where I saw the camera. I saw the editing, I saw the pacing. I saw I saw what a director really did. And then I think that's the further with Evil Dead Evil Dead two, when it was with what Sam Raimi, how inventive he was with the camera, and things like that. That's when I really started getting into filmmaking. So I have to say, you know, Raiders Lost Ark. You know, Evil Dead Evil Dead two 2001 Apocalypse Now. You know what I love? I love the movie witness. I love pewter. We're, you know, one of my favorites. Oh, we need more movies like a fan. And I love witness. And, of course Blade Runner, you know? So that's just some of them.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:17
I want to ask you man is just often often off the path a bit, but like, there are so many amazing directors who just stop. They don't give them the budget anymore. They don't let them do like Ridley and it really is a special okay? Like he you know, he's What is he? Like the 70s Spielberg obviously Scorsese, you know, but at a certain point, someone takes the keys away. And it's, and it's sad, because, you know, I would love to go, I would love to see another Peter Weir movie. I would love to see another Wolfgang Petersen movie. Yeah, after after Poseidon. He got thrown into director jail. And he hasn't come out of it since. So it's so hard sometimes to see these dipalma he left, he's like screenwash, I'm going to Europe where I can continue to make. And that's what that's what I did Brian's over there making his movies and he's like, screw all Hollywood, I want to deal with Hollywood anymore. I'm going to go off and do this. Man, it's so sad to see these great artists that just get the I call it the key that taken away from them. And it's
kevin Lewis 1:06:25
appropriate what you just said. That really, that says it all right there. We could go on and on. I mean, I love like Bernard Rose with immortal Beloved, you know, like, Alex proyas with the Crow and dark city. Like,
Alex Ferrari 1:06:39
we just did that I was on the show. So I talked to Alex, I was just so awesome, dude. And when we talking, he's like, yeah, you know, you know, it's, it's the kind of stories you want us to tell our 100 and $50 million experimental firefighters. You know, that's, that's not the world we live in right now. So he's, he's, he's, he's hustling. But he's still being creative, though. And some of these directors just keep they keep doing shorts. Like this insane, short that he's doing. He's building out his own production facilities in Australia. It's below. He's still a young guy. Oh, god, he's still young guy. But it's so sad to see some of these filmmakers that we grew up with. That are just, you know, I just I love when George Miller showed up. He's like, Oh, yeah, I'm gonna do man. Oh, yeah. I'm gonna do Mad Max Fury Road. Oh, yeah. And it's, and it's gonna be it's gonna look like a 25 year old did it? And he is 70 I'm like, 75, whatever. And I'm gonna make the coolest, most hip. Most everything film anyone's ever seen. And all of you. Yeah. And you heard the donners coming back. Right. Richard Donner stemming back for the love it. People weapon. 511 nine. Bring
kevin Lewis 1:07:55
it. Bring it, man. Bring it. I love it. I love you. I remember seeing the Mad Max movie at the Cinerama dome. And I was just blown away. I was like, wow, this is an instant classic. Like
Alex Ferrari 1:08:10
it's ridiculous. It's the guy who did Happy Feet.
kevin Lewis 1:08:16
Alex Ferrari 1:08:17
is the guy How can the direct if the direct Mad Max Fury Road like how is that you win your mind? he's a he's an absolute genius is absolutely. And I know you.
kevin Lewis 1:08:29
There's another thing I learned from a producer told me years back but he's right. You got to be able to walk away. And whether it's the deal that you're getting, or the studio or the people trying to, you know, change the story. Or like you said Alex poi is not being able to make the movie that he really wants to make moviemaking as you know, Alex is isn't it takes a piece of your soul. Just like how you felt when you watch the bad movie, right? That it really does it takes up. So you have to care about what you're doing. I'm not one of these guys. I just want to show up and yeah, let's go Okay, great. I'm not that and, and so for me to do a project, I've got a desk 110% and, and I'm saying I'm sure you're the same and, and so basically, it's like, you know, you've got to love what you're doing. And so like Alex proyas if he's not going to be able to do what he wants to do, it's better off. He doesn't do it, because it'll just take him and it'll just rip him. Man, you know, and that's why I think a lot of these directors we haven't heard from because it's like, it's just like, what's the point that Peter Weir can't be Peter we're right. Then what's why even go make the film? You know, like, there's no point, you know, and he's been I mean, he tried that master commander that was kind of commercial film, and that just flopped, you know, and it's a great movie, you know, and so, it's a great, it's just a movie. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:09:50
I think what they need,
kevin Lewis 1:09:52
what they need is some studio executive recognize what we're talking about someone like you and I who get in charge and just say you know what, I want to Yo, Peter, we are shot. Here's, you know, whatever. And you're involved that would have it. But unfortunately, in this day and age with what's going on, and a lot of the foreign countries driving the box office and you know, I mean, I love Marvel man. I'm a huge comic book fan. I've got 1000s of comic books I Silver Age, Bronze Age. On the set with Nick, I would talk about Neal Adams. This is the Neal Adams Superman. 233, you know, and he get it. He knew it, right. I love comics. But honestly, Alex, like, I'm just getting tired of it. I'm just getting tired of just you know, sometimes comics just belong to the comics, man. Like, let's get original. It's so funny. A friend of mine. We watched The Dark Knight Rises, Dark Knight Rises, and I was like, bummed. I was like, wow, no more Nolan doing Batman. And he's like, good. He's like, I want Nolan do original stuff. You know, and you know, out of that we got Tennant, right, we got Dunkirk, and we're going to get whatever else. And he was right. Scott was right, you know, and it's just knowing that but then you take like the Joker, right? And they make that I thought Joker was an amazing movie. And they just turn it on its head, you know? And it's like, Wow, that's really cool. I know. It's Scorsese, like, whatever, but we need more movies like that. Like if you're gonna do that be inventive, right. Not just do the comic book. You know, and, but we live in that world.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:19
I know that but I think the only hope is there is for those kinds of filmmakers and I think it is happening is like the Netflix's of the world and the Amazons of the world because they don't know the rules. And they play by a different set of rules like they don't care that's why Netflix gives Martin Scorsese $200 million to be age, you know, pitino and and and Robert and Joe Pesci and and all those guys. And whether you like the Irishman or not, I'm glad I'm glad Marty got to make it. I'm glad that he gets to make the movie he's working on right now with Leonardo DiCaprio for Netflix, and they gave him 100. Like, I'm glad that those those those directors get to make these films that you just wouldn't. You won't see you will never have seen the Irishman whether you like it or not. I want Marty to do whatever we already do, man. Like, let's let him let him free. You know, let him let him loose if you will let him loose. But there is hope there is hope but but we'll see how the whole the whole world is just changing so, so rapidly, man. But But listen, but I know we can keep peeking out for at least another two hours. But, but But thanks for being on the show, man. You know, congratulations on the success of Willie's Wonderland man. I'm glad it's I think when I see something like this, I'm like, I'm glad it's in existence. Like I'm glad like it needed. It just needed to be birthed into this world. As You Like It, You don't like it? I'm glad it's alive. I'm glad it's there. It's like Martha. When I when I watched Mars attack Tim Burton's Mars. I walked out of it and people were like, Oh, it's so bad. I'm like, Yeah, I just am happy that it was made like there's certain movies you like I'm just glad somebody was crazy enough to gather the resources. And so I'm, I feel the same way about when he was one of them. So I appreciate you, being a shell man. Continued success.
kevin Lewis 1:13:13
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Where Hollywood Comes to Talk
Oscar® Winning Writer/Director
(Platoon, Wall Street, JFK)
(Brothers McMullin, She's the One)
Oscar® Nominated Writer/Director
(Boyhood, School of Rock)
Emmy® Winning Writer/Director/Actor
(City Slickers, Analyze This)
(Smokin' Aces, The Grey, Narc)