BPS 284: The Evolution of Your Creative & Filmmaking Dream with Kyle Cease

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Alex Ferrari 0:20
I'd like to welcome to the show Kyle Cease, How you doin Kyle?

Kyle Cease 0:52
I'm so good, man. It's so good to see you.

Alex Ferrari 0:55
Good seeing you too man. I, I we were just talking before we started recording that, you know, we both come from the insane world of the entertainment business and two different fields. And I've walked over some of the same courses that you have over the years. Yeah, absolutely. RapidILL. Which brings me to my very first question I always love. I've worked with a lot of standup comics throughout my career as a director. And they're very interesting group of people. And in, I've always found that comedians are not the happiest people I've ever met. And there, they got deep things going on. And it's interesting. I love to find out what drew you to comedy because it is arguably one of the toughest things to do stand up comedy specifically to do in the entertainment business.

Kyle Cease 1:45
Well, you know, one aspect of why I was so lucky was I started at so young that I didn't get to get to the stage where it would be a scary thing. In fact, it actually birthed after I'd been doing it for 15 years. So in other words, like when you're a kid, you just you know, well, there's other aspects too. I will say I was born into a family that energetically had some aspect of themselves that were used to being in the entertainment industry. So my uncle was the prop man for Gallagher.

Alex Ferrari 2:16
I am old enough. I'm old enough to remember Gallagher's. Yes.

Kyle Cease 2:19
Right and he'd spent time also doing a lot of carrot tops props, too. But when I was in like second grade, I remember a spending time in Gallagher's warehouse. I mean, is there any way better to get a child into stand up comedy than Gallagher because his his his giant toys and smashing fruit and and then having this intellectual conversation, I as a child, really remember also feeling connected to my dad through that, like my dad was always playing New Gallagher specials and laughing and that's where my dad seemed to light up. And that's where I felt a connection to him. So I as a child, wanted to feel that love with him. And I feel like unconsciously stand up comedy was a given that that's the way to do it. I remember very well in second grade, Mrs. Blaylock, my teacher in second grade, giving me five minutes to do whatever I wanted at the end of the week and me doing Gallagher's material, which was funny because I was talking about sex and taxes with a southern accent and didn't get any of the jokes. I would I would use props to add up my dad's underwear and be like women you go out shopping you buy us underwear that fits cardboard, am I right guys? I'm saying Am I right guys to second graders. And you know, doing this stand up act and really feeling the most entertaining TV to me was either sitcoms or stand up comedy. I was not very much into cartoons. I really loved Mike, my favorite show as a child was a&e as an evening at the Improv and then watching all these comics was amazing. And so I was doing it throughout elementary school. I was doing assemblies and different things like that. And, you know, I think one aspect I'm realizing now as I do so much inner work and awareness work is that even though it was my passion and my highest drive, I believe it also kept me safe meaning like my feeling of safety with my father was that we bonded through comedy like my dad was often and I love my dad, but he was often as a child, he was in his head didn't feel like he was there. And I felt loved if stand up comedy was involved, right? So we bonded via TV we bonded through laughing. And so I kind of wonder if my dream career that was like my, you know, my dharma and my calling was actually you know, me not getting hurt or me not getting unseen. And you know, me creating this thing that I had to do for safety and for expansion. And you know, in junior high I noticed I am I was a chubby kid but I am so loved if I'm doing stand up if I do an assembly if I speak Get something I'm getting more loved. And so I was doing comedy clubs, small comedy clubs at 12 1314. And then like public access shows, and being able to walk into school and be like, did you guys see me on TV yesterday, and then at 15, I was like a middle act at comedy clubs and. And so, because of that, I learned how to be a comedian before I learned how to be a person. And all of the aspects of what I needed to know how to be as a person continue to grow. Now, it's like, there's a quote, I don't remember what the actual quote is, or, or you know, the basis of a but once you get famous, and I'm sure not saying I was a child star, but once you have this recognition for a talent, you kind of stopped growing. In other words, like I was able to dry off my tears with stand up at night or get love with stand up or get attention with stand up or be seen. And so it was hard for me to develop the same way, I think, as most people, because I was a comedian, also a musician, a singer and different things. So I had this constant weapon to get love and to be seen. And it wasn't until I was like in my mid 20s, that with my career through the roof, and everything that I actually developed stage fright for the first time. And it was just because I had almost taken for granted that I could just do this. And I was touring so much that I ended up finally at one point, creating stage fright. And that was what opened the door to my entire conscious awakening going through a motivational Tony Robbins phase. And that shifting to me understanding, vibration and flow and now really understanding more and more than now, all of those happened when the aspects of my ability to hide behind my success. Were starting to fall apart. Right? They needed to to get me to find me. And so, so yeah, so I didn't it is a hard business. But for me, I was almost unaware of that was born into it, if you will, yeah, yeah, kind of my grandma was also a puppeteer on The Carol Burnett Show. I also have an uncle who's a Grammy nominated jazz musician on my mom's side. I am my grandma, on my mom's side was a massive political activist. Like it was very happy birthday was in five part harmony and my right and, and so there was a lot of just given that we're, this is a thing that is part of me that I'm an entertainer, but that I didn't learn a lot of the aspects of being a person or at least aware as a human being. And even higher than that, until way later.

Alex Ferrari 7:49
No, no, I, you know, I've obviously, I've read both of your books, I've studied a lot of the things you've done. And what I find fascinating about your story is, and you've kind of touched upon it in that first answer, which is you had a very successful comedy career. I mean, you had specials you had number one comedy specials, you're touring all the time, you know, you're making a living doing what arguably, you love to do. But as you said, things started to fall apart. And this is where historically, a lot of comics destroy themselves. Yes, they start going down, you know, you know, obviously, the James Baluchis and these kinds of folks, you know, they start to destroy themselves, but you didn't do that. So what was the thing that caused you to go towards the direction you went to?

Kyle Cease 8:32
That's a great question. So one of the things is weird, I'm gonna bring up 2020 and 2021 for a second, because I think it ties to this. But one of the things I see this time as being is the fall apart of our false identities. In other words, if you look at 2019, you might have had a decent enough job, or the ability to escape via travel or going to restaurants effortlessly, or whatever. You just had a medium enough relationship, whatever, that you didn't have to go within. And then it seems like 2020 just collapsed all of these little false identities, right? That, that you are a whatever, that your identity is your connection to your family. Well, a lot of families separated in the last two years, right, that your identity is your career. Well, a lot of people got laid off, that your identity is that you're someone who gives all authority to outside of you, the media, the government, whatever, and now you kind of are questioning what the hell's going on. This is what I see as the universe's way of making us go inward. You know, like, instead of looking at it from what's going on with them, like the government's or whatever, it's this opportunity to go inward. I started realizing that every time something is falling apart in our lives, it's trying to kill what we think we are but not what we truly are. And so, as a stand up comic, I at one point was so the first fall apart happened. When I, I was, at one point really successful as a stand up comic, I had done a ton of colleges, I had headlined a lot of clubs. And it was just a thing that I do, there was not a part of me that even asked asked anything deeper about what I am, you're just go to the next gig, make money, get partying with people have a great time, whatever, go to the next gig have a great time. Well, at one point, I'm on stage and I at that point, I'm maybe 2526, I could do my act in my sleep, I could go on stage and I had just performed every single night, an hour and a half or so a night at these colleges and killed so hard that it wasn't challenging me. And I could go on stage and be spacing out and deliver not even know what I'm saying. And just like run the motions, kill have a really good response. But it didn't challenge me to keep creating, I could do my act. You know what I'm saying? It was like I had the act. And sometimes it would write itself more on stage. But I really believe that if you're not creating your your mind will creatively sabotage you. Right? It'll come up with stuff. So one day I'm on stage, I'll never forget this. I'm in Mesquite, Nevada, and I'm on stage and I'm killing and out of nowhere, my mind goes, I wonder if you could think about it enough if you could make yourself faint. That was the thought I had. And I remember right when I thought that I started like waiting out. And so I thought oh my god, and then you know that thing where people say you can't not think about something like don't think a pink elephants thing, you know? And of course, so I've started believing about that you can't not think about something. So I'm basically this unraveled this thought I'm on stage doing different material while inside. I'm going in like there's two me's going on. There's a me outside delivering standup, and there's a me inside going, you cannot think about something. So what, what if you just keep thinking about fainting, and then you'll faint when you're on stage, and it'll ruin your career. And the underlying belief is I am my career, right? Like, I don't know, anything I am without my career. Like, there's no reason to live without my career at that, like, I am this person that has the sets. I get love from this. I haven't gotten to a depth yet that investigated anything past that. So it was just like, what if you think about it so much, if you'll make yourself faint. This started snowballing into the craziest thing. And the other thing was the year before I had done at one point, like 200 colleges in a row and every flight, every gig was two flights away or more. And I didn't sleep, lived on Drive Thru, drank had coffee. And then you know, at the end of that tour, was able to be on autopilot yet my body was gone it there was no you know, your your life is your career. So you're not even thinking sleep, you're I would go on stage and he just be so exhausted. And then the Act would make me so hyper and excited that I would wake up when I need to go to sleep, because it's night, you know, and then everyone wants to party and you're hanging out with people. It was the craziest thing you know, because you now you're excited. You have you have to get to the airport at 4am. That's three hours away in a different time zone. So you'd stay up with these, these people are you hanging out or you're just too high in your own hotel room and you can't sleep so you get like 40 minutes asleep, drive to the next gig two, three flights away. So imagine on top of this sabotaging thinking, my body is just dead it, there's no nutrition in it, there's no, I've hit a wall of exhaustion. That is unbelievable, right? So all of that's in there. So the beginning of all of my shift was this first fear. Where what if I think about it, and then ruin my career, like basically the crazy kind of brilliant creative thinking but in the negative is you'll not be able to stop thinking about fainting when you're on stage. And that will ruin your career, and then you'll be nothing. Right? And so I walk off stage after that first night and everyone's going great show and I'm going I'm gonna faint I know. It sounds so stupid and weird. But it was really profound for me because I'm like, you guys, it'll be this thing. And people would just kind of belittle it like, Oh, it's nothing and I'd be like, that makes me be like, No, I'm going to prove it to you. It's really bad. Like, we love to prove our limitations, right and, and I'm going to prove it to you like you're wrong. This is really a nightmare. This started becoming a thing I'd worry about all day. I'm going to faint when I'm on stage and that will be the end of my career. This built bigger and bigger and bigger. While I'm at this the biggest height of it becoming a snowballing crazy panic attack anxiety thing. I booked my first Comedy Central appearance on the show premium blend. And my manager says you just got premium blend. This is big and he goes don't blow it and I'm like it's six months. out, how could I blow it? And I'm like, what if I faint on premium blend? And I'm like, That's my big opportunity. I finally get this Comedy Central career down, I have all the foundation, and I get the stupid freaking anxiety. And I'm like, what if I faint when I'm on it, I know this sounds crazy, but it was really huge. And so I start thinking, I'm going to, I'm going to faint when I'm on premium blend. I started picturing it, I start going through this whole thing. For six months, this gets to a point where I almost can't do gigs anymore. I remember going to an assembly I'm performing at a junior high assembly and with this girl that I was dating at the time, and she's like, Baby, you're not going to faint. And I'm like I'm so I like I'm so it's crazy. And they had this huge, wide open hardwood floor like a gym floor. And I for the first time start wobbling and I see her like in the audience like, Oh my God, he's gonna faint, and I grab a chair now. And I'm in a chair now. Like, this is the first time of doing my act sitting. And this is proving to me, Oh, my God, it's going to be a horrible thing. Like you're going to it's this thing. This gets to the point where now that was so traumatic, that I had almost the reverse the opposite of claustrophobia. In other words, I was scared of giant gym floors like, and if I was walking on any hardwood floor, whoever I was dating at the time would have to hold my hand with me. And like I described gravitated to, I almost can't walk yet, I'm still taking gigs, because I am I am, you know these gigs. And I don't know anything past it. So I'm going through airports. And I'm, and I'm unable to walk. And I'm like, I remember going through the Chicago airport, and that long underground thing where the lights are going. And I'm, I'm kneeling on a baggage cart along the thing because I can't, I can't walk anymore. And I'm trying to get to the next gig. And I do premium blend. And I mean full anxiety. It's like the only time in my life I took a half a Xanax, I go on stage. And all I'm thinking of is Don't faint, don't faint get through this set. I do an eight minute set in six minutes, because I'm trying not to faint. So my act is crazy fast. My feet are turned on. If anyone watches my premium blend. You can see I'm holding the mic stand. I'm just trying not to faint the whole time. It's crazy how much this escalated into a thing. I walk off stage. And somehow the weird, awkward, don't faint energy that's flying through me, causes me to kill and Comedy Central goes, we're giving you a half hour special force. And the girl I was dating is like, oh, shit, now he's going to worry about failing on that, you know. And what I ended up doing was first I ended up going to the hospital to get anxiety medication. But the hospital took too long. So I'm in a waiting room. And I'm like, I'm gonna get pills for this. This could have been I'm sure not saying what anyone should do. But this could have been where I turned into John Belushi. But luckily, the hospital took too long. I'm in a waiting room for 45 minutes, and I hear this voice go get up. And it goes to get out of here. We're not going to do it. We're going to we're going to figure this out. And I have this moment where this this thing like goes, let's just figure it out. I know we have no idea what the hell we're doing. Let's just go because I was at almost suicidal level. I mean, I was really feeling like killing myself. I have these Comedy Central specials and I'm not I can't get out of this. And and there's no reason to live and you get why. If you're identified with the thing, and it's not just fame, it's it's your relationship. You're identified as your mother's kid, but she won't talk to you. You're identified as that, that achiever and now you can't achieve you're identified as a victim and no one believes you, whatever. These patterns are trying so hard to fall out of you. You're people pleaser, whatever, right? So, I go and I grab.

I go, I go for a drive. I remember calling my mom and being like, I'm gonna heal this and she's like, Why do you think you have something wrong? And I'm like, I just heard a voice like, I'm just not so. And I go to a borders. That's how long ago this was. And I look up and look up anxiety and I find a Tony Robbins book, Awaken the Giant Within and I'm like, Okay, this is where I get this first hit of a new possibility. He's talking about Yeah, you can't not think about something. Like I have that pink elephant thing. You can't not think about this, but you also can't think of two things at the same time. So what if instead I'm picturing this is basic law of attraction stuff at this at this moment was the first moment I heard this is like, what have you picture? I started thinking what if I picture that instead of I hope I don't faint on the Comedy Central special that I have the number one Comedy Central special. So I start walking around my house and just saying out loud, okay, I do the Comedy Central specialist number. I'm not bringing up the anxiety at all. I'm like, it's the best Comedy Central special, blah, blah, blah, then my mindset I was talking about the special that's after that one because it was such success. And within a few days anxieties kind of gone. And then I but then this opened a door with like, How good could it be? It's like not just get out of the anxiety, it's like How good could this be? So for several months, I just am waking up and doing this, taking my soul to the gym, I have a number one Comedy Central special, whatever, cut to the end of 2005, I'm recording a 2006 special, it's giant standing ovation, I'm confident I'm in the pocket, there's no anxiety. And it was at the top rated special, the most played special of 2006. So then this started this total achiever stage, this is not where I am now. But this started the focus on your outcome stage. I don't believe that's the highest stage. But I think that's a stage that can be very necessary to go from a victim to an achiever, right? So what happens is, when one of the things that I think is going on in the world is our false selves are falling apart, if you're identified as the self that falls apart, you're gonna go down with it, right. So if you keep being like this relationship might be trying to fall apart. But if you think your only source of love is this relationship, you might attach to it and try to keep it going. And life is going to kick your ass, it's just going to be like, You're too attached to this, you're identified with this. And life is trying to get us to cry out these patterns, that maybe you think that relationships the only thing because it actually equals your childhood, meaning like, this person feels just like Dad, Dad always abandoned me. So I'm going to date someone who always abandons me or mom always shame me. So I'm dating a person who shame me. And now this person and I are breaking up. So that would mean my Mom's leaving me. I don't know if that makes sense. But it's perfect sense. So in this time, you either are going down or up. If you are identified as the thing that's falling apart you are how much money you make. And your dad said, Good job. So that's falling apart. You're losing your dad's approval from 1974. And you're and you think that's you now, you're either going to fall apart. So I would imagine without knowing anything about what was going on. And really, and John Belushi is mine, that a lot of those stars, they got such a massive, worldwide love when they became famous. And they're identified as that. So that has to go perfect. Well, if that has to go, perfect, man. And you're not just the now and this unfolding being you're now an SNL star and a movie star, this gets the point where you don't get an audition or someone doesn't like you or whatever. And it's just, it takes nothing, right? Like, you, I remember when if you've I would used to audition for different movie roles. And you'd feel like when I booked I booked 10 Things I Hate About You, and not another teen movie, when I got those parts, like they were like, my identity, like cheerleaders from high school suddenly had a crush on me that I was the nerdy kid. And now, you know, and then you'd book and you'd get another audition and not get it. And you if that thing is the source of my happiness, then the thing not happening is the source of my sadness. Right. So these are trying to fall apart, if you grab onto the true essence of what you are, you'll go up, if you grab on to it, you'll go down.

Alex Ferrari 23:22
And that's the what's fascinating about your story is you literally started to your mind started to break down. Like it started to break down this whole thing around you to the point where you couldn't walk. But that's fascinating to me. So it's as opposed to,

Kyle Cease 23:43
Which shows you how powerful it is.

Alex Ferrari 23:45
It's extremely powerful on both ways you can go up or you can go down and that mine is extremely powerful. But you were crippled over months, over months of time, you were crippling yourself little by little. Because you were you're it's just a really interesting psychological example of what happened to you. Yes. And then that switch when Tony Robbins, his book kind of gave you a different focus on that power, it started to go up again, because you use that same, that same mind the same drive in the mind, but you started to go well, what what if it's the number one special? Now what if I think and I love the idea of not having you can't keep two thoughts in your mind at the same time, which is a very, very powerful, powerful thing. And you said John Belushi I mean, I remember when he died, he was biggest movies. The number one movie number one show number one album, he had a comedy album was number one as well. Yeah, he was literally at the on the top at the top of the world and it just key went down. The way he coped with it was with drugs, the way you coped with it as your mind just started to break you down. Yes. And you and if you would have gotten those drugs at that hospital

Kyle Cease 24:59
I wonder if I'd be dead. I wonder if I if the if the if Kaiser Permanente had been faster when I checked in there, I, you know, because they probably would have just given me something to numb this versus see what's causing it. And had I gotten pills? I really wonder, I don't know, maybe I still would have had that drive to override it and be like, I'm getting off the pills and fix this. But like, you sure get like, if all I'm feeling is anxiety, and suicidal and not worthy, like, alcohol is gonna sound good, you know, like, like, this is I need something to numb this.

Alex Ferrari 25:34
So this is very interesting, in very potent in the conversation where most most people in America, let's say or in the Western world, they look for things to numb the pain. And that could be drugs. That could be Netflix. That could be sex, that could be food. Yes, it could be, you know, relationships that could be set. I mean, it could be a million things to numb what you were going through. And I think we all go through that, in one way, shape, or form. I mean, I've told the story and I'll tell you the quick story of my numbness of when I identified as a director and my entire world was identified as a filmmaker. I was then the universe said, Oh, really? Okay, well, we're gonna give you a shot to make a $20 million movie, but there's this a little catch to it, you're gonna have to deal with a psychotic bipolar gangster, who's going to take you on the journey. And I literally was stuck in the mafia for nine months, trying to make a movie for an ex gangster, where then I was flown out to Hollywood, and I met the biggest movie stars in the world. Biggest agents biggest I did everything that the waterbottle tour did the whole thing multiple times. Even met Batman had a whole chapter in my book about how I sat in Batman's house. And we talked about, are we talking to Michael Keaton, or I it's Val Kilmer. But it's awesome, though Kilmer 2001, which was

Kyle Cease 26:57
Definitely like, it's Adam West.

Alex Ferrari 26:59
It's I always I always used to say adolescence out of West. No, but but. But afterwards, I was in a three year depression, when that whole thing fell apart. Because I identified with that it took me three years to rebuild myself to a place to even come back to a set to even come back to doing what I love to do. It took years, literally years, I hid in a in a hidden a garage, my friend's garage, organizing comic books to sell them on eBay. That's how I made a living, because I couldn't even do anything else. It was just that and that was mind numbing. By the way, that's how I numbed myself. It's just the monotonous of organizing comic books because I, for whatever reason, in this life, I don't like drugs. I don't like drinking. I wish I did. And some times when I was I wasn't a lot of pain. I wanted to numb myself, but I didn't have those options, those options were just not available to me. So so as you were telling your story, I automatically thought of mine and I had to rebuild myself to be able to get to the place and then it's a constant rebuilding throughout our amazing, but but I think people listening should really think about what they're using to numb their pain, or try to numb what's happening to them. Because I agree with you. 100% 2020 2021 It was a reset button. For millions of people around the world. Yeah, in a way. That's the billions actually, that never has happened in the history of humanity. That entire planet at one moment stopped. Yes. And we started fighting for toilet paper.

Kyle Cease 28:37
Right now that was the first which was the insanity first numbing. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 28:43
I can't have an attorney. Yes, I can't have but has to be clean. Like it was. It was the we're like different in walking dead. Did you ever see people freaking out about toilet paper? No.

Kyle Cease 28:54
Thinking about water and food? That's No, I'm I know, like, I'm not worried about having the food that I going to shut out to, to wipe my butt. Like it's the it's just the after, for sure. I have a smorgasbord of food in the next two years. There's no question but for some reason.

Alex Ferrari 29:12
Like I can't I can't, God forbid have to use anything else. Like day. That's why I have a bad day now. So I don't have to worry about these.

Kyle Cease 29:19
Right! Yeah, I know that. What if the next one is a mad rush on today's like, just there's just like, I need birthdays. For my family.

Alex Ferrari 29:27
I need my but the end of the day forever and a backup a day in case the day breaks?

Kyle Cease 29:31
Right! Right, just in case. Yeah. Can I play off of what you just said? Please? What you just said is profound. Because let's talk about what this is. Let's go even deeper about what it is that we're numbing because it's not the thing. The thing becoming a director becoming a successful stand up comic getting in a relationship like getting that money is is burying some default setting that you're used to having in your body that's a negative meaning like, falling in love is so great because it's covering up the default setting of your fear of being alone. Right? Being being rich, for some people is this great thing because it covers up your default setting of shame that you have in your body. Because your mom said once, you'll never be anything unless you make money. So we have what I've the way I've experienced it in the last two years, I had so many shifts, because I was about to do major tours with huge speakers and stuff. And then 2020 happened. And I ended up just being home for two years. And that was the first time since I was a child that I didn't travel. And I just stayed home. And I did a bunch of one on ones. And thank God because I am such a better father in the last couple of years. Because of this, I have a five year old daughter who is the most incredible thing. And I would have been on tour I would have been here and and I am so grateful for what's changed. But one of the things I've learned in the last two years is that so imagine it this way, let's say you're a child, and you have a thing happened, that's too much for your body to handle like a dog snaps at you Dad hits you a mom shamed zoo, whatever, this feels so painful. That what you're bought your little child body can't handle it. So what's it do? It creates a character that you think is you it goes okay? If dad yelled at me because I got a D in school. So I'm going to become this crazy achiever. Right? So now your identity falsely is actually an identity you created to prevent trauma from happening again. And imagine that under that is a trauma that still sitting still sitting in your body. And this is why we have such a hard time just sitting with ourselves and being because that thing would finally come to light because we're at a consciousness where we could heal it if we wanted to. But we're not aware of this. So we get this false identity that says I'm an achiever. No, no, no, you created the achiever. So you wouldn't get hit, or it says, I'm whatever. And we create this false us, right? The numbing is here to help you numb this thing. That's a false view that could come out of your body that could leave your body. Right? So when you're more connected to the now, the pattern in the body that says I'm a worrier? Well, that's just because you experienced trauma, and you're still sitting in your body, right? And you haven't forgiven that thing. So you keep recreating it. Right? If you had a dad who abandoned you as that example, you're going to actually look for people that abandon you. So you can keep them here, so you can heal your shit with your dad. Right? So the way that I'm seeing it, and what I've been doing, I've had a couple 1001 on ones in the last two years. And one of the things that I do is, I noticed that people are like, I gotta build this business, I got it, whatever. And I'll say, if you don't what happens, and they'll say a sentence like then I'm a failure, then I'm unloved, right. And then what I have them do is I have them say something that the energy of failure in the body has never heard, you're allowed to be a failure in my body, meaning like, I'm here with you, even if you're a failure, I love you. Even if you're all alone, I love you even if you're abandoned. See, we've created a false belief that that thing that we that we don't want to have happen, again, from our childhood, that if it happens, it equals death. And so we're in this bizarre box of preventing an arbitrary thing that everyone has a different one of that if that happens, I die. Well, that character that's preventing it would die. So what they do is they take a deep breath, and they say to this pattern, whatever, you're allowed to disappoint other people, you're allowed to be a failure allowed to feel disappointed, you're allowed to feel abused, right? It's not saying we're aiming for it, it's saying, I'm with you, even if you feel that way. This causes almost every time a bunch of tears to come out of their eyes, and that those tears are a false pattern that they thought was them. That is not them. So when we are like oh my god, I'm a successful stand up comedian or I'm a successful director. That's helping not have a a default setting be looked at like when you're like, oh my god, I'm now a successful director. Now I'll be loved. The default setting in the body was I'm not lovable. Right? Just as is I'm not deserving just as is I'm not love. Just because I exist. It's only if I achieve something or prevent trauma. Right? And so those patterns are now coming to light and it's kind of amazing. If you look at it from a universal perspective, it's going for us to move forward, those false identities of trauma that you've kept buried in your body through addictions through whatever those patterns are going to come to light with. Do you want to or not? So imagine up to 2019, you lived in what you thought was a one story house and you kept your circumstances really good. And we use just all this Think positive stuff at that time, right? Like just the secret thing positive. Imagine that the spotlights bigger and God's shining a light on the fact that you actually have a two story house. And the two story, the second story has a bunch of bodies in it. And all these patterns and rats that we need to clear out. So the bad news is, there's a bunch of darkness in your body. The good news is your consciousness can see it now. It was there also 20 years ago, but you couldn't see it. So imagine that the lens that you're looking through is bigger. And it's going I'm going to take the patterns inside of your body that you've been burying, and we're going to release them, we're going to heal this. So we do that by getting here, because the now will will wipe that shit out, you start to oh my god, I didn't feel loved when I was eight, I didn't feel this thing. And you get present for it. And that turns into tears and comes out. And I actually pretty much have yet to work with anyone in the last two years that this didn't work for we did one on ones and found everybody's pattern and found that they're under this illusion that that that pattern is them. So you can't get rid of a pattern if you think it's you. But you're the whole now that seeing the whole thing. And when you realize that then the pattern that's been preventing that pain from happening, can die, and then the pain that you're judging still can fall out of you too

Alex Ferrari 36:35
I mean, as you're talking all I can think about is my journey in my head of like, okay, yeah, that's what that happened. And that one happened. And that would happen. And, my God, if you if I would have had the success of being a director making a $20 million movie working with big movie stars, at that time in my life, I would have absolutely self destructed because they built it would have built up to a place where imagine the people which we've seen this happen in Hollywood a lot, where there's an actor who blows up, the first movie blows up, or the director who comes out with way too, when they're young. And then maybe the second one does well, but when one of them wobbles. They just everything goes away. Like they just self destruct. Yeah, because they don't know what to do anymore. Yeah, they just truly don't know what to do anymore. Because they've identified so wholeheartedly with the thing as opposed to themselves. And I think as we get older, and if you and I are of similar vintage, you know, when we're younger, at least at least our generation at least. We, when we look back upon what we were when we were younger, you start seeing these patterns if you're doing some self work if you're doing some inner work. So when I started to write my book on my experience of the mobster and all that all of that started to come out. It was massive. It was a TA I was crying while I was writing. It was just this kind of cathartic event. And then I started thinking, you know, why haven't I gotten the shot to direct bigger movies or bigger things throughout my career? And then I started looking at who I was attracting to myself during those times. Yeah, a decade. And I'm like, Oh, I kept bringing in people that were just not right. Sabotage, I was self sabotaging myself, because I was afraid of the pain that I associated with being a director. Yes, I get it. You see what I mean? It's like all of that kind of stuff. So it's when I finally realized that and I started to like, Oh, I'm not who I who I would is I am and, and then there was this whole three year walk about I did selling olive oil and vinegar in LA, when I opened up a gourmet shop. And that's a whole other conversation. Which is just but it was the I needed to that was almost a cleansing of my filming. It was interesting. And then after I got out of the olive oil game, I started podcasting. Yeah. And I was like, Oh, this is kind of what I'm really here to do. I could do with the other stuff, too. But this is what I really love to do. But I am not I wouldn't wake up in the morning going Alex as a podcaster. Yes, that's not what I say. I'm just like, I'm Alex. I'm a dad. I'm a husband. I'm a podcast, I have multiple things I am not one thing defines me holy. So I live within the me as opposed to that, and that has liberated me and it's liberated me tremendously throughout my life.

Kyle Cease 39:41
If you think anything completes you then you're not ready for it. Right? Like in other words, that relationship will complete me well now Okay, what if they leave you you're incomplete again, right. So, so this pattern of the the false belief of incomplete is trying to come up and die and if you get the relationship that you think leaves you then it's on pause for a minute and it's still running the show. So you're you're codependent on these things. So I have a rule that if you want something really bad, you're not ready for it. Because it's, it's, it's not a match to your vibration, it's bigger than you and your mind. And and what you're talking about when these child stars are these people that get success really quickly, is like their connection to their soul is not up to par with what they perceive their connection to this success as it's higher in their opinion than their soul. So this is why a lot of child stars often fall apart, right? Or, or even, I would watch comics that were young, that would suddenly get crazy things, you know, like, they'd come on the scene and be in there for three months and suddenly be going to Montreal festival and, and and on Leno and stuff like that. And then you'd see the drinking start to really kick in and every because it's just like, this thing is bigger than me. And I know that feeling, you know, like that would be the answer of just I get this movie role or I get this thing. The default setting is I'm nothing without it. Which really the default setting is I'm nothing. I'm not anything. Just give me the movie. So am something right, right.

Alex Ferrari 41:14
Oh, god, that's so dumb. Oh my god. I'm just working with actors in Hollywood for so long. That's what it is. Yeah, he's like, if I don't get this part, I'm nothing and that's why you have to numb yourself to survive with it.

Kyle Cease 41:26
It's not even if I don't get this part. And we're really just saying I'm nothing like

Alex Ferrari 41:30
I'm nothing without the relationship. I'm nothing without the party. I'm nothing without the job. I'm nothing without the money.

Kyle Cease 41:36
But in that weird because the default is I'm nothing like that. Like, right? It's like your default setting is I'm nothing unless this movie calls me which is like so that we just live we're walking around with a bullshit false the default setting that says I'm unworthy. That's in your body. That's a lie you like, like Daryl Anka says, or Bashar says, you exist, you're worthy. You're you exist, that's your that's it? Your worthiness isn't because you're looking through your worthiness through through the world's ego, not through that you are through the Soul of the now. Right. And so I didn't mean to interrupt that. But it's just so funny that it's I'm nothing without that movie is one thing. But if we just take out without that movie, you're just saying I'm nothing

Alex Ferrari 42:21
In talking to you know, I've talked to a lot of spiritual leaders over the years, especially on the show. And I've studied people like Yogananda and, and his lineage of of Yogi's and things. And when you start studying these people, or meeting some of these spiritual masters, you realize something that when they walk, or they talk, there is a level of confidence and energy to them, that they are whole, without anything else around them. That this illusion this matrix, if you will, really doesn't define them in the lease, not the clothes they wear, not the ashram that they live in, not the wealth that they might have. Nothing, it's really, that's when when you meet, or you speak to someone like that, you you feel that confidence that energy, you watch old films of Yogananda speaking and it's just like, this just Sledgehammer of truth coming at you from from the ages, where when you meet someone, let's and I, again, this is a theme that we've been talking about some an actor, or someone in Hollywood, there's so much insecurity because they they are holding on to things that are not permanent. The only thing that's permanent is you the inside of you, your soul. That is what is the truth. Right? And until you discover that truth, you're lost in so many ways, and you're just jumping from one thing to another, trying to find wholeness. And people go through live lifetimes, like this lifetime is just again, hi, finding I need this car, I need this thing. You know, like I've told my kids so many times, I'm the worst person to buy Christmas present for because what do you want? I'm like, I'm good.

Kyle Cease 44:16
I know.

Alex Ferrari 44:16
Like, I just I don't, I don't like I don't I don't need anything and I have to find something for them to give me like that. So they can have they have the ability to give me something but I'm like I let's just go on a vacation. Like let's give you an experience that speed thinks absolutely absolutely. Because that big screen TV or that Tesla is going to be cool for like the first few days.

Kyle Cease 44:39
You tell your kids to buy your Tesla.

Alex Ferrari 44:41
I mean, obviously, I mean

Kyle Cease 44:42
I'd like a Model S

Alex Ferrari 44:44
A Model S a Model S please Yes, please. Yes. Fully loaded. Yeah. Extended extended to my

Kyle Cease 44:50
Ludicrous speed can you do that five year old five year old can you do that please? Otherwise I won't be happy

Alex Ferrari 44:57
Or otherwise you won't get my love

Kyle Cease 44:59
Yeah, right! That'll do it. Oh, that one. Oh, that's the shit that made of Michael Jackson, you know, like, right you do it or you won't get my love and

Alex Ferrari 45:08
Dance and make us or you won't get our love and right. We all know where that went.

Kyle Cease 45:13
Yeah, right. It's no, there's, I think that it's really interesting because as I do this work, you know, I meditate all that sounds like we're really in a similar boat. It's so fun to be talking to you and learning more your story as we go. And, you know, what, a way that I kind of perceive it as is, I think I've said in other interviews before is that imagine if you and I went to another planet, and we're raised by 220 foot tall aliens, have you heard this before? Have you imagine where so you go, you and I go to another planet, we're each separately raised by 220 foot tall aliens, and we don't know how they, we don't know how to stay safe. We just know that one comes home drunk, and he's really loud. So we start going, Okay, I need to be quiet with that one. Because I'll get hurt otherwise. And let's say the other one really loves it if you tap dance. So every time you tap dance that one gives you love and shows you to the other aliens, you start to, you start to wire yourself, okay? Stay quiet with this one, and then tap dance with this one. And I get love. And let's say you're raised by them for 20 years, and you're worried that you're with them for 20 years doing this thing. Now your body's fully conditioned, I am a good tap dancer, I'm good at being quiet around a loud person, right? Then you go out to the rest of the aliens, and they all got their own patterns. And they're like, I don't give a shit about tap dancing, and why are you quiet? And you start to realize, I created a prison of a false meme and cut myself off from my soul. Me, right? So imagine now humanity through our conditioning is in a prison. Imagine people that get success too quickly are in a prison that's got gold and candy being thrown into it. And imagine 2020 2021 is overall a lot of people's prisons are on fire. And there's a lot of people that you were saying there could be actors watching this or you're saying actors have decided there's some that are like they're still their circumstances and everything. And and one thing I'll offer is they won't quite understand this now thing we're talking about until life forces it on them by kicking their ass, I've noticed that it's very hard to will your way into it fully. If it's not your it's not your like, still, they might hear us and go, that's great, but I'm gonna go get the movie. Like, that's great, but I'm gonna go and it's not until life just cuts it off from you. And makes things really almost impossible to deal with that it forces you out of your prison. And your prison if you were in it for 20 30 years is home, and you're actually free, but you were more used to being in your prison. Luckily, many of us have had our prisons just crapped in lately. And so we're leaving it. So there's some prisons that are on fire. And there are some that are just more and more gold, and candy and sex and everything being put in there. Right. And so for people watching this, if you're it's the weird thing is the good news. Bizarrely good news is if you don't get what we're talking about one to your life in certain areas. And this is actually a good thing will in some ways fall apart. And if you have the awareness to know that that's also fine. See, a lot of people have their life falling apart. But they think that's bad, because they think they're that story. But if you start to get here, then you cry out the EU that thinks you needed that thing. So the great news is your the the seemingly things that are happening now that are undoing us from our comfort. If you start to get here and you forgive and you let go and you apologize, and you look at yourself and you get humble and you listen more to the now than your agenda, you're gonna be free. And if you're like, No, I'm gonna get that part no matter what, or I'm going to get that relationship no matter what, that's the only answer to my life. Life is going to kick your ass more now life is kicking our ass of if we're not listening to the now and letting go of this egoic identity that we decided of what our future was going to be.

Alex Ferrari 49:10
Well, let me ask you this. Because as as you know, people going after goals they say in life, I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a football star. I want to be a comic. I wanna be a director, whatever, might be a writer. There's a drive that you need. And a certain amount of ego Yeah, that you need to be able to, to even attempt to achieve these goals. Yes. How can you how can you rectify the conversation we're having with the want or the need to follow something that's internal inside of you. Maybe it is the story. Maybe it's not the story. Obviously, you're very good as a comic. You're you were very you get a lot of success in it, though. It wasn't the ultimate thing you did. I've been I was working filmmaker for almost 30 years. And, but yet, I'm podcasting most of my days today, because I'm more enjoyment this so we both have kind of similar paths different in obvious ways but, but some kind of tones of the same. So how do you kind of talk to somebody go, Hey, follow that dream, but you're not your dream, right? Well, you know what I mean?

Kyle Cease 50:22
I guess I would just say where I am. And I absolutely encourage everyone to follow what their truest thing is. I guess for me, I'm just gonna say me, I've noticed more and more that life has more for me than my my plans. And, like it, it has more for me than my dream. And I noticed that my dream career happened at a different level of consciousness. My dream career was when I truly believed that was the highest I knew and didn't see that there were elements of control or fear that were actually driving that career. So I'm absolutely a fan of people following what their highest consciousness is. One of the things I've noticed in the last couple of years is a lot of clients that have come to me are people who had this level of self help in them. They were scared of the old kind of 2000 teaching of I'm scared that I'll die with my music. and you in Me, you know that there was a Wayne Dyer, quote, don't that was a very needed quote for 2020. I'm sorry, for 2000. That was a level of consciousness that was permission to get your gift out. Right? I personally feel like 2022 is more, at least for me. And it seems like a lot of people more about hearing, then getting it out. Right, like, like, there's a level where this voice is coming out. But I also noticed that, you know, I'm all about free speech, of course. But I noticed that we're now a collection of egos just yelling at each other. We're just politically opposites that are just mad at each other. And I'm also about on an even higher level freedom to hear, because I think that a lot of our collective egos are just screaming, and it's not getting anywhere. And there's a higher us that's trying to come through. So more and more, for me at least. And this might be permission for some people who feel for the people who keep going, going after their dream and then stopping and going, Why am I starting a project? No, actually, it's not it, you might have access to consciousness that might be higher than that, I have to follow my dream thing, that's actually just permission for you to listen to what it wants for you. Because maybe it wants to do something through you. What if there's a higher frequency than your dream that's trying to birth through you maybe, maybe we just listen to what's here. And, and, and follow in the now just what feels higher, minute by minute versus, you know, mapping out a six month plan towards your dream career. If that's truly your highest, then do that. But imagine that there's a consciousness now that goes, I kind of want the dreamer, for some people doesn't have to be you. But it could be there could be a consciousness in the body. That goes, I'm ready for the dreamer in you, that maybe was also dreaming to escape a painful childhood, that maybe was dreaming, to escape your own judgments of yourself to die, and that I want to work through you. And that that there might be there might I mean, at one point, I'm at the height of my comedy career and just let go of it. And then all of a sudden, evolving out loud this this event that this creation that came through me this combination of comedy meets transformation was bigger than what I could see I had to follow a Lego of this not see why the hell I was doing it. And then I started getting little evidence of more fulfilling happening, but I had to follow the now more than an agenda I couldn't, if you told me leave stand up, because you're gonna create this thing for the next 20 years. It called evolving out loud or whatever, I'd be like, I'd need to know what that looks like or whatever. Instead, it was like, trust me, don't know why follow the feeling, have no idea what the hell's going on, cry out the party that needed certainty in the first place, because I have higher and I started realizing with a lot of different clients that had this fear that they're gonna die with their music in them. They are trying to create out of a fear of wasting their life. And the belief you can waste your life is now I think, a thing that needs to be purged, because your life includes things that are beyond your agenda. And maybe you were here to just be and maybe you were here to go through dark times. And maybe you were here to not know for a while. And maybe in those moments, the universe is taking you to a higher thing than your agenda. So, so at one level, if you feel like you have this dream, and you know that's it. I am such a fan of you following that. But I'm also here for the people who keep trying to figure out what their dream is, or and or having this dream but then it keeps collapsing. It might be that you're Your consciousness is too high for you to follow through in the achievement of that thing that you think will make you something because you're connected to something that knows you're already something, and it's got better for you. And it needs you to just let go of the attachment to anyway, just follow the now follow what your truest thing is, there's a teaching every second happening inside of you. So there's a consciousness birthing, that's the universe's dream through you that's bigger than you could ever see. And that's where life starts to be breakthroughs and releasing and crying and holy shit all the time.

Alex Ferrari 55:34
I can't, I can't agree with you more, because I do absolutely believe that life has much the universe is going to do things, it's going to create things in your life that you truly have no understanding of, I'm an example of that. You're an example of that, yes, with this, this idea of following your dream, if you wouldn't have been a comic, you wouldn't have built up the tool sets that you would have need and the experience that you needed to overcome in order to do the work that you're doing. fair statement.

Kyle Cease 56:05
Potentially, I don't I don't know that that's for sure.

Alex Ferrari 56:09
Nothing's for sure. But what I mean, like the way they look, but the way the Blueprint was laid out

Kyle Cease 56:13
How we see it, yes, that sounds that would make sense. And I definitely would say without being a stand up comic, I wouldn't have developed the skills to be able to communicate this Well, I wouldn't have been able to just, you know, default to delivering stand up off the cuff through my teaching sometimes, you know, right, right. Like, there's definitely skills and hours on stage that have accumulated Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 56:34
And then but the breakdown that you went through, because of your standup, which is such an odd thing, because the skill, the one of the biggest tools in your toolbox is comedy. But you're now using it differently. So that skill, that whole mission of the thing that you were doing had to be broken down in this really dramatic way, as you told at the beginning of the of our conversation. And that's the thing that kind of pushed you towards the Tony Robbins, yes. And push it and then it made you start to change. So it was all if you look back, it seems like a master plan that nobody had any blueprint of except maybe someone the universe, if you will, same thing happened to me the exact same process. My dream is to become a victim to become a you know, big director, all this stuff. But the skills that I've picked up along the way, about communication, about how to tell a story about all this, all those little tools have made me the kind of communicator that I am today. So even all the pain and and to be fair, without the pain of my events with the mobster, I wouldn't have made such an effort to try to save other people the pain of this industry. That's what my first podcast is all about. It's about helping filmmakers and screenwriters avoid pitfalls and to protect themselves to understand what they're getting into. If I wouldn't have gone through that massive amount of pain, and then in the next 15 years of ups and downs, I wouldn't have felt the need to start that which then has turned into all the other things that I'm doing now in this space. So again, yes, we needed that initial dream to get yes rolling, but it's going to turn into something else. And yes, there are those people who I'm going to be an actor and you win an Oscar and then you're Meryl Streep, like there are those people?

Kyle Cease 58:27
Well, and that's that's so big, because I'm not I'm absolutely not saying following your dream as a problem or anything great height of saying, You know what I mean? Yes. And I'm more saying like, yeah, those things that I did were the highest I knew at the end you right? And so as following us following the highest we know like everyone's at a different consciousness, right. Like, for instance, there's some people if you're having a problem with with something and you want to protest, and you've been a victim, your whole life, like standing up and going to a Capitol with your signs is absolutely essential and consciousness for you, where you went from a victim to an achiever. So the me at 12 that started becoming a stand up comic was absolutely the highest I knew. And my journey was perfect, right? But then there's some people who've been protesting those things forever. That might be like, there's something in me that feels like I could contribute more to this cause in a different way. And then you start to go okay, well, there's if there's 5000 people protesting at the Capitol because of something they don't want. What if that was 5000? Yoga Nando's? What if they were bringing 5000 Gandhi's out? I'm not even talking about Gandhi followers. I'm talking about God, what if there was 5000 Gandhi's What if there were 5000 Martin Luther King's right. We're talking that could be birthing. Right. And so you start to realize for some people, me at a loving frequency if you had a if you had a million Mr. Rogers on the planet, healing all the murders of The planet by being an unconditional space of love for them, you start to realize that it actually is an ascension at one point to go to an even higher frequency, right? So, I guess for me, I've done so much meditation in connection that I'm finding that there's no achievement, even getting in the now making now a future concept that's better than the now. Right? Like right now, like I am just at a place where I'm really experiencing the truth of in this moment, even if you have all these patterns that exist and all these things that you think you need to overcome. In this moment, you are free. And the ego goes, it's when I understand what's wrong with me that I'll be free. And I'm like, No, that actually keeps you in prison. Right? For some people, and some people that would be ascension, does this make sense? Makes perfect sense. And so, so to understand were completely free, then we undo even the concept of the idea that you could waste your life, or a life is better lived? Had you made 100 billion books sold? Right? Like, there's a great line in Law of One that says if you if you serve one, you serve all. So I find that me doing a one on one with someone or even me choosing my highest for myself, is a better service to humanity, than if I have a book go New York Times bestseller again. Right? Like it's not based on how many numbers you get. It's based on the frequency you're emitting. Right. And so for some people, they thought the highest frequency would be to achieve their dream, but they might be connected to a frequency that's even past that and goes, nope, forgive your dream. And be here, I got a better dream for you. Right?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:50
That's, I mean, it's absolutely beautiful. One thing I wanted to ask you, fear is something that's so prevalent in our, our psyche, as a society as a species. And we do have negative bias, you know, we are built to look at the negative things in life because it's, it's it's a survival mechanism. And I think I saw somewhere I think in Harvard, or Yale, they did it, they did a study where it's like, for every nine negative things, you see one positive comes through, things like that so heavily that heavily may have a negative bias. So fear is something that's always looking at the worst in the situation as a survival mechanism. How can we overcome these kinds of fears that prevent us from getting to, to higher stages of consciousness, to higher achievements, in our in our life, in our career, in our dreams, in our relationships, and break through those fears that are basically built within us they're built? There's no one else that's creating them. But yes, unless there's a tiger in the room, and then that's a safe that kind of fear.

Kyle Cease 1:02:53
Well, that's what it's for is if there's a tiger in the room, right? Right. It's literally for if there's a gun man in your house, and the guns aimed at your head, or the house is on fire, but we use it for everything right? In my eyes, fear is in invest is an opportunity to go to a deep investigation, right? All fear in my eyes, in my eyes, comes from other than true survival. Like I need this to run up a tree if there's a tiger or whatever. Sure. Like. But we all are weirdly scared of different things. Right? What we would all have the exact same opinion on the same president, if if it was really outside of us, right? Like all of us would believe 100%, these Congress, people are bad. These ones are there, we're triggered, because of something that's inside. So you start to realize you're you're not scared of things outside of you, unless it's literal fight or flight, you're actually scared of stuff that's inside of you. Right? And so you use the outside to trigger something that's inside, right, that hasn't been seen. And what I love to do is I know I have enough knowing that whatever the fear is, if it's not literal fight or flight, that I get to do more investigating, and I kind of get excited because I'm like, I've done all the cool things with this stuff still in here. What am I like when this is gone? Right. So when I noticed that I'm worried about something I'm worried whatever they'll say something about, they'll attack me that, that I that it won't be successful that someone will hurt me that I that I'll fail, whatever it is, oh, there's an investigation here. So I start with the first thing like whatever the thing is, you're allowed to they're allowed to whatever it is, they're allowed to talk crap about, you're allowed to be criticized, you're allowed to whatever the fear is, like, you're allowed to fail at that audition. You're allowed to have people judge you you're allowed to be unseen by your dad. Right? So that's the first thing because it only wants to know that you are with it, a DAC Usually, you're creating this middleman that needs to happen, right? Like, imagine if your literal children like my five year old daughter, if she came in and said, I feel like no one loves me. Imagine if I how weird it would be if I was just like, well, let's put some makeup on and run over to the neighbor's house and make you tap dance in front of them. And maybe they'll like you. Don't be nuts.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:21
But that does happen, by the way.

Kyle Cease 1:05:23
Yeah, right. Sure somebody does happen with other parents, right? But we have the least awareness to go versus just giving her a hug and going, you're allowed you can totally feel that way here. That's what she needs to know. Now, we would never do that with our kids. But we sure do that with our own inner children. Absolutely. I feel unloved. Okay, I'm gonna make the video bigger. I need to get more views I'll be loved when it hits a billion people whatever.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:48
More views, I need more downloads. I need more likes. Right? Let's everybody's looking how many likes because my whole identity is attached to lights or grades or downloads.

Kyle Cease 1:05:59
Now wouldn't that be weird? If Vivi, my daughter said I don't feel like I'm I'm liked. And I'm like, well, here's how we get likes. Like I want you to watch the scores your watch this course read this book. Yeah, I need you to take this marketing class. And I'm gonna say branding all day.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:15
Red brand building with me. We need to start brand building lead Elmo alone. We're gonna brand build today. Hey, my brand.

Kyle Cease 1:06:23
Hey, guys, my daughter's feel love. So we're going to build her brand. That's what we are doing. Do you know how many clients I have to undo marketing courses from? They have what their soul wants to do. And then they have all this like, yep, I'd love to do that. But I was told I have to post twice a day on Instagram. And I'm just like, by someone else who did a thing. Like when people teach you how to do what they did in a different time that was successful for them. That'd be like taking a songwriting class and Michael Jackson being like, right, Billie Jean. That's what I did. It was a hit. You're like, Oh, I get the story. You already did that.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:00
I was like I was at Comic Con years ago. And Quentin Tarantino was on stage. And some kid asked him like, what advice do you have for filmmakers trying to break into the business? And Quentin Tarantino stood up and said, Write Reservoir Dogs? That's all I know. He literally said write for dogs at a house yet. It was a huge hit. Right? Reservoir Dogs. That's what I did. I don't know what to tell you. That's how I broke into the race. I can't tell you how to break into the business because everyone's way is different. But it was just so beautifully presented by Reservoir Dogs.

Kyle Cease 1:07:35
That's a great well, and you know, what's amazing is what that also brings up is, we don't understand that the factor of what also makes something is the consciousness it's in, in other words, that I watched a special recently on Netflix about Woodstock. 99 Oh, god, yes, I saw it. Oh, did you see it? Oh my god, what were they trying to do, they were trying to bring the same feelings back that they created on a conscious shifting hippie movement in 1969. But with Limp Biscuit, biscuit in a time where that breakthrough isn't what the universe wanted, the universe isn't trying to break, like 69 They're getting out of the Vietnam War and you're you're trying to bring that is that was a true conscious shift. But the factor also was the time it was in. So when we do this all the time when we say as a person, I want to feel how I felt five years ago when I was in that relationship. I want to feel like I felt 10 years ago when I was on top of the moon when I was doing this thing. Don't try to be what you were in the past don't try to be what anyone else was in the past because there's a new you trying to come through. So we keep trying to orchestrate movements that worked 80 years ago, and like the the Martin Luther King march for instance, might not work the same way now because the consciousness is different. And there might be an inner shift that we're trying to have that we've never seen. But that sounds to me like what the universe is trying to do. That's so cutting edge but it's not familiar to us right? So so that's exactly Quentin Tarantino is answers hilarious because like of course if you rewrote Reservoir Dogs and put it out now it wouldn't work. Woodstock 99 You could feel I remember when it was coming out I was like that's not gonna work that doesn't feel agree and it was even created by the same dude that did Woodstock and it came out and it was people lighting themselves on fire and sliding around and shit mud and and it was robbing each other and dying. Like it was just like this nightmare. And and this dark way overheated terrible event that you have Rage Against the Machine and Limp Biscuit screaming Don't you want to hit something breaks. Woodstock guy is talking like this is a love thing. And like you know, there's you got to hear what the consciousness is of the time and that one To the consciousness of today. Now, what did you do yesterday that worked? What is trying to come through you right now? Right? So even if so when you get a marketing class, it's like, this is the strategy I used in 2008 to whatever. That doesn't mean you should. Right.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:15
I mean, and so many times that I tell I tell the filmmakers that I counsel and even on my shows, I tell them because a lot of them still think it's the 90s and that the film movements and making independent movies is that time it is not you are not Kevin Smith. You're not Spike Lee, you're not Richard Linklater, that was that time, just like you're not Steven Spielberg in the 70s. You're not Coppola in the 70s. You're not Millia, sir, or George Lucas. And like that was that time, just like you're not a Hitchcock in the 20s. Like, it's a different

Kyle Cease 1:10:50
Dude, you're not even you in the 2000s. You know what I'm saying? Like,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:55
You have to find out, which brings me to the next thing is authenticity. And I always tell people, if you want to succeed at anything in this life, you need to find that sauce, I call it the secret sauce inside of you the thing that nobody else has that authenticity. And that is that's what people are attracted to. Reasons why my podcast do well is because I am 100% authentic to who I am, and I'm truly being authentic. I'm not like, I'm gonna make a money grab and make it a podcast. Like that's not about Woodstock. 99 podcasts are hot. Let's try to do something cool. No, I'm actually authentically trying to help trying to be curious with my, with my guests to have conversations that are deep and meaningful for the audience listening, but that's an authenticity. And every single person in history, who has ever been successful, was authentic to their themselves, to their soul to their inner secret sauce. So we use actors you we can use writers we can use, you know, Edgar Allan Poe was Edgar Allan Poe, Dickens was Dickens. Shakespeare was Shakespeare, these people had a connection to who they were and weren't afraid this is the key, weren't afraid to show it to the world, warts and all. And that's what people are attracted to. I think that's one of the reasons you're so successful, because you are completely 100% authentic. And you also make people laugh, which is also helpful.

Kyle Cease 1:12:21
Well, you know, here's an irony to is, the more you find that authentic thing that's trying to come through you, the less it's even scary to do it, it like takes you to a level where it's not, I gotta get this out. It's like, just like, Oh, I'm in a world where that's me. And it's not like this overcoming feeling that you have when you're not authentic, where it's like, you know, you know, like, like you actually kind of when you find that real you you actually access some other invincibility energy that makes it not even a big deal to put it out. You know, it's,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:55
But that first part is the first time Yeah, the first time is really hard, but it's much harder to keep a mask on. Yes, it's much harder to be someone else. Always what people are always trying to do, they put a mask on, they try to pretend they try to, they put clothes on they act they have to like get you know, certain things have to wear, wear certain clothes, get in certain cards. This is all part of the masking. And that's hard, man. I did it when I was in high school. I remember, I did it through a lot of parts of my life that I tried to be someone I wasn't. And then the moment I decided to be myself so much easier. It's like the heavy lifting is off. Like you could take the jacket off. You could take the mask off and just be you. And if any bullets start coming towards you because of like people not liking who you are, you're just like Bing bing, bing just bounce off of you because you're like, if you don't like me, man, that's your problem. That's not mine. And that's what people are attracted to.

Kyle Cease 1:13:49
We do get this choice. I think Jim Carrey said something similar to this but we get this choice between being at one point I think Jim Carrey said this, there's a choice we get at one point where I'm either going to be what I truly am and risk losing everyone and everything in my life, even though I probably won't, but you can you're willing to lose it all for for whatever. Like my highest intention is to learn what I truly am and I'll let go of everything for it. Right that's that's where all your power is. Or you'll give up what you truly are and be what you think that people you know, want to see and you'll go to the grave with people never knowing who you truly were. And I you know I think every i He said that there's one moment where that happens. I think that choice happens every day. I think that it's like continually either going up to more you and there's a new chapter to each day that you've never seen that takes you even higher or you know sell out a little bit and be what you what you think people want and then learn from that lesson and you can go up right now I'm kind of like go up and then oh, I didn't realize I was doing Not I sold out oh shit no, I'm not going you know and you just keep finding this authentic you through doing that work right so yeah, there's a there's an audience for everyone watching there's an insane you that's birthing that's more powerful than anyone you've ever idolized than anything you've ever seen. And it's trying to come through you. And I think it doesn't it's not even just a new you is trying to birth through you I think a new planet is trying to birth through you. I think the more you're in the now that you'll notice that I've had so many experiences I'm sure you have to where the world weirdly mirrors what I just did. Like if you ever forgiven someone they called you have you ever, like just let go of something? And then like you've noticed that the thing you were holding on to isn't as stringently holding on to you. Like you go to a different frequency. And you almost wonder if this is a virtual reality that shows you what you just healed inside is being mirrored on the outside. I've seen that so many times with clients, when they let go if they finally let go of the thing where that a frequency where it doesn't matter. All the sudden it heals itself on the external too. And so I think a new world is trying to birth through you. Not just new you,

Alex Ferrari 1:16:09
Kyle, I could keep talking to you for hours. I really fun. It's so much fun to listen, you're definitely coming back on the show. We got to keep it we got I mean, I literally have 30 questions I never even talked to you

Kyle Cease 1:16:22
Sure I'm here anytime, brother.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:24
It is such a pleasure. Can you tell everybody where where they can find you what kind of where they can find out the work. You're doing books and courses and one on ones all that kind of stuff?

Kyle Cease 1:16:33
Yes, so my I get giddy talking about it. Because it's so amazing. We created a membership site called the absolutely everything pass. It's got 1000s of people on it now creating an amazing community. It has probably about 1000 hours of backlogged content plus I do a live event every Sunday. Other teammates do a live event Monday and Tuesday called it's totally possible, where they literally riff all the things that are totally possible and create this different frequency. Tuesday mornings, I have different guest speakers come in and do interviews with them. Wednesday night, I do a q&a. And now I have a new series called Hot Seat on it where you can watch me work within the next few months, I'm working with people, I'm going to do 100 hot seats, you're gonna watch me take a person around an hour, and break down all of the lives that are in their body and then see what comes through. And you can see on YouTube, tons of videos of me doing work with people where I shift their reality. And it's my favorite thing. And it's something that is changing people's lives pays for itself over and over and over. It's crazy affordable. And a lot of our money goes to different charities, we just recently announced that we're doing an event in March that that event will take place in Sedona. And it's the event is is all the money of this two day live event is going to Operation Underground Railroad who's the group that is stopping child trafficking. And we announced it about five weeks ago, maybe and we've brought in $226,000 for them so far. That's amazing. And they're just telling us stories of what that money has rescued and arrested. And that it's just like bringing darkness to the light everywhere. So we have a two day event in Sedona that's 80% sold out and it's six months away. And it's called freeing all children inside and out. And the purpose of the event is to free your inner children that's got its own Warden that says you can't or you have to do what everyone else says. And then also literally freeing children that are being trafficked. And this group operation Underground Railroad is profound. We just had the founder Tim Ballard on and it was one of the most amazing interviews ever. And all of this is on the absolutely everything pass. It's $79 a month, they can cancel anytime I promise you. It will pay for itself over and over all of my live stand up events where I do talks to day events, everything that shifted people, they're all in there. If you watch that and don't completely shift your career, your income your story, like then you're missing out because it's crazy. So it's called the absolutely everything passed. They can get it on absolutely everything.tv They can get I have two books. My favorite one by far as the illusion of money grants the second one yeah, thank you, brother. Good man. That and God we have 500 videos on YouTube, you know, and we got I'm here.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:26
Listen, brother, is there a message you would like to leave us with?

Kyle Cease 1:19:30
Just you're totally free. You are free right now. Don't try to understand it. Don't try to prove it to yourself. Just find the freedom in your breath right now. Just connect to your just the air going in, you're free. You will discover a forgiveness you will discover a release. You do not even need to do the work to get to the freedom. Just start here at the freedom and see what happens as a byproduct of your freedom versus your when I get this I'll be free. Screw that. You're free. Let's See what happens from that?

Alex Ferrari 1:20:01
Brother. It has been a pleasure honor talking to you, man. And I hope this conversation helps a lot of people out there. So thank you. Thank you again for all the work you're doing my friend,

Kyle Cease 1:20:10
Honored to be with you, man. I can feel your soul. You're a good guy and it's so great to talk to you today.

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BPS 283: Is Artificial Intelligence Putting Screenwriters Out of Work? with Andrew Kortschak

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Alex Ferrari 0:28
I'd like to welcome the show Andrew Kortschak how you doing, brother?

Andrew Kortschak 4:42
Good, man. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 4:43
I'm good, man. Thanks for being on the show. I appreciate it.

Andrew Kortschak 4:46
Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 4:47
So first off, man, how did you get into the film business?

Andrew Kortschak 4:52
I got into the film business based on I have no childhood love of film. And, you know, slowly building towards making myself an invaluable part of the process or at least striving to be one. That's kind of you know, it's been a long path, but have had a great time doing it.

Alex Ferrari 5:18
Very cool. Now you also went to USC, right?

Andrew Kortschak 5:20
I did, yes. But I really got kind of kicked into gear.

Alex Ferrari 5:24
Yeah. How did you How was your USC experience? I've spoken to USC many times, and I know a lot of USC grad. So I've heard, you know, many different experiences outside of a USC, out of the bubble of USC, can you tell us what that experience was like, and how it was for you?

Andrew Kortschak 5:41
Sure. I mean, I really enjoyed it. I, I also timed things quite well, and that I got to take advantage of the new facilities donated, graciously donated by George Lucas and several others. So it was always nice, you know, walking into something that felt like a real film studio is it as a 18 year old, but, um, you know, I can only speak from my own personal experience, I was a little bit of an odd bird there, because I was very, very focused on animation and documentary work at the time. And I think USC has a reputation for developing great studio filmmakers, studio executives and representatives. And I personally struggled a little bit with having to wear every hat. And you know, I by then I knew I was not interested in directing, personally. But you know, you have to go through the process. And I do absolutely see the value in that.

Alex Ferrari 6:41
No, did you you, when you got out of school, you had your first internship at Pixar, if I'm not mistaken, right? Actually, I took some time off of school to go do that. Even better back in 2010. Even better I was, I used to joke I used to jump off and go to Universal Studios, and do my internships there and not go to class. Do you find it so invaluable to learn you learn so much more doing internships? I feel so much than you do in film school sometimes?

Andrew Kortschak 7:08
Absolutely. And that's how I would kind of sum up film school. I mean, there's absolute value in going and I think, you know, across the board I've worked with down to people who have gone to a variety of different schools, some more liberal arts focused, you know, others that are these kind of, you know, classic, you know, film schools like NYU, UCLA, or USC. But really, I mean, I think you hit the nail on the head that the the best way to get your hands on material and kind of see how things are done in the real world is to get these kind of early internship experiences.

Alex Ferrari 7:43
Now what was it like working at Pixar? I've never had the pleasure of walking into that magical factory that I've seen so many times on behind the scene videos, what is it like working there?

Andrew Kortschak 7:52
It was a life changing and some somewhat scary experience on my first day, I don't think I'd ever filled out a W nine before. So I think I claimed 99 dependence or something insane like that. So they obviously could tell I wasn't very good at paperwork back then. But I, you know, I was so fortunate in that I had known Corey Ray and Darla Anderson, two amazing producers there. And they had, you know, kind of slowly mentored me as I, you know, come out of high school and, you know, specifically, you know, decided to focus on, on animation. And I was there the summer they were releasing Toy Story three. So I walked in and was greeted by a I would say 40 foot tall. lifesize recreation of Ken's dream house with Barbie in tow and all the costumes. And then I can't remember the name of the day, the pink bear. But Rob Aires and was about eight feet tall and imposing. So it was, you know, that was that made a major impression on me. And I'd obviously grown up, you know, on their movies, I'd also been the same age as Andy and every toys to her movies to Toy Story movie as they've been released. So it felt personal, but I was lucky enough to get to work on Monsters University, which was in its early stages. At that point,

Alex Ferrari 9:17
What is the process? Like? I mean, I've heard the stories of how they actually go through the process of making these films that that takes years and years and years of like development in their different floors that you can't get to and search, things like that, depending on where the all the cool ideas are at. Is that is that true?

Andrew Kortschak 9:36
Yeah, it is, you know, it is fairly segmented in a way. I mean, there's a great alleyway of animators who, based on the, you know, breadth of work that they're asked to do, you know, on a daily basis, they are, you know, allowed to build out their offices in whatever way they desire. I mean, I saw Hidden whiskey rooms and Tiki bars and wasn't all, you know, drinking establishments, but, you know, all kinds of different, you know, cool stuff to kind of make it personal because, you know, that's it, they're the best of the best, and it's a demanding environment. You know, I, I was very fortunate in that the folks who were in charge of my time at Pixar, you know, very graciously understood that, you know, if I wasn't able to be a value add on the day, on Monsters University, just based on, you know, kind of where the story reels were at, they would allow me to go, you know, sit in and take notes on, you know, other mediums who seen, you know, story, and shot finally meetings for cars to brave was in production at the time, it was just an amazing time to be there and really know, was just, as I said, before, I'm deeply formative experience in terms of, you know, what I was able to, you know, kind of grab from it,

Alex Ferrari 11:03
What was the biggest lesson you learned from working there?

Andrew Kortschak 11:06
I think that story is king. And I'm also just solving problems on paper, I think, you know, and the last thing I would add, is, you know, having patience, I think, as you alluded to these, these movies do take a long time, and they have a whole process, and you know, they do have it down to a bit of a science, but I think at the same time, you know, allowing stories to ebb and flow and breathe and get different opinions and take it to the brain trust process, you know, I think all of those things work in conjunction to, you know, support the filmmakers voice there, and also keep it, you know, a democratic process within reason, and I'm certainly just having patience, especially as a developer, you know, kind of a producer who works most heavily in development was just, it took me a couple years to realize it, but I think just having patience for letting something you know, kind of slowly unfurl without pressuring the process or different stakeholders was was hugely formative for me.

Alex Ferrari 12:12
Now, what is NQ.

Andrew Kortschak 12:15
NQis a film production firm based in Culver City, we harness all kinds from Silicon Valley originally. So I definitely grew up, you know, in and around the tech scene. And so, um, you know, as I alluded to, before, we work most often in the development space, I love, you know, touching material as early as I can, whether it's finding books, you know, pre release galleys, articles from years ago, you know, kind of things that have been picked over by others, you know, we just love, you know, getting our hands on material, and either placing it with filmmakers or working to help shape it, you know, in support of, you know, a filmmakers vision. And, you know, while in that process, you know, we've built several tools driven by AI to, you know, support filmmakers, you know, when they raise their hand, or, you know, inform the process. And as I alluded to, before, you know, solve problems on paper.

Alex Ferrari 13:17
Now, what are some of these Silicon Valley principles that you bring, that helped create mq and makes it a little bit different than other production companies in town.

Andrew Kortschak 13:29
I think having a more progressive and calm working atmosphere, I was exposed to I don't want to incriminate anybody, but you know, the story, the horror stories I've heard or experiences I had, you know, coming up in the business, I think, you know, one thing that's important to me is supporting folks throughout the process, not just hiring the best of the best, and, you know, compounding, you know, people on top of one another, I think, you know, I just like I enjoy working with young filmmakers, I like, you know, the opportunity to mentor my, you know, kind of young colleagues as well and, you know, give them maybe more responsibility than they were expecting, and, you know, kind of allow them to learn lessons on their own. So, that's certainly one thing that I was exposed to, you know, just growing up in the era of Google and I guess I shouldn't be talking about Facebook as a, as an as a reference point. But, you know, Silicon Valley, especially during the tech bubble in early 2000s, was just a fascinating place to just to grow up and to kind of hear different opinions and how people from all around the world kind of came together to, you know, build these new tools that had the had the possibility of, you know, kind of really changing the landscape of the planet and how people interact with one another. So, I mean, I tried to distill that down in my own way whilst running a you know, kind of lean and mean production company.

Alex Ferrari 14:58
Now when you are hiring People are bringing people in what are you looking for as part of a team building situation, because, you know, from my understanding of Silicon Valley principles from what I've studied, it is quite different than your general old school production company here where, like, you were just saying, you just kind of like, build up this kind of like, either competitive situation or there's like, you know, the hierarchies, it's not as not as a, it's very much like the what Pixar did with the brain trust, like that concept was completely alien to anything, anybody here and in Hollywood before it became popular before they popularize it. So who are you looking for? What kind of parts are you looking for when building a team, because the thing that's important for the audience to kind of understand when they're hiring crew, it's not always the most talented, it's not only the most experienced and the biggest star that you want to hire, if I'm not mistaken, correct?

Andrew Kortschak 15:57
Yeah, absolutely, I would say, you know, several of the things I really look for, obviously, passion, and energy. And then I also put a, you know, huge emphasis on Creative taste. I, you know, in terms of, you know, working with, you know, different filmmakers, and, you know, directors, writers, other producers, etc. You know, at the end of the day, I think all people really have is their taste, experience is one thing, but every movie is a different beast, as you know. So I, you know, you kind of learn on the fly. And that's, you know, I think what you were alluding to about, you know, getting, you know, hands on experience as an intern, or PA, what have you. So, I, you know, I do plays a big part of my interview process really is talking about movies and TV shows that people enjoy what they enjoy about them. And, you know, helping to understand, you know, kind of how that taste profile fits in to a company like n q, and also challenges, you know, those that are already there.

Alex Ferrari 17:05
Now, can you tell me a little bit about the script writing AI that you created that your company created, which I find fairly scary and fascinating, both at the same time?

Andrew Kortschak 17:14
Sure, it's not meant to be it's not meant to be scary. So this actually originated with a filmmaker named Oscar Sharpe, who teamed up with a AI researcher named Ross Goodwin, I was not involved in the early days of there, you know, of them kind of philosophically, you know, putting this stuff together. But that resulted in a project called sun spring that we submitted to the ability of London for an eight hour Film Festival. And, you know, I was kind of caught hook line and sinker by them and their pitch, you know, in terms of getting involved, and the opportunity to just shoot over a weekend and be done was also very attractive. So, you know, that was a fascinating experience. We were good Thomas middleditch on it, who did an amazing job of kind of selling the technology, even though narratively it didn't, you know, make a ton of sense, if you will. So from there, you know, it was clear that the response that I felt I would get, and just person in terms of my personal philosophy was that replacing screenwriters was not something I was interested in. screenwriters are some of the, you know, people I enjoy working with most. And so we then, you know, took a step back and tried to figure out, you know, a way in which, you know, we were able to support folks, and really, you know, arm them with tools that, you know, as I said, to aid their aid, their process, you know, kind of from script to screen, so, you know, whether it's, you know, helping with, you know, story breakdowns, giving, you know, some perspective and advice on structure, or at least tracking structural changes, especially for more complicated, you know, kind of structural situations. I think that's been, you know, a very helpful tool. And specifically, that's one word, you know, john watts has been an amazing resource as a, you know, kind of admitted structure nerd. And, you know, selfishly for my purposes, one of the things that's been amazing, you know, in terms of harnessing AI has been, specifically applying that technology to the budgeting and scheduling process, which is something that, you know, I am not a wine producer, I work with lots of amazing line producers who make my life far easier than it should be. However, it is a process working with them, and it, you know, scripts evolve all this kind of stuff. And, you know, I get sent a variety of different, you know, material where, you know, people are kind of ballparking numbers over the phone, and I've worked my lessons in the past about, you know, specific numbers. And so building a tool where I'm just at least able to kind of drag and drop a PDF and get a, you know, kind of budget top sheet, just as a ballpark for my own internal purposes has been as proven totally invaluable.

Alex Ferrari 20:17
So stop right there. So you actually have a, you have a program that does that, like, literally, you drop a screenplay on there, and it will give you a rough estimate of what this thing is going to cost.

Andrew Kortschak 20:26
We do. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 20:27
That's insane.

Andrew Kortschak 20:29
It's been a lot, it's been a lot of fun to develop, I'm very fortunate to work with some incredibly smart folks who, you know, took a major interest in applying their problem solving skills from a totally different discipline and have, you know, attempted to kind of make my life easier. And it's

Alex Ferrari 20:53
Something that's just internally used, or do you actually have it out for sale? Or is that now it is it's not?

Andrew Kortschak 20:57
It's not for sale? yet? We, you know, this, as I'm sure you, you're aware, you know, this industry, especially from the studio level down is fairly tech averse, yes. Why is that? You know, what I people are set in their ways. And I think, you know, what I hear time and time, again, is that movies have been made the same way for 100 plus years? And why change it now?

Alex Ferrari 21:19
That's what Netflix said.

Andrew Kortschak 21:21
Yeah, exactly. So, you know, I think, you know, for now, it's been the kind of thing that I've, you know, shared with friends and other wine producers. And again, we're very early days in this, you know, kind of stuff. And so I would kind of characterize us as an experimental software still, but, you know, still one that informs our process, and that is just constantly, you know, fun to interact with. Now,

Alex Ferrari 21:45
Where do you see AI playing a part in the film business moving forward,

Andrew Kortschak 21:51
I'm going to likely get in trouble for saying this, but I would say that we are probably 20 years away from a convincing AI, screenplay. Um, you know, that would trick a normal audience. That again, this is my personal opinion. So and also, you know, I don't want to subjugate writers, and I want to support them, and, you know, give them more tools, you know, to kind of extend, you know, what, folks like myself, and you know, my collaborators and colleagues are able to kind of, you know, help help them do. So, you know, in terms of, you know, ai applications, I would say, certainly, you know, in the budgeting and scheduling software, which is an art in and of itself. And, you know, talented ad is, and wine producers are just invaluable allies to have, you know, heading into, you know, differently sized movies, or when you start to get out of your comfort zone. And I would also say, you know, other people have dabbled with this as well, but just using, you know, with all of this, Siri, and Alexa and Google Voice, you know, technology that's being harnessed, you know, finding a way, one thing that I was interested in, as well as, you know, building the kind of virtual table read, um, so with the same drag and drop kind of software, allowing writers or directors to basically be able to bring their script to life, just in a, you know, kind of preliminary sense in advance of sharing it with other human beings in case they were, you know, too modest or unwilling to do so at that stage. I think, you know, just like a writer often read things out loud as they're writing. Inviting in, you know, the table read process, which is something that, you know, kind of permeates all other levels of filmmaking, and certainly is, you know, a mandate at many levels, I think is something that is massively helpful in, you know, helping to, you know, kind of diagnose where a script is at and what could improve.

Alex Ferrari 23:55
Now, I have to ask you, because you made a very bold statement, I know you're gonna get in trouble for but I just want to dig into it a little bit deeper with the 20 years in the script writing, how would AI because I mean, I have to, I want to get I want to understand it from your point of view. I mean, I'm a writer, I mean, and I've worked with many writers, and I've spoken to some of the biggest writers in Hollywood, their process is so organic. So you know, the algorithm in their mind, if you will, to create what they create comes from life experience comes from so many different influences. How can an AI even come close to that? Or how would it just work in your opinion, like, how would an AI create? I'm not saying it's not possible? I'm just curious on the process, if there is an answer to that question.

Andrew Kortschak 24:44
I absolutely hear where you're coming from. And that's, you know, that I would echo the same sentiments. I, you know, I think that, you know, it is I mean, it's an art form, and it's one that no matter how many scripts you train an AI on would is really the kind of foundation of the process I, as I understand it, you know, it, in many ways is still parroting things that it was fed. And we were able to harness that for some spring in a way that, you know, we had a fun sci fi, short film that emerged from training in AI on X Files, Star Trek and Star Wars scripts, which is amazing, but you've got a specific kind of movie out of it.

Alex Ferrari 25:30
And that's so scary for Hollywood, can you imagine them just dumping in a whole bunch of Marvel movies and Star Wars movies and Pixar movies? And like, seeing what they could spit out the other end?

Andrew Kortschak 25:40
Yeah, I mean, I would hope that that movie would make an enormous amount of money. Because otherwise, you know, why would you feel it? But? Um, yeah, you know, I think that, you know, again, I mean, I think we're in agreement that, you know, I'm most interested in, you know, tools that supplement and extend people's abilities rather than replacing them.

Alex Ferrari 26:03
Yeah, and I think that's, I personally think that's where AI will come in to play where they will make life a lot easier. But I think even like, on the budgeting, and the scheduling side of things, in might give you a good head start on a process, but then you would need an, you know, a, you know, a line producer to come in, or a first ad to come in, to kind of tweak it, but it might be able to give you a hell of a head start. Would that make sense?

Andrew Kortschak 26:27
Absolutely, absolutely. And we're seeing this every day in, you know, with companies, like final draft and writer do Ed, you know, every few months, they're rolling out new, you know, feature sets, you know, that are additive to the process and do help organize things. And I think that's great. And so if those, if that's the easiest point of adoption for, you know, writers and directors, you know, to kind of find and discover this technology. That's, that's awesome. And in many ways, how it should be.

Alex Ferrari 26:55
Now, do you believe that, because I agree with you, the studio is, so the studios are so stuck in their ways, that it's extremely difficult for them to even move an inch, let alone like, you know, when Netflix showed up, everyone was laughing at them, but then they literally become one of the biggest studios in town, doing it in a completely different way, and delivering content a completely different way. Do you believe that a lot of this kind of technology or AI, kind of tech would make its way down in more into the indie film world, more and more of these lower budget films, where then it slowly will go up up the ladder?

Andrew Kortschak 27:36
I certainly hope so. I mean, um, you know, being a young guy, myself, I hope that other you know, kind of young and up and coming filmmakers I work with, you know, warn the value of these kind of tools, you know, in a way that is additive, and not a crutch. And, you know, can, as you would, as you had alluded to, you know, really kind of grow with this, and, you know, when they're major forces of nature, within the industry, you know, kind of make this a mandate as part of their process. So I think just interjecting as early as possible, in whatever way is supportive if somebody is interested in harnessing this kind of tack. You know, I think that's, that's always been our strategy in terms of, you know, adoption.

Alex Ferrari 28:21
Do you see an AI directing a film?

Andrew Kortschak 28:25
You know, it's funny, you mentioned, I saw, I believe, I can't remember what studio put it together. But there was an very interesting AI edited trailer about a year and a half ago. And, you know, it was a little bit, you know, kind of rinse and repeat, in a way, but it was still very cool to see a polished trailer for popular consumption, you know, kind of cut by I believe, may have been, you know, hard to say, IBM Watson technology. You know, in terms of directing. Again, there's so many points of stimuli, and parts of the directing processes, you know, that are just meant to be, you know, kind of gut decisions, you know, it's, it's hard to come on and on a, you know, moment to moment basis that, you know, I have to admit, a computer may be a faster decision maker, then, you know, a human being, but I can't say it will be as informed, you know, keeping keeping track of, you know, the artistic goal, you know, dealing with personnel continuing a vision for, you know, for a project overseas, the big scene, that's a lot of different stuff to be juggling, and so I, I hope that it's something that develops but I remain skeptical for the time being

Alex Ferrari 29:52
Now and I'm just going to get a little sci fi here, but wouldn't it be amazing that in I don't know when but at a moment a time where you can literally download your mind to an AI or a computer in the whole consciousness. Could you imagine like downloading James Cameron and Steven Spielberg and Chris Nolan eventually, where their, their their creative essence continues in a non traditional or non organic way I get I'm going very sitefire. Wouldn't that be an insane thing? Because Wouldn't it be cool to see what Hitchcock would be doing today, with this technology or Kubrick doing in today's technology? You know, what, I'm just curious what your thoughts about that is, again, going super sci fi. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Andrew Kortschak 30:48
I think that could be cool. I mean, you know, it's a good AI extension of masterclass, you know, really getting into the mind, you know, kind of a, you know, a enormously, you know, talented and, you know, special, you know, kind of group of filmmakers, and I could, I could see that being a very cool, you know, thing just as long as it doesn't, you know, create a ceiling for other filmmakers in terms of, you know, how they want to innovate and, you know, build their own art form.

Alex Ferrari 31:19
Now, do you think filmmakers today need to be entrepreneurs, in the film business, especially independent filmmakers?

Andrew Kortschak 31:27
I think I think there's certainly aspects of entrepreneurship that are important, I think, just self advocacy is one of the most important things and that took me personally a little time to, you know, understand, and then, you know, everyone had to start somewhere, I remember someone taking me aside and just saying, stop, you know, acting like you're, this is your first rodeo, or stop telling people that, you know, like, everyone has a rookie season, and, you know, you have to build from there, like, everyone started not having any idea what they're doing. So, I think, you know, finding a balance between, you know, self confidence, and, you know, also, you know, humility, in terms of, you know, being open to learning the process from people more experienced than you and kind of taking their lessons and making it work for yourself personally, I think is, is important, but, you know, in terms of, you know, classic entrepreneurship, you know, I think, you know, building some sort of presence, and bringing groups of people together, in a way is likely the most important thing, I think, in terms of, you know, making your new staking your claim and, you know, kind of making your first steps in the industry, it's really important to have a group

Alex Ferrari 32:41
And can you talk a little bit about the emphasis of marketing and branding, because I think that kind of leads into what you are kind of takes what you just said, as far as self advocacy, is that branding yourself, and, and understanding marketing and that aspect of things, which they don't teach you in film school. But it's so important in today's world, especially in today's world of social media, and, and also just rising above the noise. Would you agree?

Andrew Kortschak 33:05
Absolutely. I mean, I would say that, you know, it's important to be honest with yourself in terms of the kind of movie you're interested in making, especially in your first couple of hits at bat. I would also say, yeah, I mean, I would extend that to say, General self awareness, you know, and, you know, people, you know, people put a lot of emphasis on loglines, for writers, all this kind of stuff, I think, as a young director, or Writer Director, you know, you should have, you know, instant recall, as if it's an elevator pitch of, you know, the kind of movies and tones that you want to be exploring. I think that makes a huge, that makes a huge impact, and shows me that, you know, just as a as a producer, you know, that, you know, somebody is really thought, a couple of steps ahead of the process. And, you know, simultaneously as as a producer, you know, one of the things that became clear to me when I entered the industry, which was around the same time that, you know, Netflix started buying original content and creating that themselves was the producers in today's world, and really any stakeholder, you have to be able to see the movie poster in your head from the earliest stages of the script. And I don't mean that cynically and that, you know, what actor and, you know, all this stuff, but you have to know what kind of movie you're making, and why you're making it why it's personal to you and important to be shared with an audience. And is it just an, you know, exercise for you? No, one's out ego. And, you know, I'm really trying to this goes back to kind of solving things on paper, I think just building a game plan, from a 30,000 foot view in terms of what you're trying to accomplish and why. I think that all plays into, you know, a level that may not be classic entrepreneurship, but that he gives the air of, you know, being an entrepreneur I play

Alex Ferrari 34:59
Now. How do you choose your projects to produce?

Andrew Kortschak 35:04
Great question. Um, you know, some things come up organically from material that I've read or that colleagues have read and wanted to bring, you know, inside the company, and we will place it with a filmmaker, that we like, you know, other things are brought to us by by folks that, you know, have made movies that we're fans of, you know, occasionally, you know, we find amazing material through, you know, different outlets, whether it's, you know, shorter the week Vimeo, staff pics, stuff that's graduated from the Sundance labs, the blacklist, you know, all those kind of tools, we really try to keep our ear to the ground, especially at the level that we're working in terms of discovering new talent there. And, you know, also the odd pitch you don't want, we're, we're totally open to, you know, kind of hearing pitches, and, you know, just kind of reacting to people's excitement and then finding a way to, you know, support them.

Alex Ferrari 35:59
And you worked with john watts, right on the the director of Spider Man, I did, yeah, I've made I made that car with him. So that was his first film, right. And then

Andrew Kortschak 36:07
It was actually a second, um, he had made a great, great movie up in Canada called clown. And because of the idiosyncrasies of the distribution process, actually, clown was released after car. Um, so Shawn, I was very, I mean, I was incredibly spoiled is that he's an amazingly talented guy, and just a nice person to boot. In that, you know, I was very spoiled, and that he had gotten his first time director jitters, which manifests themselves in a variety of different ways with people. But he had really, he knew exactly what kind of movie he was trying to make. It was incredibly lean. We'd about a 15 person crew. And, you know, it was a very fast moving train that I was very fortunate to jump on, because, you know, it opened up a, you know, enormous network of collaborators that I, you know, continue to work with to this day.

Alex Ferrari 37:10
And you also have Kevin Bacon, and that if I'm not mistaken. We did, yes. And the Kevin Bacon,

Andrew Kortschak 37:17
I'm only Yeah, I'm one degrees, zero degrees. I do know Kevin Bacon, he was enormously talented. So I mean, just the guy could not have been nicer or more humble. And, you know, I would also say, you know, Cameron, Mannheim and, and Shea whigham. In addition to the boys, you know, it was just a very tight knit, you know, community and I'm just, I, it's been really fun seeing all the coolest stuff that she's been doing these days. I love seeing them in homecoming. And yeah, Kevin's been working with a couple of my other collaborators on a new Showtime show.

Alex Ferrari 37:51
Now, where do you see independent film going? In your, from your perspective?

Andrew Kortschak 37:59
You know, it's, it's hard, it's obviously hard to guess.

Alex Ferrari 38:05
Of course,

Andrew Kortschak 38:06
It would say, you know, as I've, as I've grown up a little bit, it's easy to get discouraged by, you know, kind of people who are tracking various film markets. A lot of independent film is obviously, you know, driven by, you know, that process. It's, it's weird, because, you know, as I was coming, one thing I did wasn't taught in film school, that would have been helpful was, you know, the process of foreign sales. And, you know, that I was entering, you know, in 2013, I was entering the industry at a time where that was, you know, still very foreign sales driven in the process. And, you know, folks like Kevin Bacon got movies like cop car made. And, um, you know, just like any experience, if you don't, you know, be honest about what you don't know, and somebody will hopefully explain it to you or just hang up. And I would say, you know, I've cautiously watched as companies have kind of moved away from foreign sales where, you know, actor value isn't the first part of the conversation and never really sat well with me, you know, as a producer, you know, as somebody who's kind of putting all the pieces together, you know, that a director would be forced to work with an actor because of some perceived value and Azerbaijan, but this is, this is the business I chose to work in. You know, anyway, I mentioned this because things are obviously evolving. And we have, you know, many of my friends are traveling to Cannes right now and likely sell in Florida and some of their movies, so Best of luck. But I, you know, that's a definite turn. And I would also say from the way that somebody streaming companies approach, acquiring finished films in you know, their preference for worldwide deals, you know, creates a little bit more of a complicated situation if a producer has kind of syndicated out You know, some level of foreign sales, you know, they often have to kind of unwind some of those deals, you know, sell or, you know, carve out, you know, specific territories that ultimately, you know, affect the, you know, the sale price of the movie. But, you know, this is that's all very cynical stuff, I would say, you know, in terms of indie film, it's, this is an amazing time to be kind of breaking into the industry, because there's, I think, information has been democratized in such a way that, you know, you know, you're able to learn how to make a movie, basically, from YouTube, and with resources, like you run and, you know, have, you know, perspective that you share? You know, so I think, you know, Gone are the days of, you know, people like James Cameron, going to the USC library and reading every book on filmmaking, I think you can kind of you have everything at your fingertips, and you know, you have the ability to kind of create or join a community, you know, of people who, you know, want to support each other and are able to do so because, I mean, at the end of the day, this is a team sport. You know, despite the many way they many organic ways that projects began, so kind of a roundabout answer, honestly. But, you know, I, I remain very excited about the independent film space. And, you know, I think there's more buyers than ever, as well, that what that will drive, I think that's a good thing for everybody. And everyone has a different mandate, everyone has a different level of reach and a different platform for getting to their audience. And I think just having flexibility in terms of, you know, knowing where some of these movies if they may be, quote, unquote, less commercial, or, you know, more art house, but what have you, you know, having an outlet to sell these movies can be seen, in a way, or shared in a way, other than word of mouth is good for everybody.

Alex Ferrari 42:01
Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions to ask all of my guests, what advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?

Andrew Kortschak 42:08
Watch a ton of movies. And if you like the movie, watch it again. And then maybe one more time, really try to crawl into the inside material you enjoy. I would say, Make as many short films as you can, you know, try to work in the commercial space, if you're struggling to pay the bills. Or if you want to, you know, all this stuff, every every piece of the process in filmmaking seems to, you know, occurs to me to be, you know, kind of like flexing a muscle. So why not, you know, exercise it. And, you know, I would, as I alluded to before, I think, you know, over the years, I've learned just the value of having, you know, a network and community and it's okay to come to LA or New York, or wherever you live, and not know anybody. That's what the internet is for. That's what you know, going to the movies is about, you know, I think trying to find people were interested in telling similar stories to you, or wildly different, will inform your process and allow you to support one another.

Alex Ferrari 43:12
Can you tell me the book that had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Andrew Kortschak 43:18
Well, I'm biased, I mean, Ed, camels, creativity and love was a bit of a Bible. To me. That is a great read. I would say the savage detectives by Roberto belanja made a major impression on me, I tend to read almost everything that New York Review of Books puts out, I mean, all these things kind of informed my process. And I always make a point, you know, despite the fact that a lot of my day is taken up reading, which I enjoy. And it's kind of integral to my been, I would say, I do make a point to also read for pleasure, and not only read things that, you know, can easily be set up as movies, which is a goal that several.

Alex Ferrari 44:03
Right, you can't just can't just read a book anymore without thinking, Oh, can I option this?

Andrew Kortschak 44:08
Yeah, we're feeling like, it's a waste of time. If you continue, you know, I think I try to just put that you take that hat off for a second, just enjoy something, especially if it's a different discipline that I'm you know, aware of already.

Alex Ferrari 44:21
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether the film business or in life?

Andrew Kortschak 44:27
Wow, um, you know, I would say, you know, it's back to, you know, the value of, of a network. One of my one of my criticisms with USC, and this may have been just what I took from it, or I maybe missed that day of class was, you know, the importance of building the network. And that's kind of the point of going to film school in a way because you can, you know, as you had said earlier, you can kind of learn many of these lessons in a, you know, equally stressful environment professionally. You're being paid to do it. And I'm so I would say, you know, it was really the it was really the process of making cop car where I got to see folks like Chris Ford and john watts work together, you know Andrew hassy, who you know, co edited the film. All these guys have known each other since freshman year of college and NYU and it kind of stuck together and they're part of an amazing collective of filmmakers called Waverly. That includes Duncan Skiles, and Ben Dickinson and Jake Schreier, among others. And, you know, that was a really sobering lesson, because I basically, um, you know, I started NQ, while I was in my last year of college, and, um, you know, because of my interests, you know, animation and documentary work, as I had, you know, outlined before, I didn't necessarily find my tribe at USC. And so, you know, I was lucky in that I lived in LA for a little while, I had some, you know, I had a few random personal connections to people who seem to know what they were doing. But really, I think the importance of, you know, surrounding yourself with great people, people, you want to collaborate with people who have approached things differently than you, and you could run challenge your material. Often, it's my closest friends who give the harshest notes and that there is a time and place for that. You know, I can't stress that stuff enough. And I just, you know, completely totally, selfishly benefited from, you know, following in with these groups of, you know, talented filmmakers who take care of one another, you know, just like our sister company, greencard pictures in New York.

Alex Ferrari 46:40
Now, what is the biggest fear you had to overcome in making your first few films,

Andrew Kortschak 46:46
I think being exposed as somebody who didn't know what they were doing, um, one thing that became clear after a little while was that no one really knew what they were doing. Amen. That that's part of a process. And one of the things that I've definitely articulated, you know, to other folks I've spoken to in the past is that, you know, for the first couple of years, I was waking up sick to my stomach every single day, and I was afraid of virtually every different situation, the first time I went through it, and that feels natural, you know, and I think that was a symptom of, you know, pushing myself, you know, very, very hard and kind of jumping in with both feet. So, I would say, you know, being exposed as somebody who didn't know what they were doing, or, you know, making a mistake, and, you know, holding up the process or making things more difficult for other people, that doesn't really feel like it's in the job description for a producer. And so I was constantly, you know, worried about, you know, causing unintended consequences, but you learn to, you know, get over that, and, you know, Own your process,

Alex Ferrari 47:54
And three of your favorite films of all time?

Andrew Kortschak 47:58
Apocalypse Now, definitely, number one. Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Alex Ferrari 48:03
Hmm, good choice,

Andrew Kortschak 48:04
and maybe a tie between clueless and let's see, nightrain to Munich,

Alex Ferrari 48:14
You know, that, you know, out of out of all four of those one of those films doesn't belong with the others. I don't know why. I've never heard I've got over 300 and odd number interviews here. And I've asked that question. I've never heard Apocalypse Now. Good, the Bad and the Ugly and clueless all this same. grouping. Includes I personally enjoy and love, but I've just never heard that combination. So very, very interesting. combo. Good, good. Now, where can people find where can people find you and more information about what you're doing?

Andrew Kortschak 48:49
On our website, nq.com. In addition, you know, there's other I alluded to them before, but greencard new york.com also has some resources, and information about some of the filmmakers that we work with and support in the commercial production space, which, as I said before, is an amazing way to make a living and, you know, learn the different, you know, processes that go into making, you know, movies, commercials, shorts, TV shows, all of that. I do not have a large social media presence. So you'll have to dig to find me. I am on the screenwriting, Reddit. So I will hopefully pop in and out with some, hopefully helpful advice from time design. And, you know, otherwise, you know, I think using the contact form on our website to, you know, to reach out i think is always a helpful, you know, way to get in touch.

Alex Ferrari 49:43
And you man, thank you so much for being on the show. It's been an eye opening experience talking to you about technology and about your perspective on the business. So thank you for dropping some knowledge bombs on the tribe today.

Andrew Kortschak 49:54
No, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me.

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BPS 282: How to Make Money in TODAY’s Indie Film Business with Jon Erwin

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Alex Ferrari 0:25
I'd like to welcome to the show Jon Erwin, how're you doing Jon?

Jon Erwin 0:39
I'm good man. You've already had my brother on so set the bar low. You know, you've had the you've had the suave, friendly brother on the product. You know, like mad scientist, brother. I think he calls me anyway. So, but thanks for having me on. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 0:54
I've had Andy, I had Andy on when you guys were promoting American underdog, which I love that film. And after I watched that film, I went back and I just went through your catalog because I was so impressed with how that film was put together. story wise, I was like, wow, there's something here. And then I went, and then I'd heard of the other films I hadn't seen, you know, I still believe and I can you imagine and all those kinds of films. And my wife and I just had them binge them all, man, you guys. Really? Yeah, you guys are doing some really good. Yeah, seriously, you guys are doing some really good stuff. So when your new film, Jesus revolution came up, I was like, Oh, I gotta have I gotta have John on, you know, if I had one, I gotta have the other one on. And then yeah, I'll have both of you on and now.

Jon Erwin 1:33
We'll do it together. Right now we're dividing and conquering. You know, we do so much grass roots, marketing. But I'm glad you enjoyed the films. I mean, ultimately, it's a privilege. I mean, it's a privilege to entertain people, like it's, I just think the business of entertainment is so hard, and, you know, sometimes sucks on a certain level, because it's so hyper competitive. You know, sometimes it's easy to lose sight of just how cool it is to get to do what we do, you know, and anytime that you can have, you can sort of see something in your mind or feel it deeply in your soul, write it on a piece of paper. And then hundreds of people come around you to make that thing real. And you're you're sitting there with an audience and they're, they're moved by it, and they're watching it as if it were real. It's like magic. It's like dreaming while awake. It is a privilege to do this. And I'm grateful for the audience to supporting the work enough to let us do this for a living. And this is a job that you should like work another job like behind the desk for years and years and years, save up some money and just blow it all getting to do this. So the fact that we get paid at all for this is really, really cool.

Alex Ferrari 2:39
It's a miracle that anything gets paid. It's a miracle that any gets made. And that is fascinating that as as, as an artist, we are the artists that spends the least amount of time doing the art, which is the days on set are so few and far between. It's mostly revving up to get the damn thing made writing getting produced getting trying to raise money, do all that stuff, then you spend if you're lucky 30 to 60 days if you're lucky.

Jon Erwin 3:12
Yeah, I was. I was talking to but having said that, I'm going to talking to Mel Gibson about his movie, Hacksaw Ridge. Very good movie. And, you know, it's the directors question. Like I was like, how many days did you ever shoot it? And he was like, man, you know, they didn't quite have their money together. I had to shoot that movie in 58 days shooting. I'm like, oh, shoot two movies now. And he's like, Well, on Braveheart. We had 85 I'm like, I would shoot three movies. So yeah, I've never had more than 30 days to shoot a movie. And, and there's there's magic to that, though. I think the absence limitation is the death of creativity. Like there's magic to being in a corner backed into a corner, feeling panicked, you know, and in not being able to second guess your instincts. But But yeah, you're right, you prep for months, you shoot for just a small time, you know, and it's like summer camp, and then it's over and then you then you edit it for months, and then you market it for months. And so you're right. actual making of the theme. The theme, the overall process is very, very short.

Alex Ferrari 4:15
And if you want to really get crazy, if you remember, John Woo, on the killer, he had 170 days.

Jon Erwin 4:24
Oh, come on. What do you do? What do you show you make one shot and you're like, Okay, there's good day,

Alex Ferrari 4:30
You, you basically shoot those insane action sequences until your heart's content. Like that's how he was able to make the killer and hardboiled. They had like 140 180 Day

Jon Erwin 4:43
That's insane, man. That's that's no idea. I don't even know. I don't know. I wouldn't I wouldn't know what to do. I would have no clue how to even show up for a day's work.

Alex Ferrari 4:56
We're gonna shoot half a page today guys. We're gonna shoot it yeah.

Jon Erwin 5:02
Gonna get it 18 Always and we're done. Yeah. You know what's funny, though is is for the independent filmmakers out there, I think, for me, we used to do music videos in our career started in sports television, lied about our age to live on Mondays, we go caravan, somebody gets sick randomly. And then my dad bought us a camera started making stuff. And it's like that Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 Hour Rule. kicked in, just, you know, I really think what we do is, to your point, much more of a business than it is an art form. It's the symphony of art. And it's also much more of a craft than it is an art form. And it combines a lot of art. But a craft is something that you sort of like, just get better and better at every day. You know, it's sort of an iterative process. It's sort of like you against you. And it's a quest to just improve and slowly but surely, seek to master your craft. But you know, way back in the day, we would make all kinds of music videos, that was sort of our grind. And we would do a bunch of them, like four or five a month. And

Alex Ferrari 6:09
500 bucks, like 500 bucks 1000?

Jon Erwin 6:10
Well, that's the thing, it won't know what happened. It was after Napster. And so Andy and I came into Nashville, and the whole industry was like, there are no more $300,000 music videos, what are we going to do? Well, and we were like, someone's gonna pay us $15,000 To do a music video. Let's do all of them, you know. And so we just, we just don't, you know, and so we, but it was this process. But what I realized is, whenever we were on the random occasion that we had all the money in the world. And there were, you know, it just becomes decisions by committee, and there were 12 execs there and all that stuff. There was a magic loss, whenever, like, the way we would do it is like Andy would prep a music video, and I so I would show up to his that, and I hadn't even heard the song, and then he would show up to my set. And he had, you know, we would just sort of LeapFrog. And there was just always a magic when we never quite had enough and time or money. And there's something to the strain of having to solve problems creatively in an environment that's full of pressure that you can't second guess your instincts. It's terrible for your health and, you know, mental sanity, but it really is good for the work. And so I'm a huge fan of, of even like on the movie that you mentioned, American underdog that went from a 46 day schedule pre COVID to a 30 day schedule post COVID, we had to cut a third of the budget out to keep it greenlit. And I don't think that they're the other movie would have been better. And a lot of a lot of the things that we came up with, like using the real footage of the game, you know, which in editorial really did well, we couldn't choreograph near as much stuff. So we choreographed what we could exactly as it happened in the real game. And then that way, we could use the actual game footage, but and so a lot there was a lot of articles, a lot of people saying that was a great artistic choice. And I'm like, that wasn't an artistic choice. That was a production limitation, you know. And so I think you just find great ideas when you're constrained.

Alex Ferrari 8:09
Right! It's like, it's Jaws is the classic example of that, right? Yeah, the sharp doesn't work. Okay, I guess we're gonna show it. We're not going to show the shark as much it kind of worked out for that that that I forgot the guy's name. I don't even know that guy's name. Did he do anything else after?

Jon Erwin 8:24
Now that was that was a 50 day shootings getting jobs was they went 150 days. They went

Alex Ferrari 8:31
But what not his fault. And can you imagine that his first big like he did Sugarland Express. He did duel. We're talking about Steven Spielberg, everybody, if you don't know. And then and then you and this is his first kind of big studio based on a best selling book. And he's like, I'm never gonna work again. I'm never going to work again. He's like yeah,

Jon Erwin 8:53
He was gonna get fired every day and his credit water is horrible. Anytime you introduce in any substantive way to to our industry,

Alex Ferrari 9:05
Nature and general nature in general, but water has water specifically because you got cold water, you can't move everything just and it doesn't doesn't do what it doesn't do what you want it to do. It doesn't

Jon Erwin 9:21
Look good. Boy Does it look good. I think in this movie that we just did Jesus revolution there's a whole sequence in the rain and and there's also some underwater dive take work and for this sort of dream sequence and and I remember talking to a keystone cinematographer, and I'm like yeah, I think we do the sequence and you know, a couple hours or whatever this conversation in the rain, he was like, six hours later. I was like, You were totally right. AKIsE and, but you know, we do have this thing that we say Pain is temporary film is forever, you know, and I do believe it. Yeah, like, go for difficult. It Go for it. Go for death. because no question and, you know, because it's just better.

Alex Ferrari 10:04
So John, I mean, we just kind of ran off with this because a lot of people don't know who you, you, you and and we did.

Unknown Speaker 10:09
We went on it. We just we just went because yeah, we just we just went off. Probably so

Alex Ferrari 10:14
So tell me tell me how you and your brother got you said you got into the business by music videos. Yeah. But your your first kind of F if I'm not mistaken your first narrative was October Baby or one of your first Yeah, was that so right. And that was a completely indie film back then, how did you raise the money for that? How did you you know, get that off the ground wasn't an easy film. You know, subject matter.

Jon Erwin 10:40
Yeah. Why start there? You know, looking back. You know, basically, we were, you know, we, we started in as sports Gehrman was 15. And then we, you know, when we started, we were a service company, really found our footing doing music, videos, and commercials. And then I went to but you know, from the south, right, born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, you know, obviously, my faith has always been a huge part of our life and community and upbringing. And, and, and then, you know, just around the time that all this sort of new thing of faith based films was sort of emerging, post passionate of Christ, and Sony was doing faith based films. And so I went to direct second unit on a faith based film called courageous in Georgia, and the real Cinderella story, these, this church was making these movies and Sony was funding them. And they were doing like 30 million a box office, and they were tiny films like wanting to make movies. So it was amazing. And, and so I went down there to work on those films, they wanted to do a police drama with car chases, and action sequences, and like, churches, making movies and car chases should never be combined, you know, people will die. And so I was hired to sort of go in and with professionals and take go far away from the set and do the stunt work and do the action sequences. And which I love. And the director of that movie asked the question that doesn't really matter, I think what your your beliefs are? And it's a great question to ask, he's, like, you know, trying to understand you like, like, what's your purpose and the purpose of your work? Like, why do you do what you do? And I think a lot of us focus on what we do. Very few of us focus on why we do what we do. And, and I couldn't stop thinking about the question like I couldn't, the whole time I was working on a film. I was like, I couldn't stop thinking about it. And that led to sort of a fusion of a career and calling and the idea of, of joining the fray and jumping in on values based faith based entertainment, you know, Heartland type stuff, and I remember it, we were doing a film with Sean Astin. And he said, I see you guys frontiersmen pioneers. And I said, Thank you, Shawn, That's high praise is like, you know, most volunteers didn't die on the frontier. And I'm like, well, the name roads actress and the, the, the trail will be paved. But what I learned was, it's such an, it's such a privilege to be a part of anything that's emerging, you know, most industries are, it's like, the cement to the foundation has hardened. So to be able to make your mark on anything that's emerging right in front of you, is, first of all completely out of your control. It's a factor of timing. So that's like technology in the 70s. You know, in you know, computers or, or even that group of directors like Spielberg and Scorsese and Lucas and Coppola and department, all these guys inventing the modern blockbuster, like you just have to sort of catch lightning in a bottle. So it's cool to, to be a part of something, you know. And so that led to a completely different business to finally answer your question which is, which is going from a service company to intellectual property is coming and starting raising money for for, you know, our own films, and October Baby was first we had to raise $100,000, to get the production to that movie made. And, and then we had to raise the marketing as well. In the first quarter million, no joke was from my grandmother, who I kept getting to remind that she invested in film, and, and then the second quarter million from a surgeon named Jim who we hit film, like 150, of his orthopedic trauma cases, and, and so it's just you have to be very pragmatic, you got to get really good at solving problems. And I think the thing that we didn't realize was that, that really helped us was that, you know, you really have to think holistically about a business. And in entertainment, we don't so we think so much about the product, and then but we don't think about how to market and distribute the product. And so as a filmmaker a lot of times, it's like you're, you're climbing a mountain and you get to the top of the mountain. And, you know, you think that you've summited Everest or something, and actually the fog clears and there's a mountain ahead of you that's twice as tall and, and that's marketing and distribution. And so it was very it was it was it was it was it was good fortune at the time that we couldn't had a distributor sorted the film and had to then go raise another three and a half million, which is this category of money that we that was printed advertising was called PNA to get the movie released, and then you know, you're throwing up in a in a trash can on Thursday night because you You bet your your grandmother and everyone else believe that, you know, and, you know, you're thinking, you know, it's funny, as you know, we make the utricle movies. And so, you know, it's a, it's a rare part of our business that on on a Friday by about new, you know, if the last two years of your life were worth anything at all. It's like an election. And I've experienced all sides of it. And it's a thrill. But But luckily, the film went well, and it cracked the top 10. And everyone made money that God included, my grandmother made a film for Sony, called mom's night out. But I think one of the biggest things that I would recommend is just like, if you can combine two things, eventually, you'll win. And those two things are just, you know, maybe call it grit, or just pain tolerance or endurance versus perseverance. If you can perseverance, if you can combine that with curiosity. Yeah, eventually, you'll win. Like if you can just have a higher tolerance to pain, and just keep going like it's going to take longer than you think. But if you keep going, but you're not learning anything, then you're just going to repeat your mistakes over and over again, there's a lot of people like that. But if if you have a level of tenacity, and perseverance, and you match that with just being a student, and learning all the time, and trying to understand how things work, eventually, you'll you'll catch your moment. And for me, I became obsessed with the interrelated disciplines of our industry that a lot of people resent, like, if you're a writer, and director, he's like, Oh, the marketing people, or the finance people. But what I learned is all these things are sort of inextricably linked, you know, the high concept and scripts is essential to the marketing campaign, and the movie itself and its budget is essential to the overall p&l of the enterprise. And, and so what I think really helped me was the ability to think holistically and understand and just by, by, by, by virtue of having to being able to look sort of, like the name of your book that, so Film, film to film intrapreneur, that's such a cool terror, to try to really have the mindset of an entrepreneur, first and foremost, and then let your creativity funnel through that, I think, I think is a much better way to be successful in our industry.

Alex Ferrari 17:41
Well, I mean, that's the thing. That's the reason I wrote the book is because so many filmmakers, and I've been doing this now, eight years, and I've been doing my business I've been doing the film is almost 30. So I've seen and played in so many different sandboxes over the course of my career. But I keep seeing filmmakers make the same mistakes. They just they, they just like they're stuck in the 90s. They think they're going to make a movie, go to Sundance, and someone is going to come down from Mount Hollywood, write them a check. And then they're making a Marvel movie like that's, that's their idea of success. But you and I both know that that's not the reality of the marketplace. The marketplace isn't what it was in the 90s a movie like slacker could find, could find its footing of film, like clerks could find its footing in the 90s. Because it was the new VHS, the video is

Jon Erwin 18:27
Home Entertainment safety net, you know, you lose money at the time. Yeah, totally. And then pick it up in home entertainment. And the theatrical window was and that was enough of a billboard to justify the spin even if you lost a lot of money, because Home Entertainment was so lucrative. But that was a 2030 year bubble, you know? And, and unfortunately, it's changed. The other thing that the reason you got to stay curious is we are in an industry that is rapidly changing. And and so, you know, that's one of the I think the problems with film schools is if you're out of the industry, for four years, it's a different industry. And certainly COVID has actually accelerated that change. And so what COVID did, in my contrarian point of view is that COVID COVID is going to end up reshaping our industry very similar to how Napster reshaping music and and what it's going to do is it just it's going to pull forward about a decade of change into a more constricted window. And it's going to take a lot of time for that. Now, having said that, if you can sort of skate where the puck is going to be as Wayne Gretzky said, there's enormous opportunities opening up. But you got to sort of let go of the past and really be hyper curious about the future. And so learning to me being curious and learning and I'll give you an example of what you just said, we did our second film, our first 100 5 million or second 10 was very profitable. Then we found our voice with a phone call Woodlawn. We, we you know, they say a filmmaker finds their story and tells it over and over again and our we found inspirational true stories and that's just like our Our niche spent raised all the money for the film was about third of the PNA did the wrong deals, didn't basically make as much money as we hoped we were about 15. And box office really needed to do 20. And that was the first time I didn't get all the money back to the investors, we had like this perfect batting average up till then with the films and documentaries. And we really, I couldn't sleep at night, I just I hate to lose, it's like, my philosophy is like, either either we win, or let's just play again, let's just whatever it is ping pong, whatever, you know, go go get and so. And so what we did is we actually, to me, a huge part of success is just learning to fail correctly. And mindfully, and failure, in my opinion, is the great teacher, if you'll let it be. And so with Woodlawn, we stopped in for five months, we studied it, we asked questions. And we did something that I don't know why more people don't do we solicited a ton of criticism from people like if we're going to be in an industry that has this whole category of people called critics that and we're going to read all those things obsessively. Why not solicit criticism from people that actually care about you, and want want the best for you? So we went out to all of our friends and people in the campaign outside of the campaign, what did we do wrong? How can we do better? What what can we learn from this, and it ended up with this 170 page, you know, post mortem slash Jerry Maguire manifesto. So you know, and, and we saw inside the market, we saw new business model. And that was the playbook that led to I can only imagine, and I can only imagine was built to break even at 15 million box office. It did that in its first two days, first three days. And it did. So everything between that and the 86 million in box office that it did, and becoming number one of the year was margin. But that would have never happened if we hadn't failed number one, and we hadn't feel correctly. Number two, and really learned, we didn't make a better movie we actually spent less on the movie with Imagine we actually implemented a better business model, and a much more innovative business model. And that's what led to the success of the movie. And we also learned a lot about what people wanted. And so I would just say that you have to embrace and what I found is the titans of our industry, Steven Spielberg, you know, we were just talking about he is as good a businessman. Oh, as he is an artist and filmmaker, he's produced more films that he's directed. He is incredibly true on the business. So it was Tom Hanks. And so it was Matt Damon. So it was Ben Affleck, like, like, we think of these people as artists, but they're also really astute business people. And you have to hold both together, and you have to value both. And you have to see the interrelatedness of both. And I think what keeps a lot of filmmakers back is they have this sort of almost elitist resentment, that we're in a business and we're selling products right now. And they had to buy, you know,

Alex Ferrari 23:05
It's so annoying. It's, again, why I wrote the book, because it was so annoying that nobody's thinking outside the box. No one's thinking that this is a product. And we're like, It's art. Dude, if you want to go make art in the backyard, my friend knock yourself out. But the second you take grandma's $250,000, you better figure out a way to get grandma's money back. I mean,

Jon Erwin 23:25
It's entertainment. It's not art, it's entertainment. It's a symphony of art to create it. But there's a nobility, I think it was John Lasseter, that said, the nobility of entertainment. You know, the idea that, you know, we provide a service and by the way, and I just believe we're in a service business, like one of the things that we say there's not about us, it's about the people sitting in the seats and the experience they're having. And that's it. And you got to get out of the way of that. And, and so to me, it's about entertaining an audience about loving an audience is about getting getting to know an audience and serving that audience well. And the people that have really done well in sort of other niche sectors like Jason Blum has become a good friend. And the way he thinks and the way he talks about the audience, and entertaining the audience and the way he places you know, jail is this friend of mine, and he was one of the pilots and Top Guns he talked about every day, Tom Cruise shut up and just said, this is a privilege what we do is a privilege, how can we exceed the expectations of the audience? So I've found the really great people our industry are much more service oriented than they are sort of selfish about their, about their precious ego and their their sort of artistic expression and the greats in our industry are much more about let's entertain the audience like that's the normal thing to do is people are paying money. They're paying, they're they're paying in their time, they're buying popcorn that's more expensive than anywhere else on the earth. They're paying basically the same price. For my movie as they are for Avatar, they cost like

Alex Ferrari 25:03
100 times more 540 million.

Jon Erwin 25:07
So the attitude that I need to have is like, I'm gonna do everything I can to entertain you, and to uplift you, and to give you a great experience in the movie theater. And then if I've done that, well, maybe I can also tell you what I believe, and what I hope will enrich your life as well. But if I just the more you apply a mindset that is not common, and certainly not taught in business, in film school, but a mindset of the pregnant is in the business, and a mindset of service, entertainment, the more the more you win in this industry, that's what I found. And I think a lot of what the attitude that comes out of you know, that that's expected, from filmmakers is actually the opposite of what will actually get you to the top of the industry.

Alex Ferrari 25:54
Well, let me ask you this, because I'm really curious to hear your position on this, you know, the theatrical business model has changed dramatically since COVID. It was already on the downward slope, we were all we all saw. And like you said, a decade worth of change is been compacted in two or three years, and the theatrical business is hurting. There's no question about it. Last time, I went to a theater. And I've said, last last year, there was only two movies that I went to the theater that I actually went and paid money to go see, which was Top Gun, and Avatar. And those are the only two because those are the only two that I felt that deserved a theatrical experience, from my from my point of view for me to get out of the house and go and all that there are other deserving movies. But you know, for me to the kids, all that stuff, you know how it is. But your films are interesting, because you are servicing an audience that doesn't get serviced, often, and definitely not serviced. Well, often. So it's, again, goes back to that, that my book was, which is the future of filmmaking is niche filmmaking, finding an audience of good news. Yeah, finding an audience and serving that audience. Like you said, you want to serve them, you it's a privilege. So your audience is faith based. And and specifically, not only faith based, but the sub genre of, you know, true stories that are that's kind of like where you found your, your, your really, your, your magic, your secret sauce, if you will. But so, it was so interesting, because I just moved from LA to Austin. And it's a very difference. Great City. I love Austin, low Austin. It's amazing. But I you know, when I go to the theater, or I passed by the theater, what was one of the posters I saw Jesus revolution?

Jon Erwin 27:36
Oh, great. Yeah, we're doing that.

Alex Ferrari 27:39
But that was, but I but I saw that months ago, months ago, I saw that in the theater, I would have probably not seen that in LA. Probably not, because it's not the demographic, quote, unquote, of this film. This is a Heartland center of the country kind of film. And but that audience shows up. They show up to the theaters, they do that. So it's a lesson that I hope everyone listening is, is about is one, an audience will show up for Top Gun. Because it was an amazing experience. I would go see it in IMAX today. There's such an amazing experience. But if there's something that touches their emotional nerves, that's what will get people out of seats. But with that said, What do you feel about where the pucks going to be in three or four or five years because theaters are starting to drop more and more screens are just going away? I've seen them just close the shop. So how is your business model going to work differently as you might still, you probably have a longer life theatrically than most filmmakers. But at a certain point. Yeah, I think it's, you know, yeah,

Jon Erwin 28:47
Well, it's interesting that you it's a great question. It's one of the questions to ask is what's the future of the theatrical experience in theatrical window? I do study it obsessively. In RG has put out some really good reports on trends post COVID. I really, I the short and the long. The short answer is I think that the actual window will absolutely endure, but it's just going to be different. And I think it's going to look a lot more like Broadway. Then then then what we had before COVID And I could literally talk about for hours about until like Steve Carell and Crazy Stupid Love. You want to like roll out of a moving car, like oh my gosh, I'm done with this guy. I'm a nerd for this stuff. But But, but I'll say I'll say this. Here's the question to ask for every independent filmmaker. If you're asking the question, which I think traps us, is this a good movie? Therefore, it deserves a theatrical experience. That's the wrong question. The best thing that I wrote down that I think is way more true now than even when I wrote it in that post mortem to Woodlawn is I wrote down this is no longer a movie business. This is a brand driven event business. And that's what it is. So avatars a brand, you know, top guns a brand, and it's an event, it's a social event. And we need those things and we need to go see them. The thing is, we just need fewer of them. And we want them to be bigger, and there's just there's not everything. Post COVID, coinciding with the streaming war, we don't need a lot of categories of films outside of our home. So if you can be one of the things that works outside the home, you actually make a lot more money right now, like Avatar sitting on top of the box office number one, or was it six weeks, seven weeks? Like that's not a good indicator, most of the industry, that means that we're all just gonna go see Avatar and Avatar is going to play forever, like a show on Broadway, like Les Moonves or you know, whatever. And Tompkins the same way. And so what does that mean for all of us? And yeah, loves doing it. Megan did great. You know, and things will work, but less work. So the real question, the real question to ask yourself with evaluating a movie for theatrical opportunity is can I think my god live at Samuel Goldwyn, who is true to my first film, one of the great old Titan executives, the industry said, he always asked, you know, is it a? Is it a? Is it a good movie? Not the right question. Is it a great movie for an audience? How many of them are there? And do I know how to talk to them? And so the real question is, can I make this as an event? For an audience? If the answer to that is yes, then you have a theatrical shot. Okay, then you ask how large is that audience? And do I know how to talk to them, and then you actually reverse engineer the economics to that end. And so what I've learned is, I'm still alive in this business, number one, by the grace of God. But secondly, it's much more about mitigating risks and modeling a downside than it is betting for an upside. So like with imagine, we built it to break even in our prior film, films box office 15 million. The film that I'm doing right now Jesus revolution, I feel that it's an event for our core audience, I think people are going to show up for it, I don't know, talk to me in three weeks, or whatever. But I really do feel like I really do feel like it's an advance. And it's like a social event. And that's why we're putting in theaters and really going for it. But it still has a very achievable, breakeven. And so to me, it's really about reverse engineering outcomes and protecting a downside. And so and letting instead of saying, what does this movie cost? That's the wrong question. And say, what's the business model of this? What do we think it could achieve? And, you know, if we don't know if it's the actual, but it might be well then make it at a cost where the product is now usable. And you can probably create a marketplace around it and flip it to a streamer at a profit. But still test it for theatrical, you get over a certain budget where sort of has to go theatrical so. So I think it's just about really thinking about the audience. And I think that the actual question will become, is this an event for the audience, if you can say, with a straight face, this is an event for an audience of people that I know, release it in theaters, that's going to still work? If it's not, if it's not a social event, and typically a social event that's undergirded by a brand, then you're going to really struggle in today's environment, releasing computers.

Alex Ferrari 33:30
Well, I mean, the brand, you guys put it right in the title Jesus. That's the brand. Arguably, what a great marketing by the way, Jesus, His people. Great, great marketing over the years. Yeah, well, we'll see. Yeah, Jesus, Jesus has done well. But the point is to me,

Jon Erwin 33:47
Yeah, but

Alex Ferrari 33:49
I didn't You didn't hide it. And that's why I was so impressed about it. Because a lot of people would be scared, they would change it to something else. But the put the word Jesus, that Jesus is a trigger word, for a lot of people has nothing to do with poor Jesus. But it's a trigger word for a lot of people. And you decided to put it right out there because you know who your audience is. And that man, God bless. God bless you for that, brother. I mean, seriously, I was like,

Jon Erwin 34:12
Well, also, you know, what I want to make your movies that I don't care who you are, or what you believe, I'm going to try to make a movie that you love. But I found it's actually better. Instead of trying to make a million people love like you. Yep, just find 100 People that absolutely love you, and build a relationship with them, and super serve them and then let their let them be your voice to the masses, and just trust that those people are indicative of some level of the population, you know, and there's more of them. And so with Jesus revolution, you know, it'll be very interesting to see what happens because we don't have as much you know, advertising money as we did with American underdog but we've taken the time to go all over the country and really connect the film to the audience. It's leaders and, and you know, there's just a there's a message behind the movie and it's, I love the movie. It's a fun movie, it's you make you laugh and cry. I think the performance is really good. It's kind of like my almost famous or some like, you know, to a Cameron Crowe film, you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:15
oh, I could tell that could see that.

Jon Erwin 35:17
What is the cost of a good artists copy Great artists steal Cameron Carver, listen to this, I'm sorry. But, you know, but it sort of is in that spirit. And the cool thing I think about it is I didn't name the movie, Time Magazine named the movie. And this is a cover of Time magazine from 1971 at a very similar time, and there was this psychedelic sort of Jesus on the cover and, and with this 10 page spread that was so incredibly optimistic and hopeful. And it just said, Jesus revolution, and it was this sweeping hippie revival that was going on all over America. So the good news is, there's a historical context in Time magazine called, we're just telling the story that cover.

Alex Ferrari 36:00
And you know, what's fascinating is, after I watched the movie, it's not a it's not a preachy movie. It's actually I love the trailer, because it's not like, you know, if you don't believe in Jesus, or you don't believe in that, you could still enjoy this film, because it's just a great story, of transformation of people searching for themselves and finding, you know, the divine within themselves and divine, within groups of people opening up doors that are shut discrimination against people just because of the way they look. Yeah, there's so many themes in this film that I absolutely loved and connected with. It's not like a beat you beat you over the head with a Bible conversation. It is not by any stretch of the imagination. It really is a wonderful thing that almost anybody can enjoy.

Jon Erwin 36:42
I'm glad you said, man. So that's what we were trying for it. I'm so yeah, you say that we we basically. That's that was exactly the intent. You know, I wanted to make a movie, I just think the narrower the focus, the wider the appeal. And that's why I think Jason Blum does that really well. Oh, yeah, something specific, really well, but I took my daughter Megan, and really enjoyed it, you know, and, and so I think that, that, what we're doing is we understand who we are and the audience that we serve. And we're, we're unapologetic and unafraid of telling stories that we love that we hope other people are going to love to. And with this story, what's been interesting about it is because it is set in the world of the church, in the 70s, but people that don't believe or have any sort of religious affiliation at all, love and appreciate the movie because they see it as sort of a modern day allegory of loving the other. So basically, the story is this sort of square pasture geared by his daughter, opens his church to this group of hippies, that at the time, weren't allowed become the church like the at the time, it was like, you know, for a hippie to go to church, it was like, go home, get a job, take a bath, cut your hair, we joined society now maybe you can come to church, and he just let him in. And there was this hippie street preacher named Ronnie frisbee, and it was like a nitroglycerin moment. And that sparked this nationwide awakening. So there's a ton of natural humor in it, because these groups of people are so different. But that theme of like opening your heart in your mind. And literally your diverse to a group of people that society would see you can't hang out with that society would say is a polar opposite point of view, then you and actually learning to love each other. And joining together in something that seems to play a really strong and really rabid relevant to today's sort of just this, this situation that we're in as a country, you know, no matter no matter what people believe. And so it's cool to be able to do something really specific. But that also plays as a broader sort of motivational allegory, you know,

Alex Ferrari 38:53
And you know, what's, what's wonderful about what you and Andy your brother do with your films, is that you have this beautiful balancing act that you do with all of your films that you put just enough in to serve the core audience. But you put just enough in that someone outside of your core audience could enjoy like, I can only imagine was you man, you nailed it right down the middle for your core audience. But when you're watching it, anyone can enjoy that film. Anyone can enjoy American underdog. Like you don't have to,

Jon Erwin 39:25
I'm glad you say that's the goal. I mean, a lot of times it's like it's fun to be able to test contrary in opinions, like like opinions that maybe other people don't share. And my opinion about Christianity is it's not divisive. It's not. You know, there's this verse in the Bible. It says, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness. And then it says against these things, there is no law. And my opinion is when you portray those things correctly, like who's gonna say we don't We'd more love joy, peace and patience and kindness to each other and goodness and society like, like, we need these things today. And I think if you just let the story do the work, you know, trust the audience's, you know, abilities, and you don't have to beat them over the head. And I think that just choose stories that you feel are powerful and life changing, and tell them to the best of your ability. I think that that's just a better way to do it. And I think if you do it, right, these stories can be inviting and inspiring, no matter what belief you have, and I don't think anyone should ever feel alienated or driven away, or ostracized by Christianity, I just think that that's, that's unfortunate. And one of the things that I would hope changes, you know, over the next decade is this is this is just, this is good stuff for everybody. And those are the stories that we want to tell. And I think when you just really portray and infuse the virtues of Christianity in ways that are really entertaining and stories, you know, they're things that are universally needed, and, and things that we who doesn't love a good redemption story? You know,

Alex Ferrari 41:09
I mean, absolutely. And I mean, it's very progressive, what you're saying, you know, it, it shouldn't be, but it is, and wonderful in a wonderful way. Because your point of view on your faith is not, you know, it, this is a weird thing, because I lived in the bubble of Los Angeles for 13 years. And then when I moved to Austin, I just saw things a little bit differently. It's really interesting to see and by the way, Austin, not the, the most conservative situation. The imagination, all the crazies and all the weirdos, you know, Keep Austin weird. It's a wonderful city. But yeah, I just start seeing things a little bit differently on the way I'm like, oh, okay, this makes sense now, and it's, I love this, I love what you guys are trying to do, because you are trying to bring the two, the two sides, whatever, those two sides together together, because that's what we should be doing. Regardless, you know, you and I both grew up at a time where we both could, you know, believe different things and still have a beer, or still have a conversation. I was, like, you know, are you kidding me? My, my father and me have completely different points of view on life, you know, and uncles and, you know, all that kind of stuff in the family. But, you know, we still get together, we still love each other, we still, you know,

Jon Erwin 42:28
That's right. You know, it's, it sounds like such a cliche, but yeah, love really is the, you know, in the sense of, like, you know, when you think of like, you know, there's so much more that unifies us, and things to agree on, and then then divides us. And I think there's just this gap of sere in the middle. And, and I, for me, you know, I had the good fortune of being born and raised in like the buckle of the Bible Belt, Birmingham, Alabama, but very quickly at the age of 15, traveling outside of it, because I was working for ESPN. And then in marketing the film's you know, I live in Nashville, Tennessee, I commute to and work in Los Angeles, spent about half a week or a week of the month or whatever, there. We market these films everywhere. I've traveled the continental United States man. And you just realize that there's a lot that binds us together. And there's a lot to have a beer over and talk about and celebrate. And when you just boil things down to their themes and their values, there's a lot of values that we agree on. And so I think as a as a Christian, what I've realized is man, actually there's a hunger for this stuff beyond belief, you know, in terms of like, beyond what people believe, I think if you sit down and watch some things that are really well made. But but you know, this is where we had a decade of the antihero are very good versions of that. But if you binge Game of Thrones House of Cards Breaking Bad, you just it's hard to believe in anything, let alone yourself. And I think people are craving a sense of meaning and purpose and, and values. And so there's sort of a return. So yeah, has Christianity been weaponized and counterfeit? Absolutely. But that's just what we do as people, whether it's politics, or religion, or whatever,

Alex Ferrari 44:24
All religions, by the way, almost all of it, yes.

Jon Erwin 44:27
But I would say that, you know, it says something about the source because you only ever really weaponize something that's intrinsically powerful, and you only counterfeit something that's intrinsically valuable. So of course, the crazies are going to use this thing to their own, you know, purposes, and there's going to be televangelists, and there's going to be rogue people but, but I think the thing at its source is, is beautiful and meaningful and powerful. And whether you believe it to be absolutely true, like, like I do, and I find great meaning from that or whether you like Thomas Jefferson, who famously cut all of the references to the divinity of Christ out of a Bible. It's called the Thomas Jefferson Bible. The reason he did that is he said, he didn't really believe in the the Divinity, or questioned it, but he thought the teachings of Jesus were the greatest moral reset in the history of the world, you know, and I agree with them. And so what it's just good stuff, it's, you know, loving your neighbor, going the extra mile turning, turning the cheek, you know, being known by how you love people like these are things that if we reintroduced to society, society would be better for it. And I think that the best way to do that is through stories. And so what we want to do is we want to tell stories that, that certainly resonate with our core audience with that Heartland audience and super served them. But also are just hopefully, entertaining and applicable to whoever wanders in the theater. But what we want to do first and foremost is entertain. We're entertainers first, and I hope to there's nothing like being in an audience of people and hearing them laugh and cry, and tear at it at a movie. I've never seen a movie. Like Jesus revolution, we really screened it far and wide and early last week, let us we've shown it to a lot of people. And you know, I've not ever been a part of the movie where people are cheering during the film, at certain points. And that's a wonderful experience. And it's so it's wonderful to connect with a core audience like that.

Alex Ferrari 46:26
You know, it's in what you're saying is true, because I've noticed that as well, in some of the other work that I do, and other shows that I do, that people are starving for this kind of message, these positive messages, these positive stories, these things that are that fill you up. And look, I love Breaking Bad. I thought Breaking Bad was one of the

Jon Erwin 46:49
Most perfect last hours of television ever, ever,

Alex Ferrari 46:52
Ever made. And other than maybe two episodes of the entire series, but that fly episode drove me nuts. Other than that, the whole series was almost perfection. It really was as as, as as an art as an art piece. It was beautiful. But at the end, you don't feel really uplifted by by what Walter White has been doing. You know, it's been entertaining as hell. But then you watch something like Shawshank, which is one of my favorite films of all time.

Jon Erwin 47:20
And that's right, that's exactly the difference. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 47:23
And then you look at Shawshank and if you look at IMDb, it overtook the Godfather as the most is the best film ever made. How and why? And I've said this and I've talked to Oscar winning screenwriters about this. I've talked to every story analysts about this. I've talked to filmmakers about this and like what is it about that film that is connected with so many people from every walk of life since it's released, and it's the worst name in film history worst name in film history? On on paper, it is not a particularly great story. You know, it's like oh, it's a it's a pretty it's a it's not a it's not a particularly like innovative story on the surface. But what Frank Darabont was able to do with that movie has connected so deeply with people who you know people who think Steven Seagal is the greatest actor of all time. Love Shawshank.

Jon Erwin 48:22
Yeah, though it transcends man, and I'll tell you what it is at its essence. You know, I love I love to think about and find the essence of things. There's this great book, Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl disguises was in several, you know, survived the Holocaust, his family did and a psychologist was in several camps came out and finished the work that he beaten began before, which led to one of the Great's psychology books ever written, which is Man's Search for Meaning and, and he had this incredible optimism, even though of all he had been through, and his take was that he can was thing logotherapy is the Greek word for me, or Lagertha, I don't know how to say it is the Greek word for meaning. And his point was that actually, pleasure wasn't sort of the end all. Like Freud, you know, his point was that actually, the the quest is to find a sense of meaning and purpose to your life, that is what everyone's looking for. So if you talk about the function of the storyteller, whether that's a movie, or a play, or sitting around a campfire, the function of the storyteller in society is to try to take all this nonsense and all these things that don't connect and, you know, and fit them together to bring a sense of order and meaning and purpose. So the stories that I think transcend you know, when, when, when a wall is right, that line, every man dies, not every man really lives in the middle of a brilliant film Braveheart. But that's meaning and purpose. And I think it's actually the power of that theme that makes that movie transcend not that you Onra I think it's the theme of living from your heart and living from your soul, you know, and living from your passion and Shawshank the same way Hard movie but brilliant material in terms of meaning and purpose. And so I think when we did I can only imagine barbicide just as what is the essence of like, what do people how does this dude that looks like you know, offense? Right? This multi platinum juggernaut independent artists, not you, I'm talking about Bart, you look great anyway. And so does Bart now, but anyway, but the idea of, you know, how does how does, you know, just, he's just an everyman, you know, I'm saying like, there's anything, you know, and he was an everyman with an everyman band that was, you know, independent from Texas, how do you ride this multi platinum juggernaut? I just said, what do people feel when they hear the song and because I got to match that with the movie, whether people know it or not, they're gonna feel the same way. And he said, You know, it's a rush of hope. That's what they feel. And so we sort of, we sort of engineered the whole movie around that same experience. And I just feel like people need a rush of hope right? Now, they need a sense of like, my life matters. There's meaning to life. There's some sort of destiny, there's some sort of purpose here. And, and I and I need sort of, I need to go out of a theater feeling hopeful and feeling like, I'm matter, and life is worth living. And I think that, as great as Breaking Bad is as great as Game of Thrones is, except for the last season, please remake it, you know, you know, that you, you have the opposite. After you watch those things, you just sort of feel this sense of, it's me versus everyone else, hopelessness, you know, and it's survival at all cost. And I think that seeped into our society a little bit. And I honestly think that the aggregate entertainment is one of the reasons why we're at each other's throats, you know? Because if you watch Game of Thrones, and house guards, Breaking Bad and other things, it's like, Okay, there's one law, I gotta live and you gotta die. And that's it. You know, it's me versus everybody. And I think that's gotten into society a little bit. And I actually think, you know, what we say is the world needs a little more Catherine. Sense of Frank Capra, you know, It's a Wonderful Life and things like that a little a little optimism, a little hope. And, and I think that there's room in the marketplace.

Alex Ferrari 52:22
Do you think that because I think there's going to come up, I do think there's going to come a point in the next decade that there's going to be a runaway hit like a juggernaut hit, and it's not going to be one there's going to be a series of them that are and you guys are probably going to be behind one or two of them at least. But there that's going to connect with the majority of people looking for that rush of hope. And they're gonna go oh, wait a minute. Maybe we shouldn't remake another Star Wars or another Marvel show. And maybe we should start putting some money into this. Do you think that will ever happen within the studio's because they always go with the money goes, even after passion.

Jon Erwin 53:02
Everything is cyclical. I think everything is cyclical, and everything is counterprogramming. And I think one of the reasons I can only imagine worked was there was an article before it came out that deadline wrote that said like the music biopic is dead like these films don't work anymore. The point is, we sort of were at the front end of the reemergence of a dormant genre. Now you think like Elvis and stars born and, you know, Bohemian Rhapsody, and all these music, like one right after the other, this is now a reestablish genres, it's actually a little more risky. One of the real hard things about filmmaking is an independent filmmaking especially, is that the way to win with independent film is our minds are differential engines, meaning there's a great marketing book, Seth Godin book Purple Cow. Yeah, his whole thesis is that if you see a cow, you don't take a photo of a cow, you don't tweet a cow. You've seen a cow. They're all cows, they'll say, but my gosh, if that cow was purple, you know, oh, my gosh, there's a Purple Cow. You know, so I'm going to tweet that, you know. So my point is, that you really have to have the courage and conviction that if something is entertaining and meaningful to you, it'll be entertaining and meaningful to other people. Like there's more of you. And I remember what I can only imagine we had done all this research and we had seen a gap in the market. And then we had seen the need for a brand and I knew that I love that song. And everybody I knew love that song. And so in the core community, but every studio told us now one executive is Studio said, you know, you know, I think there's 18,000 people that would watch this movie and that's, that's it. That's the total audience. This will never work. But we just went forward with a conviction, but because we record with the conviction, we owned it because nobody would. Nobody would take a risk on And we benefited from that. And so I think you have to be willing to be different, you know. And you have to be willing to take it take bets on things that you feel deeply. And, you know, I think when you listen to the stories of like Star Wars or jaws were one of the great one of the great blocks of our industry. And that three our entire dreams documentary is the chairman of 20th century fox came to Alan Ladd Jr, who was the who was the chairman most vision group and said it was in post production said shut down the Star Wars, The Star Wars thing. It's an embarrassment to the studio. And Alan Ladd Jr, not having seen a frame of the film said, I've seen it, it's the greatest movie ever made. It's one of the greatest flops in the history of our industry. But the point is, that's how weird Star Wars was to, to everyone that that was looking at it, you know, and they were the studio was sending notes, like the Wookie should have pants, why does the pinata and they're like, really, the point is that the studio business is a rear view business. And they only the thing is like, hey, we want something totally original, that's just like something else that made a billion dollars last year, like that's just the way they think. And so it takes a level of conviction. And, and it takes a level of as an independent filmmaker, extraordinary belief. And, and I actually think a lot of filmmakers have like, they want to stay above that, like, Oh, I'm working on this thing. And you know, it's gonna be good, you actually have to have an attitude of like, I love this. I know, there's people that love this, I'm trying to make it the best I can. But I'm telling you, there's an audience for this. And you have to have a level of conviction in yourself, and in the thing that you're creating that is uncommon, to will it through the system, and to get money for it, and then to will it into existence. And that and that's, I think missing a lot within independence all you know,

Alex Ferrari 56:57
And I think the one thing that we can kind of summarize from this conversation is as independent filmmakers, you need to not just make a movie that tickles your own fancy, it has to do with a little bit of that. But you have to find out if there's an audience for it. And don't say horror movies, a lot of people like a horror movie, that's that that's too big, which is again, going back to my book, it's about niching, down and niching down to the point where like, what is an audience that will enjoy this movie? And I can talk to, which is what your what would that executive said? Can you reach that audience with the money and the resources and the abilities that you have? And if you can kick them by combine those two, then you have a potential, not a guarantee of potential for success. But the biggest thing is, I'm gonna make an action movie because people like action movies, you've done, you're done.

Jon Erwin 57:48
Well, you know, what's interesting about that is, I think one of the, one of the real secrets to that if you want to know like a key that sort of unlocked it. It's summarized in the word distain. And what I mean by that, that's what I really bonded with Jason Blum over was the any audience that feels the same, right? He felt like 20 years ago, the horror audience felt mistake, like studios were like, they don't care, like just murder a bunch of people, it doesn't have to be good. And the audience felt that and, you know, I've learned in therapy, and shouldn't do it a little more, you know, the primary needs of people are to not to be agreed with, you have to agree with them. People just want to feel seen, and heard and understood. And, and, you know, identifying, oh, people like horror movies is like, well, now it's like, well, no, yeah, they like horror movies. And guess who saw that before no one else did Jason Blum. And now he's dominated and monopolize the market. So you have like, a one in 1000 chance of competing with him. What you really have to see and have the courage to, to embrace is an underserved audience. That, that, that is being sustained by the industry. And you have to be willing to understand that instead of trying to be cool at cocktail parties in LA, you know, what makes you cool at cocktail parties in LA winning, so go in with an audience, and then, you know, in focus on just loving an audience, and so for me, the faith audience is one of those groups that, you know, they're being called things like, again, it's not a political affiliation, but it's seen that way in LA and so they're being called things like deplorable. And so and there's also this stigma of poor quality, and I'm talking to an investor whose daughter was there and I said, you want to know the you want to know the opportunity and the problem in faith, it's the same things the chart, turned his daughter and said, Let's Play rapid word association game. I'm just gonna say something just responded. She said, Okay, I said, Christian movies, and she just do and I'm like, in one syllable, she just described the problem in the opportunity, like if you fix that, so for a lot of people, they don't wanna be associated with it. I would rather go right at it like Jason Blum went right at it. with work and say, Okay, we hear you, we hear that there's a quality problem. And it's also a lack of authenticity and you're underserved, and you're disdained by whatever you're getting, we're gonna, we're gonna fix that on your behalf. That's the business opportunity. So you really know whether that's Crunchyroll. Think about it. Vic's plus is just having huge growth right now. Or, or or Blum. Doing something's

Alex Ferrari 1:00:26
Or Mr. Beast, Mr. Beast on YouTube

Jon Erwin 1:00:29
Yeah, is getting to know developing a relationship nurturing relationship with an audience that's underserved, that no one else sees value in yet, then, or no one has the courage to really give them what they want. Or an audience that you understand and are representing in a unique way, like a movie like Crazy Rich Asians or whatever, having the courage to do that, instead of like, have the courage to be unique. Conformity is not the way forward in our industry, everyone in LA looks the same, has the same spec script in their back pocket, you know, wants to talk about themselves, you know, and so, how it's homogenized and so to me, the courage to be different is is the way forward and the people like Tyler Perry, or Jason or people that, you know, interacted with, they have way more success by differentiating. And the narrower the focus is, the wider the appeal. And so it's just have the courage and conviction to do something that you really believe in, that you want in need. And that you're connected to an audience that wants wants and needs and be willing to be unpopular while you do it, because you'll be popular when it works. And and, and that's just a different a different way to think in a different way forward. But if you if you identify if you're just in the rearview mirror, and like, you know, oh, the audience was actually filmed his work. Yeah. And everyone knows that. And that's why it's it's saturation. That's impossible. You have to be the one that says, hey, this will work. And everyone says you're crazy and weird. For years.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:05
Not all of them,

Jon Erwin 1:02:06
Cameron, that's how you know, right? That's

Alex Ferrari 1:02:10
Horrible idea. Avatar, horrible idea. Right?

Jon Erwin 1:02:14
If you listen to Peter Chernin Titanic, most expensive movie, at the time, on top of the most expensive movie, it was $100 million at the time, and he went 110 million over budget. Yeah. So you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:27
That we knew the first story that we ending of.

Jon Erwin 1:02:31
So so to me, just, I think, look, if I can leave you with anything, is do things that you really believe in, and just match perseverance with curiosity. And then also a level of courage and your decisions, you know, I would rather fail courageously than fail, because I made a safe choice, you know, and do something that you really believe and have the courage to be different and have the courage to put a different voice out there. Because I think that that's what people want is, is unique voices that represent unique audiences. That's one of the joys of the film world is you get to sort see thing through through someone else's eyes. And so and so that's what I'll what I'll leave otherwise, the biggest thing is just keep learning constantly, and never ever, ever quit. Success might be just around the corner, you never know.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:19
So Jon asked you a few questions asked all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Jon Erwin 1:03:25
Oh, my gosh, I'm horrible at answering questions. You know, I would I would actually say the value of failure, I think, yeah, I think that's what people don't under failure is incredibly valuable. And it's really the only path to success. And I think it's something that we all run from. But if we actually ran towards it, and learn to sort of fail, small and iterate, you know, I mean, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Yes, some things do kill you, though. You want to avoid those things. But if you can sort of fail and learn, it's like Thomas Edison said, have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways not to make the light bulb. If you embrace failure as a part of your process, I think that that's the way to win. And it takes took me a long time to, to it. It's a very vulnerable thing to be willing to fail so that you can learn how to win and and I think that took me the longest to learn,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:18
And the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.

Jon Erwin 1:04:22
Three, my favorite films of all time, I have this list of sort of films that I just think No, first of all, there's no perfect film. I think George Lucas said the best films are never completed. They're only abandoned. But but there are films that I think for the moment in time in which they were created are untouchable, like don't change a frame. So I think I'm trying to think it's one of those and then there's also just great films that that that I've seen, you know, recently but to me Braveheart is still just like, super my soul. I just think that that's such a The well made film that I just it just gets me man, it just gets me. Good. You know, I still think Saving Private Ryan is, is one of those things when he says earn this at the end I'm just that's a summary of an entire generation and, and and just incredible you know I think I think the King's speech is amazing. I think, Gosh I'm beyond three Slumdog Millionaire Fellowship of the Ring was just one of the transcendent experiences I had in the theater like oh my gosh and then I think some of the old ones I think it's a wonderful life and you know, Casablanca you know, I think it's a perfect movie. I've exceeded my

Alex Ferrari 1:05:55
Well, I mean, I

Jon Erwin 1:05:57
What's your answer to that question?

Alex Ferrari 1:05:58
I mean, well, Shawshank is a perfect movie in my opinion. I mean, Shawshank is, it's perfect. I think back to the future is perfect. It's one of the greatest scripts ever made. It kind of is, isn't it is it's the it is as perfect of a screenplay and perfect and an execution

Jon Erwin 1:06:12
Produced by Steven Spielberg. There's no better there's no better producing the director.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:18
And everyone said he was everyone said they were crazy. And it was only the Steven that was able to push it through and then they stopped at two weeks after shooting with the wrong guy like yeah, we're gonna redo these laughs Can you imagine? And Jocelyn Jaws is another perfect film. I mean, that that movie doesn't, it just is perfect.

Jon Erwin 1:06:37
Jaws is Jaws is one of those things where the limitations, the limits personal limitations are what made it perfect. For sure. I think. Look, I would put Top Gun Maverick up there as one as experiences I've had in the theater. Oh, long time, man. I can really really good

Alex Ferrari 1:06:56
Man it is such a good, good movie. It's yeah, there's nostalgia with that film. Without question for guys like you and me. But it is just damn near perfect in what it was aimed to do. Without question and I mean, and also put up the matrix as almost as a perfect movie as well.

Jon Erwin 1:07:16
The matrix is a tote is one of the again, it's it's as perfect as a movie gets by far. I think probably the filmmaker that I most trust now. And I can't wait for Indiana Jones is James mango. I think that dude just fires he nails nails every time. Like I thought Ford versus Ferrari. Unbelievable. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:37
Logan, I mean, Logan Logan sent it transcended the genre.

Jon Erwin 1:07:40
And again, Logan is one of those where it transcends, you know, it's hyper violent, it's gritty. But that quest for meaning and purpose and transcendence is all right there and then television I just think I'm one of those I know everyone's on it. But I think the last and this is great. I just think it's

Alex Ferrari 1:08:01
I hear I hear that's good. But for me Yellowstone right now is anything that tailors

Jon Erwin 1:08:05
I haven't taken the Yellowstone trip like I haven't moved yet. It's on my list

Alex Ferrari 1:08:11
Best writing I've ever seen on television. It's so good.

Jon Erwin 1:08:15
And then I think anything that's I think anyone's Gilligan does is just like he's such a student of our industry. And that just comes out Tarantino in that way. He just comes out his love and obsession of the of the craft comes out so

Alex Ferrari 1:08:29
Jon, man, when can when and where can we see Jesus revolution?

Jon Erwin 1:08:33
Jesus revolution comes out nationwide, February 24. It's in theaters everywhere. And thank you, Cameron Crowe for all the things that I still and I hope you enjoy the very same way and and I think I think no matter what you believe you really enjoy it's an enjoyable film and, and go check it out theaters.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:49
Jon, I could talk to you for hours, brother, I appreciate you coming on man. My man like you and your brother have to eat. When you come down to Austin. We gotta go grab a beer man. Without question.

Jon Erwin 1:08:58
I love it. I'm there. I'm there pretty frequently. So let's do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:01
I appreciate you!

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BPS 281: How to Turn Your Movie Script into a Money-Making with Mark Toia

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Alex Ferrari 0:23
I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Mark Toia. How you doing Mark? How you doing my friend?

Mark Toia 0:44
Yeah, good good.

Alex Ferrari 0:46
Thank you so much. Thanks so much for coming back on the show, man, your episode, Episode 407 has been a while we're over 600 now. So it's been a it's been a it's been a few years since we spoken on. You've been on the show. We've been talking on and off all that time. But you you came on and? And? Well, let's just start from the beginning. Can you just recap everybody and let everybody know how you got into the business really quickly what you do for a living day to day.

Mark Toia 1:16
One where I got into the business hobby, complete hobby that went crazy. There was a I was a boilermaker a young Boiler Maker and people didn't know what a boiler maker is we're pretty much people that make anything out of steel. You know, whether it's skyscrapers or a steel box for someone's back or someone's car, you know, who knows it also anything made of steel. So that's what I used to do as a trade. But I was a child artist when I was young, I could paint real life oils when I was like 13 years old. So I had did have a bit of a gifted hand when I was a young fellow and and I could draw anything and I could do my own storyboards if I want all that sort of stuff so but I mean the anyway, the hobby went crazy. Picked up a car stills camera. This is cool, had a bit of fun with that. And sent a photograph off to a magazine company, not thinking they were paid you I had no idea that they paid you. But they sent me a check for $50 and my mind exploded I literally stared at that check for like a day all day going holy fuck they pay you or sorry, the minister. And then I thought should I'm gonna do more of this. And I said some more photographs offer more magazines and a bit. I think two or $200 turned up the next month and I went oh goodness. It's almost paid my week's wages. It just kept having fun. Doing so cool. And then I went completely psycho photographer didn't know what I was doing. And went into the magazine world learned all the hassles tripped over my face a few times. went nuts and all sudden I had a career in photography that was so fast. It was funny because back in those days shooting film, in a maybe it was a bit harder. Running around like an idiot with big lenses was harder, I don't know or easier. I have no idea. But anyway, it took off. And I turned to magazines chase me. And then I used to work for a company called Reuters. We're not work but more is what they call a stringer. And that was good during the former ones and the background praise and world gymnastics, indexing us doing news events and all that. Anyway, I started get bored of that. And I got into advertising, photography, which was a complete loss of income because because I had no idea what the hell I was doing in the advertising world. No one wanted to hire me because I was a complete nobody. It was a very, very hard industry to get into. And you know, a couple of people gave me a couple of jobs that are a bit more action focused, which was pretty good at at the time doing a lot of sport, you know, for the for the newspapers and the magazines. And then someone else noticed and someone else noticed. And after a lot of persistence and a lot of walk around town knocking on doors. I managed to get my advertising career going. I said I'd built this big, obnoxious studio, like massive you can pack trucks in it. And then that everyone said I wasn't crazy, and I was gonna lose all my money. And anyway, it was the other way it took off. And I was the busiest photographer in town. During that I had one of my clients say, coming in whinging about a TV commercial he had made and he showed me that was a pretty basic and he had paid $300,000 for it. This is I'm talking probably 25 years ago. Oh, yeah. And you know, 300 grand back then is a little money, right? And anyway, he was not happy. And I said, I'd love to do a TV ad one day, and he looked at me and he says, Have you ever done one? And I said, Well, I did this video for a friend of mine. But it was very, it wasn't like a helicopter one. He loved it. It says, Well, I've got, you know, like, I think was 25 grand left over. I said, deal. No, go for this. Have fun with it, see if you can do better than this thing. And anyway, we did, and put it together in the most naive way possible, completely. completely naive. I mean, I couldn't believe how naive I wasn't how knowledgeable I was in making TV commercials. Anyway, we did it. We went through a company good, you know, like a post house could focus, I think it was cutting edge or something. And then it was back in the early days. And they helped me edit it together and put together anyway, I won. I went I entered it in the local industry awards that I won Best Director and Best cinematographer. And

Alex Ferrari 6:03
As best as they say, is history. You've done okay for yourself as a commercial director you've made if you just went to your site, right before this conversation, I just let me check about what like Oh, is that Kobe? Yeah, that's Kobe. So he's, you've done okay for yourself as a commercial director, and, and then you had this insane idea that, like I was gonna make a movie. And you made this little mini game, many, many years later, or for fast forwarding a lot. But many years later, you decided to make a little independent film called monsters of man. And and if I'm not mistaken, the budget was a million dollars or so. And you decided to finance that yourself? Is that correct?

Mark Toia 6:40
Yeah, well, it might have been a touch less with the current fluctuation of the US to Australian dollar, but

Alex Ferrari 6:45
Give or take something like that. So So then, and that movie came on, when you reached out to me, the movie had already I think was already done. And you were trying to figure out this whole? How do I make money with this thing? concept? And how did you come across my book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur?

Mark Toia 7:05
Well, with what I remember, I just literally broken three ribs speaking and I was and I decided I was off. Because I was going to we've shot the movie. And I was editing it under pain.

Alex Ferrari 7:22
As filmmakers do by the way, we all ended under pain.

Mark Toia 7:26
I was sitting there and other back and I'm not doing anything. Now I've got three broken ribs. So I just sat there just started editing the movie. And I wasn't going to I was actually going to give it to an editor friend of mine. But this was a little bit of therapy, while just it was stuck up in the up in the snowy mountains. Doing nothing. I couldn't see us as looking out the window crying every day. So start editing the movie. And I got into it so fast. I mean, I love editing anyway, it's just a thing. I've been doing it for 20 years. I just didn't feel like editing a movie. And I never done one before. And yeah, that's right. I was sitting there and I was scouring the internet. Our side knows so sorry. It's a couple of years ago, Alex, I've got to get my gotta get No, it wasn't listen. All right now we were we were in in the middle of the hole. Selling the movie thing. That's right. Right. Right. It was no actually it was just before that. Anyway, it was in that time. It was in that time. And yes, I stumbled over your podcasts and your then your videos and I started watching this thing. This guy seems pretty much a disrupter of the world and a bit of a troublemaker Alan Howard is a type of guy. Wonder who this Alex Ferrari is. So anyway, that's why I reached out to you. Yes. And I sent you the trailer of a movie that was sort of being finished at the time.

Alex Ferrari 9:00
Right and when you send me the trailer and by the way, I get sent trailers daily by filmmakers from around the world wanting me to come on the show or talk to me or get a consult the god consultation. And when your trailer came in, I was like, Oh, when I saw the review, like the description of like, a bunch of robots get thrown in a jungle. This is gonna be horrendous, like who's gonna? What a horrible because you just think you like the graphics are going to be horrible, the V effects are not going to be good. And I turned this trailer on and this trailer turns on and I'm like, my mouth is on the floor. The visual effects are as good if not better than Marvel films. And the action is really dumb. Like who the hell is Mark Toya like, Who the hell are it's like I like reached right back out dude. Like, yeah, let's get on a call. Man. I want to talk to you like how the hell did this get done? And that's when the conversation started. And I'm not sure did you read the book at that point prior or after that conversation? But no one.

Mark Toia 9:55
I didn't know that the book existed until you until we spoke you said you were Do this book and other I'm reading it right. So you pick it up right away. I ebook that. Sorry, because I don't like reading. But I read scripts, that's about all I read, but I audio books. And yeah, I've got a little coffee shop that the writer literally just, it just was in my ear, and it was fantastic. I mean, it was so fantastic. And, you know, you and you were bang into like, you know, you're making sure no one forgot the message, right? I get fucking ripped off. Don't do this. Don't do that. Don't do that, you know, three chapters later, yeah, like at fucking remember, do the beat the drum heart? Yeah, that's fine. I'm in the drum beating. You know, I talked to my kids. And then I saw had all this poison in my brain that you poisoned me with some real world shit, you know. And then I'm at the moment and at that time, we were suffering our film through a traditional sales pipeline. You know, it was going through CIA, and other people, whatever ad in there wasn't working. And the contracts that were coming through were, were questionable. And.

Alex Ferrari 11:24
But you're serious offers, though you have a million dollar offer.

Mark Toia 11:29
It was 5 million there. And a million over there that, you know, it was all it was all happening. But I just thought, I thought it wasn't so much a bit the sound of the movie, because my wife and I thought if we throw them the million dollars in the bin, whatever it's going to be, we'll use it as a calling card, which and that's another story of off the back of this, which we'll be talking about later. But we'll just use it as a bit of a marketing tool for for me, there's like a show reel, to sell myself with the Hollywood. If we if we don't make any money on it, we're not going to lose sleep over it, right? Because I've been working very hard last 20 years in this game. My wife's a very avid property girl, a woman and she's, and between her and I are we do? Okay. You don't I mean, we did quite a lot. So I'm not going to say it was the ultimate experiment, really.

Alex Ferrari 12:25
By the way, that's a show you might I have to talk about myself, that conversation. So then you know, we're going back and forth over over Skype at the time. So we're going back and forth. And, and then you said, I think I'm just gonna, I'm gonna read your book, man, it's great, I love it. You gave me all sorts of ideas. I think I'm just going to release this myself. And I'm going to use a lot of the things in the book to help me do it. And I'm like, you're going to release a million dollar, you're going to self distribute. And now anybody else, anybody else that would have told me that I would have, I would advise the guests because to self distribute a million dollar product is you got to know. So you got to hit that target, not once, not twice, but like 40 or 50 times, Bullseye to break even. That's from my experience, because it depends on the kind of product but then I saw it but you've got a different kind of movie, you have an anomaly of a movie because there's movie your movie monsters, a man doesn't come along. I've seen it once in my life, a film like that, at that level of quality. And then your marketing savvy your understanding of the year this whole situation is so lottery ticket esque is an example of this. It's just an it's an anomaly without question. But then I'm like, if you're willing to do it, well, you want to come on the show and talk about it. You're like, Sure, come on. So you came on the show we talked about I'm like, You're gonna do a million dollar experiment. And when you're done in a couple years, come back on and tell us how it goes. He goes out and you said and you said I'll come on if I make money or if I don't make money, I want everybody to know what happened. So

Mark Toia 14:01
That was fair. That was fair. And I wanted to I wanted people to either learn by my members, my mistakes, and I made some mistakes during the process. Whether it was gonna be the traditional method or the or the maverick fucking crazy man direction, there's mistakes in both. Right and, and that's what we're here today. Well, let's let's talk about that stuff and just say why it worked, how it could have worked even better. And how what you know, now that the future is yeah, that two years have elapsed since we released it. What could I have done better? And now this is the valuable lessons that only doing what I did has taught me if I just dumped it on the in the district in with a distributor and let them go I would learn nothing. Right.

Alex Ferrari 14:56
And you would have probably made nothing.

Mark Toia 14:58
Now look, I would have got Thank you You know that people were still dumping money on me, I was still made money, but I wouldn't have made as probably as much, right. But I've been doing a lot of work as well. So the thing is distributors that sell your movie do a lot of work, they should get paid. So it's not like the supplying of factors or ripoff service that not that doing what your lazy ass ain't gonna do.

Alex Ferrari 15:24
And by the way, in the book in the book, I say that, like what I'm talking about in this book is work. Like, I never want to get it and

Mark Toia 15:33
I did a lot of it, Alex, right. Crazy. It's fun, it's fun. I said, this is really fucking good fun. I'm really enjoying it. And I'm doing, you know, all our casting on our trailers, marketing profiles, all of our online media, advertising. And mind you, I'm from an advertising agency, I'm not an agency. I don't own an agency. Sorry. But I work with 1000s of ad agencies around the world. I've worked with the best of the best of the best of the best, right? And so that without realizing it taught me so much about advertising, right, you know, you've been doing right down to the little tiny social media type shit. I mean, right.

Alex Ferrari 16:13
You pick up things. I mean, I edited. I mean, I don't hundreds of commercials and promos over the course of my career. And I picked up a couple things along the way working with you just, you just start picking up a couple things here and there. All right. So but the one thing I did get offered, you got all multimillion dollar offers from real studios, not Mickey Mouse studios, real studios. And yet, you decided to just walk away from them, because you're just like, you know, these deals, it's gonna take me forever to get paid. It's shady, there's a lot of outs and ends and it looks like I'm not able to.

Mark Toia 16:48
Yeah, look, the deals are an open book. The one deal was just a million bucks. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 16:57
But, but not, but not, like, right now, they're not gonna just write you a check right now for it right,

Mark Toia 17:02
No you would have been jumping hurdles, and fucking, you know, some guy in their office would go, there's a guy that's 150 feet down the street, we need his release form, or we're not going to pay you, you know, this or that. Or, you know, there'll be some, everyone I know, that have gone through a lot of these deals with these big distributors at jumping hoops for 12 months. And then and I still talked to them. Now, one guy's been still waiting two years. The movies been out since a movie is out. And they got I know, we still need all this paperwork done. Because it's in the contract. We still need all this, this little thing done here. And it's so minimal. No one gives a shit. Yeah, it's just a way for them to hold on that they're using it as a loophole to not pay him. And they probably will pay him but that's just the machine.

Alex Ferrari 17:50
It'd be five years, it could be five years down the line. It's yeah, I've seen I've heard these stories. It's ridiculous.

Mark Toia 17:56
You know, when you do those sales, you are literally handing your baby over, you will never see it again. You'll see it in 10 or 15 years time when the contracts done relative to the rate of everything that it is.

Alex Ferrari 18:12
Alright, so what was the first so from my remember, from my recollection, the first thing you did is started to do your own theater, like you're on theatrical in Australia.

Mark Toia 18:23
That's cool. Well, we we released during COVID. And everyone said, Mark, you're mad. You're crazy. Don't do it. You know, don't ever make

Alex Ferrari 18:31
But you had it. But you had a screening. You had a screen. I remember you had a big screening.

Mark Toia 18:34
You know, I thought, you know, I've got a lot of friends here in town and and we just send everyone an email, they want to come and check out the movie and Everyone's curious. So 500 people turned up, but the ones that did it in IMAX because I do everything, as you know, and RED cameras. So we've got a Fourcade movie. So let's go to the IMAX theater, let's do it properly. And the theater was massive. It was like

Alex Ferrari 19:00
So this is the thing that I love about what you did. You did a it was a free screening, by the way, right? Yeah, it was a free screening for France. Right? Okay. Yep. So the brilliance of what you did is that you filmed everyone's reactions coming out. So it made the film look like it would had a theatrical release. You are in a real theater with like posters in the background. And you filmed all this and then that's what you used in your ads. And it was so powerful in your marketing. So even though you might have not made money on that screening, you got so much free marketing materials to be able to sell your movie on T VOD, SVOD and Avon. Is that Is that a fair statement?

Mark Toia 19:39
Yeah, well, we weren't even going to do it. There was a young young guy said hey, you got to do like a behind this. You know, like a you got to film the movie. And I just want everyone to enjoy it. Anyways, and I'll get me and my friends will cover more shoot it and go nuts. You don't I mean, so anyway, signal the stuff and I went actually I could probably use this for bid a PR. And yeah, it was some PR. And it honestly was the last thing on my mind. To be honest, I

Alex Ferrari 20:08
It was serendipitous. It was serendipitous. It was a look. So I can't You're not taking credit for it I'm trying to give you credit for you're not taking credit for it. But it is what it is. It is because you were able to get it. So sometimes, you know, sometimes the Muse sometimes the universe just gives you a little bit of a helping hand. And that was that was one of them. Because I remember that when I saw

Mark Toia 20:29
Good advertising.

Alex Ferrari 20:30
And I remember when I was seeing your ads, I'm like, Man, those ads are powerful as hell, man. Because anytime you've got testimonials, like the ones you had many, they're very, very, very bad, especially if coming from a movie without any major giant mat, you know, massive bankable stars in it. You know, McKenna is wonderful, but he's not Tom Cruise. So you don't have that and coming from a first time filmmaker, quote, unquote, they really added a lot of value to it. Alright, so what was the release? So how did you release this the first time? You want to VOD first right? Transaction?

Mark Toia 21:00
Um, yeah. Yeah, we just went full TVOD. And yeah, we dropped it on Apple, Amazon all the normal dudes and but actually, I think let's, let's get a little bit more detailed for your, for your listeners, viewers. The movie is done. Right? We've made the movie. And I'm getting a lot of people ringing me up gown ads too fucking long. And it's too that you know that the LT long thing? And you know what, fuck it I'm leaving. It's only two hours, right? It's not.

Alex Ferrari 21:34
It's, it's not a three. It's not.

Mark Toia 21:38
And the other thing too is people will sit there and binge watch a fucking 10 hours of sit on Netflix and completely padded out show without dropping of dropping a single whinge about it. But they don't know. I'm not. And you know what, I did a 90 minute cut? I did. And it was it was it was not. You know, it was over to quick, me when I showed that go, oh, well, it's sort of like, you know, the Romans start attacking them. And then they're at the river and morale, you don't remember, they're escaped it, because you had to get rid of a lot of stuff. 30 minutes is a lot of very exciting material. So that's why I went Screw it. I don't care about 90 minutes. I'm not really that worried about making money on that. It's nice to get your money back, which is great. But I had bigger agenda with the film. And the bigger agenda wasn't so much making money for movie, it was just getting my name out there. So just remember that going in. The part of the experiment was exactly what it's doing now. So I'm gonna get all my, I'm gonna get even more money back by doing all these other big movies that these people are telling me I'm gonna get another story again, so we'll get to that later. Anyway, so then I decided after the, after I've turned down these offers, you know, from the traditional domains. And literally, that's when everyone thought, this guy that ends this movie is a fucking complete loony didn't mean, all these sales guys were just

Alex Ferrari 23:25
I thought that you were crazy Mark.

Mark Toia 23:30
Everyone thought I was crazy. And they don't want it because it's part of the experiment. The experiment was knowledge. And I just wanted to know how the distribution process worked. I wanted to know how you get your movies into transactional Video on Demand sites. I wanted to know how s VOD worked. I wanted to know how a VOD worked I want to know how the theatrical machine work that you know the the business of making money in these four different areas and they are four completely different areas. Yeah trickle especially, you know you might have other movies made $10 million but really what comes back to the filmmaker this guy he is sitting here right by the time the cinema takes half my time the agents take half the delivery guys, the the sales guys everything, you know, you might end up with that much. You know, man, it's just that there's a lot of work, and then hang on. And then there's the advertising that might be attached to your movie that's going to have to be reimbursed and there's all this shit that is that goes with it. Here's for an example. A friend of mine has made a movie over here in Australia. It did really well around the world. I think about he said it grossed over $25 million. He's still yet to see a single cent four years later. Wow. It's gonna come to him. Something's gonna come to you He rings me up. And he he's in tears. You know, you guys should listen to him. And I said, No, No, you shouldn't have listened to me. I'm doing something very fucking stupid. You did it the way, it just happened to work differently for me. But, but I but bigger understanding what better stuff I've put in place to make sure that works. So anyway, we were going through the whole tape or the thing through an aggregator. Because the thing that sucks about the Amazons of the world and all these sort of guys, it's very hard for you, as an individual to get a movie up on these sites, Amazon, you could probably do it with a lot of dancing ants dicking around, but they all of them now are very, pretty much critiquing movies, you can just throw your movie up on all those T boards, you know, you could they will just go nuts Polish sticker Polish ship, now you're out. You know, so you've just made a movie, but then you realize I can't unload it anyway, because Amazon Amazon doesn't like it Apple doesn't like it. You know, Microsoft doesn't like it. IBM has like a Fandango don't like it all these were whoever these there's fucking list of mile long as you know, you still got to get it through all these people to get them to like your movie enough to put it on their platforms. And that's got to unfortunately, go through an aggregator which is another fucking annoying word, word for distributor, right? So there's always there's gonna be someone in your way, which is fine. And I don't know why Apple dot Apple should be, you know, the best movie upload site in the world is Vimeo on demand, but no one fucking watches it. No one uses it. No one uses it. But it is the best of the best of the best that the reason is, you could upload your movie in 4k 8k, glorious, beautiful viewing. It looks stunning on whatever you put it on. You can upload your movie or your subtitles, you can decide what countries you want to sell and everything and probably under five minutes. No one in your way. And they take 10% Thank you, Mark. It's so fucking simple. So when everyone wants to see my movie Now go make just go go to Vimeo it's gonna be easier. And I'll actually make 90%. Right instead of the other way, which is, you know, like, everyone else takes half and then other people and then there's the aggregator fee and there's blah, blah, blah. So anyway, I'm just gonna, I think Vimeo have actually got a great thing there. But I have no fucking idea because Vimeo just useless with the marketing and the way they've done things. That company is still doing what it's doing. It's obviously living off business, you know, sharing out of having an idea, but from a movie perspective, they if they invested in that properly, before indie filmmakers, they will just own that whole space.

Alex Ferrari 28:07
They bought a few HX back in the day VHS was that the all that software, all that technology was VHS. They bought it rebranded it under Vimeo Pro, or Vimeo movies or whatever it is, but they didn't do anything with it. And they never really market it. And there's, you're asking anytime you're asking someone to put a credit card in. It's a layer of resistance for them to product. But if you're on Amazon,

Mark Toia 28:35
Right, Bill, if I set up a PayPal Apple Pay or whatever through Amazon, it would be just click, click, click Run.

Alex Ferrari 28:41
But if it's Amazon, you collect if it's Apple TV, you click because you already have your information there.

Mark Toia 28:47
Yeah, but you know, Vimeo can set up those pay systems through there if they really if they really wanted to. Anyway, the fee about them on not doing an edge with Vimeo does exactly that's, that's the best platform to put up a tee, but your video but every other one is a bit of a pain in the ass. So anyway, we get accepted, you know, Apple, say, yeah, we'll put it on Amazon. But you know that, that still takes two to three months for that process to happen. And then you got there's a date that you want to do a release and you're trying to sync up everyone all at the same time to release on the special December 8. And everyone's telling me oh no, you're mad markets too close to Christmas. You know, the amount of times everyone told me I was mad right? Anyways. Okay, now go back a bit. This is where your book comes in. You got to sell it. No one knows that movie is going to be sitting on Apple TV or sitting on Amazon if you don't tell the world that. Now this is my big fundamental mistake I made. I was where I screwed up was I didn't spend enough in advertising. I should have spent a lot more and the movie would have got right out there because, you know, when you sell a movie on TV or P VOD, whatever you want to call it, there's a spike. It's a new movie, it's out, you know, so you got to create as much hype as you're doing. The studio's do it. Well, they might make a movie for $300 million, or $200 million, or whatever, they're going to spend the same amount again flogging it. I spent a million dollars on my movie, I should have spent a million dollars on advertising. Wow, it would have been a hell of a risk, sir. No, no, it wouldn't have been because I you could see all the stats and all the logistics, everything that comes to you and you had an analyst Analytics on your sales. This is a lot of stuff that distributors don't show you because they just give you the little email saying, Hey, you made $12 today, but the reality is you get a lot of information. Right? About who buys it, whereby is the time they buy it, the you know, the who's buying it, as well as when you do a lot of your digital marketing. With your Analytics, you can dig so deep into those analytics using, you know, female 14 RED CAR lives in Minnesota, whatever, you know, you can really nail down on your target market. So that means you're not wasting your money. Selling, you know, like on your phone monitors man's not turning up and as on some 64 year old grandmother's phone. Right? You are literally once you start getting all this stuff this information, and we did some test trailers that we threw out there. So we can see those test results. And then we were just we we did a little Indiegogo campaign. Not so much to make money from it. But more so sell our movie through that porthole. This was already remember. So what I did, I thought, well, let's do an Indiegogo campaign and say, Look, if everyone helps us with the advertising of our movie, everyone gets the movie free and odds and ends and all the extras and the behind the scenes and bla bla bla bla. And yeah, and I think about 25 $30,000 turned up, which I thought, Wow, that's great. Now, we already had like a quarter million dollars allocated for advertising. I just used that $25,000 From Indiegogo. We've done all our marketing, pre the movie, and we can see all our trailer data spiking so much that people were watching it all the way through, which is super uncommon. Now I'm in because I'm in the advertising game. I hear and I see all the data from a lot of my advertisers, you know, and because they share it with me, they want me to know, so that can help them make better commercials. And I'm looking at these and how long people are staying on my ads and and who is not staying on it. So I can see that there's this type of this group of people that drive black cars and live over here and this and others age, they're only watching it for seven seconds. Right? And these people are watching it for 30 seconds of these people watch it, you know, so I can really start getting my targeting right down. So we spent 25 grand on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, all that sort of stuff and just pumped it out there. And we worked out in that month later on. So that two weeks leading towards the release of our film, we had over 50 million people had seen our trailer. Wow for 25,000 but 25 grand 25 grand. So our advertising work. And mind you I edited 40 trailers different trailers, which we did only testing four weeks beforehand, right. So we we did a real study in what's going to work what's not going to work. You know what I mean? So the trailer that got put out, was it the trailer I liked, but it was the trailer the masses, like you know what I mean? So you got to start you don't make trailers for you. You make trailers for everyone else. You know, and the one we did the testimonials really worked hard. The one with Neal McDonough jumping up, you know, saying you know, what's your movie, you know, there's a few key key little shorter, a couple shorter spots that really resonated with the, with our research. So anyway, so I thought 50 million people faculty in our trailer, all I need is $1 for one of them one. I just need $1 from like 10% of these

Alex Ferrari 34:19
10 cents 10 cents would have been good.

Mark Toia 34:24
I'm not going to spend my spare quarter million dollars I've got put aside for advertising. We've done it we've we've hit advertising gold, and this is where I started to smell my own farts and they're all good smelling

Alex Ferrari 34:38
The roses

Mark Toia 34:44
And anyway, off it went it released. And it did great. It did great. But I knew a year later, if I spent that quarter million dollars over I spent a million dollars advertising. I've got it out well LiDAR, because it's amazing how many people don't even know my movie exists. 25 grand 50 million views is nothing. I realized that our, our base of interest needs to be upwards of 500 million people to make a decent dent on sales. Right. So that's a lot of advertising.

Alex Ferrari 35:25
So let me ask you a question. What was your ROI on the advertising money made? So like, for every dollar you spent in marketing, how much money did you make back? Give or take?

Mark Toia 35:35
25 or 25? Yeah, let's say on the 20. Okay, 25 grand, I know we made a million dollars. It worked, right?

Alex Ferrari 35:42
So it's not a bad. Right? All right. I just want I just want to kind of stuff

Mark Toia 35:51
That's in the first three months, too. So right. Now, the movie is still making money. Now. It's, it's still ticking away nicely. It's like a, it's an apartment building in the corner just ticking away rent.

Alex Ferrari 36:03
So the reason why I'm gonna stop here for a second. So I want to just kind of highlight a couple of things, you said that you're throwing out a lot of gold nuggets here, you offer off a 25 grand you were able to generate your budget back comfortably out of within three months. That's unheard of in marketing and market let's on heard of. But if you would have put in just a quarter of a million you might have been able to make 3456 $7 million possibly offer off of those three months it would that would have worked? Or do you think not?

Mark Toia 36:39
The more people that know about your movie, and the more hype you can build on about it? What do you think Marvel do it this way? Right? What do you do? What do you think all the big movies as spending so much money on advertising? awareness, awareness, awareness, awareness, right? Into the day with my 50 million people is really only one city in China. It's like, not much right? In the grand scheme of things. And it's, and it's saying that million dollars in three months, you know, that million dollars slowly comes in over 12 months, but that you can see that the you see the money being made, including all our international sales, which we'll talk about today. So we walk you through advertising, advertising advertising, I can't preach harder about that, actually. And that's where I think I made that that big mistake I go, Well, you know, we're in a very, very noisy world, right? It's a massively noisy world. There's so much shit on your phones. Now. It's hard to get cut through. Right? I wish I could still spend a million dollars. And you might see my ad, may you might, if you're lucky. I mean, you're in the film industry, you know me, you'll probably get it, you'll probably get hit by it. But your neighbor, who is probably in the Sci Fi films, how the fuck do you target him to your enemy. So you're trusting that the Facebook machine, the instant machine, the Tick Tock machine, the YouTube, the YouTube machine are going to maybe get near that individual for your million dollars. So you need to really think about your advertising your PR, you know, your little news, shit that goes out, everything's got to be very well thought out. Now, that's a lot of work. Again, if you're going to get a distributor to do this for you, who are going to say you're mad, right?

Alex Ferrari 38:40
But by the way, they would never work as hard. They would never work disarm unless they unless they're making tons of cash.

Mark Toia 38:47
You know, that would have and that they're not going to say to you, Hey, Mark, will sell your film and we're going to put a minute we're gonna invest a million dollars on advertising. Right? Because a lot of the guys a lot of the distributors, they know, right? They've been around the traps, they've sold their they've probably got 400 movies on their shelves, you know, rats and mice. That's how they make their money. They get the little percentage of each one of them little movies, and that's how they pay you know, silicones to college, right? But a huge advertising campaign like that off the back of one of these little indie films, that they would fucking shut you down and say you're crazy. But you do need the right product for it too. So if it's if it's just a couple of people running around, fucking Detroit shooting each other and raping their girlfriends and bragging you know, and shooting police and you know, just an action, drama or whatever. With No Name actors, you'd never spend a million dollars because it's you they already know that it's never got to do any better than probably pick up a few 100 grand in the in the trenches. You know what I mean? If they're lucky, with the little $6,000 advertising Um, budgets attached to it, that fully allocated to it. But my movie was that okay, let's go back a bit, a friend of mine from a company that has a big red lager, right? He gave me some data about what their AI robot says is hot right now. And in it, it said, explosions, you know, make sure this many people died, blah, blah, blah. But you know, it was literally a formula movie of just information that was coming into their business that would say they could understand research, they can understand who's watching and who's demanding what to watch. So I saw these 10 key points, action movie sci fi, this, that it literally had all this detail about what should be in a movie hit when what people are watching now. I went, well, that's probably an interesting, let's go make a robot movie. Right? And have some explosions. And we'll do this, we'll do that. So so the movie wasn't like a brainchild movie of mine, which I've been sitting on that script for fucking 10 years. And then I've and I'm 50 drafts in. It's it's one or two draft film, which I was going to polish as we were going with the actors, because I know actors bring a lot to the table. And with all the special effects and all that sort of stuff, I mean, we're going to talk about that later to a bit of what how we did that. But the knowing that the my movie was going to take a lot of boxes when it came to sales. I had an a sort of a name actor in there with Neil, right? He's enough for to give the movie street cred. Everyone loves it.

Alex Ferrari 41:56
Everyone knows his face. Everybody.

Mark Toia 41:58
Everyone knows him everyone loves him. He's a tough guy. He's great for putting in your film, right? But he's not going to make you any money. He's just going to get better. He's going to help you sell the movie. But when you go didn't do all your sales internationally, and all that sort of stuff. They go, Oh, I know that guy. What's his name? All right. So and next thing, it helps you get it over the line. So it's not like nails, nails, not not a list of by any stretch, but he gives them in restricted. I wish I'd put a couple of millennials in there as well. Right, just a few more, and I think we're doing a movie shortly. Just another fun movie like this.

Alex Ferrari 42:36
Jesus Christ I've

Mark Toia 42:37
I've been I want to have a massive ensemble cast and they have liked it. And we just had fun with it, you know? And that, you know, that's another thing. So, so then we were just jumping off track here.

Actually, you know, we were branching off a little we're branching off a lot of things, but not what you said. Is

Pull me back in line Alex.

Alex Ferrari 42:56
I'll bring you back. I'll bring you back in sir. So you're TVODing. You're sending things out your marketing like crazy. How many months do you go through transactional before you decide to go to SVOD or prime?

Mark Toia 43:10
Okay, mistake number two. Mistake number two. Fuck as far as what to go in ate shit all day every day.

Alex Ferrari 43:22
By the way you did get an offer from from that big. That big streamer that hasn't been as well. It's all but you decided not to go with him?

Mark Toia 43:33
Here? I don't I don't streaming is a very it's true streaming is the cancer of indie film, as you know.

Alex Ferrari 43:41
Right industry agreed agreed.

Mark Toia 43:44
I decided it's my movies doing so well on TV. It's sort of fit the curve is bumping down. Right. But so did my advertising too. I probably could have kept it propped up longer. got convinced to get put it on Prime put on prime is screaming for this. You know they want it they want to prime Amazon. We want it we want it. It goes under Prime. I am top five in America for four weeks. On prime. It's getting smashed. Millions of people have watched my movie now. In America. I see one or two or three cents per per view. I might as well just fucking given it to them. Right? It is a total waste of time. There is no economic sense to put your movie on prom. no economic sense at all. Don't put it on Prime don't put it near any streaming network. You see pennies, pennies.

Alex Ferrari 44:49
But you're saying

Mark Toia 44:50
I might have made 100 or 200 grand millions of people watch my movie and I made a couple undergrad done nothing.

Alex Ferrari 44:57
Now you're saying now you're saying that and I want I want to kind of put things into perspective here. You're also making a good amount of money and transactional, where most independent filmmakers are. They don't even they can't make money and transactional because they don't know how to drive traffic. So the only thing that they have is the potential of A prime and A VOD, which we're gonna get to in a minute. But hopefully with this conversation, people will try to give transactional again, again, it has to be the right product, you add the right product. I mean, it's, it's an easy sell. It's killer robots that look as good as anything the studio put out with great action, explosions and things like that people are going to watch that. But you're absolutely right. It's s VOD, and Amazon Prime and those kinds of places. It is and that, by the way, is not a VOD, and we're gonna get to advertising. This is subscription based stuff. It is not that. It's horrible. It's horrible. I wanted to know those numbers. Because I know you had it on there. You're like, yeah, I made a couple 100 grand off of top five on Amazon, like top five period, beating studios.

Mark Toia 46:04
It was sitting there forever. My friends are ringing me for America go fuck. It's still there.

Alex Ferrari 46:09
And you're like, you must be making tons No, you are making

Mark Toia 46:12
I thought I thought fact this is it new by by flying to the jet fuel the jet, you know, if TJ it was underway, anyway.

Alex Ferrari 46:27
Okay, so that's not that's strange.

Mark Toia 46:30
As far as I'm concerned, subscription based. Movies is what have devalued the world's movies. Because now if for seven bucks a month, you can go and watch 100 movies a week, you know, to make you good, right? mess yourself with it. And yeah, subscription company make a fortune because they will they need us subscribers, paying $7 each. Millions of those boom, they make money. But the actual people that own those movies and make those movies. Make nothing. Make nothing. So is avoid, as you know, and you might get the random, you might get Netflix or someone ringing up and saying hey, we'll, we'll buy it off you for a turn. But the amount they offer you is nothing. They're quite happy to go and spend copious amounts of money making that film for themselves if they owned it, but now that it's made, it's not it's worthless. It's they feel that like what's already made, you've already made the film, his first strapping stranger grant, because look, make it they would, they would have blown $10 million and making the damn thing you don't

Alex Ferrari 47:41
They want to meet, they would have spent 10 million bucks to make monsters of man easily. And they would have easily been spent 10 If not more to make a movie like that. But when you want something like that drops in their plate, they should be like, You know what, let's give you about a couple mil for this because this is this is

Mark Toia 47:56
What he would do with a couple of bills that those days are long gone. You You're so fucking three years ago.

Alex Ferrari 48:04
Exactly. I agree. No, I agree. I agree with you. I understand. doesn't pay any I mean, Amazon, Netflix or Amazon? Nobody pays anything anymore. Those days are those days are gone. All right. So you went to SVOD. But you still have transactional running. So people are still you know,

Mark Toia 48:19
I'm leaving it there forever. And I after you know, a couple of months. As far as I saw the numbers like I've got the I can jump you know the aggregator on it with is allowed me passwords to see inside Amazon. So I can see every great idea. By the way, every everyone out there. If you're distributors, you want to be super transparent. And then no one's gonna try and race back. You know, they're not going to try and kill you in the street. Just see the real data and you'll be and you'll have some good trust there. Right? So anyway, I see all that information firsthand. I go through it every week still. And I can see if I'm if I made 22 cents or $20,000 whatever. It's just all the data. I saw the prime data. I was like, Holy shit, this is like pillaging and raping my movie. You know what I mean? It's like, now all those potential T VOD. People have now watched it for three cents for nothing. You don't I mean, a big marketplace just got destroyed by amazon prime. So, you know, that's the system they ran. That's fine. That's their life. I mean, I made the mistake of jumping on it. So you know,

Alex Ferrari 49:33
Pull it out and you pull it out or you left it there. Oh, yeah.

Mark Toia 49:38
Get the fuck out of there. You don't have it? I mean, the IMD TVs that all that sort of on our note, we're going up to a five now Okay,

Alex Ferrari 49:46
That's a bad. So I see the paper transaction was still going and you're still making money on transactional even during that time.

Mark Toia 49:52
Okay. So, anyway, but my advertising has stopped. I'm a bit To remember back on relaunching the movie again, which is another thing.

Alex Ferrari 50:05
Which Yeah, because Because, look, the thing is, it's not like the olden days where a movie comes out big, big hoopla everybody knows about it. And everybody knows is really most people in this world do not know that your movie was ever released. So it's brand new to that. So you can read remarket It read, put it out there, and see what happens. Alright, so now you're still making money off a transaction on may

Mark Toia 50:29
Have bested that already, by the way. And that's gonna work.

Alex Ferrari 50:33
Exactly, exactly. So then you go into the AVOD world, which is arguably the only place that independent filmmakers are truly making money in today's world. Unless you are you unless you know how to drive traffic to a transactional and have an audience that's willing to pay for your product. A VOD is honestly the only place that people are making money from my understanding what's your experience?

Mark Toia 50:55
And not for long? Is the bad news?

Alex Ferrari 50:59
Okay, tell me tell me tell me.

Mark Toia 51:02
Yeah, I bought we dropped out on Shooby and yeah, it exploded it was bad went off. It's good, great. Daddy goods and Bad's of Avon. The good thing with with Tubi is it's small and growing fast. It's full of low weight indie films. And even though my my movie pokes its head at the top of the poo, right? It's still it's still in, it's still making money. What's happening now is the studios with their massive banks of movies over the last 40 years, damping under tubing. So all of a sudden, all your indie films are going to be lost. Right? You're going to be forced down the bottom of the pile again. It's still there. People can still watch it you can still drive people to to be to search it. Or there's this monster the man there. It's you know, getting buried right now. Right now it's getting buried tube Shooby can't put these these Hollywood movies on with Hollywood stars. They can't put that shit on quick enough right now.

Alex Ferrari 52:17
Right! Because you've, you've got like a 10 year old Brad Pitt movie, and actually be like, kill me softly or something like that. And yeah, people like autumn forgot about that movie. Let me watch that. That's going to be watched every day over an independent film. And it's so funny you say that? Because in T VOD indies, where That's where money was made first, then S VOD Indies. That's where the money was made for. Netflix was bought. Nope. Netflix was buying.

Mark Toia 52:43
If it were bought,

Alex Ferrari 52:46
No, no, they were buying independent projects, independent films. And they were spending money on Amazon was at Sundance and everybody. So same thing happened in the studio is like no, no, shoot, and then diluted that then a VOD. Oh, god, oh, God, Oh, God. And then now the studios are dumping that in. The next one is YouTube. And the studios have yet to do that. And you in the YouTube world there. They do clips and they're monetizing the clips off of their movies. But they're not putting their full movies up for free yet. But that's the next place.

Mark Toia 53:16
I will because I'm in talks with them now. So yeah, it's happening. But here's what's happening, right? Here's what's happening with a VOD space. Like things evolved so quickly. As you know, it's just nuts. You think if you only a little, you think you found a little Goldmine, right? You think you found that you're there? And you're like, This is it and then it gets everyone else finds the same goldmine. Everyone piles into the same goldmine. So, you know, for instance, Netflix, I bet you know, not a word of a lie. I have no idea where

Alex Ferrari 53:54
They're going AVOD. Oh, there you go. Oh, no, they're gonna absolutely there's no question in my mind that Netflix in the next two years will have an AVOD option, like Hulu does.

Mark Toia 54:05
All of her will be everyone will be AVOD. And then to be will be the little lonely kid in the corner that started the whole fucking shit show. They will be there back with all their indies again.

Alex Ferrari 54:20
And nobody's gonna want to go over there again. But But yeah, because now because now to be is going to have to fight paramount, Disney, all of them will eventually have a AVOD option. If you want to spend your money. You wanna spend 15 bucks a month or 10 bucks a month, you could do an ad free. So they'll still have both revenues. And they're going to be happy because imagine right now if HBO goes advertising, AVOD, how many people who jump on it watch HBO? How many people watch Disney plus more than they do now? It's I want people to understand how difficult it is to me. Make Money With a movie in today's marketplace. It's absolutely cutthroat brutal. I, you know, I'm going to be speaking at AFM this year, I'll be there in November. I'm dying to see what everybody's talking about and what everyone's because from my experience going to the market, everybody's just like, I don't know what, I don't know, maybe this maybe that nobody knows no distributor really knows what's going to happen the next three or four years. No. So that's why your case study so interesting.

Mark Toia 55:30
Distributors work, distributors work less their sales on commodity. Right? Right. Their business is not about selling movies, their business is about collecting movies. So the more movies they need, the more movies they have, and the libraries, the more little rats and mice you know that it just sprinkles money on them little bits of money, but it all adds up in the end of the day. And we get it you know, so if you're gonna do that, get a distributor to help you he number one transparency. Try and get that person 15% or less and, and flog the advertising yourself as hard as he can, even though they want to do it. They're going to charge you for it and probably spend a quarter of what they've told you they're going to spend, right,

Alex Ferrari 56:28
Which was then you're going to spend the money on the advertising then at the end of the day? Why the hell are you gonna go with them? Maybe Maybe you can make a deal to get into AVOD or something like that? I don't know. Alright, sorry. So I want to I do want to ask you about the Teva. What is the platform that made you the most money Apple, Amazon? Google, what was the platform that in order? Because a lot, there's a lot of myths about Amazon? Which one Amazon

Mark Toia 56:51
Was probably 70%.

Alex Ferrari 56:54
Wow. And that's a that's so valuable for people to understand. Because a lot of people still think that Apple and iTunes is the place to rent, but they're like, oh, I have to be on iTunes. iTunes at the beginning of the TV. Revolution was the place to be but Amazon is just everybody's on Amazon.

Mark Toia 57:12
I think. I think Amazon has just everyone's got an Amazon account buying shit online, right? So a lot of people have prime accounts, their prime accounts, it just comes with when you subscribe when you order your toilet paper online, you get your free ship.

Alex Ferrari 57:28
You got free shipping, you've got Amazon Prime.

Mark Toia 57:30
Yeah, very clever. Very, very clever. Amazon, Amazon is a beast, you know, it makes good money. It you know, when you look at all your data that comes online through their through the portal, you get to see all your sales. You you could do it yourself, you're getting initially loaded up on Amazon yourself hoping that they like it. You don't I mean, if it's thinking part ship, they will just pull it off over time.

Alex Ferrari 57:57
Yeah, without warning, without warning. Without warning, we weren't gonna pull it off staff, they'll just pull things off.

Mark Toia 58:04
It's not making money. I can, I can see why. Right? Because data, data costs money, and they just got so much stuff sitting up online at the moment.

So okay, so yeah, Apple TV, I got it.

I got fleeced by Apple, oh, not so much by Apple. But they've got these recommended list of aggregators.

Alex Ferrari 58:24
I think was one of those distributor was one of those months, a long time ago.

Mark Toia 58:30
Apple just seem to hire or the gun owners at Apple seem to recommend all the sharks, you know, anyway, is company surname unnamed, and we're trying to sue them at the moment, but they literally stole most of our apple profits. So they probably still owe us a half a million dollars or more, and maybe even more, I mean, we literally physically the take the movie down from Apple, wait three months and then put it back up again, like very disruptive from that angle. But Apple is a big apple and a big earner. As much as Amazon Amazon is the machine Apple is next. Believe it or not. The Google Google Play SEO slash YouTube sales were very good as well. And Microsoft was amazing.

Alex Ferrari 59:22
It was even on Playstation and all that. X box. Yeah.

Mark Toia 59:28
The next Xbox PlayStation, whatever it was that no, not PlayStation, new Xbox. That's one.

Alex Ferrari 59:34
What else but that makes sense with your kind of,

Mark Toia 59:36
You know, the fan dangos and the videos and all that. Don't waste your fucking time. Nobody. I think we got like $14 You know?

Alex Ferrari 59:49
That's really good. That's really good information for people listening out there because a lot of times they'll spend all this money with aggregators, like I gotta have it on Fandango and on Vudu and I'm like, no, no I always tell him I have always said I've always consulted filmmakers to do Amazon. I go iTunes is vanity that's a vanity play just to say to people I'm on a habit you still making

Mark Toia 1:00:09
Money there and a lot of people out here in my house for instance, we don't we don't buy shit from Prime I don't

Alex Ferrari 1:00:15
Either I use Apple TV, but those are the two words that you really if you're going to spend money Amazon Apple, maybe Google maybe play maybe

Mark Toia 1:00:25
I'm finding myself now I'm starting to buy more movies. I mean, I've got all the isopods right, I've got the primes the fact that this that they're all They're all a thumbprint away but it's all it's it's love it's a scrap it you know maybe I'll watch too much and I've gone through all the good stuff but you've reached the end of the good but now I've got well here's the latest Elvis just turned up you know? I'll just a bite 25 bucks fucking What the hell is this? Bring me Elvis into my room. You know? I've got a really nice theater in our in our house. So it's like I've seen scrapes.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:04
I've seen pictures of your theater sir it's it's embarrassing. So you should be you should be ashamed of yourself.

Mark Toia 1:01:10
It is not that expensive to set up by the by the way.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
They're not as much as they used to be. That's for sure. Now, okay, so with Avon so in a in the Avon world what are the rankings to be number one and I know IMDb TV which is now free V is I heard that's doing really well. And so what an Avon Where are you making your money?

Mark Toia 1:01:34
The AMD IMDb TV in the UK is going great guns at the moment.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:41
Which has now turned into Freeview, by the way, and I think that's changed, I think in the UK as well.

Mark Toia 1:01:46
What you know, whatever they were Yeah, they rebranded it. And then he went, we're not on all the AVOD yet, because I'm still, I'm still I'm still up in here, but I thought I mean, it's there and it's gonna sit there for next 20 years bubbling away. But you're still gonna drive traffic to it. But you can make more money still, I can get one sale on tabled. Right, which equates to 50 people watching my movie on Avon. Does that make sense?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:20
It makes sense the world? Yeah, absolutely. That's fine, if you can, but you gotta find a customer that's willing to pay for it. Either rented, or so you can obviously

Mark Toia 1:02:30
I'm going to spend that money. I'm gonna get I'm gonna do a new advertising campaign. And you know, I'm gonna throw 1000s at it. And it's going to be because I know every time we have put advertising in, we see massive spikes in sales. So the other day, I just did one as a bit of a macro and just a play thing. Right? I put $1,000 in and we got like 70 grand for the sales. Extra sales.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:54
How much did you put in $1,000. So just so you're getting a seven to a return on your on your money on $1.

Mark Toia 1:03:04
That's more excessive as a 349 percenter.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:07
Yeah, exactly. So you're sure you're not doing bad. I mean, I'll do that all day. But just keep putting money in and you keep again, the ROI. Why not? You put $1 in you get $8 out of it.

Mark Toia 1:03:18
Yeah, all of a sudden, you don't see the intern coming in with your advertising going in, he just fucking turn it off. But end of the day, just believe it there. I mean, the sales from that area, just just topping up your advertising spend. So it's just, it's just a cyclic system. It's very basic and simple. Yeah. And I'm thinking about and the original name of my movie was robot four. Do I relaunch the movie again as robot four and put up the 90 minute one, you know, I don't know. All these things that go through my mind.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:49
You could you could do the Director's Cut

Mark Toia 1:03:52
Robot for the target is the is the cut down.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:57
You know, the thing that's wonderful about your story is that you are generating revenue you've you've turned your movie into a money making machine, which is exactly what the book talks about how to turn your movie into a money making machine. You've been able to do that using all these little tools and tricks and stuff. Did you generate I saw that you selling or at least you're focusing energy on the single from the music single. Is that something you own? Are you just trying to give love to the artist on your ear?

Mark Toia 1:04:24
Well, that's my daughter sung that song at the end. Oh, wow. That's awesome. She did great. It's very accomplished musician, singer songwriter. She was living in Sweden at the time. And I said hey, do you want to do a song for the movie? And she goes Yeah, cuz I stress her out apparently. Shocking. Anyway, she sent it to me she was shooting herself and she sent me the sent me the track. We checked it on the timeline at the end. Let's drop this straight over and it was perfect. I got it's great darlin love it. She's like, What? Do you want me to change anything? I said, No. That's your piece of art. And we're going to have as your family. My son helped help me shoot the film. My wife helped me produce the film. My daughter wrote a little tiny piece of music at the end of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:16
You don't degenerate, degenerate, generate revenue. Has she generated any revenue with sales from that song or now?

Mark Toia 1:05:23
Oh, she's made a few cents. You know, the music industry is

Alex Ferrari 1:05:27
Just as bad as Spotify, how much do you make negative two cents every time you owe us money every time someone plays it.

Mark Toia 1:05:37
Spotify started the whole cancer is subscription based bullshit. I mean, I've got a lot of disdain for that model. Because it you know, when we're thinking about Netflix, I suppose is Netflix will find a filmmaker with a good idea. Give them the money to go and make the movie. Give them their producers fee directors fee. And that's it. They'll keep the movie and fuck you off. And that's it. And it's all done. So Netflix is great for creating content and paying crew and directors and producers that didn't have the money to make that movie. And do it themselves. You know what I mean? So good on good on Netflix for that. But it's sad when they see a great movie, but they won't pay that filmmaker what that movie is at least cost at least what it costs the anatomy or what they what it could be worth in the marketplace. I've seen a lot of my friends that have sold to Netflix and they are like getting chump change.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:48
You know that way forever and waiting forever for that chump change? Yeah, oh, yeah.

Mark Toia 1:06:53
Well, yeah, the deals are very long, like long, like, oh, yeah, three, three year deals, and they get paid once a year dividend. And if they don't, if it's not really working, and that's falling off the grid a bit they'll just they'll drop it year after year. I'm sure there's a whole bunch of different deals going through. I don't really know in detail. I don't really want to know it's I just see my my filmmaking friends all upset. They've cried their beer in front of me.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:23
So somebody asked you so let me ask you then you because we've kind of hinted about this during the conversation. You use this as a calling card for for Hollywood to go off and do some movies. You from our from our past conversations, which will you know, we won't say who, but you've had some pretty big players in the in the studio system call you about possibly doing some work and you talk whatever you can say about that? Let me know. Can you talk about it?

Mark Toia 1:07:52
It is a few little India haste. But yeah, the biggest, the biggest of the biggest, the biggest, the biggest of court, and the smallest of the smallest of court, or, you know, everyone in between? Yeah, I've been probably sent well over 100 scripts, I think since the movies come out. I've attempted to read most of them. But if they don't have me in the first 10 pages, I'm fuckin I'm out, you know. But it's, you know, I, it's a hard game, even for the studios, right. But they might have the money, they might have the clout, they might have everything, but there's a big, there's big machines attached to a lot of it. And I'm wary to do the big the big John studio job next, because I know I'm gonna have a bit of a hand up the coin puppet thing, you know, I'm gonna be and, and really, they're not going to get my full potential because they literally it's going to be directed from the sidelines. Right? Don't say why ring me. I mean, what they need, they just they need to employ. And this is why a lot of young directors that are shot short films are doing massive blockbusters, because the studio just needs a pop up in there to, to strike together. They've already directed it, they already know what it's going to be like, have you done? Yeah. You know, the, there's, there's 10 directors on that movie, and it's not the one that they hired, you know, he's just pieces, maybe the full guy. Right and the thing, and you go and do those big movies and it doesn't do well and your career is over and done with the rest of your life. It's all finished. You know? So I've been very careful with who I jump in bed with. And a lot of them tell you, a lot of them tell you on my mind is going to be your vision. You've got total creative control, blah, blah, blah. But you know, that's complete utter bullshit, right? You know, give me finally come out of the come

Alex Ferrari 1:09:59
It asked for final cuts, see what happens.

Mark Toia 1:10:05
Look, I love anomalous in respect to all the guys that have called me and the people we're still talking to. And we've, we've got this, there's a half dozen guys with their films, the big, biggest well known producers and they've got some really great script ideas. I'm really excited actually about what's coming up. Now, the thing is, they are still at the mercy of actors. They are still at the mercy of they don't get money unless they're like the signs. They're still going to try and convince that actor that Mark Toya is the director for the job. Right. So there's all these hurdles, I might have opened the door nice and wide, and everyone's jumping on the mat train because they go well, toy just made a fucking movie, what would have cost us catering money, you know, and he's made a whole movie of our catering budget. And it's, it's pretty good. And like, and that's why I'm jumping on because they see me as a bit of a meal ticket in that sense, which is great. And I want them to see me as a meal ticket. Yes, I can do all the special effects myself. I shoot myself I do everything else whole lot myself and I can do that stuff so swiftly and easily. And then I know how to break the rules. I don't need the technic cranes, I don't need all that shit. That complicates the movie and makes the movie massively expensive. And they still get their big budget looking movie for probably quarter the price. So and they know that it's so hard for them now to make movies to make profit on a movie. So all of a sudden people like me that are sort of multi skill are we become a commodity we become the the, the little goldmine for a bit, so. So I've proven that with the monster movie, the monsters Man movie. Now I just need to prove to that. So same people that I can do deep drama as well. So then I'm going to do another film where it's going to be very, very active driven. And that will just tick off that box. I can do the action and I can do

Alex Ferrari 1:12:12
Now are you going to release it the same way? Or what are you going to do with that one? It worked. Yeah, but but there's no explosives. No killer robots are so I'm not sure if the drop explosions.

Mark Toia 1:12:28
Goes in there. And he's, you know, in a gun, he holds up a petrol station in LA and we blow up the petrol station, right? So it's an explosion. Maybe there's an explosive you're in a trailer moments. Seriously, if you're gonna sell a movie, you need moments in that trailer where people go, this looks fucking cool. Right? It does. It can't be stupid, right? Dramas don't sell every distributor in the world will come until here. Unless you got Meryl Streep and the bloody thing. It won't sell. And even if it has Meryl Streep in it doesn't wait, I still don't know. Right? So if you're going to do a nice beautiful drama, or you know, a love story, whatever the odds are you making $1 Lucky next to nothing.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:16
And also, by the way, you also saw you also sold this one to territories individually, right? So you're doing that as well?

Mark Toia 1:13:22
Yes, yes. It's in about 140 Different countries now. You know, we need some to a region, you know, like to Japan, French speaking countries, all of a sudden, that's combines 30 countries or something. But it's not hard to you know, it's nice to say yo sometime in 50 countries, but the reality is we've sold it to, you know, probably a dozen or more regions that encompass those countries. But yeah, now we've done pretty good out of that.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:51
Yeah, it does

Mark Toia 1:13:54
Automate a lot more. I mean, um, during I think it was I think it might have been What's the fucking dodgy show? You love guarantee that AFM

Alex Ferrari 1:14:04

Mark Toia 1:14:04
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, there was a guy there. And he rang me up. He said, I'll give you a million dollars for the movie. For international sales, right? I should have just given it to him, because international size is such a pain in the ass.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:17
But that's a whole other level of crazy.

Mark Toia 1:14:21
Yeah, it is a whole lot of little crazy. And you know, the Germans are ringing up in the gate. Oh, Mike, we love your movie. It's fucking great. But our AI robots have scanned your movie, and we've found 137 problems with it, and what type of problems? So you go down to the timecode. And there's like a pixel out that no one will ever see me fix that and they go, Well, there's a little bit of artifacting and I go what it's fucking stock footage, of course, it's gonna have an artifact and I've destroyed the QC QC here. So all the QC stuff and you just go out of it. I think we're probably out of the 100 Something comments is probably false. Things that were okay. There is a tiny is a missing frame or something which you can watch that movie 1000 times and never seen the missing frame. But the robot picked it up. Anyway. So you fucking around the Germans for six eight months just trying to get your movie kisi where everyone else it's playing around the world and no one else has any other problem with

Alex Ferrari 1:15:23
Germans but Germany history right?

Mark Toia 1:15:25
They paid well. In France The French paid well and I've purpose OMA to this thing. I've purposely kept all the English speaking countries for myself. You know, America, Canada's Australia, New Zealand, blah blah But anyway that they speak English I've I'm not going to sell the rights to the movie for the analysts they and this is a nice fat check that the Netflix or the Amazon has ring up and just dangle a carrot which they won't, completely won't. But it's a I love keeping the English speaking one for myself, because that's the one that's going to just keep churning over for me forevermore. You've got probably one distributor rang me saying, you know, telling me everything I wanted to hear. Which is great. They always do. But they he said this thing's probably got with his body of work that he's got that he's selling. He said you probably got another 1015 years. Because it's a relatively current subject. The post production is done really well. It's not shot in a city that's going to age race. In that age is the movie is Neal McDonough has a wire coming out of the zero everyone's Bluetooth now. I don't fuck it. Maybe I'll just paint the wire. There you go.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:44
There you go. Now is there gonna be a sequel? Nah. You left us open at the end.

Mark Toia 1:16:52
Come on, you know I did on purpose. It's it. They could be there's a lot of a lot of people have rung me not a lot. There's been a few people that have rung me again. Hey, can we do? Can we do the second version? You know, we'll pay for it right at the 100 bucks. Nice. But we want you to direct it. No. And get back to me. You know, I'm not listing no time into it. You guys want to go and do that. And that's fine. You go nuts and get back to me and we'll we'll decide then. So, but I like to do a I'd like to do Monsters and Men too. It'd be it wouldn't be fun. Yeah, it wouldn't be fun. It literally is opened up to go bigger. Because when I was making the movie, I thought Fuck, I just want to go full Michael Bay. If

Alex Ferrari 1:17:47
We're gonna give you some money for this, you're like, Okay,

Mark Toia 1:17:50
If I start doing movies to studios, I'm going to try and convince them to fucking do a Michael Bay execution. So.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:57
So my question to you is, sir, do you regret reading Rise?

Mark Toia 1:18:06
Well, again, I didn't read the book. Sorry. I don't like killing trees. But listen, the the ebook was fantastic. And and I've recommended it to a lot of people, don't you worry.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:19
No, no, thank you. I appreciate that.

Mark Toia 1:18:22
It's, it's, you know, you probably just need to do a, what I call the addition to Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:30
I got up there. Yeah, there's,

Mark Toia 1:18:33
Yeah, it might have to do with every year because she changes so fast.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:37
I mean, a lot of the core concepts and they're still gonna be good for their evergreen. But there's some things that I wish I knew I needed an expanded edition, I need to do a second edition and the third edition and a fourth.

Mark Toia 1:18:47
I can't recommend it highly enough. It is that book is a lot. Like I said, when I was listening to it all says God, it's so fucking logical. Right? It's so logical. And within, you know, there's so many alarm bells in the film industry. So many alarm bells. If you were an indie guy wanting to make a movie, you really need to go to therapy first, because and read your book. I was one of the lucky ones. But I the amount of effort and energy I put in behind my movie to make sure it didn't fail was extraordinary.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:32
And you also you also have massive volume of of expertise, education, knowledge about all the things you're doing. So you also are on an anomaly in your own right, just yourself. So it takes a lot to do what you've done without question. Yeah,

Mark Toia 1:19:51
I mean, look, I've I know the whole production production thing. I've been doing posts forever. So I can post a movie on On my laptop, on an airplane, same here, I can make an 8k movie, like literally in my on my laptop where other people have got to go to a post test and they get completely, like, right. Like that they will you'll be getting of getting big bill if you did it that way. Right? That you know just you know people go I've made a movie for 30 grand. I said Yeah, but by the time we do proper sound, proper everything so you can sell it to certain companies this law that's going to cost more than your movie, if you want to do it. Because these companies might even take your movie with your shitty stereo sound that you did in Premiere? You don't I mean, they certainly do this the stems, you need to supply a loan,

Alex Ferrari 1:20:48
Oh, my God, just the deliverables? And then you get into QC with the pixel here and the pixel there that

Mark Toia 1:20:55
Oh. And the reality is no reality is that so overcooked, and so overhyped, I think that's been manufactured by postales is to give them more work. But the reality is that the amazing content you see on YouTube now done by young kids at home, and we got these amazing pieces of content, no one cares about a visa fucking missing frame or a pixel out or whatever. And it looks fantastic. So a lot of that the film Qc is just a lot of shit.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:26
I wouldn't I would agree with you 100%. And, and by the way, if you do have a distributor that will take that crappy version with a crappy audio, I promise you, they'll never get to pay, you know,

Mark Toia 1:21:37
If they because they will have to be fixing it.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:40
Yes. If they fix it, or they just put it out the way it is. And they just don't care. And they're just gonna see whatever money trickles in, like you say the little, the little, the little, the little crumbs that get thrown off of it.

Mark Toia 1:21:51
It is on the front for the record, I don't want to diss on distributors because distributors are there for a reason that they're there to fulfill a job that you're too lazy or inexperienced to do you have into I walked into this completely an experience. I've come out of fucking swiss army knife. You don't I mean, and so I know other pieces. So now I know what a real distributor should be doing. Right? I couldn't do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:26
But you're but you know what? You're absolutely right. And it's not that we rag on distributors, distributors have a job to do. And there are good ones out there. It's just the majority of them.

Mark Toia 1:22:36
Other great ones? Not not that great. And yeah, and there's distributors that have a lot of reach. And there's ones that don't, you know, right? There's no fun and games. You know, for example, this is what a movie is worth now, now that the stream has literally devalued a feature film, to literally is now officially a feature film has now officially officially worth about three cents. That's what your feature film is worth in the marketplace. three cents. That's really sad when you say that, right? And I say that three cents, because if the movie will eventually end up in a vote or SVOD or wherever, but that's probably all you're gonna get from your movie. After your TV, VOD experience is about three cents, every time someone watches it. So, you go now, I sold a little bit of stock footage the other day, right to Netflix, for you know, through, you know, through our through just through our stuff, guys. And I made $1,500 for five seconds. Oh, yeah. Well, you know, from an advertising perspective, that's great. So the thing is, how is a movie was so much work and effort from hundreds of people worth three cents when people watch it. But your stock footage, it was a picture of a fucking stop sign, like hundreds of dollars for

Alex Ferrari 1:24:09
So, so perfect example is look, I'll give you a perfect example. Let's say tomorrow, I open up a new service that allows you to get bananas on demand. Demand any anytime you want a banana, you just have to just open up your your your your, your, your cupboard, and there's a banana there because I've set up a technology that allows you to do the bananas before bananas used to cost you know, 69 cents a pound 99 cents a pound, which is not a lot of money, but there's a lot of volume in bananas. Now I've essentially brought down bananas to less than less than a penny, per thing. All of the hundreds of 1000s of people that go into creating bananas, cultivating them, packing them, picking them, packing them, shipping them, all of that all those people, how are they going to be living and that's exactly what's happening to us. as filmmakers we are, we're not able to make a living doing this. And you and I are both old enough of similar vintage to remember, the 80s, the 90s, and even the early 2000s, where you can make crap movies and make a lot of money with it. But now, you can't. And the distributors are still trying to figure it out all of them. The studios are trying to figure it out, which is which is the biggest studio in Hollywood right now. The one that makes the most money

Mark Toia 1:25:26
Would have no idea Disney, Disney.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:30
Now why is Disney make the most money? Because they use the film intrapreneur model. Because I didn't invent it. They've been doing it since the day of seven, the seven dwarfs the second they put Mickey Mouse on a t shirt. They started making money outside the film industry. So now where are they? So where are they making their money's when they do a Marvel movie or Star Wars movie or frozen. They made a billion dollars off the dresses and frozen alone. According to my according to my friend who works at Disney, a billion off the first movie. And that movie, by the way, made a billion in the box office. And they made they make more money off of everything else they sell them the actual movies is that they stopped being a movie studio a long time ago. They're about selling baby Yodas. That's what they want to sell that Mandalorian makes them some money, but it's a marketing tool. And that's what the film intrapreneur method is all about. It's about doing that, but for the independent, and focusing on niches and all that kind of stuff. But, but that's that's and that's the future. And that's why a lot of these other studios are having more difficult times surviving, and making, you know, making money because it's just I don't know where this all gonna go, my friend. But your story is very inspirational. I wanted to have you back on. So thank you so much for being so candid, and open with the audience and with the tribe about your, your, your adventures over the last two years getting this movie out into the world. And of course, when you make your next movie, we will be here to hear what happens with that one as well. And and if you do decide to make one of those big movies, please come back. I want to love to hear this. The stories from the inside of the studio

Mark Toia 1:27:11
Yeah, look, I think I will I will because it's you know, I've got a lot of a lot of time for you, Alex, and the information you give to a lot of filmmakers, because I see a lot of young fellas making movies or young people sorry, not young fellows, but young people making movies, and I'm already looking at dead people walking, right? In many ways. You're absolutely right. And I want to go over there and just say Look, don't don't can't, you know, they've got to go down the path of creating something you don't I mean, creating something to sell. And it's either I think telling a movie is like writing a book, right? For a writer writing a book, or cooking the best fucking food of his life for a filmmaker, creating the best movies can with his own hands. It's a creative release. And it's great if you get if you've got a rich dad or a mom or whatever, that it's just going to dump money on you to go and make your movie and have fun. But the reality is, if you're going to use other people's money, there's a responsibility there. And either, you're never going to be, you're always gonna have this monkey on your back. If you borrow money from the accountant down the road and aren't married, and someone's mortgaged their house, and you go and make a movie, and it doesn't make any money, right? forevermore, the stress that will be upon your head. And the reason why you're not going to make money is not because you might make the most amazing film look like you know, we had a little breakthrough with our one and it did everything right and you got your money back. But the odds if you don't do everything right, you know, and it doesn't work it's going to in the odds are it's not this I don't even know I've I've I know countless filmmakers, independent but myself truly independent guys that have made movies and reached out to me. And literally none of them have got a good story for me. You don't I mean, that religiously ringing me up asking me how. And it's really, really sad that the some of the stories I've heard have been decimated, I mean, terrible. And I've showed them ago. I'm going to tell you my process and that's where I fucked up there. Well, that's okay. That's fine. And you know, and I fucked up in certain areas selling my film as well. I know I could have made a lot more money with it. You know what I mean? But But listen, it's a life lesson. But you know what? System two is you can get into the traditional system. and just make wages, you can go and get your directors fee and whatever. You know, that's the other thing too about being a director is that the director is probably the you're not going to get paid much as a director. You know, I've got a friend of mine that's finishing a movie now for for Netflix. And he worked out because he ended up you know, hanging out with the makeup artist and making out with her. He worked out that per hour. Right? Her our, the amount of time he spent on the movie, compared to the amount of time she spent on the movie, she was making four times more than him because he got a contracted amount of X amount of dollars, you know, 100 grand, she came in just for, you know, the four weeks to suit this thing or five weeks, she was making more money per hour than him. So really, as a director, a movie director, you get jack shit, unless you're going to be like, a fucking famous Marvel director, maybe you know, after your second or third Marvel film, you might be making some good day. But the reality is even a lot of the offers I've been getting, I'll go fuck massive pay cut, you know, I can make what they offer. I can make doing an add in,

Alex Ferrari 1:31:15
Or stock trading week, or two or three weeks.

Mark Toia 1:31:19
You're literally paying me if you want me for a year in a bit, and you're gonna pay me a month's income like it directly at work. directing a movie is not really that What are you thinking?

Alex Ferrari 1:31:34
Right, exactly. And by the way, your story is could have been a cautionary tale very easily you could have if you didn't know marketing, if you didn't know Facebook ads and YouTube ads. If you didn't make your money in T VOD, and just try to throw it on a VOD or let's say you just want to throw it on Amazon Prime and left it there. You you might have been able to make some money with it. But it wouldn't. It this story could have gone wrong in multiple places, multiple.

Mark Toia 1:32:03
But I didn't want it to fail. And if it was going to fail, I wanted to fail with my own hands. I didn't want it to fail on someone else's hands. Because then I would have kicked myself stupid for allowing myself right to let it fail with no because if I'm if I'm going to put no effort into selling that film, I get some years sitting back down. Are they going to do everything for me? Because they told me they're going to do $2,000 in marketing for the PR and they told me they're going to spend six grand here and, and and the movies gonna blow up. Right? Right. I knew that was bullshit. Because I'm in the advertising world. I know that's complete other shit. I mean, like, six grand, don't get you shit. Nothing. Nothing. And online news. You know, when you hit the PR companies and they put stuff on all those fucking Oh, the PR web things? Yeah, yeah, no, talking, no one reads that crap. Come on. No one in how do you how do you even justify monetizing it? You know, it might end up in variety. And it's like poof, gone. It's like, got you know, it's,

Alex Ferrari 1:33:09
I hope this conversation inspires and scares the shit out of people at the exact same time because it is definitely an anomaly. It is a cautionary tale. It's an inspirational tale. And this is the reality of where we are in the world right now. And where we are going as filmmakers. That's why I wrote the book. So we have a fighting chance. Because in the book, you read it, you know, you've got to execute things in order for it to work and you've got to do a lot of work. That's not the filmmaking part of it. It's not the working with actors and getting in the edit room and go into the premieres. That's another part. But in today's world, filmmakers need to do the next part if they want to survive as filmmakers. That's just unfortunate. I don't I don't make the rules. These are the rules. And unfortunately, this is where we're going. Mark, I do want to appreciate your time. Brother, thank you so much for coming on the show again, and being so candid and open with us. And I hope this does help some filmmakers out there. So thank you again, my friend and continued success and let you keep me updated on where you are in the world and what you're doing.

Mark Toia 1:34:11
No worries, Alex, have a good day. It's always good to talk to you mate.

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BPS 280: From Sundance Hit The Puffy Chair to Mack & Rita with Katie Aselton

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Alex Ferrari 0:27
I'd like to welcome to the show, Katie Aselton. How you doing Katie?

Katie Aselton 0:44
Hey, I'm doing really good. How are you doing?

Alex Ferrari 0:44
I'm doing great! Thank you so much for coming on the show. I've been watching you since the days of the Puffy Chair.

Katie Aselton 0:46
Ohh you just watched me get old right?

Alex Ferrari 0:56
I hate to tell you we all do it.

Katie Aselton 1:03
I just happen to do it on camera.

Alex Ferrari 1:05
I was I was gonna say that's so interesting. Like you like my kids. See some videos of me when I was a kid. Like when I was younger. And they've seen pictures of me younger, but they literally see their you know, yeah, you and Mark just grow old. Better, better, I would say yes. You know, we're just evolved. We're evolving. Exactly. So no, I've been and I'm a huge Morning Show fan. I love the morning show. Love the money show was such such a great show. So my first question to you, Katie is how and why in God's green earth did you want to get into this insanity that is called the film industry.

Katie Aselton 1:40
I know. I grew up in Maine on a on the coasts, like past the tourist parts of Maine, like real main. And it wasn't a town where people left to go to Hollywood. So it wasn't like I was following in the footsteps of anyone else I knew. I just got a wild hair, that this was what I was meant to do. And I had like, just big dreams that I kind of kept to myself for a lot of my early years. And finally, I couldn't keep them in anymore. I don't know. I'm like the kid who? And look, I think we all do this. But I was definitely the kid who in everything I watched, like put myself and I was I'm like a super empath. And so I would like things like really got me and I would really just throw myself into every story and, and my siblings were all much older than me. So I was essentially kind of an only child living in like a really rural area. So my sense of imagination was always very full. And yeah, I just I don't know, it just I don't know, that's what lit me up very early, but then had no opportunity for that. You know, like, if you look in my high school yearbook like I'm in the drama club. There were no productions.

Alex Ferrari 3:01
So what did the so what is the drama club? Do the has no productions just hanging around?

Katie Aselton 3:05
Yearbook picture every year I don't know. It was the weirdest thing. And that is that we're the drama program like they used to put on productions. I think they put her on productions. After I left. It was just my four year stint like nothing. Wow, you're getting Uruguay gets high school.

Alex Ferrari 3:27
Wow. So obviously you've set out to the university. You said, hey, I want to be an actress. Yeah, I want to get to the film industry. And then obviously Hollywood just called and said, Hey, what would you like to do? Oh, my baby, what do you need? Let me help you. How can I? How can I help you? Not sure what you got? So what was the stage from when you want the dream? To go to New York? Did you go to LA? Where did you go?

Katie Aselton 3:53
I went to Boston.

Alex Ferrari 3:56
Obviously the I think the third biggest action in the country.

Katie Aselton 4:02
My family, my parents, God bless them. We're like, you need to go to school in New England for at least two years. And I think their thought was, you know, I would fall in love with a program or a boy or the city or, or just forget that I kind of thought maybe I wanted to move to LA to be an actor. Um, but I didn't. I didn't and while I was in Boston, I went to be you. In my denial of my dreams and my, my sort of need to become to like be perceived as like a serious, like, contender in the world. I told my parents I wanted to go into journalism. I was like, that's the closest I think I can get there's a camera involved. I'm still like a personality. And so I applied and and, and got into Boston University, which has a fantastic journalism program that I absolutely hated that I read Howard Stern's book and I was like, This is gonna be great. Not for me, because I actually just wanted to be Holly Hunter, and actually a real journalist. So I took acting classes on the side and really, really loved it and, and, like, kept looking at my clock and was like, Alright guys, and we're at the end of the two years, and you said you promised and they, they stuck by their word and they did it. And at 19 I moved out, not knowing anyone in Los Angeles and I scoured the pages of backstage West, as early actors did as you do before the internet. And I found a play and I sent in my headshot, and I got a play that was in Sunland. Now, I don't know if your listeners are familiar with Southern California.

Alex Ferrari 5:58
Yes. It's just a bit. It's a bit out of LA. It's a bit just a slight

Katie Aselton 6:05
And north and there's nothing there. It's like industrial parks. I landed a play called at a place called Play us at the foothills. And

Alex Ferrari 6:19
That sounds like a place where that's where a horror movie starts. The play house of the foot that you said sounds like something where a horror movie would start?

Katie Aselton 6:26
No, I and if you saw it, it definitely looks like a place where we're moving. It should take place. They didn't even give me the full script. Like I just got my scenes, but I was like in it. I loved it. I was so excited. My college roommate came out to visit. And this is where the story gets. Gets a little sensational. But I'm promising you right now this is all true. Because she came out we were 19 we didn't have fake IDs. So we were going to go out to celebrate what were we going to do? We're going to go to Mel's diner on Sunset to celebrate get some strawberry shortcake. So we did and while we were there, I look up. We were sitting outside. I look in the windows and I was like oh my god. It said afterwards that Dracula do like, what is his name? I can't remember his name. And Rita's, like, my roommate was like James Woods. And I was like, yeah, it's James.

Alex Ferrari 7:25
Do you ever play track?

Katie Aselton 7:29
Our one of my. I think he did.

Alex Ferrari 7:34
We'll have to look it up. I don't I'm not sure if James was playing

Katie Aselton 7:37
In my head at 19. I was like, he played Dracula. I think he did. And now, I was like, I don't know. But he's looking at us. And I think he's gonna come over and talk to us. And she was like, now what does he want to he doesn't want to talk to us. And I was like, I don't know. But he's walking to the table right now. And he was like, Hey, are you an actor? And I was like, yeah, no, I'm trying to be. And he was like, Well, my name is Jimmy, my friend. Here's a manager and he thinks you have a good look. And through that manager, I ended up getting my first agent. And that is how my career was born.

Alex Ferrari 8:10
So you were you were discovered in Mel's diner? Is that is that?

Katie Aselton 8:16
Yeah, like it was 1949. Like I was Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 8:22
That's amazing. That's an amazing story.

Katie Aselton 8:27
Why an ultimate scumbag?

Alex Ferrari 8:31
Hey, welcome to Hollywood.

Katie Aselton 8:33
Listen, you just gotta find ways to just make those stories work for you.

Alex Ferrari 8:39
So then, Alright, so now you have an agent, you have a manager? And then how did you get involved with this very big budget film puppy chair? This is at least 100 million if I'm not mistaken.

Katie Aselton 8:50
Oh, yes, it was. I mean, all the financing for that movie came from Mark's parents.

Alex Ferrari 9:00
By the way, what was the what was the official budget of that film? Because there's a lot of myths about that film. Do you remember it's there?

Katie Aselton 9:05
Yeah, we can say I think it was like 20,000 or something like that. Right? Yeah, that's low. But it's so much more than the budget of my first film, the freebie which was 10,000.

Alex Ferrari 9:16
So you have one up on marketing.

Katie Aselton 9:20
But I, you know, so there, I spent a couple of years in LA, like, really, I like putting myself out there auditioning. Getting some crap roles that I really wasn't graded and didn't love but I knew I loved doing it. So it was at that point, a couple of years in that I was like, I'm actually going to go to theater school. I had started dating Mark already, Mark was in an indie rock band at the time,

Alex Ferrari 9:44
And really quickly for everyone listening because just in case they don't know. You're married to Mark Duplass, who is the director of puffy chair and many other independent films, brothers, yes. And half of the Duplass brothers, as well. Jay and mark. So yeah, just so everyone He knows who we are. Because we just keep saying mark like you and I know,

Katie Aselton 10:02
And everyone knows, I think everyone, anyone who's listening to your podcast is gonna like they know, but just in case. So we've been dating, he was an indie rock guy, not a filmmaker, not in movies at all. And while we were dating, he, he did it, they did their short movie, this is John. And then after that, we and while I was in school in New York, we did the short scrapple. And that went to Sundance, both of those went to Sundance. And so then the day after I finished my, my theater school program, we went into production on the puffy chair.

Alex Ferrari 10:44
And, and the rest, as they say, is history. So I have, so I have to ask you, because, you know, during that time, I mean, there was obviously that film movement that you know, which I know a lot of the filmmakers in that world don't like to use the word mumble core, but because it was coined by some, some journalists, but for lack of a better term, I'm sorry,

Katie Aselton 11:04
Growth journalist isn't.

Alex Ferrari 11:07
Exactly. So but. But during that time, there was a group of filmmakers doing this kind of style of filmmaking. And in looking back at those kinds of films, you know, when I, I mean, if you were I mean, puffy chair, and mark, and Jay and Lynn Shelton, and all that they were just such huge inspirations for me, for my first featured I didn't, I don't know, a few years, a few years ago. But the thing that was interesting about that, that kind of that movement of filmmaking, it was just very run and gone, it was shot with video cameras, I have to ask you, because you had been at least in productions at this point as an actress. So you're on the set of puffy chair? What do you think as an actress going, it's this kind of work? Like, there's no lighting? Is that kind of like raw? It's like, what did you think about that?

Katie Aselton 11:53
It was really interesting, because, you know, in there in the early years in our relationship, Mark would see me in LA with my friends who are all like, all actors who are out of work. And he's like, I don't understand why you guys just don't grab a camera and make something and I was like, okay, that's cute. Like, that's not how it's done. Okay, like, you need a studio, you need a trailer you need, you know, it was like, just an idea, because that is what we were told was always just how it was how it was done. And it's because it had to be that way. Back in the days when you're shooting film, right? But right around this time is where everything started to change with technology and things became so much more accessible and affordable. And I mean, God, you look back at some of those early mumblecore movies, and they look they're garbage. They look so

Alex Ferrari 12:49
So much so much. Joseph Jones Jones, just Weinsberg stuff. I look back on what how did that get released

Katie Aselton 12:54
I know, but at the time, like no one cared, because it was you were getting cameras in the hands of young artists. And so it was so exciting to hear and see young voices at work. And so it was, I mean, yes, there were definitely moments on puffy chair and Scrabble. And this is John where I was like, this is like, never gonna fly. But also there's something so incredibly freeing in like, first off, not kind of knowing the rules that you don't even know you're breaking. Right? So there's that whole idea of like, know the rules before you break them or not, or just go from the gut and make a piece of art that you're excited about with people you love. And by the way, for anyone looking to go do this, you absolutely should because even if it fails and doesn't go anywhere you learn so much. So as long as you're not, you know, bleeding money doing it you should absolutely be getting out there with your friends with a camera and going and making some fun stuff.

Alex Ferrari 14:01
And the technology today is so much more advanced than what was going on you reshot you shooting mini DV I mean I shot my first film on mini DV dv x 100 A if when it kicked out a little bit I got a sonic

Katie Aselton 14:14
I want to say that might have been what we did Pepe cheer on.

Alex Ferrari 14:17
Yeah, it was one that was the it was the first time you could get a film look out of a real

Katie Aselton 14:23
Very loose but at the time

Alex Ferrari 14:26
I look but at the time it was a 24 p camera and look gorgeous for the it's because all you had is like the 30 unit video cameras compared to so it's like it's beta canon or oh my god it looks like film.

Katie Aselton 14:40
So like with puffy chair no lights. We had one guy who did sound and like would occasionally hold a sheet up over like her slate. It was all we had we could do

Alex Ferrari 14:55
You just run a gun. So that was that was fun because I was wanting to ask actresses and actors who Were in those early movies like, I got, I mean, before it was a thing, and you were there at the beginning of it, you had to go like this. am I wasting my time? It's, um, am I just doing this because I love mark, like.

Katie Aselton 15:11
And I'll also say, like, you, you have those moments in there where you're like, Oh, it feels really good.

Alex Ferrari 15:18
It's wrong. It was wrong.

Katie Aselton 15:20
It was, there were some moments in the puffy chair that I still look back on. And like, you know, actors talk about like, it was in the flow, but like, you have this moment, and you're like, that was one of the more authentic moments I've ever had. As an actor,

Alex Ferrari 15:37
It's really interesting to go back and look at those those films because there is this kind of kinetic raw energy to them. And even though they're technically not sound at all, at all,

Katie Aselton 15:50
But their hearts are so pure and bright.

Alex Ferrari 15:54
And it completely goes through and it is pretty remarkable. And of course, you named it something so marketable. Like the puffy chair, which

Katie Aselton 16:04
When you tell what a movie is about, just by hearing the title, it's about a puffy chair was about.

Alex Ferrari 16:10
I remember during those years, I was I was hearing the rumbles of puffy chair, and I was like, hell is the off the chair. And I'm like, why is this? Oh, it's actually a puffy chair, like, and I remember thinking to myself before because this is, it wasn't pre internet, obviously. But it was internet like, like the early internet. So it wasn't like there was a lot of information out there about the movie. So I remember what like hearing about it. Like, I don't even there was no YouTube yet. 2004 2005 is when YouTube started. So the trailer wasn't out.

Katie Aselton 16:41
Now, it wasn't. I don't think we had a trailer until years later. Yeah, until like, Finally, eventually, someday ended up on the apple. And that's a very sweet person who just like cut it together for for fun.

Alex Ferrari 16:56
Now why? I mean, when did this film when the movie came out and went to Sundance? And were you surprised at the reaction? I mean, I mean, that's the question. I was like, did you know it was going to be hit? I knew you didn't know. But it's so overwhelming, because

Katie Aselton 17:10
I will say in the test screening. When we were testing puppy chair, I cried. Because I was like, this is awful. I also like never as an actor had never been privy to a test screening, right? So like, when moments fall flat when things like aren't playing well. And like, I never should have been in that room. Thank God, I was now that I'm making movies like I'm so happy. I know what it is. But my God, I was like, this is awful. I never should have done this and might end our relationship. This is a real a real stinker.

Alex Ferrari 17:48
By the way, did you have a conversation with him about this afterwards?

Katie Aselton 17:52
Yeah. And he was like, David, it's a test screening like every year asking people to critique the movie. They're like, they're, they're there to criticize it to make it better. So you gotta tear down to build back up again. And it was an early, early, early test screening at two boots pizza in the Lower East Side.

Alex Ferrari 18:09
And I can imagine, I'm assuming technically it was sound very technically sound

Katie Aselton 18:13
That sounded and looked amazing. But call it riding alone was fantastic. Again, what I will say is that experience to the next time I saw it, because then I said I would refuse to watch any more cuts of the movie until it was done. I've been next time I saw it was when it premiered at the library at Sundance, and it played to a full theater. And when that Death Cab for Cutie song comes on, and your, your The van is pulling through the tunnel. I just like had this moment that where everything just froze, and I was like, Oh, I think this might work. Like it just you can feel the energy in the room. But the interesting thing about that screening was that I had never seen puppy tears like a funny movie, because I was like pouring my heart into it. And it was about heartache, and you're watching this couple fall apart. And, and as at some point in the movie, I think it's in the hotel scene. Maybe I haven't seen this movie in 100 years. But I think it's in the in the hotel room where I'm like, give me I'm having a complete emotional breakdown. And I'm sobbing and I'm like, give me a number I just want to know, and like the whole audience laughs and I was like, Wait a second. I was like, Oh, it is funny because there's nothing else. As an audience member, you're so uncomfortable and you can relate so much and you connect. And it was in the moment. I was like, Oh, I get it. And I also get what I can do. And I get like that that particular type of humor of like really dissecting like human discomfort like that something clicked in me It was really amazing. And then like, everything changed after that we got I got signed by at the time it was William Morris, and on stage at the premiere and we moved right out to Los Angeles from there and we've been here ever since puffy chair premiered.

Alex Ferrari 20:17
So then from that point on your career kind of took off.

Katie Aselton 20:21
Oh, yeah, it's been it was so easy. After that, it was just everything happened.

Alex Ferrari 20:26
Everything is like it was just, they just did they, when they backed up the money

Katie Aselton 20:31
In every television show. And in every movie, it's like hard to figure out like when to take a break because I'm just always work.

Alex Ferrari 20:40
So when they pulled up the money truck, and they did it back up into the front yard.

Katie Aselton 20:45
Like all BP dump it in. Yeah, no, it's funny, I didn't work that way.

Alex Ferrari 20:52
It never does. It never does. Even for even even for Mark and Jay. They had to, they had to hustle.

Katie Aselton 20:59
Work at it and still bust your ass and find who you are as an artist and decide what kind of artists you want to be. And then I'm gonna know that's like all part of it.

Alex Ferrari 21:11
So when you made your first feature, the free V. Which when I when I was watching, I was like, Oh, this is obviously taking a cue from puffy chair, arguably, much more sound technically, I have to say, if I'm if I'm gonna, if I'm gonna call it out,

Katie Aselton 21:29
Mark will be the first one to tell you that I lean into cinema a little bit more than he does. He's like, I don't give a shit. I just give me like, give me a performance. That's all I care about. I literally don't care what's in the frame, it doesn't matter. Kind of want it to look pretty.

Alex Ferrari 21:44
So when I was watching them, like, definitely there's an inspiration from from that that core, the mumble core movement, but it's definitely a little bit more cinematic. But there's still there's watching scenes, there's like, oh, there's no lights here. Like this is all natural. This is all natural. It's and then you had DAX Dax Shepard in as your co star who's absolutely wonderful. And, and I mean, he was in 2010. It was pre parenthood. Yeah. So he was he was he wasn't Dax Shepard. Yeah, he was. No,

Katie Aselton 22:12
He was. He was without a paddle Dax Shepard. Oh, punked or pound Dax Shepard. He was there. Um, which is like, I really take great pride in being like this. Like the first step for him into like, him really showing the world who he is as an actor. And I truthfully, I really hope he gets back into more of that kind of acting. He's a beautiful actor.

Alex Ferrari 22:39
No, he's he's, he's excellent actor, even when you're in parenthood, he was, oh, my,

Katie Aselton 22:43
Well, that's the thing. I think you said he took freebie in an effort to like, get into natural acting. I was like, it's like training ground. Like he was just like, he was working his stuff out on me, which like, Thank God, thank God, he did, because he finished. You finish shooting. He finished shooting our movie, all of eight days that we shot that movie and went right up to San Francisco to go shoot parenthood.

Alex Ferrari 23:15
And he's done. And he's done. Okay, since then he's done. All right. He's done a rough himself. He's, he's gonna write for himself. No question about it. Now, the one thing I always love asking directors into something that's not talked about as much as it should be. Is the politics on set. That there's a lot of politics that young directors and especially female directors who have had on the show, they have a whole other set of things that they have to deal with, on set. Is there any advice you can give young directors both male and female coming about politics on set? And when I say politics of set? Yeah, there's obviously the politics of studio executives and investors and producers.

Katie Aselton 23:52
And I can't speak to that at all.

Alex Ferrari 23:54
But but with even crew people who push back on you don't believe in your vision, or are been doing this for 30 years, and they're like, Who's this kid? And that how do you deal with that? What advice do you have for kids? Or young, young young directors coming up?

Katie Aselton 24:10
Yeah, I mean, please, I want the 60 year old who's making their first movie to deal with the politics of the sunset. Because the truth of the matter is, is I've had two different experiences and look 3d was a unicorn all on its own like that was like felt like film camp. Like it was a very like Cassavetes esque, like just really warm environment where it was so collaborative, and I don't think we'll ever have anything like that again, where I felt fully supported from every single person who was in my home shooting that movie. It felt like such a safe space. My second film with Blackrock I definitely went in with a much heavier sense of imposter syndrome. And I think I I wrongly, so balanced that out with like, a strong persona of like, no one's gonna push me around and I didn't treat people I think the way I want to treat people moving through this world, like I, I very much regret the way I handled situations. And I think part of it came from insecurity and part of it came from stress and, and we were under so many, like, the physical elements of that movie were so hard, we were freezing cold and wet and bug bitten, and, you know, over budget, and all of those things, I think, led to me not being the leader that I really want it to be. And then with Mac and re, I went into that, having really spent 10 years since Blackrock sitting with that and thinking about the kind of director I want to be in the way, I want to leave a set. And, and with Mack and Rita, I lead with kindness and gratitude, and respect, and, and humility. And I think that there is nothing more powerful than someone saying, I don't know, let's figure that out together. I don't know, what do you think there is a reason why you hire the incredibly talented people around you. And that is to support you with their knowledge of their job, right. I don't know how to be a cinematographer. There's a reason why the cameras not in my hands, because I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to hang a light. I don't know what it takes for, you know, everything that goes into production design, I hire people who are wonderful at their jobs. And I think the biggest job for a director is to trust in those people. And to thank them for their work. And it is still a collaboration, it's still a conversation, you can absolutely weigh in on things. But I think that if you can end every day with thank you so much for everything you did today. I couldn't be doing this without you. I think that would be my biggest piece of advice.

Alex Ferrari 27:06
You know, what's so interesting is when when I watch Black Rock and washed, makin read up, it's you can you can feel the energy difference. I mean, they're two different kinds of story, but you can just feel, you know, because in Black Rock, you're one of the actresses, you can kind of sense that and I have to I have to ask when I was watching, I was like, Man, this must have been a super easy set. I mean, it should have just just flowed everything worked nicely. On Black Rock. There's no issues whatsoever, because you're running around on an island and I'm like, oh,

Katie Aselton 27:37
Exteriors on the poster name. I mean, it just my rental house is six hours away. Well, you know, when your water housing fails, like you're there, like, we were supposed to have cameras in the water with us didn't have any like, things like there was no shooting and jiving on that movie. Like it was

Alex Ferrari 28:01
Yeah. Opposite of freebie.

Katie Aselton 28:03
The complete opposite. And, and sitting in that headspace for two years, the you know, the time that it takes to make that movie. Really? It didn't a number on me.

Alex Ferrari 28:17
Yeah, cuz I mean, I mean, it was it was your Apocalypse Now, in many ways, because you were stuck out.

Katie Aselton 28:21
And I must admit, I was the one having 10 heart attacks.

Alex Ferrari 28:28
I mean, it must have been it must have been brutal. Because as I'm watching it, I'm like, This is not easy on a massive budget. Oh, my God was $100 million budget. You're still in the elements. Anytime you shooting in the elements, even a scene or two, shot most of that film in there, and you're running.

Katie Aselton 28:46
The only interior shot of that movie is in the car in the beginning when the two girls when Lake and Kate are in the car is the only time wow, that there is an interior shot.

Alex Ferrari 28:58
So when you were prepping that film, I have to ask you Did you Did it come up that like Hey guys, we're gonna be shooting outside? Can we control because you're at the whim of weather and the sun going in and out? Time all tides we probably never considered booking tides that go in and out. Ah, god, it was a it was

Katie Aselton 29:26
A matter that were like we bit off more than we could chew with this one. And it was I'm still so proud of what we made ultimately. But man, it was hard.

Alex Ferrari 29:35
So how do you how is the director? Do you keep morale going? And by the way, you have the added bonus of being an actress in the film that you're directing in this insanity. So I can imagine

Katie Aselton 29:47
I think I misstepped is I focused the most on morale of the cast. And not because we were also in two separate camps like the crew was all held up in One house, and the cast and the produce the Daelim Romanski. and I were in another house. And so

Alex Ferrari 30:08
I was like, so above the line below the line,

Katie Aselton 30:11
I need to keep the actors happy, not realizing that the crew was like ready to uni mutiny,

Alex Ferrari 30:22
They were going to they were going to do so that is if everyone listening, if you can at all help it definitely don't separate above the line and below the line on an on an independent film, try to bring them all together.

Katie Aselton 30:33
And in my head, I was like, this is it's all going to work if we can all just get through these 23 days, like, it's all gonna like, I promise you, it's all going to work. But like when you're getting $100 a day and getting the shit kicked data you and they bitten eaten alive by bugs. Like it's hard to remember that it's all I ultimately, like financially going to work. You know, it was hard. And I hope for your listeners. Yeah, I hope I can take with you.

Alex Ferrari 31:06
I mean, look, I've shot I've shot and in nature, and it's it sucks. It's like you just can't control. When that sun goes behind a cloud, we gotta wait, are we going to try to light it are we going to, because we don't have the we have the budget to actually set up a nice, you know, 10k up and turn it on and off the matches. It's it's just, it's just, it's, so when I was watching this, I'm like, I know she didn't have the biggest budget on this. This is our second movie. And she's running around on an island.

Katie Aselton 31:34
We make make it free.

Alex Ferrari 31:41
It was the pilot for Naked and Afraid that's exactly.

Katie Aselton 31:45
Every, every time we hit a thing, you just can actually crank it up a notch. And that's where we were it was. Wow. Looking back on it like, glad I had that experience. But holy, holy cow.

Alex Ferrari 31:58
Wow. Now, you've gone through a bunch of stuff in your career, and you've gone through your journeys, is there anything that you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career? If you can go back in time and talk to yourself? And go look, I know you want to be an actress? And that's all good, we're gonna do that. But keep this in mind.

Katie Aselton 32:17
Ah, the one thing that I would say is like, and I mean, it really speaks to your podcast is like never stop hustling. You gotta just like I am, I will forever be so upset at myself for the way i i operated post puffy chair. I was like, I just had a movie that was a hit in Sundance, like, I'm fine. I let Mark and Jay go to every film festival. And I was like, I'm gonna do pilot season, I missed every opportunity to meet filmmakers to get in those conversations. And, and that was such a loss. Like, I'm so proud of that. And it changed the narrative, right? And, and the narrative became like, you know, Mark put his girlfriend in the movie. And it's like, oh, no, I'm actually like, I'm an actor. I've been doing this longer than he's been doing it. But like, because I wasn't there. I wasn't a part of the narrative.

Alex Ferrari 33:17
You know, someone else wrote the narrative for you.

Katie Aselton 33:19
Someone else wrote the narrative. So that would be my piece of advice to my younger self is like, Don't let anyone else write the narrative, like, keep the pen in your hand at all times. Do you think that doesn't mean? Sorry to interrupt you mean to be utterly obnoxious, and to be that person who's constantly like trying to shove the door open, but it just means like, say yes to opportunities, and never think that you are at a point where you are too good to whatever that thing is, for me as an actor. It's like, I still put myself on tape for everything that I'm excited about. Like, I am not good for that. I don't care. I don't care. I'll do it. And for you know, as far as like putting back and read out the world, I want to say yes to every opportunity to talk to anyone because this is my moment now. And I don't know when I'm gonna get this moment again.

Alex Ferrari 34:14
And that's something that people people don't realize is like when you're directing, I take it when anytime I walk on set, I'm like, I'm so happy to be here. Unless you're Ridley Scott, and you're directing every single day of your entire life for the last 40 years. Generally, people don't get that opportunity. So when you get the opportunity, as artists, directors are the one artists that we rarely get to, to perform our art. Yeah,

Katie Aselton 34:37
Well, I'll say that to Eddie. Any, like actors feel the same way at least? A lot of times directors or creators have their own art, right. So at least then you have some semblance of control, in your in your path. We're as actors so often we are left to you know the mercy of others. are like making the correct decision like asking permission to do what we do. And so, you know, look, I think the more we can self generate and and, and at least just keep our idle hands busy but even, you know, directors, I think have a little bit of an easier time generating things for themselves but it is it's hard. It's deceptive, right? Like, the job the work is it's few and far between as as you move through the world.

Alex Ferrari 35:32
When when when you were saying that you didn't take advantage of all those conversations after puffy chair and you were just like, I'm gonna go do pilot season was that ego? Where you're just like, I have arrived. I don't need to do this

Katie Aselton 35:43
100% It was young, stupid ego, and not really understanding the business that Well, I am still the girl for main who like I wasn't raised in this like I didn't. And I didn't have anyone really guiding me to tell me. You This is like we were mark and Jay and I sort of came. And you know, my previous group of friends in Los Angeles, we're all living very different lives. And they didn't understand they didn't understand the Sundance of adult right. They were like, so crazy. And in their minds. They were also like she made it. Like, you know, Jeremy Sisto on a TV show doesn't understand, like, Katie Appleton edits in a Sundance movie, you know, it's like just two very different worlds. And so I had no one to look to to be like, how, what do you think I should do right now?

Alex Ferrari 36:34
There was no podcast that back then to tell you. I would have killed for this podcast 15 years ago. Could you imagine having all this information, having these kinds of really candid conversations? I mean, it would have been massive.

Katie Aselton 36:51
It's so awesome to have something that just demystifies something that is that we grew up, like putting on a pedestal right? But it felt so unattainable. It felt so like, you know, we grew up looking at directors like Spielberg and just being like, how does he do it? But like, what if he actually told us?

Alex Ferrari 37:11
I had the pleasure of talking to some of the and I've had the pleasure of talking to some of these kinds of gods. He's like, filmmaking gods. I'm trying to get Steve on the show. I thought I call him Steve, because you know, oh, but

Katie Aselton 37:23
I saw him one time I had a meeting at DreamWorks. He just walked in the door. And I was like, the only thing I could say is, he looks exactly like Steven Spielberg. I know. That's so weird. But like, he like he looks like he like had the best he had, like, just I was like, Whoa, no, you are absolutely stupid.

Alex Ferrari 37:45
It's a uniform. It's a Steven Spielberg uniform. Yeah. You know it. Can you imagine? And I've talked to so many people who've worked with Steven and and had businesses with him and stuff. How what's it like being someone like that, that in certain circles, I mean, he could walk around, he could probably he's so famous. And he's such a he's such a known person around the world. But he's not Brad Pitt. Like he can go off

Katie Aselton 38:08
He looks just like Steven Spielberg,

Alex Ferrari 38:09
Right. So the point is, like, every time he walks into a room, and there's a filmmaker in there, they all had the same reaction you did, like, how do you? And I've talked to people like, how does he deal with it? He's like, he's just really nice, man. He's just really nice and pleasant.

Katie Aselton 38:23
And I think there are people who are not quite so kind, but I think

Alex Ferrari 38:27
No, in this business, stop it.

Katie Aselton 38:30
I know it shocked up it.

Alex Ferrari 38:32
Next, you're gonna say there's egos in Hollywood.

Katie Aselton 38:34
I know. I'm not the only one it turns out.

Alex Ferrari 38:39
So I had the pleasure this morning to watch your new film, Mack and Rita and I absolutely adored it. It's so much fun. And I'm, you know, in the beginning of the movie, you guys shot in Palm Springs. And I just left LA, I moved to Austin, about a year ago. And right before I left, I went to Palm Springs for the first time. And that's where the devil lives. I don't know if you know that the devil actually has a home in Palm Springs. It was 119 when I went, I've never been in 119

Katie Aselton 39:09
You're not meant to go in. But there's times I don't quite know. You're thinking.

Alex Ferrari 39:14
I went to Joshua Tree and then we're like, Hey, we're close to Palm Springs. Let's just go check it out. And but there's human beings walking the streets and bursting into flames. So I felt like just yelling at them with the Tron with up like, don't you understand? Don't you understand what's happening? Me? Thank God they love them so much. So as soon as I was watching those scenes that you shot, I was just like, when did they shoot this? Because it had

Katie Aselton 39:36
It was March. It was hot, but not as hot as it

Alex Ferrari 39:43
So when we were in the 90s Hundreds, yeah,

Katie Aselton 39:46
it was probably it was probably like 90 and honestly like it was fine. We were okay. Okay, yeah, could have.

Alex Ferrari 39:51
Cuz I'm just like port I keep going. Alright, so tell me about the movie. Tell me what the movies about.

Katie Aselton 39:58
The movie is, is really ultimately about being your truest forming yourself at any age, right? This is a really hard movie to give like a one line synopsis too. So that's one line, right your

Alex Ferrari 40:14
Pitch, that's your pitch this

Katie Aselton 40:16
Is like be it is your true self at any age Or pitch.

Alex Ferrari 40:23
Please tell us the longer pitch.

Katie Aselton 40:24
The longer pitch longer pitch is it is a story about a 30 year old woman named Matt who finds herself living a very inauthentic life. She has friends who are all very hip trendy, and with it, yet she connects more to the older women in her life. She was raised by her grandmother and she really feels like she is a 70 year old woman trapped in the body of a 30 year old. So while on this wild bachelorette weekend in Palm Springs with her girlfriends, she is just dying to lay down and get away from it all. So she tucks herself into a side tent that has a regression pod in it and she doesn't care. That's a regression pod, you're going to lay down and in that pod has a bit of a mental breakdown, and really screams that she is a seven year old trapped in a 30 year olds body. And sure enough, she comes out Diane Keaton, and which is very,

Alex Ferrari 41:22
Very big, very big style. Tom Hanks big, beautiful.

Katie Aselton 41:27
But it was so fun to like then watch this character. Have a seven year old woman have to live the life of a 30 year old but the obligations of the 30 year old she's an influencer. She's a writer like she just still has to live that life and it turns out you know, our girl Mac really confused age with wisdom. And the truth is she didn't want to be old. She just wanted to be her. And how do we get back to ourselves?

Alex Ferrari 41:54
Oh, much better pitch than the first one I have to say. It's it is no but that it takes a minute to to bring it out because and you know, just that Pilates scenes alone was probably I mean that must have been so so you so you're working with this young upstart Dan keen? What is it like? Introducing what's it like introducing it into the world?

Katie Aselton 42:16
I'm gonna be excited for people to see what she can do.

Alex Ferrari 42:20
What's it like working with a living legend? I got it. Like it's a director. How do you approach giving her notes and directing a scene? How did you work with her?

Katie Aselton 42:28
I say like it truly someone at some point was like, Oh, you're directing Diane, like dream come true. And I was like, a dream that big. Like, look at what I'm doing. This is insane. Who dares to dream like I'm from a town of 300 people from a school that didn't have a drama program. Four years. Four years I was in a drama club with no production. So it is like it is a real like even like on the eve of like putting this movie out into the world. I am still pinching myself that that is my reality that I get to work every day with her and the truth of the matter is is that is she is just an absolute fucking delight like she is she is one of the reasons why she's so great in this movie is because she is hands down like the most authentic person you could ever possibly want to meet the Diane that we have known and falling in love with as audience members like for decades is exactly who she is. That is Diane, those quirks the idiosyncratic like wild, wackiness, the in the insecurities, the the heart, like the humor, all of that is wrapped up in, in Diane and it's all right there she is, like, vulnerable and real and fun and, and self effacing. And it's just like she's a true delight and working with her was I was really expecting are prepared anyways, I think a lot of actors, nevermind actors who are in their 70s and have been doing this for 40 years, or 50 years. I you expect them to be very set in their ways that they're going to come in, they're going to give the performance they're going to give and no one's going to tell them any different right? And Diane was not that at all. She was so open and like game and ready to play and always wanted to do more physical comedy and yeah, it was just, I am so grateful for what she brought every day.

Alex Ferrari 44:46
And I mean, just again, I'll go back to the Pilates scenes. I mean, it's absolutely brilliant what she did and that that you could just see the the mastery of timing and and comedy and how she's able to like she's a she's a masterful Whoa, competition really is

Katie Aselton 45:02
I know and he doesn't get to do it, which is like crazy to me. I feel like I feel like I haven't seen her do like be this physical in a movie since like baby cheese Baby, baby boom as like a reference throughout this movie because I think it is a very underappreciated movie. It's still 100% holds up. The story of Baby Boom is it's almost more relevant now than it was then post pandemic, and are we going to work from home? And like, do we work to live or live to work? And like, what was the who's the director of that Shire? Oh, who is it? I think it's Charles Shire, wasn't it?

Alex Ferrari 45:46
It was yes. I think yeah. Because I had I think I had him on the show. I didn't think I had him on the show. And I was asking him about this is Charles I think it was yes, yes. Yeah. He's Yeah, he's a master who's, ah,

Katie Aselton 45:58
What's really physically in that movie, like, they're her like, freak out, break down at the well, when the well runs dry. The way she kisses Sam Shepard, like, all of those were touchpoints for me, in making this movie, and we talked a lot about it. And, and I just loved it. I mean, I love all of Diane stuff. But I think what she did physically and baby boom was really like, where we were looking to sort of land with Mack and Rita.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
And what was it, you know, as a director we always come up with is that day that the whole world's coming down crashing around us? And I know that you could argue that everyday stuff. But there's always that one day that has

Katie Aselton 46:42

Alex Ferrari 46:43
Exactly, exactly. Was there a day that sticks out in your mind that the whole world was coming crashing down around you and you felt like oh my god, how am I gonna get through this? What was that? And how did you overcome it?

Katie Aselton 46:54
The day that we were shooting out at the beach, the big fire stuff? Yeah, a clear power Summit. Shooting and all of a sudden, I'm sorry, I think like the Army's landing nearby title. We were shooting at the beach. We had this big big fire stunt and we're getting going and it's a gorgeous day like so psyched, the weather's great. And all of a sudden, like as we're like gearing up for the fire stuff, like the wind starts to pick up. And la ended up having like, gale force winds that day. And you're gonna watch like there's hair blowing everywhere. We ended up having to CGI like most of the fire we could not get anything to frigging light it was the most infuriating finally dying was just like the second third fire I'm getting on stage I was like yes, you're gonna just go and we're gonna do it and we're gonna and thankfully I had Nicole Byer there who is like just a comedic genius and I could just rely on her to like be clutch like you just need in moments like that you need people to deliver and so we ended up like barely pulling out that fire thing we go to turn the cameras around so we can get her walking through the event. And the when I want to say was like 40 miles an hour Gail first picks up all of the tents Get Lifted like Wizard of Oz and fucking Malibu like they went so far. And we were just like we gotta call it like obviously we we cannot shoot

Alex Ferrari 48:36
We don't have a set anymore. God doesn't want you to shoot is basically

Katie Aselton 48:39
Not want us to finish this day. So he like go home and we're like, oh my god, what are we going to do? What are we going to do? So we're looking at the schedule working out with AD and the only day that we can like fit in a half day reshoot is the day that we are shooting Diane coming out of the pod Yeah, the first time I'm Dion's work hours are 12 hours portal portal, hair and makeup. All of that requires some time to locations Santa Monica to downtown oh man and a massive massive wardrobe change in between and a hair changed because she's has the longer hair there meant that I had 20 minutes to shoot day and coming out of the pot.

Alex Ferrari 49:39

Katie Aselton 49:41
It was like only the most important

Alex Ferrari 49:43
Basically the most important shot

Katie Aselton 49:46
But then also the Marie Claire thing is important because then that's like production value, right? Like we need the feel of this big huge event. We need Diane like working the vendors we're you know, we're shooting her coming through and doing the whole thing. There was No compromise. You just had to do it. It was one of those things where I was like, oh my god, oh my god.

Alex Ferrari 50:07
And you know what, and I love these kinds of stories. That's why I always asked that question because I love to demystify for for young filmmakers coming up that they're like, Oh, you've got Diane Keaton, this is a big budget this is this and that everything runs smoothly. No, no.

Katie Aselton 50:23
Shit goes wrong at every level. Like I don't care how much money you have. I don't care what studios making your movie. I don't care if you're just making it with friends, every something is going to always go wrong, and you just have to be ready for it.

Alex Ferrari 50:38
Now, when is when is this film available?

Katie Aselton 50:40
August 12 in theaters. Yes, August 12 that's Friday, August 12, in theaters, and then we'll be PVOD in September and then on Hulu in December.

Alex Ferrari 50:53
So awesome. I can't wait for the world to see this film. 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?

Katie Aselton 51:04
Make stuff with your friends, get good

Alex Ferrari 51:07
Work and just hustle

Katie Aselton 51:10
Hustle make it.

Alex Ferrari 51:13
What is lesson? What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Katie Aselton 51:20
I think it is. You got to put that ego on the shelf and do the work.

Alex Ferrari 51:25
It is something that they don't talk about.

Katie Aselton 51:27
Like you got to bet is I think, you know, listen, I listen to Oprah, and Deepak and ego is is a daily struggle for everyone. But it is like the enemy. Like if your ego does you no favors.

Alex Ferrari 51:41
But you know what the funny thing is that in our business, it's even more prevalent, because not everybody has a group of people or an entire industry telling you you're the best. Yeah, awesome. It's difficult to handle that at any level.

Katie Aselton 51:55
Well, and I think that it gets confused. ego gets confused with confidence, right? Like you can have confidence in your skills and your abilities, but not be led by your ego.

Alex Ferrari 52:07
Right! Exactly. Like I'm too good for that. I remember when I first started directing, I went out as a commercial director, and I had been editing I was with top editor and in South Florida, I was making tons of cash. And then when as soon as I made my demo reel I just said, I'm no longer an editor. I'm just going to send my and then I got calls. Hey, can you work? No, I don't edit any more. I am now a director. Mind you wasn't directing.

Katie Aselton 52:30
Hard to call yourself the director when you're not actually doing it.

Alex Ferrari 52:33
Exactly. So it was just very automated. I always tell people don't worry, the universe has a way of just slapping this little nudge here and there.

Katie Aselton 52:42
I can knock in your head just a little bit.

Alex Ferrari 52:44
And last question three of your favorite films of all time. Hmm. Tootsie so brilliant. Ah, Big Lebowski. Not a brilliant one. And I will say baby, boom. Very nice. Very nice. I had one other question. I forgot to ask you. What did you learn from your biggest failure?

Katie Aselton 53:09
That that there's always another there's going to be a tomorrow you know, the world doesn't stop making movies The world doesn't stop making TV shows. It doesn't end on on the last project it's going to the business keeps going. And no one gives us much shit about you as you do

Alex Ferrari 53:37
Do you spent how many. How many hours of your life was wasted thinking about what other people thought of you and you can and as you've gotten older you didn't think a bit about me they have their own crap. Oh crap they're dealing with how egocentric are we to think like when we walk in the room? What are they thinking? I'm how I look.

Katie Aselton 53:56
No. Everyone cares. No one get no one cares. They're all worried about themselves. right and the wrong cut everyone else some grace. Everyone's doing their best.

Alex Ferrari 54:09
Yeah, exactly. There's no quit. We're all doing our best and we're all just trying to make it through this. This life's journey and in this business is is brutal.

Katie Aselton 54:18
Without some grace, cut everyone else some grace and trying and enjoy it as much as you can.

Alex Ferrari 54:25
Katie it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you so much fun. Thank you so much for dropping your knowledge bombs on the tribe. I appreciate your very, very much and best of luck. I can't wait to see your next project. So thank you again.

Katie Aselton 54:37
Me too. Alright, I'll talk to you soon.

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BPS 279: How NOT to Lose Money Producing Movies with Anne Marie Gillen

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Alex Ferrari 0:08
I'd like to welcome to the show Anne Marie Gillen. How you doing, Anne?

Anne Marie Gillen 0:14
I'm doing great. Thank you so much, Alex. I just have both of my vaccinations and a two week incubation period. So I'm almost normal

Alex Ferrari 0:25
Almost I'm my wife and I are just almost there. We're in the go f yourself category right now. But we're almost We're almost to the edge we're like, and it's so sad for us because we're just right on the border of like now, not yet. Not yet. But as of this recording in about a week or so we should be able to, to, to jump on beautiful. So it's been a crazy. It's been great. It's been a crazy year and change. It is affected not only the world, but it's just thrown our business upside down. And the way we do business as the as the way we consume content is the way we release content. I think the the ripple effects of what has happened in our industry will be felt for years to come from the theatrical experience to streaming. I'd love to hear just really quickly what you think of where we are right now. And how how you think this is all going to kind of shake out because we're in the ripple still. We're not out of the ripples we are in? We're still in the ripples. Yeah, absolutely.

Anne Marie Gillen 1:28
But I think more than anything is, especially with how we consume, I think was because of COVID was just launched very quickly. 510 years ahead of the game plan, but it's where we were always had it. So that didn't surprise me too much. It certainly affected the theatrical way more than we would have if we hadn't have had COVID. But I do believe that we'll come back to a certain level but yeah, that's Yeah, Africa. Well, I don't think you know, I think when it comes to this, the Indies and documentaries, and things like that, I think it will be pretty much staying with the streaming. But the big event movies and visual effects kind of immersive movies, I think will come back very strongly when we can all go back to the theater because we all desperately miss it.

Alex Ferrari 2:22
Oh, I miss I miss going to the theater. But I don't know when I'll feel comfortable in the theater again, it's going to be a really that I call it the hangover, the COVID hangover, of just like being in a room with someone else without a mask on a handshake. You know, I was a hugger. Back in the day, I was a hugger. Like, you know, you like how you say goodbye. You say Hello, I'm Latino. So this is the way it is. So, you know, you know, just like, you give them a hug. And you know, and you say goodbye. So it is a it's gonna be interesting. I think we're gonna still be feeling this for the next few years. I don't think the movie I don't think the theatrical experience will ever come back to its hype prior. And it's been going down steadily. I mean, if it wasn't for if it wasn't for Marvel, take Marvel out of the equation for the last decade.

Anne Marie Gillen 3:08
Take Disney Marvel out. But what we're why the numbers have stayed up is because the cost of the ticket has gone up, right? missions have been slowly kind of steadily just ever so slightly

Alex Ferrari 3:21
going down. So it's going to I think, I don't think you'll ever come back up. I think it'll eventually eventually turn into a Broadway scenario where it's event films only like, right, like, I'm not going to I'm not going to the theater to see a comedy right now. Like it's not really necessary, but I will go see an event movie or big action extravaganza or, or something that's cinematic like Joker, even though Joker wasn't like a huge blockbuster like action packed. It was essentially taxi driver. But it was, but it was cinematic. And right. I wanted to go see it there. So I

Anne Marie Gillen 3:59
right there, sir. I think you're absolutely right. But I don't think those numbers go back up to where they were. Yeah. And that's okay. I don't think we have to bemoan that so much. You know, there's still, you know, the good news is there's so many more outlets for us producers to go to now that weren't there before. And the competition is fierce. And the whole, you know, I got to have a theatrical release mentality, I think is falling by the wayside pretty strongly. Very strong. It's,

Alex Ferrari 4:28
it's not as sexy. I mean, don't get me wrong. Look, it's still a filmmakers of a certain generation will always have a reverence for the theatrical experience. In my generation, maybe the generation behind this but like my kids, or the kids, or like the generation, that teenagers right now, it's not as big of a deal as it is to my generation, your generation generation behind me. It was just like, oh, you're not a real filmmaker unless you're up on the screen.

Anne Marie Gillen 4:57
And I think film festivals will fill that Space even more. So the idea that your film is premiered at a festival in a theater to have that kind of experience will help replace that. And I think film festivals will grow even more so because of that. You remember when when people filmmakers was like, well, you're not a real filmmaker unless you shoot film. Yeah, that's gone now. Right? Right. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 5:21
Exactly. Now, it's like, I didn't get a theatrical but I premiered on Netflix. And now, you know, 100 million people just watched my movie, sadly, far more than they ever would going to the theater. Oh, absolutely. I had I had a filmmaker on the other day, who directed the amazing documentary called the last blockbuster. And he Taylor, he got a Netflix deal, which is ironic and brutal in so many ways that Netflix is premiering. And it's a huge hit. And he's like, it's outnet. So many people are gonna watch that film, that would have never seen it. I've never seen it before,

Anne Marie Gillen 5:56
especially when it comes to a documentary or I'm real big into social impact entertainment right now. And it's really, if you really believe in those things, it's it's about eyeballs, not about opening in the theater or opening, screaming or opening Film Festival, whatever. You've got to get the eyeballs in order to change the attitude to get the dialogue going to get them from apathy to empathy and into action about whatever the topic is. So absolutely. So we went on a tangent. So let's start actually, how did you hit it?

Alex Ferrari 6:31
How did you get in the business?

Anne Marie Gillen 6:34
Well, I hail from Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I always was a performer. In high school, I did every play, and I majored I was an acting major in college and came back to the Twin Cities and did the whole theater seeing the Guthrie in children's theater. I then focused on my dance side of things. And I was in a dance company and a choreographer. So that was my whole life. And one winner. I just felt like I was hitting the glass ceiling here. And it was about as good as it was going to get. And I really wanted the next and the new challenge. And it was the middle of middle of very cruel, cold winter. And so it was like, okay, it's either probably New York or LA, you know, Chicago felt more like a lateral move. And I thought, well, the middle of winter, I know nothing about LA, let's go check it out. So I got in my car, $500 in my pocket, clothes in the backseat, and I drove up to LA, I didn't have a job, I didn't have a place to live. I didn't know anybody. My mom called her cousin, they let me stay there. And that's kind of started the whole thing. And when I first landed in LA, I, you know, got my agent and tried to do the whole acting thing. But I began to realize very early on, that being a producer was where it's at, because then you have more control over your life. Yeah, at least you can be working on things and making things rather than as an actor. You're always waiting for somebody to hire you give you permission. Yeah, yeah, giving prisoners permission to do my work. And actors in. in Minneapolis, we're very still our unit revered, you know, you have a craft and a talent. And you know, in LA, it's like, you say you're an actor, you know, where do you waitress, etc. So it was, I just didn't like the feel of it. So I thought, Okay, I got to teach myself how to be a producer. How do I do that? So I started producing a workshop on how to produce film. And it was a couple hours a week, and it ran for 10 weeks. And I would start with development, and then go into financing, and then the production side of things, and then the marketing and the distribution. And of course, I didn't teach it, I just produced the event. And so I had to hire, or as asked guest speakers to come in each work who were experts in those area. So I started combing the trades and finding people that were that and I would ask them to come and speak. So I built my Rolodex. I made a little money because I produced it. And I of course, took every course and I did it for like two years, every 10 weeks, do it again, do it again. Do it again. So that basically was my BA in filmmaking. And then it was time to get into the real world. And I wanted to since I was mainly a creative I wanted to work with an assistant to a producer or writer or director and I couldn't get hired. And finally, I was offered a job as the executive assistant to the president of a distribution company. And I didn't know anything about it, but he just needed somebody very organized and talented like me, so I took the job he offered it to me. And it was with a company that no longer exists but they should have been the next another mirror Miramax or new line it was called Emmerdale.

Alex Ferrari 9:58
I remember him Dell, of course. Remember him Dell and the 80s, late 80s Oh my god, they were released, they released a punch of Greek, I worked in a video store in the 80s in the 90s. So I remember the logo very much. And you had, and you had, you didn't have sleeves, you had the plastic boxes on the VHS, I remember, the White Day I remember.

Anne Marie Gillen 10:21
So the three years that I was there, we went, I don't know 12 Academy Awards platoon. So there I am this little piano, you know, with my ears glued to the phones and to the meetings. And I just sucked it in and just taught me as a producer, that 50% is making your movie and 50% is marketing and distribution. And you've got to focus on the marketing and distribution and who your audience is when you're in development or even before you've been optioned anything and put your time and money into it. And another thing that it really taught me began to teach me was film financing, they pioneered or were one of the pioneers of the model where you would put up your own PNA into a rental system. And back then, like you were just saying, You worked in the video store, if you could guarantee a certain level of theatrical release with the PNA commitment, you pretty much got 50 to 75% advance for your home video, because they were desperate for any Oh, anything video stores. So the majority of their money went into the print and advertising and renting a studio system to release their movies. And then if there was a shortfall, they would put some money into the production side of things. So when I left there, and started my first company, that was my business plan, I just pretty much replicated that business plan. And at the time, the money was coming out of Asia. And I found a Japanese investor, very wealthy Japanese investor, he was kind of the bill gates of Japan. And he bought into this concept, which was smart and what was happening there. And, you know, he was my financial business partner. And that's how I made my first movie executive produced my first movie, which was fried green tomatoes. And it was one of those projects that you know, when I read it, you know, you laugh, you cry, you

Alex Ferrari 12:20
remember, it was it was wonderful.

Anne Marie Gillen 12:24
But, you know, it was like a well, it's a female driven project, it really doesn't have major stars. Oh, you've got the race story. It's a period piece. And yes, it's beautifully written, but no, so they weren't able to get it made. So I came on board and I said, I'm gonna roll my company on this. And because we could get weird and then we went to Universal for the theatrical release during the rental system with us me putting up the PMA. And eventually when they started seeing the dailies and everything, they went back and renegotiated bought us out of the PNA position, the rest pretty much as movie history from there.

Alex Ferrari 13:00
Yeah, that was that was released by Universal if I remember universal, yeah, so that was that was a big I remember that was a big release, it did very well on our on our video store. It did very well on our video store, or mom and pop video stores still doing very well. It's it's Yeah, it's amazing that this day, yes, to this day still probably gave you guys residual checks. Again. So that's, that's remarkable. Um, now you also know, you also you wrote a book called The producers handbook. Right?

Anne Marie Gillen 13:30
It's called the producers business handbook. Okay. And I think it's an it's, it's fourth or third edition. I forget. But yeah, so it's basically through all this, there, you know, by by putting that course together by being at Hemdale when I was, and by having to do this business plan and all this financing, I had to learn about, nobody taught me that it's really hard to learn that even in school to this day, the financing side of it very much. Oh, throughout the years, I just had to, you know, educate myself to this. And I remember when I was at Hemdale their in house attorney left. And so I said, Well, I'll sit in all the meetings and take the notes. So in all the legal meetings, I was there, and I would just quietly take notes and then I call my dad who was an attorney and I go Damn, pro rata Perry, pursue, how do I spell it? What's it mean? And, you know, just began to learn the lingo language of film financing. And so once I became more of an expert in this arena, I thought, you know, I don't want it, it shouldn't be that hard to get this information. So, you know, put this book together with john Lee. He had written the first edition, and we did the second and third and it's it's, you know, with what's gone on in the last three to five years, we still need to do another additional thing, keep it up to date. But a lot of the stuff still has stayed the same, you know, there's still pre sales and estimates and completion. And

Alex Ferrari 15:15
so yeah, so I get I guess it there is certain things that have stayed in place. But in today's marketplace, you know, from my experience in the business, the sales in the distribution side of things, sales have just really dried up in a in a way that when I say dried up, I mean, it's like, like in the 80s. People were printing money in the 90s. In the early 2000s. You all just like sniper seven, yes, just yeah, put out sniper seven, it's already pre sold, and you got 3 million on DVD. Like it, those days are so gone, and the marketplace is shifting so much. Now, that unless you have really, really bankable like extremely bankable stars, and genres, it's almost impossible to really recoup money. So as a producer, from from what I've seen in the distribution space, there are certain genres, there are certain talent, you know, excluding the anomaly, excluding the Sundance whatever, or the film festival, darling, that really doesn't even happen as much as it used to back in the 90s. So how do you as a producer in today's world, kind of parenting because even pre sales, again, without the proper star, and genre, because you could put Nicolas Cage in a certain kind of genre doesn't sell nearly as much as if you put them in an action, or, or something like that, or Stallone in a drama doesn't really move the needle as much. So I just would love to hear your take on that. Well, you're right. And that's the end of the podcast and seen we're done. And that's the end of it. All right.

Anne Marie Gillen 16:55
You know, it's always something, I've been doing this for 25 plus years, it's always something. So you just got to pivot, you just got to learn the new way, and pivot. And so right now, I would say, you're absolutely right, you need a certain level talent, and that talent has to be right for the genre, you gave a perfect example, you have to have the right budget level, for the reasons you've talking about, you know, you're going to be able to get any pre sales in it, what budget level is that? You know, so all those things come into play. So certainly, as somebody that's more about quality than like, just straight horror or something,

Alex Ferrari 17:36
or your quality versus product. And there's a balance between

Anne Marie Gillen 17:42
the two, right to balance on occurs, balanced producer, okay, so you've got, it's a three legged stool, you got to give equal to the creative and the distribution and the money. And anytime one outweighs the other, it's somehow lopsided. So, you know, how do you creatively answer those problems? So for as an example, when I go for casting, you know, there's, there's me and my directors, wishlist, you know, there's the casting people that come up with interesting ideas. And I kind of combine the two and then I go to my international sales agent, they go and they give me their and they're totally different. And so you got to figure out what's the right balance for that movie, and that marketability,

Alex Ferrari 18:22
and then there's also like a bit of delusion, I found, because I do a lot of consulting and coaching and distribution and there's filmmakers who come out with the like, Look, I've got I want to get an avenue to just use Nick as a as an example. I want to I want to get into cage involve them like, okay, and I I know producers and directors who have have gotten Nick on a $5 million movie $6 million movie, in certain genres, it kind of like a horror ish action genre. And that works at that budget level, but a lot of times they'll like, come up with an idea and they want Nick involved and like it's gonna cost you 40 million. And like, know, that, that star at that budget range, there has to be more than just Nick attached for that to make sense financially, there has to be other casts, the director needs to have some sort of presence, you know, like a Joe Carnahan can can bring out a movie at $40 million, with, you know, a Frank Grillo, and, you know, a in the cage, like that, that that monitor makes sense, because of the pre sales that those guys come up together, and then Joe and his whole thing, that's the that's up and that packages that packages sold before they even start shooting. Like,

Anne Marie Gillen 19:35
yeah, and you saw that with the recent Berlin, you know, there's certain announcements that I had every territory sold out. And whether you know what the movie is about or not, you just see the package. So when somebody says, What is your package? You know, that's what they're asking for, you know, and it's so important that you understand what the finance plan needs to be what the budget level needs to be what level casts It is, you know, where the genre fits in the marketplace. And they all have to meld together in the right. Perfect. Magical combination. And you I and I've been doing this 25 years, I don't even know, I don't rely on my opinion. You know, I get a casting directors opinion, I get the international sales agents opinion I get, you know, I work with them, and what are the estimates? And, you know, cast? And how does that and diversity now is another huge thing, you know, which is wonderful. I mean, one of the most recent conversations I had was with the sales agent, as we're going to have to replace one of our people, and it's all give me diversity, give me diversity. And it doesn't need to be a big name, but it needs to be diversity. And, you know, it's interesting. So I've got Native Americans, I've got, you know, Asian, you know, and it's really wonderful to be able to give, you know, to really pass that way with those opportunities.

Alex Ferrari 21:01
But I think I think before, like, again, in the 80s, and 90s, you could be a sloppy producer, meaning that you could just kind of like you had such a cushion, that money was almost guaranteed if you had just this or that, and you didn't really need to be that good, honestly, because I remember the movies that I saw in the video store in the 80s and 90s. Were garbage. And they were and they were making bank and when DVD showed up, I mean, my God, the money was just flying, right since the print. I mean, it was just literally like I always use sniper seven as an example, because they made so much money with the sniper, the sniper franchise, and they were bad movies. But you know, they brought they brought Todd out, not Tom, Tom Berenger out every, you know, few years. And they're like, yeah, here's, here's a mil, let's go do this. And that's one thing. And another thing is to what makes sense today. So let's say right now, a certain actor is hot. Well, when you started that movie, he might have been hot, but something might have happened in the next 12 months. And a perfect example is I had I had producers, I won't use the actor's name. But a lot of people I've spoken about this actor before, nothing against the actor is an actor who works a lot. And he's not a huge star, but he's a name and a face. And he's bankable to a certain budget. But he made that year 17 movies. So when his movie came out, in the marketplace, he'd go to distributors like I already got three of him, I'm good this year, like I already got it. So he's diluted his value. And the producer was there holding, holding the bag. So there's that that whole thing, because if tomorrow morning, Nick comes out and makes 30 movies next year, which by the way, Nick Cage could possibly do 30 movies, his value in the marketplace might I'm not saying he does, he doesn't have that many

Anne Marie Gillen 22:51
app and all the time, you know, where people just do too much. But there are still sloppy producers, but they are not making the money back for the investors and they're just taken, you know, a lot of innocent investors, you know, and taking their money and running, and knowing they're not going to be able to, you know, get their money back. But you know, it just drives me crazy. It's why investors think this is such a high risk, horrible business to be in, because so many sloppy producers, or not just you know, just kind of pie in the sky, just, I gotta make my movie, and they're not the balanced producer. And then that understanding what the audiences and what the market will allow and trying to keep it all in check. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 23:36
the delusions that are out there with filmmakers and producers. Sometimes it's like, Look, if you want to make an art film, make an art film, you know, and yeah, you know, I made my first film for five grand, I sold it to Hulu. And I sold it to Hulu and licensed it to Hulu sold and sold some foreign territories with it. It was fantastic. It was an art film. It was an experimental film. I didn't really know what it was like, how is it going to turn out? But at that budget level, who cares? But if I would have made that to 300,000 he would I you can't it's there's just a balance of again, there's that word again, balance of what you if you want to make art understand that there's a value attached to that art

Anne Marie Gillen 24:15
right. And there's nothing wrong with that nothing lucky and and may go through the roof and that's great. But you know, you need I mean, another big term for me is risk mitigation. Yes. If you want to talk to investors or finance yours or funders, that's a good term to use. You know, how are you going to mitigate my risk, you know, and

Alex Ferrari 24:37
pre sales tax incentives. There's there's a list of things that you can

Anne Marie Gillen 24:41
mention account. A lot of people don't know about collection accounts and it's just like one of the best things that you can offer an investor to

Alex Ferrari 24:48
hear. Can you explain the collections account for the audience real quick?

Anne Marie Gillen 24:51
Sure. It's, it's it's basically a third party escrow account, where all mainly it's international revenue, but can be revenue for whatever your project is, is then assigned to go into this escrow account. So it's protected. So all the stakeholders, whether they be net profit people, investors, mezzanine, bank, loan funders, whatever, they know that whatever revenue comes, it is protected in this third party escrow account. And everybody signs off on the terms called waterfall who gets paid and what order, what percentage and all of that. So there are two main companies out there that do that vintage house,

Alex Ferrari 25:36
I, I've had them on the show, they're one okay.

Anne Marie Gillen 25:39
And free way entertainment. And free ways probably would do more lower budget movies than vintage my take on so if you're in a lower budget range, I start with them. And they'll take sometimes if it's a really low low budget movie, they might take a fee off, you don't pay them upfront, but the first revenues that come in, they might take a fee, and then it's 1% ish area, or they just start at the 1%. And they The first thing that they put aside is is residuals, the potential residual effect Yes. To pay for? Yeah, yeah. So when you go to become a signatory for sag, if you have a collection account set up, that can help you with putting up those very large residual bonds, etc, because they know that it will be paid because they're holding that money for you. Plus, it protects all the stakeholders. So it's just a win win all the way around to have a collection account.

Alex Ferrari 26:38
It's wonderful here,

Anne Marie Gillen 26:39
word cam collection account manager, you know, etc. It's it's one in the same.

Alex Ferrari 26:45
Yeah, it's, I have to ask you now, like, how do you have I want to ask you first, how do you raise development money? Because that's the hardest money to because there's no guarantee that there's anything even going to get made. So you're just basically rolling the dice as an investor going, Hey, I like this book that you have, we're going to develop it into a screenplay. I'm going to help you develop it into a screenplay, I'm going to get a piece of the action once this movie gets made. But how do you raise that kind of money? Well,

Anne Marie Gillen 27:19
again, it's about being very balanced in your approach, you know, you use the very common term, it's the highest risk of all the money. And I don't know if I would agree with you there, it's the lowest amount of money, it is risk, manage it properly. It's not the highest risk, what you just talked about is making this movie for, you know, 20 million. That's a lot of money. And I think that might even be a higher risk. But to answer your questions, specifically, producers nowadays are totally expected to come with a package, which means you need a powerful screenplay and need to be able to hire legal hire casting director, do budgets and schedules higher up in line producer, if you don't do that, yourself, you know, all these, you know, beautiful look, books, and sometimes sizzle reel or rip, thematics. And, you know, and it all takes money, pay the writer and totally on the producers not whereas before you could go, oh, I've got this great IP this book, and, you know, companies would jump not so much anymore. So you've got a couple of different options. One is to go to a company that already has development money, or a first look, deal with a network or a streamer, or whatever. So for instance, if it's a great book that you're going after an really powerful lead interesting role for an actress of a certain age, I go through variety insight and find out who's got deals at all these different streamers or networks. And in the actress, that would be actors, that would be right for it, I do my research, make sure that they have a real production company, many just have a name, where you want to be sure there are people there that they have a partner, they have creative executive, and you know, then I tried to pitch the creating of the executive, and then they would bring it to their first step. So that's one model. And you can do that with directors, writers, showrunners, actors, etc. Then, and the toughest model is you do it yourself. And

Alex Ferrari 29:29
you bootstrap, bootstrap

Anne Marie Gillen 29:29
it. And I'm sure we've all done that on some level. And then there's the put the proper business plan together and get a development fund together. And you really have to, you know, again, risk mitigate the approach. So the way that it's really spelled out pretty a whole chapter of it is in the book about development financing, and you want to do it in steps. Okay. So you put together a finance plan. Costs of what you think you're going to need. So there's legal there's the writing of the screenplays, there's casting director, there's the UPM, there's visual materials, there's all that line item stuff, I don't like to put too often money for myself, because that's my skin in the game. And so, uh, you know, if I wouldn't approach that, Oh, great, I'll be able to live off this money. While I know I'm a real producer as I develop. That's a little difficult, but you can put something in there for that. And then you make sure that each step of the way your test marketing, it's so the first thing that I do is I run comparables from the last five to seven years, to see what else out there in this genre in this level, but that I'm thinking of director that I'm thinking of level, the type of casting that what has worked, what hasn't worked? More importantly, and why hasn't it worked. And I want to be sure that the way I'm planning all of this, you know, is fitting into the specificity of what the marketplace might allow for. Once I've done that, that I call that greenlight, okay, and I run the numbers,

Alex Ferrari 31:13
you know, for the internal, that's the concept, the internal green light,

Anne Marie Gillen 31:16
the internal green light. That's right. So I track, you know, what, what the budget level was for that movie, how wide a screen it opened on what was the widest screen and finally open AI because that tells you the the spread of the PMA, so did it open on five screens, and then it went to 300. That's a whole different level than if it opens on 3200. And then that's the most I've ever opened up, because you're spending 25 35 million right out of the gate just to opening weekend. So I track that what the genre is, what the level of talent is director and lead cast, and I got to go to the year that it was released, not who they are now. So I've got to go back five, seven years to to contemplate who they are now, what the rating was. Because, you know, if I'm thinking I'm going to deliver a PG movie, and all the comps I have are our it throws everything off. So I and I look for the trailers that they use, I look for the visuals, the posters and all of that, the tag lines. So I have this massive spreadsheet where I'm tracking like 30 comps, with all this information, really educating myself to what this material where this material might fall. And if I come up with numbers that look like I think I'm onto something really strong here, then I don't just rely on me, I go and vet it with a distributor with an international sales agents etc. and said, This is what I think I'm going to do.

Alex Ferrari 32:45
This is the level cast and they go Yeah, that that I can sell, you know, if you can deliver on this that I can sell then I start spending money. But if I get nose in any one of those places, I stop and I find a different property that's going to get me yeses. And Kim, can you just tell everybody really quickly with these plans in these packages? A lot of times they use comparables to other films. So I've seen this way too many times and please tell people to stop doing this and disagree with me if you'd like if you're making a horror movie. If you're making a horror movie, and you are putting together a package do not use Blair Witch Project and paranormal activity as this is what horror movies do to investors. Any smart money will just look at you and go get out of my office dumb money or dumb money

Anne Marie Gillen 33:33
down money might not but it just shows me You're a peon. You don't know the business. And yeah, if I would never use it as a comparable in my narrative part of my business plan. I might mention something like that if it's perfect, perfect. But I would never never use it in my financial comparables because it's just it's wrong anomalies. It's right it is it's like winning the lottery. So and the same with movies that win Academy Awards. It's like oh, yeah, but my movie will win the Best Picture Academy Award. So I'm going to do the same as this movie.

Alex Ferrari 34:10
Oh, yeah. Like moonlight. Like my movie was shot in Miami and their movie was shot in Miami. So it's moonlight and they won the Oscar and I can't wait the Oscars. Well, yeah, that or or Napoleon Dynamite? Oh my god. Yeah.

Anne Marie Gillen 34:24
Awards and things like that as well. And so I I tried to get it down to the most realistic 10 to 15 that really fall there.

Alex Ferrari 34:33
Yeah, exactly. Now, one of the biggest problems producers and filmmakers have is that chicken and egg thing which is attaching name talent to a project something that's going to give you the money, but then the name talent doesn't want to come on board until you have the money. So there's that chicken and egg thing. How do you approach How do you attach potential name talent to your project?

Anne Marie Gillen 34:59
Well Sometimes named talent won't regardless, that's just a fact. No, or they're their agents won't let them. Especially hot up and comers, sometimes they take a little too much advice maybe from or let the handlers handle them a little too much. So that that there are, there's nothing you can do about that. But what you can some things you can do, it helps to have a casting director. You know, it helps to have a very good attorney, a recognizable firm, you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:37
recognizable and recognizable casting director helps to,

Anne Marie Gillen 35:40
yeah, that's what I'm saying. Yes. And, and the material is, first and foremost, it's about the material. You've got to have a great piece of material, great screenplay for a role that they want, not a role, they've done it over and over and over again. I mean, they they wanted real actors want to, you know, express themselves take on something that they haven't done before. So a lot of times I really, if if I'm going to have to go out for actors at a very early stage and use them. I want to think outside the box a little bit more. So if they're known for comedy, but you know, they've got the chops off, or like Robin Williams, you know, yep, Jim Carrey, you know, give them the opportunity in a role that's very dramatic, when you know, they can do it, they just haven't been given that opportunity. So they would come on board and for a much lower, much lower. Absolutely, because you can't pay him for you know,

Alex Ferrari 36:44
can't pay him, you can't pay Jim Carrey 20 million in the height of Dumb and Dumber To do that. But if you want to do men on the moon, you could probably get them sometimes for scale, if they really, really wanted. It happens.

Anne Marie Gillen 36:57
And and if the actor has a production company, it's a little easier because you're not necessarily going through the agent, you're going to the creative executive there. And you know, and they're going to come on board as a producer, and they'll have much more creative input and hands on. If I'm going that route. Well, I do this regardless. But, you know, I really, you know, are they on any boards? Do they support any bass adores anything? What nonprofits do they cook again, I like to focus on a lot of social impact projects, so that you can do what's called a double bottom line, that only is a role really great, but it's an issue that's important to them. So those are some of the key things that I tried to do. What do you have?

Alex Ferrari 37:48
Right. And then there's also the, you know, the the harsh realities of like, well, who's the director, who's the producer, you know, just because you might have the next Pulp Fiction. But if you have a producer who's never done a thing in their life, and a director who's done one short film and won an award at the Moose Jaw Film Festival, which I don't even know if that's a real festival or not, but I want to go, I want to go to the Moose Jaw International Film Festival. But then there's that whole uphill battle, and I've been there as well. And I've seen that as well, where you got good material, but the team, there's no confidence that the team will ever can execute this. So there's that too.

Anne Marie Gillen 38:27
Yeah, so you got to take, you know, I'm working with a couple of first time directors. And I believe in them 250%. And they're great in a room in a pitch, they can speak their passion and vision. And you just, you're on board, you know, you really, and they've spent the time to put together the right materials to visually showcase what they can do. So if you're going to take on something with the first time director, as a producer, you know, you they need to be of that caliber because it is it you do have a bit of an uphill battle. And you've got to be sure that once they get in the room, or the zoom or whatever, with potential talent that they're they're able to close them and and they're they're going to say I'm going to feel confident and you're at you know what you're doing right now,

Alex Ferrari 39:25
and a lot of times they are Writer Director, so you know, the material they can speak to the material better than anybody. And that's also if you can be a writer director, that's honestly the only real control you have as a director, especially if your first time you know, unless you own the property all out. They can, they can throw you under the bus so quickly. And I've seen it happen where the writer gets on to the producer and the producer is like, I got Nick Cage, but Nick can't work with with Bob is Bob Bob's never directed anything but Nick's got a director who is worked with a bunch of times, and he wants to do the project. This is the reality of the business.

Anne Marie Gillen 40:04
So it's really important that as a producer, you have those tough conversations, before you go out technically legally get into business with this writer, director, director or writer, it's, you know, you've got to understand I mean, where do you stand? Is this your rocky that if you're offered a million, you're not going to walk away? And I need to know, you know, because?

Alex Ferrari 40:30
Because I want to take that million?

Anne Marie Gillen 40:33
Or is this something that if you were bumped to a producer, and you've got credit, and you've got your piece produced, but you couldn't direct it? Would you accept that? And sometimes they're yeses, and sometimes there's no, and I will move in either case, you know, depending on how I feel about that situation, or that particular person. But you need to know that going in, you don't want to be surprised later or get stuck later at the mercy of Yeah, no. choice and you knew that going in.

Alex Ferrari 41:05
And that's only something you learn as a producer with time, because when you first starting out, you you fall into all the traps, we just you just laid out right there. Every little scenario, I've already hit that those walls a ton of times, I'm sure you hit them when you were starting out. And only with time, do you understand, you know what, I really need to have this conversation. This is it's the come to Jesus conversation. Like it's, it's like, Look, this is the reality of what is happening. And my whole world of indie film, also, my whole universe is all about giving you the hard facts and truth. Because I rather you hear it from me than when you're sitting in a room and someone just pulled the wool right under right from underneath your feet, the rug underneath your feet, I'm would you would you say I always say this, I'd love to hear if you agree, I believe that my philosophy of this business is that every single person, no matter if you're Steven Spielberg, Scoob, Rick Hitchcock, or the lowest film student, all of us are going to get punched in the face, period. And we're going to get punched in the face multiple times in our careers. And they're going to come fast, they're going to come hard. Sometimes you won't see them coming. And it's only with time and hopefully some knowledge that it's not the question of if you'll get hit, it's a question when you'll get hit and how you'll get hit. And you have to start learning how to take the hit especially early on and keep going forward. And then as you get older, you might get a little bit wildly and you can start getting it to slip off you. And then occasionally, you can get them to miss altogether or not even get into that conversation as you go down the road. But even even pros who've been in this 2030 years, they still get surprised. And my job and my my calling is to try to let everybody know, you're going to get punched. Here's how to take the punch. Is that fair?

Anne Marie Gillen 42:52
Oh, absolutely. You know, everybody thinks that Oh, once I get my first movie made, you know, it's all golden from that. I forget the statistic I have in one of my notes when it when I teach my finance class, but I think 98% of first time. filmmakers never make a second movie.

Alex Ferrari 43:11
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah,

Anne Marie Gillen 43:12
something something horrific. Like I was like, whoa. And for all those reasons you just stated, it's just like, you know, you're gonna be punched. And the question is, how quickly can you come back from it? Don't let it it's gonna knock you down. And you got to bounce right back up, and come back at it. And later when you look in your words, but okay, what just happened? How can I avoid that next time?

Alex Ferrari 43:37
Exactly, in the most. But so many filmmakers have the stars in their eyes that they just don't even know that the punch is coming. And when they get hit, once they're out, there are pulled and they're out of the game. I mean, when I was talking to Oliver Stone, on the on the show a while ago, I was I wasn't shocked. But he's like, I'm still hustling my Monday, I'm still trying to get my movie made. I'm gonna say that you're Oliver Stone. He's like, I'm Oliver Stone, but I'm still trying to matter doesn't matter,

Anne Marie Gillen 44:05
movie and he killed you to get it together, you did your 17th and it kills you. When you're in there, which is kind of falls in your lap and things happen. And those are golden. But it's a constant, constant battle, to put it together. And, and five years from now, the whole finance plan is going to be different. And five years from there, it's going to change and there's gonna be something else and and you've got to constantly pivot and constantly re learn. And you've got, I mean, I remember initially just having to tweak because I was a creative. I didn't I didn't go I didn't know, economics and legal and all that. But you read my book and you think I was, you know,

Alex Ferrari 44:41
PhD, a PhD of some sort.

Anne Marie Gillen 44:43
I have no, you know, and I hated it when I was in it, trying to figure it out and learn. I just hated it. And then I just, I just kind of went, No, it's creative. Putting a finance plan of doing this is creative, and just with that little shift and over time, it gets better. rubber. So all day, every day, I am still being creative because every time I get on the phone with somebody I use my acting is like, Who is that person? What is their tone? Like? Okay, I got to match their rhythm. And it could be okay, what's going on? What do you need? Then I got to talk like this. Okay, this would or like with Alex, when we first started so how are you doing and what's going on and you get oh and, or whatever it is and or they throw something at you, even though your agenda and your plan and your bullet points are right in front of you and they throw something after you got to, okay, improv. It's all those years of improv class, you know, you never know what's going to come back. So. So to me, that's all just wonderfully creative. And when you used to go to meetings, it's like, how do I need to dress for that meeting? If it's a banker, financier, I gotta look like I don't need the money. If it's a creative, I gotta wear my creative clothes. You know, and so

Alex Ferrari 45:51
you can't walk it. You can't walk into creative with this with a suit and you can't walk into a bank, with your your khakis on and flip flops, right? It's not gonna, it's not gonna work. Now. So you've been in the business for many years, I'm assuming that there was never been a negative experience with a distributor in your entire career, that everything is going smoothly, all the money is coming. 110% everyone's been completely open with the reporting. And you've never had any issues whatsoever. Is this a fair statement? Or am I completely off base? You're completely off? I think I knew I would

Anne Marie Gillen 46:33
a point where the whole team just finally gave up. It's, it's, you know, it's a lot David and Goliath is just like, you know, if they just throw another legal thing at you, and you run out of money, your investors safe enough already. I'm not spending any more legal money to try to track this down or get this just enough how but I gotta ask you,

Alex Ferrari 46:54
it's what it look in my my audience is very well aware of my feelings on distribution. And what I've, what I've been able to do for them, and getting the information out about distribution and predatory distributors, and things like that. But I have to ask you, like, the whole concept of the Hollywood accounting, which is what it mean, which is basically started in the days of Chaplin. I mean, this started early, I mean, United Artists was created by Pickford, Chaplin and fair banks, because they were getting screwed by the studios. So this whole Hollywood accounting thing and how distributors do not, and I'm guessing all, but a lot of distributors, unscrupulous distributors, will do things in their numbers to make sure that you the producer, do the filmmaker, never see a dime? How is this a functioning business? Like, is it just purely because there's fresh meat that constantly is coming in to replenish the old meat that's just exhausted of just getting ripped off? Or investors? Is that how the system works? Because in any other business, you know, if you were in the cookie business, and I, you know, you all of a sudden, I sell 5000 cookies, and I'm like, sorry, I really didn't sell 5000 cookies, because the chocolate chips, you know, they got more expensive and, and all these, like, that doesn't happen in other businesses. And not, I mean, sure that does, but not at that level, so blatant, that there's a name for it. And there's, and really quickly, you know, the whole thing with the me to movement, which was basically which was dinner, the casting couch, it was a punchline, it was a joke, it was part of this, this fabric of the industry, like, you know, if you want to get it, you got to go on the casting couch. That whole thing was business as usual, for way too long. I feel that what's going on with distributors, is the financial version of that kind of abuse, because you're just being abused financially. You just said, we just gave up. So I'm sorry, through 1000 things that you would use? I went on a rant, I apologize.

Anne Marie Gillen 48:52
No, that's fine. That's fine. And it's I mean, that's as old as the hills. And, you know, there's, if you need a really good attorney, yeah. And the net profit definitions of the net profit definitions of studios distributors sometimes can be 30 pages long, it just gets ridiculous, you know, for that reason. So that's where a really really smart attorney can at least be helpful. It's why a lot of people pay so much money up front or try to get as much money upfront as possible

Alex Ferrari 49:27
because you'll never get anything else. Hi,

Anne Marie Gillen 49:29
they asked for gross position. It's why they asked for box office bonuses. You know, so you know, they can see what what you know, which is a little difficult now, because it's there's a crash and burn. It's why you see the streamers paying these big hefty amounts, because that's all that ever to be fair, because there is no other window or back end or whatever. It's just the way it has been.

Alex Ferrari 49:58
But but we're due for Change, we're due for something something has to change. I don't know what that technology will be, what that system will be, but something has to come kratt this system is already stressed like the distribution system COVID has put it was already look when I went to AFM in 2019 I was like what I was walking around, I was like, she it's just a bunch of dinosaurs. Like, I mean, I'm walking over corpses. I mean, it was it was really, it was really bad. And it just kept getting going down, down, down. So nothing against AFM, but just the marketplace has changed so much in that space. So I feel like there's so much stress on the the apparatus of distribution. And now COVID just put it more it will pop I feel something's gonna come crashing down. I think the next economic downturn something Yeah, you gotta watch the word distribution is such a large all encompassing entity. Correct? I think you're more talking like theatrical. And then it leads into something else. No, I'm talking about I'm talking about the whole like the apparatus. But if you go to a Netflix getting killed with a Netflix or Hulu or Amazon, they sold it for whatever it's different. You're done in non studio, non studio I'm talking about non studio distributor is what i'm talking Yeah,

Anne Marie Gillen 51:13
I just wanted to be clear, because very encompassing word. And, and that's another reason that I like having a collection account. And it doesn't help so much on the domestic side. But certainly on all the international because your sales agent in your agreement with your sales agent, it says that any monies you know that are collected will not go to them. But they'll all the distribution agreements with all the different distributors in France and Germany and UK. When they do the agreements with them. It says that all monies do minimum guarantees overages will go into this account, so never goes to the sales agent. It goes right there. And we talk that through in the waterfall and how it's all protected. So that's another reason that how you can risk mitigate some of those issues. But then if the distributor in Germany doesn't want, Hey, what are you gonna do?

Alex Ferrari 52:03
You're gonna go super,

Anne Marie Gillen 52:04
you know, yeah, then that's pretty tough. But again, the collection account people, they know, all those distributors, you know, they can help track that and deal with that for you,

Alex Ferrari 52:17
etc. So it's there's ways around it, but it is a very slippery, shark infested situation where you really need to understand the navigation of it. I remember I was I was talking to a filmmaker at AFM, they came up to me and they're like, Hey, I got a deal. I'm like, great, like, we just got a $30,000 mg. I'm like, well, that's fantastic. What was your budget? Like? 150? I'm like, Okay, what was that? For? He goes, it was all rights for five years. I'm like, so you're happy about that? Yeah, we got 30,000. I'm like, in what business? Ever? Yeah, that you spent 150,000 you're happy, happy about 30. Like, that's, there's something systemically wrong with that well,

Anne Marie Gillen 52:56
right. And, again, where we started with being that balance producer, it probably was not his money. Probably. He got to make the movie he wanted to make.

Alex Ferrari 53:08
And it's going out into the world

Anne Marie Gillen 53:10
ending, you know, got a little bit back and can at least give a check back, you know, so I'm happy. You know, but that's not a sustainable business. And it's not a sustainable career.

Alex Ferrari 53:19
And I honestly, it's not a moral. There's moral issues. Well, that's a whole other conversation. So what projects are you working on now?

Anne Marie Gillen 53:29
I'm, I'm working on a project. And this is the first time feature film director, although he's done music videos and shorts, sure fallen,

Alex Ferrari 53:38
accomplished filmmaker, but not feature filmmaker. Right.

Anne Marie Gillen 53:40
Right. Exactly. And it's a it's a sci fi trilogy. In the PR, Stephanie, and we're doing we have an international sales agent, we have really creative, wonderful deals with the visual effects house and the virtual virtuals. I do. I hope you have somebody coming on board to talk about virtual and what's going on there like already. I already did, yeah. Okay. Cuz that's, that's the way to go. That's the future filmmaking. And that, again, will get those budgets done will keep us safe, because we don't have to go to all these locations. And just a myriad of

Alex Ferrari 54:21
what I mean. Yeah, you just watched the Mandalorian and you just go wow, yeah. In God's green earth. Yeah, it's so fascinating. It's so one and it's cheap to and honestly, it's not that expensive. I mean, Mandalorians it's expensive but if you if you're doing it at a much into your level, you can get the company that I had on call on I think it was unreal. I think there are I forgot their name, but the real engine, I'm not sure if it was unreal engine but it was it was another company that was using that engine. But bottom line is that the smaller the smaller, the smaller version of it for a wall. Just a what like a full wall. Yeah. Then 1000 bucks for the actual engine and then whatever the screens cost. So under 20, Grand 30 grand, you've got a whole virtual set that you can use and build sets in front of and move. And it's it was fascinating. It's fast. Yeah,

Anne Marie Gillen 55:14
yeah. For it all in camera, and you can say on the soundstage and oh, it's great. It's great. Yeah, well, that sounds exciting. G is being shot that way.

Alex Ferrari 55:23
That's amazing. That's gonna be that's gonna be a

Anne Marie Gillen 55:25
lot of very excited about that. And to use that, that technology.

Alex Ferrari 55:28
Now 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? Um, mmm, material, material material. Um,

Anne Marie Gillen 55:46
if you spend any of your own money makes you? Well, even the most important thing is to have a good attorney. Yes. So when you have anybody developing money, your money, whatever, have a good attorney, and make sure that whatever agreements you're doing are locked, solid chain of title, option agreements, whatever, you know, work for hire writer agreements, you know, make sure you have an attorney dealing with that so many times I see people, oh, they get a template from a friend. And they just kind of change a few things and get in trouble getting a lot of trouble later down the road. And you can't give up. I mean, what we were talking about you just, it's just keep moving. And bring partners in to like you said, first time produce I've never done that we'll find a partner who has that believes in the material like you and that you legally moral compass wiser on the same page and can go down that road together? You know, I've done that a lot in my career.

Alex Ferrari 56:46
Sounds good.

Anne Marie Gillen 56:48

Alex Ferrari 56:48
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? It's not about me. Wow, that was a quick answer. Hey, get over yourself. It's not about me.

Anne Marie Gillen 57:01
You know, what? Anger is when they're upset is a few you're never gonna work in this. It's, it's, it's not about me. It's that. That's a tough one. That's a tough one.

Alex Ferrari 57:12
You know, what, and have you had that statement said, You'll never work in this town again. Have someone said that to you? You know, I've had that I've had that said to me like you when someone says that to you. They are in a place of such massive ego. It's It's so they're so far gone in so much pain, if someone said, and of course, the more infamous, you do know who I am. If someone ever says Do you know who I am? Just walk away. Just walk away. I've had that experience. I'm like, wow, wow. And do you know who I am? You'll never work in this town again. I By the way, anytime I'm on set, I yell out you'll never work in this town again, at least 20 times a day. And everyone pitches themselves. I do it constantly. Anytime a grip doesn't. Anytime a grip says something wrong. I'll just walk by I'm like, dude, you'll never work in this town again. And then they just are so I make it a joke because it's so ridiculous. And then I think someone called me out once and I said something on set. They're like, my phone rang. My phone rang. I said, my phone rang. I'm like, whose phone? Is that? Like? It's your sir. You'll never work. When I'm on set in my next book, yes. Never work in this town again. And three of your favorite films of all time. Fried Green Tomatoes, obviously. Um, oh,

Anne Marie Gillen 58:44
I'm such a singing in the rain person. Because because I wasn't used directed musicals. And you know, and actually, that was my first goal coming out here was to do musicals. And I haven't done one yet.

Alex Ferrari 58:58
Well, the market the markets, it's a little rougher, the musicals not as much as it used to be in the 40s in the 30s, and 40s. Yeah,

Anne Marie Gillen 59:08
and, and in something I just saw this year that I watched it like three times, just because I was so enthralled with it. And it was the trial of the Chicago seven.

Alex Ferrari 59:18
No, look at what I was hearing

Anne Marie Gillen 59:19
sarkin and the writing and the acting and the history and how it spoke on so many levels, and it was just able to do something like that and leave that kind of legacy and help the dialogue. Right now for for the whole United States. I thought was just

Alex Ferrari 59:38
timing was brilliant time it was and he said that he goes, you know, five years ago, this wouldn't have worked. But you know, in today's environment, I got greenlit. Yes. Right. And where can people and where can people reach out to you if they if they find you online?

Anne Marie Gillen 59:56
Well, they can go to my website Gillan group llc.com And there's a form to fill out. I think it probably even has my email, etc. I'm pretty easy to find. Open that anywhere.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:09
You know what?

Anne Marie Gillen 1:00:11
I'm really nice about talking to a lot of people or helping people. Yeah, I really take that pretty easy. I mean, I can't do it all day every day, obviously. But, you know, people that know me know that they can always pick up the phone and pick my brain and sit in on a call with them that is difficult for them and translated for them later, what it meant and all of that. So I tried it, because it was such a hard, hard journey for me and nobody should have to struggle that hard to learn it and get it.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:40
Amen, sister. Amen. Amen. And it's been a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

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BPS 278: Writing & Directing A24’s The Humans with Stephen Karam

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show, Stephen Karam, how're you doing?

Stephen Karam 0:16
I'm doing really well. How you doing today?

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Good brother. It is Karem. But it's Karam in the motherland. So I was trying to be authentic.

Stephen Karam 0:28
You actually nailed it. You nailed it. No I'm doing great. I'm excited to be here and, and be on the show.

Alex Ferrari 0:37
I appreciate that man. Listen, I just got done watching your film literally 10 minutes ago, cuz it's been it was it was I was like wanting to do as fresh as humanly possible. And I absolutely loved it. We're gonna get deep into that the humans and how you came up with it and all that stuff. But first things first, how did you get started in the business?

Stephen Karam 0:58
Good question. Um, I fell in love with storytelling in Scranton, Pennsylvania, not through any formal education or i My sister was in a production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Scranton Intermediate School. I remember seeing the movie and kind of just being blown away and wanting to get as many VHS tapes as I could. So it started just as an interest Public Library. How many videos can I take out how many plays can I read? And because what was going on in my high school where student theater, I started imitating whatever playwrights, you know, I'd be reading in in Scranton, high school, whatever we were doing. So my first like memory of like creating stuff and participating was both was both acting in school plays and then and then trying to imitate writers that I loved. So just writing skits sketches. In eighth grade, I made a film version of The Cask of Amontillado for a school project with three of my classmates. I didn't know how to I had no editing equipment, so I had to using the crazy heavy camcorder I had to film it. The only way I could figure out how to do was to film everything on the tape in order. So it's like I didn't think right you had to go back.

Alex Ferrari 2:26
And then try not to eat into it. Try not to eat it to the previous steak. I feel

Stephen Karam 2:35
I aggravate my first that was like my first like stab a dragon. But you're laughing Do you have any? Do you have any similar Oh, my experience

Alex Ferrari 2:43
I've first I've been directing for 25 years, my friend and I lived in a video store actually worked in a video store in my in my high school day. So my editing in college, before college was to VHS tapes to VHS decks, and I just would crash. So I was I was just a step ahead of you. In the huge step. It's it is like my hero. But but the first ones though, the first very first thing that I did in high school, because there was no technology was exactly your technique. I would I didn't know how to add. I didn't know what editing was I didn't even understand the concepts because it was no information about I mean, the only information I had was the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark VHS and the Making of Star Wars VHS. And that was essentially all that film education I had at the time, not so much on the editing. So I just kind of just like well, if I shoot it in order, and you would see it and I actually watched it the other day, I don't know why I pulled out my old high eight tapes. And I would see where the splices would come in because I hit the record button. And if you don't hit pause, it would be like a janky cut Oh was just horrible.

Stephen Karam 3:46
Janky cut you get the spice. You know you have to run with it. But it was the there was a there was a moment where the splice was so bad. I remember we added like I couldn't figure out how to bridge it and so we added a commercial so that it would seem like the staticky slice was like stooping us into genius sponsor

Alex Ferrari 4:06
Oh so you were doing you were doing like crazy transitions even in camera.

Stephen Karam 4:11
No, it was we there was this really? I think the like I remember the special effects I remember was like we I did no learn how to there was like a fade button and so there was a great sequence where if you know that truth story, he's it is a horror story. And it's basically like he ends up these these friends end up like one he ends up burying the other alive we walling him up brick by brick, and my sister's like playset like play kitchen house had like there was one section of those brick exterior so I kept like gently fading with this trial like losing my my dad's like trowel, and then we'd like fade back in and just felt like cardboard bricks would be a little higher, with the trowel and then we fade out fade back it

Alex Ferrari 4:56
Well, you know, but the struggle was, this is the struggle was real the struggle was real.

Stephen Karam 5:01
It's also just, I guess the short answer to your question is that this was not my entryway into making plays and films was not that sophisticated route. It was sort of, I was at a public school, there were no artists in my family. So I had wonderful arts educators here and there, and that sparked the love. But I was like a, probably later than a lot of when I think of what, just incredible access young people and film students now have, oh, technology wise, and it's just, I'm giddy, like when I met people outside of the Paramount last night, and just talking to students who, you know, at that time, I was, like, you know, talking about, well, I still don't have the money to buy anything else. And I don't know how to, I can't make any more movies on my parents recorder, because it takes too long to edit it. Now you're just talking to kids where it's like, it's just incredible, like the technology is there it's in if it's not there, it's in their hands on their phone. And so they already know, and are able to do so much. It's just is really just completely thrilling. I don't want to get too far ahead of me. But I felt like the recall that these early experiences was in pre production, like using my iPhone and Artemis Pro on my phone to just go and line up those opening sky shots of the opening credits. And just not taking any of that for granted. It's like I can't imagine being born into that technology. Because doing it was just such a sense of wonder, I'm just sharing that with my cinematographer like the back and forth. And I like to be able to map out something in a way that feels pretty sophisticated, especially once you figure out like what the, my, my oldest iPhone is like an iPhone eight s whatever, you know, I think the focal length, it approximates, like 18 millimeter. But you know, like, I did have a lot of recall, like, How incredible is this, that that I can be having these discussions like and I remember just not being able to figure out how to do anything other than making the movie perfectly in.

Alex Ferrari 7:07
No. But you learned though, I mean, doing the that's the thing. I think a lot of times, filmmakers nowadays and even writers, they don't, when you when you're when you're doing like I sound like to old farts. But like when you do the struggle, like when you're struggling through that kind of technology, you're forced to learn things that you might not if you have everything at your disposal. So even if you even if you using your iPhone, they're still you know, it's a lot different than shooting with an airy or red, you know, so. And if you're editing on on your iPhone or editing on, you know, Final Cutter DaVinci your premiere, you're learning things and you're right, I can't even comprehend what I would have done with this technology.

Stephen Karam 7:50
In some ways, I guess it's like everybody makes the most out of what? Yeah, the pros and cons of where of what you know. And to your point, I think it's interesting. Like, I think about my being unafraid of like, starting from not being seduced by the technology, like I feel like I wonder if I would be so seduced by if I came of age at a time when I knew how like just maximizing the amount of like coverage you get, especially like, over the shoulder over the shoulder, then we'll go and close, then we'll get the established if I was like really married to how, cuz I would have been an obsessive editor as a kid, I imagine I might have just been so attuned to that, that I would have abandoned shots that might have required a little more thought like, like, lost out on the joy of that. And when you start by being like, the only way to do it is to like rehearse and get things ready. Suddenly like the idea of doing like a two minute shot where you have to like coordinate six actors like it's so much of the way that humans is filmed. It's like I sort of love that I feel like you end up your weaknesses become your strengths because you sort of have both in your arsenal like I'm so in awe of how a movie you know with a lot of coverage could be taken away from a director and and maybe to a different movie by someone imposed Oh yeah. That I feel like my focus I'm grateful that I also like know the benefits of what even on movies have to move so quickly like just the benefit of what you can get from if there's a reason for it for like a longer take or what what that emotional read resonance the payoff of those moments can be because I could see myself just being like oh my god just literally cover everything from every angle so that you know I could make this movie you know, into it doesn't even have to be about a family if I decided to add enough voiceover in post.

Alex Ferrari 9:51
Now when you when you go when you start your writing process, how do you approach the process in general do you go with Characters first plot first. You know, how do you actually approach the process in your world?

Stephen Karam 10:08
Ah, it's a little different every time I it ends up being centered around the characters. But in this case, I the initial impulse was like, I was feeling a lot of fear and anxiety about, you know, I was that my day job just about life in general financial crisis and just hit I was an assistant at a law firm thinking about writing my next play. I always like to write from fear or questions I can't answer. I guess that's not character. But in that realm, I was thinking like, Well, why I guess I should be. A lot of things are keeping me up. And I should maybe, what would it mean if I decided to write about these questions I can't answer or these fears. I'm having money, anxieties, worries about health and health insurance, and they'll feel so mundane. And I've always loved the psychological thrillers horror genre, I've always loved being scared, I was always the person who wanted to go on the Haunted Mansion ride or the haunted house. And I just thought, I've never written anything genre, but I was like, what if I write a play about people I love are the things that are keeping me and people I know up at night. And it's actually like, somehow the story itself is like, actually scary, like viscerally scary. And so I was like that, I think I might like to see that. And it might, might be my interest might. So I thought I was going to do something away from character super genre. Almost almost like a slasher movie, like where I would put a family in a haunted house and watch, go jump out of closets and, and I still want to see that movie. And maybe I will see that movie. And those movies exist, but but I just when I put the people into the house, I started to really love them, they got more and more complex. And that kind of like three 417 layers deep kind of layers of character doesn't necessarily lend itself it sort of almost takes it out of being pure genre, even if you're trying to make it pure genre. So that was the origin of the humans on stages, sort of it went from being what I thought was going to be more of a camp, stage thriller, like death trap, like a throwback to these like sleuth, yeah, those old commercial Broadway hits that didn't really exist anymore. And it just kind of in spite of myself, I ended up with with a bit of a genre collision with something that that really was a family drama, comedy, but also completely infected by my love of the horror genre.

Alex Ferrari 12:39
Oh, there's no, there's no question that the horror genre is like drizzled all over the place. Because I'm watching the there's certain scenes in the movies. I'm watching and I'm going, is there I mean, am I safe? I mean, I walked in with with this movie, I felt like I was watching this movie, then all of a sudden, it's like, I he's not gonna there's no monster is it? There can't be a monster. But it was just so brilliantly done that at any moment, like you got me on edge. And I'm like, no, no, I trust the director. He's taking me to cetera as a storyteller. The I can't believe like, you know, an hour and something in they're gonna show the monster like, that doesn't make any sense to me. And, and the monster wasn't in the trailer. So that I

Stephen Karam 13:21
Well, what's crazy is I so somebody who loves more genre, but also loves like, like stuff that's subtle and skirts around the edges. It's like I, I, you know, you're always like, create, I think it's like I was talking about students. It's like, you just you make the movie that feels like the only one you can make. And part of that is running, writing towards what you want to see and what you love and what scares you. It's excited to you and I love movies, even when there are like literal ghosts, but I'm always disappointed. Always and with With few exceptions, like like, even a movie that I'm obsessed with, like Rosemary's Baby, you know, early plants can repulsion of course all these great movies but eat the Rosemary's Baby. My least favorite part of part of that I think is the least scariest when you see the demon baby right? Of course, you get the peek into the crib. And I don't even want to call it a misfire because when a movie is that brilliant, you don't need to you don't need to fix anything, it is exactly what it should be. But it is funny that like that impulse even in movies that I hold up as like, you know, like pinnacles of the genre. It is funny that I'm always like, just as a personal like clocking where I feel like a little less scared or like Oh, my imagination was going to such a more interesting place then that demon that little like the puppet baby with the makeup and

Alex Ferrari 14:43
Oh, yeah, let me you don't want to see the shark. You don't want to see the shark in Jaws,

Stephen Karam 14:46
You know, but if you watch the end of the humans again, I promise you you will see something that will shock you that you will you're going to be shocked that it's hidden in there so explicitly and that you didn't see it.

Alex Ferrari 14:59

Stephen Karam 15:00
It helps when you see it big cuz you did. Did you see it on a movie screen?

Alex Ferrari 15:03
No, I couldn't make it to the screening last night so I saw Yeah, I saw

Stephen Karam 15:06
Just to say that there is something there is an effect of a potential I don't want to say a faceless entity coming out of a wall in a way that on a rewind or on that.

Alex Ferrari 15:17
Oh, no, I saw I saw the thing that scared them.

Stephen Karam 15:21
You guys saw the thing that scared of it at the end?

Alex Ferrari 15:23
Yeah. I know. I saw I saw no, I saw that. I know. I saw that completely. Yeah, when he drops us. Okay, we I don't want to. I don't want to give away too much.

Stephen Karam 15:31
So let's we shouldn't spoil it. We shouldn't. Yeah, okay,

Alex Ferrari 15:33
So let's not go too deep into it. Because I don't want to spoil it for people.

Stephen Karam 15:37
Curious because you're we both love Cooper I can see Stanley's the O ring above you. But like, I'm like, how do you it is a fun push and pull. And it's I kind of love that you were thinking I guess the my big joy with this movie is that the potential feels really real in a way that maybe it didn't quite as much on stage. But where you actually are like, is she actually going to open a closet? Or like is something really crazy going to jump out? Or is this the tension coming from?

Alex Ferrari 16:07
So this is what I loved about the movie, man? You know, cuz when you first start watching it, I walked in cold. I didn't know the story. I only saw a trailer I walked in cold. So that's the way it's best way. I love watching movies. Just like I don't want to know anything about it. Just do what you're supposed to do. You turn the lights up. Did you turn the light? Yeah, yeah, everything was dark. It was everything was dark. Okay. Anyway, of course, I mean, you have to watch a movie in the dark. So I'm watching it. And as I'm watching it, and I love the way the camera moves, which is so brilliant. Because you do a lot of frames within a frame in the film. I noticed that right away. There's just so much framing within framing and framing. And the camera moves. I wouldn't say fly on the wall. But it's definitely distant. So you feel like you're voyeuristic in the in the entire, this is just my feeling on it. You're voyeuristic and you're overhearing something that you might not really should be overhearing. This is very pretty private stuff. So I love that aspect. But then the the noises and the booms, and then how you build that tension. Which is so fascinating, because I'm like, but this is not a horror movie. And this is not a thriller, I think. And that was the thing that I loved about it because it kept me someone who's seen 1000 movies. 10,000 movies at this point in my life. Kept me on edge going, Wait a minute, is the is her monster here. And then, oddly enough, I feel the monsters within the there's so many, there's so much of that within the characters in the stuff, some of the stuff that the characters are saying, I'm like, Jesus, these people are horrible. Like they're so mean. And I'm like, That's my family. I know that I got that person in my family. I got that person in my family, I got that person in my family, they would say something like that. So it's like this. It was just such a at the thing is the thing I love about it, and then I'll let you. I'll ask you another question. But the thing I love about it is that I'm faced level. It didn't seem like it was it like it was I was going to be a good story. I knew it was going to be well written and all of that. But it when you first the first few friends you just like this is I didn't expect what I expected. And that's so rare in today's world, that you walk in thinking something and you walk out thinking something else. And it's so hard to do that nowadays because we're so jaded and so literate visually and seeing so many things for us to be surprised, and anything and it wasn't a cheap surprise. It wasn't like the cat jumped out at you. It was just done on a psychological level. May I say almost Kubrick Ian in the way that it gets under your skin a bit if that makes sense.

Stephen Karam 18:41
It does make sense. I don't even know that I want to say anything other than I know it's a real joy to just listen to somebody you know process the film it's it's a private experience for so long you you sort of make it and you're hoping long for the opportunity to hear what other people think and experience and yeah, like from from the the voyeurism I mean, it's interesting, it's such a slow burn and the movie in a way that I was really hoping or couldn't really anticipate was how many people like you kind of come in cold in a way that the dream was that there would be need to be no preparation that this wasn't the type of adaptation that was like you love to the play now coming up that it was really its own entity. And so the surprise element, which I guess I'm most proud of, because it it felt it feels like it's born out of the just the emotion of the the ride of the story, the characters and their journey. That sort of bending are really familiar thing that we all know but so slowly, while also not being dishonest. It's from the opening frames, everything. The DNA of what I'm doing is embedded in the shots and it's a very bizarre opening shot of a dad to be hiding behind like the molding in a distant, like you said, so part of you knows. And yet I also wanted the audience because none of it needs to be processed, you know, consciously, which is part of like, you know, watching Kubrick it's like you don't even know what some of those images and the frame is doing to your but what the folk but but you just know that you're feeling unsettled. And so I was actually blown away by using domestic drama and comedy how it's such a familiar thing, right? It's in our bones. We know what the family having Thanksgiving, know what those these movies? Do we know what they do, and we love him for it. And so I was surprised how just shooting them differently. I mean, it literally working with my cinematographer, and just framing them in unfamiliar ways, right? How much power that has almost because it doesn't announce itself. It doesn't that like, you know, you noticed it, you were like, okay, he's keeping his distance. This is a lot of a lot of empty space here for but but to an audience who's just going to watch a movie, you sort of like the slow burn of it, as you sort of the movie teaches you how to watch it. I think if you forget it more, and you almost don't know where the dread or the creeping suspicion that something's off, I didn't want to say dread but like, just the power of synonym of just the visual imagery of just image by images that you can hold familiar things right a little askew, you can go down a tenement hallway, you know, on the right focal length, and you're just like, why am I scared watching Amy Schumer walk down a hallway like this is not this is not a weird moment. I just laughed at her in June Squibb like what's happening and you know, last night like the Paramount's so great because it's such a large, huge and it went from a laugh line about you know, Amy's like should I should I just dumped you want me to just dump grandma down the staircase How am I supposed to supposed to go down there to just cutting to the next shot of this read this like blood red?

Alex Ferrari 21:56
Yes with with that lovely always with that lovely image on the on the on the elevator

Stephen Karam 22:02
With a lovely image on the elevator like the audience and this is something that's like now I'm just getting experienced where there's time just kind of went like, like, they felt something about that was eerie to the point that there was like, like, like, the way that one does in a horror movie where you just instinctively know it's like too claustrophobic. You want June Squibb to have more room in her wheelchair. And I just love that. I mean, that's the power of like a photograph and the moving pictures like you the just how powerful the frame is. And I think for me, it was always a balance of not to lean too much into like, I I think the things I love about the genre are what I hate about it, and that I hate being told so early on that a scary thing is coming. Like with music with a staying and and I still love it because it's like, Oh, scary things about to happen. And then it happens, but it's still satisfying. And with the humans just kind of playing with all the tropes that I love, like, like, wrapping my arms around them, but also like, what if it's also like a horror movie with jumpscares, but also much quieter? What if it doesn't have the lead in underscoring of a horror movie like the thing that Telegraph's like creepy, creepy? And weirdly, for the movie like this? I think it makes it feel a little like creepy or creepy. Yeah. Oh, absolutely. There should be. Someone should be telling me more how to feel like someone should be holding my hands as an audience member. Because we're so used to that, like, there's no scary scene, or this is a funny scene,

Alex Ferrari 23:34
You definitely leave the audience out there. You're guiding them to be you leave them out there, you're like, like you said, you're not guiding them. So they're kind of just like, I have nothing to hold on to. I like what's going on. And it gets gets worse in the best way possible. As the as the film goes on, as you build it. You just start like I can't, I can't hold on to this thing. I can't hold on to the score. There's no monster like and you're just like, I don't It's uh, you're off kilter completely. And it's so brilliant. That scene in the hallway. I mean, you using blood red as the, the dog the cover of the elevator. So um, like, and, and all the other stuff so I can understand why people felt like a little bit off there. But, you know, going back to what we were talking about with Kubrick. I mean, I was trying to explain to my wife who's never seen the shining before she's like, is it a scary movie? And I go, I go, it's not as much that it's scary, is that it gets in your bones. And it's that it's not like there's, yeah, there's a couple of scary images in it, but it's not really like it's not a horror movie in the, in the grand scope, and it has that kind of just eeriness, the way things are framed the way things are sitting there. And there were there touches of that in, in the humans, which was so beautiful because you just like I just feel weird here. I don't know why and it just gets you it gets inside. You and that is not a super, that's not superficial, like a lot of horror movies are or a lot of cinema is a lot of times it's always on the front. But when you can get inside someone's psyche, or in their bones that you've achieved something, no question.

Stephen Karam 25:15
Well, thank you. I mean, it's a challenge, it is really hard. And you never know, you know what, what works for one person might not work for another person who, you know, I respect everybody's opinions and tastes. And so I also don't, you know, I don't think somebody is wrong if their adrenaline only gets fueled by like, you know, quick cuts. And I think, you know, we are who we are, and so, but they're sort of share that love of the like, you know, why can't I stop thinking about, you know, the tenant? It's like, these movies that feel deeply imperfect? Or why can I stop thinking about the shining? Why does the imagery still to this day, you know, more than a movie that might might be so hell bent on exploiting the why just dump blood in the hallway? That's not scary? What if we see should we be seeing people split open, that spills the blood into the, you know, so even the people come away from the shining, thinking of it as like the ultimate like, gory movie, it's almost like you have to see it again, to really remember that like, intestines, the movie is not about like intestines being being thrown and eaten at every, every turn. It's almost like, I agree with you that it's more shocking, how much it is about, like the architecture and the framing. And the fun thing about like making the humans was going down the wormhole of like, pre war, architecture and empty space. And, you know, there's, there's been a lot of like, interesting writing about, like, the horrors of empty space and that empty, the more empty the frame, the more horror is implied. But it's also a lot to like, take the leap. To hope that you know, cuz, because I think other people, understandably, are just like, fill the frame like, I've no, no, don't, don't I don't make me be patient. And, like, what you said was the goal, but also a lot of people in a way that I understand as somebody who likes to watch, like a good rom com every now and then, like, I literally will tune in, in those moments, to watch a movie when I want the hand holding, or I don't I want to a movie or a TV show that's going to tell me what it is, at every turn. I don't want to have to be like, what's going on? Why am I feeling this way? Yeah. And then, of course, my favorite movies are movies that, that, you know, take that journey and take that risk and feel like complicated people. Like, you know, my favorite movies have this. They feel like people to me, like in the same way that my favorite people on the planet are not all good or all bad. They're complicated. But they're specific, but there's, like so specific. And so you can revisit them again and again and again. And again. Because they never really bore you. Or there's something that just feels authentic about the fact that they're sprung from like, a vision. Instead of like, my biggest fear, which is like movies made by committee, you know, where you are too many, you know, I mean, I'm not talking about collaborations, like where people choose to work in teams, I'm talking more about like, you know, for writers got fired for the other writers got brought up and 17 more writers got came out of the project and 50 more on credited writers got brought on and then you know, and then three producers re edited the movie after it got taken away from the director of a few years from now, it's just gotten. So yeah, there's there's the beauty in a 24 and that they've essentially found success in movies that are those movies or that that let's just say they're just they're not fazed by slightly genre bending or harder to pin down. So I also feel like I had I had like, the right home to do that. Those kinds of things that you're talking about.

Alex Ferrari 29:01
Now, you know, the the humans is originally a play in that play won a Tony Award, I got to ask me, what was it like, winning a Tony?

Stephen Karam 29:11
Award? I mean, it's great. It's also like, the big gift of like, a words is that they don't, it's not that they don't mean a lot they do and that it's like, you know, it's like it's like a you know, it's it's affirmation, it's a nice thing, you're but the it almost like the real gift of like, getting the golden ticket, like in a moment like that is that it also shines a light on how to reveal, like Joy gifts, everything about what you do, it really just comes from, like, are you making stuff that you feel like how do you feel about what you're doing? Right? No external, you know, and so the moment you get it, or you get the brass ring, I'd say you kind of just confirmed like, why I was staying on my day job to make to write the plays that I was writing. Why? You know, I never took Like more commercial, screenwriting options that, that I just didn't want to, I think there's nothing wrong with taking them. But just, I didn't feel like drawn to the specific projects or in other words, I just think it's, it's not that it's a piece of hardware it has meaning. It's just that it also sort of reminds you that the the debt kind of looking to other people to give you a trophy is also is not where it's at. It's, it's kind of like a, it's a great lesson to learn. And I think I think I had that crazy good fortune that come my way. You know, in my mid 30s, which is great that it didn't happen to me when I was 22. Oh, God, I've actually thought I might have thought that it mean, something it didn't. Yep. That I actually am fancy. And it's that it was just a season like incredible. I mean, what's fascinating as it was, it was up against the father, which became a movie last year, the one with Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Coleman. So there's like two, it's fun to see, like, you go after there's often long droughts of like plays that become movies. And it's fun. funny to see in one season like that we both got our movies made. He did such a brilliant job. But just to say, I mean, does that answer your question?

Alex Ferrari 31:23
No, it does. No, it does. It's because I mean, I've had Oscar winners. I've had any winners on the show I've talked to and I always like to ask that question. Because I'd like to see, there's so many people listening think that's that's the end goal. And I always, like, when you win the Oscar, you've got maybe a three minute, four to five minutes situation, you don't even remember it. When you're up there. It's from what I understand. And then you're whisked away, you do a bunch of press. And then it just starts to wean away. But I've talked to so many people who've won those awards, who afterwards were depressed, because it's like, where now where do I go now because they associated so much to those awards, as opposed to know what you need to associate is the journey have fun in the journey, because that's a lot longer than that one minute.

Stephen Karam 32:10
And it's also it's just, you know, going back to like the staying connected to work that comes from your, your, your gut and your heart or just that, that that you're obsessed with, to make it like a Hallmark card. You know, the joy that comes from being obsessed with what you're making, you know, it feels very childlike and very cliched, but it's like, nothing is better than that. And then taking the journey to try to make something that has meaning to you that you want to share and make with others. It's just It's just where it's at. And the everything else is a red herring. It's just, it's it's just a red herring. It's just like dangling. It's like, what are all these sci fi movie? I feel like it's like, I just watched Lynch's dune again. And it's like, the spy. It's like, you know, it feels like the spice. It's like a hallucinogen.

Alex Ferrari 32:58

Stephen Karam 32:59
It's like, you know, it's like one of those movies where you spend the whole, like, looking for the golden Snicket or one of those things, and it's, and then you, you know, it's so cliched, but it's like, and you know, I experienced this with I have incredibly brilliant students, and I'm so impressed with everybody that I get the chance to work with every year. And then I'm just like, you have to, like leave room for how hard it is to their fears about like, the focus is like I want an agent and I want to get you thinking about all the wrong things. But you know, you also remember the hunger and how those things do feel important. Because before until you have some validation, you feel like that's what's gonna make you a writer that's gonna make you a director. And it's like, I do tell them that but it's it's funny to see you know, to make space for like, the feelings on both sides. But the best gift of it is it just for my case, it sort of refocus me to not just to see for what it is like, a great sort of feels like a like a slice of birthday cake. And just nice piece of birthday cake, eat it. It had too much icing on it, you end up feeling a little like, should I be cake but it was delicious. You don't regret it. And then you know, the next day it's gone. And so you're just I'd say the big thing that is true about Awards, which which is hard to admit because it feels as somebody who doesn't have a publicist and is not going to chase them. Yeah. They do get more people to see your work. And so So I would say like, it would be a lie to say that if you know you win the Tony Award for Best Play or you win the Academy Award for Best Picture. You know, the thing that if someone were to say like do they have any value? I would my answer is no in terms of personal value, but yes they do and marketing more eyeballs.

Alex Ferrari 34:55
Yeah, marketing and branding everything. Oh, absolutely. No question.

Stephen Karam 34:59
So So there's there's to me there's a bit of it's that isn't that like I don't the focus that gets put on awards. And I also hate that these things that I don't think have truth beneath them or literally mean that you wrote the best play of like, a godlike way. I hate that they do really result in, you know, and being cinephiles like we all have those screenplays and movies we're obsessed with where, you know, almost everybody's favorite movie did got ripped off or snub,

Alex Ferrari 35:30
Shawshank Redemption, Shawshank Redemption.

Stephen Karam 35:34
Or just saying I read some crazy article where someone was like, Will this be Paul Thomas Anderson tear where like he finally gets right. I was like Paul, Thomas Anderson hasn't been recognized.

Alex Ferrari 35:43
I, I know you read you read my mind. I'm like, wait a minute, did he does he not get like an Oscar for a script?

Stephen Karam 35:50
That's never been gotten gotten the golden ticket or something

Alex Ferrari 35:54
Neither did Kubrick neither did Kubrick

Stephen Karam 35:56
Of course, it doesn't matter. It's like is so you know, or someone like even you Stanley coupe. It's like, it's like, you know, we know these things. It's like, they're totally true. And sure, sure, sure. Sure. You know, I'd say that just so I don't sound completely like Guy Smiley. But I'd say the complex thing is that they really can help a movies get seen by more. Absolutely. And, you know, as writers and directors like, of course, it feels like a lie. To not say like that is part of the dream is that people also see your work, especially in the independent film market. It does feel like it's just so hard to get right. Especially in this landscape. How do you when you can't do platform releases anymore? Like what is? What does it mean for these movies? to just get blasted to very quickly to 1300 screens, and then to VOD, and,

Alex Ferrari 36:47
Right! You want to get people to watch it. You want to get people to watch it. I have to ask you. So I've talked to so many screenwriters and, and, and filmmakers in general, that they talk about the zone and tapping into that, that place that creative place where you can, you know, whatever comes I always consider myself a conduit. I think many of the people I've spoken to who are writers specifically, they're like, I don't write this, I just, I'm here and it comes to me and it just comes right through me. But there's certain people that know how to go there and tap into that all the time. What is your process to kind of center yourself to get to that place where these ideas flow in and you you can just like like Tarantino says it's so beautifully he's like, I'm not writing this. I'm just I'm just dictator. I'm just snog refer on these guys talking, you know? And he gets into that place and there's so many people who know screenwriters who know how to do that. Almost on demand, but it's rare. How do you do it? How do you do it in your work?

Stephen Karam 37:48
I I don't rush it. So I I'm not the person to hire if you need if you need like a very quick

Alex Ferrari 37:55
A quick two weeks, two to three week turnaround.

Stephen Karam 37:59
I become obsessive and I let myself I'll tell you what I do. I I like with this film. I very much felt haunted by Ali ferrets, the soul of Fassbender film because of the way it held its middle aged female character in this pre war architecture, a lot of frames within frames like you mentioned. Keselowski being very interesting colors like being very close, very distant. And so. So I had this concept of like, running with that and being something felt very right about not filming and traditionally being very close, or very wide, and not a lot of in between. So I let myself like do I do research trips a lot before I write. So to your point about the zone, I don't force it. I'm not the person that's still at 7am writing 10 pages of a screenplay. If I'm feeling stuck and a little blocked, I will go back to a really like visual place especially that tends to get me excited and gets me more in the zone. And it just gets me thinking in a way that is more filmic and more dimensional. And you know, I watched the by Edward Yang like 100 times, and it's just a movie. I mean, I found it years ago because it was on some obscure Thank you Martin Scorsese. It was like on one of his like, top 10 movies of the 2000s. I was like, What's this movie, but it's film very wide. It's also people's feel very like ozouf, people spilling in and out of the frame the very patient. And so I kind of just let myself when I'm not in the writing zone, like go into a watching zone and watching other people's work and feeling doing a lot of reading. And usually that points me back to the writing like back to where I'm ready to open final draft and get going again. But I don't have the practice of like pushing through five screenplay pages every day. I don't think that's a bad practice. I just you know that for you. You know part of creative is also figuring out what your own crazy and processes. And for me, I do really get sort of like fuel from more dimensional thinking and that that often involves reading, visual art and just and watching movies.

Alex Ferrari 40:14
Now, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Stephen Karam 40:21
Great question. I would say the core thing that has never sort of altered is just is it focusing on work that comes from your gut level place, making, making, making movies or coming whatever, you're creating a short film, Play feature? Keep keep the focus on the kind of movie that only you could make. And stop looking at these external guides or Wow, that did really well, that film festival or that was a big hit last year. And you can you can play that game. And you can probably do it even really well. I mean, I think I think a lot of people probably do, I just feel like my advice would be, I've gotten the most traction, success, personal happiness on the journey in making these things. By by focusing just Yeah, being reminded that the largest thing you can make is often the thing that already inside you like the the kind of thing that the qualities and quirks and the sense of humor, and a weird sense of everything about yourself is that you actually have, it's so freeing to me, as opposed to thinking like, I got to make this movie more important with the capital I by writing about someone else's family, or I know, she'll be pregnant. Like, suddenly you start drawing from these ideas that are so external, and I think it's much more frightening and hard to remind like, especially young writers, how, once you if you actually accept that the biggest ideas are already some somehow like locked inside view. It's kind of like, it's almost scarier because it's, it's a nice like, scapegoat to be like, What am I What will my next film be i It should be something like that, or a war movie or big, it's, it feels very abstract, because you're drawing on influence in the wrong way. Instead of like, knowing from a gut level, like I want to write about my mom, or I want to write this comedy, I want to make myself like doing something that feels no matter how abstracted it becomes Right? Like, but when you're anchored in that, I just feel like you never go wrong, even when you're screwing up and you have to and you are failing, and you have to try to figure out what the structure is that'll hold that that gut level. idea, it's, it's just the the only way that I think I know you you go wrong in a million ways is when you start from the other place, like wow, it seems like these things are doing really well or No, I guess I should write a horror movie. You know, it's it's always it comes from the wrong place. No matter how talented you are, it comes it. It never sort of, yeah, the journey is never as rich,

Alex Ferrari 43:15
I always tell people that the best the only thing that you have that makes you different in the marketplace is your own secret sauce, is that thing inside you that nobody else has. And I was talking not to drop a name but David Chase, who is the creator of The Sopranos, of course. And he wanted to write a movie about his mom, his his and that's how the sopranos was brought to the world. You know, he wasn't going you know, what's, you know, what's big now superheroes? Like he didn't say. So it was that and what

Stephen Karam 43:43
Or like somebody that he's influenced being like, not knowing the people never know that the deep personal connections, even creators, right mob movies or write series about that. And so, so the hilarity is, so many young writers try to imitate the sopranos and create something that they think is about crime guns and they think that's what's underscoring this friend is which isn't this the reason sopranos is so unbelievable is is it's all the emotional undercurrent that clearly like David's connection to these characters is the undergirding you think it's the action and all this stuff and that's that's delicious, but it's the that's the secret sauce is not that is not the guns and the and the murder. It's it's that part of the I mean, I didn't know that he said that. That's amazing. Yeah. And I also I want to steal the secret sauce because it'll save me a lot. I felt like my answers get winded and yeah, it's about the secret sauce.

Alex Ferrari 44:38
It's about the secret sauce. It's the only thing that you have like it's the only thing your life experience your your interest your things like you like things that I couldn't write to humans, no one could write the humans only you can write the humans and you couldn't write, you know, the sopranos because only David can write the Sopranos. And that's the thing is you got to find that thing with inside you. That's so brilliant.

Stephen Karam 44:58
Like, do you feel the struggle Feel yourself though, like how easy it is, I guess the counter this should be like it is really easy to get away from it. Like it can be hard to keep reminding yourself like, oh, it's when you're getting from that place.

Alex Ferrari 45:11
I'll tell you what, I'll tell you what I I chased the dragon I call the chase at the drag chase that dragon so much like, Oh, that's hot or I'm going to be like that director, I'm going to write like this person. And I did that for so many years till I finally I guess in this only happens as you get older. You just said no, I need to, I need to focus on what's inside me. And the second I started doing that. My work got better. I was doors opened up. You know, I was thinking that things just started to lay themselves out at me where I didn't have to work as hard to get certain things. Whereas when I was trying to chase the dragon, all there was is block block block block. Oh, you're almost there. Nope. Take it away. block block. Almost there again. Oh, nope. Block. And it was just so fascinating to like, and only when you finally can show when you're comfortable enough in your own skin. And it takes a minute for you to do that in life. You know, some some kids, some guys have it in their 20s Some guys and gals have in their 20s I didn't. Like you said when you when you got your success was in the mid 30s and think it was because you probably would have lost your mind in your 20s. And I would have lost my mind in the 20s If I would have lost my mind. Yeah, of course we would have probably self destruct because we weren't prepared for that. One person have a friend of mine an actor said this a great comment. He's like, when you're when you fame is like a bucket of water. And when you're when you're young, you're a seedling. And inside the bucket, there's a seat and the water comes in and just swashes you all over the damn place. But when you get older, the roots take place. And then when the water comes in, you don't move as much. That's awesome. Isn't that amazing? Who do we have to Who do you credit that to? So that

Stephen Karam 46:48
Is that a friend of yours?

Alex Ferrari 46:49
That is Carlos. I was Rocky from Reno 911. And he was playing a character and my first feature. And his character was like a guru. And he just blurted that out. And I'm like, Carlos, I know you're trying to make fun of the guru. But that was damn good. And I quote that quote all the time. That's in the mail. I don't know if you got it from somewhere else or not. But that's where I heard it from. So shout out to callate parlous Ellis Rocky from Rio de illusion.

Stephen Karam 47:15
And what I see with with younger writers a lot too, is that what's very funny, it's like the first taste of any kind of success. People you're you're then the way that there's this illusion that the way to capitalize on it is that the opportunity that comes your way is often like people seeing your special sauce, and then trying to weirdly like capture your special sauce, but then add their own ingredients to it because maybe they want you to staff, right for a shot where Oh, your special sauce can easily get drowned out. And I think that's a hard lesson to learn for a lot of younger writers too, because who can fault anyone for wanting a good paycheck? And, you know, and and I went through one process. I mean, I don't have not written a ton of screenplays, I've written two before this both got made. One I saw a third of it got rewritten a gay character got turned straight, you know, but it was even in those things, that they're valuable lessons in terms of even like now going forward. It's like, well, what, what if I ever do write a play that I think could be a film, you know, the play before this son of the Prophet, I was happy to just let it not become a movie. Because once you but you have to sort of live through these things. And once you live through the fact that like, a little bit of extra money doesn't actually make you happy. Like if you're waking up and working on something that you Yes, that's causing you a lot of stress. And I'd fall asleep at night going like now there should be two gay people in this movie. Why? Why is one of them as straight, it's not going to be more commercial, it's going to be a disaster. You know, it's like, it's like, okay, well, you have to when you're in your 20s you have to learn that lesson, where you really feel the truth of it. Because in your 20s after like, you know, day job for 10 years, I was like, I think maybe I think maybe the security in this money for a year was gonna will make me exclusively happy in a way that I am under estimating. And then I had and I was like, oh, yeah, I forgot. Like, I don't like buying a lot of clothes anyway, like, I don't, I do want to pay my rent. I but once you have your shirt every day, like every week anyway. Yeah. And so. So this, so this didn't feel fancy in the way that I thought it would feel fancy. And I do think some lessons have to be learned. I mean, I guess I guess it's not easy, but I love talking advice like with you and this it's like it's like the it's like how to find that sweet spot of like, not forgetting that like you arrived with a certain degree of knowledge. But by also by like needing to learn some of it viscerally instead of like, thinking that like yeah, if I was 22 and someone gave me this talk, I would just believe them and would just,

Alex Ferrari 49:48
Oh no, if someone gave me this talk at 22 I would have said your chat, whatever. I know everything. You know nothing. I'm serious. No, that's the way you know it. That's the way it was when we were 22 Just like you look at someone would have had this conversation. They could have given us the keys to the universe literally. And like if you it could have been me from the future coming back talking to my younger self and I would go dude, I've gone through this don't do this, don't do this, do this, do this invest in Apple at $7 and everything is going to be fine.

Stephen Karam 50:18
Also Roth IRA, right? Where was the guy? Someone should have given me that lecture if you don't have parents that know obviously, you need some you got to Google it or your own rod

Alex Ferrari 50:34
And last question, sir, because I have to ask this question three of your favorite films of all time.

Stephen Karam 50:40
I feel like it kind of gave them away in the making of the human so it's like I listed three films but that Ali fury the soul incredible love story and clip incredible drama incredible everything about it I love striking movie in every sense of the word and completely surprising. I guess this is three movies, but the three colors trilogy. One of them are the bestsellers written loving

Alex Ferrari 51:10
Double life Double Life Veronique double life

Stephen Karam 51:14
I guess I could be giving a I guess that is three movies. Edward Yang is a favorite as well. And I feel like there's so much in the horror genre and psychological thrillers that like it's hard to be asked this question because the truth is, I just want to sit and just keep hearing yours. And then I want to say three back. And then I want you to say three more. I want to go oh yeah, because even in like with the Stanley Kubrick it's like how did not like 2001 like I still remember like actual feelings I had when watching something even the first time when I didn't understand it, I just remember like, like, feeling like things world's expanding like you because I didn't grow up with going to like some sort of sophisticated arts camp or something. Or I felt like I was in college really sorting this out in my 20s before I was even be exposed to a lot of incredible filmmakers and art tours. But Stanley is one of those people who like like 2001 weirdly slipped its way into my like, like Blockbuster experience in high school and I just do remember like like just kind of like understanding something you don't even understand that there's a whole way to reveal yourself and other worlds through art that is just like beyond what you even thought was possible. Because I didn't think people were allowed to do things like

Alex Ferrari 52:44
Not at that level not at that level now at that point you know without budget now would that budget my friend

Stephen Karam 52:51
So but basically I guess what I'm saying is like this game is only fun for me if we if it's just 45 minutes of us talking about cuz I don't actually happen the same way that I think all wars are bogus. Really believe in favorite films. I just believe in like the 170 movies.

Alex Ferrari 53:07
Right, exactly. And I feel like this conversation is something that you would have heard at three o'clock in the morning at a Denny's. After watching a midnight showing of a Kubrick film I feel this is what this conversation would be like, and you're laughing if everyone not listening.

Stephen Karam 53:22
I don't want to just go with you get the Grand Slam special and just go have that conversation. It's exactly what that is exactly what that takes me back to Scranton. And I do want to like the moons over Miami, Miami.

Alex Ferrari 53:37
You remember that? Of course I remember that. And you Oh God, it was a happy place. Yeah,

Stephen Karam 53:44
I'll go with go to the middIe let's find the next midnight screening. I'll meet you there.

Alex Ferrari 53:49
Oh my god.

Stephen Karam 53:49
We can zoom Danny's so we have no excuse.

Alex Ferrari 53:52
Oh my god. That's it.

Stephen Karam 53:53
We are next interview.

Alex Ferrari 53:55
Steven. Thank you again. So first of all, what can people see the movie?

Stephen Karam 54:00
So we're going to open in I don't know how public this is yet but we're going to be in about 20 cities on November 24. Okay, so anywhere you can google and find out which which arthouse cinema is playing your the new movies is that will be revealed very soon but November 24, day before Thanksgiving in theaters and then rolling out largely slowly after that, but that's awesome morning Mark 20 markets starting November 24.

Alex Ferrari 54:36
I am so you can I am so glad I'm so glad the powers that be gave you the keys to the car so you can drive this thing and I'm so glad that you that they gave it to you and I hope you continue to get the keys and you continue to make amazing films because I want to see what else you come up with my friend. So thank you again so much for being on the show and keep making great movies man.

Stephen Karam 54:59
Hey same to you thanks for having me.

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BPS 277: What They Don’t Teach You in Film School with Shane Stanley

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Alex Ferrari 0:21
I'd like to welcome Mr. Shane Stanley man How you doing?

Shane Stanley 4:20
Alex I'm good Thanks for having me. How you doing?

Alex Ferrari 4:22
I'm as good as we can be in this crazy upside down world we live in sir.

Shane Stanley 4:27
Whoo. Every day. I keep thinking it may just start finding its right way back up and then the wheel and the ball just spins back. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 4:35
And then and then it starts raining murder Hornets. So I mean,

Shane Stanley 4:42
and what was the new animal they threatened us with last week.

Alex Ferrari 4:47
25 foot 25 foot Grizzly like I don't know it like it's it's it just saw but this is this is going to be a film geek thing before we get started. Did you see that the trailer for Grizzly too. The film that was shot in 1980 something and is now being being released in 2020. But starring George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen.

Shane Stanley 5:11
Oh, wow.

Alex Ferrari 5:12
And I saw I just saw it was on my Facebook feed. I was like, This is never been released. It was sitting in someone's closet and they finally Brent remastered it and edited.

Shane Stanley 5:23
You know what's weird, is I used to run Charlie Sheen's production company from 96 to 99. Okay, he was he was friends with George Clooney. And he kept saying, Yeah, we did a movie together years ago. That's it years ago. And and wow, I'd like this and it never came full circle. Now it did.

Alex Ferrari 5:44
I'm glad I can bring closer to that part of your life

Shane Stanley 5:47
is wondering what that was because it never I never got answers

Alex Ferrari 5:51
Grizly to start. It says George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen. And oh, God, the guy. No, the star of credit. The star of it is Oh my god, I can't john. JOHN Reese, the guy from Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings. With the big the big voice in the beard.

Shane Stanley 6:13
Yeah, I know. You mean he's English actor.

Alex Ferrari 6:16
Yeah, he's an English actor. Exactly. Yeah. He's, he's, he's the star of it. And you see him. And I saw him and I saw him in the trailer. He's literally lassoing a 25 foot which is so obviously not a 25 foot crazy, but it's just so brilliant. I can't wait to watch it. So I'm sorry, everyone. We had to start off with a little bit of film geekery But so, uh, so Shane, tell me how you got into the business.

Shane Stanley 6:51
You know, Alex might my journey into Hollywood was was a little different than most but not uncommon. My father when I was born, was a working actor. And he had been in films like ice station, zebra rock cuts, and Mannix modsquad. He was a working blue collar actors under contract with MGM and Aaron Spelling. And as I was born, he volunteered me for a national television commercial. It was for a new company called century 21. I was the little baby in diapers that this new couple was buying a house and so I became a childhood actor before I could even walk and did that for a number of years and was quickly bored with being in a trailer and being there all day to do a couple of minutes of work. And my father had transitioned into becoming a filmmaker, a documentarian and a very successful one. And he had a movie all around the house. He had the RS 16 millimeter cameras, the flatbeds splicers, and I was fascinated by that equipment, Alex, and before I was seven years old, I was running a movie Ola, I was assisting him and his editors doing sound sync and splicing and fixing films that would come in and needed repair. And I just, I fell in love with the process of just from watching them storyboard ideas and doing educational and documentary films and then seeing it on the screen when it was all done was just that whole concept of delivery was fascinating to me and that that's really what what brought me in

Alex Ferrari 8:22
and, and then you you worked on a film called gridiron gang starring the Rock Can you tell us how you got involved with that project?

Shane Stanley 8:29
I executive produced that it was an interesting story. I'm being independent filmmakers. My my father, my my stepmother, Linda and I were producing this documentary series called the desperate passage series, which ran from 1989 to 94. And in involved at risk youth taking them out on at sea expeditions, you know, Michael Landon, Lou Gossett, Jr, Marlo Thomas, Sharon, bless Eddie James, almost all used to host and we had a great pool of talent. And there was a story in the LA Times about this juvenile football team that had hatched up at the local prison. And we had already shot I think five or six films up there. Camco Patrick in Malibu. So my stepmom found the article, she brought it to my dad and said, I think we should do this. My dad said, No, I'm kind of done. I mean, we've done five or six of these shows on these kids. Let's move on. And she wanted us to really pursue it. So he called probation and so he helped us again, we'd like to do it and he said, Oh, get in line. Hollywood's Hollywood's come knocking in some, some big studio had the rights to do it. And three weeks later, they called us and said, do you want to do it get up here they start practice tomorrow. So my dad myself, Philip Byrne, Ken Schaefer and David Johnston God rest his soul, went up to camp Kilpatrick and shot for three weeks, and a documentary that became known as gridiron gang, which as soon as it aired became in 94. Those property your parents have gotten more Really and then 15 years later we made that pyramid Saudi Columbia for 15 years before we made it.

Alex Ferrari 10:09
So yeah, that's a that's a lovely little thing that film filmmakers listening should understand that the Hollywood is not fast. by any stretch of the imagination. It's still these. There's projects that stay in development for decades and decades.

Shane Stanley 10:24
Well, what was really interesting is we weren't in the gridiron gang and nobody would Eric for two years and we had already had a ton of success with acid series. We had 13 Emmy nominations, we won like eight. And I don't know I think it was because it was football, you know, high school football who wants to air that that's that, you know, and they're kidding.

Alex Ferrari 10:46
Like, everybody wants to see how like so many people want to watch high school football.

Shane Stanley 10:49
9192 different time, Friday Night Lights hadn't hit. So once it got aired on, KTLA, everybody wanted it. And it was interesting, too, because a lot of actors want to know, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, we were talking about john candy share. You know, as Sean Penn, a lot of people were calling for the rights and wanted to get involved. And then we made our deal with Sony. And they put it on the fast track. And at the time, Mark Campbell was the president of the studio and they were going to attach everybody from Bruce Willis to Andy Garcia to Dustin Hoffman. They had all sorts of plans. And then it went into turn around when more Canton would show the door at Columbia wanted to turn around and sat for another eight years without, you know, being able to do anything because they had over $2 million charged against the film. So anytime a producer called us Alex and said hey, whatever happened gridiron getting be great to make that. Yeah, great. You know, pay Colombia 2 million. And then we can talk about as a they had that much invested in those terms.

Alex Ferrari 11:52
And then how did so then they sold it over to paramount. Paramount picked it up?

Shane Stanley 11:55
No, no, no. What happened was is Neil Moritz was a budding producer. You know, Neil is known for fast and furious SWAT and about every other hit Hollywood is cranked out in the last decade. And Neil was was somebody who was involved with us early on, and he went on to do fast and furious and SWAT and triple x and all these great films and we always stayed in touch with Neil he's he's genuinely a good guy. He endorsed my book as you saw. And Friday Night Lights came out and then we knew we were Marshall was getting made facing the Giants was this big indie Christian head. And it was like movie after movie invincible. We heard in one thing we have to admit Alec, you and I joked about this before we started as Hollywood repeats itself, they copy it's a copycat industry. And it was kind of like if there was ever a time to make Baron gang, it's now so my dad and I called Neil and said, Do you want to make it? He said, Yes, let's meet tomorrow, but have a cast in mind. Because that's what's always stalled this thing out so I'm coming up with a cast list a mile long Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis again, let's go with these guys. And Jason state them and, and my wife, then girlfriend at the time, was in the bedroom watching TV. And she came in and she said, I need you to come see something and I said, I'm busy. I'm making a list for Neil Moritz. And she said, Stop what you're doing come in here and look at what I'm watching and it was the E True Hollywood Story on the rock. And he had been arrested a dozen times before his 18th birthday. He had played a very high level in the national championship. Miami Hurricanes was drafted into the CFL NFL blew out his knee and started from dirt and made something great of themselves. And I watched that five minutes Alex and I went back to my office I tore up my list of 35 plus names that I'd spent four hours coming up with, went into Neil's office the next day. We caught up a little while since we saw each other and he said alright, where's your list? And I said, I got one name for you. I said Dwayne Johnson. And he yelled to his assistant, Nikki, Nikki, when's my dinner with the rock? She said tomorrow, he said, Give me a copier. Give me a DVD of the grid of the documentary you and your dad made. Two days later. We were up at the jail with Dwayne Johnson walk in the premises. And he knew we were making a movie. I mean, you know,

Alex Ferrari 14:06
that was and and Dwayne. I mean he was he was the rock but he wasn't the Rock like he was he was big but he wasn't what we know of him today.

Shane Stanley 14:14
He just done Walking Tall Scorpion caves

Alex Ferrari 14:17
early early. He had done if

Shane Stanley 14:20
it was early Yeah. And he was leaving to go do God that video game movie he did right? Oh, don't do

Alex Ferrari 14:28
that. Do that. Yes. He jokes quite a much about a bit about that. But it was still early on. Yeah, walking to Walking Tall was a hit and you know, but he wasn't what we would call like the rock now is the rock.

Shane Stanley 14:43
And I can't think of a I can't think of a person who deserves the success more talking about humble, sincere, gracious human being. I feel honored to say that we're to this day. 12 years later, we're still good friends. We stand regular touch. He's if anybody has earned it, and you really know his story. You would say it's him. And if you ever get a chance to work with a run to it, you'll be glad you did.

Alex Ferrari 15:05
That's amazing. Yeah, he's, I'm a huge rock fan. I've been watching the rock since the WWF days and I frickin love the rock. Oh, no, the I could do one eyebrow, that's it, I could do. I could do the Y kit. I could do one, I can't do the other one. Now, you wrote a book called what you don't learn in film school, which is basically my entire brand. What I've been, it's been pleasure. No, it's been what I've been talking about for years. And it's like, Guys, you know, one of the reasons why I started the podcast was like, I didn't hear anybody really out there at the time. telling it how it is from a place of someone who's walked the walk, like being in the industry, and really getting the shrapnel and getting the hell out beat out of them. And, you know, 20 I mean, at the time I launched, I was already like, 18 to 20 years in, you know, and just working with a ton of people. And I've been, you know, in all sorts of craziness. And, and I wanted to give like a voice to like now guys is not really what it is. So that's when I when I found out about your book, I was like, Oh, I gotta I gotta have shading out. We got it. We got to talk. So what are your thoughts on film schools in general? Do you do need to go?

Shane Stanley 16:21
Well, I think you know, it's a question that is the the age old it's a $64,000 question. I am not against film school, what I am against is charging PVS six figures to get a degree in French noir cinema. Yeah, theory in cell silos and how to keep it preserved in an archive. I mean, there are curriculum that I think are completely useless. But there are things here that I think are important, and I definitely know, like me, you're a blue collar guy, you know, if you come on to set on my Jane Seymour film, if I wasn't working with Jane or my dp, I was physically unloading the grub truck and helping the guys set up. It's just who I am. But I think there's a lot of us who didn't have a parent who bought us a camcorder or we didn't grow up at a time when our phones could make movies. Or I really was like his maid who grew up with movie holders and dads who were making documentaries. So if you don't have an understanding of the craft, or have any idea about it, I think, you know, to become an architect, you would go to school to become an architect to become a lawyer, you would do that. I think the most important thing somebody can do is read a book like the one I wrote or be involved with websites and movements, like indie film, hustle, because there's only so much they're going to teach you at school. They have to keep the persona on that you do need this or there without work. I mean, that's the way it is. But there's so much the business of the business that they don't teach in school is, you know, they don't teach about distribution deals. They don't talk about how to hire crew or how to make I mean, I do all my own contracts, whether it's actors Screen Actors Guild, I IATSE teamsters, it'll teach that. Nope. Look, where are you going to learn it, you're going to learn it from guys like you and me and the other people out there that have that have, you know, stood on a soapbox and try to promote it. So I think film schools are good, I get nervous where a lot of them their instructors are not tried and true filmmakers are people that that haven't been on a set in 20 or 30 years. I go around the country and do workshops and seminars will now that we're on zoom, I do them from air, but it amazes me the lack of credentials, the teachers teaching our next generation of storytellers have that's all just third generation stories about the history of cinema that's not filmmaking.

Alex Ferrari 18:44
No, I agree with you 100% I again, I always tell people look if you can if you can, if you have no understanding and you have no no other way to get this information. Then school is wonderful. At a price at a at a price like my film school. I went to full sail and I paid 18,000 bucks. I know what well, I paid 80,000 bucks in 1990 something and and for 18 grand it was was well worth the cost. You know, because I learned how to ride. I'm sorry.

Shane Stanley 19:15
Were you in Orlando?

Alex Ferrari 19:16
I wasn't I was there for a year and a half.

Shane Stanley 19:18
I was there in 93. I taught us a workshop in 93 in Orlando. I

Alex Ferrari 19:22
don't know if he was I was I was not there yet. I'm a little bit a little bit older than you a little bit a little bit younger than a little bit older than that. I'm not a little bit older.

Shane Stanley 19:31
I'm sorry. I'm 49.

Alex Ferrari 19:33
Well, sir. Well, no, I'm I guess some were similar vintages. Let's say. We're similar vintages. So but the thing is for that 18 grand, which I still think was a little bit pricey for my taste, because I learned how to wrap cable. And I learned how to make a cup of coffee. Those were the two biggest takeaways from my film education because because the technology was changing when I went so I was I was Did you know I was I was still told by my post production professor, that a computer will never be able to produce broadcast quality images. So yeah, that was a quote. I was like, wow, okay. Yeah. Okay. So the big issue I have with film schools is that, yes, I do have some great stuff in it. But the ROI is not there cannot charge somebody 60 7080 100 $120,000 for an education that you and I both know, will not return its investment. If you're going to be a doctor, there is a system setup to get your money back. If you're a lawyer. If you're a pilot, if you're an architect, if you're any of these other if you're an engineer, there are ways their system set up for you to start. And it might take time, I'm not saying the doctors, they cost like, you know, 300 or 300 $400,000, for their education, but there's systems in place to get that money back. Whereas in filmmaking, there is absolutely nothing you can do to guarantee anything, and you and I both know, that it will take if you're good and lucky, and you hustle like there's no tomorrow, maybe five years before you start generating enough money to support yourself if you live in Los Angeles, and that is like the outskirts, more likely 10 years.

Shane Stanley 21:28
You couldn't you couldn't say it best and a better and, and you know, my whole thing. When I started this, I learned the hard way. Because, you know, I like you was trying to come up with a way where in between films, what could I do to make a living and also help others there's got to be way because I tried to be a teacher, I squeaked out a high school. So nobody has hired me as a teacher because I didn't have a degree. Yes. Okay, fine. I get it. So how can I help? And my things, I was meeting with some of the top film institutions in the country. And I said, and I still am very close to a few of the chairs, and they let me in on some very private stuff. But I would be under exaggerating. If I said they know 86 to 92% of the kids who go through their full programs will never earn a dime in this industry Absolutely. Know that. And my original approach Alex was, what if because of the connections I have in my passion to help these students become because they are a next generation of storytellers, my way of giving back, how about if we started a mentorship program their senior year, so when they get out, we're almost handing them a baton. So people like numerous people like Amy Powell, who was running Paramount at the time could know these students and help place them in introduce them. And maybe once a year, we can have a gathering, you know, obviously before COVID in an arena or something where there's a lot of film people, a lot of students who can make connections. No, nobody wanted to do it. No, they didn't want to do

Alex Ferrari 23:03
no, and there's and look, they're selling the sizzle, man, they're not selling the steak. And that's that but that's the that's the thing. They have to sell the dream Hollywood needs to keep this dream alive. Where if you go to film school, and by the way, before that was the truth, which was you had to go to film school to get the kind of education you needed to get even a job in the industry in the 70s that's true in the 80s there was no other option where now there's guys like you and me out there talking writing books, doing podcasts, YouTube channels, there's so much information out there that you don't need to and I know a lot of filmmakers who decided you know what i got $50,000 for an education I'm just gonna go make a movie and they learned so much more by just going out and making a movie which might be good or bad regardless, it's an education I promise you if you go make a movie it's it's

Shane Stanley 23:59
you will you will learn more making a movie whether it's a short or a full length because you know you've made more than I I learned something about others. I learned something about how society interacts because I come back to a cave you know, I shoot a movie. I do concepts of delivery. So I'm usually editing it I'm post supervising it it's an 18 month process for me. I go away Well, I think it's safe to say the last 18 months our world has been to quite a bit in my studio last 18 months working on break even which comes out later this year. So to be honest with you, I kind of know what's going on but I can't wait to get back on a set it schooled and reminded where we really are I use those as such learning curves for me because I go in and I'm like okay, this is where we are today. And it's it keeps me on my game. It's an exciting experience. And every time I do something I learned

Alex Ferrari 24:53
no without without question every single time I want to set every single time I do you know in post production every time writing a script, you learn more and more, it's, it's like anything else, you got to learn the craft in every part of our craft, and it's so complex, it's not just writing a song, it's not just playing an instrument, it's not just carving wood, a table out of some wood.

Shane Stanley 25:19
You're right,

Alex Ferrari 25:20
it's multiple disciplines that you need to understand at least if you don't have to do them all. But you should understand this entire process, which is massive. It is what it is a complex art form. And we haven't even talked about the business. That's just the art form, then the business is a whole other conversation.

Shane Stanley 25:38
There's the business side, you're right, you've got to go hustle your your money to get attached to the project to get the actors to sign them up to get going. And then you got to crew it and cast it and location it and feed it and make it and then sell it.

Alex Ferrari 25:54
It's a process and the do it all again. And and it doesn't and it doesn't generally, generally speaking doesn't work out exactly how you have planned whether the positive or the negative, it's always something else. And, and it will break your heart. More times than not. It's it this is a horrible relationship. This industry we have with it. It's an abusive relationship. It's an absolutely. It's a toxic, abusive relationship.

Shane Stanley 26:21
It's so well said it's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 26:22
But with that said, we can't quit crazy. We can't we can't quit. Like I need

Shane Stanley 26:32
it said it says bro back now I just can't quit you right?

Alex Ferrari 26:35
I can't quit you, man. It's the truth. It's the truth. You can't quit. Because, you know, I've been saying this for a while. It's kind of like you catch it. You catch it. And it's with you for life. You can't get rid of it. It flares up. Sometimes it goes dormant for decades, even sometimes, but it Oh, I'd literally had a conversation with a filmmaker the other day, who was 65 just retired and said, Hey, I'm starting to write my screenplay, because I always wanted to make a movie. And I'm like, that is the case it's it's flaring up. It's flaring up now.

Shane Stanley 27:11
Well, you know, it's funny, I I've had a good run if I if I dropped it tomorrow or was told I'd never make another movie. I'd be sad, but I fought the fight. I won some battles. I'm proud of my body of work. So I wanted to just become a workshop guy and a seminar guy and a mentor to these film students. I was done I feel if I don't make another movie again. I'll be on a team I've done my I fought the fight my resume is there and I don't want to go teach. And I did that for six months and and I still love teaching and mentoring and workshopping. I do it a few days a week now. But I couldn't wait to get back on a set. I missed my crew. I missed five oh, the writer. I missed arguing with a dp and fighting with an actor and being told I don't know shit and you know the hell with you and having them stormed off and all that fun stuff that actors do and they know they're wrong. And I missed it. I missed being the big one. Why did I get that extra angle? God dang it. Why aren't we got to make it work anyway, you know, I missed that

Alex Ferrari 28:09
I just can't quit. You just can't I just can't. I can't I always say I just can't quit crazy, because it's crazy. It's it's insanity. Now, what is the biggest thing you see film schools leaving out of their education, besides absolute honesty that 93% of the people going through the program more likely will never make a diamond the business?

Shane Stanley 28:34
I you know, that's a great question. I think when you look at a standard curriculum, I think that the most important thing that film schools leave out is the importance of learning different variables within our industry. Because when I go to a seminar, the first thing is how many you guys want to be writers hands go producers, hands go up directors, all the hands go up. And I say, look, there's 200 of you in this room right now, if two of you were able to make a living as a director in 10 years, I will eat this podium, still haven't eaten yet. And I say you know what, I always try to preach it, you have a choice. And you you touched on it. Alex's it takes five to 10 years to get a foothold in this industry. And what I always tell the students in the kids coming up, and I do a lot of work with community colleges now more than university because they're older, they've had to fight for everything they have they take buses to school and skateboards and kids and but what I always say is I you want to write I get you want to produce direct or act and I love that don't ever let that passion go. But if you want to work in this industry and better you're learn how to be a gaffer, learn how to be a grip, learn how to be an AC learn how to edit, learn how to learn how to learn how to because I bet you would much rather be on a film set as a script supervisor than driving Uber. I bet you'd much rather be helping unload a grip truck and setting up for a cinematographer than flipping burgers. And if you're honest that you're going to be around actors, producers and directors, and if you stand out and you conduct yourself, Well, people will take notice and want you for the next journey. And that is what I feel the film schools leave out, which isn't a specific curriculum. It's common sense. It's life skills. It's how if you don't make it as the next Quentin Tarantino or Billy Bob Thornton, or you know, Damian, helped me to

Alex Ferrari 30:31
sell, sell, sell, sell

Shane Stanley 30:34
those three, which they always tell you, you can be what you're going to do. And one thing I love is Chris Christopher Rossiter, for anybody listening at La Community College, he has an entire course off of cinematography, that is just grip and electric. He does that so people can learn a blue collar skill on a set and go make three to $500 a day.

Alex Ferrari 31:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. I can't even tell you that's like music to my ears. Because when I first started out, I didn't know how to do anything. I start pa and I realized that pa ng sucked. I hated it. It is atrocious. It was horrible. And I worked. I worked at Universal Studios Florida. I worked in Disney MGM. If Are you familiar with the Orlando area during that time, the other productions?

Shane Stanley 31:33
My father's whole side is from Orlando. Okay,

Alex Ferrari 31:36
so I so this is just a little bit of a trivia I've never I've never even said this on the air before but a little bit of trivia. Let's see if you can. Let's see. I'm gonna test your Orlando knowledge. Live first, pa job, which was an internship pa job started off as an internship intern pa was with Kim Dawson. On the back on the backlot of Disney MGM, he was the producer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Oh, geez. And he did a show called the news on on the backlog of universal so then he started off they started off on on Disney MGM, but they actually shot it on the back lot of universal and then we moved over to Universal. And it was like, it was like a Saturday live ripoff. And I that was like the coolest thing ever to work for the producer of it, which at the time was the biggest independent film of all time.

Shane Stanley 32:34
And it's made a comeback.

Alex Ferrari 32:35
Yeah. Oh, now it's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Obviously they've done. They've done well. But that was that's why and then I worked on Seaquest I worked at Fortune Hunter.

Shane Stanley 32:45
Did you work on Seaquest in LA?

Alex Ferrari 32:47
No. Universal Studios, Florida.

Shane Stanley 32:49
You know they had they also shot here at Universal here. I worked on seaquest here. There you go. Castle Rock back in 9394. On Seinfeld, they throw me on Roseanne even I was at a castle rock show. They threw me on seaquest American girl and a couple other ones. And they would occasionally coach and they would throw me on seaquest when they needed extra bodies over there. And it was usually the fake dolphin in the tank.

Alex Ferrari 33:13
Oh, yeah. All day, I get to see Roy Strider and on the set was the coolest thing ever. And then I was there when they switched the seasons that Michael Ironside is the lead. So I mean, I it was it was it was an entertainment. But that was my whole and I also worked in Nickelodeon. Of course.

Shane Stanley 33:30
That's cool.

Alex Ferrari 33:32
I worked jobs. I actually worked on global guts. Global guts was like this. This show for it was kind of like a it's like American Ninja for kids back in the day. And it was awesome. It was so awesome. But anyway, we're taking. We're just going down the Orlando road

Shane Stanley 33:52
going down memory lane. Well, we did a film with Dennis Hopper called held for ransom him dead Bayes R and I think that deal and it was based on Lois Belkin book who wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer my dad directed and we went out and shop with them for was when they were first getting started, you know, for oil has done a million things since then. And that was quite a hoot going out there to see family and work on this film. It was interesting, but that was the only time I ever actually did a film out there.

Alex Ferrari 34:21
What Don't forget that don't forget that Orlando was going to be the next Hollywood don't you? Don't you remember it was gonna it was gonna be the next Hollywood everything's the next Hollywood

Shane Stanley 34:30
next Hollywood.

Alex Ferrari 34:31
I mean, the only thing that's even come closest Georgia at this point became that they've actually pick up the next Hollywood

Shane Stanley 34:38
start wearing masks, they actually may have a chance.

Alex Ferrari 34:42
So what is the what are some of the biggest mistakes you see first time filmmakers make? You know that?

Shane Stanley 34:51
I'd say some of the mistakes that that I see first time filmmakers make Alex is and I touched on it in the book. I feel everybody's trying to make that move. For Sundance they're so convinced their ideas fresh and bright and are going to be the next you know Damien chazelle are gonna be the next you know, whoever and I like you and probably guests on set all the time I get invited first time filmmakers last time filmmaker, same difference. And it's the attitude. It's this air of arrogance and all this bs precisely, just shut up. treat people with respect make your movie the best you can and learn from it. And to me, it's, it's they try too hard to to be a part of something that's probably not going to datum as you and I were talking about before we started this interview. And hey, if you get into Sundance and all that, that is the greatest thing an indie nobody can get on their on their resume, and I hope it happens for them. But go make a movie, enjoy the process embracing consume, learn, be a team player. Don't be above that all because you raise $6 or you're directing this stupid movie to go help a guy who's struggling setting up a craft service table, I watch more people's egos. You know, you go work on a film like gridiron gang or some of the studio films I've done even though there's union rules, it's unbelievable how helpful everybody is for one another. And you get on some of these indie show Oh, fighting for position of what their value is or what they're worth, maybe, God forbid, they see a guy who cuts his arm off trying to figure out a, you know, hydraulic lift out of a moving truck before they discover and help the guy and that's to me is put your pride aside, help each other out. You'd be so amazed how far you can go.

Alex Ferrari 36:39
I always find it interesting that filmmakers in general, they're taught and the myth in the industry is that you're going to be the next winter. And you know, you're you're going to be the next Robert Rodriguez. That is, but what they don't tell you is like, well, that's nice. And one out of a billion people is going maybe that'll happen too, because we're still talking. We're still talking about guys in the 90s. Who made it you know, there's not a lot of new up and coming stories. There are a handful. But

Shane Stanley 37:12
I'm not to cut you off. I'm a firm believer Hollywood, make sure there's one or three every other year just to make sure that

Alex Ferrari 37:18
keep that keep that thing going. Yeah,

Shane Stanley 37:20
to keep that. Absent not to cut you off. But I do believe there is a method behind the madness of development out of nowhere. Success, I think there is

Alex Ferrari 37:29
no there's no question but they don't teach you what happens if you don't become the next point Tarantino if you don't become that, and that is so toxic for for a filmmaker and when you're young. And I was definitely a guilty of this. The ego is rough. I mean, there's a reason why I called my last film the corner of ego and desire because as a filmmaker, if you have even a remote amount of just if you get an award at the local Film Festival, your ego is out of control. And I early on in my career got a lot of attention for some shorts. And that was a little bit I was already beat up a bit. But I was a little bit in a little a little ego. egocentric in regards to the way I approach stuff. But I never once walked on a set with a big hat that said director on it. Or a big t shirt that said director on it or walked around with a eyepiece that I didn't know how to use not like a net like the James Cameron like, you know, let's set up a shot or Martin Scorsese. Yeah, a real like no, like one of these really small ones that have no association to the lens that you're going to use. It just makes you feel like you're a director, the only thing that were that they were missing was a monocle and a blow horn. I mean, it was it's insane. The stuff and I've seen these stories, and I've seen these directors on set. And And nowadays, like when I see that happen, I'll just don't Don't worry. worry about it. He'll be fine. It'll be fine. It all works itself out. It all works itself out.

Shane Stanley 39:05
I found that the best experiences the best synergy vibe on a set is when you know you may be the guy who raised the money, the guy wrote the script, producing it directing it going to do the whole thing. And you make everybody feel comfortable. Everybody feels safe. And that's our thing. You know, as you read in the book, it's about respect. It's about treating people how you want to be treated. And I know that sounds so cliche, but it seems to me unless you're a few of the real crazy tyrants out there. I won't name them. It seems like the smaller the filmmaker, the bigger the ego. And that's just something that's always wrote I just don't it's true, I think missing tremendous opportunity to collaborate with some great people that feel stifled that can. I'll give you an example. We were shooting breakeven last summer. There we CJ Wally. Up who, you know, wrote this scene, as I asked him to write it, I gave him a Google image of the harbour we're at, there's a part where the two people come off of paddle boards onto the dock, walk down the dock, throw a guy in the water, jump on a speedboat and steal it. Okay. And I wanted it as a winner on steady cam that would pick it up. And I'm looking at the logistics of the actual now that I'm here, and the boats here in the fuel docks are there and this and that, I'm going, I can't get what I designed. And, you know, I've got 40 people staring at me. And the first thing I did was I said, guys, take 10, if you can contribute to the thought process here, I welcome you to stay in, if you can't just go get some food, we'll call you in a minute, I got to rethink this out. And I need help because this is not what I envisioned. It's not what I envisioned won't work. And I suggest anybody has an idea to sit with me. And you know how hard that was to do. Here. I am, Rector, producer, and I'm leading the charge and I'm sitting on the bow of the boat. And I'm like, what I want to do won't work. And I want some help. I need some suggestions. And it was probably a second AC that came in and said, Hey, why don't you do this? Holy Toledo. That's not a bad. Alright, everybody, let's go. And

Alex Ferrari 41:12
you know, but that's as opposed to someone who has no confidence in themselves, because that takes a secure person. And I think that does come with age, man. Like unless you're wise beyond your years. Age is where that comes from, or just life experiences where that comes from. Because it's like, I couldn't like a twin. I'm afraid of what would have happened if I would have I had a project that I worked on when I was in my mid 20s that had big stars. And I wrote a whole book about it and about like working with a mob and all this kind of craziness. And I was afraid I look back now like if that would have gone. If I would have actually gotten a $15 million movie and was working with the caliber of stars that I was meeting and working out I would have I would have completely self destructed I would have would have I would have never been able to handle that because I was not prepared for it for

Shane Stanley 42:07
nothing all over again.

Alex Ferrari 42:08
Oh, sure. Yeah, Jeremy. And if it didn't, if it nobody knows that Troy Duffy, please. I wrote a whole giant article about Troy Duffy and the and the boondock saints. And you why you've got to watch the movie overnight. Every filmmaker should watch to watch that every filmmaker has to watch. Because you see the deterioration of of of a film director who's out of control. And by the way, years later, I had a friend of his on my show, and he told me about you because because you still talk to Troy he goes yeah, talk to Troy all the time. Troy By the way, did very well on boondock Saints to like he did he didn't millions did extremely well. Nobody's crying for joy. No, no one's crying for joy right now. But, um, and of course ever since the whole Harvey Weinstein thing which he you know, he Harvey he was making Harvey to be the villain and overnight and now you look like, Okay, this now makes sense. He maybe he wasn't wrong about that. But he said it goes imagine dude, if someone ran ran around with a camera during your early 20s when you would do in a movie like that? I promise you, you probably wouldn't look that great. And I go You know what? You're effing right, man. You're absolutely right. If someone had been following me during that time period of my life, and now that is the image of my name and with my brand for the rest of my career a Troy would have to do so much to break away from that. But that is

Shane Stanley 43:30
you're right. And you know, what's funny is is you know, we talked about the George Clooney, Charlie Sheen Grizzly movie. Yeah, I was I was very young and I was put in a situation of running a movie stars production company. And he was at a point in his life where Okay, was he still do he just come off terminal velocity in the arrival and shadow conspiracy and he wanted to he was hot. Yeah, he was. Charlie was still making 11 $12 million. A movie. Yeah. Who's rolling? We were we he was rolling. We were getting a lot of moving money to make movies. And he wanted to start doing indie films, and they paid us a lot of money to do indie films. I was, let's see was 96 was it 2526 years old? I'm sure I was. I thought I was being nice. I never really became a deck that I know of. I don't have those cringe worthy moments. When I look back. There's a few things I said or may have done to people that I wish I hadn't said it in that tone or with such enunciation. But you know, I look back and go thank god people weren't following me around with a camera I was on my best behavior.

Alex Ferrari 44:27
But the thing is to also you were raised at the business so it's so it's not like you kind of grew up with this. So it's not as like from coming from nowhere to all of a sudden being associated with big stars and big projects. And then all this crap that Hollywood in the film festivals shoved down your throat like the myth the Tarantino's Robert Rodriguez, you're going to be the next big thing. And then and then you're not. So

Shane Stanley 44:53
to me every day is a grind. I always you know, people always say what was it like growing up with nepotism? Well, to me, it made it harder. When I was a child, I was given jobs. I remember when I was done pursuing a professional music career and said to my dad when I was 17, okay, I'm serious. Now I want to be a filmmaker. He said, Great. Do you want my Rolodex? You want to call some people and see if they'll hire you? I'm not hiring you. I was like, Well, what do you mean? You got to find pitcher deal? What do you and he's like, I can hire you go work for the world, dude. Give me a call. He said, Oh, and by the way, the other phase down there third door to the left. Why don't you go spend five or 10 years in there, and then we'll talk you'll go learn filmmaking. He didn't. He didn't give me anything. I mean, my dad was a maverick. He pissed off a lot of people off which which made it hard for me to get meetings. And still some of those calls ever been returned. But I wouldn't want it any other way. It keeps me It keeps me fired up. It keeps me churning. It keeps me doing things like this and wanting to inspire others it just don't ever get complacent. And it's never easy.

Alex Ferrari 45:52
It look I got in a lot of people get all caught up with nepotism. And all you got to you got to weigh in. I'm like, Look, man, they might nepotism might open the door. And it might get you a meeting. And it might even get your project. But it's you and I can get you a job. But it's you doing the work. And actually seeing if you have talent, and can you make the money. That's the only thing that keeps you in the door. I don't care if you're max Spielberg, that doesn't mean anything. You're gonna get a meeting, if you're max. And Max didn't go into the business to my knowledge, they'll know what it's like. So he's like, no, I if you're max Spielberg, you can get a meeting, though everybody, everybody, that's how we'll meet with you. And maybe even get you a job. And maybe even you just start to direct, but it's about you, your hustle, your work ethic, all that other stuff that's going to keep you inside the door so I don't nepotism, yes, it does give you some opportunities that might have not gotten elsewhere. Like my kids. If my kids want to get into the business one day, I would yell at them first. But if, if they if they ever want to do get into the business, they're going to have, you know, decades of my experience that guide them, which I never had. I was in Florida.

Shane Stanley 47:04
Well, you know, there's something that I've always tried to remind people and I know a lot of people who had nepotistic opportunities who are selling storage bins right now they're selling cars, and there's nothing wrong with that. But they've got a list. Parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers running studios, and they can't keep a job in Hollywood anymore. And what I learned quickly was it's not okay. It may not be what you know, it's who you know, but you better know what you're doing when you get there. And you better put all that nepotism aside in your conduct. And I think when you're when you have a contact to get through the door, you have to work that much harder, because so many people are hoping you'll fail. I remember the first job my father ever picked up a phone and got me and all it was was was a second AC job on a on a Richard credit movie back in the late 80s. Yeah, all the DP he knew and said, Look, I don't care if you pay him or not. I'll send them with a sandwich. I want to get the kid on a few sets that I'm not running. I want him to get his ass kicked, thrown to the wolves. So they threw me on this Richard credit film. I didn't get paid, I was allowed to eat.

Alex Ferrari 48:09
That's awesome.

Shane Stanley 48:09
I remember the DP didn't like me anyway. But he liked my dad. And him and I are friends now, which is great. We've done a ton of things together. But back then I was at 17 year old punk. And he threw me to the walls man. I got called every name of the book. People were playing tricks on me. They were putting signs on my back. They just wanted me to fail. And I wasn't even getting a paycheck. I was just another guy to just move cable and hang a barn door. And you know, they didn't care.

Alex Ferrari 48:34
Oh, no, I'll tell you what I had. I was consulting a friend of mine who works in the business. She works over at Universal but like in the legal department or accounting or something like that. And her daughter was just getting out of film school, a local film school that would remain nameless. And and then she was like, can you talk to her a little bit about what the business is like, I'm like, do you do you want me to? She's like, Yes, I want you to tell her the truth. I'm like, okay, so I had I had coffee with her. And I said, Listen, I want you to you know, you see that your mom and this and your mom can make a few phone calls and get you on into our, you know, into the DP section or are in the art department or someone you can get on the backlot, she could do all that for you? And she's like, Yeah, I know, you know, and I'm like, if I were you just understand that if you do go in that path, and I By the way, if it was me, I would take that opportunity, because anything you can get get it. But understand that the second you walk on the set, if anyone finds out how you got the job, you've got a target on your back. That's right. And she's like, what do you what she'd like you could literally see that she never thought of that. And you really have like deer in headlights. What do you mean she's like, they will want you to fail because the same person that's next to you the same PA. That's next to you. came up from Kansas. Drove cross country is living on someone's couch right now and is in busting their ass to get to the same place that you got because mommy made a phone call.

Shane Stanley 50:03
Yep. I you couldn't, you couldn't be more correct. I remember I used to produce a bunch of commercials for an ad agency here in town. And I remember the owner of the ad agency said, Hey, I need a favor. There's a newscaster, who will remain nameless. But she is one of the biggest 3040 year running broadcast news anchors in the business. Her son just graduated high school, he's thinking about getting into production, can you find a job for my school, I can't be a PA. And he's like, I don't know, just treat him well, mom's a good friend. And I remember like getting 50 or 60 people wanting that job. But he got the job because of who he was. And I sat him down. And I said, I happen to know your mom. I haven't seen her in years. But I've met her I thought she was wonderful. I said, Look, you have a target on your back. Because you're you're at the bottom, you're going to be getting thrown the most crap to do, everybody's going to be watching you because you have the same last name. And it wasn't a common last name as your mom, people are going to connect the dots, you have a choice, you can either rise up as the water starts to get high around your neck and rise up with it. Or you're going to sink and I will tell you, if you fail me, I will fire you. I'm not I don't have warm body syndrome on our sets. Dude, you'll get the opportunity. And you know what he was his star, he did a really good job. And but you're right, these these youngsters coming up don't realize the target that's on her back. You know, getting these opportunities. It's very tough. It's not? No, it's not.

Alex Ferrari 51:29
And can you talk a little bit of stuff? Because I know this is something that they definitely don't teach in film school. How about the politics of a film production?

Shane Stanley 51:38

Alex Ferrari 51:40
Exactly. Just Okay, so I sit in the director's chair, no, no like that. So like the politics of, of the other set, okay. And then each department has their own hierarchy of politics. So the DP with the firt, the kid assistant camera, and then, and then there's the light, the gaffer and the lighting department and, and then the key grips, and the dolly grip, and all these kind of things. But the thing that people don't understand, at least from my experience is that there is a lot of politics going on. A lot of a lot of times, people have different end games involved. So I've always told people, like whoever you hire as your dp, make sure that they're there for the story and not for their real, because they will, they will bust their balls to get that crane to get this nice, long 22nd crane shot that will never make the Edit, you're going to use two seconds of it, but they want it for their real so and you're and you've burned for hours because they're lighting it like it's a Scorsese film,

Shane Stanley 52:38
and 20 grand to get the crane and all the permits to and all

Alex Ferrari 52:42
that so. But as a young filmmaker, you don't know any better. So you really need to understand. So that's one set of politics, then there's the power struggle, where if you have a young director on set, which I've been the young director on set, not as much anymore, but but I was a young director on set where then the script soup was sent in by the producer to test me and push me to see if I had the metal to actually hold the production together. Right and because they didn't know who I was, or what I had done prior and a redonk commercials and music videos and other things like that before I got on a narrative film set. And and does this before IMDb this before the internet so that other people didn't know they could check up your work they just heard so that they needed the test. So that's the kind of politics you have. And then sometimes there's like spies, from the production that come in to see if you're directing, right? Or they're spies from your head of your department. They're like, hey, hear the cat, you're the head head camera guy. Keep an eye on on Joe there, see how Joe's doing? And you never know that you're being watched? So there's all these kinds of things can you can touch a little bit of I've touched on a bunch of it. Can you touch a little bit or add to that?

Shane Stanley 53:56
Well, you know, that I can take up to hours doing that. I mean, that's an interesting, that's an interesting, the politics and the dynamics on a set are unbelievable. I mean, I kind of I mean I work with a lot of the same people now I try to have a loyal crew that I enjoy working with but yeah, there's times where I'm a work for hire, I got up bringing on other people and you try to keep those things. You know the one thing I always do with the DP if I'm hiring one is I say look, this isn't about your reel. It's about the overall when I look at a new dp I don't want to see as real I call directors and editors he's worked with and say send me raw dailies I don't want to see is real because you know all ask a director or an ad that this dp where you guys ever held up because he was slow setting up? Did you guys need 10 1520 tapes because the camera or do you do five or six takes and everything was great and it was more a director's choice. I like to find those things out. I always let people know this isn't about you. It's about us. That way. They don't feel alienated, but it's more a team effort. And I was telling them upfront you're not getting anything for your real until the movies out and that can be anywhere between a year happened three years. So suck it up. You're here to make a movie. But there are dynamics. I, you know, I was taught very young Alex, that anybody who's a camera man wants to be a cinematographer or cinematographer, they want to be a director there are this they want

Alex Ferrari 55:15
your first they do a lot of times they want to be the director,

Shane Stanley 55:17
they want to be a director too. So I remember that going in. And to me again, I always found that's probably why don't hire a DS when I'm with these. But yeah, there is a, there's politics, there's dynamics. On a set, I feel, you know, I learned from Jeff McGuire, who is the tremendous writer, he wrote gridiron gang, he got an Oscar nomination for in the line of fire with Clint Eastwood. Jeff taught me something 30 years ago, he said, just remember something in this business, no matter what, no matter how kind somebody is being or how accommodating they may seem to you, they are doing it for their own gain. Don't ever forget that he was you'll make a lot of great friends in this industry. But he said, Just remember, everybody's got a purpose for what they do. And is it true or not? I think it's more true than untrue. But I just think it's, it's about working with people that you can trust and making sure everybody's on the same page. And I think if people feel comfortable, like we talked about earlier, that they feel from the top down, it's like we look at what's going on in our country. And people can say, why is things happening the way they're happening? When you look at the top and how people are behaving coming down? Oh, well, it's happening up there. It must be okay to treat somebody this way. I think if you can, I think you can, you know, leave with a soft voice and a big stick or whatever the term is, I think people the respect, and the backbiting and the conniving on a cetera did become a lot more minimal.

Alex Ferrari 56:48
I agree. That's what I, from my experience, too, if you cast the crew, appropriately, it's casting the crew, you cast those personalities to see if it's all in because if you have one toxic person, especially if they're a department head, it's tough because I mean, I've had a boom guy who was toxic, and it just brings the whole set down until I have to have to go over my get another guy here tomorrow, cuz I'm not going to work with this guy. He's just, he's just toxic. His attitude, his energy was heavy, everything was just rough. And it's just too damn stressful. making a movie is a stressful scenario.

Shane Stanley 57:23
It's hard enough. We don't need that Apple's to use a generic term. And you know, it's funny when you said that it reminded me of something. I was on a film a couple of films ago. And it was weird. I always do a SAG AFTRA film with a non IAA crew. That's just how I work. Some of my guys are a guys, they want to come work for me. That's fine. That's the right. I love having them. But we don't have union rules. So what are those rules? Well, we don't pay the union rates we still have the days are the same length. We still pay overtime. We're still feeding them feeding them

Alex Ferrari 57:51
breaks. Yeah,

Shane Stanley 57:52
very well, we overfeed. And they're just some things like hey, you know what, guys, I need grace, we need to get two more taxes. So we all good, everybody good. You know, ask for grace. And then you get that one guy who's part of the union that shows up one day that just angry, bitter. Trying to tell everybody let's turn the show and all our budgets 400 grand, you really want to turn the show.

Alex Ferrari 58:15
I've been I've been involved with productions who had their shows turned in for everybody listening, if you if you don't know what turning a show is, or flipping a show, is when a when you're in a non union shooting, you've got union guys working on it. And the film I was working on, I was doing post on, they actually were 50 were outside the circle, they were outside the 50 mile circle. So they were they were they were quote unquote, okay, they had some union guys, but there was this one guy, one assistant camera, who wanted to be part of the Union. And he made a phone call. And the next day the union was there, and they and they shut down the production. And they had to flip the production. And because of that one dude, that film sat in my hard drives for a year, because it had to, they had to raise another, like, you know, another few $100,000 to finish the film. And it was all because this guy flipped the film. So that's,

Shane Stanley 59:13
it's just one of your productions.

Alex Ferrari 59:15
No I, was I was I was just working post, just a dude in it for themselves. So it what I

Shane Stanley 59:22
what I do is I have an understanding of where budgets need to be to not get flipped. I mean, if your budget is a certain amount, they're gonna leave you alone. If you start treading in areas that you risk,

Alex Ferrari 59:35
go ahead. One of the thing was that our project, that project that was working on was a low budget project, but it had two high profile stars.

Shane Stanley 59:43
Ah, well, yeah, I mean, something I guess anything's possible. It's just, you know what? I always I always try, I don't, I don't subscribe to the theory. Permission or forgiveness is easier to get them from When it comes to filmmaking, I always try to knit the budget. Like what I set up to do my independent stuff with visual arts entertainment, I called the head of the CIA. I just I call them got to the head of the I introduced myself, this is what I'm doing. I've got three films I'm doing. These are the budgets, I need to know that I'm not going to have a problem. He goes, You called me. You're telling me your budget, your budget, I believe you. I told him where we were shooting, we're way out of the T zone. And he said, Dude, I will keep a note of all of this stuff, you will not hear from us. And guess what, in a four and a half year period making those films we did have one guy not a problem,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:37
or is it all is relative to the production because I was on another project. That was a million dollar production. A Million Dollar production had Austin in Florida had Oscar winning ask Oscar nominated actors in it, like big actors. I otzi showed up. They didn't know what the budget was. Now they I otzi showed up and they were shooting on a Panasonic dv x 100. A a million dollar production. Don't ask me why. On that camera, they were shooting this is this is back in the 90s. This is actually early 2000s

Shane Stanley 1:01:13
vs 2000. Remember,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:14
it's amazing. It's amazing camera. And they said, Oh, sorry, we didn't die. They just walked away because they said there's no money here. Okay, great. But what if you haven't had that conversation, and they see a big star, they're gonna flip they're gonna they're gonna, you're gonna have problems. I agree with you 100%. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Now, can we can we talk about the film deception, I mean, distribution. As you know, I don't know if you know or not, but I've become a kind of like a warrior for film distribution. I want to help filmmakers navigate this ridiculous system that is film distributors. I love to hear your thoughts on the system. What's wrong with it? How can it be fixed? Your horror stories, all that stuff?

Shane Stanley 1:02:12
Well, you know, that's the chapter in my book, film deception. I mean, distribution. Exactly. Right. And it's, you know, I've been involved with some some big indies that were like million $2 million entities that had deals and nobody's made any money, nobody's seen money, and they go in and they audit and they find out the film's made $3 million. And Oops, sorry, I missed that. You know, um, I think you have to realize that it's hard because you as a filmmaker, you got you create a product, you raise the money for it, as you say, you cast the crew, and then you cast the film, you know, the actors, you go through the brutal process of making you go to war, let's be honest, making a movie is a war. And then you kill yourself in post, and then you get it done. And then you and trust it, you entrust it to somebody to sell. And I you know, unfortunately, you will never know the true numbers that a movie makes or doesn't make. And I think you have, as I say, in my book, what I always try to say is try to find a group that will capture the vision early on it, you know, everybody has that envision, oh, well, I'm gonna just throw it up and let the bidding wars begin. It doesn't work that way anymore. Night,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:25
it's not the 90s. And we're not at Sundance that

Shane Stanley 1:03:28
not, it's not you know, who dreams it's, you know, come on. So what I always suggest is really try to develop relationships with distributors that have got longevity, you don't want somebody who just fell off the turnip truck or a guy's running a company who was part of a company for two years and part of the company six months before that, you know, there's some good companies out there that are tried and true. Just no going in there. They're all going to have their creative accounting, and butts up

Alex Ferrari 1:03:55
right there. So stop there for a sec. I just want to I want to touch on that. And this is what I've been yelling about from the top of the house there. And is it's a systemic problem in that side of our business. It has been going around since the days of Chaplin, which is called creative accounting. I feel that it is as prevalent as the casting couch was prior to the me to movement, like the casting couch was a it was just like, you all heard it like oh, yeah, you have to go on the casting couch if you want to get the part or you heard of this, of this casting couch. And when I was in film school, you heard about that, and it was even joked about in movies and stuff. It was just part of the way movies were made until finally, that that horrible cycle was broken. I feel that the same thing is happening on a financial standpoint, in the distribution side, where Oh, there's and I love the way you just said like, oh, there's gonna be creative accounting. Why? There's no other industry that I know of like the cookie business. If you see if you make a cookie, you sell a cookie, you send it over to the supermarket to supermarkets, like there's no creative accounting and the Cookie business. Why is it right? So why is there creative accounting in our business? And why is that still acceptable in today's world?

Shane Stanley 1:05:08
It's well the reason sadly it's acceptable is because you know, you got 33,000 movies a year Alex being made through sag with at least what somebody deems a bankable actor. Okay, that's a whole nother discussion. But, but people are beholden to investors or their wife if they wrote the check themselves. And they got to get a film out, and distributors know how desperate us filmmakers can be. And they also know there's 54 territories on the globe 174 buying countries. So Alex, if I'm a distributor, and I take your film, and I know I'm a hip pocket dealing, Guam, the chances of you going to Guam on vacation with your wife and staying at the Radisson and seeing it at two o'clock in the morning on Guam vision or whatever, you're probably not going to see it and you're not going to know if I got five grand for 2500 for it. So what happens is there's 54 territories, they're going to hopefully sell the biggies. You know, you may get somebody come in and buy up 20 territories, you may sell them Germany, Southeast Asia, Vietnam, China, but most of us filmmakers don't realize and it's in my book, there's 54 territories, all those territories equally need content, what is what I believe keeps a lot of the smaller distributors awake and alive is those hip pocket deals they make at AFM Toronto, MIPCOM Berlin, where they're like, Look, I'll tell you what, you can have these 10 movies for 10 grand, you would I will never know about. We just don't know about. I mean, I've traveled the world and seen my films on TV. years later. Like, I never made a deal here. And like, you know, like, seriously, I mean, it's happened. And that's, I think, and then there's also the charges, the market charges, you know, they'll charge you up to $25,000 then there could be a market overhead charge for another 25 plus anything that you don't have the money to do you need to surround 5.1 surround fully filled m&e, well, we didn't do that I only had a few grand that makes the film in stereo, they'll gladly do it for you. So you have to be sure they're not charging you more than it should cost. Will you mean like, what

Alex Ferrari 1:07:17
do you mean like $10 per minute for closed captioning?

Shane Stanley 1:07:22
Yeah, we're doing 90 minute movies that can cost you more $212 I mean, remember, I remember doing a music video for VH one for an artist. I won't say who? And VH one demanded. We did closed captions for their video and I found a place that was for a music video three and a half minutes. You've done a lot of closed captions for

Alex Ferrari 1:07:45
what year was this?

Shane Stanley 1:07:47
year? 2004.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:50
Okay, sure. Okay.

Shane Stanley 1:07:51
Not a long time ago. They was $582 I'm freaking out because I never like closed captioning three days I called a friend of mine, Todd Gilbert. Robbie Lerner's post production. I love Todd I called him I said, Hey, buddy, I got a question. He's like, what are you out of your mind call this place in San Francisco, it's gonna be like, it's gonna be like no money. So the music video did cost me like $38. And right, this money for my 90 minute movies, it's $112 for 90 minutes, all in.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:21
Exactly. And there's so many other options now as well. But so I love I love the term hip pocket deal, because not many people understand what that is. And what you've basically explained is like, they have your movie, they have worldwide rights, what they're going to do is they're going to call up South Africa, or even a smaller market, and you have a relationship with Guam, let's say Guam, and you're like, Look, I'm going to give you 2000 give me 2000 bucks for this film. And, and you'll never hear about it, because you unless you audit them. And even if you audit them, good luck. And so that you have no power,

Shane Stanley 1:08:54
you will get away from it, not to have to wait to get away with it as they do the block deals. So there is no paperwork for that

Alex Ferrari 1:09:02
film. Although they do talk about packaging don't get

Shane Stanley 1:09:05
it will do 10 to 20 films for 20. It's 1000 to $2,000 per title, take all these titles, a lot of people. I had a guy who came to me to help sell this film. And I befriended a former scorn distribution guy. And he said, and I said to him, this guy's got insomnia. He's up at 230 in the morning watching Cinemax. He can't figure out how some of the worst movies in the world are on there and why his movie can't get on. Here he goes, Oh, I can get it on there tomorrow. We'll just have to package it with 10 to 20 others we'll get two grand and Ruby on Cinemax and four months. He goes because those deals are packaged. They don't show up. They just hurry but that's it. None of that though Cinemax, under the bus Cinemax isn't doing anything wrong. It's the people peddling these package deals to these foreign networks and countries and ancillaries just

Alex Ferrari 1:09:53
what happens and there's also don't forget the fire sales and there's fire sales as well that like oh yeah, here. Yeah, I'll give you this movie for 500 bucks. Just you know. Here we go. And, and those deals are done at AFM. They're done at a con. They're done at Berlin.

Shane Stanley 1:10:06
Yep, they're done online now. Yeah, but you're right. And when where that comes from is a sales agent takes on a film, they can't give it away. It's a stinker. And they may have put together some artwork or a trailer and be out a few grand of liquid cash to their vendors to get it done. They need to start recouping. So what I always tell filmmakers is please, please, please, please read the fine print, read my book because I actually copy and paste a lot of contract misleading language. in that chapter of my book, I the way the book came about, I get a lot of calls from independent filmmakers for advice. I even get some calls from very well known filmmakers for advice when they need to save a buck or two. And what what happened was as I started writing a blog, and they said, Hey, do you want to write a book? And then my wife was like, you know, you're getting a lot of time to people? Why don't you just you keep She goes, I've been listening to you do this for 20 years, you keep telling them the same thing? Why don't you just write your thoughts down, and it's all in one place. And that's how the book became. And while I was writing the book, I had a really respected indie filmmaker, who for the first time in her life was stuck, he raised over a million and a half dollars of his own, you know, of liquid cash, made a movie got a couple of big stars attached, and it was on his ass to sell his movie to get distribution, he had no idea how to do it, he was a very good filmmaker would know business and distribution. So he starts sending me all these contracts, and his investor wants him to sign this with this company. And I that is when the light bulb went on. For me, Alex, I went, Oh my god, I got to write about this, I have to take these documents and copy and paste them and put them in a book. Because these are so duplicitous, and so misleading. People don't realize when they have a $20,000 market charge, and then $20,000 service charge, it's 40 grand that the movies gonna make before you see a dime plus a percentage, plus marketing costs of a trailer. The trailer probably cost 1000 to make they're gonna charge you five grand, the posters cost them a few 100 they're gonna charge you 1500 how it gets back charged, do and then they're gonna take 20% on top of that

Alex Ferrari 1:12:14
as a commission. Oh, yeah. But they'll take no forget, they take that 20% before all of those expenses, they make sure that yeah, oh, yeah. So if you're, say, 100,000, that 20 grand goes right off the top, then they start pulling out all the it's you it is, it's such a scam. And I think that I mean, my second book, Rise of the film entrepreneur, it's about giving the filmmaker the power to take control of their own thing. And, and which leads us to the next question I want to talk to you about because you worked a bit in the music industry as well. And I've been yelling from the top of the lungs from top of the hill as well. And in my book, that if you want to see where the film industry is going to be in the next five years, all you got to do is just look at the music industry, it's the exact same pattern that is happening. Whereas the actual art, the actual content is, for lack of a better word worthless, it means it has no value to it, where a song used to cost $18 to get the album so you can get the song. Now, Beyonce is getting paid a 20th of a cent for a play of one of her songs, what do you think an independent artist is going to have? What chance do they have? So I want you to talk a little bit about where you think. Because if if you think that's not happening, look at Amazon Prime, and you're getting a penny. And I'm sure they're going to go to fractions of pennies soon, I promise you they will. Or they not already. If and if they're not already, you're right. So that, you know, a penny for an hour of viewing is what Amazon's paying. So essentially, the movie is almost worthless. It's essentially free.

Shane Stanley 1:13:52
I you know what, let me let me answer that by starting going backwards on what we just talked about. I knew the sales agent, not a distributor, an agent that got so frustrated not being able to sell somebody movie that was actually pretty good. He made a couple of foreign deals like in South Africa, in Germany, and like, you know, the same areas, the movie was starting to make a little money back. And he got frustrated. And before his contract, his three year or five year deal was over. He uploaded it without the filmmakers permission on amazon prime. So then it became worthless. He couldn't give it away after that. And he got his first royalty check after a year and I think he saw $7.38 and you're talking about a six figure movie. I mean, I think the guy paid six 700 grand for his movie, it wasn't cheap. So that is happening. You know, I'll tell a story and this is directly from artists that I've worked with over the years, Alex and you and I were talking about this before we started today. The music industry used to be something that you know those artists for the writing. They're performing recorded material had value. Like he said, in the 90s and early 2000s. We would go to the CD store on paid and spend $19 plus tax on a CD for that one or two songs. There was no you know, downloading on Napster, which really changed it. Yeah. And it really did, sadly. And I learned from some artists that I'm very close with one day about 10 years ago, they said, Well, you know musics free now. As soon as our CD comes out, somebody puts it on YouTube or music video on YouTube, you go to YouTube to mp3 convert, you download it, it goes on your iPhone, your iPod, your iPad, your iPhone, whatever people have, there are music everywhere. We can only make music in the touring and merchandise. So the question now becomes, I know there are titles I have that we have to go on YouTube every single day and 510 times a day, there are titles of mine that are being purged on YouTube that I have to go in take 20 minutes of my day, and fill out a copyright request thing. And it's the movie was out and sold that people are watching it for free. It's basically useless and worthless. We don't have live performance touring and merchandise, really, I mean, unless you got Yoda like you do in the back, there are some of the cool things you've done here. You're a pretty smart dude, you've got things that you're moving I figure, I don't know what the hell yeah, it's this industry is this sustainable independent is going to be tougher and tougher. Because the deals are going to get smaller and smaller. The content is not slowing down, everybody's making something I don't know where we're gonna go. And then you still have the demands from the unions on the royalties and

Alex Ferrari 1:16:47
backup, but they're, but they're also building that out off of a model from the 80s. In the 90s. When money was five, which money was flowing, like I was working in Miami, where they did a music video and I saw it was a $500,000 budget on a second tier artist. Not even deficit, the top tier artists there was the there was the 90s there was money flowing like there was no tomorrow, all those deals, all those residuals just like there are there's not going to be any more fro any more friends deals, or Seinfeld deals where those actors are pulling in 20 million a year off of residuals, those days are gone. Gone. And it's going to be rough. It's not only refer musicians, but on ours, outside actors are it's getting tougher and tougher for any residuals on actors. Before you could do one or two national spots a year. And now and that could keep you afloat comfortably. You could pull in 60 to 120. If it's a Superbowl ad or even a big national ad that gets played about you will get residuals. Hold on a second.

Shane Stanley 1:17:49
One of my best friends did a Bud Light ad for a Super Bowl three years ago.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:54
And how much it was brand, man, how much was it? five grand, right? So now that's what that's the only so now. So before you used to be able to do that.

Shane Stanley 1:18:05
Yeah. Now. Whoa, are the guys the shell guy

Alex Ferrari 1:18:10
or mayhem mayhem mayhem is making.

Shane Stanley 1:18:12
Those are the guys that you know flow. Brent Bailey, who's the shell guy and mayhem are the guys that are making good quality because they are owned for two years. They signed two year contracts with these companies that their first refusal they may get paid. But you're right. And I remember growing up as a kid I you know, I grew up in the industry. I had a neighbor who was a gator raid girl or a Coca Cola girl she I remember when she was in high school. She went to her mailbox one day we got off the school bus. I heard this screaming we all go over there. She opened up a check for her Geeta read worldwide residuals, it was $74,000. And this was in 1986.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:48
I had in full and full sail. One of my teachers was the associate producer of parenthood. Huh, okay of that movie parenthood by Ron Howard. He was he was a happy days guy and all that stuff. So he was telling the stories like he played the part of the opposing, literally coach for Steve Martin. And he had two lines.

Shane Stanley 1:19:10
He's under five, right?

Alex Ferrari 1:19:11
Yeah. He said two lines. And he said, Come on, Jimmy, you could do it. Come on. And that was that's all he did two days. They held them for the first day. They didn't get to him. They said he paid he got paid like whatever it was at the time, like five or $600 a day it was like 89 or something like that when it came out. Then first residual $50,000 Yeah, $50,000 was a really good buddy of mine was the unit production manager of seven movies. So the movie seven with Brad Pitt, David Fincher movie. Sure. First residual check 50 $70,000 as the as the UPM because he's a DJ. So UPM first ad and director all get residuals. All of that's going away because Netflix changed the game. And they said no, no. Why are we going to pay residuals? No, don't worry. We're going to do buyouts and as you as you saw the Disney Disney is actually saying, Yeah, we're going to give you two seasons of residuals, two years of residuals. And that's it, is it. And so the whole game has changed. So they're literally the corporations are trying to squeeze now, even all of those kind of like placeholder things to help the artists to survive. As an actor, as a writer, as a director, as a filmmaker. The lot of things that we grew up with or were taught with are no longer going to be around or are around period.

Shane Stanley 1:20:29
And I'll be honest with you sag afters made it difficult because they basically make you sign your life away to get your film cleared. So you can make it with a SAG actor. And then they want to know why the result. There's our name, well, I got a streaming deal. Somebody's paying me $3 to stream the movie. You got a $600,000 movie here, it's made back $18,000. What like, you've got investors, you've got costs, you got overhead, you've got commissions for nutrition. It's such an in, you're right, it's like everybody is still going everybody who's squeezing the filmmakers working off of boiler plates from the 80s and 90s when there was tons of money, and there was DVD markets, they won't be honest with you.

I had a film a couple of years ago air on a cable network. And the buyout from the cable network was five grand five grand. So the union saw that was like oh, why didn't it up, buddy. We're backing up the Brinks truck. Oh, it was it was fun to show them that oh, I lied. It was actually $4,000. They expected this huge six figure and it was a big and it was a big network. It was huge network they bought it out for they had a six month run on it for like one of the big paid pay networks. Now they give us four grand, but the whole the whole, like six months or a year for four. And don't forget the sales agent took 20%. So we really obviously,

Alex Ferrari 1:21:52
obviously, obviously, this agent took 20% where's the residuals for what they're that's and that's the point. So and as and what COVID is showing us is the pressure now it's showing us how flawed the system is, and so on and so flawed. So I am saying Rome is burning. I've been saying this for a little while now. Rome is burning, and Rome is Hollywood. And the systems that are around Hollywood that be in film distribution, whether it be the unions, whether all of it has to burn down because it's not that I want it to it's just has to burn down now. And then out of the New World. This new system is going to come up I hope this new system can help filmmakers and artists. I'm not sure it will, I hope there is more potential for the artists to get more control of their art and of their finances. But it's going to be a battle and what it was before like when you and I were coming up. You could make a living as an actor, as a as a writer doing small projects as a filmmaker doing small things. Remember music videos like I was just saying you can make a living to music videos, your kids music videos as a living nownow unless you're at the very level

Shane Stanley 1:23:08
When I was doing 80s rock band music videos talking about the half million dollar budget Oh, motley and poison and Guns and Roses because we're getting seven figures to do videos.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:18
Oh, yeah. Well,

Shane Stanley 1:23:20
I still work with a lot of those bands when we do videos now is hey, you know, can you grab a camera and a couple buddies will give you five grand Can we make a video? Yep. And it's not that they're poor. These guys were smart with their money that it's just they're not dumb. They're not getting the record label support they did back in the day. They're not having 100 grand go to catering and limos and blow. It's now coming out of their pocket and they know what things cost. And they're like, hey, Shane,

Alex Ferrari 1:23:44
can you get a couple buddies? together? five grand for you? Can you do a video for us? Oh no, I was doing videos. I was doing videos with Snoop Dogg and ludicrous. And I saw ibw $2,000 because they knew the artists knew a lot of times mshs Luna and Snoop specifically, they were guest starring and some other people's stuff. But they knew that as a director, you're like, well, if I have Luda and snoop on my reel, I'm gonna be able to get some work. And they know that. So they're leveraging that to get you work. I mean, it's I you know, I wanted this episode to be kind of like a little bit of a box that opens up and exposes the truth about our industry in a small way, especially things that they don't teach in film school. So this is really geared towards people who have not been on sets who've not been in the business for a long time to really understand the reality. And this is a pretty raw and brutal conversation. You and I were just two old, old old war dogs who have got a lot of shrapnel because we've been in the business for a while. But I'm sure a lot of people listening right now are horrified.

Shane Stanley 1:24:49
And I don't want it to discourage anybody. No sessions with you until the frickin cows come home. I enjoy it. Yeah, it's the fact and point is is are we going to be real Are we going to sugarcoat It's like, right you know, you want to tell a woman who's thinking about having a baby. It feels really good giving birth, especially make sure you don't get the epidural. You'll love it. Yeah, have to be honest, creative. Because I, I mean, I hate breaking hearts I hate. I would never want to crush your dream. If it was easy, everybody would do it. I still want to encourage people to do it, but know what you're going to up against. And you know, you've opened my eyes to some stuff here. And it's like, yeah, you

Alex Ferrari 1:25:26
know what? That's the problem. I never heard it voice like that, Alex, it's brilliant. There's so working off of the 80s and 90s contracts to turn things into date. That's sure me. But the system is built on those boiler plates. The system is built. The sag contracts are built on that the DGA contracts the wg a contracts are built on with the assumption that there's money that there's money flowing, that everyone's making money. And yes, there are, but that about people who are actually making money, it's extremely small, and they're all the way at the top. Okay, I always I always use the example of like Blade Runner. I'm not where the owl is at the top of that building. I'm at the bottom where the really good food is. That's where I live. I live on the street level where Harrison is where Harrison's game picked up by James any almost Okay, that's, yeah, that's where I live. And that's where most filmmakers live. We live down at the bottom level of Blade Runner. But most of us want to be up where the owl is up where Sean young is introduced. That's where we all want to be. And I've been in that room a couple times. You've been in that room a few times, we get to visit it, but we never get to stay.

Shane Stanley 1:26:38
Yeah. For a little while, have you over for a drink?

Alex Ferrari 1:26:42
Right? You know, you might even stick around for a little bit. But sooner or later security finds you and kicks you out. That's still a way I always look at it. But but that's the game. And that is that is our industry. And that's why I've been yelling and film distribution is the worst out of all of it. Because all of their systems are built on shit from the 90s, early 2000s they're still talking about DVD sales. Like it's a thing. Don't get me wrong, there is still money in DVD but nothing like it wasn't

Shane Stanley 1:27:12
a 30% comeback during COVID. Let's hope it sticks.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:15
Right. But the point is that that's not that's not the growth industry. DVD is not the growth. It's not vinyl. It's not vinyl, it's there's no

Shane Stanley 1:27:24
Best Buy and Walmart to find them or the 99 cent

Alex Ferrari 1:27:28
store. Right? And all of them are enclosed areas that generally people don't want to go into now because

Shane Stanley 1:27:35
people don't realize this DVD deals are done where they say hey, we'll give you $2 a disc or four for 4000 of them. We're going to sprinkle them around Walmart.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:43
Yeah, but they don't talk about the the returns. Oh, no, no, no, no, you

Shane Stanley 1:27:47
don't get that you get the $3 per disc less, you're 20% but they're gonna sell them for nine or 12 or $15.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:54
But a lot of it but a lot of those Walmart deals because it's Walmart, they'll go Yeah, we didn't sell about 500 of these. So we're going to ship those right back to you. So you're gonna eat those costs. And I always tell people do you think that you think the film distributor is gonna eat that? Don't you worry. You will you won't you won't ever don't you'll ever even know what happened. And that's

Shane Stanley 1:28:15
you wouldn't be better off getting a credit card that you may get a five or $10,000 limit on and just buying up every desk. Yes, so that doesn't cost you back I know that sounds crazy.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:29
Oh no but buying them all out because at that point then at least you could go out and sell them yourself if

Shane Stanley 1:28:34
you want like you did I mean you're you've been very smart selling your neurons I gotta learn from I want to get your next your last book about that because it there's so much to learn from guys like you that have figured it out. No, it's it's just one thing. One reason I was really excited for us to talk besides your platform being something that was excited to be a part of it in researching you and what you've done Alex it's brilliant because first that's all like I hate to keep bringing him up that's one reason I think we hit it off. I mean the guy's been poisoned back in the 80s they could not get a record deal. And they find every record label passed on them. They literally got a deal it was them to smithereens and one other band I can't writing was great white got a deal from a nygma they went to a warehouse in wersi Airport that area then no no van de la excellent What is that?

Alex Ferrari 1:29:24
I know what you're talking about. I know you're talking about yeah the

Shane Stanley 1:29:27
house there that the guys were literally shrink wrapping and packaging and putting the sticker on there for the label labels like that will give you a record of you got to come here and help us package it and ship like literally Brent and Bobby and CC and Ricky were shrink wrapping their own records and helping get them out to the stores. And then what happened was is Capitol Records ended up buying a nygma and then exploded at the right time and everything worked out but that's how we have to remember it really is and how it was and how it very well could be again unfortunately, we have to So we can sell

Alex Ferrari 1:30:02
it, the game, the game has changed so much. The rules are so different and I just want filmmakers listening to understand that the industry is still still built around those old models. And that's why the industry is having that's why took Disney 10 years to launch a streaming service 10 years 10 years before before they launched a real streaming service that compete with Netflix because when Netflix showed up, everyone was like, I don't know. And Hollywood is definitely not no for innovation. It takes for it takes someone with some major weight like a George Lucas, like a Steve Jobs, like someone to ship come in, and go or James Cameron and come in and just go You know what, guys? This is the new way. Follow me. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Shane Stanley 1:31:01
I will tell you how Right you are. I did gridiron 1212 years ago with Sony, I stayed on the good graces and in regular touch with the regime for another two or three years, you know, developing other things. Hey, you want to have lunch? You know? And I remember talking I think it was Amy Pascal. She was still there. And I think I remember her saying she had this really bizarre meeting with all the heads of the other studios it was paramount. Universal Warner Brothers Sony Disney, Disney and Fox It was like it was like a you know, a big gathering

Alex Ferrari 1:31:33
was like all the all the all the mob. You were just like all the mob bosses were getting together in an undisclosed location. Got it?

Shane Stanley 1:31:41
What was the person and she said, Netflix is going to be a major problem for us. And we all need to have a meeting of the minds and we're gonna start pumping the brakes with these with these guys. And we are we need to all create our own streaming service.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:52
What What year was this? What year was this

Shane Stanley 1:31:55
was 10 910 years ago, probably nine or 10 years ago. And I said so wait a minute, you guys, you're gonna start pumping the brakes on what you're giving these issues. They don't pay much. And they're owning it right now. Why? We have Sony streaming impairments streaming and universal streaming or Disney and it wasn't called Pandit she wanted we I don't remember this conversation was like eight years 10 years ago.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:21
And you're right. Have you commit your right to Disney 10 years, 10 years. And Disney's and Disney is killing it. And Disney is killing it right now. But peacocks having peacocks having a rough time right now. I know HBO Max is doing okay. And they're I think they're fine. But they also had they were leveraging HBO Go already.

Shane Stanley 1:32:42
Yeah. And I think Maverick is going to end up being paramount. Paramount network's big push at the end of the year. I think they're gonna end up just screaming that well, I don't know theaters are starting to open up but I still think they're gonna use Maverick for something.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:54
Yeah, and but and I've been saying this and then because this is we can keep talking for another four or five hours I'm sure. But um, but I've said this before, a ton of times I'll say it again. Within the next 12 to 18 months, Paramount Sony, or Lionsgate or MGM is going to be absolutely absorbed by either Google, Amazon, apple, or Facebook. Those four guys has so much cash that Facebook wanted to really come in to this game. For real. They're playing in the streaming they they do a couple little shows on their Facebook watch thing. But if they really want to come in, they buy MGM catalog, they buy Sony's catalog, they buy Paramount's catalog, and all of a sudden, you got content and lots of it. Oh, yeah. And they're all and all of them are prime their prime targets because they're not doing well.

Shane Stanley 1:33:52
I am a firm believer that, um, I think Apple's gonna end up buying Netflix in the next three years.

Alex Ferrari 1:33:59
I that's that's been the rumors for a while. It's gonna take a lot because I think also Apple has the cash to buy anything they want. I mean, there was talks of them by Disney. I know. That's like, like, just wrap your head around cash. By the way. It was cash. It's like they have enough cash to buy Disney.

Shane Stanley 1:34:18

Alex Ferrari 1:34:18
That's a slush account in Ireland somewhere. But um, but I don't I think Netflix itself and then we'll and then we'll start we'll start winding this down guys unless you guys if you're still listening fantastic. I think that Netflix itself as a company is not diversified. So they are they are very vulnerable. Because if they get hit if this this plus goes away tomorrow, Disney's fine. If HBO goes away tomorrow h Warner's is fine, don't make it. If Netflix is numbers drop. That's going to hurt and they're going to they're going to drop go out there in debt up to their eyeballs. Yeah, it's taking forever for them. To pay their filmmakers not that they're not paying them, they are paying them. But it's taking delayed responses and things like that you can start seeing the writing on the wall on what's going on. And now Netflix is having a pump so much more money in to compete with the Disney pluses to compete with HBO backs that compete with Hulu, and all of these other platforms. So right now I don't think Disney would buy them because they're just too big for what as a compared is comparatively to the deals in the marketplace. The deals in the marketplace because they have the they have the distribution. They have the membership. They have emails from millions and millions of people have all their other accounts and stuff like that. So but if you buy Sony, which has all Columbia and TriStar and all of Sony's content and all their television and all that stuff, that is a bargain. Paramount's a bargain. MGM is a bargain. Lionsgate is a bargain, comparatively to buying Netflix, in my, in my opinion, if I was if I was Apple, or if I was Google, or only these guys, I'm like, Okay, we've got the tech now the Apple, Google Facebook figure out that if they don't figure it out, now they already have the technology, technology is not a problem with them. infrastructure is not a problem for them. Content is a problem for them. And Netflix also comes along with a lot of debt. A lot of it so anyway, okay, let's let's finish off this, this amazing conversation. I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Shane Stanley 1:36:33
The advice I would give a filmmaker trying to break into the industry today is where a crash helmet. Just be prepared to hit a lot of brick walls. be tenacious, don't give up. Don't give up. Because if you do, it could have been that one next try that could have done it for you. And I just see if it's in your heart and you're passionate about it. Just Just keep going. You hit the door enough times for the bad it's eventually going to come off the hinges.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:59
Amen, amen. No question. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Shane Stanley 1:37:07
Um, you can't change people

Alex Ferrari 1:37:10
was a good answer. A real good answer,

Shane Stanley 1:37:12
I think I think a leopard shows their spots. And that could be me, it could be somebody I'm working with, or a partner, I think I think people show you who they are. And if you think you're going to change people and mold them into who you want them to be, you're gonna waste a lot of time and energy in that and you either can accept who they are and work with that or move on from that if it's toxic or unhealthy.

Alex Ferrari 1:37:34
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Shane Stanley 1:37:36
Three of my favorite films of all time, they're not what you would think they are. I would have to say sideways. Yep. I'm Jerry Maguire, Notting Hill. I will stop everything and watch every time they're on.

Alex Ferrari 1:37:50
Yeah, there's just there's that that's a that's a group of films that make sense together.

Shane Stanley 1:37:55
I think the greatest movies of all time, absolutely not. But I can I can spin past anything. But when those are on I gotta stop. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:38:03
exactly. Now, where can people find you what you do and get access to your book? Well, thank

Shane Stanley 1:38:09
you. Um, what you don't learn in film school is you can go to what you don't learn in film school.com it will guide you to the different places you can buy it. It's available on Amazon. A whole bunch of different retailers, Barnes and Noble all online or you can get the hard the hard cover books as well. So what you don't learn in film school comm you can go to my website, Shane's family info.net lm sorry, Shane Stanley. dotnet. I think God, yeah, the email is info chain, Stanley dotnet. If you want to get something to me, I'm pretty open and accessible in that respect. So yeah, so those are the places you can find me.

Alex Ferrari 1:38:49
Shane, it has been an absolute joy talking to you and having you on the show is it's always nice talking to to an old battle hardened dog, as yourself and myself together. I always love I don't like to use the word old, I think seasoned, seasoned battle dog, man.

Shane Stanley 1:39:07
Seasoned indie rad

Alex Ferrari 1:39:08
ops. Absolutely. And we're still here. And we're still we're still here. We're still fighting the good fight. And and you and I both know many filmmakers who are not still here. They've left the business they've gone to do other things because the business got the best of them. So if you're able to just be persistent, a lot of times the people who make it are not generally the best. Not the most talented. Not the most experienced. It's the people who just nice and not the most nice it's just the guys who the guys and the gals who just just keep showing up,

Shane Stanley 1:39:41
keep showing up they figured it out. You know, I learned a long time ago it's balls and passion that makes it happen and you know, films get made you know a lot of people will watch a movie it's against worst thing I've ever seen how they get made. Well back up and look, how did it get made. Somebody was passionate about it. Somebody had tenacity, they had balls and capital. They had something because they were able to get it on. The screen, so it's doable. You got to snap it on and figure it out and do it yourself.

Alex Ferrari 1:40:06
Again, Shane thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate it, brother. Stay safe out there.

Shane Stanley 1:40:10
Alex, it's been an honor. I hope we get to do it again. Thanks, man.

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BPS 276: Reality Check: What Really Happens After You Win an Oscar® for Screenwriting with Tom Schulman

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Tom Schulman 0:00
With another scriptlets Thing Called Love at second sight, to Lorimar. And then Warner Brothers took it over but and you know, that just turned out to be a disaster being made basically at the same time. In fact, they finished that first and my parents come to visit and we went to see the finished version of that movie. And my dad, it was like, middle of the day and my dad afterwards said to me, you've got to find something else for a living you know?

Alex Ferrari 0:26
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, Tom Schulman. How you doin, Tom?

Tom Schulman 0:40
I'm very good. Alex, nice to meet you.

Alex Ferrari 0:42
A pleasure to meet you as well, my friend. I've I mean, first of all want to say thank you for being such an instrumental part of my youth growing up in the 90s.

Tom Schulman 0:55
I hope I hope you like the result. But

Alex Ferrari 0:58
No, I mean, from I mean, you know, obviously Dead Poets Society. But what about Bob when he struck the kids? So many great films from that, from what, just What About Bob is one of my favorite entities. I wish it and I always always, anytime I talk about Hollywood and the way it used to be, I always use What About Bob as an as an example. And like, they wouldn't make that movie today. Studios wouldn't make it What About Bob? But my God, Isn't it an amazing thing that did at least it existed at that point. But I wish they would make these kind of smaller films, they used to make the 10 or 15 films, and one, two or three temples and they kind of throw them all out and one or two will take care of everybody. But now it's just like.

Tom Schulman 1:41
No they don't have that love of movies anymore. You know, as executives, they're just it's all bottom line.

Alex Ferrari 1:47
It's all IP. It's all superheroes, but yeah. You know, like, I think that Spielberg said it best, I think just like the Western, it will play itself out the superhero genre eventually.

Tom Schulman 1:58
It's hot. It's been around for a long time, but I think he's right. I mean, certainly, Steven Spielberg about that.

Alex Ferrari 2:04
Well, well, obviously you can, because if not, you know, there's there's things that happen. Lightning comes down. It's crazy. Black, yeah. Black accounts just drain of money. Like what happened?

Tom Schulman 2:19
Right, exactly. Just suddenly, you know.

Alex Ferrari 2:25
Exactly. That was that was Stephen right there that did that. I didn't touch my screen. Yeah. Yeah. So my first question to you is how and why in God's green earth? Did you get into this insanity that is the film industry?

Tom Schulman 2:39
Boy, that's a good question. You know, I grew up in the South, I grew up in Nashville. And, you know, I later found out that that the South was kind of a dumping ground for horror movies, AIP, American International pictures, companies, if those movies didn't perform outside, south, but so I grew up, you know, every Saturday going downtown with my friends on a bus, and why going to two or three really lousy horror films, you know, and it really I like movies. But you know, that was just kind of a junk form of entertainment. But then in college, they had a Film Society. And they started bringing really interesting movies in, you know, things from Kurosawa and Fellini, and Bergman, and, you know, just stuff that I had no idea of movies could do. And I just was fascinated by that. And senior year in college, I had a chance to either write a term paper about one of the novels we were reading, or make a short film. So of course, everybody in the class made a short film, I made all Super Eight film and it's terrible, but just fell in love with the process and thought, This is what I want to do.

Alex Ferrari 3:53
Well, the thing that's interesting is that when you were coming up, it wasn't a cool thing to be a director. It wasn't even in the zeitgeist, it wasn't a thing that was even possible. Honestly, there was very few people doing it, you know, compared to today, where, you know, I remember growing up and the only behind the scenes I saw was a Star Wars documentary in Raiders of the Lost Ark documentary that was and whatever books I could find at the library, there was no other information about the filmmaking process that you that you jumped in and like, you know, I think I'm gonna give this a go is amazing.

Tom Schulman 4:27
Great. In hindsight, it's so stupid, but you know,

Alex Ferrari 4:32
Well, isn't it isn't it amazing though the the delusion of the filmmaker in the screenwriter is it's his, his or hers, best friend and worst enemy? Yeah, at the same time, because you need the illusion to do what we do.

Tom Schulman 4:49
You did. It's so true,

Alex Ferrari 4:50
But at a certain point, the delusion becomes a handicap when you're like, Well, I'm the greatest, or I'm gonna see you at the Oscars, or Steven Spielberg is going to produce mine Excel this insanity starts to come out

Tom Schulman 5:03
The megalomania comes with it, you know for sure you know the same little power you have in the, in your world of creating it on the scrap page or, you know, if you're directing on the set, suddenly you're just, you know, I have a friend, a director and he said after he gets through shooting a movie, he finds himself running IT people running into him on the streets of New York. And it's because on the set when you walk from the monitor to the to the actor, everybody moves out of the way, but you know, after the movie, nobody's moving. You know, they don't know who you are.

Alex Ferrari 5:34
You mean I have to get my own coffee. What are we savages?

Tom Schulman 5:40
Yeah, and says he just loves to put his hand out in a Diet Coke comes in, you know, just, it's

Alex Ferrari 5:46
It is. It is a strange, strange carne kind of lifestyle, isn't it? You know, I always say I always say we're carny folk. You know, we're carnival voc because it's you. We ran away with the circus, essentially, to do what we do as filmmakers as a screenwriters at any level, whether it be Oscar winner, or just be working filmmakers. It's, it's the circus. It really really is. Really?

Tom Schulman 6:11
Yeah, yeah. And yeah, you just hope you don't end up in the, you know, within the deformed area of

Alex Ferrari 6:20
Yes. Where are the freaks? Where the freaks, let's just say we don't want to end up in a Guillermo del Toro Carnival.

Tom Schulman 6:26
That's for sure. Yeah. Or any of the cartels and those horror movies I saw as a kid, you know,

Alex Ferrari 6:32
Oh, good, Lord. Sorry. So you make sure you make the decision to like, Okay, I'm gonna go to go go be a writer. And as insane as that is, I'm assuming it didn't just use words, your first script and all of a sudden, the door swung open. The money just started tossing at you all the opportunities when the I'm assuming there was a time period where you were trying to hone the craft getting slapped around by the town?

Tom Schulman 6:57
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 6:59
So how long was that? How long was that window?

Tom Schulman 7:02
That window was about I mean, it. I mean, I guess, 10 years. I mean, in the sense that I mean, I started getting work. And basically, after about four, four and a half years, I started getting enough work, to not have to, I mean, I still kept my day job. But I, you know, did Mark i You never know, you just you're working from one one, you know, to another, but it was I was thinking, wow, I'm saving some money. This is I seem to be getting steady work. Nothing's getting made, but I'm getting paid to write. So okay, you know, so optioning some scripts selling a script or two. And then so that was about four, four and a half years. And then another five years of, you know, a couple of things getting made for television, but they bore no resemblance to what I had written. You know, that kind of thing. So you just you made it.

Alex Ferrari 7:55
So I mean, the gladiator wasn't your original vision, sir.

Tom Schulman 7:59
I don't think so. Yeah, No.

Alex Ferrari 8:03
So yeah, I've heard I've heard stories of in for the young uns listening, there was these things called TV movies of the week, back in the 80s and early 90s, which, which was a really fertile ground for a lot of filmmakers. Because that was where they face they get their foot in to show people what I mean, Spielberg got dual TV.

Tom Schulman 8:27
Still, it's a great movie. And yeah, it's yeah,

Alex Ferrari 8:30
It's amazing. So during that time, what did you do to keep going, because there was no indication, at least, that you were going to be able to make a go of this.

Tom Schulman 8:42
It's, it's really hard because you know, you're just, there is no bottom rung of the ladder, or you go home, I'm on and now I can, I'm on my way, you know, you're just you're always jumping for it until you've suddenly, you know, as they say, you can't make a living in this business, you can only make a killing and that's kind of true. There's just no in between, particularly back in the old studio days. You know, there were he's getting made. And you know, I think I think my world opened up a little bit when John Carpenter made Halloween again, because I was writing you know, low budget horror films at first that was my you know, what I'd grown up with and and so people were suddenly and and maybe even before that, were buying, you know, indies were made were horror films.

Alex Ferrari 9:26
Yeah. When the the got Easy Rider was a kind of thing. And yeah, yeah, but that was the 70s and 80s. But yeah, I mean, I think it was when John actually did that was the first really truly like full blown indie. Yeah, out of nowhere, didn't have Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda. And like it was, yeah, no, but it was still but it was still it was still not, it was still not what it wasn't in the 90s. The 90s is when the independent movement as we know it really exploded. So how do you go from the gladiator TV movie of the week, two Dead Poets Society, how did you write? Like, how did you come up with it? How did you get it out there? It doesn't seem like in today's world, you put out that Poets Society, it's going to be, it's going to be a tough sell because of its a drama and this and that. And BBB, in those times, late 80s, early 90s, they were still making films like that. So I guess it was a little bit more open to that. But that's still not a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination.

Tom Schulman 10:27
Not at all. I mean, interesting, because I think it just tells about the times Dead Poets opened with the first Batman with with That's right. Yeah. And, you know, Little do we know, at that point, and Batman did really well, but little did we know that that was going to be the trend that started to, you know, take Hollywood away. And, and, but, ya know, it was it was a very hard. I mean, at first, I can't really remember why I decided to ride it, I'd been where I had been being paid to work, you know, not getting movies made. And I think a lot of the stuff I was writing or just things I thought would sell and you know, they did, but I don't think I was that good at that stuff. You know, and, and then just I had been telling this story about this, this the basic Dead Poet's story to a girlfriend for a while and she was going God, that sounds so good. You gotta write that she and I broke up, I got married my wife saying the same thing. And I finally just said, Okay, I've got a couple of months here, I'm gonna just sit down, clear the room out and do it. And I did you know, and, and my agent at the time read it called me up at two o'clock in the mornings. And it's the best script I've ever read. Let's talk in the morning, I'm okay, great. And I went into his office that day. And he said, You know, I've been thinking about this, I It's a great script, but I will not be able to sell it. And, you know, if you want to get this made, if you want it to be any more than a writing sample, I hate to say you're gonna have to get another agent. And I said, Well, I, you know, I understand all the deficits of this script. But yeah, so I left and I, you know, I think took five agents, before I got another agent to say yes. And that agent said, I've only read half of it. But there's some clients here in our, in our company that, you know, actors that I think might be good for it, some young people and I remember thinking, Boy, what if he ever reads the second half and drops the project? You know?

Alex Ferrari 12:27
Yeah. Yeah, that ending was a bit. It was an interesting ending, to say the least.

Tom Schulman 12:33
Yeah. So. And then, Stephen half, two, who had read the script, just maybe a month after I got that new agent, and a year and a half later called him back and said, You know, I just can't get that script out of my mind. Let me I want to option it. I think I've got some some some connections that might be interesting. Little did he know, every studio had passed. I mean, it was just, you know, as dead as dead could be. Yeah, I mean, it does the people at Disney and it was touched on at Disney that eventually bought it. You know, they did, we did get a meeting there. And they said, you know, it's a strong story, but poetry, you know, Dead Poets Society that three, you know, or any one of those words in a title is death. But this is all on the same one. And they said, Why don't you make it about you know, making them a dance teacher? Oh, right. Because of course, what had just come out but Dirty Dancing. Yeah. So.

Alex Ferrari 13:34
That's amazing.

Tom Schulman 13:35
Yeah. And then out of nowhere, you know, maybe three years after I wrote it. Stephen half gave it to Jeff Katzenberg, who read it, then bought it immediately. And you know, we had a meeting two days later, and he said, we're making this movie let's, let's cast it and go so

Alex Ferrari 13:52
My God so was it was Jeff Katzenberg, who got it and yeah, and took off with it. And then then Robin and Peter Weir.

Tom Schulman 14:03
Scene witness the day I finished the script, my wife and I went out to witness and I just said, God, if I could get him you know, and she said, well send him the script. So when I polished it up and so forth, I did and of course they passed now that I didn't you know, so that you know a couple years later to get him was amazing.

Alex Ferrari 14:22
That's that's so interesting for a script of a film that was so well received, obviously, and the script that eventually won the Oscar. I love hearing the stories that it was not this the town knows nothing William Goldman says the town knows nothing it takes one person with just a slight bit of vision just and a little bit of the holidays yeah to roll the dice and and obviously some power and some power Yeah,

Tom Schulman 14:49
I mean it's it's a me too situation. You know, somebody always told me you can learn everything you need to know about executives by watching two three year olds on the in a sandbox, you know, If there's an object, it's like an old bucket that sitting in the corner, if nobody want, it'll sit there for weeks. But as soon as one kid gets it, they all start fighting over it. Right? And at that age, kids can't their necks won't go like this. So the answer to everything is No. So you know, that's those. That's the executive mindset. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 15:22
That's a that's actually a brilliant. I've never heard that. That's actually brilliant and very, very true. You know, you get you get Robin Williams, who at that point, Robin was Robin. I mean, he was still Robert Williams. He wasn't Oscar winning Robin Williams. That was a few years away. But he was still Robin Williams. Yeah. And by the way, that title Dead Poets Society only title worse than that Shawshank Redemption. Yeah, when Robin

Tom Schulman 15:54
You know, so

Alex Ferrari 15:55
And that in that movie? Who's even heard of that? Right, exactly. So we, what is it like working with Robin and Peter, were you on the set? Did you know how would that help? I mean, you must be again, coming from TV movies of the week two. That was the first big one, right? That was the first

Tom Schulman 16:11
Oh, yeah, yeah, I have sold strangely enough, on the same day that the Katzenberg bought Dead Poets, I sold another scripts Thing Called Love at second sight, to Lorimar. And then Warner Brothers took it over, but and you know, that just turned out to be a disaster being made basically, at the same time. In fact, they finished that first and my parents come to visit, and we went to see the finished version of that movie. And my dad, it was like, middle of the day, and my dad afterwards said to me, you've got to find something else for a living, you know, and then I know, I know. But then we went over to Disney and looked at I got them to screen a few dailies for my parents of Dead Poets. And they said, Dad said, Well, maybe you got a chance, after all, we'll see. But, yeah, it was it was, you know, it was? I don't know, I kind of all I was concerned about at the time, was that there gonna make what I wrote, you know, so it was, I wasn't playing defense by any means. But but, you know, I was in there sort of fighting for my, you know, for and didn't really have to, because I was, you know, we all had the same basic vision in the movie. So, it was it was amazing. And Peter Weir. I mean, it's funny, because his first question to me was, why don't you direct? Why are you directing this, I can sort of feel from the way you write it, that that's what you want. And I said, Peter, personal, no one's giving me that. If I were directing it, I would just step aside for you. Number one, but two, you know, are you crazy? Nobody this thing is barely getting made, you know? And he goes, he I understand that. And then he said, Well, you know, I would like be on the set. And, you know, if, if, if it gets boring, you know, that's, I'll understand. But you know, since you wanted to wreck, he said, I've made eight movies. You know, I'm happy to sort of help any way I can. I mean, he was so generous, you know, so, you shadowed Peter Weir, essentially, the whole time? Yeah. And we just had, you know, he would always say to me, just feel free to I mean, the first day, he said, Just anything you're thinking, feel free to just talk to me about it after take, you know, and after about two takes as soon as the override walk up to him and go whatever it is said to me, you know, what, just count to 10 Before you talk, and then then say it to me. And I said, You know what, I'll just go home. And he said, No, don't get offended. Just Just please give me a chance to have my own thoughts. And then you can talk, you know, so I said, Okay, so I did that. And maybe on the third or fourth take of the first shot. He said, Well, why don't you go direct the shot the scene? I said, Peter, I'm sorry, I'm talking to him. I said, No, no, I mean, you'd have an idea go. So I walked out on and Rod, I see Robin, look over at Peter and Peter nods. Okay, so I give Robin something to do and come back and he does it. And Peter said, What do you think? And I said, it didn't work. And he said, I don't think it works either. But nice try and Okay. Well, we'll try that again. Some other time. You know, he was amazing. Absolutely amazing. And I said, Well, what if I screw this up? He goes, I'll fix it.

Alex Ferrari 19:13
Such a car. So much confidence in Oh, yeah. Comfortable. He's so comfortable in his own skin at that point, that he's doesn't even have an ego not even threatened by you in any way, shape or form. He was just so generous to you. That's wonderful.

Tom Schulman 19:28
Yeah, he was he was fabulous.

Alex Ferrari 19:30
So So okay, so I have to ask, because I've had multiple people on the show who've worked with Robin. And what is it like seeing Robin on the set? You know, I'm assuming he rift he had to?

Tom Schulman 19:42
Oh, yeah. Well, interestingly enough, the first he shot I think we shot for three days. And then he had to go off and, and he was in a play on Brian. I think he was well, Waiting for Godot on Broadway with Steve Martin. So he was kind of going back and forth. But the play was two weeks away from the end of its run. So We got him for three days. And then he came back and we had him for the rest of the shoot. And you know, the first three days he was so on book so perfectly on that there was it was a little bit dead. And I was saying to Peter, this is I'm worried. And he said, I am too, but don't worry. And I said, Well, what are we going to do? He said, Well, you got two weeks to figure it out. So when he got back, it was kind of like that the first take again, we were in the classroom for the first time. And he said, Peter said, I got an idea, let's do an improv. He said, Robin, if you were just teaching these kids, what would you teach them? And he goes, Oh, I might read to them, might teach them a little Shakespeare. And Peter said, we're gonna roll cameras just come in and do it. And Robin immediately came in, and he saw that teacher, you know, he had no script. So he started connecting with the students in the way he's so good at as a stand up, but also as an actor, and he realized right away, oh, this is a dialogue, even if the students aren't saying anything. So he, you know, that improv stayed in the movie, we've got that we had that. And then, you know, from that point on, he completely got it felt absolutely free to do whatever he wanted. And it was great.

Alex Ferrari 21:06
And imagining that young cast who turned out to be a couple of heavy hitters came out of that cast. Yeah, that's right. They must have been, you know, like, improving with Robin Williams,

Tom Schulman 21:19
Ya know, they were up to it. You know, they were they, he was a young guy, so nice to everybody. It was just never any sense that you couldn't, you know, he just, he was so encouraging. Why not, you know, you just, it's pretty soon you relaxed, and you just said, whatever you want it. And that's what they did.

Alex Ferrari 21:40
So what was the biggest lesson you learned from Peter watching him on that set, as a director, or as a storyteller in general,

Tom Schulman 21:49
Say, as little as possible to the actors, unless you have to, you know, really give them a chance to do what they what they've brought to the to the party, and then intervene, if they're off, you know, but don't over direct, don't walk up and go, Okay, you know, this is the moment we're going to do that. And this is what just happened and all that, see what they bring, because 99 or 89% of the time, their instincts will be right. And if you tell them on the other thing was always answer a question with a question. If they'd say, Well, what's happening here? And he got what do you think? And then they would, you know, he knew we talked through all this stuff, but that allowed them to own it, you know, they'd say, Well, I think this and that, that puts it into the actor's body. So very simple, deceptively simple, you know, but but very effective.

Alex Ferrari 22:42
Now, the one thing, and for everyone listening, this is going to be a spoiler alerts, if you have nots, it's not our fault. It's like, what 32 years old or three years old at this point, this movie, it's not our fault. If you haven't watched it, if you want to skip this part, we're going to talk about a spoiler alert here. The ending of that film, I can't imagine it ever getting made today, just ever. How did you have the balls of Katzenberg, and we're and yourself to put this out there in that way? Because that is such a touchy subject suicide is such a touchy. I mean, obviously, it's a minefield, to touch in, but it's perfect for that film. It is, it's necessary for that, but you can't, you can't move that you can't end that film without it. At least being satisfied. You know, better. How did how did you guys approach that? How did Peter approach it? How did Robin approach it? How did you approach it? Like, because it's such a touchy thing. And at what point did you say in the writing process? I'm gonna this is what's gonna have to happen in this film?

Tom Schulman 23:48
Well, when I wrote it, I was too naive, I think, to think that it was anything's difficult, you know, just Steve was part of the story. It's where the story had to go. And that was that, you know, and when Peter and I met and started talking through things, you know, at one point, I don't know, we've kind of avoided the suicide for a while. But finally we got to and I brought it up, because I said, Peter, you know, frankly, now I've got to see people's reactions and talk to people. I'm worried about this. He said, You know, I had the chance to meet Ingmar Bergman once and Bergman told me that the only thing you could do that would absolutely destroy a film was killed, have the main character kill himself. And so I said, Oh, my God, and I said, What are we going to do? And he said, we're going to hope Bergman's wrong. Okay, so that was kind of it with him. And we never had debates at the studio about it. It was really Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 24:42
It's because because Katzenberg is a filmmaker. He Yeah.

Tom Schulman 24:46
I mean, I think I'm sure they thought about it, but they never said anything to me about it because I think they saw that you couldn't have this. It just wouldn't be a good story without it. story wouldn't work. Certainly the ending of the movie with the very Indeed, the movie wouldn't work without it. And, and, but, and then, you know, anything short of that would have just to be kind of whip out, I think.

Alex Ferrari 25:08
Right, exactly. But the soul, the soul, the soul of the script would have been gone.

Tom Schulman 25:13
Yeah. They you know, they wanted to change the title of that. Well, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 25:18
To be fair. Yeah. To be fair. Let's find what it is. What What were some other names that you could do remember that?

Tom Schulman 25:26
Yeah, they asked the marketing department and the distribution people to all eat, they made each of them come up with 20 alternative titles to the store. So we had like, this thick, you know, piece of paper double on both sides with just hundreds of names. And they picked Keatings way. And on and up. For the first few days of the shoot on the slate at the studio's insistence was Keatings wet. And Peter was a little bit worried about it. I remember we went to a video store, and he would love to whenever somebody would recognize him and say, What are you doing next? He said he really wanted up, then they would go Yeah. And then he would pitch them the whole story of the movie, take them he, and because he loved to tell the story. That was the way his way of, you know, really getting into it. And I remember one guy said Robin Williams, and that was not a comedy is it? And it kind of chilled Peter a little bit because he realized people were going to come expecting Rob into being a comedy, which this wasn't, but it just sounded. So he said I'm a little bit worried about the title. But after about three or four days of seeing that on the slate at the he called he called me and said I'm, we're going with Dead Poets Society, to hell with Keatings way. I've told the studio that's the title and just That's it. So what are they going to do? So they're going to take it or they're going to fire me? So I said, Okay, so.

Alex Ferrari 26:50
Yeah, that's Keatings away. For God's sake.

Tom Schulman 26:55
No, I know that that was a TV movie title, right. I mean, that

Alex Ferrari 26:58
That wasn't TV. But Robert was that Robbins first? Dramatic, like deeply dramatic role.

Tom Schulman 27:06
Bizarrely, he had made a movie about two years before PBS in black and white called seize the day. Yeah, about it. And when I heard that, I mean, not having anything knowing that Robin would ever even be, you know, a possibility for the movie. I went, Oh, my God, somebody's made a movie called seize the day. It's a bit it's exactly like this. But I it's always my paranoid. And because, you know, I you sort of assume that once an idea hits you. It's hitting 40 other people at the same time that guys work that way. But anyway, it was not that it was a very dark, very grim film about an in Brighton plays an insurance agent who does anything but seize the day. He just lives a very small life. And so that was a very dramatic role and kind of Walking Dead. I hate to say it, and I mean, maybe I should see it again. But But no, he had done. I guess, Garp he had done.

Alex Ferrari 28:04
Yeah, well, one of the garbage stuff, but it's still but none of those are hits and it was still pretty Good Will Hunting. So yeah, this was the first time they showed his chops. But by the way, before we walked before we did this interview, I went back to watch that trailer just as just to kind of like remind me of haven't seen the movie in a while. And they the first 60 seconds it's set up almost as a comedy. Yeah, like it's set up as a comedy and like, I'm when I'm watching it. I'm like, My God is setting this up as I mean, they kind of get a little bit more serious at the end, but it's really an uplifting treat.

Tom Schulman 28:39
I know, I know. Well, you know, then the marketing department does what it does, right?

Alex Ferrari 28:44
Exactly. So alright, so the movie comes out. It's It's a hit. It's definitely hit it in the in the video stores for sure. Because I was working at the video stores when that came out in the 19. I was in high school. So I remember recommending that film constantly to people in the people coming back like he did tell me about the ending. But it was beautiful. So you go and it gets nominated, you win an Oscar. And now you're kind of you know, you basically, you've hit the dream for all screenwriters pretty much you've won an Oscar, how does the talent treat you? How do you deal with it? Because I've heard out of there Oscar winners on the show. It varies on how the accolades how the town treats you, you know, all of that stuff. How did you how did you handle it? And what was it like?

Tom Schulman 29:34
It was it's, you know, I mean, I by the time the Oscars came around, I had already had to fairly, you know, hit movies in the theaters. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Dead Poets both came out within a couple of weeks of each other right? did really good business. So you know, I was getting offers and stuff that just put it up to another level. And then it's it's hard because people start saying, you know, I'm not going to Give you notes, and you kind of go, what does that I just don't, I would never want to tell an Oscar winner, you know what to write and you kind of go, You know what, I'm no better now than I was when I wrote this. And you know, I need input, I need feedback, I don't I need your honest feedback or, you know, I That's just you thrive on that. It's not always, not always pleasant. But that's, that's what you do. So it was hard that way. And, you know, also just to be diluted with so many offers, literally, if I had been diligent about it, which more more diligent about it, which I should have been, I would have been reading, you know, a scripture tonight for a couple of years,

Alex Ferrari 30:42
Because I want you to direct, not just

Tom Schulman 30:45
Write direct write and direct, but you know, I put it whatever you want to do what you know, really, it's, it's crazy. And, and so I don't know that I handled it well, because I still really wanted to, I had my own ideas of things I wanted to do. So I kind of kept putting those offers aside in a way and you know, looking back, I turned out really good things. And if it was, you know, just go some big shows, some big shows that when they hit, you know, to their credit, a lot of times, you know, I would read the book that was offered, and I did not see what the movie that they made in that book, you know, so some very excellent people got a hold of it with a better grander vision than mine. But still, it was it was hard. And it just, you know, you kind of go from, from, you know, your own your own house, you know, getting the mail and taking care of your family to this thing where you you know, you could literally eat lunch and dinner on somebody else for five years. Honestly, it is never stops. People want to take you out what is it Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 31:52
It's it's, it's the golden ticket in many ways. But just like lottery winners, some people deal with it differently. Some people that destroys them, right? Some people don't take advantage of the situation when it's presented to themselves. And it's, look, it's you, there's no book on it. There are some more interviews like this out there, where I ask these kind of questions of Oscar winners. I'm like, Dude, how did you deal with this? You know, but it's a it's a small club, the Oscar winning?

Tom Schulman 32:23
I mean, for me, it was, the luck of it was is that the, you know, five or 10 years of working, you know, basically in my basement, you know, alone doing it prepared me because I had written a lot. So, you know, I felt I never confident, but I felt pretty good that I could about delivering what you know that if, if I got a job and liked a project that I can I could give them something that you know, at least they wouldn't hate me.

Alex Ferrari 32:53
Did you? Did you after you won the Oscars? I've always fascinated about this. Do you still were insecure as a writer?

Tom Schulman 33:01
Oh, yeah. Yeah. And but the expectations go up right now. Winter, they expect everything you turn in? It's got to be genius, because you don't? Yeah, at least I felt that. But you know, it didn't take long to shake that. You know, you can you just I mean, mainly fortunately for me, the day after the Oscars, I had to get up on a plane and go and have some meetings with Bill Murray over What About Bob? So it was just immediately back to work. You know, What About Bob was kind of, you know,

Alex Ferrari 33:32
That was a that was a that was a that was a pretty big hit as well, if I remember. Yeah.

Tom Schulman 33:36
Yeah, it was. I can't remember but ya know, it was it did well, and but I had that work to do. So it was I didn't have

Alex Ferrari 33:45
A chance to overthink things you were just not really working. So with with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Again, did you did you were you brought in on that? Was that an original idea? Are you you were brought

Tom Schulman 33:58
I was brought in. I mean, I would say 10 days before the anticipated start of production for the first day of production. They fired the entire group have they fired the writers they fired the director, they fired the producers. I think I had heard that Rick Maraniss had bought that it was he had been sold that it was comedy. It wasn't a comedy. And my agent called me and said, You're starting this rewrite tomorrow, and you've got, you know, eight days to turn it to fit to turn it into a comedy and I'm like, What are you talking about? So he sent it to me? I said, I know I can't even get through this. It's a drama. What are you talking about? I've already committed you're doing it. You know, there's a meeting tomorrow at eight o'clock. Be there? You know, I'm like, Oh my god. So that was like a Wednesday and I went to the studio and I said you know what, I gotta think about this. I don't I don't I can't just start writing. I got it. I have a take on it. They said no, no, you understand a week from Saturday. Hey, this is going in a pouch to Rick Maraniss. He's reading it on Sunday. If he's doing it, he's going to be in Mexico on Tuesday starting to shoot. If he reads it and doesn't like it, we're scuttling. I'm like, Oh my God, and then they said, so start to buy. I said, No, I'm gonna start on Monday. I'm gonna think about it for three or four days. And they just every two hours, Katzenberg would call me and go, you're ready to start. Come on, start. Just start writing. Just put some boards down. That's all you got to do. And I'm like, No.

Alex Ferrari 35:29
I remember when that movie came out again, this is this is prime video store time. During when that movie came out. Oh, my God, that was such that was a monster hit if I remember it was, it did lot of business theatrically it destroyed in the video store, spawned a sequel spawned a ride or show a Disney

Tom Schulman 35:50
Write and a series to you know, yeah, that's right. Yeah, no, it was. But you know, it was the idea of the previous team that was you know, all credit.

Alex Ferrari 35:59
It's genius. It's a fairly genius idea.

Tom Schulman 36:02
Yeah. So, yeah. So that that part is, you know, but But yeah, it was and it was a surprise hit. I mean, it actually was released along with Batman against Batman.

Alex Ferrari 36:13
I remember that. Actually. I remember that weekend. I was like, What's this Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Genius by that concept is fairly genius. Especially for the time period that it came out in. Yeah, it just was perfect. Perfect for that time. But I mean, you look, you go back and you look at that movie, you're like, Yeah, you know, the visual effects just weren't ready yet.

Tom Schulman 36:35
I know. I know. It's fine. At the time they work but you know, I can remember, you know, because I always saw those Flash Gordon Saturday mornings. They made in the 30s. And you kind of wonder, will Star Wars ever looked like that? And it kind of did after a while? You know? It's really polished it up a bit. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, but when you first see it, it's so amazing. You just, it feels like that is as real as it's ever gonna get. And it's perfect. So

Alex Ferrari 37:04
It didn't bother the box office. Let's just put it that way.

Tom Schulman 37:08
Yeah, the sort of fake grass and weeds and honey didn't either but the big the ants head and yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 37:15
It was like it reminded me of that. That movie in the 50s. It was a them is called them. The giant ant.

Tom Schulman 37:22
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. The I think that what had happened was is that the previous team had told Disney they wanted to do all the special effects kind of analog old style, that the B would be a man and a B suit, if you know that thing. So Disney had them shoot a test. They saw it. They just said goodbye. That's it. We're not doing it that way. We're getting other people. So they got Joe Johnston, who was a model maker. Yeah. Um, and, you know, that's, that's,

Alex Ferrari 37:51
They call Joe. I remember. I think I saw them the ILM documentary or something on Disney Plus, he was like, yeah, and then they called me for this Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie, and they just needed someone who could do some effects. So I got the job.

Tom Schulman 38:03
Right. Right. Right. And it was George.

Alex Ferrari 38:04
It was George Lucas who, who gave him the attaboy like the Donnie Brasco. He's, he's he could do it.

Tom Schulman 38:10
Yeah, I think Jeffrey called George and said, Who you got. And George said, I got this, you know, he's a modelmaker. But he's, he's brilliant. And he can do it. Just that okay. You know, so

Alex Ferrari 38:22
Those things don't happen today. Like, unless it's unless it's a Steven or someone from the old guard. making those calls but I think once that generation is gone, these the new gen. There's just nobody that has that kind of juice anymore, or has that power to even do it. No one a Disney, other than maybe Iger could do.

Tom Schulman 38:45
Eisner was part of that. I mean, of course, the firt I had made it because I had gotten sick every time I went to Mexico, I made it because they said well, you know, you're going to be on the set. I said, Nope, not going to Mexico to be on the set of this movie that I'll watch dailies here, not going to cry. No. So they said, you know, at that point, they had them because we went into a seven days, you know, process but the first day the dailies came back, I was there and something happened. And Jeffrey looked at me and said, Did you write that little kid said something. He said, Did you write that line? I don't remember that in the script. I said no, but I like it. And he they stopped the dailies. And they said, Get Joe Johnston on the on the on the phone. So they got him on the phone. I remember David Hoberman, who was head of production was talking to him and he was saying, you know, we're not going to improvise. We've worked really hard on this script. We and then he hung up. And Eisner said what happened? He said he hung up on me. And I like oh, so Eisenberg goes, what do we do? Katzenberg said, Well, we can fire him or we could make his life miserable. Or we could go along and see what happens. And iser said, What do you want to do. And Katzenberg? Let's go along, see what happened. I was Joe's career was on the line, I don't think he ever did. But But, and you know, he did a great job. So

Alex Ferrari 40:15
That's amazing. That's amazing. So whether we do outline when you work

Tom Schulman 40:24
Extensively, I mean, I outline I take notes for months, or however long I have. And then you know, to the point where I'll have 150 pages of just notes, sometimes I've written the same scene twice, and don't even remember it, but, and then I go through and I organize them, I make sure there's space between them, I print them out, I slice every idea in paragraph or whatever scene into a separate thing, I put them in a pile, I pick it up, and I go, Oh, this is Act Two somewhere, and I leave the floor open. So I lay this whole thing out along the floor. And there is the point that I start, there's there places where I don't know how I'm going to connect scenes, I might not even know how this whole section is going to work. But while I'm figuring out what's going on with all the other stuff, those little AHA connection moments happen, you know, so it's a, it's a really good process, and I just stumbled on it.

Alex Ferrari 41:19
Do you do you? When you're writing? Are you trying to tap into the ether? Are you trying to do that thing that that kind of flows through you or not? Because no, you're just what

Tom Schulman 41:32
I'm just into the story completely into the story and characters, you know,

Alex Ferrari 41:37
They're the ones driving it. So you're not trying to like waiting for inspiration or the muse to show up?

Tom Schulman 41:42
No, no, they are the Muse and it'll show up if you work with them. You know, if you're just there, the ether, to me, is a kind of place of self criticism of thinking, oh my god, nobody's ever going to make this. Okay. I just You just read that somebody just sold a horror film for a script for $15 million. Anybody gonna buy this piece of crap, I'm, you know, this this thing, I'm working on no chance that all those things come in, you got to leave them out. You know, that's the so just stay with your story, you know, get through the first draft, maybe at the end, you'll just go this was a bad idea. You've wasted a couple months, whatever, but probably not.

Alex Ferrari 42:24
Something comes out of it. You're a better writer, you're a better writer,

Tom Schulman 42:26
You're better. Absolutely. You know,

Alex Ferrari 42:29
Now, how do you do? How do you deal with studio notes?

Tom Schulman 42:32
I kind of figured that the people giving the notes have the same pride of authorship that that I have. So you know, their job to give notes, right? So I want to encourage them to give good notes. And I do the same thing to them that they do to me, which is the if they're good. They'll always start by going wow, we love what you did. And of course, they're going to shred it and eviscerate it. But by telling me how much they love it and giving me all that support. I'm open and I do the same thing to them when they're giving me the notes. I go Oh, that's interesting. Really good, huh? I write everyone down is if I love it, and they feel very good about my response. And then when I come back and go, Yeah, you know, I love this note, I love that one. But this thing you know, I'd like to do it. But it doesn't work. Because of this. They listen because they know I'm on their side. If I'm defensive in the room, you know, which I did when I was early going. They're just like, Oh, we got a defensive writer and they're not gonna listen to anything you said. But if you're if you're open there, you just you form a great relationship and then they go Yeah, you know, you're right. That would ruin the whole rest of the movie if you did that. So

Alex Ferrari 43:39
You don't drop because I've heard some writers do this is that they'll put something in so ridiculous. Just to give them some some meat. You don't do that.

Tom Schulman 43:48
Now I'd never do anything that I think would would be it

Alex Ferrari 43:52
Because it possibly might get stuck in there if you're not.

Tom Schulman 43:55
Absolutely you know, don't don't ever write anything you don't want shot, you know, and

Alex Ferrari 44:00
Did you ever did you ever hear the story of what Goodwill Hunting? What they did put the script in the middle of the script. They put this massive orgy sex scene with will haunting and his friends. And there's this giant thing. And I forgot who it was. I think it was either Chris Moore or I think Chris Moore told us telling me this story on the show. And it's like he gave it to the studio which was I think that was Touchstone as well. It was a touchstone or Hollywood one of those Disney arms if I'm not mistaken. Oh, or Miramax. It was a Miramax film at the time. Yeah. And then I think it was somebody who read it and they're like, you know, we love the movie, but that orgy scene in the middle. This is seems a little out of place. And they go we want to make sure that you read the entire thing. So we stuck that entire scene in there. That's how we know if you actually read it or if you didn't read it, because if you read it, you're gonna say something.

Tom Schulman 44:56
That's great. That's so smart. Yeah, the interesting thing too Mi is most people and I'm guilty of this myself, when they hit something that really bumps them and bumps them badly. They don't read anything after that, really. They just they think they have, they will finish the script. But you know, you get in a meeting and you go, boy, that thing or they'll start you can tell something's really wrong that thing on page 20. What did you do? You fix that? And you come back and they go and God, well, all that stuff you fix in the second half of the script. It's amazing. Where did you get? How did you do that? And just a day, and you know, it's been there all along. They just couldn't, they couldn't process it. Yeah. So it's, it's interesting that way

Alex Ferrari 45:38
Sometimes, sometimes I've heard, even I've done this on a couple of jobs where I'll just write the same. I just, I'll just send it to them again, after the note, and they'll go, Oh, it's so much better this time. I'm like, That's great. I'm crabby. Your notes are fantastic. Is there is there anything you wish somebody would have told you at the beginning of your career? Well, hoping a little nugget of something you like, man, you know, when you win the Oscar? Well, that besides that, besides that,

Tom Schulman 46:13
People told me so many things, I got a lot of good advice. You know, most of the advice was if you can do anything else with your life, get out you know, because you no matter how talented you are, this movie is gonna eat this film is gonna eat you alive. And, and people told me that, you know, but I was too stubborn. And you know, to listen, that's not going to happen to me, you know, me, and everybody else, you know, ever picked up a pencil. But you know, I don't know. I mean, people have told me, you know, just only fight the important fights Don't you know, and I don't agree with that. I actually think you do better. You know, I mean, I've had people say why, why don't you know, come? Can't we just do that? Like, No, why would I agree to do something and why would you want to do something? That's not right for the movie, every little detail. We have no idea what's going to bump this audience and throw them out. So let's not let's not make any mistakes if we can help it you know, we're gonna make plenty but let's not consciously do something that we think is just okay. You know? No, I got I think, I think I can't think of anything. I mean, maybe I'm just Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 47:30
Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. Now, tell me about your new film double down south, which you wrote and directed. I was telling you I saw the trailer and it's so refreshing to see with Fred the trailers great. It's well put together shot gorgeously, but I'm really intrigued by the story because I've never seen a film about Keno. And in the south, which is like this unique normally it's in the big city like color money or something like that hustling bars, but tell me about that film.

Tom Schulman 48:00
I grew up as a soldier in Nashville. And, you know, as part of a misspent youth, we'd go to this pool hall called 20th century pool hall, which was to dive in a fairly shabby, then Jabby part of Nashville, and three guys named Nick ran it. They were Nick Nick Nick, the old it middle, Nick and young Nick, young Nick in that play was about 30. I guess old Nick was just crotchety old guy middle, Nick was a genuinely mean person, you know, and you just, you'd never want to ask him one question. You never talked to him again. He was so dismissive. And I was, you know, he hated kids there, but he let us come in. Because you know, we spent money on and in the corner, they had this game called Kino pool, which was this board you put on the table, there are holes in the board, there are numbers for the balls, and there's this double hole. And if you make a double, you get to shoot again. And you the bet doubles. So if you are playing for five bucks, and we both put $5 on the table, and I make a double on the break, you have UNL me 10 bucks, and I get to shoot again and the beds now 10 bucks, and if I hit the double hole again on the break, you owe me 20 bucks. So people that are good at doubling up and you know, the first time I played I made the mistake of not quite understanding that and, you know, almost lost my watch and never got to shoot because if you shoot and miss, it's the other guy shot and he gets to keep going until he misses. So it's it's a diabolical gambling game. And there was this really good looking woman. I have no idea how old she is. But I mean, I was 14 she would come into this place every now and then and would be back there with the guys playing Keno and you know, we'd sit back there, my friends and I just gawk at her and she never gave you know even glanced at us but it stuck with me because it was a rough crowd. And she seemed to she was I never saw her smile. She is a tough tough on brand, you know. And so she was kind of the for years, I thought I want to make something store I want to write a story about this, but it never just kind of went away. I couldn't figure it out. And then maybe, I don't know, a year a little over a year ago. I just went, Oh my God, I know what that is both of those to be because I had a friend whose brother ran a poker game in accounting, you're outside in Nashville. And it was kind of a he was really smart about it, because he, I mean, it was illegal. But he paid off the cops. And he would bring star poker players from all over the United States in advertised them, you know, kind of underground and poker players from all over which show up to see if they can beat these guys, you know, and he took a cut of the pot. That's all he did just cut the pot. Yeah, so that that those two things were sort of the inspiration for this plantation house, where this game of Keno is played is a kind of, you know, high stakes keynote.

Alex Ferrari 51:03
I mean, I'm dying to see it. I can't wait to see it. It looks it looked really cool. It's like it's an original idea. I just haven't seen that before. And that's such a rarity. In today's world, you just because everything has been made. Everything is every story has been done. But but this is just a unique placement for it. So. So this is I think this is an independent film at this point. Yeah, yeah. So how'd you get? How'd you get the cash? off the ground because it's not easy nowadays.

Tom Schulman 51:32
My friend Rick Wallace, who is we've been friends since the late 70s. television director was worked for bochco for years, ran some bochco shows, great guy, just dear old friend read, read the script. And he's he's moved to New York, outside of Seattle. And he said, You know, there's a whole group of people up here that every now I meet him, and again, they say, if you've got any, any, you know, movie ideas or whatever, you know, we've invested in some low budget horror films, blah, blah, blah. And I said, Sure, give them the script. And you know, what, it just, they just came through, it couldn't have been any easier, you know, the budgets very low. So, you know, and, and they were just like, the day with the money was supposed to be there. It was there. What, what's the No, I know, I mean, the money dropped on the day was a bomb. Everything was just, you know, as easy as it could be that way, you know, and we still had to go off in the middle of COVID. And, you know, make the movie in 22 days, but, but you know, we did

Alex Ferrari 52:37
Everyone, everyone listening, this is not the way things happen.

Tom Schulman 52:40
It never, never the money never Is there ever, never comes.

Alex Ferrari 52:45
It's always out tomorrow, but you have to pay people, well, we'll just start shooting now. And we'll pay you and we'll get it to you. And this just lets your studio based. It's that's just the way it goes.

Tom Schulman 52:57
Yeah, yeah. It's a shot. And you know, I just hope they get their money back. So,

Alex Ferrari 53:03
But it looks, it looks great. I can't really looking forward to it. And it comes out in May you said,

Tom Schulman 53:08
Yes, it's gonna be released in a minimum of 10 cities, in theaters in May. And then right after that, it'll be on all the digital platforms. And then after that, streaming somewhere, it'll find a home somewhere. Yeah. final final resting place.

Alex Ferrari 53:25
So let me ask you, you know, as directors, there's always that one day on set that is that you feel the entire world's coming crashing down around you. And it's generally every day. But there's there's that one day unless you're Peter Weir, and then you're just a cool cucumber. But, but for the rest of us mortals. Yeah. What was that day for you either on this project, or any of the other projects you've worked on? And how did you overcome it?

Tom Schulman 53:53
Well, that that day for me was probably about 15 days into the shoot maybe a little less, maybe 12 to halfway through when I was shooting a scene that's about two it's basically the end of that too. And you know, it had been there and seem good for you know, the however many months it had been eight months since I've written it and hundreds of eyes it seen it, shot the scene, it felt good. I woke up at two o'clock in the morning and went, Oh my God, that scene, the movie does not work from that point on. It's this I've made a huge mistake. And the character that's talking about this would not be concerned about what he's talking about. The whole movie falls apart at this point. And I just, it's like, oh my God, and I, you know, I just thought, I can't save this. It's done. I'm gonna have to go in and want to call the invest. I mean, we're screwed. So and then I thought, Okay, you're right. I just put on the T and see what that you know, think this through to end by five in the morning because I had to be on the set, I believe it's 530 for the set. I had figured out the whole how to rewrite the scene and the movie. Not only was it was going to work better, because of the new way the way the scene was going to be, and I went to the set. And I said, we got to reshoot that scene from yesterday. No, we don't have time. Why would you do it? It was a great scene. We all love it. I said, Listen to me. And I told him what was wrong with the scene? They're like, Oh, my God, you're right. And here's how we fix it. Oh, my God. Okay, great. Great. Well, we'll figure out how to reschedule it. And we did. So it was, but that was a terrifying. Oh, my God, you know, it was.

Alex Ferrari 55:42
It is there's always that day. I mean, it's, you know, for me, it was insane. This is an insane proposition. It's art at at a level. Because you can be an artist view writer and just write and that's fine. There's their stakes, but they're not that big in the sense that they could do in your time. You could be a painter, you could be a musician. They're very solitary. But when you're working as a director, yeah. And you've got millions of dollars and people's careers, and every second that is going by all you hear is teaching to achieve X.

Tom Schulman 56:18
Yeah, it's it's just it is so crazy. To be spending money at the rate we spend it normally at the in the way we do you know, it's just, it's always baffling to me. I mean, I rehearsed we rehearse before this movie, we had a couple of readings before dead poses, like most people never rehearse. And then it's like, what? You don't ever even have a read through the script. I mean, come on, you got to you got to at least I mean, every one of those, those exercises gives you a big clearer picture or a clearer picture of what's working and what's not. And yet people just end by the way, most stuff works. It's not like it's saying, yeah, so but but, you know, to me, the process is, it's baffling, you know, but that's the way we do it. So that's what we did.

Alex Ferrari 57:08
Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter or filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Tom Schulman 57:16
Well, today, it's easier in a way, because you can go out with your cell phone and your friends and you can make something you know, you can write it, you can direct it, and then shoot it. And, you know, you can more cost much. So that's what I would do. That's what I would advise anybody to do. If you don't want to direct you know, find somebody who likes your script. And you know, somebody your age, preferably with, they will listen and, you know, and make your stuff because there's huge opportunity out there. Now, you know, you can get your stuff. I mean, agents won't read anything anymore. It's hard to get them to watch you if you're going to make something even if you make a short you need to make the trailer for the show. They'll watch a 32nd trailer, they will not watch your eight minute short, you know,

Alex Ferrari 58:03
Basic, isn't it?

Tom Schulman 58:05
I know. I know. So, you know, we made the trailer the part of the deal was you got to make a trailer for the movie just to sell it. You know, because the sales agents do not want to watch your movie they they'll watch the if you tease them with the trailer and they liked the trailer, then they'll watch the movie, call them up and say you've got a movie, they'll go okay, we'll see it and you know, two months later, it's like Yeah, yeah, we'll get to it. Show them the good trailer, they'll watch it that night in the movie that night. I mean, he just you know, the short attention spans are something we just all have to deal with now, so you know, make sure you cater to that.

Alex Ferrari 58:40
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Tom Schulman 58:49
You know, trust trust my instincts I did it when writing you know, when I'm sitting down, I'm alone and I just, you know, I just try whatever I don't spend a lot of time you know, questioning my own instincts I just if I think there's a bad scene it is and I just redo it or they feel like something's wrong. I fix it. You know, I don't I don't ask myself should I fix this though? I just do it. But when I get with people as a director and you know and in meetings I'm less likely to sort of just lay out who I am and that's a mistake you know, you got to get comfortable just sometimes being the dumbest person in the room or the you know the mic or like Tom Hanks in big going I don't get it you know and even if everybody's gone What do you mean you don't get it come on you did it you know, you're going you know, you just got to you got to be completely honest with with people and and if you are it it you know, I got after two or three movies getting made and I just somehow I got more or let's say less likely to be a to rock the boat a little bit, you know, just in some ways less less confrontational than I had been before. You know, Disney and when I started there had a reputation being a writer kill any studio, you know, the writers would just complain. Oh, my God, I, you know, I was I wrote for a month and you know, summarily fired the other one, I didn't really know that. So I just spoke up on it right? Thought some, I mean, I just was just like, I don't think that works. And then people would look and you talk and then okay, all right. Well, what do you got? What would work though, that we had a real dialogue all the time. I was less likely to do that at other places. And I frankly, don't know why. But it was a mistake, because you just you have to bite the bite, maybe maybe I was aware that the other places had had shorter fuses, you know, and, and I had come to trust that Katzenberg wasn't going to fire me no matter how obnoxious we had some shouting matches big ones. And in front of other people, you know, but and I, you know, just we just trigger each other like that. And he never, you know, most of the time he would cave if you fight hard enough, he will. Okay, you know, and that's obviously we would back then, but I don't know, I got I pulled back from that. And I don't think it helped the movies that I hadn't made later.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:18
Fair enough. Fair enough.

Tom Schulman 1:01:20
Yeah. And that's the opposite of most people will tell you, you know, try to try to please but I don't think that's the answer.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:27
What are three screenplays that every screenwriter should read?

Tom Schulman 1:01:32
Well, for sure, Casa Blanca, who shared Chinatown? I think Groundhog Day? You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:41
It's one of the it's one of the most brilliant scripts ever written. Yeah, yeah. And I and I've said it so many times. It's the most spiritual film I've ever seen. It's amazing. It is it's literally the most it's the journey of a soul reincarnating again and again until he gets it right. And he learns his lessons along the way. And at the end, he is liberated. I mean, it's literally that.

Tom Schulman 1:02:03
Yeah, it's one of my favorite movies of all time, you know. Incredible. So

Alex Ferrari 1:02:09
And then what are three films? three of your favorite films of all time?

Tom Schulman 1:02:13
Three of my favorite films. Well, that's so hard. Today, today, today, if I had you know, I guess the two godfathers

Alex Ferrari 1:02:23
That counts as one. Okay,

Tom Schulman 1:02:24
That counts as one probably Ekaru. You ever seen that? Oh, acre? Of course. Of course. Yeah, yeah. I guess Casa Blanca, I would have to say it's beautiful. The message of that movie is just one of the most you know it's it's humanity's best moment. You know? I think that that what happens in that moment? So

Alex Ferrari 1:03:00
Tom it has been a pleasure talking to you my friend. Thank you so much. Again. Thank you so much again, for all those amazing filmmaking moments you gave me coming up and and I'm dying to see your latest movie when it comes out. But I appreciate you my friend. Thank you again for all the the knowledge and the and wonderful stories. I appreciate you.

Tom Schulman 1:03:19
It's a real pleasure.

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BPS 275: RAW Confessions of a Hollywood Blockbuster Screenwriter with Ted Griffin

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Alex Ferrari 1:40
I like to welcome Tisha

Ted Griffin 3:33
Oh, Fuck you! NO! All right, start over.

Alex Ferrari 3:36
No, sir. We were gonna get what keep rolling. We're gonna keep rolling. I expect nothing less from you, sir. Mr. Ted Griffin. How are you my friend?

Ted Griffin 3:47
I'm terrific. Very, very nice. Happy to be here. Happy to be alive. Thank you, man. I was in New York stories. Any any day above ground is a good day.

Alex Ferrari 3:57
Amen to that brother.

Ted Griffin 3:59
Tom Waits impression. I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 4:01
But I appreciate you coming up. Joe. Man. I've been a fan of yours for a while. And I saw your interview years ago on the dialogue which is one of the rare interviews I looked you don't do these very often. I noticed or if they don't,

Ted Griffin 4:13
Can't find ask really. Maybe because of that one. Maybe because I wore shorts. on a on a gone camera. Somebody said Jesus. Well, you can deal with the drooling, but shorter

Alex Ferrari 4:26
And the cursing and the drugs and alcohol Excuse me. Yeah. But anyway, so my friend, thank you so much for coming on the show. My first question to you is why in God's green earth did you want to get into this insane business called Holly doll?

Ted Griffin 4:43
It was it almost feels like it was never a choice. I interrupt me if I get too long winded with family history because any biography you ever read is like, oh god, he's talking about his grandfather. My grandfather and my grandmother came up to Hollywood in the 20s. And were a very prolific director on my grandfather's side and a fairly successful actress on my grandmother's side for a number of years. They show up on TCM a few times a year, sometimes in a sort of the graveyard shift. And they both have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which started around 1950. So there was a lot of sidewalk back then. So it's, they are those names you kind of pass by and go. Alright, that's a they were they were pioneers on the sidewalk, I'd say. Anyway, he directed a lot of movies with almost everybody famous from back then John Wayne, Shirley Temple, the Marx Brothers, Astaire and Rogers, his maybe not their best films, but you worked with them all. He did make a very celebrated Laurel and Hardy movie called sons of the desert, which is in the Library of Congress. So that's his sort of claim to fame. He was named his name was William a cider. And the only person I've ever met who actually knew who he was, was Martin Scorsese, because that's just smarting. And my grandmother's name was Marion Nixon and she was sort of a clinical bear type type worked with a young Spencer Tracy and a young Joel McCrea and Jimmy Cagney was in a couple of John Ford movies. And but retired when she married my grandfather and started a family. So I grew up with the lore of Hollywood, around me, my parents were not in the industry, but my father was, who was not involved, had no relation to the industry was a cinephile and took me to a revival theater at the Rialto Theatre in South Pass, which is where Griffin mill in the player goes and kills the screenwriter. Yes, yeah, is a harbinger of things to come for me. Anyway, so I was seeing movies very young. And then, luckily, two things I think happened at a special age. I think there's something about 1011 12, especially maybe for boys where they kind of get into story and movies. And when I was that age, Steven Spielberg got sort of coronated, meaning he was on the scene with jaws and close encounters. But that was like, that's the Raiders Lost Ark et poltergeist sort of hattrick that along with the proliferation of the VCR, so all of a sudden, I had access to movies besides revival theaters. And so from that point on, it was I was just moving nuts. And there was sometimes unfortunately, no looking back

Alex Ferrari 7:58
In other fields,

Ted Griffin 7:59
Hopefully the not too long winded answer to your question.

Alex Ferrari 8:04
So then, so I've so I think you and I come from the same similar vintage as far as age is concerned. And I grew up in a video store as well actually worked in a video store for so many years. So I mean, that opened my eyes was set to cinema, watch video source. So at what point did you say you know what, I think I want as much power as I can in Hollywood, I'm gonna become a screenwriter. And you start bumping around as a screenwriter, because I'm assuming you said you'd have no connections in the business at this point.

Ted Griffin 8:35
No, my last living connection was probably Ernst Lubitsch. It was that who was apparently a good friend of my grandfather's he had died by dance distance for I was born in 70. So everybody, I had nobody to call and and because at 1112 Let me turn off so that doesn't make that noise. I started emulating Spielberg and making backyard movies with on Super Eight and then and then beta, and then have VHS so so my so he was my role model. And then probably like a few years later, when I got snarky or Billy Wilder, and but there were always sort of writer directors, who were my heroes or who I aim to be. So I had absolutely no interest in being a screenwriter in the business and but I wanted to write my way into the chair so to speak, which I I kind of made the mistake of going to a liberal arts college college back east because it was it was off track, but I you know, I did it. It happened. It's my claim to fame from that is that I was a in the first incarnation of the comedy group broken lizard which has gone on Yes. So I was like a freshman when they were juniors and seniors.

Alex Ferrari 10:13
So Jay was on the show was on the show. I love Jay .

Ted Griffin 10:15
Yeah. So that so for like a year I was there Terry Gilliam I was like making the movies and, and then they went to New York and I ultimately went to LA and anyway, so what's my story? Oh, yeah, so I was gonna write myself my way into the chair. But I was also very poor and living in LA in a hand me down Mazda with pretty much all my clothes and possessions in the back of it going from couch to spare bedroom to sometimes sleeping in the car. And not really kind of refusing to take a job because I was just intent on writing my way in I mean, a permanent job I was a dry cleaner for a while and worked on a construction site for a little bit. And, and then three years of that, and I got lucky, somebody got a writer named Neil Tolkien read one of my scripts and gave it to his agent lawyer who became my agent lawyer. And there's one script called best laid plans that I thought this is my thing to direct like, this is the right size movie. And no it it's like a good first film. And then somebody. Then Mike Newell, sorry, I was like debating Okay, do I name names? Yeah. Mike Newell company read it. And Mike Newell, who was coming off move. Who had just made Al Pacino Johnny Depp gangster.

Alex Ferrari 11:46
Oh, Danny Braska

Ted Griffin 11:48
Thank you, God. Just making that said, oh, I want to direct this next and on this level with these people. And I said, well, she's, I guess I gotta say yes to that. So I sort of sold the script, and literally turned around Donnie Brasco, open big and he said, I can't do this movie. I need to do a bigger movie. But we'll we'll find a director and I was like, Whoa, he would river I want to, but I couldn't. I'd sort of taking the check. His next movie was pushing 10 So serves him fucking right. And, but I got I got bait and switch on the movie I should have directed first. The other movie that I'd written that sold was ravenous, which was not a good first movie because it's up in the mountains with snow and turned out to be a completely calamitous production.

Alex Ferrari 12:37
Is that Is that the one with Guy Pearce? Yes. Yeah. Guy was on the show. I think he I remember him saying, Yeah, ravenous. That was a rough situation.

Ted Griffin 12:44
Yeah, it was a rough situation. But strangely enough, a movie that has a lot of fans and like, oh, yeah, fun criterion channel and like, survives, in a way basically plans very, like, terrible movie. Lots of nice people involved very easy production. Lots of very good actors, all in the wrong roles. And after that, I was like, I took six months off, I was so bummed out about the industry.

Alex Ferrari 13:15
Well, let me ask, let me ask you this. So how many scripts did you write before you got the first one sold?

Ted Griffin 13:24
I'd written four or five.

Alex Ferrari 13:28
How did you? Did you take any courses? Or did you take any anything to like learn it? Or did you just pick up a book format

Ted Griffin 13:35
As a kid I was I was already so nuts about movies that I was reading Adventures in the screen trade. By the time I was 12, or 13. I was I think, at 14 Taking a Syd field class where he distributed the first 10 pages of body heat by Larry caston, which is how I learned not only about screenwriting, but about heterosexual sodomy. That's a joke I have with Larry. Oh, we can laugh about it now. Anyway. So I was I was already sort of reading scripts, which was a lot harder in the pre internet days. Like he really had to go find him. So I was sort of like, to some degree, self taught and college I talked to a professor into letting me take write a screenplay for credit one semester. So that was the first one I like, feature length one I had done and then and then those three years of sort of like living hand to mouth. I churned out three, three more, and I also tried my hand at a couple of t like half hour TV scripts, and which taught me that I should not write for friends or the Simpsons or Seinfeld, because I gave them to my friends. I had friends who are basically running Seinfeld. I thought, oh, they'll give me a job and they read them and said, You're feature guy, which was a nice way to say this. Good.

Alex Ferrari 15:07
But this is a your you were in a car basically, living basically, day to day. I just want people listening to understand like the kind of tenacity that takes for three years running around LA, did you just have a laptop and you were just trying to use squeezing in stuff at coffee shops or doing it in your car? Like how do you mentally deal with not knowing where your next meal is coming at? And then that and that maybe that that extreme, but still, like, really not having a place to live or jumping here and they're really struggling, and yet still be creative enough to write.

Ted Griffin 15:43
I'm trying to remember actually, like when laptops came on the scene because it may have been like lugging around a modern

Alex Ferrari 15:49
The typewriter.

Ted Griffin 15:50
Yeah. I mean, there were, there's a great injustice in Hollywood, which is I would say, from my experience, not systematically, systemically racist, but systemically favors those who have a trust fund or who can be in a mailroom, unpaid, or who can survive for a while. And while yes, I was working hand to mouth, like I had a, my mom was in Denver, and I could like escape and go and live in our basement and churn out a script. And so I had, I didn't have any money, but I did have a diploma from an overpriced University and sort of like, more of a safety net. Even in that existence, then, like, I knew I wasn't gonna be, like, aimless the homeless. So it's a good story, but it's also sort of like, and I'm glad I went through it, because there is something to pay, you're paying your dues, besides being able to go on a podcast 25 years later and say so. But that said, there is something that is there's there's a reason why kids from liberal arts colleges or reasonably well to do backgrounds, do well in Hollywood, because they can kind of survive those questionable years. Oh, what's my point? So yes, it was. Also, I mean, there's something about the you don't realize you're gonna miss about youth that is very, very known about music, meaning if you're in rock into rock and roll, and you're not kind of making traction by 25, like, you got to like your that energy is musically like you need that for rock and roll. It's not as true for movies, but it's kind of is meaning. They're novelists who probably start at 50. You cinema is like a little younger than that. And so and there's a certain energy that in which you, you're coming up a lot of stuff younger than you are older. Agreed. And so. So while I really wish, I'm really glad I'm not living in my car anymore, I really would love to sort of get back to that

Alex Ferrari 18:32
That guy, that guy, that guy,

Ted Griffin 18:34
And also the, the, you know, doing anything artistic is a leap of faith, you've got to have to have a dream and believe that dream could possibly come true. Well enough to pursue it, and you have enough experiences where things get completely rad Focht and you've sort of ate and it becomes a greater fight to have that, to keep that dream alive. And so it's like, oh, God, I gotta do this. I gotta, I gotta suffer the slings and arrows again. Geez,

Alex Ferrari 19:03
but yeah, but as you get older you eat I mean, I don't know about you. But you know, your level of what you put up with just goes down like things I put up with in my 20s I would never put up with in my 40s Yeah, just it's just you just, you will do so much more when you're younger, to get to where you want to be. But after two or three decades, you're tired and you're like numb. I just don't, I don't want to do that anymore. I won't. I just won't do it anymore. So I agree with you. Like there's things that I remember myself and the torrent might take my early, late teens, teens and 20s that I was just the things that would just be flying, the energy was different. You're not as beat down as much at that point by the business.

Ted Griffin 19:41
I guess I'm proud that at that time, I took all that energy and suffered and put it towards writing and trying to get things going as opposed like I I really had no very little social life. So And I'm sure there are people who can like juggle both and and maybe not happen but people who I know people who had more fun in their 20s than I did. But it's, it's sort of what you have to do you can either choose life or career at that point.

Alex Ferrari 20:28
So alright, so after ravenous, you know, and and that other script that you wrote, how did you get this job to writing Ocean's 11? Like it doesn't there doesn't seem a direct line to that.

Ted Griffin 20:44
Moving from a cannibal Western black comedy doesn't

Alex Ferrari 20:53
With with with the biggest movie stars in the world, and Steven Soderbergh, right.

Ted Griffin 20:57
Well, so as I said, after, after those first two experiences were bad, because I kind of broken in the fall of 96. And for about a year there, I was, like, the shiny new screenwriting boy in town, and, and I had two movies going, and it was like, very heady days, and then ran into the brick wall of those productions of the reality of the business, took six months, six months off, and had sold another idea and was so either bummed out. Or, also, I'd learned the lesson of like, I sold something because of the excitement of agents in the business to sell this thing. And I just didn't have any idea of how to tell the story or what the story was. And I learned a valuable lesson there, which, I guess I could maybe help out anybody out there, which is, there are a bunch of reasons to write scripts, the money, the who you can get to work with the cocktail value of saying, Oh, I'm working with this or on this. And those are all great. And if you don't know what you're writing, or you have no enthusiasm for that all those those three reasons will not help you out when the rubber hits the road, like you need to care, like, have some kind of excitement about what you're writing, or else you're in trouble, hopefully. Or you're just a sociopath, mercenary, and you can pump it out good for you. I've met I've met them as always, so I so I had given back like, a lot of money. And also realize these two movies were going to come out in the next year. And that wasn't going to do me any favors, presumably. And a friend of mine worked for Jerry Weintraub who had a deal at Warner's, his name was Chris Buchanan. And he sent me oceans that it had been one of those movies that they had been talking about, Oh, is there a way of bringing out the word reboot? Bring it back somehow. I think back then it was even still just remake and worry, having grown up cinephile and, and also a guy who really kind of knew old movies and classic Hollywood better than my contemporaries, and who was heavily influenced the Great Escape was a major movie for me growing up Magnum and seven this sort of John Sturgis number movies, slightly less so Dirty Dozen, the professionals I thought was terrific. I had somehow missed oceans just never seen it. Probably because it was never recommended to me. It's the Scorsese loves it I think, um, for personal reasons. And I actually we we never talked about it he's never seen the remake and and Marty's never seen it has never watched it. He I that's a story for either later in the podcast or another day, but I fell into Scorsese's life because he saw ravenous. Which kind of makes me wonder. But I've always thought it was more of an infamous movie. Like, watch these guys phone it in and snot for wearing sweaters. And so and when I finally watched it, I sort of thought Yeah, boy, that's a disappointment. Like it has the kind of the concept, generally for fun movie and that and it's the in the genre, but I really don't care about this movie. And I think I passed on it a couple of times. Basically, they developed a script by a guy named Steve Carpenter, who had written a directed movie called Soul Survivor with Casey Affleck, I think, and that script was pretty faithful to the original and that the it was it was a bunch of army buddies who thought hey, we should apply our military skills to this and they reassembled and There was a guy who is very close to Sinatra's character a dino a Sammy like that. And and I kind of read that and I said this is sort of feels like what I just saw updated and I can remember. Sorry, Tang long winded version. But so I passed it on a couple times. And I think I was I was driving around and I was either listening to the Touch of Evil soundtrack because I was a nerd by Henry man Seanie which is kind of a cool like, or David shires music from taking a Pelham, which is awesome also saw and I just sort of thought, oh, like, I get the vibe of what this movie could be like, it has that. Because there's something about music. That especially for me, but I think a lot of people like music can be an inspiration for movies, just because it's a feeling like you're gonna get this movie is going to give you this feeling this music is going to give you this feeling and that's, I think, sort of what compels us to go see things and to listen to things of like, I want to be scared right now. Or I want to be titillated, or what are its I'm all over the place. I'm gonna come back to Ocean's but there's a my one of my favorite things I've read about movies is Martin Amos wrote in appreciation of Spielberg in the early 80s. And he says that he kind of boiled it down to that Spielberg had a talent for streamlining and emotion to an audience, whether it's Jaws fear and adventure, Close Encounters our Raiders adventure again, and then et love and that and there's a brilliance in that. And I think that's still, to some degree, the secret of his of his success for whatever, along with craft and genius and some other stuff. So So I had the sense of like, oh, there's this feeling of cool that I think could be in this movie. And also secondarily, it struck me of like, the one of my comfort movies growing up on was my I have an older brother who's who's also movie crazy and also writer, and we would just watch the sting at nauseam vidro Hills film of David S Ward script. I try to include those names when I can because

Alex Ferrari 27:36
It doesn't get it doesn't happen very often.

Ted Griffin 27:38
Because the tour theory is such garbage and that all movies being identified by the director is calamitous, or even I'm sorry, I just like the sight and sound list that just came out where everybody like, obviously they've chosen things because to diversify the directors, but that doesn't mean that the movies they're choosing the like, the whole crews were different genders and stuff. Anyway, sorry, soapbox. Ocean's 11. So I hear that music. I love this thing. So I tell Buchanan, okay, I'll meet but I don't know about this. I don't know if I'm the right guy.

Alex Ferrari 28:16
Are you like working at this point? Did you have another job? Do you have another job? Or it's like, because it says,

Ted Griffin 28:20
No, I quit the other gig that I had given. You're looking for work, but you're still saying I don't know. And I'm also trying to get like, I feel like I got off track because I gave up my directorial debut. And so I'm trying to figure out okay, how do I get back to disillusions? But it's like, okay, I need to make some cash. Or, like, I have this potential do this. And I, and I don't want to, like, there's opportunity. And I know, I can't just piss it away. So I go in with Chris I meet weintrob, who's a character who is you know, I won't go through his whole history, but he's, he can be could be extraordinarily charming. And he came in, he said, you can go, I gotta play 7k bunk boy right next to President Bush. You're gonna live next to him. Again. Again, cook and UMaine you can work out in Maine. It'll be great. Which, by the way, an offer that never came through. I never heard another word about like, oh, yeah, you can have to Kennebunkport estate. So I sort of tap dance around like, like some ideas, but for some reason, like they think I'm right for this. And at the time, also, Brett Ratner was attached to direct this is our I'm certainly what else he had. sort of been, you know, he was a extraordinarily successful young director at the moment, and I met Brett and he was a full of enthusiasm. but nobody was saying this is this is what we want. which was actually great to hear, because I just, I, and I've since learned, it's very hard for me to say, to take somebody else's idea and say, Oh, let me execute that for you. And there are people who I've met who are really talented as a talent. But, but it's difficult for me. Anyway. So I went off, I got the job, I went off, and I sort of, I actually worked with my brother Nick a little bit on this and sort of thought, this whole army idea gives me no motivation for a highest like, it's just like, it's a reason for them to make money. Whereas I love the sting. And in the sting, or in the Magnum seven, or the professionals, they're sort of that code of this is what we do. Like it's it's a sort of professionalism. And I thought I'd rather make a movie about guys who do this, and this is the Mount Everest of that and be pretty unfaithful to the original. So wrote about 40 pages of that. I think I've told this somewhere else, but I'm just now I'm just, you can edit all this, right? I give the pages to Chris Buchanan, who's the VP at wind drops, one of two. Just to say, look, I'm working, like as proof of life, progress, and while he's enthusiastic, someone else at the weintrob company who's a little competitive with Chris steals the pages, reads them, takes them to Jerry and says, Griffin's completely off. roading. He's written this thing that hasn't that is not Ocean's 11. And you need to call him in so I get summoned to the woodshed by Jerry Weintraub, who says, This isn't this is all wrong. These guys. They got to be friends in making them thieves. Danny Ocean's coming out of prison. He's a loser. You got to start over. And I say, I understand now. At this point, Chris, God bless him has given the script to basil iguana, who's the warners executive on the project who's read it? And basil calls me and says, don't listen to Jerry. Just keep going. So I do. I'm I, I turned it in. And at that point, because of like this, all this nonsense, I'm sort of like, again, sort of sick of Hollywood and I moved to New York. I think this is like fall of 99. In the interim, oh, and what's happened in the interim is that Brett Ratner has got the movie family man going with Nick Cage and to Leone and is now is no longer available. So Jerry's pissed because he's lost his director because I didn't write the script overnight. And but What has also happened in the interim is that Warner's has made this deal with Soderbergh and Clooney, they've started a new production company there. And so when I do turn the script in, I think the first move is they offered it to Damon and Aflac to star which I think is a rotten idea because they're too young, like they're too green. It's the it's the young guns version of, of oceans. And, and very thankfully, Matt agrees with me. And they pass. So then they go to Soderbergh and Clooney, who sign on, which is like, January of 2000s,

Alex Ferrari 34:01
By the way, but George Clooney at that point, he had done, he had done out of sight

Ted Griffin 34:07
They'd make out of sight and 98 I think his Clooney movie movie was Peacemaker with

Alex Ferrari 34:14
No no movie movie was from dusk till dawn that was his first movie. That was the first time he made a feature of that as an action star. Then he did then he brought him in, but he's still not a megastar. He's He's a star, but he's not a megastar. At this point, Ocean's 11 cents into

Ted Griffin 34:32
In 2000 the perfect storm but all that's right. Yeah, he's that which is debatable because it's like, is he the star or is the wave?

Alex Ferrari 34:41
I would agree with you and mark that as well. Mark Wahlberg is in that and yeah,

Ted Griffin 34:46
But there's the perception of and three kings did well, but not mega well. So it's certainly the perception of like that he can lead a movie star in a movie but whether he's like a And I would say there are very few people who are movie stars. And just because they're in the movie, it's ahead and I'm not even sure if you could say George was ever got to that in the way that Julia Roberts was like, who came? I don't know what the title is. It's the movies called Julia Roberts. That way Nicholson was that way cruises that way. It's it's rarefied air. Anyway, so. So in the January 2000 days, sign on, I'm in New York, but Soderbergh just has Erin Brockovich coming out, which actually proves to be is like, the movie that really kind of restarts things outside got cred but flopped. Erin Brockovich, any wants to make traffic first. So in this irony of like, the Warner Brothers is in too much of a hurry to wait for Brett to do family man. But then when they give it to Steven, and he says, I need to wait a year they say okay. And so we're not going to start until 2001. And, but then, like, the I had, like some of those notions of casting. And for the rest of you, Ryan role I'd always had like, what I would say is like, the really terrific actor who isn't quite a movie star, whether it's the equivalent would be God. I don't know like, went to a movie star. At the time, like Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Spacey, there are certain people who are like that who are like, Oh, I would almost say that I've not seen Ocean's eight. But Ocean's eight sort of does this in that it's Sandra Bullock, and Cate Blanchett. Like Cate Blanchett is like a really interesting person to put in that, but she's not a movie you put in. She's not the star. She's on a movie star of that kind of movie. Anyway, so Brad Pitt comes aboard. That's a surprise to me. Like that's an elevation. The rest of the cast. I always knew it was going to be like, had it. And the one rule I did write for a specific actor was I wrote Saul for Ellen Ark and, and we do cast him. And he does a table read, which is one of the funniest two hours I've been in a room like he's so spectacularly funny. And then had to drop out two days later for because of a medical crisis, which happily 23 years later, was no big deal. So Karina replaced Why am I still here? Anyway? So I guess your original question was, how did a guy with two flop movies coming out? That's, that's an answer. Turned into that, which was like, step by step, meaning it was like, it was a, it was sort of a broken development thing. I barely squeezed by what? Like, I'm not sure maybe I didn't know enough just to say, Oh, I'm gonna throw out your concept and start over. And then also look, because lots of I mean, not just like family men could have not come together. It could have been Breton movie and he could have cast Charlie Sheen. Sucker, Christopher, and Christopher, which would have been a different thing. And who knows, Matt and Ben could have said, Yes. There's at some point. I asked if somebody at Warner's, who do you think is going to direct this movie as I turned it in? And they said, Brian Robins, and that's Brian Robins are running paramount. And this is where like, oh, you see, this is really broadly comic like, and, you know, to some degree, I'm jumping ahead of myself, but same thing happened. This is what on tower highest, which in some ways, there's a version of that which I like more than oceans. So all all the you know, it's the reverse decision meaning. Again, I like I don't think they cast it the way I would have cast it. Like I think it was the ultimately pursued who to comedically, got it. And if they had if they'd kept it real, I think and and not cast comedians. It would have been an hour or at least that's more of what I had my head.

Alex Ferrari 39:30
Alright, so now so Ocean's 11 gets made, you know, basically sets up George for the rest of his life as a not only a megastar, but a tequila magnate.

Ted Griffin 39:43
Without OSHA's original dream.

Alex Ferrari 39:45
Obviously, at the beginning, he's like, I'm gonna make this movie and then eventually sell that tequila company for obscene amounts of money.

Ted Griffin 39:52
But the whole representative,

Alex Ferrari 39:54
Exactly, exactly but to be fair, though, without the coolness of Ocean's 11 That pretty much sets up George for that cool vibe that he had. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. I mean, the Vegas vibe and the other movies that he made and everything is all set up off of ocean. So he owes you a check. I'm just throwing that out there. It's called Giorgio.

Ted Griffin 40:24
I saw him that he gave a million dollars to all his best friends. When I looked at my phone, waiting for it to ring

Alex Ferrari 40:32
Didn't happen. Alright, so after Ocean's 11 comes out, I mean, it's a mega hit. It's a massive, massive, massive hit worldwide. How does the town treat the guy who wrote ravenous and that other movie? After after the fact like, could you're in the middle of this hurricane, I always love asking screenwriters and filmmakers to get caught up in kind of this cyclone of a movie, how does the town cheat you? What lessons did you learn during your waterbottle? Tours? Because at this point, you have a golden ticket if I'm not mistaken, or is Am I wrong on that? Like, I mean, there's

Ted Griffin 41:07
A change not only in like, you know, certainly people are a little nicer to you. And then when you're in rooms, talking about something, you have a credibility that from success that you didn't have before as opposed to have credibility from doing a good piece of work, to different things. And jumping ahead again, I made 12 years ago, I made a TV series called terriers, which only lasted a season because it was commercially disastrous. Like it just didn't get washed by anybody. However, it was like got a lot of political love. And like there now a podcast or two about it. And for a one season show. Like it's, like ravenous, it's still like, it's a thing that won't die. And I talked to a lot of people say, who always volunteer, not always sorry, but who often volunteer how much they love it. I've never however, it didn't. Because it was good. In a lot of people's minds didn't make my phone ring. Like it would have been successful. I'd have a TV career now.

Alex Ferrari 42:21
Right, you can get a bad script that made $500 million, and the phone's gonna rank but if you write the best script ever, and it doesn't make any money, okay,

Ted Griffin 42:28
So it is better, in ways to be lucky than good. But but so Ocean's is is, is quite successful. And I sense it, and even before it's come out, I've been able to set up this project Matchstick Men at Warner's that is making oceans with my brother to write with me, sort of to get him because he had helped out considerably on oceans on sort of figuring out because they were the one of the challenges of oceans stepped backwards. The second is, is that there's just a lot of plumbing, there's a lot of structural work of you have 11 guys you have to take care of, and there's a balance, and you have to keep them all active. And

Alex Ferrari 43:17
It's a juggling act. It's a juggling major

Ted Griffin 43:19
So, so it's just sort of like, there's a lot of work that should be unseen, or reasonably seamless, if this movie is going to work. And that was just a little, like, little daunting. So So I write Matchstick Men with my brother, and which as its own, sort of, and I'm, I'm attaches producer as well, because coming off the experience of the first two movies, I didn't want to where I was left out of rooms about who's going to direct this, who's going to be in it. How do we promote this? And I was furious at times of like, the producers who had really never produced anything. Were were in rooms that I was not allowed into because of I was the writer, just the writer. I made that point and and haven't yet. And yet, the same thing happened in that Robert doesn't make us reads the script. And for those who haven't seen magic, man, I'm gonna spoil it because it's been. It's been 20 years, you've had

Alex Ferrari 44:30
Spoiler, spoiler alert, fast forward.

Ted Griffin 44:33
It's based on a book and in the book, there's a con man who finds out he has a daughter and he tries to start a relationship. And it all goes everything goes sideways. And at the end, he realizes that he's been conned that it's not his daughter and and the book ends with him being like, Oh, I got taken. And when I read that, I thought, Ah, there's a lot I liked this story. I just I actually kind of hate the twist for a guy who likes twist movies. I like it's unfulfilling, maybe I saw it coming. I don't know. So when I pitched to Warner's I say, I want to do this book but I want to actually take the twist out and just make it like an authentic emotional drama but it was with crime and the stuff in it, but it should be. Not a tear jerker, because that feels but going back to this billboard thing, it should deliver a motion machine. It's about a relationship. And we write that script, and we actually get Alfonso Koran is interested. Fortunately, this is Alfonso Kron coming off of great expectations for Warner's, which was not a success. So it's pretty easy to mama, Alfonso Crone. And so even though that's really enticing to me. We also get a call from Robert Zemeckis, saying, I love this, but I read the I heard about this twist, and I'd like to put that back in and Warner's is. Lorenz's bond matures, the head of Warner is the saying you should do is go as Americans and make the change. And so while I may be a hot, dry, hot writer, I'm a baby producer. And so I go to a meeting with Zemeckis, who by the way is about as smart and director was story as any I've met, like he does come from a writing background and he is like, all of the directors I've worked with in talk in script meetings, he's probably the sharpest because he

Alex Ferrari 46:39
That's saying a lot. You've worked with some amazing people.

Ted Griffin 46:42
Yeah, but he's really the, like the writer of the I mean, when you look at Back to the Future, that's a it's a perfect script. is incredible script. So So basically, he says, like, I'd like to make this twist work and I say okay, but if we put the twist in, I need an epilogue of with this, these two characters come together again, like something like briefing cat or something where you see like, oh, he may have been bullsh. He may have been taken. But there was, it wasn't all alive, meaning there was the religion. There was something there. So we write that script. Does it make us his great, I'm gonna send it to Tom Hanks right now he does Tom entry just goes. Let's do Polar Express instead. So the MC MC is off the movie. You want to make Polar Express? And just like Mike Newell, it's sort of like, okay, now he's gonna drag this thing.

Alex Ferrari 47:35
But you find you find that you find that young and up and coming, Director Director? Was his name Ridley something or other?

Ted Griffin 47:40
Right! Yes. He was a very exciting young guy I went to. And here's a lesson I learned. And I feel like I may have told this story again, too. But now I'm just playing this. I'm just like that old guy. Like, I stopped but Baedeker interviewed once and he's just told the same or twice and he told the same stories and both interviews, because he was old. And anyway, so I get invited to some cocktail party during award season in honor of David Lynch, because I think it's the year of Mulholland Drive. But that also means that Ridley has been nominated for Black Hawk Down, and he's there and I've met his girlfriend now wife, Jen, Nina, Basilio, one of the great, whirling dervish phenomenal women of all time, and I'm petrified of meeting readily and but she drags me across and says me down with them. And I'm just like, not quite sure what to say, except what are you doing next? And he says, I'm got this movie Tripoli, but it's gonna take nine months to prep. All this tells me the story. And I say, Well, I got this little movie, you could shoot, like right here while you're doing all that. And then he says, we'll send it in the next day. I send it to Janina. She reads it gives it to him. The next week, we got Ridley Scott, which teaches you always go to that cocktail party.

Alex Ferrari 49:14
If lessons learned,

Ted Griffin 49:15
If there's a if there's an opportunity to celebrate David Lynch, go do that. And then meet Ridley Scott.

Alex Ferrari 49:22
I kind of I gotta say the so for people listening in this is something that's so underestimated. The universe works the way the universe works. And you just happen to fall into a lot of it seems like from the stories you've told so far, you fall into these things like opportunities kind of present themselves, you're doing the work, and you've got the script and you're doing things but like what, like how do you plan that you can't plan that cocktail party for David Lynch that you happen to sit at a table with Ridley Scott and he happens to has a window of opportunity. There's a lot of luck involved, but the point is that you have to kind of keep working and keep moving forward to be rare. Ready for that luck when that luck shows up. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Right? Because if you wouldn't do that, if you would have gone there without a script, you would have been like, I've met really Scott that night. That's kind of cool. But if you had another

Ted Griffin 50:20
And there's good luck and bad luck, and then it was great luck that I really did it and that Matt and Ben said no, and that, whatever and then there's bad luck that what have I already said that yesterday plans just went to the wrong people or did like, like, every movie you can kind of look at and say it is it is a consequence of these planets aligning, or not aligning. And they're all the stories of that, like how Casa Blanca almost was Ronald Reagan, which it really wasn't, but

Alex Ferrari 50:56
They were writing that as they were,

Ted Griffin 50:58
That year was that person was hot. And so that's why that movie was with that like. So there's yes, there's a lot of luck involved, I would say this as a, my usual piece of advice is that. And this is probably true, a lot of things. But in Hollywood, if it's like, if Hollywood was a roulette wheel, it actually allows you to make as many bets as you want to meaning you can kind of cover or that you can generate, meaning it's. So try to get as many bets on the table as possible, which means try to write as many very good scripts as you can, or something just go to that cocktail party or take that meeting because you like because you don't know. And so this the this is an example of that of like, it's like, alright, I'll go to I'll go to that. And that's what happened. Now. I've also been to probably 25 Other unmemorable cocktail parties. Sure. Oh, yeah. So anyway, so So then that leads me into a year of making magic man, which is probably my maybe one of my favorite years of making a movie because really was so much fun. And it was like a delightful time, and we're on town. And like, if I could like relive a year just for the fun of it, it was great. The movie doesn't do great. So and I begin to sense of like, oh, I don't have this. Like, it's not I'm not quite oceans. Like, you're only as good as your next one. So it's not like,

Alex Ferrari 52:48
You're not as shiny anymore. You're not shiny anymore.

Ted Griffin 52:50
Yeah. And, but during the process of making that one, I've also are actually going back to even to Ocean's 11. I'm, you know, it's on my mind, always of like, okay, can I direct this thing that I am writing whatever I'm writing and on oceans, it's obviously not a chat, like it's just too big. It's not a first film. Matchstick Men, it sort of strikes me like well, it's contained, but it really needs a movie star like it's it's not a if you look at the great first films, which I would go with, let's say Blood Simple. Reservoir Dogs body heat, you look back and say well, it was William Hurt and Kathleen Turner but really blue Kelly in general, but it was her first movie and William Hurt was like not a star yet. I said Blood Simple, which is pretty much unknown. I feel like there's another good example of like, this very smart, usually crime based. Right. The irony is that like that Spielberg's first movie, if you consider it Sugarland Express. Not exactly duels his first movie. Yeah, but Chiclana sure, at its best is actually like, kind of a good idea for his first movie, but because like only Han was a big star, so it's like, and it actually that's the one that doesn't do it for him.

Alex Ferrari 54:20
But the shark that with the broken shark movie is the one that

Ted Griffin 54:25
Anyway, so I finally I have an idea for a first movie, even though like I'm still living in the past of wishing I had best laid plans back as a first movie, but I think of this one and I, when I'm working with Soderbergh on oceans, I mentioned it to him and he says he has this company with George and that they're, they'll produce other people's work and they have final cuts. So basically, that means I'll have final cut, and that sounds phenomenal. And and we're like getting along great. So we set this movie up with She's a comedy, female lead comedy. And then I take too long to write it because it's sort of like I'm like, I'm being too careful about it overthinking it. Yeah, overthinking it, but ultimately, in 2003, I'm done. I turned the studio and, and we've sort of, they seem to support it. And I go, but they're only a few people. Because it's a Warner Brothers movie, which, and it's the Warner Brothers movie because I, because it's a Steven George's company, it's there. It really shouldn't be it should be an independent movie, or it should be like, Fox, Searchlight, Fox Searchlight, something like that, which Warner didn't really have that briefly was independent, but it never really took. It just was not the culture that place. And so really, like we have, there's kind of one name that they think they'll want to make it with. And that's Jennifer Aniston, who's not had a very successful film career to date, but is has made them so much money on friends because it's same company. So we sent it to her. She says yes, but let's wait until we're done. I'm done with friends and like, six, seven months. And I say great. So we're waiting on that. I'm continuing to push things forward and we get some ultimately we get a sort of a dream or my dream cast of Kevin Costner and Shirley MacLaine and Mark Ruffalo for this movie. And Richard Jenkins, and not leave anybody else. While I'm waiting for that to go, I forget how much to tell about this, because this is sort of one of those. I'll tell you later. While I'm waiting for that to go. Akiva Goldsman who i is, has an office down the hallway from me, calls me up one day and says, I got this script. Brad's going to do. We had Halle Berry, but she just walked off. And he's getting cold feet. We read it and come to a meeting tomorrow, because you just did oceans and he's gonna listen to you on blah, blah, honestly, a great seminar script was called Mr. And Mrs. Smith, oh, and who's so who's taking Halle Berry as part Angelyn is really great. So I go on to the next day in a meeting with Doug Liman and Akiva, and Brad meets Angelina, at this meeting. And oh, geez, Foster is also the producer. We spent two days going through the script, page by page, this assignment script, right? Simon script. It's got some names on it already. Like Carrie Fisher, I can't remember who else. So you never know, what's been done. And you don't know if what's been done has been for the better. Like, it's always,

Alex Ferrari 57:59
But it was on But Simon's the first one who wrote the script.

Ted Griffin 58:01
He was yes, it was. Anyway, so as a favorite of the pit family, I do a couple of weeks on this. And, and also just dry. I think it's, I see what this one generally to talk about scripts you've written on that you don't have credit on some because there's a reason why they have the credit things. And, and it's, there's some people who say, Oh, yeah, I did a couple of weeks on that. And now it's sort of like it because you're really kind of taking away credit. So I don't like talking about I'm telling you about this, because it's part of my story. But there are other there's other Script doctoring, I've done, that I don't talk about because it's bad form. It's bad form, that form of you know, if you go in the change one line, suddenly people are saying, Oh, well, wasn't really his script, it was because somebody did something. And anyway, so I, I do some time on this. And which is one of those sorts of things where doing the really right thing turns out to be kind of doing the wrong thing for yourself in that way. And without getting into a lot of details, because this is also sort of the omerta part of show businesses. You can't talk too much about what actually goes down, because you won, even if you've never worked with these people again, and there are a few people here I will never work with again. Like you don't want to have the reputation of like the guy who taught who kisses and tells

Alex Ferrari 59:40
You not to be a rat, rats or you don't want to be a rat,

Ted Griffin 59:43
Right! But just just short stories. I started writing my first movie, and at the same time, Mr. Mrs. Smith is doing reshoots, and it's really complicated. Everybody's relationships

Alex Ferrari 1:00:09
I'll just do the second you brought those names in. I was like, I know where this is going. Rohloff got it. And

Ted Griffin 1:00:16
So so I've got a lot to deal with.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:20
Oh, God,

Ted Griffin 1:00:22
I also have like, I'm an, even though I've written some movies and produced Ridley Scott movie, there are some, like I'm in a different chair and figuring out a relationship with a DP for the rest of my life, which is also not going well, I have a very bad relationship with the DP that I've been hired at Soderbergh suggestion, which is basically the one thing he sort of suggested was, Oh, this guy's good. And however, I'm really every day, I'm waking up and saying, Oh, God, this is Christmas morning. Like I'm finally directing a movie. And while there's a moment every day where I'm absolutely terrified, like, I'm finally living the life that I have been aspiring to, since I was 10. And these are running long, but we're making them. And I'm not hearing from the studio, because from having now made two movies from them. I know like when they're, when they show up on set, that's a sign and they haven't shown on set. And then two weeks in, Soderbergh and Clooney show up on set, and they say we've just come from the studio, and they're really unhappy. I say, well, they haven't told me this.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:38
And well, you shot too, which you've got two weeks on this movie. I've shot two weeks on this. Do you want to? Do you want to name do you want to say the name of the movie?

Ted Griffin 1:01:47
At the time? It was called Untitled Ted Griffin project. Okay. And it was set in my hometown, Pasadena, and based on a real rumor that I grew up knowing that involve the movie The graduate. And oh, yeah. Yeah. So so they say this, I'm a little confused by it. But they say we're gonna, we're gonna shut down per day, you're gonna change DPS. And I say, Great. I'm fine with that. They'll give us both take Friday off, so forth. And so I shoot one more day, still haven't heard from the studio. And, and then somebody comes to me and says, When I add wrap, they say, you have to defend your job tomorrow. Now you're on the chopping block. And I say, all right, but why? Like, what's the problem here? And they say, they say Stephen went to the studio and said, None of your footage is usable. I say, well, he told me that they didn't like it. And part of that there's a long Soderbergh story leading up to this, which I'm not going to tell here. But basically, I go in to meet Steven the next day, with 20 minutes of cut footage, and he won't look at it. He says you're out. I don't need to see this. And that's. And so a project I had started, which was about my hometown, which I had sort of worked on years to get going, is suddenly taken away without a note, literally, without never heard from the studio. And nobody, Besides, my editor had seen any of the cut footage. So there's, it's not really sort of about that. If you want to fill in the blanks, we can, yes, thanks. And, but and so at that point, it's sort of like, it's like 2.0 of like, oh, this town. Yeah, I'll do and, and also, again, like this is for the studio that I started this franchise, four, I'd said no to 12, which is a whole story we'll get into if you want. But I'm now running into Albert Hughes land of blank, this is gonna be the longest podcast talking, our

Alex Ferrari 1:04:26
Will hang for a little bit longer, because we still gotta get to Marty. And that's a whole other conversation.

Ted Griffin 1:04:32
And so, so from that point on what happens next and yeah, and then then I'm just like, for a while I'm just like a boxer who's been like, punched, punched in the back of the head, who doesn't know what corner to go to, like, I spend like, the months or, you know, arguably a year just sort of like what just fuck just happened?

Alex Ferrari 1:04:57
You were blindsided. You were blindsided.

Ted Griffin 1:05:00
I'm able to do some fun work on some other movies. And at some point I get hooked up, we'll get right to it. I get hooked up with Scorsese. Because

Alex Ferrari 1:05:14
Real quick before you get to Marty, you did work on up in the air a bit

Ted Griffin 1:05:21
Before this happened, I had been sent the script by Sheldon Turner. Yeah, up here based on based on the book by Walter Kern and, and come on as producer and potentially director had sold to Ivan Reitman, his company at Paramount, I think, Andre marks I forgot, I forgot. And I had developed that my brother had written a draft of it. I had done a bit. And then in the aftermath of my getting fired, there was like, it was not a good one. It was not a good first movie. And it was not, not a good. It was like a better second movie because it really didn't need a star. And it was like now with the asterisk next to my name have fired. It was like, Oh, this is not like Georgia, Brad. And so I sort of say Go with God, and I step away from it. And I think it was then four or five years passed before I get a call from Ivan Reitman saying Jason has rewritten and is going to direct and I say with Clooney, I say great. There's a JSON made it very much his own. There are a lot of bones from Sheldon scripts, and a couple of remnants from my brother's rewrite, which are still in there. But But I was a 100% a see at the premiere producer or executive producer on it. Okay. So I've, in fact, I've never met Jason.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:00
That removed that removed from the project. Got it? Yeah. All right. So

Ted Griffin 1:07:06
We'll say that it was all a success was because of me, and no one else. Obviously, sir. magnanimously. I will take full credit for it. Oscar nominations.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:17
So I mean, that I mean, you've gone through so much crap. And I mean, we're just scratching the surface. By the way, I know that you've got days and days of stories about what you've gone through. And I really hope people listening understand that this is stuff they don't teach in school. This is stuff that generally doesn't be it's not talked about out loud. You know, these are the things this is the thing is you and I were at a cocktail party. These are the you we have a drink, and we tell these stories, and I just that's why I love doing the show, because I hope these stories get out there. So people understand what the reality of this business is. And it's not. They don't play by rules.

Ted Griffin 1:07:55
It's rough. Right? It's it's, and by the way, a lot of this stuff can't be taught meaning i There's a great story and William Goldman's book about Lisa icorn getting fired as the star of this movie all night long made in 1980. She was starring in this movie with opposite Gene Hackman. And overnight Oh, no. And over a weekend, somebody gave us rice and the script, the movies two weeks into production, somebody gives Streisand the script and Streisand said, Oh, I would have done that or would do that. And the studio goes, Oh, we could have a Hackman Streisand movie. The next day, they fired Lisa icorn, who's doing a great job. They rewrite the script, they resume production with Streisand, and it's a fucking massive bomb, which you can't, like barely can find anywhere. And Lisa Acorn's, I've actually met in the aftermath of my experience, she very sweetly called me up and gave me her perspective on some of the people who were involved. And some of her wisdom, her hard earned wisdom from this, you know, had a really terrific career going and that was like it, it throws you of course, it's even knowing that story going, like having read that story. It's like there's no way you can there's no there's no teaching, there's no way to learn that other than to have a lot of experience and sort of have a sense of people.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:28
Well, the thing I was telling you before we jumped on is you know, my whole story with the mafia and almost made that big movie and met all these big movie stars. I never got to the level of your production of like working with these movie stars and you were already done a bunch of stuff and it'd be yanked away from you like that is so for me heartbreak and I wanted to I was in depression for three years and it completely destroyed my my subconscious mind about the business till recently, like within the last five years, I figured out out. Oh, that's why I've been doing sabotaging myself for the last 25 years because I didn't want to go through that pain again. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. And these are the kinds of talks that I want people to listen to because it's not all you know, like I always tell people I always tell people this. I know you want to know what Hollywood is like, watch the Oscars on Oscar night right? And that's on Hollywood Boulevard. And on the on the camera, it looks great. But the second The Oscars are over. You don't want to walk down that street. Right there.

Ted Griffin 1:10:38
You really night when I'm gonna say briefings, and again, I trust that if anything's boring, you can cut this out. Sir. Just one. The movie is called rumor has it which I call Reiner has it because Rob Reiner took over the movie, too. In the aftermath, somebody started internet rumor about how terrible Kevin Costner was to me and berating me and how he insisted on me getting fired. I had not started working with Kevin Costner on the movie yet he was actually an enormous champion in the in prep, giving me all sorts of advice about directing, which I was not getting from anybody else on my team because he's an Oscar winning director Oscar winning director but was like it was extraordinarily helpful and was a great guy and in the aftermath Am I getting fired? Like lonely is beachhouse to like recuperate in invited me to his wedding was just an all star. Just to put that to bed. Not Costner. Other people lovely people involved rough. Hello, McLean. Just blast still friends, Jenkins, one of the I think one of the great actors, so and then and also in the aftermath. My, my trapezium was my first assistant director on the movie, terrific guy had also worked with Phil Kaufman and set me up with Phil for a cup of coffee up in San Francisco. This is 2005. So I've been fired the year before. And Phil, famously, was fired off the Outlaw Josey, Wales in 1975. Jesus, okay, movie came out somebody sick. So I'm not sure when exactly but and he was directing for two weeks when he got tapped on the shoulder. And that night was like, on a plane back from Montana or whatever. And is Eastwood, Clint Eastwood, the star took over directing, which begat the GGA rule, these would rule which basically says nobody on a crew or in a cast can take over directing, basically to prevent the director from getting sabotaged from with them. And so, Phil, and I had this cup of coffee. I think he asked me not to repeat the story. So sorry, Phil. But basically, you know, went through the how similar our experiences were. Not that I think it's like it happens all the time. It this is sort of rare, they're replaced directors, but but people because Phil had written that script to to have this happen. And I asked Phil, one had he spoken that used word in the intervening 30 years. And he said, No. I asked him if he'd ever bothered watching Outlaw Josey, Wales. And he said, No, that he went into a video store once in the 80s. And it was on the TV there. So he just left. And then I sort of I said something else that was like, now what? And he said, Ted, I don't want to go like I was obviously irritating him or he was still 30 years later, rah, rah rah about it. And for me, it's now coming up on 19 years, and it's sort of like, oh, go fuck yourself. Like, I

Alex Ferrari 1:14:02
Ohh no, you're gonna go to your grave with it. I understand. I get it. Trust me. I get it. i If anybody gets it, I get it. But my experience with that was the I get it. No, I can't believe that it's there.

Ted Griffin 1:14:13
So I've never seen rumor has it? And I and they're, they're three people I have not spoken to since.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:25
Fair enough. So then, so let's let's turn to page. There is this other guy that you worked with? By the name of Martin Scorsese? Yes. With all of the stuff that you've gone through. How did you get hooked up with Wolf Wolf of Wall Street with Martin?

Ted Griffin 1:14:45
I went another it's a it was a dinner party this time and I knew I said, Yes, right away. I had an agent in common a guy named Chris Donnelly continues to represent both of us. And he invited me to a dinner a week For the Oscars for the department, and it was a big table like 10 or 12 people. And Mario is going to be there and I just, I decided I'm going to impress, I'm going to try to impress this guy, because I know all I know, movies, and of everyone I know. I'm the Martin Scorsese of everyone I know. And then I started talking to him, and I said, Wow, do I have a long way to go? Like, instantly, like wildly impressive of like, oh, there's a mind at work on unlike any I've experienced thus far. And it and when people you know, misuse the word genius. It's because like it's a it's a different level of intelligence, but also extraordinarily extraordinary passion. And that is unrelenting, both in preserving movies, obviously, making movies and teaching about movies. So we had a very nice dinner, I tried to not go to too much smoke or tap dance too much, but and then he won the Oscar the next week, because you know, he could never

Alex Ferrari 1:16:21

Ted Griffin 1:16:22
And God, just a few months pass and I got a call from Chris Donnelly saying that this Spanish sparkling wine called kava fresh in a does a an annual Christmas ad. And they back the money truck up to Marty just saying make us a short film, which was sort of in vogue, then BMW was making those Yeah, the dividends. Yeah. And so so. So this was like, and so they're saying, Do you have any ideas, and I wrote one up, which I thought was a blast, which was that the conceit being that Marty has been approached about redoing the Copa shot, the Copacabana shot from Goodfellas, the long one, or which ends with a bottle of champagne being brought out. And so I thought, okay, he's got to redo that shot. For this ad. Only, we see all the things that can go wrong in a winn