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BPS 236: How to Outline Your Screenplay Like a Pro with Naomi Beaty

Naomi Beaty is a screenwriting teacher, screenplay consultant, and former development exec with 10+ years in the entertainment industry.

Naomi is based in Los Angeles, CA. She has worked on American productions and on projects in Taiwan and Australia, including the feature film “Ghost Boy”, based on the novel by award winning Australian author Felicity Pulman, produced by Morning Starr Productions.

Earlier, Naomi worked on the other side of the desk at Madonna and Guy Oseary’s Maverick Films, where she helped develop projects including “Twilight” and “Percy Jackson”.

She just released her new book “The Screenplay Outline Workbook”.

The Screenplay Outline Workbook is designed to give you a clear and manageable set of tools, steps, and exercises so you can turn your ideas and inspiration into an outline and write your best screenplay – whether it’s your first or your tenth.

With this workbook as your guide, you can start with just an inkling of an idea – or nothing at all, even! – and end up with a solid story premise, compelling characters, and an outline that provides a blueprint for writing an emotionally satisfying screenplay.

Inside you’ll find enough instruction and theory so that you know what you need to know, but not so much that it overwhelms you before you even get started. Room to work through your story ideas and collect your notes and flashes of brilliance. A place to organize what you discover about your story as you develop it so that you can easily reference it when needed.

Use the workbook to design a new story from scratch, or jump straight to the topic you need to get your work-in-progress unstuck. With 30+ tools, exercises, and prompts honed through years of teaching workshops and working one-on-one with writers, this workbook will help you:

  • Generate new story ideas
  • Choose a strong idea as the first step in writing a great screenplay
  • Build a sturdy foundation for your screenplay by finding the essential elements of the story
  • Discover the organic three act structure and major plot points that create the framework for the story and screenplay
  • Design compelling characters that help push the protagonist along a meaningful character arc
  • Try one or more suggested outlining methods for mapping out your story

…and so much more!

The workbook lays out a process that’s flexible enough that you can use it for every screenplay you write, yet designed to specifically address the issues readers commonly find in aspiring screenwriters’ screenplays.

With each exercise, you’ll explore ideas and make choices to build your story, piece by piece. You’ll craft an outline that does all the heavy lifting, and be confident in the story you’re telling – which frees you to get creative with characters and dialogue, and discovering the kind of magical, cinematic moments that made us all fall in love with movies in the first place.

If you’ve tried to write a screenplay before but found yourself stuck somewhere in Act 2, having an outline that serves as a map of your screenplay can make all the difference. Consider this workbook the wise but gentle guide that will meet you where you are and lead you to your destination so you can finally make real progress turning the movie in your head into a fully developed story that you’re ready to set down onto the screenplay page.

When you’re done you’ll have more than an outline — you’ll have a rock-solid foundation for your screenplay.

Please enjoy my conversation with Naomi Beaty.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Naomi Beaty 0:00
But when you get to writing scenes, you get to have a lot of fun with what happens in a scene, right? Like how does that come to life? What's the most entertaining? Interesting way for that thing that you figured out? That needs to happen? Right? You figured that out in the screenplay outline? What's the most interesting cinematic way for that to play out? You know, in your screen TV screenplay.

Alex Ferrari 0:20
This episode is brought to you by Bulletproof Script Coverage, where screenwriters go to get their scripts read by Top Hollywood Professionals. Learn more at covermyscreenplay.com I'd like to welcome back to the show. returning champion, Naomi Beaty. How you doing Naomi?

Naomi Beaty 0:36
Hi, I'm good. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:39
I'm good. I'm good. Thank you so much for coming back on the show. You have a new book, hold on, let me just lift it over here. It's the screenwriting outline workbook. It's really not that big guys, I'm just making it. But it's fast. It's a really great, you know, as I was going through it, it's man, it's really cool, has some really great guidances on how to put together a screenplay, which is now there's not a lot of this out in the marketplace. I haven't seen a lot of this kind of. I mean, there's a couple screenwriting books, not too many.

Naomi Beaty 1:08
There's a few.

Alex Ferrari 1:09
There's a few. But I haven't seen anything like this before. So we're gonna kind of dive into the book and what you're doing in it. But first, can you give everybody a little update on who you are? If the case they haven't heard the first episode?

Naomi Beaty 1:21
Yeah, yeah, well, sure. The first episode was years ago, so much has changed since then, I'm pretty much still the same, though. Still doing the same thing. So I'm a screenwriting teacher and script consultant, I work with writers also, you know, directors and producers, one on one on their projects, giving them feedback on at the script level. And sometimes even starting earlier than that, and helping them develop ideas so that they can get the script written. But yeah, basically just working with anyone who has a movie idea to kind of get that idea, you know, into screenplay form, and hopefully in good shape, so they can start showing it to people.

Alex Ferrari 1:56
Very good. So first question. Yeah. What is a screenplay outline? Because I like how do you go about it? What is it? How do you put it together?

Naomi Beaty 2:06
Yeah, I mean, it's a great question, because I think a lot of people set out to write a screenplay, and they decide they need to outline it. And then they just quickly come to the next question, which is, what is an outline. And I think, you know, when it comes to outlining your screenplay, I just think of outlining as part of the prewriting process. So it's just part of the process that helps you develop your idea and flesh it out and get it to a point where you know enough about it in order to write screenplay pages, and whatever form that takes, you know, what it looks like on the page in the outline form can be a lot of different things. It's what is the most useful to you. So a screenplay outline is really a tool for you to use sort of on the you know, on the path toward getting your screenplay written. For most people, it's, you know, a numbered list of scenes or bullet, bullet point list of scenes or beats, you know, plot beats, that just sort of take you from page one to the end so that you have sort of a map to help you write the actual screenplay itself.

Alex Ferrari 3:11
So the next, the next statement I have is what I always hear from people, especially young screenwriters, they say. But outlining takes all the creativity out of it. It's so so structured and and it's formulaic. And I don't want to be Hollywood, I want to be free flow, I want to be like Quinton, I just want to jump back and forth. And this and that. And I always tell him, I hate to tell you, but quit and use a structure and Pulp Fiction, very structured and actually goes through the beats of, which is why that script is so cheap. It's it actually goes through all the beats, but in different timelines. And it makes the head hurt reading that script and trying to break that script down. But that's a master. And that's what he does. So what what's your answer to people who say that this just takes all the creativity out of it?

Naomi Beaty 3:59
Yeah, I've heard that too. And I, I understand that concern, right, because it sort of feels like if I do all of the creative thinking in the outline form and get everything figured out, and written down before I get to writing screenplay pages, then I'm not gonna have anything left. When I get to the pages, I'm going to be bored by my own story, and just, you know, transcribing it from outline to screenplay page. And I understand that concern, but I wholeheartedly disagree with it. You know, every writer is different, and everyone has their own unique sort of process and way of fleshing out an idea. However, I think that the the outlining process can actually be a really creative part of the process, right? Like, why do you think that just because you're doing you're putting your creativity into the outline, does that mean that there's not going to be any creativity left in your screenplay, right? You're actually doing a lot of that creative, heavy lifting. When you're thinking about, well, how do I structure that So how do I develop the character arc? How do I, you know, make sure the relationships are sort of developed all the way from beginning to end, and they're seamless. And then you have a function and a, you know, an emotion to them and all of that stuff. So I think you can do a lot of that while you're in the outline phase. So that by the time you get to writing screenplay pages, it's not that you've beaten a dead horse, and you've, you know, sort of taken all the fun out of it for for yourself, you've done so much of the heavy lifting and put a lot of creativity in at that phase, that when you get to writing scenes, you get to have a lot of fun with what happens in a scene, right? Like, how does that come to life? What's the most entertaining interesting way for that thing that you figured out? That needs to happen? Right? You figured that out in the screenplay, outline? What's the most interesting cinematic way for that to play out, you know, in your screenplay, screenplay pages, and then in the mind's eye, right? So I think that you can be creative in every step.

Alex Ferrari 5:58
So in other words, like for the structure, literally, you're, you're basically beating it out or putting the points of things that have to happen in each scene. So it's like, Okay, John has to hit Joe, in this scene, because this is the catalyst for this part of the story. Now how that breaks down in that scene, it's completely up to you, you can make it really fun. At the end of the day, he has to get from point A to point B, how you get between point A and point B is completely up to you. And that's part of the creative process. But at least you have something to start with, as opposed to a lot of writers, including myself, when I first started just like, I'm just going to start and see what happens and just let it flow. And it just been a hot mess. It's a hot mess, because you don't know where you're going. And I also don't have the at that, at that stage in my career didn't have the, the craft built up. I mean, if Eric Roth wants to sit down and start writing from scratch without an outline, I'm gonna say it's gonna be better than most right? You know, but But you have to build up that craft. And I think the structure is so needed and you can't build a house without a foundation about structure.

Naomi Beaty 7:04
Right! And you make a really good point because I think like, you know, Eric Roth, Aaron Sorkin if if those guys at that caliber, if they sit down to write a screenplay, they've they've done this for so long, and have such an innate sense of like how a screenplay works, not just story structure, because I think all of us have a little bit of that innate sense of story structure, but they've got it like, ingrained, they know, story structure in screenplay form, and sort of what needs to happen page by page on a screenplay, how the rhythm is, you know, how characters develop, where you see complications and things like that, those guys could probably sit down and write a pretty good draft without, without doing an outline first, but for a lot of us, and for most of us, I think, you know, there are so many things that you have to remember when you're writing a good screenplay, if you're trying to write a good screenplay, so many skill sets, right. And so I think thinking through the plot and character development in the outline phase, actually take some of the pressure off of you, it allows you to kind of, you know, pay attention to certain skill sets at this point in time. And then when you get to screenplay pages, you can pay attention to other skill sets, you can think about dialogue and scene description, and you know, getting in the scene late and getting out early, and, you know, thinking in visuals, like cinematic stuff, right to make it appealing in terms of being a movie. So you have so many skill sets to worry about, I think that, you know, giving some of them your attention in different phases will only help you end up with a better product, you know,

Alex Ferrari 8:36
Without question now. So many times we want to figure out what the ideas are. Do you have any idea generating ways to generate some ideas about this themes about that? Ideas? All that kind of stuff? Yeah, definitely.

Naomi Beaty 8:49
I do have a couple. I mean, thank you, for teeing me up. I do have a couple of exercises in the book that are all about generating concepts for screenplays, right? Because it seems like people who get stuck at sort of the idea phase when they can't decide how to move forward with one project they they have, like, they get stuck in two different ways. One, it's either they have too many ideas, they don't know which one to do first, or to work on first. And then the other thing is like, I don't know, I want to write a screenplay. But I don't have an idea for a movie, right? So one of the things that I put in the book was a couple of exercises that can help you generate concepts by you know, sort of playing games, because I think that's the most low pressure way to do it is look at treatment like a game and just have fun with it. So there are a couple in there about like mixing and matching, you know, different elements and kind of generating concepts. And I think, you know, an important part of it is just generating a lot of ideas because that's the only way you're not going to get precious about the one idea that you're sure is an Oscar winner and it's going to be a million dollar spec sale. If you have lots of ideas, then you can kind of be a little bit more, you know, gracious with yourself and got, like, you know what, maybe that one's not going to work this year because I don't have the craft yet. Or maybe that's not such a great idea. After all, it's a better as a novel or a comic book or something like that. And you can, you know, have allow yourself to, to be a little bit more choosy about which screenplays you're gonna write.

Alex Ferrari 10:16
Now I have to talk to so many screenwriters over the years, I've you know, off air and on I love the off air ones, because that's when I really get some nitty gritty stuff that I can't that I can't broadcast, unfortunately. But I've been told by many of these top screenwriters that they did borrow structure from other movies very, I mean, they call wholeheartedly like, you know, like I saw this movie, and I took it structure, change the story around and change the, the ideas around but and the characters around, but the structure is there. And I always love using this example because it's so blatant. And after I tell this, most people go I can't believe I never saw that before. Fast and Furious. is pointing break. Yeah. I mean, they didn't even try to change it. They just changed surfing to Grace cars, and a couple other cars. I mean, it's pretty much the same movie, right?

Naomi Beaty 11:09
Yeah. Yeah. Yes, I have actually not done like a side by side comparison. I think that'd be really interesting to do, because the broad strokes of it for sure are, it's the same, you know, it's the same story.

Alex Ferrari 11:22
So that's another thing for screenwriters, you know, starting up to look at other movies that they might admire. And start with those structures. I think that's one thing that's always been a lot of people think is taboo. But all the greats, start with other people's all artists, start with other people's ideas, and try to emulate other people's ideas. And then as you start working through it, then you start coming up with your own style, but structure structure. I mean, it's like, why wouldn't you take a blueprint of a house that worked and worked well, and then dress it up, however, you want to dress it up and change the walls, you know, add a door here, put a door there, change the roof side, style, but at the end of the day, it's a structure that sells

Naomi Beaty 12:02
I totally agree. And I always tell writers, especially, you know, writers who are who are trying to get a handle on screenwriting, right, who are kind of early in their in their learning curve, I always tell them to study movies. And, you know, I think we all, we all probably watch a lot of movies, but I do think it's a helpful exercise to like choose one or two and really break those particular movies down and study them. Because I think you learn a lot from not just viewing it once or twice, or even if it's one of your favorite movies, and you've seen it a lot and you can quote it and all that stuff. But if you really like take the time to sort of examine it almost like a you know, doctor patient kind of exam, like, make a list of all the scenes that happen look at that list and examine like, Where does the inciting incident happen? Where does the break into act to happen? Notice the relationships between those two plot points, right? Because there is they have to work together in a particular way. Look at that midpoint and see how does this midpoint work? Like what does it do for the story? How does it you know, make things harder or make things more urgent? Examine all of those big turning points, because I think you'll learn a ton from not just understanding theory and understanding like the definitions of plot points and things like that, but really looking at the way that they work in movies, and especially in one particular movie. And I think that an extension of that exercise, if I can just keep going here is that paying attention to the difference between just like we were talking about, like when you make a screenplay outline, right, you might have a bullet point list of here, here are the things that need to happen. Just point by point, Joe needs to punch Tom, right. That's one bullet point and the next one, something else happens. But making that bullet point list for the movie that you're studying, because then you get to see oh, here's what happens. Joe punches, Tom. But here's how it happens in that scene. Like it's funny, or it's a you know, it's an ambush, or it's a it starts out a romantic scene, it it ends in a punch. How does that happen? Right? Because you get to like, really understand there's a difference between the what is happening, the plot thing that's happening, and the cool, interesting, fun way that that can play out on screen, which can be a million different ways. And, you know, you're saying structure is the same from you know, across sort of lots of movies, right? That's true. And then the the how that how it happens on screen is what makes it uniquely entertaining. You know, it's what makes one movie different from the other one.

Alex Ferrari 14:31
It's the color of the walls is the dresses is the furniture in the room. It's you know, if we're using the analogy of a blueprint and a house, all of that makes a difference. You know, it's all about how you add the little details to it. You know, there is you know, when when, what when we're looking at a movie, sometimes we don't know whose story it is, especially when we're starting to write a movie. We don't know whose story it is. So I always like using Shawshank as an example because I think One knows that by nausea now that I mean, it's my favorite movie of all time. And that at that you I truly and I've asked a lot of, you know experts like yourself like whose story? Is it? Is it Andy story? Or is it read story? Who is the protagonist in that movie? You know, whose story is it? So that's a very important distinction to have when writing because if you don't know whose story it is, you know whose story is fightclub? Right? Is it Tyler Durden?

Naomi Beaty 15:32
Yeah, I absolutely had just another another example, kind of in the same vein, come up or come to me. Yesterday, I rewatched. Fargo. I hadn't seen that movie since I originally watched it back in like 96. Or whenever it came out. In my head in those intervening years, I believed that was March to Anderson's movie, right? And I rewatched it I was like, oh, no, I was completely miss remembering this. This is now I'm I'm totally blanking on his name. But but it's it's a it's a husband. Yeah, it's his it. He's the lead character. He's the central character in that story. It's, we start with him. We're watching what he's doing. It's his actions that are driving the story forward. She comes in like 35 minutes in to investigate, you know what he's been doing. But we're with him from the beginning. I was like, that is so interesting that I remembered it being her story, I think because I assumed the investigator on the scene is going to be the one kind of driving the story forward. But it's actually his story.

Alex Ferrari 16:37
It's really common. You start getting into a complex conversation about something like Shawshank, because I mean, who drives the story is Andy, right. But yet who's telling us the story? Right, so we're seeing the story through reds eyes. And yeah, red does do a few things to help along the way. But and he's the one driving store. Right? You know, and also their interaction is driving this. So it's a very complex. Yeah, idea. Am I right?

Naomi Beaty 17:04
Yeah, absolutely. And same with Fargo. I think that even though I'm sort of like saying that so easily that Oh, no, it's his story. I actually think it almost plays like an ensemble where it's like we start with him. It really is his through line kind of that gives us the movie, it's fine. But the other characters are so equally important that it's not super easy to just say, Oh, no, it's just this character story. And that's all we should be concerned with. You know, it's really all of them that make it work.

Alex Ferrari 17:29
So something like a Sherlock Holmes or knives out kind of scenario, which is a murder mystery, or a mystery in general. It's generally the detective whose story it is because we're seeing everything through their eyes, generally speaking, so knives out, it's Daniel Craig Wright walking through the process, the whole movie we're walking through with Daniel. Daniel Greg's eyes essentially.

Naomi Beaty 17:50
I think so. I actually only saw that movie once. And I think I may have fallen asleep. Not because it wasn't wasn't good. I just I watched it late. But um, but yeah, I think if if the movie is sort of centered on an investigation, almost always it's going to be the person doing the investigating, right? Because that's the sort of like, through line of action that we're that we're paying attention to. It's the reason this story exists is because there's something to investigate and the person doing the investigation is who we're kind of like watching do the thing. And hopefully we're rooting for them, you know?

Alex Ferrari 18:22
So like, clear reason, science with labs. It's, it's her it's definitely her story.

Naomi Beaty 18:27
No, I call it her story. For sure. I don't know if anyone would disagree. But yeah,

Alex Ferrari 18:31
I think it's who you remember from that movies? Not much is Hannibal?

Naomi Beaty 18:35
Yeah, absolutely. And I think you remember, you really remember their relationship. That's a movie that I you know, maybe two or three years ago, I that was one that I really started studying. I was like, I want to understand how this one works. And I think prior to that, I had assumed that Clarys is sort of through line was really about Hannibal and then when I rewatched it, you know, and this was like three or four years ago, whatever. But I started sort of watching it to study it a little bit more. And I realized, oh, no, like she meets him early on. But then her investigation is her investigation. And then she brings him back into it again. But it's not his story at all. It's you know, it's what he can do for her it's him in support of her story. For sure.

Alex Ferrari 19:20
It's, it's, it's fascinating to say and another thing we were talking about structure and finding structures of movies that we that that you know, studying other people's to other other movie structures and possibly using those structures in your own stories. I think a really good exercise is to analyze your top 10 Because it's if it means something to you if you are and then you can start seeing the patterns you like even if you'd like revenge movies. Well, maybe you should write a revenge movie. If you like horror, maybe you should read horror if you love romance, you maybe want to write romance as opposed to like I really love horror but I'm going to make when When Harry Met Sally, like that's probably not going to work out.

Naomi Beaty 19:59
Maybe that It could be a whole new rom com.

Alex Ferrari 20:02
Jason Blum Jason Blum will produce it absolutely. Yeah.

Naomi Beaty 20:04
I like that. No, I agree. And as an as an extension of that, I will say, too, I think when you have when you have a few, like movie ideas under your belt, not that you have to have written the screenplays yet, but when you have like, sort of, you know, practice developing an idea, kind of teasing it out to see kind of what's there and maybe, maybe gotten to an outline stage, who knows. I also think it's really interesting and useful to sort of look at the common themes between those ideas. Because I think a lot of times writers kind of circle the same thematic ideas in their projects without realizing it. And I see this sometimes, you know, not to embarrass anyone, but I see this sometimes because I work with certain writers over several projects. And I'm like, Oh, so this one is also about, you know, familial obligation, or this one, dad. Right. This one is also about, you know, that sort of that same issue that you find really interesting. And I think it's, I think it's kind of funny that, you know, often writers don't even realize they're doing it. They're like, Oh, yeah, I guess I'm kind of writing the same story over again, you know, different concept, but dealing with the same issues or types of relationships or something like that. I think that's really interesting to examine. Because, you know, if you find that about yourself, if you're like, Oh, I kind of keep going back to that same well, because that's an issue that's really interesting to me, then you can lean into that, right, that can become kind of part of your calling card, your voice your portfolio, you know, that you put out there so

Alex Ferrari 21:32
Yeah, I mean, it's your superpower. It's, you're really starting to get that that secret sauce, that's yours. And if you're passionate about I mean, look, Nora Ephron. She really found her superpower, you know what, and found his superpower. And Aaron found that, like, you know, Shannon, Shane Black, they all found that thing that they really resonate with and leaned into it, as opposed to, I mean, I'm sure Shane Black romantic comedy would be extremely interesting. Yes, I think I think a Tarantino romantic comedy would be extremely interesting. But it's not something that they lean into. Right? You know. So that's something to think about, as you're as you're moving forward. Now, in your book, you also talk about the four elements essential elements of a story foundation. Can you tell us what those four elements are?

Naomi Beaty 22:21
Yeah, I mean, I think they're, they sound really basic, but there's something that every story needs, right? So you need your protagonist or your central character, however you want to think about that. Sometimes you're you might be dealing with an ensemble or a pair, but I just sort of for default sake, I call it a protagonist, right? That's number one, the story goal that they're trying to achieve over the course of the story, because the entire movie is based on the pursuit of that endpoint, right? That's the that gives the story, its structure. The opposition, or you can think of it as the antagonist, right? The main obstacle or main thing standing in your protagonist way? And then the stakes? Why? Why do they want to achieve this goal? Why why is it important to them? What happens if they fail? There's some motivation there to keep them going. Right?

Alex Ferrari 23:10
All right. And then always, always find out about the everyone's always figuring and thinking about the hero's journey, or the three act structure. Why is the three act structure the most popular not for actor five Act, or seven act structure that, you know, some some projects, especially plays have? You know, why is it always the three act structure that everyone kind of leans into in Hollywood? Yeah,

Naomi Beaty 23:34
I think by default, we talk about movies in 3x structure, it's sort of become the common language of the industry, right, we sort of have all agreed that like, this is sort of the framework for movies, you have three acts, you have a setup and escalation and a resolution. And that just is sort of, you know, the the baseline is how most movies work. Not every movie, there are certainly exceptions to the rule. But mainstream movies kind of tend to have that structure. And they, they follow a particular rhythm and a pace that we're used to, right. And so those big turning points, those big structural plot points, the inciting incident, the breaking back to all of those, those create the pace of the movie. And that's why there's so much. You know, some people call them rules, right? Like your inciting incident has to happen, like page 12, or page 10, or between 10 and 15. I usually say between 10 and 15. But that's why that's kind of why those rules are accepted sort of rules, right? Because if those big turning points happen, kind of in a timely fashion, where we expect them that gives the story that gives the movie The pacing that we're used to right, it gives us that familiar rhythm, and it feels like things are happening on time and quickly enough that we're not getting bored. Right. So, to answer your question, though, I think that the 3x structure is just sort of what we've all collectively agreed is kind of Yeah, the lowest common denominator structure, and it gives you that setup escalation and resolution that we're all familiar with in stories. And that works so well, with the length of feature films, you know.

Alex Ferrari 25:12
So there's other there's movies, like I remember, like in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which has, from what I understand five acts, but you can argue it has 3x. And a lot of 5x, a lot of 3x could be argued that have 5x, and you can start kind of breaking it down. And so is it kind of almost almost irrelevant to a certain extent, as long as you're hitting those beats. But a lot of these movies have different acts that don't line up exactly the way we want it to.

Naomi Beaty 25:41
Yeah, and I would agree that it is largely irrelevant, because we don't have curtains on the movies that tell you when the ACT breaks happen. And so you know what I mean. So this is all sort of like, again, I think remembering that this is all in an effort to have a particular effect on an audience. And that's why we concern ourselves with structure, right, because we want our movies to feel like they have a particular pace and a particular, you know, shape that is somewhat familiar, but also surprising, and takes us on an emotional journey and all of that stuff. So that's why we pay attention to structure. And that's not to say that every movie has to fall into 3x structure, there are definitely movies that you could say have 5x Or sometimes people say they have 4x, right, because you have act to split into into two parts. I don't think it really matters, like you're saying I think it's it's sort of irrelevant. It's how it feels? And is it delivering the effect on the audience that you want it to have? Basically, all of these like rules and tools and paradigms and things that we that we try to study and try to adhere to are in an effort to keep the audience from being bored, and to keep the audience reinvesting in the story. Right? So as long as you can do that, who cares how many acts you've sat down to write it with? But all of all that said, I do think it's helpful for newer writers who are studying, you know, screenwriting and trying to figure out how do I get this story idea out of my head and into a screenplay? I think it's useful for them to study three act structure and to understand like, what is that effect that I'm trying to have on the audience at each turning point or at each particular section of the script? When I teach in some of my my, like, first draft workshops, I use eight sequences. So you could look at those as being eight acts, you know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 27:36
It's I think, I think what you're saying is just don't get caught up too much in it. But if you're starting out, it is the base, it is the foundation, the hero's journey, as is, which is so famously, you know, brought to our attention by by Mr. Joseph Campbell, is something that every writer, every storyteller needs to know whether they use it or not. Men, it's very difficult to use the hero's journey in a detective story, right? It doesn't, it doesn't it doesn't line up. But you should be able to know those things. These are basic understandings that you need to know as a screenwriter. And if you're going to make and this is a frustration I've seen with a lot of screenwriters is they'll write a screenplay, and think they're very artistic. And then they try to submit it to Hollywood. And it doesn't get any action and the like, why don't they recognize my genius, I go because you haven't played by Hollywood's rules. I don't care if you like it or not. It's I mean, every big movie that gets made any anything's made by a major studio has this kind of structure that we're talking about, has these turning points and point of no return. And it really does kind of follow the hero's journey, if it's if it's according to the, to the genre that they're writing in. So you kind of you know, fall into that now, once you build up, and God forbid, have a career in the business of writing to three, if you've sold three, four, or five, six scripts, and I've produced a whole bunch of stuff and you want to start playing around, right? Then you can start testing the waters because you have a name. If Quinton wants to come out and write whatever the hell he wants to. He can have someone reading a telephone book for two hours. Someone's gonna watch it. Because right so if Sorkin or st black or any of these great writers want to test the medium, or push it, they deserve they've earned that. Right. Right. Can't do that when you walk up.

Naomi Beaty 29:28
Well, and also Yeah, I mean, I totally agree. And also, like we were saying before any of those writers that have really, you know, been kind of in the trenches for a long time and have ingrained those that understanding of, well, here's why, you know, we say the inciting incident goes here, right? Here's the effect I'm trying to have on the audience. They know that that effect is really just about like, grabbing our attention and letting us know the story is starting. So if they have another way to do that, that doesn't feel like a traditional inciting incident. You know, they have that sort of understanding of cause asked whether they realize it or not that they can kind of like do something interesting. And we go, oh, that works because I'm interested, you know, and that's the whole point is like, get your audience interested, kind of like, you know, get us emotionally invested. And then keep us there as you tell us the story. Yeah, so

Alex Ferrari 30:15
But but I think that if you're walking in to Hollywood and trying to get a job in Hollywood, I think living in that structured world, to start is probably the best, the best way to get in the door. And to build up and to build a career up. I'm not saying to be formulaic, but Right, if everyone that I mean, that's what's selling.

Naomi Beaty 30:37
And also Yeah, I mean, writers have, you know, voiced that concern a lot. I think, you know, when you talk about structure, a lot of writers get worried that like, it's going to feel formulaic, it's going to feel like, you know, you know exactly what's coming, and you can expect everything. I don't think that's the case, it's like, understanding that structure is a tool for the writer, right? It gives you a starting point, a jumping off point where you go, Okay, so here's, here's three act structure, I know kind of broad strokes. Here's where the setup happens. Here's where the escalation happens, here's where the resolution happens. That doesn't mean that you have to have things occur in the most expected way, or the way we've seen happen a million times before, right? There's there that just gives you kind of the sandbox to play in. And then it's up to you to find interesting ways to convey the information that we need in order to follow your story, you know, and

Alex Ferrari 31:28
I was watching a movie the other day, and I can't remember because I watched so much content, it's hard to keep it all together in my head. But I remember it was sitting there with my wife watching the movie one night, and it was good. And we were really intrigued with it. And then at the end, where it was like that, that the all is lost moment in the screen, which is towards the end of the second act going into the third act. We didn't see it coming. We knew that moment was going to come but how it came was like, Oh, the mother's the killer was. Yeah, it was just like I didn't you just because the writer and the director did such a good job. You know, throwing red herrings out all over the place that you just did just came out of nowhere, but in a really good way. So there is always ways to surprise an audience, but it's still going to happen around that time to how it happens is up to you.

Naomi Beaty 32:16
Right! Yeah. And I love it when a movie can do that. Right when it doesn't when it doesn't feel expected or formulaic. Or like I've seen it before.

Alex Ferrari 32:25
I mean, let's go back. And this is a spoiler alert. Sixth Sense. If you haven't seen it, it's on you. The greatest one of the greatest twists in movie history. Yeah. happened at a structural point. It happened exactly where it was supposed to happen. But boy, that no one else, no one saw that comment, like no one saw it coming. But it's still happened at the point where you're just like, Huh, that's the point where it was that turning point had to happen. But the way he did it was just like, holy cow. Yeah. And

Naomi Beaty 32:59
It all comes down to the effect on the audience. Right? Because it was like that the audience had been led to a point where that reveal had the most impact. And that's, you know, that's kind of what we're always talking about when when it comes to structure.

Alex Ferrari 33:12
Well, if you look at the movie like psycho, I mean, let's look at that structure for a second. You, you know, again, spoiler alert. 1960. Sorry. But when, when she dies when Norman kills are in the shower. That's the beginning of the second act. But what's so brilliant about that script is now you're like, Okay, who? Whose story? Oh, wait a minute, they swapped out protagonist. Yeah. Which was so brilliant. You just like, in the end, like you killed off the movie star in the first 15 minutes. Like it was such a brilliant way. And no one had ever done anything like that before. But then again, where did it happen? The inciting incident? That's the inciting incident of the movie essentially. Am I right?

Naomi Beaty 33:55
I think so. Yeah, I haven't watched that movie. And so long, but I would believe you if you said this is the inciting incident. Because again, because you know that you're trying to have a particular effect on the audience. And it's like, that makes sense for that to happen right there. Because that shakes things up. Right? It it tells us that something is changing. And the story is starting now, because this just happened, you know

Alex Ferrari 34:14
Exactly, exactly. No, we're not. We've been talking a lot about structure. Let's talk about character a little bit. How do you develop an engaging main character? That's if you have any tips on that?

Naomi Beaty 34:25
It's a good question. And I think there you know, probably a million different ways. However, I do think it's useful to think about like, what is sort of reverse engineer right and think about what are the ways that that an audience or an individual person becomes engaged in a story right, because the story that we're watching comes through the protagonist character, we're watching one particular character story usually. So thinking about like, what engages us and a lot of times it's those those like emotions that you know you can rely on to get somebody invested. So it's, you know, engaging our empathy for a character showing us that there's someone that we that we should care about or you know, want to care about. And there's a reason to care about them, engaging our our sort of like, tension or fear about what might happen for them the anticipation that something bad might happen. So if you put a character in jeopardy, then we sort of lean in and we go, oh, this is this is a character I'm interested in, in following because I want to know what happens to them, and I care about it. And then also, I think, getting us to like a character, there's so much said about, you know, making your character likable. And I know that writers here hate to hear that, that your character has to be like, well, and I'm not saying that at all, actually. But um, but getting us to either like them or admire them or find them appealing in some way, I think is a really useful thing to think about that is so simple and so often overlooked, right? Like, thinking about making your character appealing should be should be kind of a, you know, one of the early things that you think about, because if you think about this in terms of like, it's a product that you're trying to sell to someone, the movie is a product, right? There's got to be appealing, selling points about it. And so hopefully, your protagonist, your central character, is one of those selling points, one of those appealing selling points. So thinking about like, can you make them funny? Can you make them good at what they do? Can you give them like unique talents or skills, or even sometimes just a unique personality that is engaging? Those are little tricks to kind of like hook hook our interest and start to get us to lean in.

Alex Ferrari 36:35
I mean, and a movie in recent years that did this so beautifully was Joker. I mean, Joker, you literally he's the villain. He's one of the great villains of all time, not only cinematic, but in literature. He's really brilliantly written villain. And yet, how do you identify with a villain and man did they just structure that story and that character, so you feel the insanity of what it's like to be The Joker and totally, and you're going through that your journey with them and at the edge? So you feel better? Like yeah, he's doing Amos stuff. But you're like, but I get it, like I can understand where you're coming from. It's not just the twisting of the moustache, one dimension eight, right layer upon layer upon layer upon layer with that movie. Yeah, that was so done so beautifully.

Naomi Beaty 37:28
And if they had relied on, you know, I think this does happen actually, in a lot of sort of newer writers scripts, where they go, Well, this character is just fascinating, because he's a character we love to hate, right? Like, he's just a, an antihero, and he just does terrible things. And that's why he's fascinating. And sometimes I think that that might be able to work. Like I wouldn't say that it can never work. But if you think about it, the thing that made Joker such a such a compelling character, right, is that it played on our empathy it that movie did such a, like you're saying such a beautiful job of like, showing us this character who isn't good. But there's so much that's in him that we can understand why he is the way he is, right? And I think it's human nature to have empathy for other people. So that movie does such a good job of playing on our, our own empathy, like as humans. And then also I think a little bit it plays on kind of the the, the same appeal that like true crime does. We want to understand how this person got this way, and what makes them do the things they do. So like the the sort of dual, you know, qualities in people of empathy and curiosity. I think that movie, like hit it on the head with that character,

Alex Ferrari 38:44
And that they made his maniacal laugh. And illness. Yes, yeah, was a stroke of genius, because that's the cartoony thing about the Joker. It's a comic book character, but that they made it an actual illness. It's like, oh, no, he's suffering when he's laughing. Oh, it's just like, oh, so good. Yeah. And

Naomi Beaty 39:05
It's such a good, you know, it just plays on us, right? Because the first time you're sort of like, Oh, it's just like a real life experience, where you might see somebody doing something that at first puts you on guard, and you're like, Oh, that's weird. I should be nervous, right? But then if you learn, there's actually something behind it. Like they can't help it. It's a you know, it's a disorder. It's a it's a thing that they have to deal with, then you suddenly start to feel bad about judging and then and you know, your empathy is sort of is sort of like rolled out for them.

Alex Ferrari 39:37
Yeah, exactly. ramped up. It's like someone with Tourette's, you're like, oh, that's just a foul mouth person. You're like, Oh, my God, he can't he she can't help it. Right. So it's a completely so they touched on that such a brilliant moment in that and that character development. And, you know, speaking of villains, I think when you were saying that, you know, oh, he's an antihero, he's, he's bad because he's just he's fascinating to look at that right. I'd have played in 1920 doesn't play now we're just too advanced for that. So even a movie like endgame Avengers endgame, where Thanos, who is, you know, the biggest bad guy at the time. He really, if you look at what he was trying to do, and same thing in Black Panther, if I remember the villain and that they both had good intentions, they were just going about it the wrong way.

Naomi Beaty 40:23
Yeah. And I noticed

Alex Ferrari 40:24
That I just wanted to depopulate the entire universe because we were running out of resources. And I saw it on my plan. And I think I want to help everybody else, I'm just going to kill half the universe. So this is just a wrong way of going about it. But it wasn't just like, I'm bad to be bad. I just want to destroy the work that that doesn't play as much as to one dimensional now. Right?

Naomi Beaty 40:46
Yeah. And I, Black Panther is a good example of that, too. And I don't remember all of the specifics. But I do remember thinking that antagonist is such a, it's almost difficult to decide who you should, you know, give your allegiance to, because he, he was a guy who was reacting to the way he was brought up. And he, you know, his background and the circumstances that he found himself in, and he had intentions to that he was like, No, based on all of that, based on what I know, and what I've experienced, here's what should happen, right? And you kind of can't. That's what's so interesting about those characters is that you get to see what motivates them, and understand where they're coming from. And then it's like, it's even more compelling to us, I think, as viewers because we're like, I don't want to agree with him. But I kind of see where he's coming from, you know,

Alex Ferrari 41:34
And that's what and that's what keeps you engaged in the stories that you're following. So why Black Panther was not it was such a monster hit for many reasons. But that if that villain wasn't right, that it would have been, it wouldn't have helped destroy the string of the story as well, as it did. And, you know, we talked about introductions of, or talking about main characters, introducing a character is something so important. And I just when I was reading that in your book, I was like, oh, Indiana Jones Raiders of Lost Ark. Mat, not a word spoken, I think maybe one or two words that have nothing about his character. But that whole opening sequence all the way up until the Boulder is about to crush him. Sorry, spoiler alert. This episode, I mean, I mean, seriously, guys, I can't help it. But the entire time you find out so much about who Indiana Jones is, within the first five to 10 minutes of movie without a word spoken? It's really It's fascinating. Well, I mean, Lance cast and is such a brilliant.

Naomi Beaty 42:37
Yeah, well, he's Yeah, right. And movies. You know, I think that that's one thing that also, it's easy to overlook, again, coming back to the idea that there are so many skill sets to remember when you're trying to write a good screenplay. One of them is how do you introduce your protagonist in a way that conveys? You know, that gives us some information to go on, you want it as quickly as possible conveyed as who is this character? And why should we be watching them? Right? And that's an easily overlooked thing. Because when you're juggling all those skill sets, you're like, Okay, I gotta get my, my protagonist in here, somehow. And so, you know, very often we see that he wakes up, he brushes his teeth, he goes to work. And you know, sometimes that can give us valuable information about the character. But a lot of times, that's just the first thing you thought of, right. So thinking about, like, thinking about what could be a more, you know, a more full introduction to your character, like a more, you know, interesting but also revealing introduction to them that can tell us more about them, just besides, you know, where they sleep and how they brush their teeth. I think the character the protagonist, introduction is such a great place where and again, talking about like not beating the creativity out of your story. By the time you get to writing your script, like coming up with that introduction, you don't want to have all these other things to think about because you want to be able to take the time to like brainstorm what's the most interesting way for me to introduce that character.

Alex Ferrari 44:05
And when you were saying that someone like, oh, they go up or they brush their teeth, and they wash their face. First thing that popped in my head is Jack Nicholson as good as it gets, which is an amazing character introduction, because again, not a word is said, but by his his entire opening morning sequence, you learn like 90% of what you need to know about this character. And the other 10% are kind of revealed beautifully throughout the rest of the script of its internal but you just know so quickly, who this person is. Tom Cruise and Rayman in the first 5010 minutes you've know who this guy is so it's it's it

Naomi Beaty 44:45
It was it Bill Murray in What About Bob? Is that the one where he swallows the toothbrush?

Alex Ferrari 44:52
I think it might be I haven't seen What About Bob and forever but yeah, I think it might be me. Although, I mean Even him in Groundhog's Day, you kind of you know or even know even better his introduction and Ghostbusters when he's yeah what he's doing the the psychic tests that the way he does it and he's being pervy, and he's you know all you just know everything you need to know about Beckman like,

Naomi Beaty 45:17
Yeah, tell really quickly, what made me think about what about Bob is because we were talking about brushing the teeth and I feel like that's that's if I'm remembering right that movie he's like brushing his teeth but he swallows the toothbrush. And it's like, of course that works because that's not the traditional he wakes up, he brushes his teeth, he goes to work. This is a guy who like, you know, his default way of waking up and brushing his teeth is weird, and tells us kind of that he's not normal, which was very important to know in that movie.

Alex Ferrari 45:46
And I think as a good, a good kind of way to have an exercise that you should do as a screenwriter is to look at some of your favorite movies and see how they introduce those characters. Because as we're talking like Tom Hanks, and Turner and Hooch when he was you know, didn't the, you know, doing everything, he's cleaning his nose hairs, like, you know, his whole house, within the first five minutes, you know, this guy's a neat freak. And then of course, Gooch comes into and messes up his world. So it's all beautifully done. So if you start analyzing how these characters are introduced? Well, that's a really helpful thing, because I think in in, you know, beginning scripts and bad scripts, characters are just like, they just show up and there's a one dimensional like, oh, look, he's got tattoos on and he had a suit on like, No, don't, you know, or, Hey, Bob, how's that job? Like? They say that they don't show it. And it's something that we really, it's something we need to fight against?

Naomi Beaty 46:38
Yeah, it is it is it? Well, it's an opportunity for you to be creative, right, it's an opportunity for you to like, give us a scene that we're going to fall in love with both, we're going to fall in love with the movie, we're gonna fall in love with your writing, we're going to fall in love with the character. So that protagonist introduction, you know, no pressure, but it has some, it's a really good opportunity for you to do something cool and interesting and compelling. So don't you know, don't waste it because you only have a certain number of pages for us to be engaged in to fall in love with what you're doing. So that's even a one, even Vin

Alex Ferrari 47:13
Diesel and fast and furious when we're introduced to him. I mean, it's not super complex. It's not nearly as great as gamble as the other ones. But all you need to know about him is laid out in the first time you see him when he's racing and how he races. What he does, it's very important to his character, and how he's introduced. So it's these kinds of things that that screenwriters need to think about with it. Because once you're hooked with the main character, if you do your job, right, you're on the journey with them.

Naomi Beaty 47:42
Yeah, you know which one I'll I'll throw one more at you which character introduction I love is Erin Brockovich. Oh, no, because you immediately know who she is. I mean, it's a it's an it's a scene that could very well be a cliche, because it's a job interview, right? Where she's being asked questions where she's answering questions, but it's an opportunity to give us a bunch of information right up front about who the character is, how she thinks, what her experience in the world is. And then right after that, you know, talk about like triggering our empathy. We see her sight, not sideswiped. What's it called T boned by another car. You know, she's already like, not, you know, not great financially. She's looking for a job, she's struggling. And then this happens. And you know, who doesn't have empathy for her after that?

Alex Ferrari 48:32
I mean, she's the underdog. There's, there's, she's definitely the underdog and you like, but she's a fighter, and like, hey, I want an underdog. I'm a fighter. I'm gonna go with her on this journey. Right. That's it. That's how you go. Now in your book, you also talk about a story chart, what is the story?

Naomi Beaty 48:46
Well, I have a couple of different story charts in in the book. And, you know, they're they're really just like tools and exercises that I put together. Not just when I was writing the book, but with writers that I work with, to sort of try to help people get clear on the story they're telling, right? Because I think one of the one of the instincts that newer writers have sometimes is like, I have an idea. Now I'm just gonna sit down and write the whole thing. And it's like, there are a lot of steps that could help you get a grasp on what it is you're trying to write. Because not knowing what you're trying to write, I think is a very quick way to get stuck and get writer's block and to abandon that project and never finish that screenplay. So I'm trying to help writers not get to that point. I want them to understand what they're trying to write and sort of develop their ideas in baby steps so that it doesn't feel hard. It doesn't feel overwhelming, and they get to the screenplay and can actually write the whole thing. So the story chart that I have in the book is it's basically just taking kind of the broad strokes of a story it's it's almost like the Once Upon a Time then this happened then this happened kind of template for a story, right? It's like that, that traditional sort of story that we all know and understand. It's sort of Have a version of that just taking the broad strokes of a feature film, like, here's kind of what happens in all the big sections, and laying out into charts so that you can use it as prompts to kind of figure out okay, so in my story, in this broad strokes section, this is where we meet the character and understand, you know, kind of where they are in life right now. So you can then brainstorm and fill that in for your story and kind of, again, it's a baby step. It's a way to kind of like, start to get clear on what needs to happen in each section of your story.

Alex Ferrari 50:30
And what's a springboard? I heard, I saw that I love to hear what that is.

Naomi Beaty 50:34
Yeah, that's, we were talking about the eight sequences, right? So I teach, you know, getting through first draft using springboards and sequences. It's one of the methods that I use to outline basically a way to figure out what happens in each part of your story. So the way I teach it is the you know, a screenplay is can be broken up into eight sequences, and in between each sequence is a springboard. So it's a plot point, a lot of the a lot of the springboards that you'll find are actually those major plot turning points, right? So the inciting incident is a springboard the break into Act Two is a springboard. The midpoint is the springboard the break into three. So those kind of turning points are springboards for the next section of the script. So what happens at that plot point, sends us in a particular direction that the next section of script plays out. And that's, that's basically it. Does that makes sense?

Alex Ferrari 51:31
That makes that makes perfect. Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I ask all of my guests. Oh, sure. What advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Naomi Beaty 51:41
Interesting. Well, there's so much advice to be given. But I guess it depends on who I'm talking to, in terms of where are they in the journey. But if they have written those screenplays that they're really proud of, and are getting good feedback. And they just feel like they need to know some piece of information before they can, like, make that big break, right? I think my best advice is to not rely on one method, I always tell writers to have a lot of irons in the fire to, you know, take a lot of different opportunities that come to them. Because you just you don't know which one is going to be the the thing that sort of breaks you in. And more often than not, I think it's a snowball effect. It's like you get a yes here. And then you can leverage that to getting into this program. And then being in that program allows you to meet, you know, certain executives, and you can kind of like use those relationships to get your foot in the door in a writers room or in you know, something else. So I think it's a snowball effect. So you should say yes to things and sort of have as many irons in the fire as you can. Because cumulatively, that's how you break in, it's not a lottery ticket. It's not one opportunity that's going to suddenly make your career and now you're in and you're never going to stop work gig and you know, and all that stuff.

Alex Ferrari 53:01
All the money just comes by trucks, I think they bring them out and they just pile the money just goes into the front.

Naomi Beaty 53:06
Yeah, that's what I've heard. I mean, I'm waiting. But

Alex Ferrari 53:09
I've been waiting for quite a few years, few decades. At this point. I've been waiting for it. Yeah. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Naomi Beaty 53:20
Deep, so many questions? Wouldn't it have been funny if I had just recycled everything that I said last time?

Alex Ferrari 53:28
Because it's been such a long time, I would have never thought of it. That's a great answer.

Naomi Beaty 53:32
Yeah, I know, I have no idea. Well. So this is I don't know if this is going to make sense. But I do think that the lesson that probably took me the longest to learn and has so many different applications is know your audience, right? And I think that that's true, when you're writing a script, you kind of have to have a sense of like, who is this for? Who is the audience for this? Who would go see this movie, because not because you're writing to the market or because you're pandering or catering just to one particular sensibility or something. But you do have to know that your the thing that you're writing is meant to be seen. And so there is an audience who should want to see this, right. So I think knowing your audience comes in, in that sense. But then also, I think it applies to the sort of working collaborations that you're going to have to have, as you know, in any part of the filmmaking process. You know, you can speak differently to a fellow writer than you can to a director or your producer or you know, whoever it is that you have to kind of do business with. And knowing the difference between a newer producer who doesn't really know what they're doing yet versus a very seasoned producer who you know, you can speak with in a different way. I think knowing your audience is just so important in every every regard.

Alex Ferrari 54:54
Absolutely. I you start talking about big words, start throwing around screenwriting jargon to a young producer. doesn't know what they're doing. And if they have an ego problem, that's when fights start busting out or like it. These are things that they don't talk about. This is not stuff that it's taught at school. So knowing who you're talking to, and knowing your audience is extremely important, your apps great answer Great answer. Now three screenplays that every screenwriter should read.

Naomi Beaty 55:18
Okay, um, well, I think my, my default answer would be choose the three screenplays that are most like things that you want to write, right that are sort of like, if you could choose screen any screenplay to have written, choose those screenplays to study, because I think that that's probably going to help you the most, right, because it'll speak directly to kind of like what you love about those stories. But if you're stuck, and you're looking for suggestions, I think, choose a, you know, I'll use this term loosely but choose a classic choose something pre 19 ad to read, just to kind of like see how stories were put together in an earlier time in an earlier era. And then choose something that's been a, you know, say, an Oscar winner for Best Screenplay in the last 20 years or something, and then choose something off of the blacklist, to to read to get a sense of like, what are what are sort of current trends in screenwriting style? How are people doing things differently now? than they were, you know, 40 years ago and 20 years ago?

Alex Ferrari 56:29
Great advice. That's a great answer. I've never had that answer before in the show. Good, good answer to that question.

Naomi Beaty 56:34
Something new.

Alex Ferrari 56:35
And finally, your three favorite films of all time.

Naomi Beaty 56:38
Oh, gosh, I'm sure that I answered this one before and probably regretted my answer immediately. Because as soon as I say my favorites, I'm like, No, but what about this one? So classics that I just go back to again and again, and I and I love them because of the effect they have on me but also because they're so interesting and have offers so much to think about and study in terms of screenwriting, Silence of the Lambs, for sure. What other one do I always go back to? Oh, you know what I love about a boy, I think that that's such an interesting screenplay and movie and it does such a good job of, you know, we're talking about sort of like, whose story is it and kind of balancing multiple characters. That's a good one to study if you are in that predicament of trying to have kind of a two hander. And then let's see. Third all time favorite. You know, a recent favorite is bridesmaids, I think that that that movie does so much right and took me so much by surprise in terms of like how well how well put together that story is

Alex Ferrari 57:42
Very cool. And where can people pick up your book, The screenplay outline workbook.

Naomi Beaty 57:48
You can get it on Amazon. It's only in paperback at the moment. So it's a physical book that you get, and you get to write in and do the exercises and hopefully, you know, develop your screenplay idea by the time you're, you're finished with it. So yeah, Amazon's the place to see it.

Alex Ferrari 58:02
Naomi, thank you so much for coming back on the show. You're welcome back anytime. I appreciate the good work you do and help some writers out there. You know, battle the problems of getting the first screenplay out there. So yeah, my dear, thank you so much.

Naomi Beaty 58:15
Thank you. Thanks for having me again.

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Ted Tally Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Ted Tally (born April 9, 1952) is an American playwright and screenwriter. He adapted the Thomas Harris novel The Silence of the Lambs into the film of the same name, for which he received the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, the Writers Guild of America Award, the Chicago Film Critics Award, and the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Born William Theodore Tally in North Carolina, Tally was educated at Yale College and the Yale School of Drama, and has also taught at each of them. His most notable credit is the screenplay for The Silence of the Lambs, which won him the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay as well as the Writers Guild of America Award, Chicago Film Critics Award and an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Other scripts include White Palace, Before and After, The Juror, All the Pretty Horses, and 12 Strong.

Below are all the screenplays available online. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple and Spotify’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcastwith guest like Oscar® Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.


(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)

Screenplay by Ted Tally – Read the screenplay!

THE JUROR (1996)

Screenplay by Ted Tally – Read the screenplay!

ALL THE PRETTY HORSES (2000)

Screenplay by Ted Tally – Buy the screenplay!

RED DRAGON (2002)

Screenplay by Ted Tally – Read the screenplay!

BPS 235: Inside the Soulful Sundance Hit Nine Days with Edson Oda

I had the pleasure of watching acclaimed director, Edson Oda’s knockout feature directorial debut, Nine Days. And I absolutely loved it. With the COVID shock, the world has experienced and still going through, this film centers the conversation of existentialism and depicts it quite distinctly. 

Oda’s supernatural drama film, Nine Days was shot at the peak of the Pandemic in isolated Utah, starred Black Panther’s star, Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Tony Hale, Bill Skarsgård, David Rysdahl, and Arianna Ortiz.

The film is about an interviewer named Will, who spends his days in a remote outpost watching the live POV on TVs of people going about their lives. He interviews five unborn souls to determine which one can be given life on Earth, until one subject perishes, leaving a vacancy for a new life on earth. Soon, several candidates – unborn souls – arrive at Will’s to undergo tests determining their fitness, facing oblivion when they are deemed unsuitable. But Will soon faces his own existential challenge in the form of free-spirited Emma, a candidate who is not like the others, forcing him to turn within and reckon with his own tumultuous past. Fueled by unexpected power, he discovers a bold new path forward in his own life.

Oda who is a Sundance Screenwriters Lab Alumni took the film home (to Sundance) and premiered Nine Days there in January 2020. It went on to win the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award in February of 2020 and earned two Independent Spirits Awards nominations.

The Japanese-Brazilian director and writer made his start in São Paulo advertising scene and later completed his master’s at USC in Film and Production. Oda has produced and directed several films, commercials, and music videos. 

In 2013, he directed and wrote a short film, Malaria which is about a young mercenary who is hired to kill Death. Malaria combines Origami, Kirigami, Timelapse, nankin illustration, Comic Books and Western Cinema.

Besides top-notch commercials for companies like Philips, Movistar, InBev, Whirlpool, Johnson & Johnson, Honda, Nokia, he’s also a Latin Grammy-nominated director for best music video Tempos de Maracujá.

Nine Days was released in the US on July 30th, 2021 and I am excited to see how well-received it is about to become. I am predicting it may even win an Academy Award. Yes. It is that fantastic!

Please enjoy my conversation with Edson Oda.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:02
I like to welcome to the show Edson Oda. How you doing?

Edson Oda 0:16
Good. Good, man. How's it going?

Alex Ferrari 0:17
Thank you. Thank you for doing well, man, I'm so happy to have you on the show man. Like I was telling you before we got on, I had the pleasure of watching nine days. And I have absolutely loved it. I think it's, it's a film that we need in this world now just kind of starts that conversation and starts that conversation about deeper conversation about what we're doing. And I think the pandemic has really made us think about our lives in general. But before we go down the rabbit hole on your film, how did you get into business?

Edson Oda 0:50
Yeah, I was, you know, born and raised in Brazil, and then I start working in advertising, like, straight out of college and then work never that's for like 10 years as a copywriter. And then after that, I moved here to the west, I went to film school, grad film, school. And yeah, and then I just start writing stuff. And there's some point it just real nine days and got to the Sundance labs. And then for the Sundance labs, I got, like, introduce some producers. And then from from there on, we just like started sending out into, like, we got finance and everything. So

Alex Ferrari 1:24
that's pretty That's awesome. So so when you weren't in Brazil, you were working in the commercial world.

Edson Oda 1:29
I was Yeah. I used to work in advertising agency.

Alex Ferrari 1:32
I, oh, very much. So I, commercial director for 20 years. So I yeah, but I've been a commercial director for over 25 years, between music videos and commercials and stuff. So I and before that I was editing in editing commercials as well. So I'm very well aware of the the agency side of the agency side of the business. Now, you know, coming from a commercial background and a music video background, how do you how did that prepare you to jump into your first feature?

Edson Oda 2:06
It prepared a lot actually no, and what was interesting, because when a migrate, you know, I said like, Oh, yeah, not gonna, it's just gonna start from you know, from beginning, you know, but but then, I think as it was just when it was the wrap, and it was feel me, I saw that it was he prepared quite a bit actually, like specially writing because it was a copywriter. It was interesting, because in terms of I think commercials are a very high concept, you know, in, you always try to grab people's attention in like a short span of time. And there's something that even like, 90, if you pitch someone there, there's a kind of element like, Oh, this is, this is weird, this is different. And I think, even when it was coming up with a concept that was trying to go with something that felt kind of unique, somehow it felt it same time, when you in advertise, we always push to just like have the best execution to one single scene. That's usually like 30 seconds, you know, so I think every, every single scene somehow I saw more or less like a, you know, a commercial in a way that I need, you know, tons of execution, just find the one that I feel like all this, this fits well to the story, what it wants to achieve. So it was it was very helpful, to be honest.

Alex Ferrari 3:27
Yeah. I mean, when you're writing when you're writing you, ideally, you're supposed to have a beginning, middle and end in every scene. And with commercial, you are trained to do that every 30 seconds. Yeah, it helps you with your writing a lot, I'm sure. Now, how did nine days come to life? No pun intended?

Edson Oda 3:45
Yeah, no, it's been purgatory. someone's like, it was it was such a, you know, I started writing it. It was like 2015, I think, yes, it was. So it was pretty quick, actually. And then they were like this first draft. And I wanted to ride this kind of, you know, micro budget movie, because I felt like even if people don't, you know, invest money in it. Worst case scenario, just like I do Kickstarter, or something, it just making myself so it felt like, yeah, I'm going to write something that I can produce, we'd like to interact, we'd like 100k or something like that. in a rural, it took me like, I think, one month or something after I figure out what I want to write about one month, just structure all the thoughts in my head. And then after that took me like, three, four months just to you know, write the pages in. So it was more like four months into I had like, a rough first draft. And then I got to the Sundance labs, and after the labs, it just said working on that script for like a year and a half, two years or something like that. And then from then I just liked Just like being producers and and in from from that on it was like it was something that was just wasn't just me, but it was like other people some

Alex Ferrari 5:09
something something took something took over the project at that point.

Edson Oda 5:13
Yeah, yeah. Mostly was me because it was oh the the the person just doing like most of the, you know, trying to sell and try to Yeah, give him money and stuff. But it wasn't. And then people are just like be on my side. Yeah, yeah, give it to him. Yeah, he's,

Alex Ferrari 5:29
he's a good he's a good fella, it's okay, give him some money give us he's gonna do he's not gonna lose it all, it'll be fine. It's always I always I love, I love talking to filmmakers about getting the money for their projects, because I don't care who you are, everyone's got to hustle. Everyone's got to hustle to get there to get their financing. There's very few directors who don't hustle to get their finances, especially for your first film. But when watching that film, but watching the movie, I can see that it could have easily been done for $100,000. You know, it was you know, control locations. I mean, obviously, not as grand of scale, but you could have your push come to shove made an independent version of that without question. We're talking too much about the film, let's Can you tell this to the audience what this film is about?

Edson Oda 6:12
Yeah, this is such a weird movie to pitch, but I practice a lot. So this movies about this interviewer it happens in this, this distant reality, I don't call like, you know, it's a, it's a I load Bible. In them in the same vein of movies like Eternal Sunshine, a Spotless Mind or her. And then there's this like reality, which is kind of pre life reality as a call, it's a before life reality. And there's like this interviewer whose name is Will, in his interview songs to choose one soul for the privilege of being born. And the process, you know, takes like nine days to be concluded into this nine days, it's just gonna, you know, talk to the souls know them better. And then by the end of process, just pick one to be born to be where we all at now.

Alex Ferrari 7:05
So what is your definition of a soul? And that's,

Edson Oda 7:10
that's an interesting question. You know, I think it's, it's everything that's not created through the environment, you know, I think it's, it's things that are innately there, you know, part of us before we interact with one another, but somehow they tell how the interactions in our or how the environment will shape us, but it's kind of, you know, I think, same typically would be our DNA. But it's interesting, but it's not the DNA because, as you can see, you know, there's so many variables, variables, yeah, there's

Alex Ferrari 7:49
variables. Yeah. But on a, but on a spiritual level. What do you think your definition of a soul is? If I may ask,

Edson Oda 7:56
I think I think it'd be more like a DNA of your personality, I think it would be the DNA of your view as not nothing related to a body but it

Alex Ferrari 8:07
as a being as a being as a being Yeah, is it being Is it because I love a lot. First of all, I love the casting and I loved the variety of ages, the ages, the the, the colors, it was like a rainbows fantastic to watch. But I love that, you know, some of the souls that came in for the interviews were older, some were younger, and they were all different personalities. And I found it so interesting that the concept that you know, a freshly, arguably a freshly born soul, which is what I took from the film, that is a is a freshly born soul comes in and goes, Okay, I'm here, I'm going to interview but if I don't make it, I just go back into the mix. And then hopefully, I'll get born again some other time and maybe get another opportunity. But I just love that they all came in with some with attitude. Some were very pleasing, some wanted to please others were very standoffish. It was it was a really interesting character study, I think it was almost socio almost a sociology experiment. Would you agree? Yeah. 100%

Edson Oda 9:14
You know, it was interesting before I chose to become like, advertiser was like in between, like psychology and sociology. Then I felt like always want to somehow understand you know, society or even give something back to society or do something for them. But then but the same time I felt like I was had this kind of selfish desire of creating thing, you know, and just like having the fun of creating that at the time, it was just, you know, when with advertising and in anything later in my life, we just felt like yeah, it was so interesting to do something that was more like a connecting connected to more people. You know, how I feel about the environment. Everyone knows. It's almost like a sociological study. And if there's only nine days is more or less like that. It's like how what happens For something and why we are the way, in always, it's not. It's not about like I feel, trying to just answer anything, but it's more about like just raising the questions and like start discussions which I, for me, it was just very, very interesting.

Alex Ferrari 10:13
Ya know, the film definitely starts questions and it's it asks questions, and definitely we'll start discussions. I have to ask you, how was it to workshop this at the Sundance writers lab? Well, the writer Yeah, it was you broke up a little bit. Yeah. So yeah, well, how was it? How was it to workshop the film in other scripts at the, at the screen at the Sundance writers lab, which is, you know, it was amazing. Yeah, it was, it was just amazing. It was just,

Edson Oda 10:41
I think, since you know, when I got to, I got here and your West, I think I didn't know so much about the Sundance labs, but then when I got to know, I just felt like this is this kind of my dream, you know, I wanted to be in the selected to, to just workshop this group, we'd like the amazing mentors, and they give you feedback in something interesting is not just about the feedback, and how, you know, you meet them, and they, they give you like, notes, but it's more about the environment, you know, it's more about, it's interesting, because, like, my, like my movie, you know, the whole process is very, almost like spiritual, it's, it's like a bunch of people who are there, you know, isolated. And rule number one is just like, let's not here, listen to the industry. Now we are here, we want to do something that that's human, you know, something that makes a difference, something that, you know, it's you are you you, you know, and, and let's just forget what other people you know, are saying, and just find the reason for why you're telling your stories and why it's important. And, and then we After finish this, we just go in and start just like you know, teaching so it was interesting, because the whole place the whole environment and process so much about learning how to be vulnerable, current learning how to be personal learning how to, you know, do our own stories, but not just by you know, telling story for the sake of telling stories, because it has also to do with the How can we help you with the craft, in order to you to tell the story. So it was, it was just like a perfect environment for me like personal but also very technical, too.

Alex Ferrari 12:19
It's like going to Tibet with a monk. It sounds like yeah, it's like it's your, you're completely walled off from the rest of the world. It's a whole bunch of other monks they're teaching you how to meditate in the in the craft of storytelling.

Edson Oda 12:34
Like you know, I don't know if you watch like Cobra Kai, or of course, this guy. That's more like the Miyagi dough. You know, when and in Hollywood is more or less a cup of coffee. You can just after you go to mega though, you can go to you know, Cobra Kai and see like, Oh, this is the script that I brought from Yeah, I did.

Alex Ferrari 12:55
such an amazing analogy of Miyagi doe versus Cobra Kai.

Edson Oda 12:59
And I think like, we know, I'm doing advertising for the Cobra caca. And now that the new season, we're going to learn that both of them that need each other,

Alex Ferrari 13:08
which, at the end of the day is true, because Hollywood does need the independent story. And the independent story needs the infrastructure of Hollywood because all of our great at all of our great directors and writers, they all they all start somewhere, you know, they all start with their independent films, generally speaking, before, they don't just generally come out the gate with $100 million. Striking striking first parking hard, right? Yeah, strike first strike. While we're going right, we're going deep down the Cobra Kai. back. So funny. Are you still can you tell if you can tell us to kind of take a step by step. So you you're done at the at the Sundance lab, you finish the script, you meet a few producers, and then you basically just go out into the world and just start looking for financing and money to try to put this project together. Well, how long did that what was that project? Like? What was the process like? And how long did it take you to do?

Edson Oda 14:05
Oh, yeah, it was so it was interesting, right after the so the the Sundance labs, I just went back to you know, at my desk and you just start writing writing, right, so yeah, okay, now we're ready to just go out. So my managers, you know, my team just like starting to send email to producers and Sundance as well. It's interesting because I was done at Sundance, but Sundance never you know, done with you, they always support you. So and then like for the next like months, that we just started saying script and just start carrying like producer so I think during the one year I started just like working with for this for one year, but it's more trying to you know, find investors and people who would be interested at same time it's just hard for you as you know, first time director to get like money because the way they want to do it, they want to do like you know, more of with more resources and when it when it wanted to do when you really care I do like under K, but they wanted to do with more, more than 100k. So, so when you started like asking investors, they were very interested, but as well, but they were also like, you know, yeah, we'd like his vision, you know, all this stuff, but who would play you know, this character is always that always? Yeah, so there was a time when we just started going, introducing the script to to actors in having meetings. And, you know, from I think that was like, during one year, and then a couple months later, just having conversations the cast when we have like, a amazing cast directors were ready, like, in the beginning of the process with us, Kate gallery, and, and, and just, and Jessica killer, oh,my God, I,I we have to be editors, which are what part ours are cast cast directors, just cast casting directors, and we just like, we just, we just started just saying all this good to everyone. And, and then the actors were so you know, receptive to this crap. And from that, we just, you know, when when people say, Oh, yeah, I want to, you know, play this, this role and everything. We we just, like went back to the investors and they say, like, yeah, we wer just gonna, you know,

Alex Ferrari 16:27
Oh, yes. Yeah, I mean, after that cast, I would invest too. I mean, it was a heck of a cast that you got put together there. I mean, it's an actor's dream this this script is an actor's dream, all the parts, even the small parts have so much meat in them, that most actors would love to play that part. And then the I forgot his name, the will who plays the lead? Well, we can do Yes, he is. He's gonna get he better get a nomination for Best Actor. I mean, he he was a tour de force. performance. I was just I was in I was enchanted and thronged with him. He's just, he has such a presence. Generally, he's a very large man from Black Panther. And, and from us. He's a very large man, but his presence because he wasn't. I mean, he was a little bit there was there was moments where he showed his physicality in the movie, but he was normally just very quiet, very gentle. And he still just had such presence. And and when you start mixing in all these other actors, I mean, what was it like for you? As a first time filmmaker, if not first time filmmaker, but first time feature filmmaker to have a cast like this? What did you feel like going on the set for the first day? Or the table read the first day? Like, what are the nerves? What are like, how did you approach this process?

Edson Oda 17:50
Yeah, that was amazing. Just not not not remember the name? Jessica? Yeah, the both my both guests. Rex is Jessica Kelly and big Gala. Got it? Like,

Alex Ferrari 18:00
they did an amazing job. They did an amazing job deliver that. Yeah,

Edson Oda 18:03
they did a really good job. So yeah, it was it was it was amazing process just like, you know, since day one we were just talking to it was very surreal, because it was my first feature and just having does know, a list actors with you. And, and I remember, like being having all those, you know, actors in the table read, and they just read in your lines and adding like so much in there to, to the work they put in the page. And it was interesting, because I think in the beginning, because there's so much like a collaborative process. And for me, it was like, Okay, I read the those those lines and those pages, but it was interesting that every, you know, person in the team, they just like brought, like different interpretations for who, who the characters were, you know, and even, for example, Winston, he didn't want to play the character was the depressive guy, you know, like, who is always like, one thing? No. And so he was always trying to find, you know, what's what's the what's the happiness behind Well, what's what's what's going on in him and not in a way that he's just like this one little person, but just try and find more of his humanity and, and like, some other characters, like the souls, we had, like deep discussions in a way like how, so how they're going to, you know, interact with one another how they're going to, they're going to like, interact with the world surrounding them. And because since they're all souls one couldn't just like, you know, look at water, say like, Oh, my God, this water does I never tasted before. And the other ones just be like, let's say about waters, there's all cold water, but they do need you to some kind of, you know, same, you know, same kind of energy towards things around and so we have like deep discussions about how would they, you know, act, and everyone had like, really great ideas in a way because it was pretty much like experimental work, if you think of it people who don't have even backgrounds Fast and when you have just find what, you know how they would react to the workouts, you know, outside.

Alex Ferrari 20:07
What was the hardest day on set for you? Where you were just like, Oh my God, because we all have it. Like when we're on set, there's that day, there's that something that happens. We're just like, how are we going to make it through this? There's always something. So what was the hard day for you? I think was we hadn't,

Edson Oda 20:24
we didn't have a lot of days to shoot. So it was like, we had 23 days to shoot everything for photography. Yeah. And remember, and especially like, the less wishes the bicycle, you know, stuff is so beautiful, because it's just one page and scraper. But it's kind of, they take like, a day. But we didn't have a lot of days. So I remember, we we just shot like the bicycle, you know, the beach scene. Everyone says, Now this is great is amazing that the bicycle as well. But then I had this conversation with the producers, as ag producers, and who was you know, doing all the scheduling and say, we're not going to finish this movie, you know? And

Alex Ferrari 21:10
we're behind, we're behind, we can't make it happen.

Edson Oda 21:12
And it was interesting, because we wouldn't, because later we've got some more days, but it was kind of tough to just like we were filming something that we've felt really special, but we kind of got it. We can't, we can make it you know, and it was a day that we everything kind of went really didn't go by, you know, when the projections or stuff. It was just like a different, very difficult, you know, thing to handle. So it was kind of I always had this feeling like, oh, we're doing something special here. But I'm not going to be able to finish. So in that day was the representation of that fear.

Alex Ferrari 21:51
Yeah, listen, I mean, for me, I'm sure Francis Ford Coppola felt the same way through Apocalypse Now. I mean, I read look two and a half years in the jungle, I mean, but we all have many days. I think I don't doesn't matter what what level you are as an as a filmmaker, there are those days that you want to have your vision put up there. But the realities of filmmaking, it's not easy. And when I saw those scenes with the second you said all the scenes with the wishes, I was like, Oh, yeah, I looked at those scenes and like, those don't look easy to shoot. There's a lot of stuff going on the projection, the light the water, there's a it didn't seem easy, but yeah, that was, those are so beautifully shot to the music, the music, the music was wonderful. How did you how did you find the sound for this film? Yeah.

Edson Oda 22:46
I've always been like a huge fan of Antonio Antonio Pinto. I don't know if you're familiar with his work, but he he worked on Central Station seat of God, he worked on all those, you know, amazing, Brazilian, you know, movies, and in the remote his fan of, you know, he was working with a friend of mine, and they got introduced to him. And it was amazing on tour is pretty much like the representation of genius. You know, his bag is very cool guy who just feels like he's just like, not, you know, concerned about things here. And then just all of a sudden, Jesus come with something that, you know, it's amazing. It was working with him during, you know, pre production, and most of the songs he composed before we start preach photography, because he knew the songs before we shooting the girl playing the violin, right, which, like, before he started bass photography, and it was in first was just like, yeah, let's just cap something like stamp, you know, you compose. And then later, we just compose something, you know, more elaborate for the rest of the movie, but the songs are so good that they would just cap capital songs and start just composing. You know, songs based on that, that that main main song, and it was just like, you know, having Skype meetings with him, like the same way we're having now. He was just like, yeah, let me play something to you, you know? And it was just like, yeah, you're his instrument or something. And just like, uh, yeah, and then if I say, I don't know about that, it was just like, play something else and was just like, Oh, yeah, that's exactly that. So it was just like a amazing work anniversary. You

Alex Ferrari 24:15
know, I love the aesthetic of what you did with the film, the production design, with the vintage everything being vintage, which was such a lovely touch. It wasn't super sci fi or, or, or anything like that. It was all vintage and all those vintage TVs representing souls lives. But I have to ask you, how the hell did you shoot all the footage for all the souls that are constantly running? Like how did you shoot was that during production or was that after production production?

Edson Oda 24:49
Yeah, pre production. Almost everything for widows was kind of named here because it was, it was planning you know, the shoot and all this stuff and doing everything prep. And then Later that day, it would just like the picture locking, you know, the the stuff and any we would shoot like, during nine days like the main thing that would go into TVs. And then after that we're just like started like the heavy pre production for Prince photography, but it would still be adding picture locking and stuff that would go into TVs during like baseball tigers. So it was it was crazy. And we shot in Utah. Most of the stuff but also we just found out like with like a show me in Brazil in LA. So most of the stuff that you that you saw, there are all primarily shot, it was all practical on set to Oh, most of them were practical to set. But then there's some you know, feelers, some TVs were not like the hero TVs is call that they then they were like, Great come, yeah, come

Alex Ferrari 25:52
they will come in afterwards. No, it was it was beautiful. I just love the analog aspect of everything that we'll have is writing constantly in the filing cabinet and all that stuff. It was what made by the way, what made you come up with that idea of vintage, as opposed to the, because something like this, you could easily have gone sci fi much more sci fi esque. So what made you do the whole vintage vibe?

Edson Oda 26:15
I think that there's so much about the word. And the feeling that I want people to have is it was more someone's connected to, you know, the nostalgic feeling past and it's, it's hard for me like a word represents my past and represents like my, you know, my, you know, years ago would be like the 80s, you know, there were there was one my childhood happening. And so I knew that would need something like that. And I knew we wouldn't have to be like technological like, you know, x mark, you know, or in just one way, it would be nice to have like this kind of very, this texture of like, whoo, this texture of like glass and not like you know, iPads or iPods or anything like that. And then it creates this kind of cost of that imagine that we'll get in prison during the time period when he died. So like he wouldn't see anything in his house, there's kind of a goal that comes after so he would be leaving this as, you know, time period for the recipes, his existence, because like,

Alex Ferrari 27:20
stuck into it will will will ever become alive again. I don't know. I wish that's the sequel, that'd be 10 days. No, so Okay, so you've, you've made this beautiful film. And you, you put it all together have great cast grades, and then you send it out to the festivals. And you get the phone call that every filmmaker independent filmmaker wants to get, which is the call from Sundance. What was that phone call? like for you?

Edson Oda 27:57
It was amazing. You know, it was such a weird with so working such a tight, that was very short, you know, amount of time to reschedule because we we shot in September, we finished shooting in September. And we just had to add it and finish everything like a cut to Sundance to get into the you know, to screen the festival like January so it was like very, very rushed. And I remember there's so much in terms of pressure in the sense of Yeah, it comes from the lads with not, you know, not some films, you know, from the labs, the screens and that's fast way and, and I remember was just so stressed like how am I gonna make here and I was just in the gym. And you know, someone who actually was someone who went to USC with me, who called me to give me good news and yeah, yeah, she she started working on Sundays and stuff and it was even joke when to start working on Sunday necessarily. Yeah, maybe one day you just gonna give me a call or that my film was accepted or do the q&a and everything and you just let me know and give me a call and just like start yelling and screaming is am I gonna believe it? It is interesting, because during the festival, she was one of the the the organizer who will who did my q&a, which was very cool. So it was almost like a full circle. Yeah. So it was very, very, very special. And it was it was just like, my connection with Sundance in our It was my dream, you know, becoming alumni and then a dream going into the festival and even in now we you know, they're they always so supportive. They love the movie, you know, and I really feel like they're, they're kind of my family. So it was it was great just to be there like in this very, you know, Dave's space and just been screening with other people. So very, very special.

Alex Ferrari 29:56
We're in Where did you screen at the Eccles

Edson Oda 30:00
Trina echoes what was that was nerve racking. He was it was terrible. Like it was, I just couldn't, you know, my stomach was just not doing well. And there was none of my actors watched the movie before the screen. So and everyone was so pumped, there are so much hype, and there's gonna be great. There's gonna beI don't know.No one watched it. So we didn't know what would be the reaction is such a different movie, right? So we don't know. And it was interesting. I remember I remember going to the bathroom and super nervous. And then I met Tony Hale there and he just said, Yeah, just don't, don't don't. Don't let what happens, you know, out there, define who you are, you know, that that was very nice. No, there was something that I think you're gonna carry for the rest of my career, in a sense, like, Yeah, he was, yeah. Because for him, like, we did something special, we did something that were and what they say is just like, you know, can control whatever and just go there and, and but luckily, you know, people, we had like an assailant standing ovation for like, I don't know how many minutes, people were just crying and people who just came to talk to us and it was it was was very special.

Alex Ferrari 31:15
I'm not gonna give the ending away. But I teared up, I teared up, when I watched it, I was just like, cuz I didn't see it coming. I didn't see it coming until maybe until probably probably about four or five minutes before it happened. I was like, wait a minute, could that like, Oh my God, that's the thing. So it I didn't catch it right away. So that's always something fun. Because I've seen so many movies in my life, it's hard to get one past the goalie, in many ways with plots. And that was a really nice touch. But oh, yeah, I definitely teared up after I watched it. It was It was great. The one thing I love about the whole story in the concept is that we as human beings are always defining our happiness, by the goals that we set, like, you know, we're gonna get married, I'll be happy, when I'm married, I'll be happy when I get that job, I'll be happy when I get to Sundance, I'll be happy. When I heard that, and, and your story is like, well, the goal is just to get here. Which is, which is an interesting way of looking at it. Because so many of us are born into this world. And we think that in many ways, your film says you won, you're here. Now what are you going to do with it? Is the question. Yeah,

Edson Oda 32:31
yeah, no, 100% is interesting, because it comes from, you know, the genesis of this word, more or less coming from like, going through, like some hard times and, and feeling like it, you know, this, this, I'm, I'm kind of hating what I'm going through. But what what if this is something just by being here, something that's a privilege, you know, and then be so much about, like, the trying to aim at some goals and say, like, when, when this happens, I will, you know, and for me, it was the same because I remember being in advertising and working in advertising was just like, when i when i when the gold buyer, you know, when can I will you know, and I remember like exactly the feeling of winning it. And I remember like being in the stage and saying, hey, great, and people like revelations, and when they step down, just when I when I went back home, I just felt like, what does it mean is mean anything, or something? And it wasn't? It wasn't one of the moments that I felt like, yeah, maybe I should do something else. Which really interesting.

Alex Ferrari 33:35
Yeah, there's so many times that we put so much emphasis on a goal. And when you get that goal, there's depression afterwards, because you worked all your life. So people are like, I want the Oscar, I want the Oscar. And I've spoken to people who've won the Oscar who's just like after the Oscar, I'm like, I was depressed. Like, where do you? Where do when you get to the top of the mountain? Where do you go, because if your goal of life is to get to the top of the mountain, but the goal of life should be enjoying the ride up to the top of the mountain, and also walking back down and going back off to another mountain and all that kind of stuff. So that's a that's a really, yeah, I'm glad that you had that experience, because I just had the Golden Lion. Look, I got it. What do I do? What do I do now? Um, I'm not at five. So my life is not over yet. What do I do now?

Edson Oda 34:23
It's crazy. I mean, after Sundance, you know, I went back to Brazil. And it felt like what do I do now? Because it was pretty much like, this is my I want to make my first feature. And then I made my first feature, you know, and then it would go to theaters and all this stuff. And I said yeah, and what's what's the what's the point now? What's the purpose? Next? Yeah, what's that really when you when you put all the energy in like goals because then if they you know happen or don't happen, it's just like so much about about it. And if they it's very interesting you brought up about the baby we read achieve the goal, but you can see it

Alex Ferrari 34:59
right? Exactly, we're just so caught up in, in this physical reality that we don't understand that we're like, it's a pleasure. It's an honor just to be here. It's kind of like I'm, I'm honored just to be nominated. It's, it's nice to win, but I'm honored just to be nominated. You know? No one says that, like, I'm honored. I'm honored to be alive. Yeah, exactly. But most people The thing is that right now, as we're speaking, certain, there's there's people right now as we're speaking, leaving this earth. And as we're speaking, new souls are coming in. So I promise you, the people who are leaving many of wish that they continue to have the honor of living out of their affair there. So it should be something that people you know, hopefully take away from this film that this is a it really is an honor just to be nominated. till it's time until security escort you out. Now, you know, you've written this amazing movie about the souls journey. Why do you think we are here? As or? Why do you I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Because after this movie, I would love to hear what you think.

Edson Oda 36:17
I have no idea. Yeah, it's interesting. I I don't know. Yeah. Sometimes I sometimes I know, I'm pretty sure you know, right has a meaning, you know, because I'm pretty much like, half of wheel and Emma. You know, at some moments, I feel like yeah, some some moments, I just feel again, this doesn't make any sense.I think it's justfor me, it's just like this, I think it's gonna be for the rest of my life. Like there's meaning or not meaning there's meaning Are there many, there's some purpose or not purpose. And so it's hard for me just, it's interesting, because people come to me and say, like, Oh, you wrote a movie about, you know, enjoying the word. And then there's this day was just someone was telling me like, oh, how the sunset is amazing. It's not right. It's it's,

Alex Ferrari 37:10
it's not the it's not the Avengers. not joking. Yeah.

Edson Oda 37:18
It's interesting, because there are some moments I feel like, yeah, there's, there's that there is pressure, this kind of energy and there is like, meaning in there. There's some some moments, I just feel very, you know, cynical, you know, bought things out what things happen. So

Alex Ferrari 37:36
that's the upside. That's the up and down. But isn't that the up and down of life, though? I mean, there's days that you like, you're on top of the world and other days, you're like, Oh, God, I forgot to pay that bill. Now my car got repossessed, or something. And you're just like, ah,

Edson Oda 37:50
and you pay the bills? That is you're being very optimistic, because usually, really worth

Alex Ferrari 37:56
being very kind. Yeah, it's, yeah, it could be Yeah, it could be like a million different things that could happen. It is. But that is this crazy thing that we call life. Now, I'd love to, I'd love to ask this one question of you. What do you think your soul's purpose is on this on this journey? What you think you're here to do for, you know, for years, not only for yourself, but for other people? Because this film is for other people, no question about it, not only just for yourself,

Edson Oda 38:23
I think I remember. There is a moment in my life, I felt like very, you know,

lonely in a way that I was, like, I think there's no isolating the way that I was, I felt like it was all by myself, you know, there's no one with it. And it felt terrible. It was in a way that I felt like this. It's so disconnected from everyone and everything, you know, and I remember, I came up with this is a writing thing. And it was interesting, because especially after Ryan nine days, I put a lot of those feelings on the page and how isolated fail how desperate I fell, how, you know, out of hope, I fell in, in then now, people who felt the same at coming to me and telling, like, I felt the same way, you know, this is something that I almost went through, you know, and, and somehow, I felt like so powerful like, I I by showing that, you know, I felt that way it can make people not feel alone, you know, because it's kind of share the same feeling like so it was it was interesting that I think if I can do anything, you know, value here is so much about putting out and, and letting people like me know that they're not alone. And then we're also going to figure it out there. Not Alone. You know? So I think that's, that's something that, that they want to keep doing. That's,

Alex Ferrari 40:05
that's a great, great answer. Because there's so many souls or people in this world that feel alone, whether it be in their professional lives in their personal lives. And I think that's what that's the magic of movies, when you watch a character going through something, and you go, Oh, I'm not alone. And that's the brilliance of what we do as filmmakers. And I think you definitely nailed it with nine days, my friend. Now I'm gonna ask your membership. And I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Edson Oda 40:39
Don't try to bake into business things just don't think of it. I think the same thing that we were were discussing here about the goal. And I just I think it would just tell a story wants to tell in something that's not there, you want to see and then things will happen to the consequences, you know, and just, you know, keep keep doing your stuff. And in also don't put your or your, you know, hopes in other people. So maybe if you write something that's very personal, just write in a way that you can do yourself. So you don't, don't live your dreams in the hands of other people who just Okay, so no one does. I just do my things. And

Alex Ferrari 41:20
right and so, so writing, so writing a script that could be done for $100,000. Or it could be done for 10 million. Yeah, that's the idea. Because if you'll be waiting for 10 years for that 10 million if that doesn't work

Edson Oda 41:32
out and just name dropping, that actually was a advice that a Quentin Tarantino gave to me. I met him because they won a competition like a while ago, it was before coming to West 2012. I do like a short and then I had chance to sit with him for like, 30 minutes. Yeah, it was amazing. And then I asked him for advice. And you say like, Yeah, it's pretty much like he was telling me to do the same that he did with Reservoir Dogs. Because he he would make Reservoir Dogs with like, I think $40,000 Yeah. And you could have and you could have, yeah, so in the same way, I wrote nine days, I couldn't make 10 days with like, 100k or something, you know, and I think 100k now is the new version of $4,000. But, uh, right, it was all this inflation and stuff. But, but then I was lucky. Like him, you know, to find people to invest. But if even if, you know, I didn't find people truly investing my dream, I would say, okay, screw it out. I just got to make the movie anyway. So I think that was that was a great advice there just passing forward. Trying to look cool. But I have to admit it's not.

Alex Ferrari 42:35
It's not bad advice to pass for from, from a little from a little known director like winter. Yeah. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life,

Edson Oda 42:49
it's still a lesson I haven't learned yet. I think it's to live more in the moment, in the same way that Emma lives in the moment and just enjoy the ride. And the way that, you know, I think nine days is a movie to remind me of that as well. Because there's a part of me that yes, can can enjoy them. But there's so much more so many. You know, it's it moments, there's hard to you know, put that into practice. And I feel like that's the happiness is pretty much that, you know, I think that for me, is just being able to just be accept things as they come and be, you know, good with What's life has given you. And not always I can do that. I think I'm getting better. But that's something that I'm still learning that I've learned. I've learned so

Alex Ferrari 43:41
you what you're talking about is almost becoming a spiritual master. Because that's what spiritual like, Yogi's do that, like, whatever comes to them, they just kind of like, life is good. And that's what we all try to get. Yeah, not even that is good, but they just accepted. Yeah, there's an acceptance left sucks sometimes, but he's just like, accepted. Yeah. Like, a lot of times life sucks. I think that's, yeah. Don't use that as your marketing for the film. Sometimes life just sucks.

Edson Oda 44:12
Sometimes, it's just amazing. And I think the combination is right. And it's Yeah, and it wouldn't be amazing if it didn't suck before. So there's almost like, yeah, so it needs to stop.

Alex Ferrari 44:22
I mean, if you if you if you were if you just kept hitting home runs all the time, it would be boring.

Edson Oda 44:29
And now the movies are like that. Yeah, someone is like struggling and stuff and then ecstasy, and Oh, cool. It's great. But you need to struggle, but you need this.

Alex Ferrari 44:36
You need to struggle or also it's a horrible story. If it were three Yeah. If Luke knew the force at the beginning, what's the point? And what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Edson Oda 44:50
Oh, my God. It was raining list right now. So it I have to put the matrix on my top three as well, sir. Yeah, I love this movie. A lot a lot of city lights

Alex Ferrari 45:05
are the shopping will be I love that movie too. He's

Edson Oda 45:07
a good man the other one I want to put it like yeah, seven Sue and have to put earrings are bizarre but yeah I am so American man and including all this. I had to Back to the Future.

Alex Ferrari 45:24
There's nothing wrong with that

Edson Oda 45:26
we're not talking about movies that influenced me as a director, but more as movies that you know, reflect my childhood. I think those movies are movies that are Yeah, I have to go back to

Alex Ferrari 45:37
Texas features one of the most perfect films of all time. Now. I just wanted to, you know, sound a little more artsy. You know, don't I know that people were like, I don't know, Citizen Kane and Seven Samurai Really? Like

Edson Oda 45:47
I had a friend who every time he would tell my movies back to free though he would just kind of, you know, be a little more snobby?

Alex Ferrari 45:55
He would be snobby. Yeah. Of course they love you know, love and seven. Sue I love you. No, no, I mean, look, I love Seven Samurai. I love high low. I love a lot of Kubrick's you know films. Yeah. But yeah, you know, but back to futures on watching it, you know, as the matrix on Hulu, and I'm watching feature two, I think more than 20 times. You like the second one the best when it was a kid and love the video? Oh my god. The future? The Oh god. Yeah. We can geek out. We can geek out about that. And when is the movie coming out? And where can people see it? It's out.

Edson Oda 46:39
Yeah, it's already late. No, actually, it's already in LA in New York. But now it's coming out to nationwide. This Friday. This Friday. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 46:51
That's, that's awesome. Listen, I congratulations on the film. And I wish you nothing but continued success on your journey, my friend. You're, you're doing good work here. And I appreciate and I really do help. I really do hope it It not only entertains people but makes people think a little bit about being just honored to be nominated.

Edson Oda 47:13
Yeah, what if you're not even nominated?

Alex Ferrari 47:15
Well, if you're not ever nominated, then you go out and what happens to the souls happens to the souls You know, I'm not going to ruin it. But that's when that's what happens when you're not nominated. My friend, thank you so much for being on the show.

Edson Oda 47:27
Thank you so much, man. Appreciate okay.

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BPS 234: The Virgin’s Journey & Sexual Awakening with Kim Hudson

Kim Hudson grew up in the Yukon, a Hero’s daughter with a Cinderella Complex.  Basically life taught her many of the things she needed to know to write this book.  Kim spent the first half of her career exploring her masculine side, first as a field geologist and later as a federal land claims negotiator.  Exploring her feminine side became important to her as she raised her two daughters.  This lead me to study Writing for Film and Television at Vancouver Film School, and take courses on mythology, feminism and psychology including a Jungian Odyssey in Switzerland.  This theory was developed by closely observing the archetypal expressions that are all around us in movies, music, television, advertisements and stories of personal growth, including her own.  The Virgin’s Promise is her first book.

The Virgin’s Promise demystifies the complexities of archetypes and clearly outlines the steps of a Virgin’s Journey to realize her dream. Audiences need to see more than brave, self-sacrificing Heroes. They need to see Virgins who bring their talents and self-fulfilling joys to life. The Virgin’s Promise describes this journey with beats that feel incredibly familiar but have not been illustrated in any other screenwriting book. It explores the yin and yang of the Virgin and Hero journeys to take up their power as individuals, and includes a practical guide to putting this new theory into action. 

Please enjoy my conversation with Kim Hudson.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Kim Hudson 0:00
I can conquer it and I can go out and be active in the world. So that's my relationship to self in a masculine way. And then in a feminine way is I learned how to turn the camera inwards and how to bring something authentic about myself into a physical form almost like alchemy.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
This episode is brought to you by Bulletproof Script Coverage, where screenwriters go to get their scripts read by Top Hollywood Professionals. Learn more at covermyscreenplay.com I'd like to welcome to the show, Kim Hudson. How you doin Kim?

Kim Hudson 0:32
I'm good. Thank you for having me.

Alex Ferrari 0:34
Thank you so much for coming on the show. Like I was telling you earlier. I really love your your book because and please remind me the name I don't have it with me.

Kim Hudson 0:45
The virgins promise the virgins price of feminine spiritual and creative awakening, sexual awakening,

Alex Ferrari 0:52
Obviously, we have to, we have to throw in the sexual awakening it because it's interesting, you really kind of take the hero's journey, which is something that every screenwriter should know. Even if they don't use it, they should know. But you turn it on its head a little bit and look at it from a feminine perspective. And I'm dying to kind of get into the weeds with you for but first, how did you get involved? And how did you get interested in writing a book like this? Because there really hasn't, if Am I mistaken? There's no other book like this right?

Kim Hudson 1:25
Now there isn't, which really surprises me. The biggest thing is that that phrase all story from all the time it's a hero's journey has just embedded itself in people's psyche. So they're not really looking, they'll say, Oh, well, there's the hero line. But no, that's that's the energy of a hero a fear based journey to conquer something, including your own fear. And, and when the day is a very externally focused story. And heroine is just a woman doing that job. Whereas this one, this one is the exact opposite. This is about turning inward, and awakening to your true potential, your, your sense of connection to who you are, what your talent is, what your sexual orientation is, something that's authentic about you. And then how do we go about first discovering that, growing it, and then bringing it to life? Now, what I was gonna say actually didn't answer your question. How did I actually get there? How did I, I think, you know, I grew up I grew up in a in a family that highly valued the masculine. And so I just tried to do everything I could, I played ice hockey, I became a geologist, I jumped over helicopters and grizzly bear country, you know, like I was really given her and even then, I started to recognize that when I was alone, after the helicopter left, I did things in my way. And I was actually good at finding patterns of mineralization all those kinds of things because I was trusting my intuition I was going inward and and discovering where that would take me a trusted walking into the unknown. And all of these things are parts of a virgin journey. And virgin, I always have to say this, if I had $1 for every time, Virgin is what I mean is the original meaning of it, which means to be of value to seen for your value just for being yourself, like a virgin forest. It's commonly used in Union thought.

Alex Ferrari 3:36
So not not as virgin as as in the 1980s comedies.

Kim Hudson 3:41
Yeah, yeah. Not as like men can count on you haven't been taken before, you know,

Alex Ferrari 3:48
Virgin scenario.

Kim Hudson 3:49
Yeah, but it does actually mean I mean, going from Virgin to inactive person and knowing sort of what you like and don't like it's actually is that it's awakening to your sexual orientation. That's one of the most fundamental ways of finding your authentic self.

Alex Ferrari 4:06
It's really interesting, it seems to me from just from the short conversation so far that it is an inward journey more than an outward journey. Yeah, because the hero's journey is all about conquering the the the dragon that is in the cave that is guarding the treasure where this one is about conquering the dragon inside of you and discovering who you really are, which is man it's literally the flip side of the of the coin of the hero's journey literally,

Kim Hudson 4:33
As a matter of fact, as a hero you're conquering you're controlling you're taking control over something outside of you, but actually the dragon inside you you're welcoming. You're you're exploring what does it want me to know what's the you know? It's the opposite in every fundamental way.

Alex Ferrari 4:51
I've said on the show many times I've surrounded by feminine energy constantly. I have no testosterone anywhere near me at anytime I have women I've been around women my entire her life single mother, the whole ball of wax. So I understand more than most about feminine energy not anywhere near as much as obviously you. But I do, I do have a better take on it than most men do. And as I've grown older, what you're talking about is really interesting, because I think at the beginning of a man's career, or man's life, a boy's life, we are about conquering, we are about showing physicality, we are about going in and grabbing the the gold or the treasure and bringing it back. Yeah, all of that kind of, you know, macho testosterone thing. But as you get older, you know, even the toughest guys that I know, you know, Navy Seals and other people like that, they start to when that's done, they start to look inward. And then the beginning of that journey starts at a later time in a man's life. Again, very broad, broad spectrum I'm talking about here, not everybody, but most. And it seems to me that a woman's journey, and please, please correct me, it seems to be more an inward journey at the beginning of her her life trying to figure herself out in the world, is that a fair statement?

Kim Hudson 6:18
I would say there's definitely and particularly today that we're on this place where there's room for women to be themselves, and yet there's still vestiges of like a dependent world, I think we get messages that, you know, either that you might hate what you have to be pleasing, or that it's a male dominated world, and you have to sort of emulate men to get ahead in the world, but there's still those messages out there. So there is this, this starting out where you feel that you're meant for something, and it's in contrast to the environment that you're in, and you have to figure out a way to, to go inward, be strong enough in who you know, you are. And I call it a secret world, like, it's part of the story where you have to find a place where you, you feel like you're, you're surrounded by friends, and then people want you to do well. And then you can play, you can make mistakes, you can laugh, you can step into the unknown and, and then figure out what it what it needs from you or what it has to offer. So we still we have that when we're young. But I would actually say at the time when like it's a circle. So you, your children leave and suddenly all your roles have drifted away. And you need to go back again, you need to circle back and find out who am I now I'm not the same person that I was when I first discovered myself. And you're sort of born again, your third learning again to find out who this authentic person is today and then see that person in the world.

Alex Ferrari 7:50
So let's talk about the actual journey of the Virgin our archetypal journey, which, in the hero's journey, we all, you know, call to adventure and, you know, you know, the point of no return and all these kinds of terms that Joseph Campbell, so beautifully built out. And then Chris Vogler, talked about it so beautifully for the film industry. What is what are those key points in, in the Virgin journey?

Kim Hudson 8:17
Okay, I'll do my little party trick. I think that in five minutes, I can tell you a virgin story. And it can, if you'll hold in your mind, even something like Joker, or Billy Elliot, or coda, Black Swan, all of these are really great examples of virgin story. So I'm going to tell them in a certain order, but one thing I've discovered is it's nonlinear. So you actually could tell these beats in any order, but those beats will fundamentally be part of the journey. Okay? So the Virgin starts out in a dependent world, where messages around her Tell her how she should behave. But there's a price that she's paying, either she's aware of it, and she's hiding it, or she's even asleep to her own potential, but she's paying a price for conformity. Until one day, she gets this opportunity to shine a little taste of what it would be like to be herself. And she takes it, she likes it. And it's usually almost the moment of alchemy, where the dancer gets the shoes and just the putting them on seems to activate something or sexual orientation becomes clearer because they take off their clothes, and suddenly they know what they want. So now that they know, a little taste of it, they want more. So they create a secret well, because they're not ready to blow up their dependent world. These are actually their, their family, their home life. So what they do is they create a secret world so they can go back and forth between the two. And then the secret world as I mentioned, they're learning to become more connected and playing with what it might look like and they've got friends, they can make mistakes. But that going back and forth is crucial. They they're learning the contrast between what they think they want their life to be and what their life is and why Those differences have to exist. And they're kind of building a bridge until one day, they start to expand to the point where they just can't stay contained. And the two collide their two worlds, their dependent world and their sicuro collide and form one. And the kingdom goes into chaos. A lot of pent up energy, there's synchronicities that have been held together, suddenly, there's permission and things start blowing up. But there's this moment where she recognizes because of all that back and forth, that she can give up the belief that she had to behave that way she did in her dependent world, she gives up the belief that was keeping her stuck. But that's not the same as going forward in a new life. So now she's wandering in the wilderness, she's trying to figure out, well, I could go back and take everybody out of their pain, all this chaos, with the full knowledge of that I actually have more potential than this. Or she could go forward, but there's no tangible proof that she can make a life. But she chooses her life, because it's not really living unless she chooses to be herself in that in the world. But when she makes herself visible, someone and even could be herself decides, that is worth protecting, valuing. And I call it the reorder or the rescue. And so the world reorder so that there's a place for her to be in her natural shining form. And amazing things is the kingdom discovers that it needed what the Virgin had to bring, either there's no unconditional love in the world, or there is a new talent that she brought that that has offered something new to the world. And it's better off to do a montage here. And that's the Virgin story.

Alex Ferrari 11:41
So that's interesting. It's a fascinating way of looking at it. Because as you were talking about it, I'm trying to go through movies in my head. I'm like, where is like, you know, my computer's like, like trying to figure out where you can place these. Because the hero's journey, there's 1000 of them. But, but this is interesting, but you said the word Joker, so this doesn't particularly have to be a feminine heroine. It could be male, because it seems like it's an again, an internal journey, it seems as you were explaining it, almost almost spiritual in nature, in the in the way that it, you're trying to find the authentic voice in you. So like, if you really, if you're Billy Elliot, all I want to do is dance. But the world around me doesn't allow me to do that. So then, so it sounds like okay, Billy Elliot, I get the Joker's have really dark version of that. So can we break that? Because Joker is a very popular movie, it was, I loved one of the best movies of that year. And arguably this last decade. Can we kind of break down Joker and it's kind of like go beat by beat a little bit with that. Is that are you? Are you able to do that? Do you remember Joker?

Kim Hudson 12:47
Well, God, I think I've written a blog on that. But you know, I was really hesitant to watch Joker, I can't watch horror it like gets into me, and I never can forget it. Never be alone again, kind of thing. But once I watched it, that is such a spectacularly well written, movie. Everything that's in the background is telling you that dependent world, you'd listen to what's happening on the radio and the interviews and they're all saying the dependent world is that if you do well, then you get your just reward. And therefore, people who are not doing well don't deserve to do well. Either. They didn't work hard enough, or they like so. Doing well means you deserve well, not doing well means you need to suffer. And that's, you know, so there's this guy, and he's trying really hard to smile for his mother. And that's his dependent world, right? He's trying to like, but it's, it's forced, because the world is not accepting Him. And so he goes inward, and he has this fantasy world. And he where this woman loves him. And that's a secret world, right? And it actually starts the two worlds collide, where he actually starts being a joker in his real world. And that's when everything starts to blow up. And the thing about Joker is that the secret world is not always as harmonious as I made it describe. It's his best way to make sense of the world he has around him. You know, it's his mind trying to help him to to navigate this world. Yeah, but it's um, it's harsh. But do you remember when he was sitting there talking with the counselor? And and Yeah, after when he's saying you know, they you're like he's being told you not getting meds anymore? And this and that. And he goes, do you notice you don't listen to me? And do you notice that you know, you're not doing any better off than I'm doing? Like the system is not helping either of us? Well, that's his gives up what kept him stuck moment. He's like, we don't have to conform and play our role in something that's actually not working for us. And so what would be other beats? Because they're not in the in the order. That's A great example of how things don't have to be

Alex Ferrari 15:02
Well, I'm in order. And then I think when I think if I remember correctly when he was on the subway for the first time, and he he, I think he shot those guys or something. He there's a point where he crosses the line, where that kind of point no return, but it's like, the flip side of that, like there's a thing that he does the now he has to you can't go back to where it was he can't there's no way he has to move forward on this journey.

Kim Hudson 15:30
Yeah, yeah. And when he chooses his light, it's kind of at our for a moment where he, he's with the measured and the other guy, and just beat the other guy to oblivion. And he's just like, You know what, I don't deserve this. And then he does. And that's another thing about these stories is that they circle back again. So it happens again, when they mock him on television, basically choose his light. He's like, you know, I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore. It's like, I deserve respect this whole model, where just because I have a learning disability, or I'm on a secret because my father is an important man. And he does and and I'm embarrassment, that does not make me deserve this kind of negative treatment. And he chooses his light, because I will not accept that. And even though at first he was actually just going to go out in a big bang, and make everybody sorry, he ends up choosing his own life over somebody.

Alex Ferrari 16:28
And isn't it interesting that his choice, and this is when you say the world reconfirms around him. And spoiler alert, please, everyone stop listening, or fast forward a few minutes, because I'm gonna talk a little bit about the ending. But when he does all the things he does on the Robert De Niro Tonight Show thing. Yeah. And he basically causes a riot. And the entire world is also like, yeah, we feel like you too. And all of a sudden, it all just literally the world reforms around him. And he becomes this reader icon of this movement, where he was truly just trying to do it for himself. But he realizes that, oh, I'm not alone. There's a lot of more messages in the bottle, if you will, out there.

Kim Hudson 17:18
Right, which is his first moment of having a secret world where he's actually among friends. But it's like the big world. Right? And he even says in his interview, that I wasn't trying to save the world. I don't have some big mission here. I do. I look like a guy who's got a plan. I'm just actually being myself, right? I'm just trying to be real here. And that turned out to be a guy in a joker costume. I'm gonna take control of this.

Alex Ferrari 17:47
And it's so interesting, because talking about you know, feminine energy and spirituality and sexual awakening, you don't think Joker, but because which is a fairly testosterone. I mean, there's a lot of testosterone in that movie, but he has a he has a feminine energy to him. He's he's really struggling. He's, he's really just trying to figure things out emotional Areum when Jesus is the Joker, I mean, very emotional. Like he is. So it's a fascinating study of story structure. Looking at that, because we'll talk about some other examples. But Joker is a fascinating one. Because it is you know, it's something you can think about.

Kim Hudson 18:29
Yeah, one day, I was listening to the whole story of frozen, talking about same storyline, but very different feel to it. Where the Woman Yeah, but you think about it, what is it Elsa? That she has a power, and she's told that it's evil, and she has to keep it in. And then she decides, you know what, I'm gonna let it go. If you listen to the song, let it go. And sort of play the soundtrack or the track for children in your mind.

Alex Ferrari 19:00
I have children.

Kim Hudson 19:03
Yeah, million times. But think about Joker, the movie Joker, and then let it go the song. You put those two together and it's quite phenomenal. It the words speak to what he's trying to say in that movie. Wow. It's really fun.

Alex Ferrari 19:18
That's pretty trippy. i Everyone, please let us know what you think if you could try to listen to let it let it go. While you're watching Joker and see how it connects. It's like was it watching Led Zeppelin with the Wizard of Oz and everything clicks on? Yeah, exactly. It's like the Dark Side of the Moon. That's hilarious. Now um, can you can you talk about because on the hero's journey, there are the archetypes the wizard the trickster? What are those in this journey?

Kim Hudson 19:52
So I have this theory that there's basically three big archetypal journeys that we all have the potential to Go on in our life, I'm, I think in my life a well lived journey, if my life will be a will, well, a journey, I'll go through all three of them. And we actually can do them in a masculine and a feminine way. So the first is your relationship to self. And the hero is I, I, in relation to my fear of life, I can conquer it, and I can go out and be active in the world. So that's my relationship to self in a masculine way. And then in a feminine way is I learned how to turn the camera inwards, and how to bring something authentic about myself into a physical form, almost like alchemy. So those are both a relationship to self. The next is, how do I cross the distance? The distance between me and somebody who is not me? And that's that relationship to another person? And how do I maintain myself and still respect somebody who's different from me, and that would be the warrior king in the mother goddess. And then the last one is this ultimate recognition that we are a part of a cosmos of a bigger picture. And for the masculine that would be the mentor, you know, the philanthropist, this idea that I know, I'm going to die, and I'm going to pass on my knowledge so that there's a benefit from generation to generation. So it's, it's this very concrete recognition that life is finite. And then the feminine side, it's the Crone, it's the sense that, that life is all about connection. And we're about to make a connection into the whole cosmos. So while you're still on the planet, you start to recognize that you can see the connections that other people might be missing and throw like a trickster, you go in there, and you mess with their lives a little bit, just to get them on the track. Because you know, that everything's connected. And their connection to themselves is fundamental to everything else, unfolding the way it's meant to.

Alex Ferrari 21:59
I'm gonna get a little deep here for a second, because as you were talking about that was very interesting, because at the beginning of my career, I went out to conquer, and I went out to go direct, and I make movies and work hard and, and I worked my ass off for 20 odd years in the film industry, working in post production and directing movies and commercials and music videos and things like that. And it was very outward hero's journey was very out must conquer, conquer, conquer, conquer. But then, which is was interesting, I looked inward. When I was unhappy, I was lost for a little while, I opened up an olive oil company, a lot of people who listen to the show understand, that's a whole other story. So I got a little lost. And then I looked inward. And when I looked inward, I said, Hmm, I need to bring up my authentic self, and help the world. And that's when I launched the show. The indie film, hustle shows first and then the bulletproof screenwriting afterwards. But I launched that show. And by being my authentic self, very much like the Joker, not trying to do anything other than just try to help, whoever listened, it grew into where we are today. And is where I found my true happiness, even though I still enjoy going out and directing and the external. My true happiness is here, talking to you sharing information. That's a completely inward spiritual, almost look inside of what I'm doing. Does that make sense in the journey for you?

Kim Hudson 23:28
Absolutely. Yeah. And, and I find that there's two fundamentally different understandings of power. And you you touched on them there. When you're in the Hero mode, it's to assert your will even against resistance. That means hard work long hours, overcoming obstacles, but in a virtual world. Power comes from knowing yourself, and then bringing that self into life, and then supporting others in doing the same. And it's, it's extremely powerful.

Alex Ferrari 23:58
Oh, my God, it's been I mean, it's so powerful, in fact, that in the in the time period where I was doing the external hero's journey, let's say, I would have killed to have access to the people that I get access to now who reach out to me now. It's fascinating. I have Oscar winners, and I have legends and people in the film industry who want to be on my show. And I'm like, and I sit back sometimes, like, isn't this interesting? How this is, this whole story is turned its head, if you would have told me 1015 years ago, this wouldn't be the way you know, it I would be able to do things in is the key is not out. It's in and again, when I was saying earlier, the out is a very young man's energy. It's the warrior in us we need to go out and conquer. And I forgot there's four stages of development. The Warrior the teacher, forgot the four but there's, there's these four archetypes that someone's someone much more intelligent than that. coming out, says MATT Yeah, sent said these four things. And I was like, Oh, that's so true. Because when you're young, you're a warrior, you go out to try to conquer to, to show off physicality. But as the years go on, the physicality starts to go and you start to go inward and you want to become the teacher or the mentor. In other things, there's a couple other the other two stages. But it's so true. But it's so powerful that now by going inward coming out, being authentic and trying to help others, is when all of the things that I was kind of looking for in the warrior journey is now literally handed to me on a plate where I can make relations. It's interesting. It's just fascinating. Hopefully, people listening, this is a little bit more of a philosophical, spiritual, and screenwriting conversation. But it's so true. Any good reason why the hero's journey connects with so many people. It is a metaphor for life, we all go through hero's journey at one point or another.

Kim Hudson 25:55
Absolutely, we need to do both. Like I am never going to say that the virgins promises a better story than the hero's journey. It's, you know, in life, we need to do both. Like there are things to be afraid of, we do need to like set a goal plan to not fall into every pitfall that you know, life is offering. And you have to like you have to save for a rainy day all these things that that give us comfort and safety.

Alex Ferrari 26:23
And not everything. No, it's not everything. You're right. And again, as you get older, you realize that that the hero's journey is not everything in this inward journey is the journey that is much more powerful, much more powerful, because it's tapping in

Kim Hudson 26:39
And yet, yeah. And yet, so underrecognized people often think, Oh, I have to have a plan, I have to like I'll never have any power. And because this is such a, almost a power of humility. In other words, by the more you're, you're doing an offering what you truly love, it's contagious. And it draws people into you that want similar things or that can feel inspired by you. And then you get inspired back, it always gives these unexpected gifts.

Alex Ferrari 27:12
It's so interesting, because I a lot of screenwriters asked me, you know, what do I do to to make it into business? What do I like? What's the secret sauce, and I go, you are, if you can tap into your authentic self, and speak authentically through your writing, there is nobody in the world that could compete with you, because no one can be you. And if you study, and I've had the pleasure of talking to many of these, these really great writers, they're all authentic to who they are Tarantino is authentic to himself, Nolan is authentic to himself. Edgar Wright is authentic to himself, Eric Roth is they're very authentic to their, where it's coming from. And that's something so hard to grasp when you're younger, when you're starting out. They're like, No, no, I have to try to be someone else. That's successful. Michael, No, the thing that makes you successful is being you. And it's scary and terrifying to be you in the in the world as the Joker, as the Joker showed us.

Kim Hudson 28:15
Yeah, yeah. You know, one of the things the screenwriting advice that it really bothers me is that you need to have constant crisis that you have to have ever bigger obstacles to overcome. And people think that it's not an interesting story, if you're not constantly showing this, this fear. And really, this inward story is the quest for love. And love is not always you euphoria you like there's heartbreak, and there's all these things, but you fall in deeper into them. These are not obstacles to overcome, except for things that you need to explore. You know, like, you don't fight back and push away, you actually go, Okay, I'm curious about that. And, and the screen should spend time looking at a person's face and figuring out, you know, are they are they wandering in the wilderness? Are they giving up the old belief making room for something new, you know, like, these things are the challenge and we want to see people feeling joy and and finding their moment. And, you know, it's like about a boy when he stands on the stage and, you know, Little Miss Sunshine when the whole family gets up there because Gladys, I think yesterday, she wants to do a strip song. There's, you know, it's so good. It's and it has nothing to do with conquering some sort of, you know, or achieving a goal. It's about being in the moment and feeling passion and standing up for something.

Alex Ferrari 29:48
Well, it's a story is about conflict, but it doesn't have to be external conflict, it could be internal conflict, internal journey that has to go through and there is, I mean, so if we analyze Is it I know what you were saying like you have to have conflict all the time. Well, interesting situations happen when there is a barrier to break through. So if you don't have a barrier to break through, and that could be an internal barrier, it absolutely could be an internal barrier, we look at Little Miss Sunshine. As such a great movie I have to watch that, again, is actually I might, I talked about, I was talking about my first kind of watch live as such, I don't remember it as well as I remember the ending. Oh, good. But yeah, but that was there was some external conflict there, if I remember correctly, but it was truly about her and her journey to, to express who she truly was as insane as that.

Kim Hudson 30:40
And also, it was about the dad, who had this belief that he had to be conquering the outside world. And when he was finally authentic, in his love for his daughter, he was humanized, he brought his whole family together. And that turned out to be way more important than anything else he was trying to do.

Alex Ferrari 31:00
Which is the moral of that story is, is that when you are able to touch the inner world, and be authentic to yourself, I mean, it's funny, because I always tell this joke is like, as you get older, you give less of a crap about what other people think, like, when you're younger, you were like, Oh, my God, what is? What is anyone gonna think? Like, my daughters are terrified of what I do in public. And I'm like, Oh, that's so much fun. So I try to embarrass them as much as possible. But as you get older, you know, when you get to the 70s 80s, and you see the old man without a shirt on, in his flip flops, and his long and his underwear going out to get the get the mail, and he doesn't care at all. That's the other extreme of that scenario. He is arguably very authentic to who he is. Yes, right.

Kim Hudson 31:48
Wrong. And he's really what really matters.

Alex Ferrari 31:52
In his world, he his mask is gone. He I mean, this is an extreme version, but his mask is gone. And, and you know, all the stuff that we put on like the suits or the armor, if you will, to go out He is literally out there.

Kim Hudson 32:10
Yeah, there's no and why world? He's, yeah, in my role, he's a chrome. He's the one that's like showing us that really, does that matter. And, you know, like, really, you know, think about what you're thinking matters so much. And know that you could just be free and everything is connected.

Alex Ferrari 32:28
So there's, there's certain characters like I know you mentioned in your book like The whore and the verb, like the app, the virgin virgin and the femme fatale How can you like when I was thinking of like Pretty Woman is pretty woman an example this? Is their versions of that in Pretty Woman? Or is it very similar to just a hero's journey?

Kim Hudson 32:50
Oh, I think pretty woman is is a very much a virgin story. Okay. She she believes she's only worthy of bones. And then through this sexual experience, she discovers that she has a talent for business. And, and she's interested in something and she wants more for herself butterfly. So it's, to me it's absolutely a virgin story. And really, the only the shadow side of the Virgin is when she herself becomes disconnected from her value. That's, that's what the horror is basically, where she has lost her sense that she is intrinsically worthy of love. And so then she doesn't take care of herself in the world. And it's, it's, again, it's an internal mentality that that reflects, in the way she's presenting herself. And sometimes, it's because the environment has so consistently shown she's of no value that it sinks in. And that disconnection needs to be reversed and turned into reconnection. Well, I was just gonna say it's the same for the femme Patel, in that, if that's the, that's the second journey of the feminine, where she needs to cross the distance between herself and another person. And she's lost herself. She's manipulating another person in order to have power in the world. Whereas she hasn't recognized that she has her own type of power, and that she needs to bring that into your consciousness. And then she can exist in the world.

Alex Ferrari 34:31
So like a fatal attraction. So like a fatal attraction, let's say, or basic instinct. Those two characters don't realize that there used femininity, or Double Indemnity or duress to kill or any of these, these kinds of these kinds of characters who are using manipulation, using their sexuality using other things to manipulate people because they have not again gone inward, to understand and something happened to them and try elderhood something happened to them in the world, that that that story, that's the narrative that they've built up to, like, I've got to be this way to survive in the world is that a kind of

Kim Hudson 35:09
And it's, and what it's done is that it's caused them to disconnect from the fact that they actually are powerful, that they have their own, you know, their own sense of love for themselves. And that could be enough. And that's what the story has to do is not get them to, like, get some survival power, it's more like, they need some love power, like they need to bring that back to themselves. And then they actually can cross from being the shadow side of the feminine to the light side of the feminine.

Alex Ferrari 35:41
It's really It's, I mean, I feel like this conversation is a therapy session for everyone listening because it's like, really, you started to like, you're like, we're doing inner work today, guys. We're doing some inner work. People are gonna walk out of this listening to this, Jesus, man, I gotta, I gotta touch my authentic self, I gotta go inward. I gotta, I gotta go into that cave inside of me and fight the dragon to get through to get to the treasure to get it out into the world.

Kim Hudson 36:09
Yes, you know, my workshops people write to me, and they say later, like, you know, I, they don't have, they say they don't have writer's block anymore. Because between the hero and the journey, there's always some structure to help them move forward. But the biggest thing is, they recognize it in their life. They'll suddenly go, Oh, my God, I'm wandering in the wilderness. I have people really change their lives. Like, and write to me. I was like, Okay, well, that's on you.

Alex Ferrari 36:36
I'm not just talking about movies here. I'm just about movies and stories. That's it, if you I'm not a therapist, but you know, a lot of the things that we're talking about is, I mean, a good story is an analogy for life. And, and this inner story, which is why I so find this this concept, so fascinating. I mean, I've done 800 episodes, on both of my shows over 800 episodes. And I've never had this conversation with every single great story guru screenwriter, you can imagine. No one's ever had never come up, never approached story in this way before. And it's that's what's so fascinating about this conversation for me, because it is something that's just not talked about, it is not talked about it is not it is not put out into the screenwriting universe. It is it's, you know, the hero's journey. We're good. Chris and Joseph Campbell have done a fantastic job. Right, we are between Star Wars and with Joseph Campbell what Chris Vogler did. I mean, the hero's journey is everywhere. And I saved the cat and all this stuff, but this inner journey is interesting. What other movies that can you come up with? That are great examples, because I want the audience to really kind of have reference points.

Kim Hudson 37:53
Okay, so JoJo rabbit that's got the obvious secret world in it, and he's fighting. He's trying to conform to the Nazi ideal and it's just eventually not working for him, he changes his clothing we can we can see that stress is the part where he gets back to his mother and family. So that's one coda, you know, I that was just fabulous. Her dependent world is like, her non hearing family needs her. And yet it's contrary to what she needs to do for herself. So that was a great one. Oh, good luck to you, Leo grants. Did you see that one? I did not see that one. on Netflix. It's it's new. And it's Emma Thompson, who hires a male prostitute to help her however, you know, with an awakening, it's really good. And it does follow the beats their secret world is in that hotel room. The wife where she her secret world is that she's a ghost writer for her husband. And the coming the clashing of the two worlds is at the very beginning where she has to be the dutiful wife when she her work is actually getting the Nobel Prize. And that causes this. You know, it's a fabulous, fabulous story. There's so many Brittany runs a marathon ladybirds and education.

Alex Ferrari 39:15
Just want you said black swan as well.

Kim Hudson 39:18
Black Swan definitely carry. There's one called love, honor and obey which I there's another one that I never watched Elliott group at brain dead said watch this. And I was like, okay, and I watched like button. It's about it's about a home invasion. And, and this couple that gets brutalized. But anyway, I've watched it for five minutes, and I turned it off. And then I was like, I am a professional. So I turned it back on

Alex Ferrari 39:44
There's a story. As a director, there's lights that come on.

Kim Hudson 39:48
Yeah. Yes. And I tell you, it's a black. It's sort of a black comedy and, and it's about a woman who is forced to recognize what she's accepting from her husband. I don't want give away too much, but it is a fantastic movie.

Alex Ferrari 40:03
Sleeping with the Enemy remember the sleeping with the enemy?

Kim Hudson 40:07
Which was a long time ago. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 40:11
It just came to my head is like maybe that's one as well.

Kim Hudson 40:15
Yeah. Well, I mean, it doesn't make sense that there's a lot of inner work beliefs that need to be let go to get away. Right, that kind of thing. Virgin Suicides that's another one where the the mother has been so oppressive that they can't move forward. The shape of water is a great one. Yeah, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 40:39
Fascinating that there's so many. There's so many examples. Like you're saying that's lala land. Oh, god. Yeah. Lala Land as well. Yeah.

Kim Hudson 40:49
Trying to get her inner talent into the world.

Alex Ferrari 40:51
It's so. So there's been so many examples that have been under our nose, but no one's really ever called it out. Before like, Yeah, this is yeah, this is the story, guys.

Kim Hudson 41:01
Yes, yeah, the pattern hasn't been described. But people, you see the theory of archetypes is that it's in our unconscious, that it's there for us to help navigate through life. And Joseph Campbell made one visible. So it's a lot more you can get to it. And I made another one visible. So you know, and there's in my mind, there's four more. So I'm working on those.

Alex Ferrari 41:23
Or you're working on the other? You're working on the other ones? Yeah, yeah.

Kim Hudson 41:27
My next one will be the how to cross the distance between you and somebody who has taught you. The archetypes of marriage really?

Alex Ferrari 41:37
Oh, yeah. I have been married for a long time I understand. There's, there's something that the title of your book mentioned sexual awakenings. And this is something I just wanted to kind of touch on. Because those films, sometimes they're done perfectly and really well. But sometimes they're not. They're approached at, you know, there's a male energy or, or, you know, it's, it's not done correctly. So can you give me an example of a good one, and a bad one, and the reason why it's good, and the reason why it's bad if you can?

Kim Hudson 42:14
Well, the 40 year old virgin, actually is a great example of delayed and yeah, and then that final moment of awakening, it's and it's it actually follows all the beads. Another one that I've always loved as new Waterford girl, it's a Canadian film. And, yeah, she lives in a small town in Nova Scotia where you're very limited, and you should always stay on the island and she wants to be an artist. So She fakes a pregnancy, she notices that pregnant girls get sent away. And so she fakes a pregnancy. And it's about her sexual awakening and her talent awakening and the whole community going crazy. It's a really funny, really good movie. Yeah, so once we're Brokeback Mountain, another one where it's, you know, secret world and their clash and what society expects from you and, and never being able to overcome it. It's a very beautifully done sexual awakening. You know, I don't really pay attention to the ones that are done really badly. It's like porn to me.

Alex Ferrari 43:30
So porn, not a good example.

Kim Hudson 43:32
You know what I would actually say there's, there's female porn and there's male porn, apparently. And male porn is just really about how can I get some excitement? Like it's just goal oriented? Sure. Which is, is not the same as a sexual awakening to me and sexual awakening is this recognition that we have the power within us for great joy?

Alex Ferrari 43:54
That's the Yeah, we'll leave it there. But I'm just trying to think of in my head of like, bad ones, and I'm like, if they're bad, they're generally sophomore. Sophomore. If it's done incorrectly, that's basically so if you see softcore porn, that's probably not the

Kim Hudson 44:15
Right it's not a virgins journey. But I but I liked they probably been male gaze do.

Alex Ferrari 44:19
Exactly. But I'd like I like that you use a 40 year old virgin because that's a great example of a sexual awakening in a very obviously comedic way. But it was, it was a 40 year old virgin and all that stuff. That's to happen. And Judd Apatow does have has he touches on it even in his comedies. He touches on inner stuff funny people and a couple of his other films. Touch on the inner Yeah, in this and his work I've noticed even while they're being silly. Yeah, yeah. So you choosing her light I I saw that term in the book, what does that mean? Choosing the light choosing her light.

Kim Hudson 45:06
You know, this is saying that it doesn't really matter until it changes within her own heart. So a person like Janis Joplin, you can have all of the glory. But until you actually decide that you are intrinsically valuable, and that you have the right to take up some space in the world and shine your light, you know, the, it doesn't really affect your happiness. And it's, it's starts with the individual person, you need to find your happiness and find your connection. And then like a drop of water, it starts to spread out to other people. So that beak chooses her light shows that it's, it's not about other people saying, Oh, wow, you're amazing. It's about you deciding that you are in value, and really getting that sense of self esteem.

Alex Ferrari 45:56
So that's interesting, because in, in Hollywood, you're surrounded by people going, you're great. You're beautiful, you're great. And yet, we've all seen examples of people who were giant stars, who either sabotage themselves or god forbid, you know, took their life and they just couldn't choose their light that couldn't allow it to for whatever reason, it's some pre built glass ceiling that they put in their heads. Like, I'm not worth this. You know, I mean, John Belushi comes to mind, you know, who number one album, number one show, number one movie in the world? And he was depressed, his auto.

Kim Hudson 46:40
Right! Right. And the guy that was in Mork and Mindy,

Alex Ferrari 46:43
Oh, well, Robin Williams, Robert Robin Williams. I mean, he, he had an illness. So there was a mental, there was a degenerative degenerative thing that happened to his brain that caused him to do that. But But yeah, but many of these, you know, and we've seen it, I mean, people.

Kim Hudson 47:00
So you know, what you were saying there is actually why that beat gives up what kept her stuck, is so important. Because if you don't give up the old belief that told you, you had to conform to that dependent world, then you have this constant dissidents that you're behaving in a way that's not in alignment with one of your, your beliefs. And that will always throw you off track, you'll always try and go back to be in alignment with that. So the Virgin's journey notes that you have to have a moment where you consciously reflect and say, you know, what, I don't actually still have to believe that in might have served me in the past. But now's the time to cue the music, let it go.

Alex Ferrari 47:45
I think, for us it's so true, because there are those limiting beliefs that we all live in now we're getting into the psychology and the youngin aspect of this, of this, of this journey. But if you are told You're not worth it, you're not that you could be the most beautiful human being on the planet. gorgeous, talented. And we've seen these people, we've seen these people self destruct in front of our eyes. And in Nicole Smith, I remember I mean, she had everything. And she, she did not feel worthy of this fame and accurate at that. She just couldn't deal with it. And I mean, whatever happened happened to her, of course. And Marilyn and woman rose a little different. Yeah. But, but there's just like, there's,

Kim Hudson 48:35
There was an element

Alex Ferrari 48:37
She was Norma Jean. She was still she in her head. She was Norma Jean. She wasn't Marilyn Monroe. And to live up I can't even imagine trying to live up to being Marilyn Monroe when she was. I mean, she was she was put up there as the perfection of the female species, I mean, at the time, right? Right, right, who can live who can live with that kind of pressure. So it too, you can break through those own limiting beliefs, or stories that you're telling yourself, you doesn't matter what kind of success you have. If you can't find that light within you, you can't go forward.

Kim Hudson 49:17
Exactly. And you know, people try and tell the story about becoming your authentic self. And they just present obstacles. And then a light went on, and suddenly they were themselves right and it doesn't read through on the screen. We'd never really break it down and understand that there's a lot of steps. You know, like that you're facing the unknown, you have to cocoon for that. You can't it's too vulnerable to face criticism and you and you have to recognize what your your old belief was so that you can let it go. You have to consciously choose for yourself, that you're choosing your light. It doesn't matter if the rest of the world sees you as bright. You know, like there's all these steps to writing that inner journey that would tend to kind of without a structure, just gloss over it. And then suddenly, she got better.

Alex Ferrari 50:08
She's like, boom, one day, she just found her light. And it's done. And so it's all Yeah, it's there has to be scenes that they are consciously figuring that out in one way, shape, or form. And that's interesting. It's an interesting way to write it is make it interesting when you see that, because it's inner work. So it's hard to put that on the screen. So there has to be yes. How would you? How would you so give me an example?

Kim Hudson 50:31
I don't know if you've ever did you receive ever after? Of course. Yeah. Have you got kids? Yeah. So there's this moment where she's been to the ball, and everything's blown up. And she's just like, okay, it is what it is. I'm just going to work hard again. And she's talking to her stepmother. And she says, was there ever a moment that you felt love for me because you're the only mother I've ever known. And her stepmother says, hook it up, I feel love for a pebble in my shoe. And then see, Drew Barrymore's just okay. I accept that. I've been trying to find love from somebody who will never love me. And, and just in a look, she gives up what was keeping her stuck. She's She boldly asked the question, she got the answer, and she accepts it. And so a whole beat done in just a look.

Alex Ferrari 51:24
That's really interesting. That's really you're absolutely right. How many times have you gone to your parents looking for something or gone to a spouse or, or a girlfriend or boyfriend looking for something that they're just not going to give you ever? Yeah. And, and then you go, Oh, okay. I get it. Now. I need to move on. It's okay. Now. Thank you for letting me off the hook.

Kim Hudson 51:48
Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 51:49
Another movie came to mind and chanted. Oh, yeah, that one is that that's a if you start looking at that journey, it's very inward, like at first she's a cartoon princess, and has to stick with in the world of being a princess. And slowly, she starts to realize no, I'm, I'm worth it. I'm not just I'm, I'm a human being and I want to go do this. And I want to go to that. And she comes, she awakens within herself.

Kim Hudson 52:16
I have a full range of feelings. And I want all of that authenticity to be in the world. Yeah. And boy, the aim. Yeah. She just plays it so deeply. You know, somebody could have played that very sufficiently superficially. But she got the whole version, you know. And if the actor gets it in their heart, it just flashes onto the screen. It's really quite something.

Alex Ferrari 52:41
She should have gotten an Oscar for that performance. She was so good. And that she's, she's amazing actress, but that she is. She's perfect. Now tell me about your where can people find your book and the work that you're doing?

Kim Hudson 52:57
It's on Amazon, Amazon, both all kinds. It just recently got released? I think so. That's nice. Yeah, that's true. Michael, we see productions, and

Alex Ferrari 53:12
Your website and find you and your story

Kim Hudson 53:15
Storyarchetypes.com is where my website is.

Alex Ferrari 53:20
Good URL. That's a good URL to have. And I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Kim Hudson 53:29
We've been talking about be authentic.

Alex Ferrari 53:36
Yeah. Be authentic. Embrace your light, is what you're saying. Now what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Kim Hudson 53:52
Let it go. Have a friend who's a psychic who says she has never met somebody who hangs on to their pain so long? afraid this is my life lesson. Fair enough, gives up what kept her stuck.

Alex Ferrari 54:08
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Kim Hudson 54:11
Oh, okay. shockula, enchanted. And I'm gonna have to say Joker, whoa, parasite. They're both amazing. They're all virgin stories.

Alex Ferrari 54:24
What an amazing collection of films. Great, great collection. It has been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for putting this out in the world. And I'm gonna do my darndest to get this information out to the screenwriting public because it's something that's just not talked about enough. And I think it's a new way to approach story. And one last question. Can you have the hero journey and the virgins journey overlap each other in the same story?

Kim Hudson 54:55
Yes. As a matter of fact, it's not a person It's an energy and that energy they can, the hero or the Virgin energy can pass through the same person. But if you want an example, just if you were trying to like screenwriting figure out, how do I put the two together and have the stories work, frozen, the two characters Anna and Elsa, and as a hero, Alice's a virgin, and they just you've watched them connect with each other, though, there are stages there, the rescue greet order. That's a place where the hero crosses over with the Virgin story.

Alex Ferrari 55:34
So is does it have to be two characters? Or can this be in the one can this be in one character? And the two both?

Kim Hudson 55:41
It can be both. Yeah. So there's tons where, where the well, ever after she saves herself, the original writing of the pretty woman apparently she saved yourself in the end. And then he came back. They rewrote that. But there's lots. Yeah. So you definitely in and we'll know this in our own lives, that you can be the hero in your own life. And you definitely need to be in charge of your own versions journey.

Alex Ferrari 56:13
We will leave it at that. Kim, thank you so much for being on the show. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you and thank you again for the work that you're doing. Appreciate you.

Kim Hudson 56:21
You're welcome. Thanks for having me. This is lovely.

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Ronald Bass Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Ron Bass was born on March 26, 1942 in Los Angeles, California, USA. He is a writer and producer, known for Rain Man (1988), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) and Entrapment (1999). He has been married to Christine Ann Thomas since June 3, 1978. They have two children. He was previously married to Gail V. Weinstein.

Bass was born in Los Angeles, California. From the age of 3 to 11, Bass was afflicted with an undiagnosed condition that kept him bedridden. His symptoms included respiratory problems and stomach pains with high fevers and nausea. It was during this illness, at age six, that Bass is said to have started writing.

During his teens, Bass began work on a novel, which he entitled Voleur. He completed this work at age 17 and showed it to his English teacher. He took her critique of his first completed project quite hard. She described the writing as very good, but she felt that it was too personal to be published. Bass’s response was to later burn his manuscript. Later in life, Bass recalled “it was like the voice of God telling me I didn’t have what it takes to be a writer, and I should find something practical to do with my life”. Bass would revisit his teenage writings later in life.

Below are all the screenplays available online. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple and Spotify’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcastwith guest like Oscar® Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.


(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

RAIN MAN (1988)

Screenplay by Ron Bass – Read the screenplay!

MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING (1997)

Screenplay by Ron Bass – Read the screenplay!

STEPMOM (1998)

Screenplay by Ron Bass – Read the screenplay!

WHAT DREAMS MAY COME (1998)

Screenplay by Ron Bass – Read the screenplay!

SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS (1999)

Screenplay by Ron Bass and Scott Hicks  – Read the screenplay!

ENTRAPMENT (1999)

Screenplay by Ron Bass and Michael Herzberg  – Read the screenplay!

AMELIA (2009)

Screenplay by Ron Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan  – Read the screenplay!

 

BPS 233: How I Adapted a Best Selling Novel and Made My Film with Aitch Alberto

Aitch Alberto is a writer/director born and raised in Miami, Florida. She is a Sundance Episodic Lab fellow, recipient of a Skowhegan Artist Residency, a Yaddo fellowship, a Latino Screenwriting Project Fellowship, and an alumnus of the Outfest Screenwriting Lab. Aitch has written on DUSTER, a 1970s-set crime drama series from J.J. Abrams and LaToya Morgan for HBO Max and WBTV.

She also served as a writer on AppleTV+’s BAFTA and Film Independent Nominated anthology series LITTLE AMERICA from Alan Yang, Kumail Nanjiani, and Emily V. Gordon. Most recently, Aitch has adapted and directed the award-winning young adult novel ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Eugenio Debrez producing, from Limelight.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a 2022 coming-of-age romantic film that is an adaptation of the 2012 novel of the same name by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Aristotle and Dante had it premiere at the 47th Toronto Film Festival on September 9, 2022.

She has been included on The Black List’s inaugural Latinx List, as well as the Tracking Board’s Hit List and Young & Hungry List, and NALIP’s list of “Latinx Directors You Should Know”. Aitch has most recently been featured on Variety’s 10 Directors To Watch for 2022 and Indiewire’s 22 Rising Female Filmmakers to watch in 2022.

Enjoy my conversation with Aitch Alberto.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Aitch Alberto 0:00
Like, how do you go through the journey of trying to be who your parents want you to be? And who your soul calls you to be? And how is their trauma affecting your sort of the way you navigate the world? Right. So it was, I think the subtlety was necessary and sort of like presenting that in a in a naturalistic way that slowly like evolves.

Alex Ferrari 0:20
This episode is brought to you by Bulletproof Script Coverage, Where screenwriters go to get their scripts read by Top Hollywood Professionals. Learn more at covermyscreenplay.com I'd like to welcome to the show Aitch Alberto. How you doin Aitch?

Aitch Alberto 0:36
Hi, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:38
I'm good. We were having a good laugh before we got started because it's not there's few of us Cuban filmmakers. In the business. There's there's there are Cuban filmmakers without question. But every time I every time I find another Cuban filmmaker, I get very excited. And we start talking and we started like, Adela and it didn't of course, you're from Miami and

Aitch Alberto 1:01
The lalalalala No, I mean, I love it. It is like a rarity. We are out here and we are doing the thing but there's not many of us. So especially like a Cuban from Miami because there's Cubans everywhere, but like a que cippic And being from Miami is very specific to

Alex Ferrari 1:22
I think filmmakers from Miami is like a whole other conversation. It's

Aitch Alberto 1:26
I heard your name from like, years down the line. And I refuse to age myself. But like, you were in the like the sphere of like Dave Rodriguez and like Caroline

Alex Ferrari 1:36
Ohh stop it. Stop it. Why are you going back that far?

Aitch Alberto 1:40
Yes, I know. But like Dave directed my first short Oh, no, no. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:46
You were in that short.

Aitch Alberto 1:48
It was. Yeah. And I also wrote that story. Oh, my God, what do you rest in peace?

Alex Ferrari 1:55
May David. I did I did push for him. I was I did all I did push for him. And then during that, that was when I released my first short film Broken back in the day,

Aitch Alberto 2:05
I've seen broken back into the movie, because I he did push and then like, while push was in post, he fit in my short. And I found him off like Craigslist. I had written the script, it was all like shift left on like a Word doc. I was really young. And it was a really beautiful experience. But I remember your name from then, because I have a sick memory.

Alex Ferrari 2:29
That is, so this would be this the first lesson that will teach in this conversation. It is a small, small world.

Aitch Alberto 2:37
Absolutely. Even smaller industry. I say that. LA's like the biggest, smallest town in the world.

Alex Ferrari 2:45
I mean, that you're like, Oh, my God, I can't believe like I just You took me way back. This is good talking about early 2000s When you don't need a date. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Sorry. I mean, last year, but so. So my first question to you, ah, is how did you get into and why did you want to get into this business?

Aitch Alberto 3:09
That's a very loaded question. I have a very interesting upbringing, being from Miami. And growing up when I grew up, my father was in the drug trade. And was a fugitive for a really long time. And I it was eight years and we lived on the run with him. And movies were always my state. So it was like the thing that brought me comfort and like I never asked for toys. I wasn't like big on anything else. I was obsessed with movies. I just didn't know that you could have a career on all facets and all sides of the film industry. So I acted for a really, really long time.

Alex Ferrari 3:47
Wow, that's so when is the movie coming out of when you were on the run? I mean, there's a movie there. I have to believe

Aitch Alberto 3:54
It's a TV show. And we are yes, it's somewhere that it's being developed right now. And it's written and it's like the thing that it's probably the most honest piece of writing that I ever did. It heals me in so many ways. It was archaic. It like sent me on my journey of my transition. It was it just like unlocked so much to revisit, like a version of myself that always existed, but sort of like life happens and you don't know how to sort of embrace that and be everything that you could be. But that scripts got me to the Sundance episodic lab, it got me my first TV writing job, my second TV writing job and sort of like helped me get me where I am right now to be able to make the film that we're about to talk about.

Alex Ferrari 4:35
That's That's amazing. That's I mean, well, I'm looking forward to seeing that series because I mean, being from Miami. I just I did just see Cocaine Cowboys again. That's just

Aitch Alberto 4:44
So it's very that it's like that was my life.

Alex Ferrari 4:47
So and you were on the run with him with Japan. Yeah,

Aitch Alberto 4:50
I mean, for the year it was a very like interesting experience. And I thought it was completely normal until you like grow up and you're like, Wait, you didn't have that experience.

Alex Ferrari 5:00
Do you mean you weren't running away from the cops and the FBI? And

Aitch Alberto 5:03
It's also a deep trauma, which, you know, thank God right there.

Alex Ferrari 5:07
Right! I can only imagine I can only imagine. Well, that's. So that's that makes sense, I guess. So in other words, movies were your refuge. And you were able to kind of go in into that world and very cinema para DCLs.

Aitch Alberto 5:22
I love that film. It's such a great film,

Alex Ferrari 5:25
Just to kind of escape into movies, I always used to say that movie theaters were like a church. For me, I would go into it. And by myself, I would just go to a movie and just in the middle of Tuesday at one o'clock or something, and just sit there and watch a movie and, and by the time I was done watching that movie, my life has been better for whatever reason, I would have forgotten the problems I was dealing with,

Aitch Alberto 5:46
So one thing that I like Miss during the pandemic, as a writer, it's, I'm great at isolating and like quarantine didn't scare me. But I missed the escape of going to a theater in the middle of the day. And it was always one of my favorite things. My grandmother would take me when I was really young. And she would like skip movies with me and like, she fall asleep and all of them but like she was my like Road Dog and going to see all these movies that I did often see movies that I shouldn't have been seeing at the age that I was like Leaving Las Vegas I saw when I was 10 years old. I went home and wrote my first script online paper.

Alex Ferrari 6:28
That's that is amazing. Wow. I mean, I saw Beverly Hills Cop when I was like seven or eight and I thought that was a little rough. But Leaving Las Vegas it's it's rough for an adult, let alone a 10 year old for God's sakes

Aitch Alberto 6:41
When you're on the run and you're slightly traumatized and growing up faster than you need to.

Alex Ferrari 6:47
I mean, what love Leaving Las Vegas what a drunk killing himself. That's fine. Sorry for spoiler alert, if you haven't seen it, it's on you guys. Sorry. So, um, so you mentioned that you got into Sundance, how was that experience because I've spoken to many people who've gone through that lab and through that process, and I'd love to just kind of get the inside feeling of what it was like being in there and going through that process.

Aitch Alberto 7:10
I loved it. It was one of the most nurturing experiences that I've had as a writer and a filmmaker thus far in my career. And it just like, I was introduced to so many people, it was affirming in so many ways. It was such a goal of mine to like, be validated by Sundance, because I didn't go to film school. I don't have any formal training. Like I taught myself by reading scripts and watching movies at the same time. So like, but I knew that I knew what I was doing, right? Because I loved it so much. And like I worked so hard at it, that like having that validation through that program was really invaluable. And there I met like Lee Eisenberg, who gave me my first writing job on Middle America, season two, and Latoya Morgan, who I just wrote on a show with her for HBO Max called duster, which is also created by JJ Abrams as well.

Alex Ferrari 8:02
That's, that's, that's not a bad that's not bad. Since it's not bad. It's not bad if you could get if it's a good work if you can get it.

Aitch Alberto 8:10
And I think that like who I am, what my perspective is, there's room for me now. So I think a lot of like hard work and timing is what worked in my favor.

Alex Ferrari 8:23
So timing, timing is big with everything, especially in the film industry. Like you know, when I when I talked to some of these guys who were coming up in the 90s, who are the legendary the Robert Rodriguez is and the Richard Linklater and these kinds of people. You know, you know, Rick was the first one to tell me, he's like, I mean, slacker wouldn't make it today. Like, there's just no place for a movie like that today. It'd be difficult. It'd be an art movie. It'd be a back it was he calls him backyard movies. And he was like, that's literally his backyard. Austin was his backyard back then. And, and then I watched it recently, and now that I'm living in Austin, shaped a bit. The city has changed just slightly since then.

Aitch Alberto 9:02
But my lead actor in my film is from Austin and I went to visit I've been a couple of times and absolutely love it. So good for you, Miami.

Alex Ferrari 9:11
Yes, absolutely. No, it's wonderful here. We absolutely love it here. Now, you also directed and wrote a lot of short films I saw on your filmography. What was that? How did that help you develop as a filmmaker because a lot of people like as shorts you shouldn't do it. This or That? How did it work for you and your path?

Aitch Alberto 9:30
Well, I had the foundation of acting, which I think was also invaluable to you know, not only directing actors but understanding story in a way that was very specific. But the shorts were sort of my like, I could do this it was giving myself permission and not waiting for permission from anybody to, to just boots on the ground do it and like I didn't know what I was doing. But I knew that the only way I was going to learn and get better was actually like making something. So that's how that happened. And then it really He became you often when you're in those positions you think you need to like, scale up or have like the ambitions of working or collaborating with people that are further ahead in your career. But what I found to be most useful is that I was collaborating with people that were right next to me that were my contemporaries that have come up with me. So we were learning in so many ways together, luckily, like those films got seen at film festivals and stuff, but like, had they not? That would have been okay too. Because like, I again, not going to film school. That was my film school.

Alex Ferrari 10:31
And like, like Robert Rodriguez, he had 25 I think shorts that no one ever saw before he made mariachi

Aitch Alberto 10:38
Crazy. I wasn't about to make 25

Alex Ferrari 10:42
But you did a lot though. Yeah. I mean, you did what? Like 10 or 12, at least

Aitch Alberto 10:46
In variations. Yeah, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 10:49
But it was an experience even just being on a set, especially when you're coming up is just go much

Aitch Alberto 10:55
100% So that I'm I'm grateful for those experiences, and I think everybody should make it short.

Alex Ferrari 11:01
Absolutely. I mean, I started my career off with shorts and it's it's done it did well for me without question. Now your first film, Harry Kerry, how rock carry are heavy carry IT'S HARD CARRY Hard Carry? Yeah, I was watching it and

Aitch Alberto 11:16
I'm like cringing because it's like one of those buildings that I like, I can't believe that in the world. Sorry. Yeah, like that.

Alex Ferrari 11:22
Listen, no, listen, look, I look at the thing that I like about it. It has a very mumble core vibe to it. It's very Duplass Swanberg, Lynn Shelton kind of vibe to it. So how did it come about? And how and how did you even get that film off the ground? Because it's it's shot, very naturalistic. It looks like it's available lighting. But there's a really great story behind it. And it's, you could see the image you could start seeing through through the cracks, like oh, oh, I see.

Aitch Alberto 11:54
Yeah, there's a point somewhere in there. I call that film an experiment. It premiered at the New Orleans Film Festival and we're seeing distribution through breaking glass. grippy to me that it even saw the light of day, obviously, that's like, in hindsight, I thought I was like groundbreaking Well, obviously,

Alex Ferrari 12:15
No, no, no, this is Hollywood, Hollywood. Now see my genius.

Aitch Alberto 12:19
Like, this is it, I'm doing it on my own. That was I wanted to make a dog one film, like a large dog 1090 95 movie, which is impossible to make, especially like now. So it was an idea that I had. And I just had an outline. And I found really good actors, often friends that were game to play at a camera and a boom mic. And we were out on the road. And just we shot that in two days for like, $2,000.

Alex Ferrari 12:49
Amazing, amazing. And that was that wasn't that far. That wasn't that long ago was like because the mumble core movement and I use the mumble Chroma piano with dogs, obviously dog many fathers, but the mumblecore movement was in the early 2000s. And this film was within like, within seven or eight years ago, if I'm not mistaken.

Aitch Alberto 13:09
I don't even remember

Alex Ferrari 13:12
25th I mean, at least that's why I thought the 2012

Aitch Alberto 13:14
Yeah, that sounds right.

Alex Ferrari 13:16
2015. Exactly. So it wasn't like it was that far back ago. And you were doing that kind of filmmaking. Look, my my first film was mumblecore ask, which I did the exact same thing on my first these last two features I did were completely outlined shot like it one was eight days. One was four days. You just roll and you're like, let's see what happens. You make it?

Aitch Alberto 13:38
Yeah, you just do it. And it's like at the end of the day, it's playing right. And so it's probably one of those films that I could have kept for myself.

Alex Ferrari 13:46
But you distributed worldwide.

Aitch Alberto 13:50
I mean, it was

Alex Ferrari 13:52
Did you do? What did you do? Well, by the way on it? I mean, I mean it cost $2,000 So did you make any money on it?

Aitch Alberto 13:58
I mean money on it. Look at your success.

Alex Ferrari 14:02
You're successful, you're successful filmmaker.

Aitch Alberto 14:05
With it. This is the beginning and it was like huge in Germany. It had like a theatrical screening and everything in Germany. It was like you

Alex Ferrari 14:12
Can you can't walk the streets in Germany, Kenya. Oh,

Aitch Alberto 14:15
I mean, I've changed genders since so maybe I'll get away. Um, but like that. It's interesting because the DVD of the German version of the movie is very graphic. So I think that has a lot to do with why it was a success. I'm telling you way too much. The Cuban from Miami thing really works for you.

Alex Ferrari 14:36
I've done I've done a few of these. So on that film, though, I have to ask you, since it was your first film, and it was an experiment, what was the biggest lesson you learned in that entire process?

Aitch Alberto 14:47
That you need a crew?

Alex Ferrari 14:49
You need money, a crew and a script.

Aitch Alberto 14:52
Money you'll never have enough money but you definitely need a crew and people that are really good at their job because they they make you look good.

Alex Ferrari 15:02
That's very, very true without question. Now, you mentioned that you're working on that on the show duster. With JJ. I mean, I'm assuming you've met JJ. And are you working with Jim? Like, what's it like working with someone like JJ? Because he's such a, I mean, he's such a legend in our business. And he's been doing it at a high level for so long and doing television. I mean, I mean, I could just list off the shows. I've watched the video. So in the television space, what's it like working on a JJ Abrams creative show?

Aitch Alberto 15:35
JJ Abrams is a legend as a human as well, I, we work together often he was in the room. Often he before we went into production, we had like an hour long conversation about the film as well. He's, I consider him like a mentor, in so many ways, a very short amount of time. But what I learned the most from him, was his kindness. He's so capable of listening and being present and actually caring, despite his creative genius. And that, to me, was something that I hope to emulate as my career goes on. And if it ever comes here with JJ is just the fact that he is so successful. And he's worked on such strong and like popular IPs, and was able to maintain this humanity. That to me was very impressive. And I mean, like, he's all over the place. And he's doing too, too much. But it's also like, what fuels him? Brian, I was just in awe of him. From like a real, I also wasn't impressed by him. And that's why we became friends.

Alex Ferrari 16:39
Right! You didn't You didn't geek out, but you are internally impressed by him. But you weren't like, Oh my God. It's JJ. Like you weren't completely fan. You know, fan girl.

Aitch Alberto 16:48
I think like, I was like, if he's a regular dude, who is really good at what he does, and has a real passion for it. Like, I think that's how everybody should approach these people. You know what I mean? Like, I could be JJ, you could be JJ. Like anybody could be JJ. It just takes like a certain level of tenacity, and perseverance, and passion to sort of, like want that.

Alex Ferrari 17:10
Right. Without question. I mean, it's I saw him coming up. And he started off in television, and he wanted to do features and, and he loves Spielberg. And then he get to work with Steven on things. And, you know, he's, and then he gets to do Star Wars. And you know, he's, he's done. Okay, he's done. Okay, he's done. Okay.

Aitch Alberto 17:27
I really, like I really fuck with JJ in a real way. So and

Alex Ferrari 17:30
And that Ted, that TED talk he did with the box. I don't know if I've ever seen Oh, you have to watch that. It's a TED talk he did about a box. It's just like creative muse in so many ways. It's a box that he was given as a child, and he's never opened it. And it's like this. And it's like, what's inside, it's like this magic box. And it's fascinating. It's like a 10 minute Converse them to lecture he does about creativity, but he uses the box, and he brought the box out, and everything is great.

Aitch Alberto 18:02
So I was a lot of that on a daily basis. And he talks about all these toys and like, you know, a listening device when he was a kid. And it's just like, super ate. Every time he talked like, I would have visions of that film, because it was so autobiographical, and so real to his experience, that I was, it's really sweet.

Alex Ferrari 18:21
He's you can you can see the tenderness and the humanity in his work, just like you, just like you see it in Spielberg's work. Like you can see it in et you can see it in Schindler's List, you can see the humanity that comes through their work, and it's something you can't fake.

Aitch Alberto 18:38
No, you can't. And that was something that was really important to me to also implement in making this film. Because I think it was like a redefinition of Latino, Latina, Latin a Latin neck stories, I just want to make sure everybody is included. Right? Yeah. But yeah, like, it's that was, it's a redefining of that, because so often, like our films about our experience, or are violent, or just stereotypical and playing into tropes, and even about the queer experience, as well. So I wanted to make something that felt all American and accessible to everyone. This was just at least from my experience, like the duality of being like, growing up Cuban, but also being American was something that really inspired me because it's like, you feel both, but you are one, right. So and that's some, it was risky for people to sort of understand what I was trying to do, because I don't think they have any, like sort of relatable movies or comps that have done that before because it's just so about the immigrant experience, or about this, just one narrative. And so like, I'm hoping that this unlocks an understanding to that which is rooted in humanity and compassion,

Alex Ferrari 19:51
Without questions. So we're talking about your new film, Aristotle, and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which is

Aitch Alberto 19:58
I've done this before, too. Did you see Hi, segway for you.

Alex Ferrari 20:02
Did you see Did you see how that worked? It was very, it's very professional. It's very, they're very slick, have you? No, no, of course. And then I just watched it. And it's beautifully done. It is hypnotic in certain scenes. It's extremely touching. And there's a humanity that we're talking about in it. And, I mean, the cast is finished and henio and, and Yvonne and everybody else the leads. So beautifully done. But it's done with such a subtle hand, is what I noticed in your in your work in this film, because it's not heavy handed. And it's not preachy. It's human in it. Does that make sense?

Aitch Alberto 20:42
Yes, that's exactly I'm just letting you talk. Because that's exactly what I want someone to say about the film. Right? Like, sure. It's about this, like kids coming of age who's like grappling with his identity and his sexuality and all of these things. But it's so much more than that, right? It's like, how does your family and your experience and your circumstances influenced that experience? Right? Like, how do you go through the journey of trying to be who your parents want you to be? And who your soul calls you to be? And how is their trauma affecting your sort of the way you navigate the world? Right. So it was, I think the subtlety was necessary and sort of like presenting that in a in a naturalistic way that's slowly like evolved throughout it.

Alex Ferrari 21:26
Yeah, it was beautifully done. And I have to give you props for working with a new young and upcoming unknown producer by the name of Lin Manuel Miranda. I've never heard of him. Is I've never anything cool. Doing anything good.

Aitch Alberto 21:38
No, I mean, like he begged me to. So it was a Yeah, I can't get rid of him. Now.

Alex Ferrari 21:46
Bow is like he's on my he's text. He's blown up my phone on a daily basis, like, hey, what do you think Hamilton to? Should I do it?

Aitch Alberto 21:54
We zoomed yesterday. No, I think yo, like he is a force. And he had done I read the book in 2014. I read it in one sitting on locked something inside of me that as a storyteller that I really wanted to tell. And it became my life's work. I didn't know that this book was like a thing. And kids have tattoos. And it was like sold in all these languages. So I had before I found that out, I had a producer friend find out if the rights were available. They were I couldn't believe they were because it was so undeniably great. But it's sometimes when you find those things, it's because they're undeniably great for you. So I was this is serendipitous, I'm going to keep riding this wave. So I wrote the script on spec. Couple of I sat on it for a couple of months. And then I wrote to the author, because there wasn't enough traction for me like the traditional route. So it was like, Yo, I did this thing can I like, come visit El Paso and meet you. So I spent four days there, we became really great friends. And at the end of that, he said, These boys were mine. And now I give them to you. And I was like, crying and like, we were both crying. I was like, fuck, what do I do now? Like, like, now I have this thing that's obviously valuable, and like people love it. How do I make it happen? And so I knew that's where I discovered that Lynn had done the audiobook to REM Dante. And I was like, We need to get him involved in some capacity. I met a producer through a film festival, who helped me develop the script. So that took about a year and then 20 End of 2017 We sent the script to Lynn didn't hear anything back through managers, agents. And that was like, my whole career and anything that I've done has happened because I've made it happen. So I was like, it was New Year's Day 2018 And I was like, hey, Lynn read my script. I tweeted at him no 20 minutes later he replied. And then three months later he was in LA and agreed to produce it I just knew the relationship to the property there like I knew

Alex Ferrari 24:12
I just had to get to him you had to get

Aitch Alberto 24:15
I had and now I can get rid of up no I don't want

Alex Ferrari 24:19
Now what the yappity Yap all the time it's

Aitch Alberto 24:21
A great ideas and the great notes and ya know, it's been really cool and he's been it's not just like someone throwing their name on it like he's been a part of the process since then. In like a real way. He I met Yvonne a pitch and we really connected but he like, she's so wonderful. She, of course. You've interviewed her before.

Alex Ferrari 24:42
Yeah, I don't know. If it's fantastic.

Aitch Alberto 24:46
I was like, Oh, I get why you're such a star and you're unstoppable.

Alex Ferrari 24:52
So no, no without question. And with Eva specifically. Like when you get to meet these people, sometimes you meet them only on zoom but sometimes You get to meet them in person. And you go, okay, I get it. I truly get what everybody sees. And these people, and even I can't wait to see flaming Cheetos.

Aitch Alberto 25:10
That's why I pitched on that. That's where we met. And it's really good. I've seen like snippets of it that she showed me on set. I'm really excited. And I think people are gonna love it.

Alex Ferrari 25:23
And I can't wait for that movie as well. And it's so it's really interesting what you're working with Lynn? And was there any big lesson you learned from him and his process? And the notes in the storytelling? How we approach a story, or producing what did you learn?

Aitch Alberto 25:39
We, I learned so much. And it's hard to distill that because it's like, pieces of information, right. But when we finished because we were editing while we were in production, and I hadn't stepped away from the film at all. And I was literally killing myself to like, get it done for what was supposed to be a festival premiere back then. And he got on the phone with me and just told me you need to step away from the movie. And he was in, post for Tick Tick Boom, at the same time. So he was going through like the same first minute filmmaker vibes that I was going through. And that really hit me once he said that, and that's what I did, I stepped away from the movie. And then we went back into posts and everything started to like, unlock them. So it was invaluable advice.

Alex Ferrari 26:34
It is something that for people listening should really understand is that sometimes as artists, we get a little too close to the project. Yeah. And we're inside the book, and you can't read the book, when you're inside the book, you got to pull back and give time to do now,

Aitch Alberto 26:47
It was seven years, it was a seven year journey from finding the book to like getting to production. So I was entrenched in it. And I just like, I will die without this, you know, but it's like he gave me perspective on that. And I just, I was able to come back to it with fresh eyes with an open heart, because it was like production editing, like, all at the same time. And so the experience of production, the experience of editing something is completely different. And if you're not stepping away to sort of separate those things, you're a, you're not doing your best work.

Alex Ferrari 27:21
Yeah, without question. Now, let me ask you, do you when you're on set? And you know, did you have it? Well, first of all, did you have any problems with the whole first time director even though you didn't make a feature? But you're this is a big jump up from that first two day experiment? With, you know, major actors, I'm assuming the budget was, you know, more than what you did in the first movie? Sure. So did you run into a lot of ocean energy as a first time filmmaker? I don't know if we try. Like, I don't know, what did you think?

Aitch Alberto 27:54
Before what because we there was the other directors attached to, you know, make this before we got to the point, but I always knew, I always knew was my story to tell. So whenever those things would turn out all those false starts happened. I was just like, yeah, because it's supposed to be mine. Through that process, my profile sort of started elevating through the JJs of the world, and lens validation and all of that. So no, I wish there was a bit more trust in me when it was time to go to set. And I also had a very clear vision of what I wanted. So I didn't second guess myself too much. But what I did want to do is find partners and collaborators that were more experienced than me, and were better at what I do. And that was my director of photography, my production designer, my caught all, all the people around me that showed up was so much love is something that I will never forget. And I hoped to have on every film. And that was the same thing with the actors. I think people really believed in the story, they believed in me, and they showed up with that with such a willingness. And, you know, I've been told that I ran a firm, but warm set, which to me is like a big compliment, because we didn't have a lot of time. But like a lot of the work was done in pre production where everybody knew what we were doing. And I'm always super open to hearing someone's idea in the hopes that it elevates what my thought was. And that's what happened throughout this process.

Alex Ferrari 29:31
Did you by any? I know a lot of times when we were, you know, young directors or starting out directors, we get pushback from other people on set, let's say, you know, a grip or, or a DP or anything like that the politics of the set, and I had it you know, I had it meant when I started out like people were like, What do you know, kid? You know, I'm gonna shoot it my way. Did you I imagine you didn't have that because you had so many heavy hitters behind you, supporting you, but did anything Did you have to deal with anything

Aitch Alberto 30:04
You want to all the gossip all the gossip?

Alex Ferrari 30:06
The reason I'm asking you the reason I'm asking you is this and it doesn't have to be on this project on any project, because filmmakers don't know that that's going to happen on a set. And they're not prepared for it, it could destroy a shoot. So I always ask that question of, of every, almost every director, I talked to you, I asked that question, especially when they're starting out, because it's something that is not taught in film school, and it's not really talked about too much. So without giving names, I don't want to call anybody out. But just if you how did you deal with it? If it did happen to you?

Aitch Alberto 30:33
It did happen. It did happen. It did happen from departments that I didn't think it would happen from? And I think it's it's twofold, right? It's not just because I'm a first time director, it was because I was also a woman on a set. And to top that off, I was a trans woman on a set. So I think a lot of men have often gotten away with certain behavior on sets that are rooted sodomy. So there was a dismissive sort of tone, where questions were being asked, and I was asking for things. And they were directed to say, like, my director of photography, who was male, and it was like, I think it took a certain level level of assertiveness. And being from where I'm from, I definitely have. So there was a need for that. And it wasn't something that I needed it or wanted to access or have to, like, move with. But it was there. And I'm happy it was there. Because I wasn't gonna let anybody sort of like walk all over me or walk all over my dream. And I also have, and had the most amazing producer by my side, who just had my back in a real way and was with me every day on set right next to me, and that her name is Valerie Stadler, and she was boots on the ground. And she was with me from the very beginning. After I felt so her partnership, and her having my back throughout, it was just, it was very much necessary because I was able to focus on the work while she dealt with some, you know, drugs?

Alex Ferrari 32:15
Yeah, no. And again, this is these kinds of conversations are important to have in a public forum, because it really does help other filmmakers coming up. I know, just just, they just don't know, it's coming, I had to deal with it. Being the young guy, the young Latino kid, on a set where I might have been the only Latino on the set. And, you know, I had, I had a first ad just a first ad, giving me crap. And I'm like, It's my production company, I hired you, hey, I'm personally writing your check, get on board or get the hell off my set. These are the kinds of things that they're not taught, not talked about.

Aitch Alberto 32:53
So yeah, that department was one of them. And you landed on one of the most amazing human beings that I've gotten the pleasure to work with, his name is montanhas. And he will be with me on every picture. And it was the first time in the last week of shooting, that I was able to walk away from set and know that everything was being taken care of like walk and sit down and do my job. And that I didn't have to sort of like be aware of every aspect of it. Because the person that was supposed to like, ride with me wasn't doing their job. And that often leads to like people seeing your difficult or but it's, it's not that I'm like I I pride myself on being a really good collaborator, and a really good listener, because I think that's what me, Director, but sometimes you do have to put your foot down. And it's like, you do have to assert what your role is in those situations. And that is definitely one of them.

Alex Ferrari 33:56
Listen, when you're coming up, it happens for everybody, every gender, everything. It just happens when Ridley Scott walks on a set, this doesn't happen now. Now, now,

Aitch Alberto 34:07
But I think like for now, because he's earned his respect. And like that's, and I've heard story from other directors. My DP like walked all over me and like, they're, I'm disappointed. I was convinced to do this, my this did this. And it's just like, No, if I'm going to make a mistake, and there's going to be a horrible review, I want it to be my fault. Do you know what I mean? And not be like, I knew that my instinct was this, you know, and that's also something that I like, I advise people who are listening is follow your instinct. They are always right.

Alex Ferrari 34:36
Yeah. And I did the exact same thing. I had DPS walk all over me and convinced me to do things and then I'm in post, I'm going, why didn't I get the shot that I wanted? Why didn't I fight harder? And these are just things that as directors we have to go through. And I think every I think every director goes through that as a one way Scorsese Spielberg all the greats all the Masters they all went through it at one point or another in their careers because it's it's part of the of the process. So becoming,

Aitch Alberto 35:00
I will say production was magic. And if I could have lived in production for the entire time I would have done it

Alex Ferrari 35:08
I was going to ask you about production. It's generally speaking, there's always a day that the entire world's coming down crashing around us as a director, the camera breaks, we lose a location, an accurate doesn't come out of whatever. Was there a day like that? And what was that? And how did you overcome it on any of your projects, by the way, doesn't have to be this one.

Aitch Alberto 35:29
I think every day was like that on this project, because there was such a timing around it. And like I've been told not to say it was but it was not enough time. And it was it made it really hard to sort of like not have room for those situations. But again, everybody really showed up, showed up in a real way passionate, they were so invested in the story. It was it was really lovely to see but yeah, there was always fires to put out and I equate or I give the credit to my producer Val for like putting those out before they really got to me.

Alex Ferrari 36:09
You hear about the the damage later, but you're like the fires that hit me.

Aitch Alberto 36:13
That almost happened on a daily basis. And a lot of those fires there, for example. They're the truck. There's a truck in the movie, which is the like quintessential textbook. Yeah. It's supposed to be this fire red truck, I was pushed into getting this other truck off Craigslist, that I knew was the wrong color. And they're like, it's just the photo. It's just the photo. I'm like, It's not the truck that's there. Um, right. And so like everybody's scrambling to now paint this truck, the right color, and distress it. They painted the same color it was but distressed. This I don't know, while it's happening. It's day one, I get to set. And my production designer is literally painting and distressing. The the truck that I wanted and I would have never known because it was perfect. It's exactly what I had envisioned. But the rigamarole before then, and they wrapped it there was like three steps that should have just been one. It was so funny, but also scary.

Alex Ferrari 37:17
And it's stressful.

Aitch Alberto 37:20
This is why I thought it was like It looks great. And they're like I'm so happy you think so because this in this

Alex Ferrari 37:26
This is day one. This is day one

Aitch Alberto 37:28
Literally we haven't even like shut up. Shut up. Like yes, we hadn't started yet.

Alex Ferrari 37:34
That's That's it. These are the kinds of stories of things I just love bringing out because man even if it's you know you think a lot of filmmakers coming up will look at your story and look at your movie and they're like oh it's got you know Eva and and him yo and Lin Manuel's producing it must you must have had caviar every day and sushi and and just limo brought you like that's not the reality on these shows. It's it's indie filmmaking, no question

Aitch Alberto 38:01
Dawns in Pomona and I stayed in Pomona, like a Motel Six the entire time. Because I'm notoriously late to things that's like my pandemic trauma. So it's like, there's no way I could be late to set so I like had to stay close. Um, but yeah, there was. We lost an actor the day before shooting the horse. It was all it was all the classic stuff.

Alex Ferrari 38:24
You know, it it happens it does happen

Aitch Alberto 38:27
during COVID to like Adam and Jed, we just we had to stop production for we went dark for two days because my lead actor got sick. Meanwhile, I was sick the entire time he was but I was like, I can't be the reason that we shut down. So it was like barreling through and I remember getting set. He's like massive fever. He's really young. This is big, first major role. And he's like, Ah, I can't, I can't do it. And it was like, done. Val got on it. We luckily shut down. We didn't spend too much money in doing that. And we were back up and running again. But everybody was really scared that it was COVID because that would have like, ruined everything. But it was just some sort of flu.

Alex Ferrari 39:11
Oh, that's a whole other level of crap that we have to deal with to make movies in today's world. It's It's insane. Now you your film is going to premiere at TIFF, the Toronto Film Festival. I always love asking this question. What was it like getting the phone call?

Aitch Alberto 39:31
It's it's really emotional. It's like every emotional moment because it was postproduction was so hard. We had been invited to another film festival where we pulled the movie. And so it was a lot of it was painful. As an artist it was a painful sort of decision to make and have to make, but knowing it was the best thing for me in the film. So when this one came, that's also like such a reputable Film Festival that I haven't been to and I'm so excited to be included. It was just it was an exhale, it was like I had been waiting seven years to exhale. And it hadn't happened. Because it felt really real for the first time.

Alex Ferrari 40:10
It's a beautiful fest. I've been there, I was there once. And it's a beautiful festival. And Toronto is a great, great city. It's not Sundance, like Sundance is a whole other experience. Because I love Sundance, but it's different. And it's beautiful. And it's such a they love their filmmakers, they really, really do. And it's one of the, arguably the top five, if not the top three, one of the top three festivals in the world. So it's, you know, when you're coming up as a filmmaker, you have to imagine that you'd have the same dreams that all of us do, is like I want to get into Sundance, I want to get into Toronto, I want to, I want people to look at my work and tell me that I've done a good job, you want to feel that as, as a creative as an artist, and to be accepted into a festival like Toronto, is just monumental, especially at the beginning of your career. You just like, Oh, my God, like I just I, and it doesn't seem like and you've been in being so young, obviously. But you've been you've done a few things in your life that I feel that you it's not going to go to your head, it's not going to be like I'm the great that was in the first movie, like my genius Hollywood come and get

Aitch Alberto 41:22
I mean, that's something that I reflect on. Often, it's like, there was so much desperation and sort of anxiety when I was younger, of having that break. That never came. And I think I think he was, I think it was for many reasons, I think like I had to like unlock something in me to sort of like be ready to exist in the world authentically, and allow good things to happen to me. And once I did that that happened. And I think that that's true for this as well. It's just like, I'm happy, it didn't happen when it was supposed to happen in my head and that it's happening now. Because I'm far more present for it. I'm aware when I'm not. And I bring myself back to it because it is it's like a dream for so many people and I'm living it. And I just really want to enjoy it and have fun with it as much as I can

Alex Ferrari 42:10
Enjoy it because it goes quick. exam was really quick. So enjoy every second of it. Now I have to also ask you the question, you got to work with an henio and Eva. And this is your first big movie and you're working with these veteran actors, some of them legendary actors. How did you approach collaborating with them? You know, I mean, because they're both forces of nature. Both of those specifically, are they? They are forces of nature.

Aitch Alberto 42:39
Alone as well who yes, it mom like I'm all three of them. And Kevin Alejandra as well, all four of them are have such great careers on television and film. It's an interesting question, because it felt so seamless to work with these people. And I joked that the Latinx mafia had to show up in order for this movie to get made. Because we live Huck is going to finance and film about like two brown boys directed by a trans woman. But it was them who again validated my script, it was Lynn, who Haniel and Eva are stepping up and being like, this story is important. And I want to be a part of it. So that validation sort of came in at the beginning of the process. And then working with them was just like a very natural unfolding. And especially with a cameo who was like, so nervous to step into this role, because it was so different from how people know him. And he was so game and trusted me so much. And it was a lot of conversation and a lot of like, just, you know, support and being him being there for him to make choices. That felt scary, but we're right. And it's just like, I think his performance in the film is a revelation and something I'm most proud of.

Alex Ferrari 43:56
Yeah, is I mean and white hair. He looked amazing.

Aitch Alberto 44:00
And that was that was all him up the hair like he was so committed, and so impassioned. And you see it on screen. And like that some Yeah, I am reflecting back and smiling because it was so lovely. And Eva was just a lot of these people were just the roles. They were who people that I wrote with in mine, Eva specifically. So she just stepped into it. Because that's her. She's motherly and she's nurturing and she's like, incredible that it was just like, easy to sort of like hold their hand and guide them through the problem. They're also veterans.

Alex Ferrari 44:36
Yeah. Isn't it nice working with real actors? Yeah, professional, like

Aitch Alberto 44:42
Veronica Falcone as well, and Kevin as well. They're like actors from the theater and they like do the work in the preparation. I've met with both of them and I knew it was them and I didn't want to see anybody else. And it was just like, it's a thing. It's following your instincts and I'm really proud of those decisions.

Alex Ferrari 44:59
You Yeah, because I mean, coming up with you work with non actors or actors who are just starting out, and there's egos and there's this and that. And then the moment I got to work with, unlike an Oscar nominated actor I had to work with and he walked on set, and I was like, Oh, so this is what it's really like

Aitch Alberto 45:17
And everyone's also on their best game, like, everybody's just like, shit, like real.

Alex Ferrari 45:25
Rather, when I make you messing around anymore, these are real actors, we gotta

Aitch Alberto 45:28
Real actors, this people are gonna see this and that there is an energy shift, you know, but those, those two people that are like super massively famous, don't carry that around with them. So that also made it easier.

Alex Ferrari 45:41
Fantastic. Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions. I ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Aitch Alberto 45:50
Don't wait for permission and delusional confidence.

Alex Ferrari 45:55
I'd love that answer. Delusional confidence.

Aitch Alberto 45:58
Yeah, no one's gonna tell you, you're great. And it's often going to feel like you're not great. So you have to delusionally tell yourself, you're the best. And your voice matters. And it needs to be heard. And that's like, even if you like, shoot for the stars, and like, you land somewhere in the middle. It's worth it.

Alex Ferrari 46:16
Now, what did you learn from your biggest failure?

Aitch Alberto 46:21
I have failures every day. But my biggest failure was not being true to myself. Because in order to be true to who you are, you unlock great or, and like, once you that that's where like the real sort of, you know, your your alignment, and your ability to welcome abundance SNESs and, and have your mind sort of unencumbered by the thought of failure is where like the real magic starts to happen.

Alex Ferrari 46:51
Well, I mean, the delusional confidence of tweeting Lin Manuel, is is genius. It's just a brilliant story. By the way, I think it's I haven't heard that one before, though, to be honest with you how people always like, ask me, how did you get Oliver Stone on your show? I go, I tweeted him. 10 hours later, he's like, I'll be on your show in two days. I'm like, Okay. And it just

Aitch Alberto 47:15
Kept forgetting that right. Like, I want to be able to like as I progressed to give that back to somebody and like even people who are my assistants and stuff, I make sure that I'm bringing a way to like, elevate, you know, I don't want to forever Asst.

Alex Ferrari 47:28
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Aitch Alberto 47:35
It's the same one that we've just spoken about. It's just like, the truth of who you are, is so essential to happiness, and existing in a way I was, I tried to make it for so long. And again, it was like this energetic thing of like, desperation. And people feel that they don't necessarily want to be around that. But once I transitioned, I was able to, I had walked through the thing that was scariest for me since the day I was born. Nothing was ever going to be as scary as that. So it was just like, I'm here, like, I'm in this room, because you think my writing is good, because you've seen my work. Like, I've let you know, like, that's the most I can offer you like, everything else is just like, I don't need you. You know,

Alex Ferrari 48:22
It's kind of like I always tell people, when I was coming up, it was like, I had a cologne called depression, the not not depression, but desperation and desperation, depression, and desperation by Calvin Klein. It was it was like, Jakar, it's stuck. It's, it's, and I used to, like, I'd be on a set and you'd like run up to the producer, like, Hey, I've got this idea. Hey, can you help me? Like it's this kind of like, Help me, help me? Help me, help me help me? And you're like, No, build a relationship be awesome. How can I help you? Is there anything I can do for you? And that's what people connect to much more than I need you to help me. I know, you don't know who I am. But you're famous and big. And you have connections? Generally, people call me all the time. Like, can you connect me to this guest that you had? No,

Aitch Alberto 49:12
No, it doesn't work like that. It just doesn't work like that. And I know that's hard to hear. Because you think we often mystify the film industry as this like thing that's like away from us. And in order to access it, you, you need to go through all these steps, right? Because that's what feels right. But everybody's journey is different. There's nothing everybody's a human, and everybody's showing up and trying the best that they can, if you approach it like that, and exist as a human of people just I'm looking for great collaborators, and everybody usually is right. So if you're like approaching it with that sort of energy, you're going to, you're gonna see the fruits of your labor sort of like come to you a lot easier than if you're just chasing it.

Alex Ferrari 49:54
When you sit back and wait for things, and uh huh, I know it's hard for people listening But it's something I've learned in my older age. I don't like to date myself. But we don't talk about older young, we don't talk about older, but the gray, I actually dye my hair gray on my beard. But the thing I've learned is that when I was chasing and wanting and going after, there is a level of that you need to be able to get up in the morning and hustle. I mean, the whole brand of like do is hustle. But you also have to be ready to receive when it's time is right.

Aitch Alberto 50:33
I love that. And it's trust and surrender. That's my motto. Trust and surrender, trust and surrender, you're doing the work as long as you're showing up, you're writing as long as you're like always looking for ideas and not waiting for it to happen. There's a difference between that hustle versus the chase of it.

Alex Ferrari 50:48
Right! You read a book that touched you, you wrote a spec script, you reached out to the author tackling connected to that author and then after that, then the journey started.

Aitch Alberto 51:00
Yes, that's it. And I mean, that's like distilled in that right so it's just like there was inspired action, but I was not I would there was a sureness to this project that like I just knew was mine. And also like a piece of like advice that I've recently discovered is that there's no arrival that anything you often think when I get into this write writers room everything's gonna like fix itself when I like make this movie like No, like the work keeps going. You want more after that you aspire for bigger because you were able to accomplish and if you just like take it as it comes. It's very freeing in a way that allows the desperation to take a backseat

Alex Ferrari 51:40
Without question And my last question my dear three of your favorite films of all time.

Aitch Alberto 51:49
The professional oh my god, so good. Leon I have a tattoo.

Alex Ferrari 51:53
Oh my god, you Oh, okay. First of all, we refer to it as Leon because that's the proper the on the professional. Well, yeah, I saw it in the theater. When a yo buddy a little bit. I saw it in the theater walked in. And I just like this this French director like lupus. Who the hell's that? And I walked in I was like, oh my god, it's one of the most beautiful films ever made in my opinion.

Aitch Alberto 52:17
Beautiful it's such a tender relationship and onscreen duel. It's soft, like in a way that I don't know I I saw myself in it. I love Paper Moon beautiful. It's such a beautiful film again. It's like father daughter relationship. And I'm I love Badlands as well.

Alex Ferrari 52:39
Oh my god. Yes. Yes,

Aitch Alberto 52:43
Badlands, Virgin Suicides and stand by me were three inspirations for this film.

Alex Ferrari 52:48
I could see that I really truly could see that the influences of that in the film without question. Listen, thank you for being on the show. And congratulations on your success. Congratulations on getting into tiff with this amazing film. And I look forward to seeing what else you come up with. You know as Cubans a Cuban filmmakers, we got to keep keep it going. We got to keep present. We got to represent so I appreciate you.

Aitch Alberto 53:11
Thank you I appreciate to a bunch of us are about a bunch of Cubans from the 305 or descending on Toronto. So I'm very excited. Thank you for making this fun.

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BPS 232: Where Writer’s Go Wrong with ACTION Screenplays with Robert McKee

Robert McKee, A Fulbright Scholar, is the most sought after screenwriting lecturer around the globe. He has dedicated the last 30 years to educating and mentoring screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, poets, documentary makers, producers, and directors internationally. Those who have learned from McKee have called him “the Aristotle of our time” because of his insight into the substance, structure, style, and principles of the grand art of story.

Peter Jackson (writer/director of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Hobbit) has lauded him as “The Guru of Gurus.” For the writers of Pixar (creators of Toy Story 1, 2, & 3, Finding Nemo), McKee’s Story Seminar is a rite of passage. Emmy Award-Winner Brian Cox also portrayed McKee in the Oscar-nominated film Adaptation.

McKee’s former students include over 60 Academy Award Winners, 200 Academy Award Nominees, 200 Emmy Award Winners, 1000 Emmy Award Nominees, 100 WGA (Writers Guild of America) Award Winners, 250 WGA Award Nominees, and 50 DGA (Directors Guild of America) Award Winners, 100 DGA Award Nominees.

A winner and nominee of BAFTA for his popular Channel Four series Reel Secrets, McKee also wrote and hosted 12 episodes of BBC’s Filmworks series. He was profiled by Bob Simon of 60 Minutes for CBS news.

McKee’s articles on Story have also appeared in hundreds of newspapers and magazines around the world including Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker Magazine, Swiss Business Magazine, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, CBS Morning News, BBC, Channel 4 in UK, RAI (Italy), CBN Weekly News & Morning Glory (China), MBC TV, KBS & Arirang TV, Korea Times (South Korea), Kiev Weekly, Kultura Moscow, all major TV, Radio and/or newspapers of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, France, India, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Turkey, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland and given seminars in all of the above countries.

Since 1984, more than 100,000 students have taken McKee’s courses at various cities around the world: Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Sydney, Toronto, Boston, San Francisco, Helsinki, Oslo, Munich, Tel Aviv, Auckland, Singapore, Madrid, Beijing, Shanghai, Barcelona, Lisbon, Malaga, Hamburg, Berlin, Johannesburg, Rome, Stockholm, São Paulo, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Bogota, Beijing, Brussels, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, Seoul, Istanbul, Hyderabad, Mexico City and many cities regularly.

McKee continues to be a project consultant to major film and television production companies such as 20th Century Fox, Disney, Paramount, & MTV. In addition, Pixar, ABC, BBC, Disney, Miramax, PBS, Nickelodeon, Paramount, GLOBOSAT, MNET and other international TV and Film companies regularly send their entire creative and writing staffs to his lectures.

His new book is Action: The Art of Excitement for Screen, Page, and Game.

ACTION explores the ways that a modern-day writer can successfully tell an action story that not only stands apart, but wins the war on clichés. Teaming up with the former co-host of The Story Toolkit, Bassim El-Wakil, legendary story lecturer Robert McKee guides writers to award-winning originality by deconstructing the action genre, illuminating the challenges, and, more importantly, demonstrating how to master the demands of plot with surprising beats of innovation and ingenuity.

Topics include:

  • Understanding the Four Core Elements of Action
  • Creating the Action Cast
  • Hook, Hold, Pay Off: Design in Action
  • The Action Macguffin
  • Action Set Pieces
  • The Sixteen Action Subgenres

A must-add to the McKee storytelling library, ACTION illustrates the principles of narrative drive with precision and clarity by referencing the most popular action movies of our time including: Die Hard, The Star Wars SagaDark KnightThe Matrix, and Avengers: Endgame.

Also join Robert McKee’s Legendary STORY Seminar LIVE in Los Angeles, New York & London

In an intense 3 days, Robert McKee teaches the substance, structure, style and principles of Story. Learn how to apply classical story design – the kind that has resulted in masterpieces of all kinds – to your own cinematic, theatrical or literary premise.

👉 McKee STORY Seminar (10% OFF – Coupon Code: HUSTLE)

Enjoy my conversation with Robert McKee.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Robert McKee 0:00
Because whoever has it has power. And so the hero can get the MacGuffin back. And then the villain takes it back again and amending it, they can exchange this, they can lose it, they go searching for it.

Alex Ferrari 0:12
This episode is brought to you by Bulletproof Script Coverage, where screenwriters go to get their scripts read by Top Hollywood Professionals. Learn more at covermyscreenplay.com I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Robert McKee. How are you doing, Robert?

Robert McKee 0:30
I'm great, Alex and you?

Alex Ferrari 0:32
I'm doing very good. Thank you so much for coming back on the show. Our last conversation, as you might might have known did very well, people love, love you and love what the way you approach story and dialogue and character. Now, in this episode, we're going to talk about your new book, action, which I when when I when you guys reached out to me, it was like, Oh, my God, he's got another book, I used to go, he's going crazy. He's just releasing books left and right. I remember story was like, for a long time, the only book and then now you're popping them out left and right.

Robert McKee 1:03
You know, in mice, my method is to teach something before I write about. And I do that, because I want to do the questions. And, and then I have to find the answer. And so I when I taught enough about dialogue. I wrote a book when I first been teaching about character for decades, I wrote a book. And and now in action, I've been doing seminars, and webinars on action for some time. So, so yeah, and, and in fact, as we speak, I am busily writing story two, oh, my but chapter three. And so it's been 25 years since I wrote story. And I learned a lot in those 25 years. And so I'm going to do a whole new version of story and come in with a very different perspective and approach. The same fundamentals. But anyway, I keep writing. I don't know what else to do.

Alex Ferrari 2:26
I mean, might as well just keep going, my friend, well, you're doing a service for this for screenwriters and storytellers around the world with your work and, and that's why I love to highlight what you're doing here on the show. So, my very first question is what is principal versus presentational genres in action?

Robert McKee 2:45
Ah, good. One is content and the other is form. Okay. So the principal genres give you content. And so you have action, the content is life and death. Then you have love stories, for example, the content the value there, of course, is love hate, you have family gross domestic grows there, the content and unity versus breakup, and, and undergoes savvy, these principle genres, crying, where the content is justice, injustice. And so you have these principles drawn into about 10 or 10 or so of them that I list. And they give you the value at the heart of the story, they give you the principal characters, they give you the principal emotion, you're trying to express and, and cause people to feel, and they give you the core scene, the essential turning point of the whole story. And so now that is his content, but now you have to express it. So now you you have to present that story. And so you could tell it, realistically, that's a presentation. Or you can tell it as a fantasy. You could put it in the contemporary setting, or you could put it in a futuristic setting or in history. You could sing and dance it as a musical and on a goat. And so you have all these various styles of presentation. And, and there's a dozen or so those and so, in principle drowner these are the rock this is the core storytelling these are the great forms the the modern epic The ancient epic consumer, these are the 1000s of years old content, what we tell stories about the course there are great principal content, genres that are about human change. And so the there are stories about the changing morality of a character. We as they move from immoral, immoral and redeem themselves, where they, and they moved from moral immoral and the damage themselves. If there's stories of characters, evolving as human beings in a positive way, becoming more complete realizations of their human potential, or you have stories for people, and just drug drugs or whatever, destroy their, their humanity. And so you have a half a dozen of these primary genres about character change. And then another character swap genres about changing the outer circumstances of a character's life, as we do in, in crime stories, and the love stories and so forth. Those are the foundations. And, and, and action is one of those action is a principal primary genre. And there's lots of ways to do action, you can do it as a fantasy, you can do it in sci fi, you can do it in realistically, whatever in history, etc. All of those presentations are, are at your disposal as a as an action writer. She's got a lot of choices, a lot of choices. And all of those primary genres or principal genres can be merged.

Alex Ferrari 7:09
Like something like Braveheart has a lot of those genres inside of that it's a romance is a love story. It's action. It's a revenge film, there's so many things in Braveheart.

Robert McKee 7:20
Yeah, it's, it's frequently merge a love story with a with an action story, where you know, the love interest story gets in the way, causes causes the protagonist that make choices you never would have had to make otherwise. And, and but, and crime, of course, crime and action get merged a lot. thrillers and action get merged a lot. And so see, all those principal genres, and they get can be mixed and merged. Mixed, meaning you cut back and forth between the genre merge means to to cause one another. And so the reason for the thriller causes you to get into action. And so that, you know, the variety that is, is infinite.

Alex Ferrari 8:19
It's endless, without question. Now you talk, you talk about the four core elements of action. Can you discuss a little bit about those core elements?

Robert McKee 8:29
Yeah, if you've seen all the principal genres have four cores. You have a core cast? What is the essential past minimal essential cast? So in a love story, is that two people we got lovers, right. And family story you got, you know, usually husband, wife and kids, right? In an action story, you've got a hero, a villain, and a victim. And those three are essential. If you eliminate the victim, there's no point than the hero and villain playing it out nothing's instead. If you eliminate the hero, then it's a thriller, because if the victim has to survive, and that's not heroic, and so you have an CMO of three core characters, then you have a core value and an action. It's life and death. Justice, injustice is the value of a crime story. Okay, but justice injustice is irrelevant. In Action. The core value of action is life and death. Whether or not laws are broken better kept doesn't matter. GN a quarterback. You have a quarry event and the quarry event in action. The most difficult scene, by far to write is the hero at the mercy of the villain weaponless defenseless back to the wall, totally at the mercy of the overpowering villain. And from a position of complete helplessness, at the mercy of the villain, somehow, the action hero has to find the resources to turn the tables on the villain and in that scene come out on top, locally at the mercy on top, and that it will that'll break your back trying to figure out their greed that seemed. So they have core values, the core value of core characters, core event, and the core emotion. Why do you want people to feel when you're writing in any of those principal genres, and in action, the emotion you want them to feel is excitement. A thriller is full of tension. Right? Because thrillers are all about darkness on figuring out who can you trust? What's really going on here? What do they want? What are they got an image all these questions, and then and you're lost in the labyrinth of a thriller. But in action, though, he's, it's there. It's happening right in front of you. And so what you're trying to get people to feel is excitement. That's why I put it in the subtitle of the book, it's not an action, the art of excitement. You try and create that that's an you know, that's a wonderful experience. And really feel the excitement of the ash. And not boredom, not you know, not mystery and excitement. So you know, the four course and and each of the principal genres that are listed in the first chapter of the book, in order to orient the the reader to the to the action. Each of those genres has those four courts. You all have Gore cast Corey motion, Cory bed.

Alex Ferrari 12:56
So when you were talking, I was I was thinking of this scene in Terminator two, which illustrates everything that you're talking about where, where you got Arnold fighting of obviously a much more superior villain, which is a t 1000. And to the point where the He's helpless against them literally. They he gets stabbed, spoiler alert, get stabbed with a giant metal rod, and he's stuck there and everyone thinks he's dead. Yes. And then he has to come back and save the victims, which is Linda Hamilton and and John Connor. Yeah, so Sarah Connor and John Connor. So in that ultimate in as I'm talking about it, I'm starting to get chills. Because it's playing in my head. It's, that's that's how good James Cameron is when he

Robert McKee 13:42
Acts out and that was that was fantastic. And they and Terminator films are wonderful. And the that is that is that quarry meant the hero at the mercy of the memory. If I tell you that action of questions is wondering is there relative var? Because I teach other genres, you know, comedy so forth. is accurate in the in the greatest demand? Not just not just in films, but in games. Right. Even more engaged in Yeah, who knows? And of course in long form television, and novels, the action genre, is it because of that, I think because of the tremendous pressures in society today. To get into an action story is a great pleasure.

Alex Ferrari 14:58
So like I was saying that that If you look at the top 10, even the top 20 biggest blockbusters of all time, even the animated ones have action in it. They all have action and then a perfect example is the latest. You know, the the Messiah that is Tom Cruise. With. With Top Gun Maverick. Yeah, I mean that movie. Did you get a chance to watch Top Gun? Oh, yeah, sure. I mean, it is. I was on the edge of my seat. I was bawling. I was crying. I was excited. That's the initial excitement.

Robert McKee 15:34
Yeah, it was great. It was just great. Those sequences OSHA fighters. Fantastic stuff. So so, you know, if somebody wants to, to find success in Hollywood today, writing action is the the widest open door there is. But it's also an ask. Why is that? It's so hard. For two reasons. One, it's been done to them. Yep. And so and the writer has to win the war on cliches.

Alex Ferrari 16:22
Can you dive into that a little bit, because a lot of people don't understand that. I'd love you just to talk a little bit about cliche.

Robert McKee 16:30
A cliche, is a great idea that someone had 100 years ago, litter. Okay, great idea. One of the first movies of all time 1903 was a was a chase across the desert, you know, stagecoach chick, whatever, right. And it was a great idea. People loved it. And, and because it's such a the the original was such a wonderful idea. It has been copied and copied and repeated and done, and done and done and done for decades. until everybody has seen it. So many times. That even though originally it was a great idea, it's now the most predictable and boring choice. That's a cliche and action. Because we have told action stories before the movies, I mean, you know,

Alex Ferrari 17:40
The Iliad.

Robert McKee 17:42
Exactly. It's one big log action piece, right. And so because we've been telling action stories for literally 1000s of years, all of these great ideas have been collected into what we, you know, we call cliches. And, in we know them all, we've seen them too many times. And therefore they are instantaneously boring. Because they sit there thinking I've seen all this before. So despite decades, if not centuries of a certain genre, the contemporary writer has to go to battle against these cliches they've got to do what kind of distort the genre requires. We've got to create a villain, not the kind we've ever seen before. They got to create a hero, but not the kind we've ever seen before. They have to create a victim but not the kind we've ever seen before that are put that victim in jeopardy, but not the way we've ever seen it before. We got to rouse that hero to action, but not the way we've never seen before. And, and and all of the strategies and tactics of action have to be worked with, but in fresh, fascinating ways. And the most difficult of all, is the Euro at the mercy of the better. How are you going to turn the tables from the position of helplessness that we've never seen before? And if so, make them take on action. Write a Screenplay write a novel or a game and bring it to the point of hero at the mercy of the villain and have that hero turntables out of the building in a way that is true to the characters, true to the setting. But unlike anything we've ever seen in quite that way before, if you will, you will, the novel will sell your script will be bought, your game will be played. I mean, because that, for those of us who love action, that is what we are looking for, to build that story to that great moment and have it it's happened in a way that we didn't see coming. But when it happens, it makes beautiful sense of surprise, with a rush of insight. So I wrote action to give writers the understanding of the genre that they need in depth. So that they tackle it. They don't they they don't just leave elements out. By mistake. They know what that what the drama requires. And I give them tons of examples. So they see how it's been done wonderfully and sometimes badly in the past. And then I you know, your push instead got it.

Alex Ferrari 21:33
Go with God. Let's see what you. So there's two things that were as you were talking came to mind, one movie that turned cliche on its head while poking fun at cliche was scream, which is an action horror thriller in a way and it was brilliantly done. But the definition of cliche of a more modern time is a film like diehard. When diehard came out, there had never been a terrorist takeover. Or if they had it was not like diehard. And then now and then now diehard and a plane diehard about diehard stadium diehard. It's everywhere now. So now it's a constant cliche.

Robert McKee 22:14
Cliche, because they are one was superbly original. It captured all of the great structure of the nature of the genre, it executed everything. But in a way you didn't see coming and didn't care, you were all caught up and destroyed. And the Mercy scene is the greatest mercy. Wives are the greatest verses scenes in action. And so then, so then it gets repeated. And it becomes a cliche.

Alex Ferrari 22:51
Right very much like what 48 hours did and Lethal Weapon did, which was the buddy cop movie. Yeah, that died down Jesus. I mean, how many movies? Since those movies came out?

Robert McKee 23:05
Well, it's easy to see why because I mean, writers are under a tremendous pressure to create something that people want to see. Investors are under tremendous pressure to make sure that their investment makes a profit. And, and so when you you know, when you can go into a producer's office and say, you know, it's it's diehard, on a runaway train, or whatever it is, well, we've had runaway trains, with all new diehard et cetera, okay. And, and you put it in certain boxes for them, then they know what you're trying to do. Right. So then they read the screenplay and see if you did did it in a fresh way. And if you turn the cliches upside down if you did it with with enough originality, that people aren't going to sit there going on it's it's dire and and a trade offs, you know, before winning the war on cliches is a hell of a thing because we are so prolific in our storytelling. And when we think about it, people today, between going to the movies watching TV at night, reading novels that they do playing games, they do spend almost as much time inside of fiction as they do inside of reality. In the 19th century, for example, how much time did the average middle class person spent in fiction per week? Well, if they were a reader, they might might read Oh my one hour a day,

Alex Ferrari 25:01
Hour to a day for like, Yeah,

Robert McKee 25:03
I'd say that's a lot. But let's say an hour a day. And, and if they lived in a city with have enough size that was a theater, where they could go to the theater once a month, that's two hours. And so you know, in a month's time, they might expand all together, if they really have 30 hours in fiction. People do that now, every week. And so the amount of time people spend in fiction has quadrupled, maybe tenfold. And so. And so with all of that storytelling, all of these elements get repeated. And they become cliches.

Alex Ferrari 26:00
You know, what's funny, I have my daughters. I have young daughters, and I watch them watch television with me sometimes. And it's so fascinating that they're so young, but yet they're able to like, that's the bad. That's the real bad guy over there. Or that's, and they're calling it, and I'm like, how are they? They are so

Robert McKee 26:20
They're calling right?

Alex Ferrari 26:22
Yeah, they're calling they're calling it almost all the time. Perfectly. Right? They're going, that's not that. No, it's the other guy. He's the real bad guy in you. And I could probably look at that movie and go, yeah, it's obvious. It's gonna be this guy. I mean, it's we've seen it a million times. But they're like, young, they're very young. And they're calling it so can you imagine when they're 2030 years old? How much content story they've gone through much more than I did. definitely much more than you did. Over, you know, as we grew up, so it's so much more difficult for the writer to surprise. That's why when something that does come out that is new and fresh, people lose their minds, and they're like, Oh, I can't see that.

Robert McKee 27:04
That's right. And that's why it's so difficult. people resort to spectacle.

Alex Ferrari 27:10
Which, which is and I want to ask you something about spectacle, because I think there's a lot of spectacle in Hollywood right now. Do you believe that? The success of like the Marvel films, which are obvious, obviously taken over the theatrical experience, pretty much if you take Marvel out of Marvel Star Wars, and Harry Potter out of out of the theaters for the last 10 years, 1015 years, we wouldn't have a theatrical business. Well, so is it because there's we've seen spectacle before. And there's been bad spectacle. I mean, really, a movie like battleship. I remember years ago, that was all spectacle, all spectacle, or Transformers 72, which is all spectacle and people are like, you know, I've seen a transforming robot before I need more. What is it about the Marvel films that is connecting with audiences? Because it's not I don't believe it's just spectacle, there has to be something deeper, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Robert McKee 28:06
Well provided spectacle, but the, the, the visual artists who are working on those films have imaginations and techniques to execute those imaginations that are really superior to anybody else. They have simply gone up. It's like a sports team. They've gone out and got the best players at every position available in the league. And so they're gonna win every game 37 They're not right. So it is spectacle in in that day, they just do it better. So that, you know, there's you see that it spectacle on one level, that is create curiosity. It's not about outcome. How will this turn out? Because we know those stories, right in your daughters know how it's gonna turn out. Okay? It's, it's, how will they do it? In order for it to turn out. And so the curiosity is about the execution of the action. And if the execution of the action is fresh, original, and really, I believe and stunning to watch, and the music and the sound and all the rest of it, and the editing, all goes together if it creates a spectacle of a quality that we've never seen before. They can do the same old thing but they Do it in a whole new way, or in a way that is more impactful visually than you've ever seen before. So it's still doing. And that's why it's it's very successful. They've just it's challenged. Because it's not as if spectacle has no quality it of course it does. And they had no importance. Of course, that's right. I mean, Aristotle listed all the six elements of the story and spectacle was the last one. And he said the least important, but it's on the list.

Alex Ferrari 30:39
Top Gun Top Gun without those fighter sequences? Exactly. It's a fun movie, I guess. But

Robert McKee 30:47
Well, you see in the action genre, you got to take spectacle and elevate it up. Yeah, it's not number six, if number six from aerosol point of view in the theater 2500 years ago. But now, you know, it's, it's, it's, I don't even know, like, number three on Netflix. Me, you still have events to tell a great story. Character, you still have to have great characters. But then in action, that those events with those characters have to be executed. And I'm fed back that fantastically brilliant way. Surprised, surprising, pleasing. And so inaction. Spectacle has a lot of value. And, and so but you know, people go to the Marvel games, because they know that that will be a visual treat. And at hopefully, they'll do the same thing we've always seen in a whole new way. But then we'll at least don't express it in a whole new way. And so it's snobbish to look down your nose at spectacle and say, well, it's your spectacle. But it is not, it's not well done. But that's true of anything. If characters are not well done, they're boring. If it's the same damn turning point we've seen, I've been times that boring. And so everything you do have to be well done. inspectable is just one of those things,

Alex Ferrari 32:33
If Jurassic Park would have come out, and it wasn't directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Michael Creighton, and it would have just been those dinosaurs. With a bad script. Yeah, it would probably have been somewhat successful, because of the spectacle of it. But because of the story, the execution, the people behind it, it turned into the masterpiece that eventually it became so something like Avatar, which is I think, now still the number one, I think it bumped back up after the pandemic. And number one, something like Avatar, now James is coming out with four or five, I think he's, he says he's gonna die on Pandora. This is, this is where he's going. He's not, he's like, I'm gonna be 91 doing part six of this thing. But this is, I'm dying on this hill, he said, but something like something like Avatar is, I think, almost as perfect of a combination of character, event story and spectacle. Because I remember seeing it three times in the theater because of the 3d app aspect of it. And this amazing world that they created the visuals of it. And the story was a very basic simple story that we've seen before. But it was wrapped in this beautiful

Robert McKee 33:48
Done in a whole new way. Right, exactly. The the the inspiration that that the core of Avatar, of course, is that you have a second self. And this doppelganger has Adventures is the app it's not even that it's more than a metaphor. It's a photograph of daydream. Right? Right. It's every kid's life where they dream about having adventures that you know obviously sitting in their in their living room at home, they can't hear and so avatar made that literal and so that his second self is avatar goes off and has adventures. Matrix was similar in that way. And it so that that's a wonderful idea because it tapped into an experience that is so caught you know, every every kid has been experienced. Every kid daydreams about life that they don't have and living in ventures of one kind, or another, whatever. And so the premise of Avatar was inspired. And then the execution was excellent. And then and then there's this. And this is wonderful in an action story, if you can make this work, there's a hidden truth. It's always been there for the whole story that you haven't seen, literally. But the moment the truth comes out, you go off course. And the truth of Avatar wasn't the planet itself was a living thing. Of course, and you go off course.

Alex Ferrari 35:58
Right! It Yeah. And I think

Robert McKee 36:01
That that revelation of a hidden truth makes you the crowds in the audience to go back and reconfigure the whole story they've been watching, and realize it was always there, it was, in some sense, inevitable, that these human beings would just go too far. And when they just, they want to know, that planet had a line. Okay, and they finally went over the line. And it planted a squash and like a bargain, right? And, and it and it expresses something, we really want to believe that there that nature has a greater power. And then we've been pushing nature and prodding the troops boiling nature and poisoning nature, and sooner or later, nature is going to just go squash us if we don't stop what we're doing in time. So it's a master metaphor. I was right? For the the the the destruction of the environment. And it's the environments revenge. And so that's a truth we all want to believe. And so the writing I mean, you know, yes, the directing is wonderful and all the rest but these ideas, tapping into the the fantasy life and bringing that to life and creating a you know, a beautifully told story that has a truth at the heart of it, the nature is going to have the last word. And bringing that into and I'm putting that in the in the film is, is is the reason why people like James Cameron had the great success that they have is because they and they know before they know how to write, you know, action. But it's about something.

Alex Ferrari 38:32
It always is with Jim can't with Jim's work. It's always about time you go back to Terminator. He's saying something. Terminator two, he's saying something in the abyss, which was basically a precursor to a lot of the themes of Avatar. And aliens is it's about a mother. It's about two mothers protecting their young I didn't even realize that Delete. I saw him talking about an interview because I made this entire movie about two mothers protecting their young because it couldn't just be just about aliens and people. I was like, Oh, my God.

Robert McKee 39:06
I was in Westwood. movie after westward, watching aliens. I and I was one of the greatest moments my experience in film. The Act to climax. When Ripley says I'm going back with a kid the audience almost toward the theater down. I mean, they just went nuts. I did too. We all went not with a kid and that's the Mercy see. She's at the mercy of that monster. And what's more than the monster has the big to its clutches from a position of of powerlessness, she's going back to the good old age. So, yeah, we love the genre. And when an action writer gets that, right, creates a world that's really we've never seen before. And tell that story and executes those, those great, those great turning points in ways we've never seen before. It is that you know, as a indicating the title of my book, it is the essence of excitement.

Alex Ferrari 40:41
And still, Ricky wrote one of the greatest sci fi lines of all time, get away from her ubitx Right away. One of the best lines ever written inside, right without Weston. Yeah, it's up there with may the force be with you. I mean, it's just like, it's going away for you. So the better I'm gonna say, I'm gonna say it's a little bit better.

Robert McKee 41:06
Now, it's not spiritual. No, no, no, get away from it. Get Rich, right down to the ground.

Alex Ferrari 41:21
And every one of us and everyone was watching that movie just like, oh, it was just so as we're talking, I'm still getting like goosebumps. I'm getting like, bloods flowing talking about. And that's what a good movie does. When you're explaining the movie to somebody else, and you still get excited about it.

Robert McKee 41:36
You've you've hit the mark. Yeah, that form comes like the form comes to life inside of you. All the spectacles memory, but it's a form. It's the turning point. Going back for the kid get away from me, which is the turning point, the courage of that line, or both of those, whatever. The turning point, gets your heart problem.

Alex Ferrari 42:04
Now in the book, you also talk about the action MacGuffin. Now I am familiar with the MacGuffin. So what is the action MacGuffin? Or if you can explain the MacGuffin to to the audience who might not know what the MacGuffin is. What is an action MacGuffin?

Robert McKee 42:16
Well, there's there's macguffins in a lot of stories, and there's a MacGuffin in crime stories often, but certainly in thrillers, in epics, is defined as the thing that everybody wants. And when you get it gives you power. That's the MacGuffin. It's the it's the thing with an actual physical thing. That gives you power so like in in Aliens, it's the kid right? Get into the MacGuffin monster wants the kid in order to impregnate so to speak. Human beings to reproduce right. And so it's the thing everybody wants when get it and gives them power. So it could be the secret to the to some Nicola

LaunchCode analogy.

Yeah. Any back in in certain films, Alfred Hitchcock that people credited Hitchcock with coining the term MacGuffin. But actually he didn't. He was a writer, friend of his who coined it and he repeated it. Because Hitchcock used it it became famous. It's shocking to realize you don't even have to tell him what it is. So in a film, I'm in North by Northwest, the MacGuffin is secrets. There's some kind of secret, probably a formula some, some probably for a weapon, something like that. Okay. But there's a secret and it's key encapsulated. And people are chasing after the secret throughout the movie. But Hitchcock never tell you what the secret was for what what what was what was in the secret? What what were people going to do what the secret he did deputy vital because he bought he realized it doesn't really matter. It's the thing that everybody wants, when he get it, it gives you power. And everybody's chasing after everybody wants, everybody's struggling to get it. And so from like his point of view, you're thinking, well, if all those characters want that thing so badly, it must really be important.

Alex Ferrari 44:58
So is that the action see because that's something different than the action.

Robert McKee 45:03
It's a it's a motivation.

Alex Ferrari 45:05
It's just a motivation. So you actually motivate action with

Robert McKee 45:08
The pursuit of the MacGuffin and is driving is driving the character they are pursuing the murder my God. If the Euro can get his hands on the MacGuffin, or her hands on the MacGuffin, then they can use that to defeat the villain. If the villain keeps the MacGuffin is going to destroy the world. And so the pursuit of the MacGuffin is, is driving the story. And is often that we've gotten like in that alien the MacGuffin is the victim. Although not necessarily the MacGuffin can be something quite separate from that. And so like all of these elements in story design, coming up creating a really fresh, unique wonderful truthful, fascinating MacGuffin. And, and, and, and generally speaking, generally speaking, it needs to be portable. Because whoever has it has power. And so the hero can get the MacGuffin back. And then the villain takes it back again. And the minute they can exchange this, they can lose it, they've always searching for it dropped into the ocean, and then hero and villain voted, you know, under whatever. And, and so it's got to be a thing. That's important, portable, but in, in, it can be just an idea. But it's got to be an idea that you know, that's written down on a piece of paper or whatever,

Alex Ferrari 47:05
Or someone has it. Someone knows the information.

Robert McKee 47:08
Yeah, something that you can move that helps generate sequences of the action.

Alex Ferrari 47:15
So something like written Raiders of the Lost Ark is obviously the Ark of the Covenant. In Pulp Fiction, it's the suitcase, with the mysterious light that nobody

Robert McKee 47:24
What's in that suitcase in your bed.

Alex Ferrari 47:26
He's still and Quintin won't say,

Robert McKee 47:29
Guaranteed by the day.

Alex Ferrari 47:31
It does not he's not gonna. And every time I ask him, he's like, I don't know. What do you think it is? Like, it's it doesn't matter. Doesn't matter.

Robert McKee 47:39
Everybody wants you gives you power. And you know, they said they actually you don't actually need to know more than that.

Alex Ferrari 47:49
No, that's funny, because that's one of the conspiracy theories about what's in the what's in the suitcase. It's that it's Oh, God being Rames his character, Marcel is his soul. Literally, it's his soul that they're carrying around in there. I was like, oh, that's kind of interesting. His soul. And that the little, the little bandaid on his back of the neck is where the soul got away. These are things that are like, Well, that's pretty interesting.

Robert McKee 48:12
Really.

Alex Ferrari 48:13
Isn't that a fun is enough?

Robert McKee 48:15
It's, it's wonderful. People care that much that they worry about that. It's so hard to get out of the body. Oh, after the Banu. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 48:26
fantastic. I mean, you're talking about film geeks thinking about that movie for decades, trying to figure out what that is. Right now. You also talk about action set pieces. Can you talk a little bit about what a good action set pieces,

Robert McKee 48:41
There are sequences in action. We how many different ways physically can a hero pursue a villain in an effort to rescue the victim? Right? And so there's a limit, you can go towards something right and invade that's a that's a tactic that's an action sequence or you can be quite an escape, you can rescue the victim or or not. Right or lose the whatever. And so, there are there are certain actions moving toward moving away, moving around moving through, in, in a labyrinth across a desert and so forth. There are a certain limited number of ways in the in time and space that hero and villain can interact. And, and so I go through them in the book and given lots of examples of them. And, and I make the point that the writer has to understand its limited time and space, you know has certain limitations, you can go toward you can go away, you can chase someone or BJs. And so, so once you once you, you know, you study the genre as I have, and you see the possibilities of it. And you see the way it's been executed brilliantly by storytellers in the past, that loses the colors on your palate. And so instead of sitting there just wondering, well, why, what could my hero do? And just hitting a wall? Up study isn't the tactics involved? You see, well, I have trust, moving toward moving away, moving through, chasing, being chased, etc. They're rescuing escaping their choice. And so you let those choices play in your imagination. Something like some island. I know, at this point in the story, you know, he would, she would. And it comes come to light. And so and so one of the purposes of writing a book like adding is to the front door, is to present my front door is to open up the possibilities for the reader. Say, here's the genre, here's what has been done for 1000s of years. And there are limits. And so you can go within those limits as you must in budget. That's not a straitjacket, it's just possibilities. And every one of those possible tactics can be done a whole new way to a different environment for a different reason, different characters, and I'm not sure but you have to understand what the elements of the genre that are essential.

Alex Ferrari 52:35
Now, I'd love to break in your book, you break down a bunch of the a bunch of action movies inside of your book is I love to just break down a couple of them even slightly, something like the Dark Knight. So something like the Dark Knight, which is arguably one of the best, super quote unquote superhero films in the genre ever made. Honestly, it's up there without question. And I always use someone like my wife who doesn't like superhero movies, she she puts up with them, because of me. But but when you watch something like the dark night, I was watching them like, Oh, if you just take Batman and the Joker out of this, this is just like heat. It's just a crime. It's a fantastic crime thriller like you take. So a lot of times in superhero movies, you can't do that you take the super out of it, it's over. But Dark Knight is just it really felt like Michael Mann directed it in many ways, because it was so visceral. So can you break down the Dark Knight a little bit?

Robert McKee 53:32
What makes a film like the Dark Knight, so wonderful. And this is true, then the whole action genre is the nature of the villain. The villain is the key to action. If you have no villain, there is nothing for the hero to do. If the villain is an idiot, there's nothing for the hero to do he will trip over himself. Right? Without your help. Right. And so the more brilliantly realize the villainous that forces the hero to rise to the occasion. The hero can only be as fascinating and compelling as the villain makes him makes her and Dark Knight and the Joker The joker is a fantastic villain. And his villainy is so profound, that it the the end he creates a dilemma. Villain creates a dilemma that the hero will have to solve and analyze splendid purpose But it's one of the great crises in inaction stories. And, and, and because this villain, and absolutely ruthless is is a weak word that he is so

Alex Ferrari 55:19
Submissive, submiss maniacal,

Robert McKee 55:22
And sadistic, he likes causing pain in other people. And so he creates this great dilemma at the end, where human beings will have to make a choice to live or die. And, and then that's out beyond the hero's control.

Alex Ferrari 55:45
And it's, it's also, the movie seems to me to be a story about to men's view on the world.

Robert McKee 55:54
Yeah, well, they have, they have points they have.

Alex Ferrari 55:57
I mean, Joker thinks everything should be everything's in chaos. And we're just a step a second away from completely falling into complete anarchy, enjoys that. And he enjoys that. But Batman doesn't believe that believes that. No, people are good, they're gonna make the right choice.

Robert McKee 56:12
So then the Joker creates this dilemma to prove his point.

Alex Ferrari 56:16
Right. And that's the it's a brilliant film. Which also brings me to another problem with there's a specific superhero, who I've yet to see a fascinating film made of, but it's the most famous superhero of all time, because it's the first superhero, Superman. Superman is a character and I went and I want, I'm bringing this up, because I think it's really good illustration. Batman and Superman have always been on both sides. Ones like when Stark was much more. Batman is a much more interesting character, to say the least. By far, but there hasn't been a really great and I've been I'll get a lot of hate mail for this fantastic like Superman film. Maybe obviously the Christopher Reeve film was excellent. I think Christopher Superman too was excellent in the 70s. But in recent years, that when they tried to reduce,

Robert McKee 57:05
Okay, cuz I think Superman one is brilliant, which Mario Puzo Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 57:12
Yeah, no is brilliant,

Robert McKee 57:14
He put he put Superman into dilemmas.

Alex Ferrari 57:19
Now, so why hasn't anyone else be able to do? So why hasn't anybody else been able to do that? Because in Superman one, he was fighting a villain who was superior intellectually, but not physically. And then in Superman two, he fought someone who was superior, quote, unquote, superior, mentally and physically, which was a General Zod, quote unquote, and also much more physical that three of them fighting against one right, right. So there was a there was really stakes there. And then they took his powers away. And and then he had to try to find them back. It was it was such a well done. Those are the two best Superman films, in my opinion. Yeah, besides the Richard Pryor one. The third one, which is interesting to say the least. But what was it about the first one that made that Superman interesting?

Robert McKee 58:09
Well, he had, he had a moral imperative that he owed to his father, who had told him that he must not use his super powers on earth, he must not interfere in human destiny. He's godlike in his powers, as he demonstrates by reversing the spin of the earth and turning back time.

Alex Ferrari 58:41
Fantastic by the way

Robert McKee 58:44
And he mustn't use those powers he must give. It's like you seem like often really, religious people are challenged by the question, Why does God allow evil? And the answer, traditionally has been free will. God wants you to in beings to have free will, to they can choose between good and evil. And, and that's that's the rationale. And so super, Mario Puzo called upon that same idea in Superman one, Superman is God like he has that you know, that, that power, and why would he, you know, allow evil and his father tells him, you have to allow evil, you must not interfere with human destiny. Which means that human beings do what humans beings will do. And we know that half of human beings are evil, that there's an evil side, the human nature. And if you'd like human beings do what human beings do, there'll be a lot of evil in the world. And so Superman estimate that great moral choice to keep his father's sacred commandment, or rescue the woman that he loves. And he chooses love. And, and, and breaks his father's holding command. And so it has, you know, it has the idea in Superman one is rooted profoundly in Christianity.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:44
Oh, god, yes. No.

Robert McKee 1:00:48
And Superman is a metaphor for Jesus Christ. Right, in articles. So these things really connect with people. Because it's about something. It's about moral choice. And that's why, you know, it was, there was a great one. The difference between Superman and Batman isn't Superman. If there's evil, it's really not dark. Okay, it's kind of pastel.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:27
Lex Luthor is not maniacal.

Robert McKee 1:01:29
Nobody's funny, and you know, and he's, you know, he's very fun. Oh, this bill means very fun.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:42
Otisville.

Robert McKee 1:01:45
So, but the Joker is a different thing. Joker is not Lex Luthor, Joker really is evil. And he's sadistic. He enjoys causing people to suck. He lives for because the Joker in Batman is so dark. Batman has the potential man to to create stories that are really compelling and rich. Because Superman operates in a world where evil never gets to that kind of darkness. It's more about the adventure, and the spectacle of it. And so that's why you might feel that the Superman movies are less impactful than the Batman. Because Batman is taking that that whole genre that character is drawing on the a much darker source of ability. It's not as it's not as nicely it's just not nice. Really, suddenly, those that we need are innocent victims. The citizens of Bachmann horrible people excellently give me the it's a question whether or not disabled, who cares? I'm destroying themselves. So it brings up moral question, man, that's the essence of it. That then brings up moral questions that are more profound, darker, deeper than the moral questions in in Superman.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:44
And then something like what Marvel is done with with the cast of characters that have because Marvel's doesn't have dark, dark really doesn't have darkness is as dark as the Joker. It's it's very pastel, like you say, but one of the things and people always ask me, How do you why do you think that? You know, they're so successful over these years? I'm like, yeah, we've talked about some of the reasons. But they've done something that no other film studio has ever done, which is carry characters over a decade. I mean, by the time we get to the Avengers, endgame, and Iron Man, we had been with Iron Man for 10 years and seen him in well in multiple films. And we have such an emotional connection. So you know what happens in that movie is so impactful. Because of that, and that's not done in cinema hasn't been done in cinema. Ever. I don't think I don't think anyone has been able to do that at that scale by any stretch of the imagination.

Robert McKee 1:04:42
You know, there's a secret sauce there that is it's kind of wonderful. I mean, they got you on your kids when you fell in love with those characters, right? Absolutely. Yeah. So that you know that they and they are evolving. They are revealing And in that those are the two elements. How do you create? Series? You know what, what keeps a series alive with air every day now writers are facing that problem in long form television. What will bring people back episode after episode season after season even for years, you know, and the two things, it seems to me that bring people back are revelations number one, you think you know these characters, you think you understand their dimensions and their, their, their, their strengths, their weaknesses, their whatever their natures, you think you understand that with judo. And in, in the future, there will be episodes in which there will be a revelation of who that character really is. That will make perfect sense, but you didn't see prior. So those revelations about the depth and complexities of characters that you that you thought you knew that you now you realize they didn't really know all together that fascinates. And so revelation and change you know, the these, these key characters are at the beginning of the series, and then you watch them undergo over time, change becoming better, morally worse, morally, more will willful, more weak, more whatever they're changing, usually impacts but generally for the better. And so revelation of acts of qualities and characters you didn't see before, and change in the nature of characters that you didn't see coming. Those two things keep the series alive. And and and marvellous has not got that down. And they know how to parse out revelations of character. They know how they have a vision that years and years into the future about where will these characters go. So as long as there's revelations and change, they can do it over and over and over, because it adds to the to the audience's understanding of the characters. And that is a pleasure.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:50
Right, so it's just against those a character like, you know, I don't know how much you know about these characters. But a character like Thor, at the beginning was very different to the Thor that we see now. And he, and he's become one of the most popular were at the beginning, he was one of the least popular exam characters, and

Robert McKee 1:08:07
And now, if you talk to the writers, and they said, We have no idea where Thor would go, Okay, I'm Alfred Della. I and my answer to that is well, consciously then. Alright, but subconsciously, you knew that character had potential? Yep. And you improvised. You experimented, and it turned out that who, you know, there are aspects and that's just coming out of your challenge your creativity and, and, and, you know, what fascinates revelation and change and so you're revealing and changing this character? And, and, you know, the results are wonderful.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:56
And to be fair, I mean, they had 50, or 60 years of writing or 70 years of writing millions 10s of 1000s hundreds of 1000s of stories with these characters, arcing them moving them moving them across time, over decades. I mean, Spider Man is, I mean, how many times have we seen a Spider Man story, but the latest one? Blue, you know, blue, the box office out of the water? Well, because of the nostalgia to there's a little bit of nostalgia, the old Spider Man's coming back, but that was something new. We hadn't seen that before.

Robert McKee 1:09:29
We haven't snow and there's a whole generation of the audience who didn't see it. They weren't born but that was

Alex Ferrari 1:09:37
My daughters were like, is that the original Spider Man and I go, Yeah, can we watch those movies? Okay, let's go back and watch those movies. Yeah, cuz they were like, Who's that spider man? They only know the one Spider Man. And is that another spider mite? Yeah, there's two movies of him. He did three movies. And he's the one that started at all. And it was like really? Like yeah, so they so this is and also when you build something like what Marvel has they've also an ecosystem a world of these characters in these movies. And same thing for Batman and, and those kinds of characters there's a bunch of, and when you run into, like, James Bond more, you know, an older reference of James Bond. When you watch one, Daniel Craig, you're gonna want to watch all the Daniel Craig's. But then you watch piers bras, and you're like, Oh, that's not like Daniel, right? But maybe you like Pierce Bronson. Or you watch Connery here more one of these fun things. So it's fascinating. Rob, Robert, I could talk to you for hours about

Robert McKee 1:10:32
Fun to talk about things you love.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:34
Now, tell me about tell me where are we go? When the book comes out, and where we can get it.

Robert McKee 1:10:38
Book amazon.com, the usual suspects, Barnes and Nobles, whatever. But Amazon certainly in the UK comes out on the sixth today is the second. And so in four days that it are we out. And the pre orders have been spectacular. I hope. I hope that it does what what I wanted to do is to take action as a genre, to yet another level. I want the get really creative, talented people to love the genre, not to look down their nose, not to sneer, but to love it and embrace it and see it as a modern metaphor for life and death struggle to human beings now and in the future. And that, you know, we've been telling action stories since a homer and it's not going to go away. Life and death is a core value of action. And that, that is a struggle that you know that that is eternal, obviously, so, so I comes out on the sixth. And I hope that not only the people who love action, today, but of course, all those people who could consider it, read it. And what they're going to discover is, it's a hell of a lot more complicated and more difficult than you thought.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:27
Yeah, it's not just a bunch of blood explosions and guns, that

Robert McKee 1:12:31
I will make it very clear that this is far more complex, watch more sophisticated and much more difficult than you thought. But if you put your imagination to it, you can do something we've never seen before. So, so I hope I hope all writers will give it a chance read it, see if there's something in that that attracts them. And, and I hope that, you know, in the decades to come that the book will help elevate the action genre to something continuously progressing and growing and capturing our imaginations.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:20
Now, Robert, there's one question I always ask my guests and I don't remember if I asked you this first time and I love to hear your thoughts and please it's very very difficult question I'm not sure you're gonna be able to answer it but I'm going to want to give you a shot at three of your favorite films of all time.

Robert McKee 1:13:38
At the you know, the the the the bear trap in that question is is giving yourself well why and just How pretentious

Alex Ferrari 1:13:55
How many Bergman films are going to be on that list.

Robert McKee 1:14:00
A number of them but not a number one. If, if if it was two o'clock in the morning, and I was traveling to you know, Auckland, New Zealand, full of jetlag unable to sleep. What would I hope with on television? Well, my first hope would probably be Chinatown. And if not Chinatown, then maybe Groundhog Day. So and if not Groundhog Day, the number three please god please give me godfather one, two and three.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:55
All three of them back to back.

Robert McKee 1:14:58
Yeah, that would make a nice i You know, eventually I'd get to sleep. So yeah, those those will be three my first choices wonderful film, and then they are very satisfying and that, you know, the reason I picked those three because I realized over the years, you know that when you are in that situation and you're skipping the channels, looking for something to watch. You kill time. Okay. I have seen the last half of trying to tell the last half of Groundhog Day, and the last last halves of godfathers wanting to so many time, because it didn't the middle the middle option Scott barotz. Turner, and you stop.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:58
Right, exactly. And you know, what's funny on that list, you put Groundhog's Day, which I considered one of the greatest comedies ever written. And it doesn't get the kind of attention and analysis that it should, because people write it off because it was a comedy,

Robert McKee 1:16:15
Snobbery.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:16
It's snobbery exactly but it is so brilliant. So brilliantly written. And I mean, obviously the direction and the candor and the Bill Murray and and then amygdala, I mean, it's masterful. But that was Was there a film prior to Groundhog's Day that used that idea of repeating time, like they're caught in a loop because there's been, again, the cliche is now there are multiple films like that. But I don't remember anything like Groundhog's Day before

Robert McKee 1:16:44
I can either probably was but I can't remember, I know that there are certainly time travel stories. Sure. People go back in time forward in time sideways, I don't know. But living the same day over and over and over again.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:01
Until you change as a human being never seen.

Robert McKee 1:17:04
I think that if we googled, it seems to me there's a little echo in my memory here saying back in the 1930s there was a play and not a film, but a play where somebody was living the same day over and over. And that play was probably considered avant garde.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:33
I'm looking I'm actually looking at it right now. Mirror of a hero in 1987. Wonderful O'Brien, Run Run Lola one. But that's not the same as that Edge of Tomorrow Edge of Tomorrow. But that was way after. Yeah, no, all the other ones have been after I haven't seen anything. The only one that was mirror of a mirror for here on 1987, which was like five or six years earlier. But other than that, not really. And well, obviously nothing is as good as

Robert McKee 1:18:09
It's not about living the same day three times. All right, living the same day, three different ways.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:14
Right. And that's Russia, man.

Robert McKee 1:18:17
And that's Russia. But it's not the same day over and over and that's points of view.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:23
Exactly.

Robert McKee 1:18:24
So the there are there have been stories where where time I mean, when a great was of course a period of gallows play in the 1920s Six Characters in Search about awkward so they these characters come to light that they want. They need actors to act out their lives to free them so that they can go to the next life where the next world whatever it is. So the notion of multiple realities and reliving things. That's that's not new that day. If it isn't original, it's the best anyone's ever done that

Alex Ferrari 1:19:16
It is the diehard of a repeating day movies.

Robert McKee 1:19:21
Yeah, what I love about it is I think another great favorite of mine, for example would be the verdict. Oh, yeah, it's a fantastic The reason I like the verdict. Same reason I like Groundhog Day. It's the redemption plot. The bad guy turns good story. We all hold out in our heart of hearts. Can I become a better human being? Well, I just make the same mistake over and over and over. mistreat my Self and other people the same old way over on, can I redeem myself and in stories like that, like Groundhog Day verdict redeem the character in a beautiful way. And so the the idea of redemption is very powerful.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:26
Robert, like I said, I could talk for you for hours about movies and about story, my friend, thank you so much for coming on the show. And thank you. And thank you so much for all the hard work you've been doing for these these decades trying to educate storytellers and help them with the work that you're doing.

Robert McKee 1:20:42
It's been a pleasure. I seriously I do what I love. And you know, and I've said, I'm writing this story too. I'm going to do a do love in a whole new way again, it's not so I hope. I hope people will check out action. Give it a look. And and let's try to take the genre to two higher, more beautiful level.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:16
Thank you my friend. I appreciate you.

Robert McKee 1:21:17
Thank you, Alex. Take care.

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Spike Jonze Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Adam H. Spiegel (born October 22, 1969), known professionally as Spike Jonze, is an American actor, filmmaker, musician, and photographer. His work includes commercials, film, music videos, skateboard videos and television.

Spike Jonze made up one-third (along with Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman) of the triumvirate of genius minds behind Dirt Magazine, the brother publication of the much lamented ground-breaking Sassy Magazine. These three uncommon characters were all editors for Grand Royal Magazine as well, under the direction of Mike D and Adam Horovitz and Adam Yauch before the sad demise of Grand Royal Records.

Jonze was also responsible for directing the famous Beastie Boys: Sabotage (1994) short film as well as numerous other music videos for various artists.

Below are all the screenplays available online. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple and Spotify’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcastwith guest like Oscar® Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.


(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999)

Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Directed by Spike Jonze- Read the screenplay!

HUMAN NATURE (2001)

Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Produced by Spike Jonze- Read the screenplay!

ADAPTATION (2002)

Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Directed by Spike Jonze – Read the screenplay!

SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (2008)

Produced by Spike Jonze- Read the screenplay!

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (2009)

Screenplay and Directed by Spike Jonze- Read the screenplay!

HER (2013)

Screenplay and Directed by Spike Jonze- Read the screenplay!

 

BPS 231: How I Got My Shot to Write & Direct for Sony Studios with Jessica M. Thompson

Jessica Thompson is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker who made her feature writer-directorial debut with “The Light of the Moon”. The film won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Film at the SXSW Film Festival. “The Light of the Moon”, starring Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, In The Heights, Encanto), enjoyed a limited theatrical release to sold-out screens in both New York and Los Angeles and heralds a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score. Critics called the film “harrowingly effective” (Variety), “honest and complex” (The Hollywood Reporter), and Film Inquiry stated, “for any filmmaker this would be an unmitigated triumph, but for a first time filmmaker this is revelatory.”

Jess was the lead director on Showtime’s original series, “The End”, produced by the Academy Award-winning See-Saw Films (The Power of the Dog, The King’s Speech). “The End” is a dramedy, told through three generations of a dysfunctional family who are trying to die with dignity, live with none, and make it count. The series received five-star reviews from The Guardian and The Times.

In 2021, Jess directed her second feature, “The Invitation”, a Sony Picture’s thriller-horror, written by herself and Blair Butler. It will have a worldwide cinematic release on August 26th, 2022.

After the death of her mother and having no other known relatives, Evie (Nathalie Emmanuel) takes a DNA test…and discovers a long-lost cousin she never knew she had. Invited by her newfound family to a lavish wedding in the English countryside, she’s at first seduced by the sexy aristocrat host but is soon thrust into a nightmare of survival as she uncovers twisted secrets in her family’s history and the unsettling intentions behind their sinful generosity.

In 2010, Jess founded Stedfast Productions, a collective of visual storytellers who use film to explore the complexity of the human story.

Jess is an Australian filmmaker who resides in Los Angeles. She is repped by CAA, Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment, and Independent Talent Group (UK).

Enjoy my conversation with Jessica M. Thompson.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Jessica M. Thompson 0:00
You have to keep going, you have to keep trying. Because you know, if you became you know, I think it's like a professor or whatever, you know, if you could change something else, you will never love it as much as you love filmmaking, you will never feel completely satisfied. So really what kept me going always kept making waking me up in the morning. And don't get me wrong. There were some days where I really like I really didn't get out of bed. Like I was like, just like, I had a big no, after working so hard for free. And that's something else that they don't tell you, especially with directing how much work you do for free before you get a job.

Alex Ferrari 0:30
This episode is brought to you by the Best Selling Book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show. Jessica M. Thompson. How're you doing Jess?

Jessica M. Thompson 0:45
I'm doing great. How are you doing?

Alex Ferrari 0:47
I'm doing great. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I am excited to talk about your new project the invitation which is just insane. It's insane. It's beautiful. I want to talk to you about production design. I want to talk about how you got that. Everything I want to talk about all that stuff, because it obviously wasn't done for five grand. So

Jessica M. Thompson 1:05
I've moved on. I've moved on in the world from my little indie films that I made for, you know, $100,000.

Alex Ferrari 1:11
You know what, but that that those are the ones those are the ones who get you started. And you probably learned you've learned Christ so much in that $100,000.

Jessica M. Thompson 1:20
Oh, no. And I actually do think that restriction helps you be more creative. You know, like, you've got to stretch that bother you got budget, you've got to make it work, you know, and that's why indie filmmakers, so entrepreneurial, you know, there's so they'll make any budget stretch.

Alex Ferrari 1:35
I mean, you have to I mean, there's no choice in the matter, kind of like you're against the wall when you're an independent filmmaker, because, you know, there's no one's show, there's no as as Mark Two plus as the Calvary is not coming.

Jessica M. Thompson 1:46
That's right, it's you. And that's why I mean, I'm sure it was my first film, I was like the writer, the director, the editor, the producer, I also was the Social Media Manager, I did the posters, instance you end up wearing every single hat. But by that, by that, what's great about that, as you get to know every single aspect of the industry, you know, and so that makes you better informed. And so that's why I always whenever there's like, executives that I meet with and they're a little bit hesitant about hiring an independent filmmaker to do either TV or whatever. I'm like, You don't understand how you know, we're scrappy, scrappy, resourceful, you know, independent filmmakers, if you need to film you know, seven pages, eight pages, nine pages in a day, we'll do it.

Alex Ferrari 2:24
There's no question. No question. So my first question is how and why in God's green earth? Did you want to get into this insanity that is called the film industry?

Jessica M. Thompson 2:33
I mean, that's a great question. But to be honest, I was. I come from a family that is not you know, in the creative arts by any means. My mom, first generation Australian, my mom is from a tiny little country called Malta. And yeah, so we grew up very much blue collar roots. She's a single mom, I have three siblings, you know, and I at 12 years old, I watched Brave Heart. And I decided, I want to tell stories. on film,

Alex Ferrari 3:01
How old were you when you watch Braveheart?

Jessica M. Thompson 3:03
Well may may 15 Yeah, I can't remember the year but made me think that I was 12 years old. It was one of those blockbuster Fridays, you know, where you every family goes down to Blockbuster and picks them here in the new big here. It was like Braveheart. So we all watched it. And because like I said, I was the youngest of four right before the end. My mom was like, Jess, she paused it and was you know, I can spoil Braveheart. Everyone should have watched it. But right before William Wallace gets like hung drawn and quartered. She pulled it she's like, Jess, you're too young for this go to bed.

Alex Ferrari 3:34
Really? Now. Now?

Jessica M. Thompson 3:35
I was like, no, no, you can't do this to me. And so as I say, as we say, in Australia, I checked the tanti like fruit and stormed upstairs and I had this I did this crazy thing where, you know, there's big old school alarm clocks. This is before the internet came before mobile phones, yeah. Before iPhones or whatever. So I set my alarm clock to 230 in the morning, and I put it inside my pillowcase. And it so that it would wake me up at night, wake up the rest of the house. And I crept downstairs, and I rewound it and had to rewind because it's VHS, and I had to like not watch what happened around it and watched it. And then I was just I was like, that's it. I want to that's it. The story just moved me so much. I just wanted to tell story. So I opened up the Yellow Pages.

Alex Ferrari 4:21
How is that possible? You look like you're 20 my dear. How is that possible? You don't even know what a yellow?

Jessica M. Thompson 4:27
I'll take. I'll take that. I'll take the couple of bucks. But yeah, so I opened up the Yellow Pages. And I looked up Film, film schools, like in film, like, you know, places to go to. And like I said, we grew up on welfare like I didn't, you know, we had, luckily the government of Australia is very, you know, kind to its citizens. And, you know, and my mom couldn't afford it. So I went to work at Toys R Us to pay for my screenwriting classes by acting classes, my directing classes, and I've never looked back. I've never wavered.

Alex Ferrari 4:55
So the fascinating part about that story is that at the end, is when your mom said you No, I think this will be a little bit too much for you, not the not the decapitations, or the legs being cut off, or any of anything.

Jessica M. Thompson 5:08
No horse dying.

Alex Ferrari 5:12
The horse dying

Jessica M. Thompson 5:14
100 horses that died out.

Alex Ferrari 5:16
You know what's so funny about that movie that horse dying sticks out in so many people's head even though it's a fake course, obviously. But it sticks out in people's head more than the 1000s of men. Well, you know, that was?

Jessica M. Thompson 5:28
Well, you know, Francis Ford Coppola with apocalypse. Now, that whole scene where he picks up the Labrador puppy, and they hold the gun to its head. That's the thing that people remember. And like, you know, in his whole point of putting that in was like, we have become so desensitized to the death of humans and the violence against humans. And it's such a great way visual way to tell that and of course, as soon as that happens to everyone in the theater, I mean, I was, I am a bit too young. I did not watch that in the theaters.

Alex Ferrari 5:53
But then, when he was when he was slicing, I think they were killing it. Was it the calf or the cow while they were killing? Marlon Brando? Again, sorry, spoiler alert, guys, if you have, it's not our

Jessica M. Thompson 6:03
Failure on movies that everyone listening to this podcast would have listened to it, I would have watched it.

Alex Ferrari 6:08
If they haven't. It's not my fault that these are prerequisites. These are prerequisites. So alright, so when you when you started going down this journey, I'm assuming coming from Australia, the Hollywood just called you right and just said, Hey, can you come over? Do you want and how much money works.

Jessica M. Thompson 6:25
So like, you've got like a really great accent. Let's like you're here, you're in New York. So what happened was at 18, I went to film school in Australia called University of Technology, Sydney, they have a really good film film program that was super hard to get into. I was the only kid from that side of town, just I know, people listening might be more American skewed. But I come from like the not pretty Bondi Beach part of Sydney, basically. So I used to have to commute to university an hour and a half there an hour and a half back. Yeah, but I was with all these posh yuppies, whose parents were in the film industry already. So I already hadn't had to, you know, compete with these kids. And I just put my all into it. You know, we went to a technological film school. So we had access to 16 millimeter cameras, we have access to digital, you know, everything I learned to edit on a Steenbeck originally, you know, and that was just to show us the trade. That's not because of my age. Yeah, you know, and so we made a film almost every month, like you had access to every URL to, you know, you know, industry standard equipment, and recording studios and things like that. So you're encouraged to use that as much as possible. And I just did, I just dived in and like, did it. And it's through university, through film school that I really fell in love with editing. And I realized how important editing is to, you know, to crafting a story. It's basically, you know, the three storytellers, the writer, the director, and the editor, you can make a completely different film in the edit room, right. So so then I just, I looked at some of my favorite directors, and a lot of them have an editing background like you know, Jordan, Cohen, Kurosawa even you know, like so I decided after that to go into editing, it felt like a bit more of a clear path and doing the production hustle. That being said, I've also done you know, production managing and things like that. But yeah, so I got into editing climbed up the ranks, only doing commercials and music videos at that point. Did one documentary and then and then I kept applying I kept making short films. I kept applying for grants in Australia you most things get done through the government there which is called Screen Australia. It's like our I don't know it's like really anything to get anything made in Australia. And I just found I couldn't I couldn't break in in Australia. I couldn't it's a smaller industry obviously. But we have a lot of American productions that come down there which is great you know, we have the doors and you know, the Batman's whether they go but come down there and shoot our commands and stuff. So but that's not really if you want to be a writer director. That opportunity Yeah, because it's the they're gonna bring the American directors and stuff so

Alex Ferrari 9:02
So let me ask you because your path is similar to mine because I started in the editing world as well. That's how I learned the AVID. I did Steenbeck I thought it was the

Jessica M. Thompson 9:11
I did the I did the AVID as well. I can say that was nice. Just for like, you know,

Alex Ferrari 9:16
It was in my school they taught me they taught me our dad taught me nonlinear editing, online editing. And then they took me to a Steenbeck I'm like, Are you just what you savages? Like what is this that you want me to film with a scissor or razor and it was just it was mind blowing to me like and you want me to put tape on and if I'm kind of on the fence, but if you really liked the cut you glue it are we like how is like it would blow my mind

Jessica M. Thompson 9:47
And to do a crossfade you like actually like crossfade it? Oh my god,

Alex Ferrari 9:52
What is what is going on? By the way I have to ask I have to ask because in America in every film school in the country when You use the Steenbeck you always use the same footage. It was just stock footage, the same one. It was an episode of Gun Smoke. No, that was Was it okay. I was wondering what that was. Because every from USC to NYU to my little school down in Orlando, they all used the Gun Smoke it because when I talk to other editors or other filmmakers, I kind of see my digital gun smell. Yeah, that's what we did.

Jessica M. Thompson 10:26
Guns. Mike is getting some residuals from this. But nothing smokes it.

Alex Ferrari 10:31
Okay.

Jessica M. Thompson 10:33
We had to, we shot on it was our own films, we stop and fix. Oh, wow.

Alex Ferrari 10:38
Yeah. So yeah, so I did the same thing. And I because I wanted to be a director. So I was like, I'm gonna go through the editing process, because that's like, I don't want to be on set because I did the set thing. And waking up at three o'clock in the morning for like, 50 bucks to be a PA and then just sitting somewhere in the not even near set in the mud somewhere, driving, telling people where to park that's like, this sucks. This is not well.

Jessica M. Thompson 10:59
And also, when you think about it with editing, you're one step away from the I mean, you're right there, you're working with the directors, you're working with the producers, actually. So therefore, you know, when you're a PA or you know, you're so far you never meet those people, you never even get to interact with them, though. It's great experience. Don't get me wrong, I think everyone should pay the dues. And you know, you know, work on sets as well. But I think it's like, I don't know, I found editing to be a bit more of a clear a defined path for me. And also, I mean, it's an incredible skill to know, and it helps you as a director. So

Alex Ferrari 11:28
Massively, it massively helps you as a director. So let me ask you that, how did you make the trip? How do you make the transition from Australia to the US? What what was that? Because I think that's where the interesting part is in your story, because you had to come up. It was tough in Australia, but now you're a little fish in a very big pond out here. So how did you make that transition? And how did you even just get work and survive?

Jessica M. Thompson 11:50
Yeah, so I was 24. When I moved over to the States, I got to LA for six weeks and was like no, not for me. At the time, I now do live in LA but at the time, LA is a brutal place when you don't know anyone I literally knew nobody in the state 00 connections. I started to go on a road trip for nine months. And I visited 40 states and all a lot of Canada, Canada as well. And I filmed this was during the 2009 kind of financial crisis. And I shot a little like kind of documentary road story, meeting some of the people that I met, you know, on the way and things like that never finished that. So, but it was really fun. I really got to know I think the US, you know, my new my new home, and I landed in New York, it was a bad decision in that I really used up a wall with my money on that road trip.

Alex Ferrari 12:39
Don't beat yourself up. You're 24 We were already there.

Jessica M. Thompson 12:41
And I slept I slept in the back of my car. I like made a very, you know, I did it. I did a very low key. But yeah, I got to New York and New as the second I made in New York. I was like, this is this is my home city. I love this place. And yeah, like I said, move there with very little money. And I because I had these skills of an editor. I started to get freelance work as a commercial editor. But of course, knowing that I wanted to kind of transition into features. So I actually took a step back in my career and took an assistant editing job with Liz Garbus. The, you know, she's done a lot of great documentaries. She did the Nina Simone one recently on a HBO film called there's something wrong with that, Diane. And then what was great is she brought me into her next film, which was called Love mountain and and that was actually a narrative documentary hybrid. And so he brought me into edit that one. So then I got to, you know, a new that I started to get. Yeah, so then I was off. So then I started to get a lot of editing. And being a bit which is a bit easier for women documentarian and filmmaker in the industry and the feminists are definitely like, much more common and more accepted. So it felt like a little bit easier to break in, in that regard. And I feel documentary and narrative. They're all storytelling right there to me, they're not we put such a divided between them, but especially in terms of editing because you just get all the footage and then they're like, Okay, make a story. Like, okay, so with the, for instance, the Greg Louganis documentary that I edited HBO Yeah, like that had archival from like multiple Olympics. And I should say my brother was an Olympian. So that's why I was really interested in like this, you know, what happens to our Olympians once they've kind of done and especially when, you know, Greg, being queer and HIV positive, he really didn't have an easy go though. He's like, the best diver in the world. So I was really interested in that story. But then we had sit down interviews, then we had buried a footage and it's literally like, craft the story. And that was really, you know, in terms of screenwriting, that's a really incredible process to go through. You know, it's a really great skill to know. Yeah, and then basically, I felt I'd made another short film in New York, and then I felt ready. I had written a lot of the moon I realized a lot An idea is actually bigger than a lot of them. They're shocking, shocking, shocking. So a lot of them are more sci fi or more genre based. And I have a joke that my friend that I made day one of film school color below, where he's produced all of my short films and produced the light of the moon with me. And he I have enjoyed that. He said to me, Okay, Jeff, you've got two characters in six locations now, right? Something like, he was like, you keep writing things that are just too big to make, like

Alex Ferrari 15:29
45 locations five, five company moves in a day? Yeah, got it.

Jessica M. Thompson 15:33
Yeah. Yeah. So he's like, that's all that's all we'll be able to fundraise, you know, so we did this, I did that then a lot of the men came to be, unfortunately, because it happened to a friend of mine. And and I said to her, I haven't seen this story told in an authentic way, you know, about a woman's recovery and about how it affects her relationship to work. But also, when she really doesn't want to be the label of a survivor or victim. Like she's like, No, she just wants to, she wants to keep a sense of humor. She wants to like, you know, she doesn't want her friends to worry about it like, and I just thought that was a really interesting modern story. And one that had not been very well. So I wrote it. And then And then yeah, we made it from $100,000.

Alex Ferrari 16:14
And you know, it did its job because it got you your new film the invitation. But before we get to the invitation,

Jessica M. Thompson 16:21
I want to say that everybody in that in we'll get back to that every single person who in the light of the moon, I'm so glad that their star has risen because of that film, from the producers, to the actors to the you know, to the hair and makeup artists. Everyone you know, I love that when you when you everyone puts their heart and soul into something and it really pays off. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 16:39
Now you also did the apprenticeship on The Handmaid's Tale, which, to be fair, not a bad apprenticeship. I mean, if you're going to do one, I would have liked that that would be nice. So

Jessica M. Thompson 16:51
What I told my rep, I mean, so that was the light of the moon and I met my managers at South by Southwest, which I really was ill prepared for like, I did not realize how much film festivals I just like a meat market. Sorry, I should say that.

Alex Ferrari 17:04
It is at the top guys like Sundance South by Tribeca, like some of the big boys. They are something like that. But yeah, if you got a movie in there, you'll get.

Jessica M. Thompson 17:12
Yeah, you also and we sold the film at the festival, which sometimes doesn't happen. We were very fortunate that it did happen to us. So you're having those meetings, you're meeting lots of managers. And I was like, Whoa, this is like I thought I was just gonna go and watch 100 movies. No, I saw like three films. It was so sad. Yeah, so I met my reps there who have just been incredible supporters of mine. And I said to them, I really want to do an apprentice and I want to do it on The Handmaid's Tale, and they made it happen. Now I will say like as glamour it was fantastic. And I really like helped me. And, you know, it was an incredible experience. But what they don't tell you is that you pay your way you pay for the flights you pay for your accommodation. It's expensive and it's really it shows you how classes this industry is you really so I really went into the red that year. And I'm very grateful that because I came up in commercials that I had a little bit of savings behind me but I'd really I mean, I'd maxed out my credit cards to make the film. I donated my eggs. To make the film

Alex Ferrari 18:10
I found another one I had a I had a filmmaker who came on to donated her eggs and Sanyo Hara of course Anya Yes, she was in life. She was in my last movie. She was the star of my last movie.

Jessica M. Thompson 18:21
Yeah, she's my best friend.

Alex Ferrari 18:24
Sonya is amazing. I love it.

Jessica M. Thompson 18:26
Yeah, but we did it. We actually donated our eggs separately, did not know each other and then met and we were like, Hey, you must be the only other person to have done.

Alex Ferrari 18:35
So So what were some lessons you picked up on The Handmaid's Tale, because that's a heck of a set to be on.

Jessica M. Thompson 18:40
Yeah, I mean, it was really like that scaling up of all the ideas that you have, right. So it's like, you know how to do it, you know about doing it on that scale and doing it with that timeframe doing it with that amount of departments that amount like this. So many people, it's like such a well oiled machine, that show an actor's really know their characters inside and out. So a lot of your work as a director, if you're coming in episodically is already done in terms of, you know, your actor, it's not like you're doing extensive rehearsals or anything like that, because unless there's a specific scene that's like a little bit novel or something. So, yeah, I mean, I learned so much about the pace of TV, and like, and how quickly everything news and how well I mean, I learned how your first ad can really make or break a day like news like that. Oh, yeah. And really saw that come into action. You know, it's basically taking what you know, and doing it on a small you know, obviously, we had 15 days to shoot the London and so then going from that and scaling up and having, you know, five days in 12 days and episode for an hour, you know, 13 days an episode is like such a joy in such a you know, but you've got to make sure those days are running really smoothly. Yes, I learnt a lot I'm gonna learn about Michael Parker, who was the director I was shadowing was an absolute legend. And he really kind of showed me his process and how we goes about kind of formulating the story cracking the story of figuring out. And also, you know, the biggest thing I learned was that the scripts come in the morning. And it's crazy that like, to me, I've always had the privilege. And luckily, even with my TV series, the end that I did sound stress had written every single episode before I even came on board. So that's, that's a big privilege in the TV industry, you know, and a lot of the time you're, you've got the idea of the episode, you're told, they were like, you're told what kind of locations you'll need. But you quite often won't have a final script or the morning that you're shooting. And that I told me that I have to kind of relinquish control sometimes and just go with the flow.

Alex Ferrari 20:40
Wow, that's yeah, it's, it's, I've been on many sets on direct TV sets. And it's, it's amazing how insane it's a well, it's organized chaos, in so many ways, because everybody knows what they're doing. The machine is running. But stuff like that happens. You just like, and then the actors just go, they just learn their lines quickly. And I mean, isn't it wonderful? Because I mean, you've worked in the indie space, and you've worked with in the professional like really high end professional space. It's been a wonderful when you get to work with like, quality professional actors, that just Oh, yeah, that you just don't have to, like, learn your lines, man. You know, your mark, man. Like none of it. That's all they just know what they're doing. You basically are just there to capture the lightning, as I say.

Jessica M. Thompson 21:24
I mean, consummate professionals, it really does make a difference right?

Alex Ferrari 21:29
Now, when you first walked on a set as a director, in a professional manner, not your indie project, but in a professional set of a television show something, what was that day like for you, because at that point, you've already got a handful of hours under your belt, you know, you know, hundreds of hours, probably under your belt of being on set one way, shape, or form, plus all your experience in the editing room. But that first day, when they're like there's a check at the end of the week for you. And you're walking and you're like, I gotta run this whole thing. And these guys all know, hell a lot more than I do. Probably. What was that feeling? Like?

Jessica M. Thompson 22:05
I mean, first of all, I never sleep the day before. So it's just I always try I try every technique, I get the lavender scented candle down. And I you know, you know listening to hypnosis and sleep stories and things. It doesn't matter, none of it, I take a yeah, all the melatonin and none of it works. I will just I just know now that I will be up all night. And it's fine. Because the next day you just done pure adrenaline, right? You have it that first day was probably was on the set at the end. And I mean, it's such a it's your, your heart is buzzing, you're you're just saying what the smell of your face. But also there's like a nervous energy, there's a nervous, you know, anticipation, to, you know, your all the things that you've been working towards, or the things you've been studying over, or that now it's coming into play. And I can feel you know, there's this kind of it happens on every set, where the kind of executives and the producers they all kind of lean in a little bit. They're all a little bit like, Okay, this you know, we know this one was incredible. We really love her work, but is she does she have the goods and then I love that throughout that first day when that first like kind of take and at first, you know, the scene starts to come together, and whatever. And I love feeling that relaxed moment where everyone's just like, Oh, she knows what she's doing.

Alex Ferrari 23:22
Okay, good. She knows what a camera is. She knows what an actor is fantastic.

Jessica M. Thompson 23:25
Yeah, she knows how to make it look great. She knows how to get the right performances. Fantastic. And so I love when there's that moment when I feel that element of trust is like, okay, she got this.

Alex Ferrari 23:35
So let me ask you, because so, so many people don't talk about this. And this is something I love talking about on the show, the politics of the set. Nobody talks about the politics of this, especially when you're a young director, someone coming in for the first time when you're dealing with some of these veterans on set. I had a script supervisor who was questioning me on set when I was on a job. And I had already been directing for quite some time. But she didn't know my resume. This is pre internet as pre IMDB. So nobody knew that, you know, just to see as young director, and she was giving me crap every second and she was questioning me in front of other people every second. And she had been around forever and I had to deal with I had to pull her aside. I'm like, look at you know, either get on board or get off the set. And I had to put her in her place. And then with after the first day, we I think we had it this is an insane amount of setups, but I must have done between the two cameras about 70 or 80 setups. And in a 10 hour day, I move really really quickly. And because of being an editor, I just, I just know what I need. So I just have probably at the end of the day, I found out that the producer had sent her in as a spy, to make sure I was doing it Ken is this guy capable of doing this job? And then at the end, she's like, No, he's perfectly fine. You could do the job. But this is the kind of stuff that you've got You don't talk about so how did you I'm assuming in your career, there's been a one or two times that some a crew member, a DP or a production designer or scripts, or first ad, push back or their ego got out of control, and you had to kind of step up, what was that like and how you deal with those kind of political situations.

Jessica M. Thompson 25:21
I mean, it's luckily the more and more that I've gotten on and then less and less that happens, which is fantastic. But yes, there was definitely something a little bit I'm sure the structure but like young filmmakers and female filmmakers, I don't think I know it's crazy. But I come in and I'm pretty we have a word that bolshy, which I don't think really translates that bad. Like, you've got good stuff. I think I've got a lot of good stuff. So I think they I think there's a little bit of respect already that's done it but I will say the people that I have the usually have the biggest problem with his gafas. Yah, grips blessa. But for some reason gafas they usually come from these kind of old school. Tough guy on the set, yeah, got it. Exactly. Drinking beer out of there, like, you know, camo pack. And things I love to take the peace and love to shoot the cheered, I love to you know, I can, I can, you know, keep up with the best of them. But sometimes I just think there's a moment where it's, there's always been a bit of like, Look, you need to you need to, you know, chill out, and you need to like, listen to me, and you need to stop this. Luckily, I will say I've worked with incredible first, they think they have a real knack for picking a person ID. And I've always, you know, gotten along really, really well. My first they didn't have always had my back and always kind of helped me navigate those situations. And that's another reason why a first idea is worth their weight in gold, because they really protect the director from some of those situations. You know, and I will say in the commercial work because I do commercial directing as well. DPS in that are certain type of animal, and I cannot handle the talkback, I cannot and I have a like now I just have a no alcohol policy. So if someone is really doing that, then no, I don't have time for you, like, get off my set. And you know, luckily, I'm in a position where I'm allowed to do that. But even even with the invitation, you know, there's always there's always here's what, here's what I say I'm so good at picking my hods I made sure that we have such similar tastes and sensibilities, I look at their bridesmaids. I love what they do. And I make sure that, you know, we've got we've got, it's like a mind meld, right. But there's always going to be focused on at the time we disagree. And I think that those 5% is really telling of a person's character and personality. When how because I love to collaborate. I love to I want to hear your ideas and why you want to do it that way. And at the end of the day, I'm the director, like, you've got to, you got to, you got to do what I say. And so that was you know, and I won't name names, but there was some times aren't even on this set, where I was like, Oh my gosh, like we just at the end of the day, I understand where you're coming from, but this is where I'm coming from, you need to just do it. But it is it is odd and I wish it's getting like I said it's getting less and less. And I really do respect everyone having their own in their opinions, but it's when it's in a disrespectful manner. And I will say I want to put shout out to the Hungarian crews most respectful crew up there in Australia and America nothing compared to the Hungarian cruise. I was like wildly impressed with how much respect that and then you got it you can imagine that it's a very male dominated crew. It's still I never felt like anyone was didn't think that I was capable or you know, everyone, everyone really respected me that even called me Madam Director, which I thought was a fun.

Alex Ferrari 28:38
That's actually adorable. I love that. I would like to serve director that would be nice.

Jessica M. Thompson 28:44
I was like guys need to stop. I've no no keep going.

Alex Ferrari 28:47
But no by you please more more of that, please. No, it's important to put these kinds of stories out there because a lot of directors will walk on set not even know that this is a situation that because I remember when I first got on set, and I had to address something like that I wasn't prepared. I just you're just not told about this. You don't have the tools or the ammunition to kind of deal with it. And if you've got an older you know, you got a gaffer who's been in the business for 40 years is like when I worked with Coppola. I'm like, What do you like? And you're like, 25

Jessica M. Thompson 29:19
Yeah, exactly. And that there was a reason why you've been hired right? There's a reason was because the the producers they trust on your vision, you know, someone or the financier is or whoever it is someone you are the person with the goods, right, and you're the person that hires all these people. So I think as long as they there's great respect and I you can tell straight away when someone respects you or not. So I mean, I find it pretty early on, if I feel like someone's gonna be a problem like and I've never, you know, it's only happened once where and it wasn't like a big wasn't a gap or anything, but I could just tell that it was like, someone in the camera team wants that. I was like, No, this guy he won't look me in the eye. He won't, you know, he like kind of mumbles every time I asked him something, you know, I'm like, we need to replace him. Like it's just not gonna work right, right. But mostly, mostly people were so excited to make films people want to, you know, succeed in your vision, especially if after like after a couple of days and they realize that you're, you know, you're not doing the stock standards. Why move close, like or something and I feel and I feel

Alex Ferrari 30:18
Isn't a fun isn't it fun when you put when you push as a crew and you're like, Okay, well, so we're gonna do we're gonna do the shop like Kubrick did, like, oh, it's like, you know, and you'll end up only using about three seconds of that of that 32nd shot. But yeah,

Jessica M. Thompson 30:31
Exactly. I know, we have this incredible crane shot. And then we go to a ronin handoff and do so joyous when you get this, like the CRO crew working together seamlessly. And the act is knowing that. Yeah, but also like the energy in the room when you finally achieve it. Without one, you know, it's

Alex Ferrari 30:49
It's remarkable. Now, is there anything that you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career? Like if you could have a chance to go back to the young Jess, listen to we just snuck down to watch the Braveheart ending. And go Look, honey, you're gonna be in the film industry. But this is you need to know this.

Jessica M. Thompson 31:10
Yeah, I mean, there was something that I would the first thing is, I wish I could just tell myself everything is going to be okay. Because I honestly used to get so when you know, and I'm sure you the same, like when you're working so hard on the script, and you get so close that you don't get it or you're pitching on a job and you don't get it and the amount of noes, right everyone thinks that, you know, your, your success, they look at your resume, because she's had like an ad or something like that. There's so many nose for every yes, there's like 100 nose, right. And I just wished because I used to get like so you know, upset and destroy and like wonder whether I was being a fool. And like whether I was chasing just a dream that was not going to eventuate I will just go back to school, but maybe you need to go through that right? And maybe you need that energy that I get up, get you up in the morning, but I wish I could just let go give me a hug and be like, it'll be okay. It's gonna

Alex Ferrari 32:00
Just keep going. Just keep going. You'll be fine. Yeah. So let me ask you.

Jessica M. Thompson 32:03
Also, though, stay stay true to your vision, like when someone is trying to push you or challenge you, or push you in a certain direction. Just if you in your gut know something is right, just really listen to your gut.

Alex Ferrari 32:15
So that's another question. I love asking people because I've asked myself this question after almost 30 years doing this. What keeps what kept you going in those times? What kept you going in the nose and the nose? And I'm assuming it wasn't like a month or two, it might have been a year or two could have been years where you, you maybe get a little win, but you've got like 400 losses, like and you just you question your I think I think every filmmaker worth is waiting in salt. Wood would say at one point or another in the career, is this the right path? Am I have I made a mistake? Is this worth the pain that I'm going through? How did you? How did you keep going?

Jessica M. Thompson 32:57
It's a great question. And I I want to let people know that even before so when we we missed the deadline for Sundance. So for for the light the moon. And so the next one was sapphire that I really wanted. And we submitted to South Bend we'd already found out that we got into Tribeca, but I really wanted South pie. And because we had that pressure of knowing that we got into Tribeca we tried to set us up by could you make a decision soon because we have to let you know we have to get back into turbo, another incredible festival but I really wanted South by and they told me that they would tell us before Christmas, which is a very early to know that you're going into a much festival, but in competition, and I was waiting I remember I was in Australia with my mom because my brother had just gotten married and mum and I were on a road trip and it was like I want to say December 22 or 20 Like it felt like before Christmas it was like getting down to the wire and I remember I had to pull over the car because we were driving. So I was burst into tears and I was like Is it too late to become a doctor like bombs like it's not Christmas yet. But then you'll never guess two hours later I get an American call on my cell Mike and I answered and we got in and we got into the competition so so I'm saying that happens even when you've made something that you know is good. It's still like you still have the all that doubt. But I think what got me through is sheer desperation. I never had a backup like I never was someone and I'm not saying you know that you shouldn't you know, everyone's path is different. But there was nothing else that I loved. Like there was nothing else that I could do you know, because so to me, it was like, you have to keep going you have to keep trying. Because you know if you became you know, I think it's like a professor or whatever you know if you could change something else. You will never love it as much as you love filmmaking. You will never feel completely satisfied. So really what kept me going right away kept making waking me up in the morning and don't get me wrong. There were some days where I really like I really didn't get out of bed like I was like just like I had a big no. After working so hard for free. And that's something else that they don't tell you, especially with directing how much work you do for free before you get a job. Like, it's insane. It's insane. The pictures, the amount, you know, the amount of effort the decks I'd made, you know, to get the end, I made like an 18 minute video, you know, I was like, and did like a montage of me speaking like, you know that this is how when you especially when you're starting out, right? You've got to put in so and then when you get to know at the end of doing all that,

Alex Ferrari 35:26
Or the buyer does or the money doesn't drop?

Jessica M. Thompson 35:29
Oh, you get it? Yes. And then the money doesn't come in or whatever. It's just brutal.

Alex Ferrari 35:33
It's me psychologically what we go through his absolutely brutal. So I love asking everybody from a young filmmaker, like yourself all the way to Oscar winners, everyone goes through the same process as everybody, everybody. No one is just born and thrown into the mix. They all have a level of it even even the Wonder kids like Robert Rodriguez when he's 23. You know, Orson Welles when he was, if you want to go back that far, but they all go through some sort of struggle even. Yes, most of us go through more straight.

Jessica M. Thompson 36:05
I knew, like, you know, I had this skill of editing, I knew that I could be an underdog. Like, I know, financially, I knew. I was like, but I knew that it wasn't a love, like, don't get me wrong. It's a joy. Editing is great, but it's not a deep love, you know, people who are real editors that like want to do that every single day. They've got like a deep passion for editing. And so I was like, okay, yes, sir. So I'm not going to be poor. That's not the problem. But the problem is, I'm not Am I ever going to, you know, get to tell the stories I want to tell you so.

Alex Ferrari 36:34
So let me because because this is something that only editors who turned into directors couldn't we can talk about this, I need some therapy myself. So we're gonna talk about this for a second. There's a thing about when I always said the same thing, I'm like, I need I always tell people advice when they're coming up, like what should i What job should I get, I go find a job inside the business or in the satellite of the business. So you can make connections, you can work with people, and making you know, and that kind of stuff, build those kinds of relationships. But as an editor, being in the edit room, I mean, I've delivered probably over 5060 movies in my day as an editor and colada color, I suppose supervisor, all that kind of stuff. Out of all the projects I've done on my IMDb, maybe three or four I enjoyed, like, truly loved the process. Love the filmmakers love. The rest of them are just a paycheck. Honestly, there is something about being so close to the process, and yet not being able to do it yourself. That is a frustration in that. And only an editor who wants to be a director can understand it. Do you feel the same way? Did you feel the same way?

Jessica M. Thompson 37:42
Not Yes, yes. Yes. Yes, yes. But I will say because I edited documentaries that it was and I really, and I don't have much of a desire to direct documentaries. I actually don't think I have any. Unless I mean, it depends. Maybe I won't

Alex Ferrari 37:58
Say that one that never got finished.

Jessica M. Thompson 38:00
Oh, that's why I didn't finish it. But like, Um, no, I've always wanted to direct narrative. So to me, I had that distinction because I so at least it was like a different part of my brain. Even though I truly believe that documentary narrative is all the same tool. It's all the same storytelling. It's got to start middle and end You know, it's got you know, the climax everything. But so to me, I at least never had that I want to do this i or i could do this better than you know. And, you know, this afternoon, I'm meeting up with Sheriff magenic, who's the director of back on board and so that shows you how much I loved editing that film with her. But yes, I really do especially in commercials. Okay, so, today is the day the light of the moon came out of the IFC here in New York, we you know, it was a limited release, we had 1010 or 12 cinemas around the States and North America. I was finishing up a water commercial. And they I needed to get down to the cinema like these. These people didn't know I was editing it. So these people didn't know that I had a feature film coming out down the road. And I needed to go and these people were what I am I like to swear on this podcast a little bit. Sure. Okay, okay, so I call it pixel fucking when just like people are just

Alex Ferrari 39:08
That's the term I use years ago.

Jessica M. Thompson 39:10
Yes. Because that's Yeah, yeah. And I was just, I was just like, I couldn't tell them that I couldn't do this anymore. Because I was like, and I'm not you know, I'm someone who usually is quite pleasant, but I was being so short like coming back and I literally I think I said in the room. I said in the room we're not curing cancer dies.

Alex Ferrari 39:28
Like it's enough. Oh, no, oh, no, that with commercials. You can spend weeks on on the shot of the bottle. And that just just tweaking and maybe a frame here and can we get a light there, maybe we could do a visual effect, just endless because there's so much money, they could just keep going and going. I was part of a project once that was six weeks for three commercials 3/32 commercials six weeks. I just we just have there all day waiting for clients to come in and move things here. Let's add that It was it was in absolutely insane commercials.

Jessica M. Thompson 40:03
Yeah, he's uh, yeah, so that's definitely like, but now um, yeah, I will say I really respect the edit that it has I worked with. And I think I think another thing that I don't know how you if you get their silence, but like, people think that I'm going to be really controlling over my editor. We're good. Yeah. But I'm actually the opposite. And like, No, I respect them so deeply because they are another storyteller. I literally said to Tom Elkins, who edited this, I was like, turn that director's cut like that first six weeks of that director's cut time is yours. Like, don't show me anything. You just craft the story that you can do whatever you want, and literally go with your gut, because you're going to then show me things that I didn't even think of editing that way. And that's the, that's the joy. And that's the, that's the collaboration. And he was like, wow, I thought you were gonna be like, over breathing down my neck. And I was like, No, you know, of course, there's going to be some stranger. I'm like, yeah, nice try, but let's like do it this way. But then I really, there was a couple of things, especially with the scares because he's like, you know, a horror aficionado and has, you know, edited a lot of big horror films. He really like showed me something that I that I knew I catch it, but like that, he showed me it in a different way, which was really incredible.

Alex Ferrari 41:12
And I and it doesn't editor, I always love handing off the grunt work of organizing all the dailies, and the bins. And like, that's brutal. So I'm like, when I actually sat down, like all the works done for me to Office is nice.

Jessica M. Thompson 41:27
I don't know, it's funny when, when, at the end of the end of the film, you know, the editor and the assistant editor know the movie so much better than you. And like, they'll be like, Oh, that scene 42 part. But I'm like, I remember being that person he like knew every single being in there every single file. And I you know,

Alex Ferrari 41:46
I'll tell you one quick story, that when you were talking about like we're having to work on a commercial than trying to get into direct doing the directing, at the same time with the pixel fucking, I was, I was posed supervising, coloring, and VFX supervising a 10 or $15 million show for Hulu. At the same time prepping an entire series that I was producing, my production company was producing, and I was directing. And there was and I told everybody what was going on. But then I had to overlap. So I would like my first day, I almost died. First day shot 12 hours, went home, had to edit, conform, export something up because Hulu wanted it. So I was and I woke up the next morning, just it's just it was I had to do that for two or three days. Because they overlap. And I needed to get that episode out in order to get it out for Hulu for that week. And it was just brutal and is one of the most brutal production times of my life. But it was just

Jessica M. Thompson 42:47
You have to go through it. But it's so hard to like be present, when present in the in the more survival job when it's so hard to be present. I remember one time I was at I was on like, a third date with a guy and I was transparent cards. So every like arrows, excuse me, gotta go. So I was literally we're at a bar. And but it was me and my house and I was like run back upstairs to transfer cars. And I was like, This is me trying to have a life.

Alex Ferrari 43:11
Well, that's amazing. Because he's like, look, I want to have I want to have to date but I got car transfers. I have to transfer parts. I'm sorry.

Jessica M. Thompson 43:18
Yes. Yeah. I mean, it's just gonna set an alarm every 45 minutes. And then but that's

Alex Ferrari 43:23
the insanity that we we were insane. I mean, filmmakers are insane. And artists are insane. In general, filmmakers are a different breed of insanity. Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's just an absurd. It's an obsession. I call it the beautiful disease. Because once you get it, you can't get rid of it. Like you can't get.

Jessica M. Thompson 43:40
We torture out so then you can't get rid of it. Once you're done. You're done.

Alex Ferrari 43:44
You're done. You're done. Now, tell me about your new film the invitation. It is stunning. It looks beautiful. And now you mentioned Hungary, Hungary. So I was like, Okay, that makes more sense now, because I'm assuming this castle wasn't in Texas. So

Jessica M. Thompson 43:58
I made it. I built it all.

Alex Ferrari 44:02
The Marvel movie budget, you'd have a marvel? Yeah, absolutely. But tell me about it.

Jessica M. Thompson 44:06
Yeah. So yeah, the invitation you know, um, so it's about a young woman who's an artist down and out and in New York, and she just recently lost a mom and she does a DNA test and finds out she has a long lost relative. And he invites her to this lavish wedding and you know, basically everything goes away. It turns into a horror film. You know, it's about it's really like a mashup of genres, which is what drew me to drew me to the script, the initial script that Blair Butler wrote, and then we rewrote it together and kind of weapon it together. You know, I loved one that it was an origin story of the brides of Dracula, which I was like, I have not seen this and I want to make it you know, but also that to me, the metaphor was all laid in there in terms of like, sticking it to the man smashing the patriarchy, you know that but without hitting it over the head, you know, it was entertainment first and that's always what I want to do. Yeah, and, and then immediately, you know, one of the biggest things was I want to didn't need to be a woman of color. So I thought that added once again, another layer literally, it's the metaphor of rich eating the poor, you know, the upstairs downstairs world. And then, you know, having a lot of power adds another layer to that to that story of Dracula, what we're doing is saying he represents the pinnacle of the patriarchy. And he's got all these people in cahoots with him supporting him, which is how these people work. You know, Harvey Weinstein, although they did work in a vacuum, there was people who were keeping them up there. That's what the film was all about. Without like I said, Without belaboring the point. Yeah. And then I you know, so yeah, Blair and I worked on the script, really focusing on those character relationships, building the those arcs, those character arcs, and really grounding the dialogue. I really love naturalistic dialogue and humor, and you know, peppering humor throughout. And then yeah, Natalie Emmanuel came on board, who was always like, my top choice for the role, and I was so glad that she, you know, saw herself in a character. And then it kind of all snowballed from there. I mean, yeah. So screen James obviously, making it the screen job. So my first studio film took me about, I had to pitch it like four times all the different people there. And then it was right at the start of the last meeting, march 16 2020, before the world

Alex Ferrari 46:14
Stop for a second. So stop for a second. So now, everybody listening, you will now have a studio and I've had by the way, so many filmmakers have been on the show that's had this exact problem. I got to I got greenlit, and the entire world shuts down. And then of course, the filmmaker thinks, Why me, like, burning for like, but I want to shoot my movie were insane.

Jessica M. Thompson 46:37
Yeah, no, it's crazy. It's crazy. So literally, I would say like the last day birch, the president of Screen Gems, I want to say that the last thing was that he shook my hand and said, You got the job we did. And we fist bumps because pandemic and and he was like, okay, and now we're all shutting down Sony Pictures. So that was the last meeting, he took the last meeting I took about I got the official, you're the you've got the job. Luckily, though, because I still had to rewrite, you know, there's still work to do on the script. And we thought, you know, the pandemic is going to be three weeks or whatever, we'll be fine. So but it didn't give us time to really perfect the script and really, like kind of, you know, work on it. And then yeah, it took a little bit longer than I wanted it to to get it the green light to get it into production. But then, you know, we swung it to production. I think I flew over to Hungary in June of 2021. So not crazy, not a crazy like, wait.

Alex Ferrari 47:27
But and that's the other thing I hear from a lot of filmmakers. I went through this process of like, oh, we had all the time in the world to do a recut to pick up shots and figure out what we would do. So if they were in production, I had to stop, they can go back at it, like oh, you don't really need to do this, this. So they come and they kind of rewrote, so you had time, which is

Jessica M. Thompson 47:44
And I will say we got shut down twice during production for COVID, just two days each time. And I will say that one of them fell right in the middle of the shoot the 40 day shoot. And we had, so the whole crew got a long weekend. And I will say everyone came back refreshed. And I was like maybe we need to just put a four day weekend in the middle of every shoot. Because it really like you know, the energy checks. I think there is some point it taught us to slow down a little bit, which is maybe a good thing.

Alex Ferrari 48:09
Yeah, absolutely. Now, I always ask this question on the invitation. What we all have that day that the entire world is coming crashing down around us as directors. And I argued to say that's every day. There's something that happens like that. But there's always the one day that was just such a massive thing. What was the worst day? And the worst thing that happened to you on this and how did you overcome it?

Jessica M. Thompson 48:34
Yeah, I mean, I'm with you. Every day, there's always new challenge, right? And I love the challenges, they often end up becoming the biggest joy when you finally get through it. But I am like insanely well prepared and organized directly. So I think my challenges are usually pretty, like limited. Like, I'm not I'm not saying that it's just I'm like so insane on organization. I'm kind of a little bit micromanaging that way. But I will say there was a day that I came in, there was this ice out scene, and there was hardly any ice. And I was like, what how did this get miscommunicated it's literally called the Ice House. And then so we had to move all the ice from once and whenever I couldn't do like any wise because you know, which I love in epic wide. Yeah. So then everyone had to like move the ice from one side when we wanted to shoot on that side and the move that I saw that other side. And then also we definitely spoken about because we had three actors one who was a 65 year old woman you know, lying on top of these ice blocks and we definitely talked about having three blocks of faith is for them to do that and they did not show up. So I could not believe I had to ask my actors to do this. They were all willing to do it one of them though got so cold that we needed to take like you know, she almost got hypothermia, you know, she had to go get warmed up because she was that Britain lips was so blue, you know? So I just felt like it just felt like there was so many miscommunication that day. And I was just like it's so as a director you want to especially my any responsibility to the actors, you know, to make sure their life is easy to make sure they're safe. And they're happy. And so I just felt like it's just more like, I felt like I'd let them down. And that's hard for me is when it's especially when I know that it's even if it is my fault, like it easily isn't my fault. It's like, I hate having to let my actors down, for whatever reason. So that was a hard day, emotionally hard day because I was just like, and I knew as well it took longer to shoot, right, because yeah, I had to cut out some of the shots, though. And I still think the scene was beautiful. And it's absolutely effective. And it's great. But I just, you know, yeah, having to like stop every however long to move all these giant ice blocks was just like crazy.

Alex Ferrari 50:45
I have to I have to because when you were saying this a story came into my head when I was doing my demo reel, back in the day shot on 35 for commercials, right? We went with a club scene was supposed to be in Senate club, and you know, some sort of comedy bit Comedy Spot that I was doing. And we get there. And the the actress that my quote unquote, production manager was supposed to get me. They didn't show up. So it's a club scene. You need a Club member, you need people to be dancing and moving around. Even if it's by the bar, you still need like five people 10 people I can get into frame. And, and it was so bad. The footage was so bad because I was I was I was starting out I was just starting out as a director. I was so bad that I had to. Eventually I burned the paper in the negative and I had to reshoot the entire thing later and cost me another 10 grand and 50 grand out of out of my credit card to reshoot it. But I remember that I still remember the footage in my I still remember in my mind, seeing the dailies I'm like I can't I can't release this. This is horrendous. And it's just some time and I couldn't I couldn't overcome it that day. I just and I had to DPS to DPS to DPS. At the same time. Have you ever worked to DPS at the same time?

Jessica M. Thompson 52:00
No, because I mean, on a splinter unit but not

Alex Ferrari 52:04
On the day at the same time. I didn't know enough to say no to that. So I had to deal with two DPS, who were both egomaniacs and idiots and idiots lit the thing horribly. So these are hard lessons that cost me 10s of 1000s of dollars.

Jessica M. Thompson 52:22
That's what the thing is what people don't realize you put your name on this. So it's got a you know, you, the buck stops with you. So if it's not going to look good, that's all on you. You know?

Alex Ferrari 52:33
Let's give her the job anyway, because that the DP did a bad job.

Jessica M. Thompson 52:35
No, no, it's, it's, you know, that's why you gotta keep fighting, you have to always keep fighting. Now, when I've learned how to fight differently over the years, I should say, I realized that it's not always best to come in just guns blazing, like you've got to like, you know, there's, there's different techniques to fight. So it's like, if you know, something's really vitally important is, you know, I something that I've learned mine. And his process is that if someone has a crazy idea, you know, you've got producers, you've got executives, you've got bosses about you, you know, especially in the studio system, let them try it and let them fail. You know, it won't work. So you're telling them, this won't work because of ABC doesn't help them because they can't visualize it the way you can. So the best thing to do is to just take the time, isn't it sad that you have to tell your editor Look, I know, it's laborious, but do it and show them why it won't work otherwise, because me telling them they're just going to think I'm being you know, difficult and not wanting to participate. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 53:33
I don't know if you ever did this when you were editing. But I always used to love doing this. I would always throw a red herring into the edit. For the client. I would throw something that's so purposely bad a misspelling the cut, obviously was wrong, something that they would justify their position in the room.

Jessica M. Thompson 53:50
Yeah, I have. Absolutely. Always worked because they just have something to talk about.

Alex Ferrari 53:55
Give them like, oh, man, that cool. We got to cover that. Oh, thanks for catching that. I appreciate that very much. As opposed to like, it's perfect. And like then they start screwing with your cut.

Jessica M. Thompson 54:05
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Really happy. None of those people are listening to the podcast, but that's exactly what I do. Generally, leave that in there. Yeah. Means you know, absolutely. You know, put that in there. Let them comment on that because then they will ignore the other thing that I want to

Alex Ferrari 54:24
Get them something big to look at, but start a fire over here. So they ignore this. The bank robbery over?

Jessica M. Thompson 54:32
Exactly, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 54:35
When's the invitation out and when people get where can people see it?

Jessica M. Thompson 54:38
August 26. All around the world. 20,000 screens. Let's do it!I'm excuse me how many screens you can do is you know, 20,000 Wow.

I mean, I know Yeah, I think it's 3000 in the US is so and then I think it's like between somewhere between 15 to 20,000 in the in the world. My mom You know, it was really funny because, obviously, the love of the moon when it played in Australia, she had she lives an hour and a half north of Sydney, but also all the indie theaters are in Sydney. So she had to, like, you know, drive down and like, you know, make it make a day. She's like, Oh, do I have to do that? I was like, Mom, it's gonna be fine at the mall down the road. But I think she's like, at the mall. And I'm like,

Alex Ferrari 55:18
That's awesome. I'm so happy about that. Because it is genuine that indies but like non IP based movies in today's world don't get the kind of theatrical

Jessica M. Thompson 55:28
Original ideas, original ideas don't typically get and

Alex Ferrari 55:31
No, no, and you don't have Tom Cruise in it. So it's not like a massive, you have just, you know, really great actors in it.

Jessica M. Thompson 55:38
And I think Sony, you know, believes in the fact that they gave us a summer release date before we didn't finish shooting. I mean, they obviously really love the film. And I'm glad you know, they're incredible partners. And yeah, and so I'm excited to see how the world responds to that.

Alex Ferrari 55:52
Oh, my god, that's amazing. Congrats on that. And I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Jessica M. Thompson 56:01
Don't give up, persevere. Just keep going. Down the nose. Everyone gets nose. Don't you know what Hafele like, this is your this is your gotta hustle. You got to work. Although you got to work. All the jobs. I know. At the start. No job is beneath you. I'm sorry. At the start. No job is maybe of course if you're directing something, you should be really picky. You should have discernment. Absolutely. That's what I'm saying when you're just earning your stripes. Do it all do it all.

Alex Ferrari 56:30
I had I just had a guest on last week that they did wedding videos at the beginning.

Jessica M. Thompson 56:37
That was my number one. I'm sorry, I hadn't even mentioned that. I used to. I do when I moved to New York. I used to do very high end wedding videos for a lot of you know, kind of aristocratic New Yorker. And that was one of the my main gigs and I will say the chips from the father from the data the bride were fantastic. That's awesome. Yeah. Oh, and so I still to this day, I would be particular girl and class. I was always my favorite tequila. I steal from a client that I edited at that I directed never their wedding Do they still send me a bottle of tar sands every year. It was it was great to be honest. Because it's one day. And it's there's a lot of money in it. So it was just it was that's like you said you've either got to do jobs that are adjacent. So like editing jobs, that things where you can learn the craft and when you can build connections, or you need to figure out how to make the most amount of money with the little amount of effort so that you can focus on your writing and your filmmaking

Alex Ferrari 57:37
Absolutely absolutely no question. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Jessica M. Thompson 57:45
I think I've still I've I think I've learned that yet. Patience.

Alex Ferrari 57:51
That's my number one number with patience so

Jessica M. Thompson 57:54
I'm definitely better than I was like, I used to have absolute, you know, fits crying fits when I was like 14 because I hadn't won an Oscar. No joke. I was like, so I've definitely I definitely am much calmer than I used to be as a human being, but I'm still learning. I'm still learning patients.

Alex Ferrari 58:14
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Jessica M. Thompson 58:19
Is I hate this question. So many today, okay, today, today, the shining Stanley Kubrick is always my number one horror, and I just I could watch that film every year. It's just every time it's a masterpiece.

Alex Ferrari 58:35
Did you did you watch? Did you watch it room two was a two to the documentary.

Jessica M. Thompson 58:39
I actually really I mean, but actually knew all those things. But I'm such a geek that I kind of knew all the little facts and and knew what was the one with you and McGregor actually thought was not awful. It's knowing

Alex Ferrari 58:51
Doctor sleep, actually, but it was good.

Jessica M. Thompson 58:53
I was better than I expected. I expected to be treasurer. So I mean, I was I was into it. Yeah, so the shining Ainley Brokeback Mountain. I've never had a film that I thought about for like, five days after that. I kept getting emotional about that. I was just like, why couldn't they be together? It was just one of those films that just like nearly moved me and broke, broke broke my heart. So you know that one for emotional reasons. And then the last one, I'm going to be douchey and say similarities. There's so much yeah, it's great. And I love the child in it and I just think it's like you know a classic that I love actually Oh, that even on the waterfront, they're out there also like they're all about even on the I just I love those guns. So those three are kind of they all go together.

Alex Ferrari 59:51
And like Sullivan's Travels, I mean, you could just watch that person. Any movies about making movies? I always love watching status.

Jessica M. Thompson 59:59
Absolutely. You're crazy what's crazy with all about it? He does that it still works now you can literally make all about it now maybe I should look into this, but like it actually is still extremely relevant. I love that.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:13
Jess it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you. It's been so much fun. Congrats on your success and the invitation and I can't wait to see what you come up with next. I really appreciate you my dear.

Jessica M. Thompson 1:00:24
Thank you, Alex. It's been so much fun.

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Taika Waititi Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Taika Waititi, also known as Taika Cohen, hails from the Raukokore region of the East Coast of New Zealand, and is the son of Robin (Cohen), a teacher, and Taika Waititi, an artist and farmer. His father is Maori (Te-Whanau-a-Apanui), and his mother is of Ashkenazi Jewish, Irish, Scottish, and English descent. Taika has been involved in the film industry for several years, initially as an actor, and now focusing on writing and directing.

Two Cars, One Night is Taika’s first professional film-making effort and since its completion in 2003 he has finished another short “Tama Tu” about a group of Maori Soldiers in Italy during World War 2. As a performer and comedian, Taika has been involved in some of the most innovative and successful original productions seen in New Zealand.

He regularly does stand-up gigs in and around the country and in 2004 launched his solo production, “Taika’s Incredible Show”. In 2005 he staged the sequel, “Taika’s Incrediblerer Show”. As an actor, Taika has been critically acclaimed for both his Comedic and Dramatic abilities. In 2000 he was nominated for Best Actor at the Nokia Film Awards for his role in the Sarkies Brother’s film “Scarfies”.

Taika is also an experienced painter and photographer, having exhibited both mediums in Wellington and Berlin, and a fashion designer. He attended the Sundance Writers Lab with “Choice”, a feature loosely based on “Two Cars, One Night”.

Taika became a blockbuster director with his film Thor: Ragnarok (2017), and received critical acclaim, and a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, for his film Jojo Rabbit (2019).

Below are all the screenplays available online. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

When you are done reading take a listen to Apple and Spotify’s #1 Screenwriting Podcast The Bulletproof Screenwriting Podcastwith guest like Oscar® Winner Eric Roth, James V. HartDavid ChaseJohn AugustOliver Stone and more.


(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014)

Screenplay  by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi- Read the teleplay!

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS: THE RETURN OF BARON (2017)

Screenplay by Jemaine Clement and Created by Taika Waititi- Read the pilot!

THOR: RAGNAROK (2017)

Directed by Taika Waititi – Read the screenplay!

JOJO RABBIT (2019)

Screenplay and Directed by Taika Waititi – Read the screenplay! (Won the Oscar®)

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (2022)

Screenplay and Directed by Taika Waititi – WILL POST ONCE AVAILABLE!