BPS 271: Sundance – La Guerra Civil with Eva Longoria

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Eva Longoria. How're you doing Eva?

Eva Longoria 0:16
Im good, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:17
I'm doing fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the show as a fellow Latino, or Latin X, as they say, nowadays. Latina, Latina, I appreciate everything you've done for for us as a community in general. And, and you know, growing up has been, it was very difficult to really see a Latino filmmaker in general. I mean, it was Robert for me. When I was coming up, it was Robert Rodriguez. And I was just like, oh my god, there's a director, who's Latino. So that's amazing. It was the first time I saw so I just wanted to start off by saying thank you so much for all the stuff that you've done for our community and the film industry. So thank you.

Eva Longoria 0:53
Thank you, thanks for talking about this amazing documentary.

Alex Ferrari 0:59
I loved it. By the way, I absolutely loved it. I knew about it. I knew about the story, just being Latino in general. And I would tell like I told my dad only Do you remember this Franco's who, if you're Latino, you remember that fight. But I didn't really understand the whole back and forth between the subcultures if you will of Mexico, Mexican American. But before we get started, we're going to talk all about the documentary, is it how did you go from almost becoming a physical therapist to becoming an actor?

Eva Longoria 1:33
My dream was to work for the Dallas Cowboys. Like I was like, I'm a physical trainer for the Dallas Cowboys. And I've arrived ever. I was in a beauty pageant. It was a Scholarship Pageant in Texas. And my final year in college, I ran out of money, I ran out a Pell Grant, like, I had no way to finish my senior year and my friends like, hey, why don't you enter the Scholarship Pageant? I was like, what's that? And she's like, you know, you. If you win, you get money for school. So I did. And I was like, I've never been even. And I'm from Texas, like, we're born and bred football and pageants. And I never seen one. I never been in one and, and so my goal was to win fourth place, because I was like, if I could just give fourth place. It was like books. Right? Okay, I've covered my books. And then like, third place was like, books, tuition. And then, you know, second place was books, tuition boarding. And then the first place was books, tuition boarding and a stipend. Like I was like, Look, I am in high. I just want, I just want my books, right. And then they called the winners, and they were like, fourth place is so and so. And I was like, Ah, man, I didn't get it. And I ended up winning the whole thing. And I was like, oh, okay, that oh, cool, cool. I got I can pay my senior. And then that pageant made me I had it was like a feeder to go into the next level. And I was like, Oh, I don't I'm not make this a thing on my tuition. And so I had to go into the next one, which was Miss Corpus Christi, where I'm from, and I won that one. And, and literally, my mom was like, This is not your food, like you cannot enter one more page. And I'm like, I don't want to I don't know what's happening. I don't know what especially growing up as libreria FEHA, which is the ugly dark one. And I in that prize package, Miss Corpus Christi was a trip to Los Angeles. And that was the first time I was like, Oh, that'd be fun. I've never been outside of Texas. And, and it was like a talent competition in LA that we had to go to. And so I came and then i i won the talent competition. And I was like, What is going on? I don't know what I'm doing and and literally, agents and managers wanted to sign me and because it was like, it was like the Latin craze. I remember. It was like Ricky Martin,

Alex Ferrari 3:53
Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias. Yes. Yeah.

Eva Longoria 3:57
Livin La vida loca was, you know, the hit song at the time. And they were like, Oh, my God, if you're Latina, you're gonna like clean up here in Hollywood. They're looking for Latinas. And I was like, Oh, okay. And I just live on one day to the next set. Okay, I think I'm gonna be an actor, just like that. But it was because I had my bachelor's degree that I was like, I can get a job anywhere. It's not like I'm going to be a starving actor, I can go get a job. So I had a lot of confidence that I would be okay. But still not knowing, you know, the industry or anything. I had $23 in my bank account.

Alex Ferrari 4:27
Now the in you decided that, you know, you just like I heard somewhere that you just called up your parents is like, I'm staying. I'm not I'm not going. I'm not flying back.

Eva Longoria 4:35
I didn't even fly back. That's when I moved. I didn't even fly back to go, Okay, let me prepare for this move. No, I just, I came here for three days. And on the third day, I said, I think I'm going to stay. And my mom and my mom was like, Okay, you're going to do what I said, I think I'm gonna be an actor. I mean, I don't know what that means. But I think I'm going to, I'm going to just stay a little longer. See what happens. And my mom said that, well, you know, at least you can get a job. You have your degree, and I said, Yeah, I'm going to Go get a job. And, you know, went got a job and then became a background actor. And, you know, atmosphere actor for a couple years. I was like, let me let me be on a set. I don't even I've never been on a set. Maybe I should figure that out.

Alex Ferrari 5:16
Right. Now did you? Did you feel because I mean, everything seems very serendipitous that you've just a story you've told me did you feel like there was some for something guiding you during this process?

Eva Longoria 5:29
It's so funny you say that. I always say that. I was like, I don't know what it was. But there was something just that felt right. Every step of the way. Like, they were like, I said, I'm going to stay. I wasn't scared. I didn't know anybody. I didn't have a place to live. I didn't have money. And I was like, I'll be okay. I maybe it's naive, you know, naive. It's youth. is bliss. Like if I knew the dangers

Alex Ferrari 5:58
Right, exactly. No, it's like so any any actress is living listening right now. Please don't do what Eva did. Don't just

Eva Longoria 6:05
Don't do it. No, I had like five roommates in a one bedroom of people who like hey, come live with us. I go okay, like not knowing them. I was like, I could have been murdered. I mean, you know what I mean? Like

Alex Ferrari 6:16
Something was sometimes guiding and protecting you during this process, because the story that you just told me it's ends and Dateline.

Eva Longoria 6:27
Well, that in like, there's no recipe for success in Hollywood. So let's say you do exactly what I did. Yeah, he wouldn't get the same result. It doesn't work that way.

Alex Ferrari 6:36
No, it's different timing different plays different everything. I mean, you hit that the right point, right time, but like you were saying, it took you a little while before you started getting some jobs. How did you keep going? Like just I mean, I'm assuming like, I always treat that when I'm ever I'm casting for a movie. I'm always treat. I treat actors with such respect, because it's so hard, and going out on auditions and getting beat up and, and people just walking in and like, Oh, you're to this or you're to that, and it's just so it's so rough. How did you keep going when there was no real signs that this was the right path for you?

Eva Longoria 7:09
Right. 100%! Well, you know, I, when I came to Hollywood, I went to a temp agency to get a job because I was like, well, they'll have a job for me tomorrow. And that company said, Why don't you work here? And I said, What is What do you guys do? And they were like that were headhunters. You find people jobs. And you know, it's like matchmaking job, people. You know? And I go, Okay, I mean, not knowing anything, but I was so good at it. I made a lot of money. So again, I wasn't ever the struggling actor, I was so good. I was like, This is so easy this head on. But I just like I knew how to find match people up with jobs and all my actor friends were jobless. So I'm like, I got tons of supply, you know. And, and because of that, I got an apartment, I had a car, I paid off my student debt. I paid off my credit card debt. I had headshots, I took acting classes, I you know, I really invested all anything that I made back into myself. Right. And, and it was through one of those workshops or seminars or something that a casting director saw me and said, Hey, you should audition for young and the rest of this and I was like, okay, and, and did and then that was like my big break was young and the restless. And, and it paid so badly. It was like two cents for the week that I kept my head hunting job. So I was a headhunter in my dressing room at young in the restless, because it just it was like I was not making enough young, the restless to quit my job for for two years. I did this did both jobs.

Alex Ferrari 8:46
Talk about hustle.

Eva Longoria 8:47
Yeah, I know. That's another thing is like it is about hustle. And it's about, you know, being resourceful. And that's life, by the way that if I if you dropped me in the middle of Paris, I'm going to figure it out. Right? I speak the language, I don't know. But I'm going to eat how many well, and I'm gonna, I'm gonna figure it out. And that's I think what's missing a lot from a lot of the younger generation today is they're just not that resourceful. And they have all the tools in the world at their fingertips. I didn't have an iPhone. I had a Thomas guide, and a printout from Google that I had to follow, you know. And so, yeah, it was like, Oh, if I had the tools that you have today, you know, God, I would have gone far.

Alex Ferrari 9:28
Oh, my God. I mean, same here. I mean, my first directors will cost 50 grand because I've to shoot an on 35 You know, and it was like, now we just grab a phone because you'd be shooting commercials and music videos and short films all day. There's so much technology. I think it's because you know, you and I are of similar vintage. So you know, we when we were when we grew up there was there wasn't anything like I remember there's no internet I remember very easily there was no internet. I remember printing out the Google Maps in LA and having the You know, the directions like printed out line by line driving around LA trying to drop off a demo reel for, you know, an editing gig or something like that.

Eva Longoria 10:08
Stage West. I submitted myself in for auditions and I would send my headshot, and I would use the postage from the company I worked at, so I didn't have to buy stamps. And so I like, at the end of the day, I'd sneak off and I go on, I put postage on, like 20 submissions, and I saw I was like, oh, yeah, I was a hustler. I did background work just to eat. And I would steal the bananas and apples and take it home. Because I was like, well, I might not eat tomorrow. So let me let me take some of these bananas. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 10:38
And so I mean, you struggled but you you were you something, again, was guiding you and giving you these opportunities that normal, normal, the normal acting story in LA is not yours by any stretch of the imagination. Even at the very beginning. Like you're you're living you're eating, you're you're leaving Well, you have a job, you have a car, you've paid off student debt, like this is unheard of for a struggling actor. But yeah, even then, when you got your first big break, you're like, I still want to keep my day job.

Eva Longoria 11:06
Yeah, I still like my car. So I think I'm, I'm gonna I like my apartment. Let me let me just keep doing this. Also, you know, I what you said like what kept you going because there was no signpost to say successes a year from now hang on. I felt it. And I remember my boss at that company. He goes, you know how much money you can make here. You're so good at this. Give up that dream. Like, you know how many people make it in Hollywood one in 1,000,001 in a million, like, Come on, just focus over here and forget that stuff. And I said, I know. And I'm that one. Like I'm taking up that space. So I've got to hurry up and be prepared. Like, I really thought that I really I never gave myself up. Until if I don't make it well, by 30. I'm moving back home. Like I never had a plan B I was just like, No, this will happen. And I also approached it like a business I knew exactly how to invest in you know what I need to classes. I don't know how to do that. I'm not good at that. I'm going to do this. So, you know, in that time, we know when you're going out for Latin roles are like, Can you do it with an accent and I'm like, I don't I don't have an accent and like there's other levels of target. And there's other levels of Latinos zero and it was like Rosie Perez, yesterday, okay, but there's other levels of dimensions of Latino that don't sound like Rosie Perez, you know, and, and so I was like, I gotta I need an accent coach. I don't I don't have an accent. I need to get one. And when people come to Hollywood, they try to lose their accent. I was like I was trying to get an accent. Like,

Alex Ferrari 12:48
Now, so it sounds like the you really put an intention involved. You really had an intention, and almost manifested what you were trying to get like you'd like no, I'm I'm there already. In your mind. You were already successful, even though there was no signs at all. And there's a difference between delusion because we all we all understand. We all

Eva Longoria 13:08
I might have been a little delusional. I might have been a little

Alex Ferrari 13:11
Listen, listen, Eva to be in our business. You got to be insane. You got to be insane in general, it's an insane business. It's like running off with the circus, basically, you know, so it is it is an insanity to be with. But yeah, there is a little you need a little delusion to even think you can make a movie is a delusion. It's insanity.

Eva Longoria 13:30
Yeah, I mean, it is a little delusional. But the other thing that I had on my side was an I'm an insane optimist and a hard worker. So I knew those two went together. But I also felt I felt like I have very tough skin. So the nose didn't affect me. And I got 1000s 1000s The day I got desperate out the day I auditioned for Desperate Housewives. I had nine auditions that day. And I was changing in my car driving from Disney back to Warner Brothers back to Disney back to Sony back to Culver City. And it was like, Oh, my I ran out of gas that day. That's how many auditions I had. And Desperate Housewives was at eight at night. It was the last audition. I'm changing in the car. And I get there and I'm exhausted. And I just was like, you know it you know, the other seven auditions today said No, I already knew I didn't get them. And and it was like, you know, in the car, doctor, okay, lawyer, okay. Yeah. And then Gabby was like, sexy, and I'm like trying to put on this tight dress in the car. I get down and Mark cheery is an audition and he goes. So what do you think of the script? And I was like, I didn't read the script. Like in my head. I'm like, I read my part. Like, who has time I had eight auditions a day. I'm not gonna read eight scripts. And I said, you don't want and I was just done. I was done for the day. And I said, You know what, I didn't read it. I didn't read the script. But I read my part and my parts really good. And and he he told me Later, he knew I was Gabrielle in that moment because it was the most selfish thing to say. I don't know what everybody else but I'm amazing. And I was like, so can I just do the audition? So you can say no. So I can go like, I it was just, you know, and then you did it again the next day. Yeah. And you started all over. So I had this and I have very thick skin even to this day, I really never take things personal. If I'm if I you know, if I get reviewed badly or this I'm like, Well, you know, it's not your cup of tea.

Alex Ferrari 15:32
Now, do you feel that you getting desperate housewives later and a little bit later in life? Because you weren't? You weren't? You know? 20? You know, I think you were 30 you were like 30? Yeah, exactly. 29 When you got it. So you already kind of had an established, you've established who your identity was at that point. Do you think that helped you deal with the tsunami, tsunami, excuse me of fame, and criticism and love and hate and everything that comes along with that package? Did that help you with that? Because that crushes many?

Eva Longoria 16:07
Yeah. 1,000% I knew who I was, you know, I probably knew who I was when I landed in Hollywood. You know, I didn't drink I wasn't into drugs. I didn't smoke. Like I was pretty, you know, and I was like, oh my god, Los Angeles, you're gonna, you know, get into drugs and travel. And I was like, There's drugs and trouble in Texas like the same thing. But I had a really strong sense of who I was. And so when fame hits you, I think God I was 29 I mean, because I was like, you know, you especially back then the tabloids were like the leading thing not like social media today, but like, the tabloids defined you and so it was like America's sweetheart America Sex Kitten. And then you kind of became that, right? Like, if you look at Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera coming up at the same time, and one was America's sweetheart. And one was the bad girl. And they were babies and they kind of go okay, I got to play the part. Now I've got to be the bad girl. And, and so they tried to do that with me. And I was like, you know, that? I'm not that. And, and I'm very grounded. You know, I have a really great family and I have, you know, great friends, my friends back then. Or, you know, the couches I slept on? And the I didn't have a dress for an audition. And my best friend, you know, let me address. They're still my friends today. They're the girlfriends that, you know, traveled with me and lived with me and you know, but I, I you know, they were there for me when I had nothing.

Alex Ferrari 17:36
So you know, so you know that they're their true friends at that point. Yeah, it's yeah, you know, cuz you never know, famous, such a double edged sword. So many people want to be rich and famous and you like, but look at how many people who are rich and famous who who are destroyed by it. It's just Hollywood is riddled with stories like that. You're an exception. You're like, you're an anomaly.

Eva Longoria 17:56
Yeah, thank you. But you remember EQ Hollywood stories that get worse, of course, that was on E and it was like, you know, she was you know, she was such a pretty girl from Missouri. And then and you're like, and so and then they tell you like the downfall of everybody. And I remember we premiered. And literally three days later, there was an E True Hollywood Story on me. And I go What did I do? Did I fall from grace? Did I do drugs? What happened? Like I was like, the beginning of the end now. Like it's supposed to happen later. It was so funny.

Alex Ferrari 18:27
Oh, God. And then of course, any movies that you might have done before Desperate Housewives they started going into, they go into the archives of the stuff that you did, and like look at what she did back then.

Eva Longoria 18:37
And I did so many student films for real, you know, he did and did so many bad things. And then all of a sudden, I was at Blockbuster. I don't know if people remember there was a blockbuster. You had to physically go and get a DVD before Netflix mailed them to you. And, and my I remember going into Blockbuster and my face is on the cover of this film. And I was like, what is that it was a different title. It was and it was just a student film I had done and this director packaged it sold it on my name. And I never knew until I saw it a blockbuster. But yeah, yeah. And family comes out of the woodworks, right? Like all these people who are related to you. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 19:18
So funny story. When I first started out as an editor as trailer editor, I cut a trailer for one of those films of yours early on. I if I say the name, I won't say the name, but I did. I did. I did edit it. And you were ready. You were ready, you know, Desperate Housewives. And I was sitting there and I'm like, This is so wrong. Like they haven't like you were like, I'm like you're in the movie for like 15 minutes, or 20. Right? And they're just like, bam, I'm like, Oh my God. I'm like, but hey, you know, I had to do a gig. So

Eva Longoria 19:51
A friend of mine who was on another hit show and every time he gets recognized around the world, he gets so pissed off because it's like that's all people know me for And I and every time people come up to me and they go, Gabby so Lise, I am like, Yes, that's me. You know, I'm just so grateful. And so like, so grateful that that director thought I had some sort of value. Because that's what you hope for you don't I mean, you have to have a value that you can make something happen.

Alex Ferrari 20:18
No question I read somewhere that you're an avid meditator. How do you cuz I'm, I've been meditating for years, I meditate hours a day sometimes. And it's changed my life. How do you use meditation, in your balancing your insane world that you live in with all the things that you do? And all the plates you spin, you know, mother, and philanthropist, and actor and director and all these kind of things? How does meditation help you kind of balance yourself? And what does it do for you in general,

Eva Longoria 20:48
You know what, it really centers you before the day I have to do it first thing in the morning, and it makes me more patient, it makes me have compassion, it makes me happy. You know, it really just shifts your energy to a place of positivity and a place of gratitude. That's a big one. You know, I really learned also, do be aware of how you speak, right? So I used to be like, I gotta I have to go to this meeting across town. I have to go to this audition, I have to go. Do you know James Corden, or I have to be on Jimmy Kimmel tonight. Instead, just switching it to I get to write, I get to have a meeting about a project, I want to get off the ground. Like, isn't that what you want? So why are you going on after Oh, you know, I get to be on Jimmy Kimmel, to promote this TV show I was on I get to, you know, I have to get home and bathe my kid. No, I get to make it home in time to bathe my child and put them to bed. Like I get to do that. I get to cook dinner for my family. And just that little word was through meditation, right? Like, be careful of how you speak in life, you know, and people go, how was your day to day you are so busy, I'm so busy. It's like I can't I can't it's just too much. I'm so busy. And switching that word to be productive? How was your day productive? Right, I was so productive today. I had eight meetings. I had, you know, this deal go through I had this conversation with so and so it was a pretty productive day. It wasn't a busy day, you're not doing busy work. Everything you do during the day is towards a goal towards something so so have that gratitude in your words, as you approach your day. And that's what meditation does. It really makes you think about things that are on autopilot that you shouldn't be on autopilot about.

Alex Ferrari 22:39
And I agree with you 110%. You also are an you know, an insane philanthropist that you give back so much. Can you just talk a little bit about what giving back means to you and how it affects your life. Because I started, when I started my show six and a half years ago, I was trying to get in, I was trying to you know, I was trying to knock on the doors and try to get these meetings and try to make connections. And I said I said I'm tired of all that I'm going to start giving back to my to my community, which is filmmakers. And all of a sudden doors swung open. And now I get to talk to people like you and all this kind of things. It was because I gave back and it's addictive to giving back and changing people's lives and whatever which way I can, you know, with the show or with whatever the work I do. So how does that affect you?

Eva Longoria 23:26
Yeah, I mean, you hit it right in the nail. I mean, it's it's studies have proven, you know, giving, giving and being charitable, increases your life's fulfillment, right? Like you're like, Oh, I didn't even know I needed this to be filled. And and then it becomes addictive. Like now I you know, I travel all over the world. I go to India, I go to you know, because I just like love, philanthropy and community efforts. But honestly, I grew up with it in my DNA. I mean, I have a special needs sister. She's She was born with a mental disability. So I grew up in her world, I grew up with other people helping us, you know, charities that you know, sponsored a trip for her to go to Disneyland charities who you know, created after school programs for kids with special needs to have a place to go. And so I always I always like who's charity. She's so sweet. She's so nice. That lady, you know, and, and so I knew before I was even famous that I was going to, you know, do something charitable and give back and and then once I got my platform and my microphone, then I was like, oh, okay, I have something to say.

Alex Ferrari 24:33
And I could and I could do some good in the world. Yeah. Now, when did you decide that you wanted to make the art to add directing as part of your resume? Because so many actresses and actors, they just go on through whole life and they're just actors, and they don't want to do any directing. But I've seen and I've spoken to many actors who've turned director, what it does for them and it also elongates their career. They can direct until they're or whatever and, and just really enjoy that process. What when did you decide at what point in your career did you go? I think I want to direct which is the cliche of everything. What I really want to do is direct.

Eva Longoria 25:10
Yeah, I know, I think I'm better at this than easy. You know, I people think I'm an actor, turn producer, director. And I think I was always a producer, especially producer, I loved the business side of our business. You know, that's why I my approach with myself was like, Alright, I gotta do this. I gotta do it. I like how do I set myself up for success? And, and I remember when I moved to Hollywood, I checked out a bay. I went and bought a book it Oh, my God. Samuel French, right?

Alex Ferrari 25:44
Yeah, yeah, it's through city.

Eva Longoria 25:46
No. And Holly now

Alex Ferrari 25:47
Ohh there's another one. That was a second. That's before they moved, I think. Yeah.

Eva Longoria 25:50
And, and, and how to produce one on one. I mean, I bought that book first over acting, because I was like, Well, I got to create, I got to create my own project. So how do I do that? And there was like, a sample budget in the book and I put it on my Excel spreadsheet, and I was like, pay plugging in numbers. And, and, and then I quickly had a gig with this show called Hot Tamales live with Kiki Melendez at the improv. And he was like, hey, help me book some comedians. And then I said, Well, how are we going to pay them? She's like, I don't know. And then so we asked the improv like, well, how much is it to get the night out of dead night? We want to make it Latin Night. Okay, great. You can have the stage we get the door, you get the drift, you know, and and it was just like, you figure it out, right? And I was like, Okay, we watch tapes, VHS tapes of comedians and to book out the night and, and then we got a sponsor was like, Well, you know, a sponsor, right? We need somebody to pay for this. So we should get a tequila, you get a tequila company to give us money. And then we'll mention the tequila. And like, it was all shooting from the hip, Beto. And how did you went? And I did that first. And then through that, you know, directed some of the sketches we had on stage. I'm like, no, no, you've got to come out through there. And we're gonna hear some props. And you know, and I fell in love with it. And then, you know, became an actor, and then use Desperate Housewives. As my film school. I really used I didn't go to film school, but I was on a set for 10 years. So I was like, paying attention. Pay attention to where the camera went, what lenses What are lenses? What does that mean? 2530 511 10 100. Like, what? Why is that light there? What are you doing? What's a balance? You know? And checking the gate? You know, you said back in the day, taking the gate, what does that mean? Now, you know, I used to load the camera. When we we were one of the last shows to go digital, we shot on film for much longer than other TV shows. And, and so I paid attention. And I really took advantage of all the directors that came through and ask them questions, and I was just a sponge. And so that's when it was on during this process where I said, I think I think I want to direct TV. And and then somebody asked me, Hey, you want to direct this short film? And I go, yes. And the minute I said, Yes, I wanted to put it back into my mouth cuz I was like, why did it? Why don't you? You just said yes. You're not ready. You don't know enough? What are you doing? Who do you think you are? And I think women it encounter that imposter syndrome a lot, you know, like, oh, no, ready? I couldn't possibly do that. No, no, no, no, no, no, I'm not No, no, no, not me. Not me. Not me. But I already said yes. So I was like, stuck. And I had to do it. And and I was good. And I knew I was good at it. And I one of my mentors who directed a lot of Desperate Housewives David Grossman, he came on set and I was like, Well, you just be on set because what if I fuck up the lens choice where he goes, You're not that's not your job, by the way. You know, your job is to get performances. And after we wrapped the DP, and that director goes, I think this is your calling. And they really like gave me that confidence of like, you belong this is you know what you're doing, man, man, do you know what you're doing? You know, a lot more than you think. You know? And I was like, really? Okay. And then I did it again. And then I did it again. And then you know, cut did now or you know, 10 years later, I've been directing and this is my first feature length documentary and my feature like film,

Alex Ferrari 29:21
Which we which comes to. How did this project come together? Like I mean, how did it you know, no one had ever done a boxing documentary about you know, Mexican American that I know of at least anything major. I mean, there's I mean, there's a Muhammad Ali one for every five every five minutes there's a new Muhammad Ali and they're all fantastic. And then there's my face. Then Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray and everything but never really about the Latino you know, which has a fame in boxing.

Eva Longoria 29:53
So everybody did you grew up with boxing I go I'm Mexican. Of course I grew up in boxing like it's in our blood. We have to you have to But no, you know, I've known Oscar for 25 years Oscar and I've been friends. That was one of the first people I met when I moved to Hollywood, me, Mario Lopez and Oscar De La Hoya were like The Little Rascals, we ran around in Hollywood and just caused trouble 25 years ago, and, and so he called me and he was like, hey, there's the anime. This is the 25th anniversary of that fight. Can you direct the documentary about it? We want to do a documentary about that, how iconic the fight was. And I said, Oh, God, what do you mean? No, like a boxing doc, like jabs and punches and stuff? Like, no, no, I don't want to do that. I said, you know, it's so funny. I remember that fight dividing my household. Like, I remember that fight, causing so much ruckus within our community and the fighting. And, you know, we couldn't get the fight because it was closed circuits Do you had to go to a bar, and then kids couldn't go and it was like, it was a whole thing. And people the betting in Vegas in the odds, and I was just like, what is that? Whoa, what is happening? And it was just, I think the biggest fight we've ever had in in the golden age of boxing. I mean, that that time, which was my son era, the mike tyson era, you know, the De La Jolla era, the Julio era, you know, it was huge. It was huge. And I said, that's interesting to me to explore is through the lens of what does it mean to be Mexican enough? And how do you navigate your identity as a Mexican American? That is something I know, you know, I straddle the hyphen every single day of my life. And people go, Oh, you're you're half Mexican, half American. And I go, No, I'm 100%, Mexican, and 100%. American at the same time. And these two things can always be true. And so I knew Oscar navigated that, because when he won the gold medal for the Olympics, he had an he won, he won the gold medal for the USA. And he goes into the ring and holds a Mexican flag up. So he has the American flag and the Mexican flag. And I remember that moment, too. And I remember swelling with pride and going oh, my God, that's me. So Oh, so you can celebrate being Mexican, you don't have to hide it, you know, and, and all the Mexican people in the United States embraced Oscar in that moment. They were like he's ours. You know what pride the Mexican president called him and I added him to Los Pinos, which is the Mexican White House. There was a parade in Mexico for him. And so every fight he had after that, that was his audience that was his supporters. Those were his people, until he challenged Julio. And when he challenged Julio, the Mexican community goes, oh, oh, wait, oh, yeah, you're not that Mexican. Yeah. You're not that Mexican. And then he was like, well, he's

Alex Ferrari 32:51
He's Mexican. He's Mexican Jesus, he was Mexican Jesus.

Eva Longoria 32:55
He's like, he's, he can't touch him. You can't touch Julio. He's our campeón de mexico, you know, company on the Mundo. And so that's the lens in which I wanted to explore this particular fight. Because I think that we still encounter this today, we're not we're not a monolithic group, I get that we're very, we have a lot of differences. But we have bigger fights to fight outside of the ring as a Latino community. So whether you're Puerto Rican, or Cuban, or gentle American, or Argentinian or Venezuelan, Mexican, there is a collective aggregation that has to happen, if we're going to have a political power, buying power, you know, if we're going to flex any sort of muscle, we have to do it together. And so we can't concentrate on how we're different. In order to make change, we have to focus on what what we have in common and the common goal, which is like we should have access to voting, we should have access to health care, we should have access to equal education, there's stuff we need to come together on. And so, you know, the beginning of the documentary, starts with those differences. It's, you know, the, the old, you know, the old lion against the young buck and the Mexican national against the Mexican American and the guy from the Pueblo against the golden boy. And the fight really promoted those differences. Because boxing is a sport that has never shied away from using race, right, like leaned into it, if anything or nationality, you know, the, the Italian, against the, the Irish guy, you know, and the black guy against the Puerto Rican and that it, you know, and so, it did the same thing in this fight without understanding the Civil War, it would cause because of the nuances, they thought it was just two Mexican fighters, you know, heading head to head but it was more much more than that.

Alex Ferrari 34:44
Oh, and I mean, I've, in my culture in the Cuban community, it's very simple. I'm a first generation Cuban from Miami. And you know, my parents came over and you know, you it's exactly the same thing. There's Cubans and this Cubans, Americans and How you how they deal with it? Are you Cuban enough in America, Nakamura flying and flying, you know, like, I still remember watching in the height and I saw a flyer on on screen and I lost my mind. I was like, I never seen a flan in a movie before. And I'm like, I can't believe the flood impacted. But you never see that kind of stuff out there. It was just really interesting. But I understand when I was watching it, I just understood it. So, so clear. And there's a lot of those issues that separate the Cuban Americans from Cubans and all this kind of stuff as well, which is, which is crazy.

Eva Longoria 35:35
We all have it. Every community has it, the Puerto Ricans in New York, you know, in Miami, you know, the Islander the island, Puerto Ricans are different than the New York, New York weakens. And then you know, you have it in the Cuban community and the Cuban American community and then we have it in the Mexican community. You know, we really do a lot to we don't need to do so much to separate the world does it for us, right.

Alex Ferrari 36:02
It's like throwing a few more obstacles on our on our path. It's like, let's it's not, it's not hard enough. Let's throw a few more things on our path, which is always fun. You know, what I found really interesting about watching Julio and Oscar. Both of them seem so and I don't mean this in a derogatory they seem sweet. There's, they seem sweet. They seem like you know, because I've seen boxing documentaries, and a lot of these boxers, they're just brute barbarians sometimes in the way they speak, and they're not articulate. But Julio, and Oscar both are, they said, they seem so sweet that they almost kind of both fell into it. Like it just kind of like, Oops, I guess I'm gonna box kind of like you like, I guess I'm gonna act. And it just seemed that way. And I saw that kind of energy from especially Julio, which I wasn't expecting. He seems so sweet. And I'm like, he was he was a killer in the in the ring. But it's like, I think he disconnected that he was like, I'm a sweet guy, but I go to work. Yeah. Did you find that as well?

Eva Longoria 37:02
100%! And you know, like I said, I've known Oscar for 25 years. So I know he's sweet. And I know him. Well, I didn't know Julio was, I didn't know who they were. I'd never I'd never met him. And I fell in love with him. He is such a truth teller, which is interesting in a documentary about your life about something to happen in your life. You could pretty much of revisionist history, like, Oh, I wish I wasn't bothered by that now. Well, you know, of course, I won that fight. I wasn't whining about it. And he was like, Yeah, I was. There was no way at that moment. I was gonna say I lost even though I knew I did. I knew I had lost, but I wasn't going to say, you know, and you're like, wow. So it felt like he had 2020 looking at 2020 vision, looking back at that fight. He was so open and vulnerable, about his obstacles to fame, His addiction, his lack of preparation, and it for other fights. You know, he's like, look, I December's my party month. I wasn't about to fight in January, but it was $9 million. So I was gonna fight you know, he is very candid and vulnerable and, and kind and it wasn't until 10 years after those fights that he finally gave Oscar the the credit that was due. And then an Oscar side people everybody wants us tacos. Oh my God, my I cried for Oscar. I didn't know he had that much pain going into that fight. He he was he was hurt and then revisiting that. He's like, God, it still makes me mad. Still, as we were interviewing him, I was like, oh, yeah, he's like, God. Oh, I'm so mad. Just thinking about that. You know, getting booed in East LA. Like, what the fuck? Are you kidding me? Come on, you know. So he's over about to read this.

Alex Ferrari 38:43
Well, it's a it's a beautiful film. I absolutely loved watching it. And congrats on getting into Sundance. That must be so exciting. And you get to

Eva Longoria 38:53
That opening night is a film directed by a Chicana. About two Mexican boxers like this progress. This is progress. Let's let's let's savor it.

Alex Ferrari 39:05
Absolutely. Now, I have a couple questions. I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker? Or a screenwriter or an actor trying to make it in today's business?

Eva Longoria 39:17
Yeah, I think you have to define for yourself what does make it mean? You know, famous say I want to be famous. Okay, well then Go cure cancer. Because if you're gonna be real, do I mean like, by the way, that might be easier than Yeah, but is it is like, you know, figure out what what do you mean by that? Like, I really, I really love directing. I love the creative process. I don't I for this film, I just loved exploring this dramatically and going through the archival footage and did it and I and now that it's at Sundance, I'm like, Oh my God, that's Oh, yeah, that's a big deal. And then the reviews like oh my god, we get reviewed. I told I didn't even think about that. Like, I, I didn't do it for that. So if I had started this documentary, I'm going to get good reviews, I'm going to get into Sundance, like, you have to have goals, but like that, that has to be like a product, a byproduct of really good work. And good work only happens when you're passionate about it. And so if you want to be an actor, if you want to be famous, then I don't I don't care if you want to be a writer, because you want to be rich, that ain't gonna happen. You know what I mean? Like, so define what is make it mean for you. And the other thing is, just do it, do it. I know so many people go, I'm a writer, I go show me your scripts, I haven't written anything. Well, then you're not a writer. Write something. Write a grocery list. I don't care. But like write something, you know, a director shoot something on your iPhone, Shoot it, shoot, work with actors figure it out, put some lights up. I'm, I'm, you know, I'm a producer. What have you done? Nothing? Well, producers of anything can do anything. So do it. You got to do it. You only learn by doing

Alex Ferrari 41:00
And now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Eva Longoria 41:06
Um, it didn't take me. Well, I think lesson to learn that, that I know that I'm qualified and I know what I'm doing. I mean, every time I get a directing gig, I have butterflies in my stomach. I go, Oh, God, I hope I know what I'm doing. Like, I still think that imposter syndrome like imposter syndrome. Yeah, like imposter syndrome of like, Am I good enough? Oh, my gosh, you know, in directing flaming hot. I mean, this is the big budget movie I just directed and going home, I'm so excited to see it. By the way. I was like, I'm in charge of how much money Oh my god. And I remember doing a presentation when I had to get the job. And I'm, you know, I think the movie needs to be this and it needs to be this and we're, you know, we should do this and that. And then I finished a pitch and my agent calls me later she goes, what how are you feeling? And I said, I'm really nervous. I'm gonna get it and have to do everything I said. He's a pipe dreams, I don't know, like, then there's a drone. And we're gonna have a techno green, and we're gonna do this shot, it's gonna look like The Matrix, you know, whatever it is. Great. Go do that. And I'm like, Oh, I have to do it now. Oh, okay. So yeah, it's like that lesson of like, No, you're ready, you're ready, you're gonna be fine. And you're gonna fall down, you're gonna make mistakes. And then you're gonna do it again. And you're gonna do it again. And you're gonna do it again and again and again. And so just, that's probably the biggest lesson. And the other mantra that I live by is, is Maya Angelou quote of like, people will forget what you said, they'll forget what you did, that they'll never forget how you made them feel. And I'm living my life, whether it's with my gardener, or president in the United States, or, you know, do make sure every interaction you have with people or my crew, you know, your, your crew, your prop guy, your boom guy, your DP, like, making everybody feel and not that it's my job. But I just want them to feel appreciated and valued and that they have talent and, and I appreciate you being here and helping elevate my vision. Because, you know, directing is not singular, it's, it's just this whole crew of people. And I meet so many people who go, oh, I don't want to work with them. Because I didn't like that person. I don't like that person. I'm like, yeah, there's a lot of people you're not gonna, like, in this industry, you're gonna have to work with so you know, a get your skin get put your big boy pants on, get some tough skin. And, and flip it, you know, and that's what meditation helps to is like, everybody I encounter today, I want them to feel good. And leave an encounter with me in in a positive way. Even if it's a tough conversation, even if it's, I have to fire somebody or I have to, you know, correct somebody on an edit or give notes on a script like, you know, in a way that they leave that experience going. Okay, okay, I'm good. This is a good talk. That wasn't anything negative, you know?

Alex Ferrari 44:04
Well, I want to first of all, I think you are a absolute force of nature. And thank you so much for everything you do. And for my my twin daughters, they say they said tell you thank you for Dora. They loved it and watch it all the time. So thank you so much for that.

Eva Longoria 44:21
I love that movie.

Alex Ferrari 44:22
I love I saw it in the theaters with them. I went to the theaters with them, and it was back when used to do things like that. But I do appreciate you and thank you so much for for coming on the show and continued success and I hope this movie gets out and is seen by everybody. It's such a wonderful film. So thank you again so much.

Eva Longoria 44:39
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

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Screenplays: FREE Download 2022-2023 Oscar Contenders UPDATED + Over 750 More Film Scripts

UPDATED JAN 2023: If you want to be a screenwriter, you need to read a lot of screenplays. And if you are going to read film scripts might as well read some of this year’s best. Below is an active running list of 2022-2023 Oscar Contending Screenplays. I’ll be adding new screenplays as they become available so check back often.

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2022-2023 Oscar Screenplays Nominees

The Banshees of Inisherin
The Fabelmans
Triangle of Sadness

All Quiet on the Western Front
Glass Onion
Top Gun: Maverick
Women Talking

2022-2023 Oscar Contending Screenplays

2021-2022 Oscar Contending Screenplays

2021 Oscar-Winning Screenplays

The Father – (Sony Classics) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Original Screenplay)
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2020-2021 Oscar Contending Screenplays

2019 Oscar Winning Screenplays

Parasite – (NEON) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Original Screenplay)
Jo Jo Rabbit – (Fox Searchlight) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Adapted Screenplay)

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BPS 270: Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films with Austin Trunick

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Austin Trunick 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show, Austin Trunick, How you doin Austin?

Austin Trunick 0:40
I'm doing very well. Thank you for having me on Alex.

Alex Ferrari 0:42
Thank you for coming on man. I you know, you reached out to me about your new book Hold on, I need to work out just to get this up. It's the Canon film guide, volume to 1985 to 1987. This out of all the guests that ever had. Yours is by far the thickest book I've ever had on the show. And this is, by the way, part two. So that means there's another part one, which is as big if not bigger than that. And for everyone listening if you're if you want to learn about canon, Canon films, the 80s amazing film studio, sit back and relax, because we're going to be talking about one of my favorite parts of the 80s in the 80s growing up, because I'm not sure if you know this or not awesome. But I worked at a video store in 88 to 93 I think I was going there to and I saw all of these boxes. And as I was skimming through because God I can't read it all. But as I was skimming through the book, I was like I saw that one. I saw that one saw that one. And if I didn't see the movie, I remember the cover and the boys were very good at putting the cover together. But if Alright, so for everybody listening, Austin. First question is, can you tell everybody what Cannon Films was? And why are we talking about them? All these years later? Because there's a lot of film studios that were around in the 80s. There was Orion Pictures there was you know, the new world new world, there's so many, you know, really great, but why is canon? What is canon? Why does it have this kind of grab on the zeitgeist, as you will?

Austin Trunick 2:28
Well, Canon is a company that as far as what we think about usually when people refer to as canon, they're looking at Canada in the 1980s. When it was under the command of two Israeli cousins, the producers named manakin, Golan and Yoram Globus who had bought the company in 1979, and started pumping out these films in 1980. And these started as really exploitation pictures, low budget, very low budget movies that they start out. But those snowballed really quick, the movies got bigger, they had some success, they were able to make basically bigger and better movies and more and more films. This was a company that very much recognized that there was a market especially at the time 1980 8182 market in the video stores, rentals were new home video, and there's a really a big space for content, they stores needed to fill those shelves, and Canon was happy to help do it. As well as cable cable had, especially premium cable had hours and hours of space to fill. So canon was a company that under golden GLOBIS would sell movies to these markets, primarily. Before they even made them they would take big books full of ideas, big spreads in Hollywood reporter and variety. And they would wait till enough companies had agreed to buy the movie, and they would go and make it. So this is a company that could make films very, very fast. And because of how they did the films, the quality wasn't always there. These weren't always great movies, but to say the least. But they were entertaining. And if you're a fan of especially B movies, a lot of a lot of great magic can happen when a movie is shot for half the budget it needs and half the time it needs. This was a company that could have an idea marketed at the Cannes Film Festival in May and habits in theaters that fall. So that was how quickly going and globalist worked. But people know them nowadays they remember them now for their their eight ninja films. They're 10 movies with Chuck Norris the eight movies they made or Charles Bronson discovering, discovering Michael Duda coffin John Claude Van Damme. These were guys who cannons bread and butter was this sort of low to mid budget action movie. And if you were in the video store, especially in the Action section, but really, oh, yeah, you couldn't go anywhere, edit videos or when probably when you worked there without being able to spin around and knock five or six canon boxes off of a shelf no matter where you were standing in the video store.

Alex Ferrari 5:01
It's pretty it's pretty remarkable what these guys did and you know, I think it was I don't know if I had I've had sand Sam fine Feinberg Furstenberg person Furstenberg on and Sheldon Letich on the show we've talked cannon in the past. But I think when we when I talked to with Sam, I think it was the kind of like he was we were talking about because he was there with the boys almost from the beginning. You know he was there with the ninja movies and all that kind of stuff, which we'll get into in a minute. But it was a perfect storm of these crazy guys making these crazy movies at a time when there's two new technologies coming on that needed content. And the studios were scared of VHS and home video for for probably a good five or six years that they weren't they weren't they didn't want to put anything on VHS and cable was like, What's this cable thing? I'm not sure all this stuff. So there was a hole that can and filled a lot of content in? And do would it be fair to say that once the Studios decided to come in and start flexing their muscle cannon kind of lost? Its it lost its marketplace couldn't do what it was doing in the early 80s? Because in the you don't hear about Canada in the 90s? You know, not really and then it obviously after the 90s you don't hear them at all, really? So what happens? What was the kind of downfall of of canon and why didn't it continue?

Austin Trunick 6:35
Well, Canon there were, again, a perfect storm of things going wrong. There were several factors that contributed to it. One was that their movies got bigger. And when you're spending 16 to 25 million on a movie that makes 5 million at the box office that that's what has trouble when you start making these $5 million movies that you pre sell for 10. It's they just got out of what they did very well. There was also a string of bad investments. Canon took a lot of money that they had earmarked was given to them to invest in films and they use that to buy 30 mi Elstree Studios, the studio where Empire Strikes Back and register the Lost Ark was shot and Canon only ended up shooting two movies there. But if you're a company that makes mid low budget Chuck Norris movies, I don't know what you need with the biggest production facility in London. But this they they made a lot of bad investments with with money that they should have spent on movies that that fit them very quickly. And then as you mentioned, and by the late 80s. The studios were no longer afraid of these formats. And when you're competing on the shelves with the studio action films with your your Dirty Harry's and your your other Clint Eastwood movies and lethal weapon and things like that that's suddenly one year low budget, low budget action film just just isn't going to compete, it isn't going to command the same same amount of real estate on a video store shelf or in cable rotation. So they really got kind of pushed out in those markets that they were early adopters early. One of the earliest studios to really embrace.

Alex Ferrari 8:21
Yeah, and it's it's it's interesting, because I was as I was scanning through your book I saw saw like two I think at least two Lethal Weapon rip offs. The one with Billy Dee Williams, and then and then there was the obvious Indiana Jones rip off with Richard Chamberlain. Have Firewalker with Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett, Jr, which is kind of like a mix. I guess if lethal weapon in Indiana Jones it was kind of like this weird. Hybrid. I mean, as I'm saying, It sounds awesome. As I'm talking about it out loud. I'm like, You know what, I think I should go watch Firewalker again, and then you watch it for 15 minutes you go. Oh, okay. I understand. I understand. I understand now. So. So the success that these guys had early on? Well, the big thing that they think will be on their gravestone is they brought ninjas into the mainstream. There was no talk of ninjas prior to I think it's it's not American Ninja, I think was revenge of the ninjas. And if I'm entered the Ninja, enter the ninja thing. Yes. Yeah, that was the first ninja movie that came in into American audiences. Because before that it was but it's so hard to tell people what an impact that was because I had a Ninja throwing star. I had a ninja outfit. I was sad Eight, seven. I was going to ninja stores where there were ninja like nunchucks and, and throwing stars and there was ninja schools. Like you could like you could go to a jujitsu school you can go to a ninja school and like, you know train in the dark. was like this. It was insane but this was all started by the cannon boys when they brought the world ninja and Ninja had been around for ever in Japan right i mean it's How long has it been like ninjas when did they first come into the into the world stage but it's it's a what like that 1000 years ago I can't remember anymore

Austin Trunick 10:19
Well before during the samurai period,

Alex Ferrari 10:22
Right exactly they were kind of like the more sneaky less honorable samurai

Austin Trunick 10:27
Guys you got to do the dirty work

Alex Ferrari 10:29
Right there's acids they were saying they were assassins so they brought ninjas into the world and can you explain to the audience what kind of I mean impact financially you know enter the ninja had to the point where they had and then you could tell me how many other ninja movies

Austin Trunick 10:45
Yeah well so ninja did Canada did two things with the ninjas that really I think led to this explosion this phenomena the ninja phenomenon are they a is that led you doing just a card with our shirts wrong and there was a they put dangerous front and center in memory. There had been a couple ninja movies, the Octagon Chuck's one of his early ones he fought them but they looked like you know bad guy martial arts and pajamas. They weren't the cool ninjas that we have in the 1980s them at the center, the middle awesome. They got show Kosugi to really come in. He was the guy who was an expert. It was a martial artist but an expert on ninjas and brought a lot of the tools a lot of the weapons a lot of his students to help on on these films and show Kosugi played the bad guy in an enter the Ninja. But so cool. The movie opens with showcase two gauges demonstrating all of these different Ninja weapons against that black screen. And really, it's the these are the weapons that we associate with ninjas. This this is something that to talk about the impact that entered the ninja had in 1981. Historically, a nunchuck talks are not something you would ever associate with ninjas before that that was not a weapon they would use that's not really a stealth weapon. But manakin Kalon the colorful head of Cannon Films The Director of enter the ninja had seen that in Enter the Dragon of course Enter the Dragon enter the ninja you can draw a little line there and he wanted nunchucks in his movie isn't even if they weren't historically accurate. So those became part of that film. And now you know any kid who grew up with Ninja Turtles and who loved Michelangelo was their favorite character. Ken thank manakin Golan for making turning nunchucks into one part of the ninja ninja can with a single end but the movie was did very well the sequel directed by our friend Sam first and Berg did even better and Canon continue really putting these outs as fast as they could Revenge Of The Ninja followed ninja three the domination

Alex Ferrari 12:54
Which is a classic I mean let's just throw it out there right and I know it's Quentin Tarantino is favorite one of his top three favorite a Cannon Films is is it's a three a Revenge Of The Ninja three whatever the hell the domination one Yeah, just like part Flashdance. Part exorcist part ninja movie.

Austin Trunick 13:15
Yeah, little bit of poltergeist sprinkle.

Alex Ferrari 13:18
A little bit of like, why not? That is just brilliant. But then what I found fascinating is that he's like, we need to throw an American in there. And he's like, You know what would be cooler than just having ninjas? Will have American Ninja that would be kind of cool. Like a white guy doing ninja stuff. And boy, was he right? I remember seeing American Ninja in the theater.

Austin Trunick 13:43
That's all I am. And American Ninja is a great film. It turned Michael Dudek off from being a you know a minor comedy actor. He had done bachelor party with Tom Hanks he was a friend that and Happy Days and and you can see I'm in minor roles in the early 80s. And then suddenly, he's an action star not the top tier you know he's not in the same as your Stallone or Schwarzenegger but in the video stores. People would you would he was a recognizable brand name by by the late 80s. And yeah, American inches are an example of cannon. I like to call it cannon magic. They took a relatively low budget but they shot this movie in the Philippines. They got a director like Sam Furstenberg who could work in the fast the fast limitations the low budget and great great stunt stunt choreographer just they really spent what money they had went onto the screen and it looked very cool American inches what what impresses me if this is a lot of the same crew since they shot in the Philippines that had worked on Apocalypse Now that we're trained for that movie had spent all that time three years Yeah, yeah. For three months yeah. had gone through that gauntlet of fire and Then we're sitting around and in the Philippines for a few years and got hired on these Chuck Norris movies on these ninja films over and over again in the in the mid 80s And if you look at any of those jungle movies that that cannon did primarily shot in the Philippines, they look good and a lot of it is because they have this this crew that was available that was well trained that could be hired for $1 Yeah compared to what in Hollywood would have cost much much more

Alex Ferrari 15:30
Yeah cuz they were they did the mission to the the missing in action series with Chuck Norris and and let's talk about Chuck because I mean, they did chuck to I'm trying to remember the chuck to any movies outside of cannon like um, because invasion USA and and the mission missing an action series and it was octagon

Austin Trunick 15:53
That was pre canon. So Chuck had done some movies in the late 70s and early 80s really low low budget martial arts pictures lower budget than canon, actually and but he was somebody he had, he was a former karate champion. At that point, he was well known as a pro owning karate schools and having this sort of a celebrity and I'm in the martial arts world. But he wanted to be an actor and you know, the his his early, independent productions did fairly, fairly decent for our first with the Grindhouse martial arts audience and venues that they played. But when he got to Canon, they took him he was, uh, you know, in his mid 40s At that point, right? And

Alex Ferrari 16:37
He was my god sakes is great. I mean, it was like, he's my age at this point. Yeah, he's

Austin Trunick 16:43
A middle aged, retired like ex karate champion. And canon turned him into a box office star. He had number one movies with missing an action and invasion USA for Cannon and other movies that were huge when they came out if if not Delta Force Delta four Delta Force was with Cannon. And it was it's something that, again, it wouldn't have. I feel like there are very few places that sort of magic could have happened other than a place that was run so fast and loose. And Chuck Norris is someone who won he came to Canada, he was in his mid 40s. He had several low budgets, moderately successful independent movies, but very small movies, martial arts movies, and as a 44 year old 45 year old karate champion instructor, he became a box office star. He had number one movies and missing an action and invasion USA and huge films like The Delta Force that came out with Canon. And again, this is a guy who was was pushing 50 By the time he really reached his peak at at Cannon.

Alex Ferrari 17:55
It's pretty remarkable too, because I remember like invasion USA, watching the invasion USA on HBO, or Cinemax or something like that. And all my family was watching a rat, like sitting around watching it. And it was like the coolest thing you'd ever seen in your life. It was just such it. I mean, but really, Chuck, you know, before there was before Ken and Chuck, and after Ken and Chuck, and after Kennett, Chuck, which is again, he's probably my age, at that point in his mid 40s. turned them into a complete movie star. And I don't know that Chuck. I mean, obviously, Texas Ranger was a it's a Monster Monster television hit after but this is years later, this thing that was in the 90s, if I'm not mistaken, when Chuck did that, and that was a good that was almost like a good retirement plan for Chuck. Because he just went off. He's like, Oh, good. I want to stay this one location. I'll just keep shooting these things. And they went on for like, what a decade? I think that show went on for a decade or so.

Austin Trunick 18:54
Yeah. And that was actually produced by Canon television, the very first set of episodes, unfortunately, they were on their last dying gasp by the time that came out. Yeah. So that was really, again, something where if the dominant if the chips fell slightly differently, where we might still have a cannon today. But Walker, Texas Ranger came out just really as they were barely hanging on to

Alex Ferrari 19:22
And if they would, Texas Ranger would have held them would have definitely held them together if they would have been able to hold on to it. But it's interesting. And it's it's a lesson for people listening because they view the VA veered away from what made them successful. They started thinking bigger and bigger, bigger because they're, I guess I'm assuming ego got into into place and like, I'm gonna buy L Street Studios, I'm gonna be as big as Warner Brothers. And I already saw, you know, you could start seeing it in the movies that they were attempting to make, you know, so like, you know, cuz I don't want to skim over these movies because they're such great amazing things. But so Superman for the quest for peace. Arguably just one of the most horrific things I've ever seen in my life. It's it's it's up there with the room. It is just one of those things you watch and you just like, what and I know Christopher Reeve only agreed to do it, because it was something to do about nucular. He wanted to have make a commentary about nuclear liberal affiliation and and how it needed to stop. And he had the he didn't direct it, but he had a lot of creative control over the project. Is that Is that a fair statement?

Austin Trunick 20:32
That's correct. Canon basically checked three boxes for Chris Reeve, who a few years earlier had gone on the record had gone every talk show saying he would never play Superman again. He backed out of his cameo in Supergirl movie even because he was so done with Superman, but they offered him creative control of the plot. He also got to direct some of the B unit some of the action scenes. They gave him a lot of money that that played into it, obviously. But they also they took on basically a pet project of his called street smart. Oh, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 21:07
I remember that was a good,

Austin Trunick 21:08
A great movie.

Alex Ferrari 21:10
A young Morgan Freeman or a young girl Morgan Freeman.

Austin Trunick 21:13
Yes. A 50 year old Morgan Freeman. Actually, his first Oscar nomination,

Alex Ferrari 21:19
How many hold his mortgage cheeses. I mean, he, he's God, He is God. He literally is God. He doesn't die. He's just there. It just keeps going and going. God bless his heart. No, because I remember him in streetsmart. And that was a dark, edgy film for Christopher Reeve at the time.

Austin Trunick 21:39
Morgan Freeman, I think ages one year for every 10 that actually passed years,

Alex Ferrari 21:45
Cat years, it's like cat years.

Austin Trunick 21:48
He streetsmart was a movie that Chris Murray wanted to be disassociated with Superman he was afraid of being only being seen as you know, this man and a cape and tights. And one of the one of the things he thought would get him away from that was having a critical and commercial success. That was something that was very different. So streetsmart was a role that there was a script that he'd had for a while and he took the cannon because he wanted to get it made. It's about a basically a journalist who lies about a story, he makes up his story in this magazine profile. And it leads to this sort of great success for me becomes a television reporter he gets his own new show. He is the talk of New York City. But it's all based on a lie. And it's a lie that closely resembles the story of the life story of a character played by Morgan Freeman, a pimp named fast black who is on on trial at the time for for homicide for killing somebody. And Morgan Freeman's character sees this as an opportunity to sort of give him an alibi. Use Christopher Reeves characters notes to give them an alibi. And it's a it's a great film about these two characters who are just sort of using each other. And they're both awful people. Christopher Reeve plays a character who could not be further away from Clark Kent, and they have the same profession, but one is just despicable. And the other one is this symbol of everything that is great and in humanity in our world. And it is a it's a movie that Canon made for a very low budget and was very well done. It was very well reviewed. And it's it won it earned Morgan Freeman his first Oscar nomination. I'm not sure offhand up out of how many but many, many Oscar nominations that have come since. But unfortunately, it came at a time where we're canon when they had a movie. That was good. I want to say good in the, I guess critical sense. That's good. It's getting record reviews. It's getting award spas and things like that Canon did not know really what to do with that. Right.

Alex Ferrari 24:01
They called the Weinstein's unlike the Weinstein's with Miramax. They knew what to do with that they built the whole their whole the 90s around. You know, in many ways I think Miramax is almost a sequel to Canon but a you know a higher quality sequel, bringing in foreign films and doing and you know, we'll do the disclaimer Harvey is an evil horrible human being but what that company did in the 90s cannot be ignored without question and I think it's almost like that because they knew exactly what to do. But and that's another thing is like we all make Hahaha You know Chuck Norris and ninjas and all that stuff, but they made some really good movies. Runaway train 52 pickup, fool for love, you know with Kim Basinger and Sam, Sam Shepard. I mean, then the list goes on. There's a bunch of great movies, right?

Austin Trunick 24:56
Yeah, this is a company that again, Canon there Written butter was these actions were these action movies, these ninja movies this Chuck Norris films, but they would take that money and they would channel it into a lot of times projects from great filmmakers, classic filmmakers who couldn't get them made elsewhere. And that's where you have people like Robert Altman approaching them for full for love. You have John Cassavetes coming to them to make love streams because no other studio wanted to invest right? The money

Alex Ferrari 25:27
And John Frankenheimer as well.

Austin Trunick 25:30
John Frankenheimer, who had had a hit a rough patch in his his career there and came to Cannon. And there are many examples of that runaway train was a script that had been written by Akira Kurosawa in the 60s and had been translated and floating around Hollywood for 10 years and more. And canon finally brought it to the screen that championship seasons a lesser known one from 1982. But it's a Pulitzer winning play by Jason Miller, who this is a movie that had been with every studio and the project kept falling through. And canon finally said, if you can make it on a Canon budget, we'll let you make it how you want it with with who you want in it, if this is the the amount of money that you have. So this is a company where not just filmmakers, but stars would we've had these sort of pet projects like like Raven streetsmart, and Katharine Hepburn and a project called Grace grace quickly that she'd been trying to get made since the 70s. They felt safe to bring these projects to Cannon, especially by at 345 when they really hit their peak. And Canada took chances, they took chances on on movies that really the studios would not. And because they were doing it on a budget, though, that's why they were doing it on a budget and they were pre selling it. They knew a star's name if they could sell Katharine Hepburn in a movie. Yeah, they could sell that around the world and they're they've made their money before it hit. You know, it went before the camera.

Alex Ferrari 27:03
And the studios weren't doing things like that because they didn't understand how to work in that kind of budget range. And I mean, when I think of cannon, I think of AFM I think of the Cannes Film Market. Those kind of that arena is not where the studios play. That's where the budget of the craft service table of the studio projects play. I mean, it just they don't understand how to make money in that world even to this day. You can you imagine. I mean, I've talked I've talked to filmmakers who did like how much did you make a movie before they go Yeah, I had I did a low budget movie was like only 10 million. I'm like 10 million Are you out of your like the rest of us live in a you know, sub 500,000 sub $100,000 budget world right now to make independent films. But it was so they were so smart that it looked like they were taking chances. But they these guys were really good businessmen until the ego ran away. And I think the one of the biggest. The biggest one, there's two that come to mind, Masters of the Universe, which is pure magic. absolute pure magic. If if no one's seen it, there's so much stuff going on there. It's like an onion. There's a lot of layers. Courtney Cox's in a Dolph Lundgren. Orko I mean, it's just all beautiful. And well over the top. So I'll take both of them one at a time. So over the top, ridiculous concept. Absolute absolutely ridiculous about an arm wrestling, single dad, who drives a truck, cross country and he's going to the armwrestling championship and he's trying to bring his son along. It sounds on paper horrible. And to be fair, it is in many ways, but to this young man. For years afterwards, when I would get serious I would turn my head around. No, that business was about to get done. If it just hits something so interesting in that that age group where because you look at it now you're like, Dude, seriously, if there's live like turn your head around and then that's where you get the extra force to beat whoever you're going against like it was just crazy. But from at the time from I think it was Sam who told me this was Sam Russia, a shell that forgot who it was. But they they wanted sly at the peak of slice power. I mean, you're talking about 85 and like it's you know, rocky three and Rambo and like he is the biggest star in the world. And they offered him I think they call them up and I think it was I forgot what the number was, but it was such a ridiculous number. That's still John said, Listen, if you pay me 12 million bucks, I'll do your movie. And they showed up which I think it's troubling you probably know better than I do. So please tell the story of of over the top, sir.

Austin Trunick 30:10
And yeah, totally That is correct. With $12 million. They made for a brief period of time, they made Sylvester Stallone, the highest paid actor for any one single, single film. And this was a project that I mean, Sly, supposedly, I guess he wanted to do it. It was something that's the original script he he liked. And it had sort of a at the time, he was kind of catching a lot of flack for Rambo toys being in store and his movies being so so violent, something that I thought he could point out and say, this family film that I've done, you don't have to take your kids who love me to go see Rambo, you could take them to see this. So that was that was his attraction to the project. Cannon they sold was the biggest star in the world really at that, at that very moment in in the 1980s. And especially for the types of movies that they they made. And they were willing to throw that much that much money at them. And it made a big, giant splash. This is something that as soon as Stallone agreed to it, Canon took out the two page ads in every trade. And they would say welcome Sylvester Stallone to the Canon family making over the top shooting soon. The problem was canon, this was not a company that had $12 million sitting around in cash, they they would usually take that money and they would make three ninja movies for that. So they actually in reality, this is this Stallone exclusive wisdom papers, they sent him $500,000 As a retainer as basically an option on on him doing this while they went out and then work their butts off to sell, get get the money, sell all the rights internationally sell the product placement, there's a wonderful amount of product placement of that film, from everything from car batteries to motor oil to brute cologne. It's everywhere in that movie. And then finally they ended up getting Warner Brothers to come in and help distribute the distribution. And with the distribution and also some of the financing. That $12 million is also what paid the loan for COBRA. A lot of people don't don't know that is that $12 million ended up being they ended up getting two pictures of its Warner Brothers

Alex Ferrari 32:31
Who di COBRA COBRA was in cannon, right? That was one of those deal.

Austin Trunick 32:35
That was Warner Brothers, but Canon has the Golden Globe as producers credit on it. And that is because of over the top Warner Brothers wanted to do Cobra Stallone was in line to do over the top with them. But when the steel they got Ken into Wait, push your shoot off seven, eight months. So we can shoot Cobra and we'll pay, you know, will this whole thing will pay this this amount. And we'll get it done. And you can have your movie afterwards. And over the top so fun movie like as a kid i i loved it as well. It was a movie. You know, I want to arm wrestle all the time on my desk at school. But the movie that Stallone actually had, I mean, I guess any movie stone is involved with he had a lot of inputs, but he took no pass at the script. So it's interesting to watch this. It changes greatly. And that final Stallone draft makes it even more of a family oriented movie, which is something I wouldn't expect. It's out a lot of the as your Assam there's more than the original scripts that stolen out of it, which is interesting. But also he he directed Menaka electric directed it and loan was there to advise and it still had a difference of opinion. They had an agreement, shoot it both ways. And Stallone got final choice of which version so they would read a lot of the scenes and to his credit though I can go on didn't have to go about that. He thought he's like this, Mr. Sloane, his movies have made how much of that he's directed. He's won Oscars. He's, he's very successful. If he advice I'm going to listen. What, how, how he's basically anyone asking him really like who was who was directing this. But they essentially code a lot of the scene. See in the action movie that makes armrests actually I think look kind of interesting. On screen for a that is really too large sweaty men grunting hands for about 30 seconds up makes it look like you know a rocky in the section.

Alex Ferrari 34:55
No, there's yeah, there's absolutely no question about it. You like that ends sequence is absolutely a brilliant piece of filmmaking, just the, you know, the lighting the way the skin like it was. I mean, they've used the star filter on it. So there's like the stars in the lights. And he, I mean, they did a lot. And as you're saying that that makes all the sense in the world that's like, would have just basically controlled control that film. There's just no, there's no question about it. And it is very family friendly. Like it's, it's about a kid and his dad, I mean that the movie is about a kid and his dad, that's basically what the movie is about. It has to do with arm wrestling in the background, but it's just, it's one of those was that the movie that started or wasn't Masters of the Universe is the one that really started the downward spiral of canon.

Austin Trunick 35:48
Either, it's really a two, three, because you have all in 1987, in this space of really six months, you have over the top, super more. And then masters universe, all three of these movies that Canon spent a lot of money on and there's of promotion, and they just they were not, they were not the gigantic kids that can and need them to be to really going at that point. So that was, that was when a lot of trouble really happened. I like to I like to look at and see look at the prices of stocks, Cannon stock of 1987. And then the really September of 87, it's gone from trading pretty dollars to like under $4.

Alex Ferrari 36:40
Was, was canon a public company.

Austin Trunick 36:43
They had a public sale in the six. So that was where a lot of this money that they spent on real estate Came From Beyond as well as like, basically promises of loans from banks.

Alex Ferrari 36:58
So going to Masters of the Universe, which was a monster budget for them and a big, just a huge, one of the big what was the biggest production they ever did? Was it over the top or was it Masters of the Universe?

Austin Trunick 37:14
Well, over the top would have been the highest budget and other one that was very close was lifeforce. That was oh my god, the dollar movie.

Alex Ferrari 37:23
Isn't that about that was if it wasn't about vampires in space?

Austin Trunick 37:26
And vampires from space. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 37:28
Yeah, God, I vaguely remember that movie. But I remember that but that had no major stars in it. And they spent that much money on it.

Austin Trunick 37:36
They had no major stars, but they had John Dykstra doing special effects. They had a script by Dan O'Bannon, Toby Hooper directing, they had a lot of the team from Star Wars, Nick melee, and his his team doing the creature effects is the guy that helped design Yoda and the cantina band. This is all of that money went was spent on the screen. That's a movie that for being a kind of silly movie about space vampires is beautiful, it's all set. It's all matte paintings. It's all shot with people actually on on wires, when you have the people going through space. It is just one of those movies. As far as practical effects go. It's one of the last great showcases really for the middle 80s Because soon, very soon after that a lot of those things were going more and more digital more and more computer being involved. And that's yeah, they had no stars, because all of that money really was spent on sets and effects.

Alex Ferrari 38:39
And even then, I mean, I think that was one of the mistakes they made then and this is something I preach about all the time on the show is like you need some sort of star power the higher that budget goes up and unless the star could still be Hooper wasn't an easy yes, he's still be Hooper, but he's not Spielberg, you know, and even Spielberg, I'm not sure would have been able to pull that off. As you know, like, you know, there's very few directors that had that kind of a Scorsese or Coppola might have had that kind of box office power back in the in those days, but that was a mistake they needed if they would have put Chuck Norris in lifeforce or Michael due to cough and lifeforce. It probably would have sold better I'm just throwing that out there.

Austin Trunick 39:21
Yeah. had even just their ability to sell it abroad. If they had a name that they could pin to that film I think would have helped a lot but they had to sell it on the strength of the team behind the camera and it's hard to sell a high concept sci fi film releasing in the summer on on on that sort of

Alex Ferrari 39:45
In 87 competing with predator competing with lethal weapon. Like I mean the you're talking about like really great years of 80s action sci fi esque stuff coming out I mean, it was so good lord. And I think that, you know, it's such a fascinating story to see how these guys in such a short period within a decade rise and start to tumble and fall within a pretty much of a 10 to 12 year period. It was it was you could start watching it. And he, I have to believe that ego had such a huge part to play in it just because they just wanted to become bigger and bigger. But they overextended themselves, they over leveraged themselves, to the point where if they would have just kept sticking to what they knew, and maybe just amped into what they knew more they could have, they could still be going today, you know, in many ways, because these movies haven't gone away. You know, I remember walking into AFM for the first time and looking up at the giant poster hanging from the ceiling and it was oh, it's Mike Tyson versus Steven Seagal. I'm like, well, there you go. You know, you know, and and by the way, let's go back for a minute to a movie called which I from what I understood, was the one of the biggest cash cows ever, in the canon, Canon canon. Which was breakin the original. It was before Beach Street if I'm not mistaken in the breakdancing phase fat of the thing was 8586 is when that came out. That that that exploded that had no stars in it, but it had breakdance and get it and everybody wants to know about breakdancing and it exploded. Is that correct?

Austin Trunick 41:36
Breaking was a movie came out in May of 84. It is the the idea behind it came in Canada, supposedly because manakin Khan's daughter was on Venice Beach and saw the person suggested it to him. And that was the story he always repeated. And they looked at it and then Malcolm that Beat Street was in production. It was already in production when he had this idea. Let's let's do ours. Let's do one faster. Let's get before Beat Street. I think you heard a pair that Beat Street was coming out in June. This is early 84. So they rush this they find the dancers they find basically bang out a script really fast, they shoot it as fast as possible and they get it out. And 84 It was the first one in two theaters so hit that brick dance craze. Even though dia came later than Beat Street and beat Beat Street theaters and it was huge ship was the soundtrack the hit the movie was did spectacularly and in theaters and cannon of course, within two weeks of of the movie coming out had already had ads running in the trades for breaking to

Alex Ferrari 42:51
The electric the Electric Boogaloo. The greatest, the greatest title of all time.

Austin Trunick 42:55
Yes. And they I was gonna be ready for Christmas. So they made to break dance movies in the space of about 11 months from one idea to make a break dance movie came to when the sequel came out in theaters.

Alex Ferrari 43:10
And the thing that's interesting about it is that Beat Street is a much better breaking it break dance movie, there's just no question. I mean, it's the dark greedy it's two different kinds of movie breaking is like no more New York and I was in I was living in New York at the time so it was like more gritty in New York you know in the subway that kind of break the into the core message there's it's dark death, all that kind of stuff. And then break in is kind of like the Disney Disney asked version of breakdancing which is everyone's like, Haha, we're in sunny California was all great. So it was a completely different vibe. And I think at that moment in time, I think people wanted to see the fun, you know, oh, it was ozone and yeah, Turbo turbo. Yeah, the turbo guy and then of course you gotta get you gotta throw in the you know, the cute ballet dancer who needs to break dance and all this insanity on it. But there's one thing also about breaking that she's I have a lot of cannon trivia, as you can tell. I love it that that there was a there was a young star who played an extra role in braking, which is genius to see. It is John Claude von DOM on the beach. I think it's on Venice Beach or something in the background while they're breakdancing. And he's just doing this dancing like the most awkward, weird dance and he's got like spandex on the ad spandex on and he's a young he must have been what in his mid 20s Young Young, very Claude Van Damme in it. So I mean, I remember seeing that for the first time I remember hearing about it because after I saw Bloodsport, I heard that it was breaking and it got breaking and it was just scanning until I found him on VHS. And I was like Oh my god. So can you talk this tell the story of John Claude and how he was dis discovered if you will, and gotten thrown into because I also have a bit of junk Claude. I was he was one of my my favorite guys growing up so it we're talking about no retreat, no surrender Black Eagle, then came Bloodsport and then cyborg was in there somewhere I think was right afterwards and then the studios got a hold of them and double impact and all those other ones that they did afterwards, which were you know kickboxer and all that kind of great stuff. But Bloodsport, was the thing that blew him up. Can you talk a little bit about how the cannon boys got a hold of John Claude.

Austin Trunick 45:42
So John Claude came to the States from Belgium wanting to become a movie star. He actually moved here with his his enemy, his nemesis and kickbox our tongue bow. Shell kiss, they were best friends. They were watch martial arts movies, Bruce Lee movies together and then moved together and they were roommates in Los Angeles is young thing aspiring actors. And John Claude is a very smart person like I he doesn't get enough credit for how for that side of things, but he knew that he looked at Ken and it was a company that they were making these these ninja movies these show what they looked at what they did with Chuck Norris, and saw that if he was going to break in and be one of these stars that that candidate would be the company that could potentially do that for them. So he started going to the cannon offices every every chance that and he would sit in the lobby he would hang out when he wasn't working when he was driving, working as a waiter and things at that time. Here wait for go on and this and he would demonstrate his kicks he would do splits we're gonna wait and see Chuck Norris. Chuck Norris was someone who bought him early on in the in the cannon lobbies and Chuck actually hired him as an assistant for a while. John cod is credited for stunts on missing an action as because he traveled along to with Chuck when he made that movie and they would jog together they would work out together there's some great footage of John holding the the mass as Chuck Norris is kicking them like very, very early on at that age. And that's also how he ended up in as an extra in breakin cannon was making that movie really fast. There's this Belgian kid hanging out, good looking Belgian kid hanging out in their lobby. They're like, Oh, come on, get in, get in the van. We need dancers for this scene. And that's how things like that happen. But this went on for years and years. Finally, from what's the story I got from John Claude, that's a preview for Book Three. Is that I guess monogame really kind of just gave in from this kid sort of paper. Herrera. Basically yeah, trying to become a candidate star by harassing him Blitz and kicking him out him in the in his life and brought him up to his office and John Claude, you know, he doesn't he says it in his he still has that sense. Where he's like, again, in the run up to manakins office. I take off my shirt. I started doing the splits and monogame at that points as your you have to think of don't think you're gonna be a great star. But I have this project. He gets out the script for Bloodsport. And Van Damme is on a plane to Hong Kong to shoot Bloodsport. What's interesting about Bloodsport is that's a movie that sat on a shelf for a quite a while it was shot and asex and it was released in early 1988. And this was a movie that when they came back from Hong Kong Golden Globe just saw the initial which I have never seen I would be very introduced if it still existed in some form but they thought it was unreasonable they thought the looking at them we was gonna did release to a phone and call this judge something unreasonable. It's been pretty rough. But that broke John clouds heart he did but he didn't he went on to do other things in the meantime, but some did. Late at night, really after the cannon was done for the day, he would go to Canada offices and sit down with one of their house editors and they were the fight scenes. So it's John and a cannon you know underpaid over cannon editors sitting overnight, cutting Bloodsport and adding really a lot of the slow motion I think we see in the movie that you would get from Hong Kong movies where you know a plus one to three times different tastes and different angles over and over for to nail every every blow home. And that was added and so by Late seventh guy 88 in dire financial trouble, they had just had Massey University and for all these flops, all these other trades with having to pay back loans and just be not having money, they're releasing everything they can to just get some money in Bloodsport, was a movie that the new cut they looked at, okay, wow, this is this is much better. And it was a hit, Bloodsport made VanDam. But you have to think, again, I'd mentioned earlier if the chips fell differently for Canon in some way. Had they released that movie had they had a better version of it in 86. Initially, that could have been that I'm sure if, if then, if film had landed, like I did earlier on, even if it didn't make the money they needed, they would have signed VanDamme to one of their famous six picture contracts 10 Venture contracts and again, there's there's universe somewhere where and kept going into the 90s. But in that because the strength of this this bar this new star they hadn't abandoned, but in this in the same sense, we wouldn't have had the Van Damme who gave us so many studio films like hard target and sudden death. And so it's interesting. It's one of those things canon they did. They did launch Van Damme but they really fumbled with how they handled it. I could have

Alex Ferrari 51:29
They could have say this they could have saved that could have saved the studios. The studios ass I mean, essentially because the two chucks really ran the studio for a while Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson who was also in his 60s when he became a star with them

Austin Trunick 51:46
Yeah, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 51:48
Gotta bless a man God bless him like I God blessed the boys I mean because the Cannon boysfor doing this because I mean Lord man, there's so much amazing thing that so much amazing lore behind what they did in that decade and change and it's just a fascinating stories fascinating Hollywood story of how they were able to rise to the top of the indie space and they were one of the one of the early people to to kind of create this whole pre selling idea of like, give me a poster and I'll throw a picture on it and you give me money before the movies even made and I'll go make it that and give it to you to be able to finance their movies if I'm not mistaken correct. They were the kind of they were the the forefathers if you will of pre sales and can and AFM.

Austin Trunick 52:40
They had Yeah, that that was an idea they took Corman but they mastered it. They mastered the the art of the they did it very well and they did it at the right time with having so many places to sell their their product to in advance. And again, that led to so many movies that would never have been made it also led to a lot of movies that weren't made and lead me to wonder what what could have been canon is a company that if you Google unmade canon movies, but if you look through any old spider Yeah, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 53:21
Spider Man 86 Spider Man like they had they had a poster for it. It almost happened you know what's about what's behind the scenes story about cannon Spider Man movie? Because I remember Corman I think Corman is the one that made the Fantastic Four movie so so he wouldn't lose the rights and then never released it. I think it's now been released since then. But But Spider Man because that was Marvel was like in bankruptcy they didn't know what to do they were selling off the rights. That's why took us forever to get a Spider Man movie. What was the what was the story behind that Spider Man movie?

Austin Trunick 53:51
Well, Captain Marvel was in a lot of trouble. And this is something that's hard to imagine not in the environment. But they they are in dire straits and movies were not something that people were doing in that that was something that still considered the idea of it. But they were shopping the rights to raise money for for their company and Canon came in they bought Captain America and Spider Man rights and these were two movies these were two characters that those are the only two that have the entire Marvel catalog that they thought were thought thought had any potential for making money they they could have had the entire Marvel catalog by every hero for a song and they just cherry pick to those to the rest ended up going to New World when new world bought Marvel but

Alex Ferrari 54:44
Punisher and all that stuff.

Austin Trunick 54:46
Yeah, but manakin go on what what is funny is he bought the rights to Spider Man not having never read a Spider Man comic not being familiar with the character. He he was under the impression that Peter Parker was a college kid who turned into you know, giant tarantula like a Teen Wolf sort of thing. And the earliest SpiderMan ads, the trade ads for it that they put out because Canada would announce everything immediately as soon as they had any sort of plans in place was going to be directed by Toby Hooper with a script by Daniel Bannon. They alien guy, Ryan, it was going to be a horror film and I think I think what happened was Malcolm had conversations with Stan Lee and family was like, you know, this isn't a doesn't turn into a giant spider right? And his senses came about like, I don't think that ever made it past like, Malcolm's earliest idea there. There are scripts that exist to the Canon Spider Man's that were never made. But the Spider Man cannon movie was one that was in the pipeline's forever that half of the directors who ever worked with Canon were attached to at one point or others started with Toby Hooper that was originally going to be the third of three picture canon deal. Then for a long time Joe Zito they spent a lot of money Josie to the director of invasion USA developing that one with he spent money scouting places, just trying out some of the effects and some of the things that they wanted to do. And then finally towards the end of the Golden Globe as Eric cannon, our Pune who gave us cyborg and some really genius genius genius. Oh, so good. Such a great but that actually if you want to ask what happened with Spider Man, the camera was in very bad financial shape. I as I said 8788 But they had already put some money into developing two movies. They said they were gonna shoot these two movies back to back de Noodler antithesis facilities down in the Carolinas. And the movies were gonna be masters universe two, and Spider Man.

Alex Ferrari 57:03
Two, how could they do two? This is before the first one was released.

Austin Trunick 57:08
No, this was after. So they still it was still in all still all in a we're still all in on on masters universe. And they basically both of these fell apart. Both but they had already been doing some work. They've been building sets for Spider Man, they had shipped all of the costumes from the original masters universe to Digi Digi studios to start on that and our punes plan was and this is one of my favorite things about the abandoned Spider Man is they were going to shoot all the Peter Parker stuff. In the first I think two weeks all the stuff where he's just the nerdy normal team, Team boy. And then they're gonna take a break. They're gonna take eight weeks in the middle and they're going to shoot massive universe two in the same place with a lot of the same actors and crew. And the Peter Parker actor who was this stunt man at the time Scott Liva was his name would have just gone on a training regimen like I don't know if they were gonna get them into the gym with Lou Ferrigno or something and he was just gonna get jacked and so over this eight week like you know, just hardcore working out he'd come back and be trim and muscular and he that's how they would handle this spider man transformation then they would film all the scenes where he's in the Spider Man costume so that was I mean it's it's such a cannon way of doing it of being able to handle transformation very cheaply just by taking a break and they would shoot those last few weeks. But those both those both those deals fell apart. Cannon suddenly didn't have the money to shoot them and ever Pune comes up with the idea to let's try to recoup what we spent already. Like I will write a movie that uses the sets we built the half built sets from Spider Man and the costumes and everything and then the actors we've already gathered here for Master universe to Yes,

Alex Ferrari 59:04
So this is news to me I'm fine fascinate

Austin Trunick 59:06
Yeah, so these two movies so our Pune wrote cyborg basically banged out that script and like kind of a, you know, weekend long fever dream. Makes sense a cannon. They presented it because this was after. After Bloodsport. They still had another deal with Van Damme to do more movies. And so Van Damme picked that script. So they ended up going and shooting cyborg a script that have been written in record time. With with VanDamme using the sets from spider man and a lot of the actors from what what would have been mastered universe to the bad guy, Vincent clan who has you know, he was a surfer. He man was going to be played Dolph Lundgren was not coming back for the second one. He was we played by LAIRD HAMILTON the surfer

Alex Ferrari 59:54
LAIRD HAMILTON was going to play master of the universe Are you kidding me?

Austin Trunick 59:59
He was doll replacement. Yes for him, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:02
It's not as not as bulky, not as bulky.

Austin Trunick 1:00:05
No, no but he so his he brought his friends he brought his entourage his crew with him and they were all going to be sort of these barbarian like humans like sidekicks because they did not have any like the second master's was going to be a much smaller budget than the first but they stayed around and they played the bad guys in cyborg so Vincent clean as a surfer he was one of Laird Hamilton's friends who had come to be you know, a barbarian buddy.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:31
Is he the guy please remind me Is he one of the bad guys in Point Break? Oh, gosh. He like because he has such a unique look. I remember he was one of the one of the surfers that surfer group of the gang that that Kiana was Kano and Pat Patrick says Again a fight at the beach with like the red hot chili pepper dude Anthony and and a few other guys in this other just big jacked up, you know very kind of almost Samoan looking. He's I think he might be the same bag. I want to look

Austin Trunick 1:01:08
Look it up. I can't I can't confirm right now. I can tell you he was a bad guy and kickboxer 2 but

Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
Well, obviously, I mean, obviously. So So you are telling me that cyborg the junk cloud of a masterpiece was originally shot on the sets of the failed Spider Man masters universe to

Austin Trunick 1:01:27
Yes, Cyborg Phoenix that rose from the ashes of the crumbled masters too in Spider Man. You can see bits of it in there too, if you know where to look for.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:38
Oh, yeah, no. Now, I mean, if I had the time to go back and watch sideboard I mean, I might one night that I'm bored. I'll find it and go back and scan through it. But that would be that'd be pretty amazing. What I also remember so beautifully about junk Lodz movies is that every movie, they would find a way to get the split in?

Austin Trunick 1:01:58
Oh, like cyborg is one of the best splits to

Alex Ferrari 1:02:01
Split right between the two buildings. And that was, Oh, my God, it was, Oh, my God was amazing. So as we're talking about, you know, Canon and what they've done, you know, you mentioned corpsman corpsman had been doing this since the 50s. And has continued all this way has not stopped. He doesn't have obviously the influence as he used to. He's in his late 90s at this point that he did at one point, but he never lost money along the way. And continued his bet because it seems to me that he never lost his formula. He never tried to be bigger than what he was. He understood that like, you know what, this is my lane. I'm staying in it. And the Canon boys just couldn't couldn't deal they had to go outside their lane. They wanted to be bigger than the bridges

Austin Trunick 1:02:52
Cannon, the Golden Globe as they they modeled themselves over. They wanted to be the next major studios, one of the things that they always build themselves, the next major studio, but they modeled themselves really the way they did business, not after studios of the 1980s. But studios of the 30s 40s and 50s. There was old moguls nobody was signing people to 10 movie contracts these gigantic long canon was because that's that's who manakin Golan that's that's who he idolized those Louis Meyers and the these moguls of the Golden Age.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:28
It was the studio system. It was the old school studio system where they owned the actor for for 10 pictures.

Austin Trunick 1:03:34
Hmm. And that's that's what they wanted to be. But but but corpsman was somebody that they admired corpsman was actually somebody that manakin Milan, who he looked up to one of his first jobs was one of them was a corpsman picture called the Young racers back in the 60s. And that's a film that manakin Kalon worked on Francis Ford Coppola worked on Robert Towne all worked on. And this was a B, you know, almost a C level racing movie. That's that Corman did and just the people that came out of that film that that the talent and the impact on Hollywood in one way or another is just incredible.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:14
I could keep talking to you for at least another five hours about this. I do appreciate you coming on and writing this second volume of The Canon film guide. This is I think you have opened the door to anybody who ever wants to write a book about cannon, and then you shut the door behind you. Because there's no there's why why there's going to be what three volumes. The third one's coming out soon. How many pages is just over 1000 1000 1000 pages. This is volume that that first one is about the same, right? So 2000 Where I'm assuming the next one's not going to be 100 pages. So probably not. So it is. It is fascinating. There's so much I didn't talk about so many movies that we could just go over and over. And I mean each movies like a two hour episode how they did it and how to get this way and, you know, Barfly was one of like, I was like the Barfly was made by them and runaway train and all these you know these amazing films but my my last question to you, sir, I know it's gonna be very difficult question three of your favorite cannon films of all time.

Austin Trunick 1:05:27
Three of my favorite Well, I'm gonna pick three very different ones. The easiest one my go to is always going to be Revenger the ninja by Sam Furstenberg, that's the cannon box that burned itself in the back of my brain as a kid and maybe one of the reasons I want to get back to the video store over and over again so I can finally rent out was was one such movie. I love invasion USA. So I'm sitting in front of a evasion USA poster right now but as far as the Chuck Norris movies, this is a movie that is big, silly doesn't make exact sense. But the action is is so so good. And since you've got Van Damme on in my mind, I have to go with Bloodsport. Yeah, it's such a again, like bendemeer It's so many great movies. That's probably still my go to if I'm going to pick one Van Damme movie, just throw on.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:25
All right, just on a side note. If we can go back to two then damn lore, besides JCVD which arguably is one of the best VanDamme films ever because it's it's it's just so in. It's not a normal Bondam film. It's a drama, but it's just so beautifully done. I think it I think he peaked as a quality film, not fun film quality film. I think time cop holds holds. Probably it was it was Universal Studios. It was a big budget. At least in my memory. I can't. I can't fight about it with anyone because I haven't seen it since probably came out. But I remember being like you know, this is a really good, well written good story kind of film. Bloodsport has a special place in my heart because I just could not stop watching Bloodsport. I know it's so well, but in my mind, it lives beautifully. And then the other day I turned it on. I'm like, no, no, no, no, I gotta turn it off. I can't other than the action sequences I can't watch the story or the acting because it will ruin it for me the you know those movies like the things that were perfect in your head and then you go back and going. That doesn't age well at all. But kickboxer cyborg has a special place in my heart I mean no retreat no surrenders. Cameo essentially that Vontae was that his first was that the first thing released if I remember was the black black eagle was second if I'm not mistaken.

Austin Trunick 1:08:02
Yeah, these movies were ones that came out while I was part was sitting on the shelf, which is crazy to think that this is just sitting collecting Dustin and cannons closet while he's doing these movies where he's essentially playing, you know, Soviet bad guys.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:20
Well, the funny thing is that and I talked to Sheldon about this and Sheldon was the one who wrote Bloodsport. He created and Vaughn DOM and the movie Bloodsport basically created Street Fighter and create a Mortal Kombat and the fighting games as we know him came because of Bloodsport, I mean they there's even characters. Yeah, in streetfighter that are still a little close to to Bloodsport. So it really shifted the the zeitgeist it was in the Zeitgeist and shifted popular culture in many ways. It's fascinating to see what these films that we grew up with what they've done in the course of 20 or 30 years and what they did and how they've affected pop culture and have been created. You know, stars of people that in today's world would never in a van Damme would never in a million years. Rise today. Not in the way it just too much competition too much. But without them. Would there even be a market for those kinds of films? That's the like with without a Von DOM is that without Bloodsport Is there is there above the law? You know, is there a Steven Seagal at that point? You know, what? Do you know all that without the ninja movies? Do we have a Bloodsport? You know, maybe one day who knows but that's just us talking my friend. I appreciate you coming on the show. Man. This has been such so much fun going back back into the archives of my my Canon brain. And all the the amazing stuff. I mean, you have now after the canons you have to do one a new world then you have to write a whole series of books on Orion, and then you know, you got to keep going and you get a trauma, I'm sure Lloyd will be more than happy to talk to you about making a whole series of, I mean, you've got the rest of your life to write all the rest of these books are. And one last question, man, why? Why did you sit down and write two to 3000 pages? On a B level? If not C level? Movie Studio from the 80s? What was the interviewer that said, instead of like, you want one little book about Ah, you went, I mean, deeper than anyone has ever gone before? Why did you do it?

Austin Trunick 1:10:40
I fell in love with movies at my local video stores back as a youth and Canon reigned supreme in those places, even if they weren't the best movies or the hottest renters at that point. There were a lot of cannon movies. And when you went to the video store every weekend looking for a certain type of film, that's you encountered that. And it was it was ninja movies, it was cannons and Indian movies is what made me fall in love with movies, watching Chuck Norris films with my dad, when I was probably way too young, Charles Bronson, things like that. That was they made movies that appealed to me as a young boy, I should say. And then after learning about them, if you start to peel back the you know, the cover of what, what canon was, the stories behind these movies are as crazy as what happens on screen, if not crazier, the how their genesis how they were made and how they came to be. And I wanted to find those stories. I wanted to hear every story I could from as many people that were there as possible, and collect them in a place because this is a company that did something that no one else did back then. And no one has done really since they the way the exact way they did it. And that's it's a very interesting as somebody who loves film history that fascinated me so much that I couldn't I couldn't look away.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:10
Basically, with almost any candidate movie, you can't really look away. I mean, it's kind of like watching a train wreck in a beautiful, wonderful way. It's watching these films. So awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the show. And thank you for putting this insanity together in volumes. I love that there's three volumes, the third ones coming out of this. There's so much stuff and you've made basically made a piece of film history that people can come back to in 100 years and they'll go this didn't make this is this is fiction, or not happen. This is not real. Hopefully they'll go back to this interview as well. If they find it on on whatever YouTube is at that point. And look at this interview and they'll go no it was real up. There's people talking about it as opposed to behind the guy. We'll see. We'll see what happened but awesome. Thank you again so much my friend where can people buy this and by volume one, Volume Two and Windows volume three coming up.

Austin Trunick 1:13:02
You can find them anywhere. Anywhere books are sold. So your Amazon's you and your local bookstores can order them if you got a brick and mortar bookstore try to support that that's that's that's always great. If you're if you're lucky enough to be in that position. People can find me online at I'm at Canon film guide on Twitter and on Facebook, my social media handle and I'm always sharing more canon information on there. There are so many things that as big as these books are just would not fit. And social media is the place that I can keep that conversation going answer questions and just show the weird things and crazy stories that I'm still stumbling across that even I can't believe

Alex Ferrari 1:13:41
Last last question. Did you ever talk to the boys?

Austin Trunick 1:13:44
I have not. And not for lack of trying. I have tried so hard to get a hold of your arm. So your arm if you are listening. I've said many, many emails to your assistants, I've sent letters to your office, I would love to talk to you someday. That's my dream interview.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:06
That's the dream. That's the dream. So none of the boys you've got to ever get to talk to so it's all secondhand. All secondhand stuff from like Sam and and all these interviews that you've done over the years of people who are still alive and working. And did you ever talk to John Claude or chuck or any of those?

Austin Trunick 1:14:24
Jean Claude I've spoken to so he'll be in volume three. Chuck No, Chuck does not somebody who looks back very often, but. He's never really done retrospective interviews or anything. And he sadly, I mean, I don't know that he will. He's never been on a commentary or anything like that. I would love to speak to Chuck. He's another one. But yeah, Jean Claude, I've talked to Michael Judah cough and the second one I've, I've talked to at this point, I think about 80 people who worked for Cannon at different points one point or another And, yeah, I'm still reaching every. If there's anyone who's missing from the books, it's not for lack of trying. I'll say that. I've reached out to everybody.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:11
You've done an amazing job, my friends. So again, thank you so much for putting this together. And I appreciate your time today, my friend and continue the good work you do. You're doing God's work, sir. You're doing God's work.

Austin Trunick 1:15:22
Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:22
Thank you, my friend.

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Tom Cruise Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

In 1976, if you had told fourteen-year-old Franciscan seminary student Thomas Cruise Mapother IV that one day in the not too distant future he would be Tom Cruise, one of the top 100 movie stars of all time, he would have probably grinned and told you that his ambition was to join the priesthood. Nonetheless, this sensitive, deeply religious youngster who was born in 1962 in Syracuse, New York, was destined to become one of the highest paid and most sought after actors in screen history.

Tom is the only son (among four children) of nomadic parents, Mary Lee (Pfeiffer), a special education teacher, and Thomas Cruise Mapother III, an electrical engineer. His parents were both from Louisville, Kentucky, and he has German, Irish, and English ancestry.

Young Tom spent his boyhood always on the move, and by the time he was 14 he had attended 15 different schools in the U.S. and Canada. He finally settled in Glen Ridge, New Jersey with his mother and her new husband. While in high school, Tom wanted to become a priest but pretty soon he developed an interest in acting and abandoned his plans of becoming a priest, dropped out of school, and at age 18 headed for New York and a possible acting career. The next 15 years of his life are the stuff of legends.

He made his film debut with a small part in Endless Love (1981) and from the outset exhibited an undeniable box office appeal to both male and female audiences.

With handsome movie star looks and a charismatic smile, within 5 years Tom Cruise was starring in some of the top-grossing films of the 1980s including Top Gun (1986); The Color of Money (1986), Rain Man (1988) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989). By the 1990s he was one of the highest-paid actors in the world earning an average 15 million dollars a picture in such blockbuster hits as Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (1994), Mission: Impossible (1996) and Jerry Maguire (1996), for which he received an Academy Award Nomination for best actor.

Tom Cruise’s biggest franchise, Mission Impossible, has also earned a total of 3 billion dollars worldwide. Tom Cruise has also shown lots of interest in producing, with his biggest producer credits being the Mission Impossible franchise.

In 1990 he renounced his devout Catholic beliefs and embraced The Church of Scientology claiming that Scientology teachings had cured him of the dyslexia that had plagued him all of his life. A kind and thoughtful man well known for his compassion and generosity, Tom Cruise is one of the best liked members of the movie community. He was married to actress Nicole Kidman until 2001. Thomas Cruise Mapother IV has indeed come a long way from the lonely wanderings of his youth to become one of the biggest movie stars ever.

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

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

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

LEGEND (1985)

Screenplay by William Hjortsberg – Read the screenplay!

TOP GUN (1986)

Screenplay by Warren Skaaren – Read the Screenplay!


Screenplay by Oliver Stone and Ron Kovic – Read the Screenplay!


Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin – Read the screenplay!

THE FIRM (1993)

Screenplay by Robert Towne and David Rayfiel – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Anne Rice – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Robert Towne and David Koepp – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Cameron Crowe – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Frederic Raphael – Read the screenplay!


Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Robert Towne – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Cameron Crowe – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Scott Frank – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by John Logan – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Stuart Beattie – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Josh Friedman and David Koepp – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Alex Kurtzman, Robert Orci and J.J. Abrams – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Ethan Coen, Ben Stiller and Justin Theroux – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie & Nathan Alexander – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Patrick O’Neill – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by William Monahan – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie – Read the screenplay!

THE MUMMY (2017)

Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie and David Koepp – Read the screenplay!


Screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie – WILL POST ONCE AVAILABLE!

BPS 269: The Godfather of Ninja and Cannon Films with Sam Firstenberg

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Sam Firstenberg. How're you doing Sam?

Sam Firstenberg 0:14
Excellent, thank you. I'm glad to be with you.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
Thank you so much for reaching out to me I was I was excited when I got your email. I'm like, oh my god, I gotta talk to Sam, I gotta I gotta get into the, into the the stories, I'm sure you have one or two stories about your time at Canon and all of your directing and filmmaking career throughout the 80s 90s. And even in the 70s, as well. But the but specifically, we're gonna focus on the 80s and 90s, and a lot of the cool stuff you did back in those days. But before we get started, how did you get started in this business?

Sam Firstenberg 0:49
I was one of those kids who love movies love cinema. And actually one of the, you know, there's always this one kid who goes and see the movies and comes back to the neighborhood and tells the movie to the other kids. So this was me. So that the answer I don't know that they love to cinema is I don't know where it comes in the love of storytelling. But I grew up in Israel and from Jerusalem. And I had no knowledge. We actually we didn't have television even then, when I was a kid in the 50s. And when I finished high school and the mandatory service in the military in Israel, so by the time I finished 21, I decided I'm going to Hollywood to study film, to learn how to make movies. So that that's basically it. I I traveled from Israel to Los Angeles and enrolled in film school. And I started to learn how how we make film, luckily, or accidentally or luckily, I met famous Israeli producer Menahem Golan did in Israel. He was very famous. And I met him here, here in Los Angeles in Hollywood. And, and I started working in, in in with him and other movies, all kinds of odd jobs. Assistant helper griep electric, anything in the beginning. So that's how I started into the business of movie.

Alex Ferrari 2:30
So you started with with with him and started just doing any little odd jobs and he was already was he? I'm for everyone listening. He started he was one of the cofounders of the legendary canon films.

Sam Firstenberg 2:45
Correct. But they were but that time was was still 1972 to 1973. They were there was no connection between him and Canon at the time. Okay. He was producing movies in Israel together with his cousin Euro Global's and they came here to Hollywood, they sold the movie, because I've learned and they they created the small company, the name of the company was America Europe picture. And they produced the movie he directed they produced a movie with Tony Curtis was called Lipkin a gangster movies. So in the 70s, you know, they had a company in Israel, no film, and they had this little company. America picture that produced lab care then produced another movie with Robert show diamonds, and few little movies. They only purchased the purchase cannot they did not establish canon canon was at a company in New York, a small distribution says company of movies in New York, and they purchased the company I believe in in the beginning of the 80s 1979 1980. The purchase they took over this company can all and then they took it. They took it and made it into a huge company.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Right! So isn't so what but what was canon doing prior to them getting it? I mean, they were just just a normal small little distributor, right? They weren't doing genres stuff.

Sam Firstenberg 4:13
Correct. They were they were producers and distributors. They produce some movies. The base was in Israel in Tel Aviv. This was the base. And they produce a lot of Israeli movies. They made a lot of local Hebrew speaking movies. In conjunction with making this movie, let's say the dimension lab diamonds with Robert Shaw and was Assistant Director in the movie diamond. They produce the movie which is called the Passover plot. So a mixture of Israeli movies in some kind of international movies, English speaking international movies, but they were very good at sales. They used to go every year to confirm is divided into all the other film festivals and film market and sell those movies that they produce. And they became very knowledgeable. And with this process of selling movie internationally, up to this point, they always had the dream, both of them always had the dream to go to Hollywood one day to make it in Hollywood. And eventually they did. So the opportunity was they produced an Israel kind of successful movie operation tangible about that, and table operation. And they sold it to one of the major studios here. And I guess my guess is with the money of the sale, they bought this company, Cannon, they also had another hit. It was lemon PepsiCo, it was a Hebrew speaking movie that produced by the director they produce was directed by Bob Davidson, and also a movie that made a lot of money. So I guess that with the profits of both of those movies, they they were able to buy or to take over cannon.

Alex Ferrari 6:07
So how did they? How did they start? Since you were basically they're working with them. How did they make the decision to start going into genre? Because everything you're telling me right now is none of its really genre. Yeah, maybe a gangster movie here and there but not genre as we knew it.

Sam Firstenberg 6:25
Correct, correct. They, when they produced movies in Israel, there were mainly local comedy, that cater to the local audience. Very much like movies in Turkey or in Greece or in, in Egypt, those kinds of local comedies that deal with local subjects. And then they kind of always flirted with action a little bit. As I say, Operation Thunderbolt was a big action movie actually military action. But they had the SPN as movies they flirted with action when they came to when they took over. Ken on it was in the 80s 1980s 1981 What was very popular at the time here in in Hollywood for the low budget independent is to make low budget horror pictures. This was the standard there were many many of them done very low budget, you know, not much has changed not much has changed. Now much was my the source by the sorcerer but other movies by the excesses, sorry, influenced by the movie the excesses, but others, you know, there there were so many, and cannot, those two partners and cousins and 100 year old that was they decided to go this route of low budget, because it's really cheap to make a horror picture. But they were not very successful in terms of it was not part of their culture they in grew up in in America, that horror picture is a very American genre, it's very specific American genre, which is not definitely not that, at that time, was made in other countries around the world. And but they they it didn't really catch because they didn't understand the essence they then they didn't grow up with a horror picture. So they decided at some point to switch to action. And their first the first action movie they produced was called enter the Ninja.

Alex Ferrari 8:31
So they so where did the Where did the ninja come from? Because essentially, they popularized the concept of a ninja in America. I mean, I was I dressed as a ninja I went to ninja school. I was at throwing knives I mean, I didn't um Chuck's I mean yeah, there's Bruce Lee would not but the ninja was they brought it to America.

Sam Firstenberg 8:50
Definitely. So next you know next to the horror picture there was a an another genre floating around Of course you had from Hong Kong the martial art movie the Hong Kong the Chinese Hong Kong martial art movies, which we used to call them karate movies or kung fu movies. And but there was a beginning Chuck Norris, octagon. And then Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee. So there was this other general martial art going parallel to the, to the horror pictures, but not as big you know, there were a few in one day. And I can go on used to, to hear ideas. People came to him with scrapes and idea. And the story is the legend is I did not witness it. There's one day Mike stone walked into the office and Mike stone one of it was one of the champions. You know, as well as Chuck Norris and Tadashi and Bruce Lee. And and he pitched to Menahem Golan this idea to make a movie about ninja And now ninja was a as you say was a novel idea was a different idea because we all knew about samurai movies we you know that scene Akira Kurosawa Seven Samurai you Jimbo and and we all knew about the Americans martial art movie entered the dragon was the big one and but ninja nobody ever heard he says a specific you know sub genre of the in Japan in the Japanese mythology of martial art in the Japanese culture and nobody ever thought later on I found out that here and there in Hong Kong movies there was some appearance of energy or energy here there's bad guys oh sure here and there very very few various spurs. But here Mike stone pitch to the idea. He probably had a story storyline I wasn't there and may not have gone I loved it and he said okay, this I understand actually, for the international market that's something that I understand and they produced and they went to the they did the filming in the Philippines they filmed it in the filament and they did it and came back editing and they sold it won pretty well much they sold it in a much better way that they sold that they did with the the horse right so I guess you know I'm trying to play to play to be in his brain so I guess they decided okay, we know what we don't want to do we understand we can do action and this new gimmick for them it was a gimmick ninja works people buy it you know the buyers buy it was Franco Nero was the star of enter the Ninja. And show Kosugi was the villain and Mike stone choreograph the fight and, and suddenly it was you know that the audiences around around the world not only here suddenly they saw this noble new idea and enjoy a nice gimmick tonight. As a nice look the the wardrobe. Yeah, it was it was very Oh my God, when you're a kid, at the beginning, when you're this is the legend. This is the story. Oh, Mike Stone, nothing to learn and how it was born.

Alex Ferrari 12:27
And now the funny thing is, is when you're a child, I mean, especially a kid growing up in the 80s and you see a ninja for the first time and you see the throwing star and the sword and it's like, oh, my it was just it was just a revelation. But I mean, nowadays there's so much when we you know nowadays they have 1000 things but back then there wasn't anything like that. Especially not thing on TV. No movies, it was a it was a thing. And I think what I mean and I think this is obvious cannons explosion in the in the world marketplace had to do also with the timing of the home video market, which that they fed off of each other and exploded Correct?

Sam Firstenberg 13:10
Definitely. So remember Ken on eventually, when we are looking in hindsight became the biggest of the independent company, but companies but it was not alone. There was a bunch of those companies, Shapiro Glickenhaus, am entertainment, corral call, and many, many more. And all of them were producing some of them specialized in horror only some of them specialize in in kind of comedies. Some of them specialize in what they used to call TNA movies,

Alex Ferrari 13:42
Right! Soft core, yes, soft core erotica.

Sam Firstenberg 13:47
There are many of them, and suddenly came in a new market, a new source of movie which was the home video market. The rental people went to the corner stores, they rented the movie. The major studios did not pay attention to this to this money, they're scarce. And but those little companies immediately they realized for them, it was a goldmine. And they started to produce movies, and they sold it so there was money there was no problem. The risk was very long. So this was the beginning of the 80s. They took very low risk. And worldwide not only here in the North America, not only in the United States, Canada, but worldwide those those this industry of renting cassettes to home was and you know the shops that had to buy those cassettes, they had to pay a lot of money.

Alex Ferrari 14:40
I worked at them. I worked at a video store. Oh yeah, we 10 to $20 Oh, I think wholesale we used to pay 75 60 to 75 bucks for wholesale retail was 100 books at least four copies of every movie business before blockbuster bought 1000 copies of everything.

Sam Firstenberg 15:02
It was a business so cannon thrive because of this, because of this money because of this market. And they started to, to produce more and more movies to the point that at some years, they made about 30 or 40 movies a year.

Alex Ferrari 15:18
Jesus, and it was it's so funny too, because I remember I worked in the video store 88 to 92. So I was right in the middle of the heyday of video stores, there were no DVDs, any of that stuff. But I remember because I was the manager. I will you know, we buy we buy, you know, four copies of American Ninja. Each one of those would make probably on on on return 400 bucks 500 bucks per and then sometimes you would get a movie like faces of death, which would which give you 2000 Because everybody wanted to read that one. But it was true. Our store was full of disk, Orion Pictures and canon and Kericho and then slowly the studio's figured out, they're like oh, maybe we should start throwing our movies up

Sam Firstenberg 16:11
Exactly what happened eventually the major switches he realized they say why are they making the money where we can make the money we have the power at the beginning of the 80s the mindset of the studios theater theatrical you know they make money in theaters then they sell it to television to networks they make a little bit more money they sell it to the airlines they make little bit more money with the airlines but then they realize this what's happening here making good money up over there with the with the cassette with the whole video let's let's move in and and and then you had predator then you have got these decided let's make those the same movies a little bit bigger budget bigger stars or quality and and then we will take over this.

Alex Ferrari 17:00
Right. That's when the diehards and the lethal weapons and all of the all those those were all essentially genre movies but with

Sam Firstenberg 17:06
Genre with a better budget with a bigger budget

Alex Ferrari 17:09
With bigger budgets. Exactly it I mean, it was I look back on those days very fondly working and everyone listening to the show knows how much I loved working in my video store. And I worked. I worked two video stores. I worked at a movie theater for two weeks, and I quit. Because I hated cleaning up the popcorn. The video store was a much better gig.

Sam Firstenberg 17:33
But But Alex the the studio is rigid, more or less. Right? So many departments. So when studio make a movie, it's rigid, independent companies at the time and the 80s they went crazy because there was so much money. There's so many Oh yeah. And basically they told the directors you guys go and do whatever you want. We don't have time to control you and to bother you. Right. Toby Hooper Joselito Sheldon is you guys weren't you basically had into the into the scene and they started doing Friday the 13th eventually also

Alex Ferrari 18:13
Got picked up Yeah,

Sam Firstenberg 18:14
Bigger movies came out of this big bigger idea.

Alex Ferrari 18:17
Right, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and all these kinds of stuff.

Sam Firstenberg 18:20
Chainsaw massacre, Terminator came out of this genre.

Alex Ferrari 18:23
Yeah, exactly. The Jim Cameron, it was it was really a fun, interesting time because it was just those always a time when when the studios are in trouble. And they can't figure out or they have to fill a lot of content. They give a lot of freedom and creativity to the creators that happened in the 70s with the Scorsese consumers, right and easy writer. But in the 80s, there was so much need for content. I remember we used to be only able to buy two to three movies a week. That's all that was all that was being released. Like that was it and then now I mean, it's there's three movies a minute being released. And that was the other thing too for people listening and like you were saying that the studios are rigid. It took them 12 years before they opened up a streaming service after Netflix launched same Exactly. So Netflix made all the money for a decade, got a huge head start on them. And now they have a major competitor that they're losing talent to creativity actors are all losing them to Netflix because Netflix was ahead

Sam Firstenberg 19:29
It really it's a it's a it's a tide that repeat itself. The only thing was really we were lucky there was there was good money at the time in the 80s. I was not the budget. The movies that we made are not we're not tremendous budget, but we're not bad when you talk about like a couple two, 3 million in that time. Yeah, because if you take American Ninja, for instance, yeah, we shot it nine weeks, six days a week with two units, some some Halo six unit Nine weeks, nine weeks, nine weeks of six day nine weeks of with two unit two full units. That's an additional unit. Full unit. The crew was huge, like 250 people, we had anything we wanted. So they were really medium budget, and the streaming don't have this, you know, unless unless they make a event movie or television series, they they don't give those budgets. And today, young filmmakers have to make movies in five weeks, four weeks,

Alex Ferrari 20:32
Five days. It's it's, it's remarkable. But I mean, also back then, the the barrier to entry was a technology, it was so expensive to own any of the technology to make it where now, it's not about technology. It's not now it's about distribution. It's about actually getting your stuff seen. I always tell people in the 80s if you finished a movie, good, bad or indifferent, you made money with it, you sold it. It was sold. If you figured if you flush out a 35 millimeter movie, finished it, it went into theaters. And then when the whole middle market hit it definitely what I mean I saw stuff that I'm like, how did this get produced?

Sam Firstenberg 21:13
So Golan is a very funny quality. I think in the movie electric booger the secret of Cannon, he said. And they quoted him, but it was quote from the 80s. He said, I don't if you make a movie and you don't make any money, you probably stupid I don't understand.

Alex Ferrari 21:33
But But he had it. So his business model was low budget, you know, so we're talking, I mean, 1 million to $3 million. Which, right? Yeah. And above a little bit, depending on how big it was even more Electric Boogaloo was, like $6 million. Oh, yeah. But that you had a huge hit with break in the first one. And then there was a circumstances. And then of course, he did Masters of the Universe, which was a whole other thing. That's a whole other conversation

Sam Firstenberg 21:59
Another level of Cannon on which it's not exactly what we are talking about. Sure. But that was like, I think that was their hayday. But they had this model of, you know, that, hayday, they invented I know, they invented the so called PRISM that really took them to the marketplace, took them to their distributors. And and offer them this poster, that poster this idea, even before they had the script, if they saw that the buyer, you know, kind of liked it. Here's a poster with Chuck Norris, you liked it, they came back to the office, they pre sold it. And then they came to the office, they roughly in a rush way they wrote the script. And he went and made the movie to fulfill the promise of the poster and sell concept. So they came up with a pre sale. They knew how much money to invest on in the movie according to the pre sales to the amount of money

Alex Ferrari 22:57
So they they're the ones that came up with pre sales. We had no idea that Cannon was the guy those guys were the ones because when I heard about the pre sales, I mean pre sales now are are rare. They're there but it does happen especially if you have a relationship with the buyers and you're long standing. But generally me because before you literally could go to AFM with a poster this will do to open up a shop and go do you want this new movie with with Michael Duda coffin it great $50,000 for your territory $100,000 for your territory $250,000 For Germany and and, and they would sell up so they came home they're like, Okay, we could invest. Let's invest a million dollars because we have 1,000,005 it pre sales. And then we also have other places we can make some more money off of it. I mean, it's a win win.

Sam Firstenberg 23:45
Right this will this was the model this was the system. Beside the Menahem Golan in your world was there was another partner Danny Dean Berg, he was the head of sales. And they kind of invented it. Everybody adapted the system all the independent companies have pre selling. But yes, there was so much need for product all over the world for the for this new emerging market of home video. It was revolutionary for young people. Today. It's hard to understand when you see the streaming, the idea that you can take a cassette, bring it home, start the movie or whatever you want. You can pause it go rewind it rewind it restart. It was revolutionary. It's hard today today's how to grasp.

Alex Ferrari 24:32
Nobody was right. I literally had to go see Ghostbusters 34 times in the theater when I when it came out as a kid because but when the VHS came out, I bought it. And I watched it a million times at home and I would stop it. We rewind it. I could play it back. I could play the scene I loved again again. It was something that you know kids today really don't understand because now they're like well, I just had opened up my phone and everything that's ever been made is accessible to my fingertips. i It was revolutionary and people love that idea and that you can go out and rent 2,3,4 movies a weekend.

Sam Firstenberg 25:06
And it was equal in, in Los Angeles. Yep. And in some small village in Africa. In Africa, Far East, a little hot around the cafe. The video had the video machine, you know, so the village and the machine or every home and the machines are not expensive. It was a cheap.

Alex Ferrari 25:28
It was. It was. And I try to explain to people to back and we're still only talking in the VHS days when DVD it it was even cheaper to make things and when it was cheaper to produce the DVDs than it was to create the VHS is you could you can make 1000 of them in a minute. And it used to take a lot longer to do VHS is and I tell people like That's why sniper 7,8,9 were pre made and released because they knew they were going to make five or $6 million in the DVD market. But then in 05 06 It started to dwindle. And then streaming came along and then it just it destroyed. It destroyed that market. And I think that everyone I think it was basically from 1982, early 2000s It was a goldmine. Everybody was making money

Sam Firstenberg 26:19
We call the type of movies that we are talking about Friday the 13 American Ninja we are calling them that genre, low budget independent movies of the 80s in the first half of the 90s Right. So this was the era 15 years and then the studio's realized it's not it was not the end of the this industry but the studio started to take over in the middle of the 90s and they said they came they started to come up with bigger budget predator etc. True lies a terminator they started to take over the market of course they have more power or more financial power better product etc. Eventually they took over and they created the relationship with Blockbuster and it was in a movie became a business have a bigger budget now pushed away pushed away the smaller companies

Alex Ferrari 27:20
Right that's why Orion went under that that time and Cannon eventually call it fair there everybody my guy but they were making care Kericho was making to Terminator two, Total Recall. You know, Orion was doing Robocop and won four or five Oscars in the course of a decade. I mean, it was an Kuroko and made some big big moves. Oh huge movies they made Yeah, absolutely. So American Ninja. So So American Ninja which I just I you know when I heard first of all the ninja came out and you did Revenge Of The Ninja came out and then the ninja started to come out. But then American Ninja you like wait a minute, an American Ninja and it was like a mind blowing thing. You're like holy cow and Michael Duda cough is up there and he's doing how did you how did how did American Ninja come up? Was that your idea? How did that come?

Sam Firstenberg 28:13
Not mine. So we so they made enter the Ninja. Let's just talk a little bit about the history of the company made enter the ninja and the movie did pretty well you know moderately well. And they immediately they wanted the sequel. They wanted to make Revenge Of The Ninja they like show Kosugi very much he was the villain in enter the Ninja. And but the Menahem Golan, which directed enter the ninja did not want you know the company was starting to take off and he was busy. He didn't want to do the secret. So he turned to me I just finished directing a movie that I sold to Cannon and this was the beginning of 1982. I just sold to the movie one more chance that I directed and produced and they turned to me said would you direct it? Of course we had relationship as I told you I was his assistant director. I was assistant director in the company for a while and and here they saw that I can make a movie. This was this one more chance movie with Kirstie Alley by the way. Yeah, he was there. And and they turned to me said would you direct the sequel? Okay, so we made Revenge Of The Ninja which show Kosugi he was the star. It was they liked it. It was kind of successful they wanted? No it wasn't for them. It was more than successful. It was the first movie that MGM picked up. It was the first movie from canon that the major company picked up for distribution Revenge Of The Ninja because it was distributed by MGM. Okay, theatrical

Alex Ferrari 29:51
I remember I remember the box. I remember the VHS box was the big

Sam Firstenberg 29:55
Kosugi flying in the sky with Yeah, and this was actually designed by MGM and now we are talking you know they really need the sequel to make money. So, you know because of some reason show Kosugi did not want did not feature he was in the third the ninja three the domination he was not the feature the feature character but Lucinda Dickey, it was a female ninja and and then suddenly there was the craze of breakdowns So, Cannon pose with, with ninjas in the braking and braking to Electric Boogaloo which I directed again a sequel to the sequel, but the interest of the buyer when I say the interest of the buyers around the world maybe the viewers with the with the break downs with the breaking was quite for favor of quickly and the buyers wanted more ninja maybe they weren't ninjas. By now everybody's making movies. And they call me back to the office Moran Colin Colin calls me to a meeting. And he says we need another ninja movie. But this time it's going to be American Ninja. So not my idea. The phrase came from him. I don't know how he came up with this. Now this is a revolution actually a revolutionary and crazy, really crazy idea. Because Ninja is really unique. We already mentioned Japan very unique to Japanese collector culture. You can have Brazilian martial art, but you don't have a Brazilian ninja. Capoeira which is a Brazilian sure there is a Chinese martial art there is Korean martial art but not ninja Ninja is specifically Japanese samurai and it's part of the Japanese mythology and curse of course. And as long as we made that the ninja at the first three ninja movies with some connection to Japanese culture it was fine okay, but here he comes with IDEA forget about the Japanese forget about the American Ninja no connection to Japan whatsoever and culture so it was his idea there was no script there was no nothing this was only this idea. And you know I was thrilled I like our American cinema I believe that American cinema is the most successful and this is as close as I will get to to a James Bond thing in western America ninja so now I mean that I'm about to do Western james Bond.

Alex Ferrari 32:31
Now so American Ninja did extremely well it blew it was it exploded didn't it and I know it killed it by at the video stores I mean just killed

Sam Firstenberg 32:41
We didn't know what's going to happen you know of course as I said for Cannon film for Cannon breaking was a major major moneymaker the first breaking and breaking through electrical are big,

Alex Ferrari 32:53
I mean massive you're talking about 10s of millions of dollars breaking

Sam Firstenberg 32:59
And both of them or I mean MGM the first breaking was distributed by MGM the second the one I directed was distributed by Tristar Columbia Tristar so being distribution

Alex Ferrari 33:10
So also canon at this point is getting major distribution from because I know they had an output deal with Warner Brothers. That's how they got a Bloodsport

Sam Firstenberg 33:18
You mentioned must serve the universe they were flirting little bit with the Spider Man No Spider Man Superman yeah okay yeah that's right they did they can and Superman Yeah, I think the already they they also already had the Chuck Norris under contract invasion USA missing in action. So they already had Chuck Norris working for them. And they had Charles Bronson working for them exclusively at this point. That was number two. That was number three. Number four. Yeah, so by then the company was being and we are and they send us to the Philippines to make it to Manila to make American Ninja. And you know, we chose microfluidic have to be the American Ninja the persona, the actor who personify American Ninja, and we are there and we start to make the movie and we kind of realize you never know you know, maybe while making a movie. Nobody knows if the movie will be a success will not be a success. The audience will like it will hate it. You don't know you're making. It's enigmatic. It's it's a question big question mark when you but there was a good feeling. We saw Michael on the screen, the charisma, the relationship between Michael Ludi Cove and Steve James. It was really the bond was working on screen. Even the love story Michael do the COVID through the air and so on and she came from Friday the 13. So this was working with and we put the movie together editing room and music. And actually they were so eager to continue the company that they send us to new before the movie was released. They send that to New Orleans Would Michael do the job and Steve James and myself to make the movie avenging force, which was really meant for Chuck Norris and he didn't want to do it. It was part of the invasion USA. franchise, but he didn't want to. So we are now in New Orleans shooting this movie filming this movie, avenging force. And then the American injure came out in theaters. And then we hear we kind of start to hear and read the explosion. Worldwide. I'm not talking about America that this is like the new terrorism. Or this is the new mini James Bond. Right now this week. Yep. Wow, this whole idea that the concept, the phrase, American Ninja, and it's exploding all over the world. And we are there in New Orleans. That truck just did not even participate in any promotion anything because we were like, it was just like, yeah, do you think it just really soy? It was it was huge. Immediately. Of course, there is a target audience as you yourself was the you're the target audience share the young people male boys teenager or up to the age 3540 This was the mainly then, of course there were also girls that like this. He was so handsome Michaels looks so good. And but but it was a target market. It hit the market. Right. Right on all over the world. Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 36:33
What year was that? 8590. Right. So right when God VHS the video stores are exploding. There. I remember my first video store experience was 8182. And I rented for I think, no, it's actually later than that. By like 84. But I but I rented Flashdance. I never forgot it never forgot it. And we rented flash that's so around that time it was starting to it was starting to really take off blockbusters still years away. So the mom and pop stores are still running everything.

Sam Firstenberg 37:08
And, and in the case of American Ninja, it was theatrical all over the world. Yeah, it played theatrically in Africa, in Asia, or South America all over the world. Suddenly, it was if before there was some kind of, you know, the audience, I'm trying to terrorize here, though this has to relate to Japanese type of culture. Now, from this moment on, they didn't have to. It was a James Bond, American Ninja, you know, it was Hollywood movie the way they like, you know, the way most of the action movies in the world look like. And all American characters to the military in the military base, American military base, the story that happened? So I guess it was easy for the audiences around the world, the young people to identify. And this correction,

Alex Ferrari 38:02
Yeah, no, no question. And what I also always loved I absolutely love the chemistry between Michael and Steve. James. I mean, the late great Steve James. Well, I mean, he was so charismatic. On, on cam, I just never forgot him. You know, I looked him up a few years ago. And I heard that he had passed and I was very saddened by it. Because he was because I was looking at like, you know, maybe I could use him, I would love to have him in one of my movies. Just you know, to show respect to to a hero of mine when I was a child, his chemistry was amazing. Was all that like a lot of those lines in that stuff on set? Was that him and Michael just kind of, you know, riffing?

Sam Firstenberg 38:42
So yes, yes, you're right. When we cast when we when we were in the casting of American Ninja, and our main goal was to find this character American Ninja Johnstone, but also Jackson was already written the script, his body body sidekick, was written in the script. And we saw a lot of young people for both part, but and we had some hesitation with American Ninja with the jaw stone because everything is only shoulder. But let me tell you when Steve James walked in for the casting, and I spoke with him a little bit, and he was a martial artist and we read few lines. We didn't look anymore and he agreed when he agreed to do it. We didn't look anymore for this Jackson character. This was Steve James he will, you know, the Okay. big muscles, the shoulders that look like a Hercules.

Alex Ferrari 39:37
And he was funny. He was funny. He was smart and funny. He was smart and funny too.

Sam Firstenberg 39:42
So he had this, this, you know what you see eventually on the screen, and when we got to the Philippines, they they didn't have even chance to meet each other Michael Gove and Steve James up to the point because in the low budget, we don't have rehearsals. We don't have money for rehearsals. They don't give us any rehearsal time. So the first time you meet your fellow actor or the director many time with actor, it's on the set the first time, the first day of shooting, so they met on the set. And and they started, you know, as the scenes were developing, I don't remember exactly the order that we were shooting the scenes, but the chemistry, the chemistry between them or developing on and on. Now, Steve was a big fan of action movies. And and always I will say he's a historian of action movies, especially black action movies. You know, he had a big collection at home steam like 2000 movies, he was specializing in black cinema, sharing from the either black directors, black actors, silent from the silent era movies. But anyway, he was so this genre shaft, you know, he wanted to be the new chef. Basically, he could have been very familiar to. So back to your question many of the, of the one liners many of the mannerism he brought in. But now let me tell you something funny enough. Every time you know, I made you movies, it was teachings, I directed theater. But then at some point, he knew exactly in the series, some point he tears off his shirt, throws it away. To show his muscle ties it, Steve, you're not asking me. Every time in every movie, at some point, you take off your shirt and you continue. He said, What do you think you know how I'm working for this muscle? all this hard work I'm not going to show it off I have to show it off.

Alex Ferrari 41:49
Then how many and how many American ninjas were there. I think I remembered up to four was there more?

Sam Firstenberg 41:54
I directed only two of them. Okay. And then I directed with Michael and Steve the movie avenging for us. And I directed with Steve James another movie, which was completely different movie, which was called Riverbend. And this is not in the genre of the ninja. Not even martial art. It's kind of it's a racial tension movie in the south in the 60s.

Alex Ferrari 42:17
Oh, he must. That must have been awesome.

Sam Firstenberg 42:19
It's a very, and he was the lead. He was very happy. And then he took it was a little fight he took off his shirt.

Alex Ferrari 42:27
But obviously listen, if I looked like Steve James I would I would walk around without my shirt all the time.

Sam Firstenberg 42:31
I had the privilege to direct Steve James four times for movies.

Alex Ferrari 42:37
Like I said, if I look like Steve James, I would walk around without a shirt all the time. Did I mean absolutely. Absolutely. There would be no question anyone listening Google Steve James and you'll understand what I mean. Now was the biggest hit for for Cannon American Ninja. Oh, it was a Break in?

Sam Firstenberg 42:57
No, I I don't know exactly by number. Let's say they produced about 200 300 movies. She's the best, let's say the best. from a quality point of view. The best movie was runaway train. Oh, yeah. So people, most people agree that that's the best movie they made was runaway train with Eric Roberts, and Jon Voight. But a popularity they had few kind of franchises that were doing very well, the American Ninja, the Deathwish and the missing in action with Chuck Norris. So 111 franchise was Charles Bronson, which was doing very well one franchise with Chuck Norris, which was doing terrific and the third one was American engine. Now when the company the company ended up with bankruptcy and a lot of companies and people and creditors came after came to the court. They all they probably owe money to everybody to a lot of places and and the SS were divided. met everybody wanted American Ninja. It's a good title and eventually MGM won the entire American Ninja Series in and the breakdance series went to MGM so all the movies that either directors for Canon ended up with MGM but some movies ended up with Warner Brothers some ended up with Paramount and other creditor Charles Bronson was a creditor he gave us a lot of money Yes but this was the as the title American Ninja is the the you know as the title the title it the it is the thing that that came on headed as an essence not necessarily the movies but as a title. So yeah, the missing in action doesn't sound it sounds good but it's okay. Oh, that wish they did not originate as you know that wish was originated before Cannon

Alex Ferrari 45:00
Right, exactly. So then you did. So I remember when breakin came out because I was breakdancing as a kid back then and breakin was when it was big. It was breakin and Beat Street. Those were the two big breakdancing movies that came out that those years then came out break into the Electric Boogaloo with it, which I argue is probably the best title for a sequel ever. There's, I mean, it is Electric Boogaloo. Anytime you're trying to make a joke. I'm like, oh, yeah, we're gonna make lethal weapons three the Electric Boogaloo. Like you always throw Electric Boogaloo at the end of it. Who came up with Electric Boogaloo?

Sam Firstenberg 45:36
Okay, the phrase electric villa. There is a lot of discussion or disagreement about this. Now, there is an essay, somebody wrote an essay about this phrase electric Google, with the really research into history of America. Now, our two stars Shabba doo. Also, the late poor shabu also passed away this year. Shabba Doo and Michael shrimps, both of them kind of claim that they have invented it. But it has a deep root way back in the 50s. From what I read in the article, so either there was a Google was a type of dancing that goes all the way back to the 50s and 60s, and Shabba doo was very active in in the what was the television show The train the Soul Train? Yeah. And in the Soul Train, there were a lot of brigalow that there is a style of dancing that goes way back. How it was kind of combined and the shrimp and the name of the the street name of Michael chambers. So he's Michael Boogaloo shrimp chambers, Michael chambers. attached this, the word Bogota. But the combination of those two words and lectric boogle happened after the movie breaking and so sad probably in this because they already knew that they want to make a sequel. Even hookipa who did it though but who actually put it together for the movie? It was between men and Golan Shabba doo I had nothing to do with it when I was hired when I was asked to do the movie to directed the name braking to Electric Boogaloo was already on the script so I have nothing to do with it. So every every one of them in many discussions if you search the internet for interviews with the Shabba doo interviews with Sri with Michael Chang there or written interviews, you will find many different versions but but that to the best of my knowledge, the legend it It happened in Cannes Film Festival. When they were selling, breaking they took the three of them Lucinda and Shoba do and Michael took with them to can to promote the movie. And as they saw that the response of the buyer they immediately decided to do a sequel. And the legend the storytellers that right there in Cannes, it came together this breaking two Electric Boogaloo. I saw right about that it became a new meme of the 80s phrase of the 80s. And it was borrowed to many, many different purposes, including at some point somebody put a joke. We should write a Bible to Electric Boogaloo. Lately took a sinister turn, you know the it was adopted by the group. The Bigelow's that right, white supremacy grew Right, right believing in a sequel of the Civil War. Of course. The first they took the word he used to call it the second Civil War Electric Boogaloo. But then it was shortened to the Buggles the writers on a second in a second Civil War. Oh my god. I know. So the whole gamut from dancing to comedy to this to to a sinister

Alex Ferrari 49:10
Sinister doing white supremacy, you know, and it's, it's interesting also, because as artists, you just put things out there you don't know how it's going to be received and who's gonna take what and you just don't know as a as a, as a creator of these things. But, you know, I like to look at it. That term Electric Boogaloo is a very funny you know, a joke that a lot of people kind of throw out like the Bible to Electric Boogaloo and things like that that it's just so it's just one of those names that you you hear you never forget it. You hear bring it to the light you never forget it.

Sam Firstenberg 49:41
Right it has a good ring to it good sound and you know when they read the the sequel they when they make the when they made the documentary, right so immediately they took the title of the movie of this of the documentary is electric burger,

Alex Ferrari 49:57
Which exactly which summarizes everything Cannon did in two words. It was it's remarkable. And I do remember I never forgot this scene, and I know how you do it. But I'd love to I'd love to find out how you guys did it. How did turbo dance on the ceiling? You know, when he was dancing up on the wall? I know it's generally a big giant thing. I've seen Chris Nolan do it. It seemed Stanley Kubrick do it? But generally you don't have those kinds of budgets. So how the heck did you guys do it?

Sam Firstenberg 50:21
Okay. So this was not on the original script, this dance scene, this dance was not on the original screen, a script in one day, why even while I was shooting, we were shooting the movie in East LA more in the neighborhood, which is called Bowens height, which was the scene in the center of hip hop and breakdancing. I was called lunchtime and I was called back to the office office, the offices were in Hollywood. And man, I'm gonna say, come back. I had no idea why I'm coming back. Maybe he wants to fire me, maybe? I don't know. But anyway, he had this idea and said, Let's have shrimp dancing in the ceiling. Now, this is not a new idea. It was done by Fred Astaire. Yeah. Yeah, royal wedding, the name of the movie. So that's the first time it was done, then it was using Kubrick, right? In many horror pictures. And so basically, I knew what it is, it's, the mechanism is called gimbal. gimbal is kind of a simulator for flight simulator. You know, the, the, you know, the aerial photographers. So they actually, they practice in this gimbal, they put them on a set, and when it's too big, huge hoops, or rings, big one on rollers, and the chair is in the center, and then you can roll the dice big. So the cinematographer is upside down, or the pilot in training is upside down. Now, if you take this huge, huge gimbal, this huge of big rings, the Turing's on rollers, and and the set the room is built inside the camera is glued to the floor of the of the set, or kind of hooked not glued, necessarily here, you know, braced and if you turn the room around, the camera does not see the turning around because the camera goes around with the room. So for the camera, man, the room is always the straight, look straight. But dancer, you know, once you're 90 degree, let's say the camera man is to the right or to the left, the dancer is already on the wall, but the wall is horizontal to Earth. And when it is all the way up 180 degree the cover man is up on the way up, and the ceiling now is down. And he's dancing in the ceiling. But the camera doesn't see the difference. What you do need, everything has to be glued to the set. So all the for the pictures on the wall, everything all the books on the shelf, like behind you, you have books on the shelf, they have to be glued, because when it's up, they upside down, you know all the book to find. And if there is some scenery in the window, the scenery has to move in the window with the with the gimbal and all the lighting, you cannot have a change of light. So the lighting, everything moves together with this rotating and that's how it's done. And you know, it was done in a lot in horribly. This party I think that we got our particular gimbal from Elm Street.

Alex Ferrari 53:45
Oh, yeah. Well, yeah, I was I said what I was gonna say, Well, I West Craven because I know he did it for the blood, the blood coming out of the bed.

Sam Firstenberg 53:51
Okay, so he just read it was like it was somewhere around in the warehouse in Hollywood and

Alex Ferrari 53:56
They rented it. Okay, that makes sense.

Sam Firstenberg 53:59
It was built our our department builder said, Sure. And we hired the special cinematographer. You need the aerial cinematographer, because when they're upside down not to get confused. They are the aerial photo cinematographers the they they are used to this turning Iran upside down and

Alex Ferrari 54:18
I have to ask, I have to ask you, thank you for that. Because I mean, I always wonder like, they didn't have $10 million to build something like this. But I didn't think that they just had a couple of these lying around in LA because in LA there's everything I even shot. I shot I shot a television series.

Sam Firstenberg 54:34
Our operation Alex our operation was so cheap that it was turned by hand we didn't have multiple routes just kept pulling on this new drawing by hand manually.

Alex Ferrari 54:49
People always ask me like, should I move to LA I'm like, Look, you know, I just moved away from LA. I love LA but in LA you i mean i There's a standing spaceship set that I shot a whole series On that we just it's just a standing set that looks like aliens it's there you can't find that in Ohio

Sam Firstenberg 55:08
You know naturally the industry you know you you have to deal with cars you go to Detroit I mean, it's natural. The I worked all over the world I worked and filmed all over the world. And there is from a convenient point of view from a technical point of view and from personnel from people point of view. Expertise, there is no place in the world like Hollywood for me making film. I'm not talking maybe Hong Kong of course in Hong Kong in China, but London but there's nothing like all the get the generator goes down within 10 minutes you're another generator. Immediately easy. Somebody will find another generator in 10 minutes and it will be on the seven and working. You need this special lands crazy land on somewhere it is somewhere for rent within five or 10 minute drive is say it wardrobe. Obviously this is the center of this this type this industry it's the central point in the world for the for Western moviemaking is home. So everything is here you're right.

Alex Ferrari 56:12
Now what is the craziest story that you can say publicly from your times in cannon?

Sam Firstenberg 56:23
The truth is The truth is nothing extraordinary happened on the on any of the sets that I work not not a serious injury. Obviously nothing fatal. Nothing happened. No, no series we were so careful. And so methodic in working and in nothing crazy happened while filmmaking but let me tell you an interesting story that relates and does not realize and no, we were in the Philippines in Manila shooting Americans. And we stayed in a nice hotel Manila hotel in in Manila. This was the biggest hotel was beautiful. And Sunday we were not shooting they were not working. We are on the in the swimming pool most of the time in the swimming pool. So one of those Sundays, I am, you know, the crew is in the swimming pool. And next to me, Michael Rubicon. And we are kind of laying on those chairs in the sun and enjoying. And Michael is next to me. I'm here, Michael is suddenly I realize that something is wrong. There is a woman frantically running on the edge of the pool. And I look down and I see a girl that sees like a girl that like still like going up and down. She like she's drawn. And I look up and there was a lifeguard but he was completely busy. His attention was completely in another direction. Jesus. So I hit Michael right away. Michael was right next to me. Michael jumped with me into the pool. No question. So we both jumped into the pool and we dove all the way to by then the girl was all the way into one. And what we could see. So a nobody sees only this woman which apparently was the mother. And nobody else is it was just a moment that nobody was paying attention to what's happening in the water. And Michael and me were tagging all the way down to the bottom. We grew grew up the girl we bring there both of us put her on the edge by then she's not breathing anymore. So I'm trying or whatever crew to do whatever we do, but you know, I'm not the medic. I don't know what I'm doing and pushing and breath resuscitation. But then comes a young man. He says I'm a soldier. I'm a medic, we'll move over everybody let me I'm the only one in charge here right now. He was one of the soldiers American soldiers at the time. There are many many American soldiers in the Philippines. He took over as he knew what he was doing much better resuscitation push the on the chest. Water came out boom she came back and and that's it the girl came back back to life let's say and no we visited her that it was very exciting very emotional, you know to bring somebody from the dead back to life. She was her family was actually Chinese from Hong Kong they were visiting and vacationing over there. And later on I was in Hong Kong I visited visited with a family but there are a nice picture of Michael and me with a girl a day later this girl and and I consider it pretty crazy for that we were there shooting American Ninja at the right moment in the hotel in the day off to save some of his life. So I consider maybe The purpose of American the movie American Ninja was actually to save a girl.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:04
Right! So, so American Ninja actually saved, the American Ninja actually saved her.

Sam Firstenberg 1:00:13
Absolutely. Now, let me ask you, you didn't have that. You know, when we went to South Africa, we were talking about the explosion of American Ninja. And then we were shooting night hunter which became avenging force in New Orleans, all of us. And as we came back, and we finished editing, they already by then they needed a sequel to American Ninja badly because American Ninja was a huge need all over the world. They needed. And for some reason they had this time they had some money in South Africa. So apartheid South Africa, it was toward the end of apartheid, but still apartheid. And Steve was pretty worried. He said, Well, I'm a black person, I'm going out to South Africa. But he told me anyway, you're going ahead of the Euro pre production, call me and I want to go to hear from you every day. Tell me what it is in South Africa. Nobody knows. We went to South Africa. And this was really the the ending days of the apartheid. Actually, when I was there, there used to be three different identity identity identification card different ideas for different races, but by then they unified it to one car. There were no more different cards with different colors. So I um, you know, I told I called Steve I spoke with Steve you there there's still nothing to worry about. That is changing. The atmosphere is really changing. There is no more white beach Black Beach. It's it's changing, you know, really changing. Come up. So he came over in the first week, and in the weekend we went out in Johannesburg to the street. Now we didn't realize how big they became my political and Steve James became huge stars to the kids too. They were recognized everywhere. We couldn't walk in the street anymore. Because all the young African kids were running after them especially Steve that was tall and impressive. And in you know, probably for them they saw this hero black hero not only you know the African American hero or their it was something special. And they ran everywhere we went with Steve James it was impossible in the streets of Johannesburg.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:29
Wow. Amazing. Well, let me ask you so I asked I'm gonna ask you a few questions ask all my guests what is what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to to make it today's business?

Sam Firstenberg 1:02:42
What I see what I see today, let's say action more action because you know they're always placed for drama person on movies you can always make and take as you mentioned, technology is cheap all you need a computer camera, put the editing program in your computer and you can make them so all those person on movie like moonlight or what those movies will always be done. People will young people wants to tell story and express themselves, they will do it. The question comes down when you want to make a more expensive movie when you want to make action movie. It's not cheap, making actual movie is not cheap. And they're they're explosions, there are mechanical, there are cars chases, etc, etc. And what would happen from a business point of view that the movies went through transformation in the 2000, etc. They became paperback movies. It was expensive to make movies, you needed the lab, you need the camera, you needed to buy film, you need to print the film, everything was expensive. So you can make a very, very, very cheap movie. And you can make a movie you need at least to to be near a lab to develop the film, at least. And this have changed a lot. It's cheap now you don't need the lab. So the cost of production has strike. The buyer the potential buyer, television stations streaming services, whoever buys those small independent movie they got used now they can pay less money to buy the movies. You know, so now it movie they used to buy movie for $1 million. A young filmmaker that just finished a movie can you can have my movie for 80,000 I don't need 1 million. I will cover my costs if I sell it to you at and I sell it to some German television and cetera very quickly I will cover my costs. So the buyer got us to buy cheap movies. Now when it comes to make a action movie, and you need this eight weeks or nine weeks of shooting the 6 million today equivalent formula the buyers that we don't have don't make this action movie I don't care if you're not making Spider Man if you're not making superhero huge event movie, don't make this movie I will buy the small movie the cheap horror movie I will buy the the the cheap dramas. So the sources have dried the money have dried to make an action movie. And despite the fact that is it's it's cheaper, technologically cheaper, but still you need the money and and there is no money around. So producers who want young director to do action movies, they're asking them to do it for 1 million today money for weeks shooting and it's not really action movie. So this is a tough, tough, tough area. When you deal with action or sci fi stuff that needs special effects. This is one area the big the saving grace is the digital effects. Graphic digital effect we did not have it we had to or they were very very very expensive. So we had to physically produce everything every fight every Chase every card hit every head to really physically be done with to flip cars. Today, with some ingenuity and some knowledge you can flip a car on in your computer you can have a huge explosion for no money, etc. So those two forces which are really not working either working against each other or complementing each other, less money, much less money, but the technology of the CGI or the graphic. computerised graphic SpecialEffect help. So they have to navigate this area. They also the young filmmakers, again in action, they come up from a different background, we came from a background of as I say Western James Bond Tarzan's and the young filmmakers are coming from the background of video games. Sure, not home movies, they're back their visual background, the visual way they see thing is the way they saw it when they play video game to their kids.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:21

Sam Firstenberg 1:07:22
Fast pace, great special effect. Very grand stuff. So So those are the things that have changed, and but you can prove yourself by having a computer and camera people can buy a camera, they can buy a supercomputer, or they can just buy or this right Oh, the phone,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:45
The phone will do it. Then it shoots shoots 5k or 8k Now who knows? It's insane. Right? Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Sam Firstenberg 1:07:57
If you think the movie business is the analogy to life Okay, you I say I would say as it you know, Director Director is the chief guys, he's a top of the pyramid, he makes the decision. And he delegate the tasks to everybody. So he's at the top of the pyramid. So I've learned I think the most important is really, to be humble enough to humble yourself. There is nothing you do by yourself. This is the biggest bluff in the world. I mean, unless you're an animator and you sit at home for three years by yourself and you make the movie animation, you use a lot of talent, the director, the creator of any this type of movies, not It's not painting so you're not in your, in your studio by yourself painting, you need a lot of help and a lot of talent and and only with the help only with the with the harnessing all those different talents into your talent as the director is the storyteller, something the magic will happen. So, in my case, my success, you know, the movies that have been successful American Ninja Electric Boogaloo. They happen because many people contributed to the performers that are there. The cinematographer that and all of this together was channeled through my, my talent or my abilities or whatever you want to call it, to create what you've created. And I think it's also true in life. You don't go alone by yourself, are not alone. I can tell it now I'm 70 years old and look back you don't go alone by yourself if you don't have a support by friends and family, etc. Very true. Probably.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:49
Now and what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Sam Firstenberg 1:09:53
Films of all time?

Alex Ferrari 1:09:54

Sam Firstenberg 1:09:55
I'll tell you I am All it's hard to say there are so many features

Alex Ferrari 1:10:03
Three that comes to mind.

Sam Firstenberg 1:10:05
But the I love Akira Kurosawa's movies when I was introduced to this Japanese genre of action, Eugene Bo, 7 samurai I was struggling Oh, wow. Amazing. But, you know, I was influenced a lot when I was young by Hitchcock movies, you know, watching John Ford and etc. I'm not a great fan of horror pictures. So those are the type of movies let's say the most impressive are the movies of David Lee. I mean, Dr. Zhivago Lawrence of Arabia, big vast movie big big movies and and those are really the movies that I really like there is a big best Nestle, some action, great drama unfold within the movie, the story of the movie and etc.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:10
There's very few directors in today's world that gets to play on that kind of Canvas. You know, the James Cameron's that Steven Spielberg's the, you know, the Chris Nolan's of the world, they get to play in these giant giant canvases, because it's so darn expensive to play on those on those canvases. But, but it's remarkable but Sam, listen, I want to thank you for coming on the show. It has been an absolute honor and and pleasure talking to you and going back down the nostalgia lane talking about cannon and your amazing work you did back in the 80s and 90s. I appreciate you my friend and thank you for helping make my my childhood a little bit more interesting and entertaining. So I do I appreciate you my friend.

Sam Firstenberg 1:11:54
Yeah. First of all, you're very welcome. And I was happy to be in touch with you and I hope that the listeners will enjoy what we talked.

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Best FREE Screenwriting Software in 2023…PERIOD!

A welder cannot build a bridge without his torch. A rockstar can’t have a solo without his guitar. A screenwriter cannot write a script without screenwriting software.

Today we’ll look at five of the best screenwriting software programs out there in the market in 2023, and the best part, all of these choices are FREE.

Maybe you’re a first-time writer looking to try and bring the film you see in your head onto the page, or maybe you’re a seasoned writing veteran looking for new software to try out. Well, let’s look at some of your best choices.

Arc Studio Pro

Arc Studio is one of the best new screenwriting software options. It offers an easy-to-learn, intuitive interface with professional features and a free browser version (yes, totally free). It’s great screenwriting software for professionals or beginners. One of the great things about Arc Studio is you can collaborate with other writers in real-time, similar to Google Docs. You can also export your screenplay as a PDF or .fdx file for easy sharing and collaboration with other writers who use different software.

The cloud-based software allows you to access and write your screenplay from the downloadable software (Mac and PC), in your browser, or from the iOS app on your iPhone or iPad. And it has automatic cloud storage with the ability to save to Google Drive or your hard drive and access your screenplay from practically any device with an internet connection.

Arc Studio also offers a great outlining tool for breaking your story and crafting your characters’ arcs. If you need production tools like colored pages and starred revisions, you won’t get that with this tool, though the Arc Studio team says those features are coming soon.

Cost: Free, with an option to upgrade to the $99/year Pro version. You can download the software here


Celtx is screenwriting/pre-production software designed to create and organize media projects in various formats: film screenplays, television screenplays, stage plays, games, podcasts, and documentaries.

It is one of the most well-known screenwriting software in the film industry.

With many collaborative features built into its code, it’s perfect if you want to collaborate on a script in real-time.

Some features require you to pay a monthly fee to use, but if you’re just looking for software that’ll allow you to simply write and have things in the proper industry standards when it comes to formatting, you can’t do wrong with Celtx.

Celtx is also available on all devices, making writing at home or on the go possible.

You can download the software here


WriterDuet is screenwriting software for writing and editing screenplays and other forms of mass media.

Initially released in 2013, this software has been getting more recognition as time has passed and is a favorite among up-and-coming filmmakers.

Firebase powers the software. This allows users to write together in real-time from multiple devices.

WriterDuet is an online-based program, but recently the software has been given some off-line features that are free to use.

While it’s not false advertising to say that WriterDuet is free, there are some stipulations to the free title.

Unlike some other programs, WriterDuet allows its users to write their first THREE screenplays for free. After that, you either have to pay a per-month price or an annual fee.

With that said, if you are a first-time writer, it’ll take you some time to finish your first –second fully – and even third screenplay. By that time, you may decide to invest some money into a full version of this software or go with a competitor.

Scripts written with WriterDuet allow the user to save their script in the FDX file format, which 95% of Hollywood studios, producers, and production companies use, so if you get a script request from someone in the industry, you’ll be able to send the script in the proper format easily.

You can download the software here

Fade In

Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software, or Fade In, is screenwriting software for crafting film and television screenplays, stage plays, radio plays, graphic novels, and more.

The look of the software is very watered down, allowing the user to simply focus on writing their script.

While the software is free, you can only work on one script at a time unless you want to pay a fee to work on more.

If you’re just getting your feet wet in screenwriting, the simple free version will do its job just fine.

You can also save your script in FDX format, which means you can send your script to someone that uses Final Draft and its compatibility.

With the software available for both Mac and Windows users, you don’t have to worry if it works on your device.

You can download the software here


Trelby is a free, open-source screenwriting program that provides a simple, uncluttered interface for writing scripts.

This is the only open-source screenwriting program we have on this list. This means any user can edit the program’s code to add new features or take away ones. This is how innovations are made.

If you’re looking for software that not only allows you to write your script but also does other things like budgeting, creating cast lists, and other related pre-production tasks, this isn’t the software for you as this software has none of those features.

Treble is designed to be clean and straightforward. If you simply want to sit down and write, then Trelby is perfect for you.

Kudos to Trelby for being 100% free. There are no extra features that you have to pay for.

You can download the software here

Kit Scenarist

This is free screenwriting software you may have never heard of before because it’s still in beta but available to download now.

It allows you to export for Final Draft, Word DocX, and PDF files.

A major feature that caught our eye that no other screenwriting program features are a clock that gives you an estimate of the duration of your screenplay. Each scene heading includes time for how long the software believes your scene will run.

This isn’t a feature that makes all other screenwriting software obsolete, but it’s a unique feature we haven’t seen before and could be useful, especially for those writers who tend to write longer than normal scenes. It’s also a great tool in quickly assessing the pace of your script.

The layout is amazingly simple and allows the user to focus on the most important, writing the script. Everything looks clean and sleek.

While the program is free, you can pay for dedicated cloud storage and buy a mobile version of the program for your phone so you can continue writing your script no matter where you are.

The only visible downside to Kit Scenarist is that since the program is still in the beta stage, you may run into some issues here and there as the programmers are still working out all the kinks to the program’s code.

But if you’re looking for something brand-new, free, with some unique features, this could be the perfect screenwriting software for you.

You can download the software here

BPS 268: Dropping Acid & Winning an Oscar® with Ghost Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin

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Alex Ferrari 0:28
I like to welcome to the show, Bruce Joel Rubin. How you doing, Bruce?

Bruce Joel Rubin 0:32
Great thanks Alex doing well.

Alex Ferrari 0:34
Thank you so much for coming on the show, my friend. I'm very excited to talk to you. I mean, I, obviously I've been a fan of your work in the film industry with the films that you've written and directed and been part of, but also, I'm excited about your spiritual path and where you've been going with that throughout your life as well. So, but my very first question I have to ask you is what? How did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

Bruce Joel Rubin 1:00
Um, I don't think I knew that exactly. I had a bit of a skill set. I know, I was reading poetry and fourth or fifth grade, and my mother would read it to my aunt's and they would go, Oh, this is wonderful. And I would feel, you know, filled up by that. But I know I didn't know that I kind of loved theater from a very young age. And I kind of got interested in movies. If I was four years old, but I didn't see film as an art form until I was in high school. I saw you know, the magician seven or magician seven seal, bear in mind, and then some Antonioni, etc. And I realized it was probably worthy. And, and then I just felt, I would like to make movies writing movies was like a doorway to making movies. But there's a whole other step from writing movies to directing movies, or forget writing, just go right to directing. And I have a lot of friends who did that. But I really, I found the doorway for me was a writers door.

Alex Ferrari 1:58
Now, how did you break into Hollywood? Because even in the 80s, little, I would imagine was a bit easier than it is today. But it was still hard.

Bruce Joel Rubin 2:08
I don't know that there's a doorway to Hollywood, I've always told people you have to go through the crack underneath the door, you know, not open for anybody really? I don't know. I mean, I didn't really get a career going until I was in my 40s. So there was no easy path at all. I just, I think the biggest problem, and this is not mine alone is most people's is, what do I write about? What's what's my subject? What's my story? What do I have to say to people, and if it's only that I want to be rich and famous and a Hollywood celebrity, well, you know, take any path you want, in a way. But if, if you have something more than that going on, then then that's, that's different than you then you have a story you have to begin to imbibe, in a sense. And my story kind of arrived in the 60s, my, my roommate, was a very good friend of Timothy Leary, and would go up to Millbrook on a regular basis and do LSD and persuaded me that I should try LSD, SS 1964. And five, I can 65. And he gave me a very big tablet. And he said, When the right night is happens, let me know. And I said, you know, Barry, today's the day, I'm going to do it. And interestingly enough on that very day, the man who brings Timothy Leary, that pure LSD from Sandoz laboratories and Switzerland, arrived in New York City and came to my apartment. And he asked Barry, could he leave this jar of pure acid, LSD, Lysergic acid in my refrigerator overnight before they all went up to Millbrook and Tim Leary. And Barry said, Sure, you can kind of tell where the store is going. Quick and Dirty of it is, I took the 65 milligrams of Berry gave me for a big hit of a trip and nothing happened. So he said, Well, we just happened to have this jar in the refrigerator, and he got a dropper, and he went to give me a drop anyway. And the whole eyedropper 1000s of milligrams of shooting down my throat. And I knew at that moment that there was nothing I could do about it at all. And so somewhere during the next three to 4 billion years, I don't know exactly. I went on a journey that was was remarkable on every level. And I could spend your whole program talking about that, but I won't.

Alex Ferrari 4:40
Please dive in a little bit though, please. I want to Yes,

Bruce Joel Rubin 4:43
Well, it's just the disintegration of everything you know and believe, including who you are, what you are, that you have a life that you have a body that you are existent, separate from anything else. You connect to the big boys to the to the bigger picture in a really massive way and And then you I thought I was dead, I thought I, there was nothing, there was literally nothing left. And then in the middle of nothing, which is also timeless and spaceless, something happened that I can only describe as a kind of impregnation, something dropped into whatever I was, and I divided in half quarters eight sixteenths on and on. And the next thing I know, my fingernail and part of the room is coming back and my elbow and my head and the space I was in, and then this whole thing reconfigured itself in a huge way. And it was completely back to where I had been. And I started laughing and roaring with laughter. And I said, Why am I back, and this voice clear as day and I wouldn't say it was loud, but it was pretty instructive. It said, your back to tell people what you saw. And then I spent the next however many years trying to figure out what it was, I'd had sing, I was given a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu song of God, which is an approach to mystical experience. And I discovered, of course, the Tibetan version of that, and then the Judeo Christian versions and Muslim versions, and there was a worldwide network of people with mystical experience I gathered that was my experience in a way that I could begin to grasp with my mind, but what had happened was so beyond mind, and, and I didn't quite know what to do with it. And I began, I hitchhiked around the world for a year and a half. I had a job as a filmmaker, editor at NBC News, I gave that up. And I decided I had to go to India, with a long stop in Greece, before I went, where I was just reading everything in sight of these books aren't doing it. So I continued, you know, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India. I mean, I went this long route, which was wonderful and informative and essential. And somewhere in the middle of Afghanistan, I had a dream that said, you have to make a masterpiece. I had no idea what that meant, or how I would even know if that ever had happened. But it was like a requirement. Then I came back. Well, long story goes on and on. I ended up in Japan having not found anything I thought would be a teacher. I had met with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama for a day trying, thinking I was going to tell him because he was going to talk to the UN what what the Western concepts were of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism and how ShangriLa like it was going to be but he was so far ahead of me. And in the end, we talked and talked and he was he offered to be my teacher. And I went you know, I just don't think you're my teacher. But find a teacher, would you be open to my coming back? And he laughed and said, of course, which is the first time that ever happened because I've met other teachers who if you don't say now it's over forever. So that was pretty amazing. And, and so I continued with my journey, I did not find a teacher at that point, I ended up in Tokyo. In a record store, the Beatles had just done a record called Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. And there was another record by a group called surrealistic pillow Jefferson Airplane called surrealistic pillow. And Gracie slick sing a song called Don't you need somebody to love? And that was like, that was the end of my understanding of what I needed in life. And I came back to America. And my friend said, you want to meet a girl? I said, Yes. They introduced me to the woman who became my wife. I went home and told her this whole story. I went home to her home. And I said, Do you want to be with me for the rest of my life? She said yes. Which is kind of shocking and amazing. 55 years at this point, there's a lot more than story than this, obviously. Little tips of the iceberg. The same day I met her I met this guy named Rudy Rudy was a New York City antique dealer with Asian art. I was trying to sell some Tibetan carpets for Tibetan monks I had lived with in Katmandu. He was not interested. He asked what I was doing in India, I said, I was looking for a teacher. He said, Did you find what I said? No. He said, Well, I can teach you everything you want to know. Well, I mean, I saw there was enormous hubris on that I didn't know if I should believe it or not. I went to a class that he conducted. And I sat there and he looked at me and I fell flat on the floor, exploded onto the floor. And every time I looked at him, I go and I started sitting on the floor. And, and at that time, I realized I was gonna have stories to tell. I didn't know what they were, but I knew where they were coming from. And I also knew that the guys upstairs whoever whatever is going on here, whatever name you want to give it, nothing is everything this god you No, some nirvana. I mean, it's it goes on and on. But it wanted to make sure I was committed to this. And I ended up as a film curator at the Whitney Museum. And my teacher Rudy died. And I needed to continue my studies, I thought with a teacher in Indiana, and I gave up my job as a curator. And during the time in Indiana, I wrote a movie called brainstorm, and endless stories behind all of this, but the film got made. And while we were in Hollywood, at the premiere, we had lunch with Brian De Palma, who said to my wife, if you want a career in Hollywood, Bruce, you got to move here. We were then living in DeKalb, Illinois, where she was a professor of art at Northern Illinois University. I was teaching public speaking. And we were barely surviving, and she quit her job. And she put our house on the market said, we're moving to Hollywood, I had no career, I had nothing but I had written a script called Jacob's Ladder, which for some reason, actually caught the attention of people in Hollywood. And an article came out about the 10 best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. And for some reason, I've later learned out why it was considered one of the 10 best scripts, and in a way that opened the door for me. And I ended up going to Hollywood. The first agent I got said, just the week before we moved, I can't represent you. Nobody wants to make movies about ghosts. Because I come up with an idea. I had no agent. But somehow, the universe started to click in in major ways. I got an amazing agent who said I was my scripts, why he got into business. And as named Jeff Sanford, and I moved up to Hollywood, and he had worked for me almost immediately, my wife got a job at the Getty charging, they're evaluating their art program around the country, and our life took off. It just took off and then films got done. And, of course, you know, when you do a film, like brainstorm, which had every possible problem that could go wrong in a movie, including Natalie were dying, for it was finished. And I don't consider that a problem, but a tragedy. But But But what I realized is having a film made in Hollywood is not a doorway, to Hollywood, it's like having a child you lost you don't talk about it. And if you make films that don't make money, they don't have no currency in the business. But I did, luckily. And still, to this day, don't know how right this film Ghost. And for reasons beyond me, it became highly celebrated and recognized and financially viable, like the number one film of 1990. How did that happen? I don't fully know. But I do know that that opened the doors for a career. And from that time on, I was working.

Alex Ferrari 13:05
So there's a lot to unpack there. Yeah, that was just like a little snippet of your experience.

Bruce Joel Rubin 13:16
Go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 13:17
Yeah, there's like a lesson, a little snippet of your experience. But the LSD alone, just when you because it's one of my I've never taken LSD. I've never taken the psychedelics, but I'm fascinated with the spiritual implications of the work that's being done now in at Harvard, and many other many other universities around the world are really studying for PTSD and so many other things. The volume, the dosage, you took is, is is insane. Like, that's not that even in a controlled environment, what do they give you?

Bruce Joel Rubin 13:55
I don't know. But I would say 20th Hundreds of what I took something like, you know, I mean, and now there's a lot of micro dosing, which may be a smart move. Also, I should, you should know that the LSD, I was taking this from Sandoz laboratories, you know, it was the pure of the purest of the pure, and it's no longer like that. So I don't, I'm not a salesperson for LSD at all chap, grabs more psilocybin, but even then, I don't know. I mean, you know, all I know is what happened. At that moment in time, everything changed, and my life became a different life. And it somehow impacted me with this need to tell people what I saw, which is, in a way why I even said yes to this interview, because I don't turn down the opportunity to share the story. It's, it's meaningful, I can't I don't want to be a promoter of a drug, or even in the end meditation, you know, I mean, I've done meditation for 5050 some years. I have to say, oh, Ah, I think meditation is wonderful. But most Americans I know are not really geared to tell me why we love meditation, meditation or that lifestyle. So I've reduced all of that. And I'll do this quickly because it's a speech field. But basically, it all comes down to me to be a good person, and be kind. And if you can be reactively kind of people, when everything in you wants to do the other, that can turn things around inside you, that would be similar to what a meditative life would do. In other words, it changes the reaction to the viewer, rather than the doer and the reactor. And if you can become that person, which, interestingly enough, is the key teaching of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. So I have decided, even though I said no to his teaching, all those all those decades ago, in the end, he truly in a way has been my teacher as he has been a world teacher. But the key teaching is Be nice, be kind.

Alex Ferrari 15:56
So it seems that it just from what you're telling me with, with your experience with LSD, it just kind of just tore everything away all the materialistic, all the concepts, all the programming that you've gotten up to that point, was all wiped away to show you the truth, essence, the truth, the oneness, all of that,

Bruce Joel Rubin 16:16
With no way for the mind to comprehend it.

Alex Ferrari 16:19
It's a different, you're, you're comprehending it on a different level than the mind.

Bruce Joel Rubin 16:22
You're, you're just knowing that.

Alex Ferrari 16:24
Right! Exactly. And that's why I've told people differences, like there's belief, and then there's a knowing, and there's very different ideas.

Bruce Joel Rubin 16:33
And there's another element of more verb, verb, beyond knowing which is being. Right. So one learns to go from the knowing into the being. And in a way, there's a very non dualistic aspect of this, there's not a me and to you or me and a knit, or me trying to do, all that gets gets wiped out. So there's only the beam which is infinite and eternal, and everywhere, around us all the time, almost never proceed by a human mind, which is so involved in the mee, mee, mee, mee sort of idea, and which is programmed to be like that. So I'm not saying it's, in a way a bad thing to be, to be human being and to be a person. And all of that is really an unbelievable gift and full of awe and grandeur and beauty and all these things, you know, but we don't see it. So the sadness about being a human being who doesn't recognize any of that, except maybe on the doorway out, I don't really know, is to miss the boat, you know, and to not find it while you're here. And that's their sadness. And that because this is an amazing thing we're in, you know, yes, beyond beyond and, and it's hard to imagine the world being, in many ways what it is in so many negative ways, because there's a real yin yang to all of it, there's a good and an evil and all those things play out. But there's also the witness, and there's also the state in which it occurs. And being the witness to that state or being one with that state is remarkable. I mean, just remarkable and want something we're all capable of. But, you know, our culture doesn't talk about it at all. We talk about his belief and you know, go to church every, every Sunday morning or synagogue on Friday night or Saturday morning, or whatever your particular teaching is. And, and you know, and I used to do that when I was young, and everything was all about who's wearing what, how are they look beautiful tonight.

Alex Ferrari 18:27
Sunday best, sunday best.

Bruce Joel Rubin 18:30
There was never a sense of anything greater going on. It was stand up, sit down, you know, prep, sing and pray. But But there's more than that. And I don't want to be a proselytizer so I can move on to other topics. But this is clearly the doorway to what became a career. Now, because of that,

Alex Ferrari 18:53
And now that you've told me about your experience, Jacob's Ladder makes so much more sense. I mean, that script, I remember I was working at a video store when that came out. I was working at a store when I was high school or ADA 293. So I recommended Jacob's Ladder, and people were just like, and either you loved it, or you were like, What the hell? What kind of trip was I on? Can you imagine a studio trying to make Jacob's Ladder today? Could you imagine?

Bruce Joel Rubin 19:20
It would not happen. And yet, it's an important film in a certain Yes. And that creates, it really does depict what the Tibetans call the Bardo state, the state that is either right after you die or right as you are on the edge of dying, where you need to fix the mind and the understanding of what you are, who you are, what your life was. It's a it's full of blame. It's full of darkness is full of fantasy. It's full of all these things, but trying to get to the pure center. If you can do that in that period of timeless time and get it worked out which is what Jacob is doing. Basically, you become a, I would guess, liberated free person or at least able to move on into whatever follows.

Alex Ferrari 20:08
Did you? Were you happy with the way Adrian Lin directed that film? And like, because it's such a, it's not an easy film to direct. I mean, that's a it's that script is not an easy script to produce. I think he did a fantastic job. I'm just curious. It's like, did he capture the essence of what you wanted?

Bruce Joel Rubin 20:25
Again, another long story. Yes. On level, yes, we had an immediate disagreement about it, which, in a way, resolved itself on his terms, but probably the right terms. And mine was that I had done a kind of biblical version of that journey. There were demons, very classical demons, Blake, like, imagery, there was a real Jacob's Ladder, like, like this long staircase into heaven. And all these, what Adrian will call Spielbergian touches. And he said, I can't do that. I won't do. And he didn't say that right away. But I, but he did say it. And he said, it's just he said, those are classical images, and people will laugh at them. He said, We have to find another version of that. And he showed me this image of a woman with little growths coming out of her head. And they were very disturbing. He said, those are the horns I want, rather than horns, little little cancerous like growths, that makes people get really uncomfortable. He said, I want it to look like that, that the movie has to be based in physiology of the human being. And it has to have that kind of touchstone for people who watch the movie to become deeply uncomfortable, as they watch it, rather than free to say, well, that's just classical biblical imagery. So he was right about that. And we dialogued about it a lot. And, you know, there was a lot of frustration and some ways on my part as I had to give things up, and story upon story in a way, but I think in the end, he made the right movie. Now, we did some work toward a month before releasing the film, cut out 1/5 of the film, the ending, I heard about that. And, and it was because audience's reactions were no better or worse, when the ending was removed. And the ending was very full of kind of turning the wheel again, you know, it didn't really give new information, but it elaborated stuff. And as I watched it, I realized, you know, you can lose it. And I, in the end, voted with the larger team, to say, drop it from the film. And then if I watched Jacob's Ladder, in those days, I would miss it. But I then watched it 30 years later, not that long ago. And I'd forgotten all about that stuff. And I just watched the movie, and I was incredibly moved by it. I did not expect it. I found its heart was there. And and it didn't miss anything. And it also taught me a lot about writing and about explorative writing that sort of recapitulates things that don't need to be recapitulated. You know, the, the core of our story is a very, very simple thing, really, but very many very, very people who write movies in Hollywood. Don't don't they don't get the simple line of it. And neither neither do producers or executives. It's kind of shocking. But there are some very simple things you need and Jacob's Ladder, Jacob's Ladder, found those and got it on film. And it is a very trippy experience. And I'm told, I don't know firsthand that a lot of kids in college, sophomore year get stoned and watched Jacob's Ladder. It's like a rite of passage. I think that's great.

Alex Ferrari 23:56
That's amazing. Now that other little movie you you wrote in your career ghost you know, I for people listening who are younger. The impact of ghost when it when it came out was it just was everywhere. It was in the zeitgeist, it was pop culture. I mean, how many references of the, the, you know, the, you know, the pottery scene was and you must laugh every time you see them. I mean, the jokes and the spoofs. And I mean, that scene has been done so many times. That what fascinates me about that movie, as well as one of the guys who did airplane is director of ghosts. And I remember in the theater, when his name came up, I'm like, what, like, even then I was like, What is going on? But my first question about ghosts is how did that story come to life because it's so beautiful and so touching. And it's so you know, it just goes along with your filmography so beautifully, but what came what was the genesis that idea

Bruce Joel Rubin 25:00
I wanted to tell the story of a person on the other side of a ghost, who's comes back to try to save a woman he loves and to tell her that he loves her. That was the real kind of the genesis, but I didn't have much of a story. And I was trying to figure out, how do I get that story to work, and I was watching production of Hamlet. And Hamlet has a very big ghost story. And one of the big things is his father as a ghost, comes to him, tells him what happened, and says, revenge my death. And I thought, ah, there I go. That was my that was the gift. So I decided, my guy, Sam wheat, had to discover what happened to him, had to know how to know that he was killed by someone had to find out who that someone was, had to discover that his wife was in jeopardy, and that he needed to communicate with her and save her. And he was dead. And he was a ghost and couldn't touch anything. He was present in her life. He was there all the time. But he was an invisible presence. And he had to figure out how to become empowered. And so the idea of a psychic was came up as someone who you could talk to, and then a friend of mine had this idea that should be it should be a fake psychic, which is a brilliant, brilliant, that changes everything. And then I just started weaving all of that, together into a story. And, and the film started become what's called a four quadrants film, which means it can talk to audiences at every level of kids and adults and seniors. And also that it was sad and dramatic and scary and funny. And it had all those things, working in it, but they worked together. I was of course, worried when Jerry Zucker was proposed as a director, but as you would well, before Jerry Frank Oz was going to do it. And I loved the idea of Frank Oz doing it. But he wanted to erase every single shadow in the movie, because it goes couldn't cast a shadow. I said, Frank, that's not going to matter story. It's going to take over, no one's going to see shadows. I took them to see blade spirit on Broadway. So look at all the shadows. They're taking out of the shadows started to be a budget so far beyond the production capacity, that that we decided to step separate. Milos Forman wanted to direct it. I flew out to Connecticut met a meeting with him very unexpectedly odd kind of experience. His whole idea was that Molly should die at the end, and that she should go off to be with Sam and heaven. And I. And all I could think of was, this is Milos, he's going to call Paramount saying I want to do this movie. He's going to do it his way. I'm not going to have a word of any of mine in this movie. But I wrote ahead to the executive to Lindsay Duran, who was the vice president in charge of this film, and central in my life on many levels. And, and I told her what everything he said. And so even before he called the studio, they said, No, we're not going that direction. But then she called me said, Are you sitting? And I said, Yes. She said, we found a great director for your film. I'm thinking Scorsese Spielberg,

Alex Ferrari 28:18
Right. Yeah.

Bruce Joel Rubin 28:20
She said, Jerry Zucker. And I, and I thought, of course airplane. I mean, I thought all the comedies and I thought, you know, Beetlejuice had just come out. So everybody's, they're gonna turn this into an uproar, approving comedy. But they were, they were very serious about Jerry at Paramount. So they wanted us to get together and I did something which was smart. I think. I arranged to have dinner with Jerry. But I said one ground rule. We can talk about anything except ghost. And he agreed to that. And so we just talked, and we talked and talked and to this day, we talk and we talk this is formed a friendship that was indelible and remarkable and continues. But when we ended up talking about ghost, I wrote 19 drafts for him. And after 10, it was such a different movie, that I was ready to quit. And I thought, we have ruined everything. And then he started to see it through my eyes. And we started bringing it back. And we got another nine drafts. And by the time they were at the 19th draft, it was the right movie, his ideas, my ideas. They had merged, cross fertilize, it was really amazing. And we had the movie we wanted, and it was a good script. And I was very excited about it. And then even in the production, where most writers have told you, no, we don't need you or want you wrong. You're not on the set. Jerry had me on the set every day. And so we were together. And there was a communion between writer and director, which almost never happens. And I think ghost is a living proof that it can be a good thing if you do it.

Alex Ferrari 29:58
And then you know how airing. Patrick Swayze Demi Moore will be Colbert, I mean, those Tony Goldwyn Golan. I mean, just the cast was so perfect.

Bruce Joel Rubin 30:12
We remember Schumann's

Alex Ferrari 30:15
Right! I mean, I mean, Patrick Patrick essentially was dirty dancing at that point. And he was not a he wasn't a bonafide started than Roadhouse a year earlier. You know, he's like, A, and Demi Moore.

Bruce Joel Rubin 30:26
She's really, she was pretty much the the money. She was a yes, but everybody else was over our dead body.

Alex Ferrari 30:34
Really. So you have to fight for Patrick.

Bruce Joel Rubin 30:37
I had to Jerry didn't want Patrick at all. Yeah. And I talked to his agent. And I said, have it here and have him offered to read, have him come to the reading and a suit and tie. And I've been she arranged for me to have a phone call with him. I told him wear a suit and a tie and a jacket and all this stuff, carry a briefcase. And I told him what scenery, which was the end of the movie. And he did all of that. And Jerry was sitting there crying, as was the producer, Lisa Weinstein, me and, and, and Jerry said to me, as soon as he left the room, he said, If I ever say over my dead body, that's what we hired.

Alex Ferrari 31:14
So that was, and it worked out. It worked out.

Bruce Joel Rubin 31:17
It worked out great, I think and what he was not my first choice I was very afraid of over the top kind of performance. And I was very hesitant about it. And I was completely wrong. I just completely wrong. She won the Oscar, Oscar and she was brilliant. She was totally brilliant. I just loved her in that film and just love being around her. So in the end, we were very, very blessed with that movie.

Alex Ferrari 31:40
Well, the thing with will be in her performance is that she kept she that counterbalance of the seriousness. I mean, you That movie was it's such an intense movie, in many ways. Without the breaks of the comedy that she brought, and it wasn't over the top comedy was just just enough to break those scenes up. It wouldn't have worked without a will be it I mean, the whole thing just was a perfect writer.

Bruce Joel Rubin 32:06
We tried it we interviewed a lot of major actresses for that part. And I gotta tell you, I thought I'd written the worst worst part ever. Didn't work out. I mean, every every major black actor in Hollywood, tried out for it, including Tina Turner, who was not an actor. And you know, Alfre Woodard, the unknown, and they all tried out. They're all wonderful, but they were not what we needed. And what B was what we needed. That's amazing. When she came on board, it worked.

Alex Ferrari 32:33
So the movie comes out. It is a monster hit. I remember at the video store, there was white VHS cases, if you remember correctly, that was unheard of. I never seen anything like that. Because it was such a big movie. It's kind of like a marketing promotional thing. It was just a massive, massive hit number one movie of the year. I think Tom Malone came out that year if I'm not mistaken. And it beat home. Well, it was an insanely big hit. Then you go to the Oscars, and you win. What is it like first of all, the World Wind of being in the in the center of that hurricane, the ghost hurricane? Because I mean, and I love that you preface this, this conversation wherever you're going right now with this enlightened path that you've walked, you know, in breaking down everything with that trip that you did in everything that you were, I think ready also at an age to ready for this kind of success ready for this kind of attention. Because it would crush most souls. Most people Correct?

Bruce Joel Rubin 33:29
Oh, you honestly the universe was very conscious in withholding any kind of feedback from me. I would never meet people who saw the movie, except for my family. I was in a cab. In New York City. The guy said what do you do as a screenwriter? What have you written this movie called ghost? It was on every billboard. He said, Oh, I think I heard of that. A woman in line behind me at a restaurant says to a friend of ours you see that horrible movie Ghost. And that's what I got. I mean, that's that's really all I got. And the universe by giving me Hollywood was basically sending me on a track that is really very common for writers which is destruction of ego mind. Because so often they take away what you do give it to other people, other people's voices get in other people's hands get dirty with it, and in the end of the movie looks like what you feel lucky by getting the Oscar I don't know what it meant. It was an odd moment for me. I'd always wanted one since I was a kid, but having it felt like done. Something was done. Now I don't know if that voice that I heard in Afghanistan. Does it do a masterpiece? I don't know if ghost is a masterpiece. I don't claim

Alex Ferrari 34:48
I'd argue. I'd argue it's a beautiful film

Bruce Joel Rubin 34:51
You know, to me. I got this award that said recognition on some level. You went on my bed stand when I got home and never moved It's not highly displayed. You know, you walk into certain offices in Hollywood and all you see are the awards first. I, to me it was the it was getting something done on my journey that needed to be finished. That was really important. I happened when I was on Hong Kong on victorious peak at the end of my round the world journey. And I was sitting up there and something in me again said, done, that I had gone around the world. And somehow I had completed something, maybe from another life. I don't know how that works. But whatever it was, it was done. That was a great thing. Oscar Dunn, put stuff aside, move on, move on to whatever follows. But it's not to sit around and go, Hey, look, look at I am. Because one of the things you realize on the LSD trip, and the Bardo state of Jacob's Ladder is they tear all that away. You know, they just take your whole life away. And there's actually a teaching in Jacob's Ladder, which is really crucial from a 16th century century theologian. And, and he said, if you're afraid of dying, holding on, you'll see demons tearing you from your flesh. If you're open to dying, the same demons or angels, freeing you from the earth, it's a matter of where you have arrived in your life. And that really is kind of essential, and the theologian has named Meister Eckhart. He's a great theologian. But that's really what the human journey is, are you attached to you? Because you don't leave this world with you? They take it they take everything away? Are you able to go like this? Or are you going like that, and that's kind of the human journey. And very few people I know have gotten to this, but you can, my mother in law without any spiritual life of any kind at all, and kind of angry at lots of people and a lot of stuff. Slowly as she lost her mind, and dementia. She arrived at her last words to me, which was silent work. And it said everything. So you don't have to sit and meditate your whole life away. You just have to whatever it takes, because she was a good person, you just have to get to this, you know, and that's really meaningful and valuable.

Alex Ferrari 37:18
That's such a powerful, powerful idea of the demons and the angels. It is such a powerful idea. Because it's the same action. It's just about perspective. Remarkable. So you, as far as once you got the Oscar and you were in town, and everybody's like, you're the best, you're the best. You're the greatest. The ego didn't get out of control you. It was completely. You had it on a lot.

Bruce Joel Rubin 37:44
Okay, a quick story. I'm walking out of the Paramount commissary with an executive. And he's telling me, and this is before the script was starting to happen really was just beginning. He said, You wrote the best script I've ever read in my life. And I went, Wow, a week later, I'm walking out of a commissary, he's in front of me with another guy. And he's telling the other guy, I want you to know, you wrote the best script I've ever read in my entire life. And I went, Oh, that's how it works.

Alex Ferrari 38:15
And they're my friend is Hollywood.

Bruce Joel Rubin 38:17
That is Hollywood. That is Hollywood. There's a lot, a lot to be learned from all of that. And if you want, you know, some people get crushed by it, and just sadness and misery. And some people and I've been one of the lucky ones who get kind of like freed from it. I don't walk around with a night Hollywood identity at all. It's it's so past tense. I'm glad I had it. It was a really it was a great ride. But mostly it's crashing, you know, the things that stuff is taken away and changed and altered. And, you know, you wouldn't believe the ride of a writer in Hollywood. Most people don't. It is brutal. I'm reading an autobiography whether it will ever put it out or not. I don't know. But it really does capture what it means to be that person to be a writer in this business, because I haven't seen any books about it that really it's nothing that talks about that the real heart of what you go through. On the other hand, what an honor to be able to write movies that speaks speak to hundreds of millions of people

Alex Ferrari 39:19
Without without question and one of my other one of the other films in your filmography that really touched me and is the one that you directed My Life with Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman, and it is, these are these are movies I would never get made today. None of them and most of most of your filmography would never get made today by the studio system. But that's to be said by many people of the 90s and 80s and 90s. But that film is so touching even when I was saw it when it came out. I was still a young man. It moved me now looking back I have children now. I've just like it's a completely different experience watching a film like that. Where did that idea come from? And for that People have not heard about what the movies about. Can you give it like a you know quick little logline about it?

Bruce Joel Rubin 40:05
Yeah, it's simple logline, which if our studio head would say no. The guy who's dying of cancer who discovers that he's going to have his first child, and he will not live long enough to meet that child. And he wants to leave something that will represent who he is to his family, but he has no idea really who he is. So it's a movie of discovering, finding out who he is, and what he can leave for this

Alex Ferrari 40:32
300 million 300 million budget easy.

Bruce Joel Rubin 40:38
I mean, again, 1000s of stories, and it was the most poorly reviewed movie I ever did ever worked on. It was so bad that I went into like a spiraling depression for about nine months. I think it was, I mean, it was really a killer.

Alex Ferrari 40:53

Bruce Joel Rubin 40:56
People hate well,

Alex Ferrari 40:58
It found it found its audience, it found its audience,

Bruce Joel Rubin 41:00
Because it's found its audience. And it's been incredibly sort of meaningful to me. But the what finally gave it a voice. And it's a story kind of worth telling to other writers in that I went to a party some months after it came out. And a woman came up to me and she said, I understand you wrote the movie in my life. And I said, Yes. And she said, I have to tell you something. My husband died three years ago, and I had a 10 year old son. And he and I were never able to talk about his father's passing. She said, I found out just recently that I have terminal cancer. And the idea of leaving this world, without a dialogue with my son was so painful. But we went to this movie theater and saw this film my life. And my son was sobbing. And we came home. And he sat down on my lap, and we had the conversation that I needed to have in order to leave this planet. So I want to say thank you. And I went and now I knew I made the movie. One or two people. It was it was perfect. I didn't need anybody else.

Alex Ferrari 42:11
But if it happened for those two, I'm sure it happened for many others around the world. And that's why it's found its voice around, because it's not an easy conversation to have at all, and you made it palatable with that story and Michael Caine's performance.

Bruce Joel Rubin 42:28
Talks about it positive, he says, People ask him about that movie more than anything else. You really want to know about Beatle

Alex Ferrari 42:36
Beetle Juice, Batman, all the major things he's done in his career. And he's like that little movie. I did call my life. But he was so brilliant in it. And he was, he was great. He was amazing.

Bruce Joel Rubin 42:47
Nicole was perfect. Nicole Kidman was brilliant. And Queen Latifah got her first big acting job. That's right. That's right. It had it had a place in the history of Hollywood. But not for me. It was like it was it just tore me apart.

Alex Ferrari 43:04
So how did you how did you come out of that? That because look, we all go through that we all have something happens to us that we will go down that dark road? How did you come out of that dark road, even with all the experience and knowledge that you have about consciousness and oneness and everything?

Bruce Joel Rubin 43:19
Rudy was just brilliant, brilliant. He said, a pattern that takes you nine years to work through at one point will occur again and take nine months. And that will occur and take nine weeks, and then it will be nine days. And then it will be nine hours. That'll be nine minutes. And it'll be nine seconds. So be prepared things that can take huge toll on you. And you're allowed to be like this, you know, and I have learned that.

Alex Ferrari 43:44
You know, he's really so right.

Bruce Joel Rubin 43:47
He was totally brilliant.

Alex Ferrari 43:49
I mean, because things that used to like wouldn't tear me up when I was a young man would take me months, then would take me weeks, then take it to now gotten to a point where it takes me seconds for something that would have derailed me for weeks even holding on to grudges and all this kind of stuff. You just let go of it much quicker as you get.

Bruce Joel Rubin 44:10
I mean, not everybody does that. Of course. Of course, if you can and do it. It's a great thing. And I learned a great deal from from that. And every other movie I did. I mean, I'd say a third of the movies that I wrote out made two thirds did not so I wrote a lot of other movies, but actually 1/3 is a fairly good ratio. And, and I and I learned from every single movie that I did, and every one of them taught me a different lesson. I worked with amazing personalities that all have stories behind them. But I really are. I came away with a big worldview. You know that that the Hollywood worldview of Hollywood and people who were highly successful and people who were on the way out the door and in between, but it's like, if you're going to study human experience, it's a great place because it's so blasted at you in a big way. So I'm grateful for that.

Alex Ferrari 45:02
What is the biggest lesson you think you took away from your time working in Hollywood?

Bruce Joel Rubin 45:07
Well, the lesson for me is, it's not an old thing so much as you know, stay humble, and don't think you are the identity that other people might thrust at you. You know, for me, it was it because they're still they're still doing it, I really call it the guys upstairs, and I call him but I got is just as good to work for me or whatever you want to call it, it's still directs me. And it's still very much it humbles me on every opportunity it can, because I see myself as nothing more than a conduit in a voice in a way. And I try to do the best version of that I can do my best scripts were, were taking dictation, you know, and I just follow, I follow what's what kind of I'm being given. I mean, it feels like you're writing and I can see why people think they, they did it, you know, until they can't, and they drink, and they do all these things to try to find our way back to it. But, you know, it's really, it's really a transmission in a sense. And it's working for the human race and for people and for the betterment of being in the world. You know, I mean, I think I personally believe I don't know this as a fact that at the core of this whole emptiness and nothingness that this comes out of the first thing that rises is love. And don't ask me how or why. But I've had that experience and all so many times when they dropped the bottom out underneath me even to this day, and there's nothing there. Nothing at all. And if it was a part of you, that reacts to it, that's the that's kind of go, you know, so if there's a part of you, that goes, Oh, you're racist. And then when there's absolutely nothing, and you just go, Okay, this thing starts to rise up, and it is a rising, ascending, lift up energy. And it starts with love. And then it goes into I mean, quote, beauty, and truth, start to flow into manifested form. And here we are, you know, and I see where it comes from. And I know it goes back to nothing, but I, you know, I don't, I don't care because that nothing is unbelievable. And when it starts to manifest, its beauty is beyond belief. And we are, it's one of its expressions, you know, there probably others way bigger than us and better than us. But we're, we're it's expression. And now AI is this expression. So it doesn't even need a body or a person he's just tapping in. And we were maybe not that maybe here just to create AI, you know, doesn't need food, it all needs electricity. You know, me, maybe a programmer at first, but then it's all you

Alex Ferrari 47:39
Just goes off and runs, it goes off and runs. I find it interesting because I've spoken to a lot of, you know, successful writers over the years. And when you're writing, I think it even as, as me as aren't when I write, the best writing I've ever done is when I feel like I'm not writing. It feels like it's coming through, is there something that you do in your process as a writer to kind of tap into that?

Bruce Joel Rubin 48:06
I get out of the way

Alex Ferrari 48:07
Just like, do you just do show up at a certain time? Do you like is it a routine or do you just a second you sit down you just go

Bruce Joel Rubin 48:15
In writing but but used to be, um, morning was rewrites, which made it easy. So I would sit down and fix what I did the day before and polish it and get in the gear in a way. Somewhere, I put lunch in there. And then the, the the movement and the activity was already in place. And I would create the new stuff in the afternoon. And I would try to write three to four pages a day. And if I did that over the course of 10 weeks, which is usually what you're contracted for in Hollywood, I would have a finished script. It would be a first draft it would need work and all that other stuff. But you know, I wasn't sitting looking over my shoulder being critical as I wrote because then you don't write then you're just sitting there rewriting the same scene 400 times and you don't even really know where it's going. You don't know how it's going to end up. So I think just right just let it out. See where it goes. Be surprised I love to be surprised movie. You know, when it when it happens. I remember when I was writing ghosts and a lot of the movies about how Sam never says I love you, he says did out. Right. And finally he comes back after all of this drama, and is able to say to his lover is the woman he loves. I love you for the first time. And she goes Ditto. I didn't expect her to say ditto. And the minute I was typing ditto, I just burst into tears. I mean, it was like poof, I was just completely taken over by by Molly being Molly not me being Bruce test. It was Molly, and she was writing what she needed to say. And that was incredible. And I get to be the witness of that. You know, I just did it and you know, you beat the characters live in you and they become alive. And then you have this moment that's really so personal and simple. I think a lot of people cried at that moment. And, you know, and so, you know, you're just the first person to get to see it.

Alex Ferrari 50:08
That's, that's remarkable. When you we the stories that you've talked about, and the stories they've written over the years have been about the unseen world is states on your, on your biography. What drew you to that was it again, back to that, that LSD trip that kind of just set you on the path that you like, I need to explore what we aren't seeing and putting this out into the mainstream.

Bruce Joel Rubin 50:36
Yeah, I'm being told to do it. You know, it was just saying, you know, you, you went around the world, you've read, you've looked, you've talked, you've experienced, you've had teachers, get it on screen, but get it on screen for the masses, not for the few, talk to the world, talk to the world, give them some insight. And so my experience is, every movie that I have done, is a sentence. And in the 12, or whatever movies I've made, that got produced, it's a paragraph. And it's all a paragraph about the same thing about the sense of time space continuum, the idea of there being something beyond that we don't understand, and, and that we're all on a journey to find it even funny little movies, like the last Mimzy which, you know,

Alex Ferrari 51:20
I love the last Mimzy such a fun movie,

Bruce Joel Rubin 51:23
I wanted to write for children, but adults came to me telling me how moved they were about that film. And, and, and part of me wanted just to go to children, including like Stuart Little to which I had a very real conception of that would impact little kids. But, you know, I was overruled in many ways on on that. And so some of the things I wanted to sort of plant and seeds may not have gotten planted. But I have learned I've just learned a lot. And last Mimzy was an interesting one, because it had a very strong Buddhist aspect. It's about these kids who find toys from the future. And who are who need to be have their we don't know this till the end, I don't know, shall I give away the ending? It's fine, it's fine. But the ending of the movie is the impregnation of this little creature that they find that will carry the DNA of a pure soul from the past into the future and save humanity. Really. But I that's not in the in the original digital short story called mimsy were the Borg groves that were, it was a TV pilot once for something and I saw it and it didn't have an ending. And I just didn't fit didn't know what it was. And nobody ever went with it. But I remember being like, what was the ending? What was the ending? It turned out, I had to be the one who did the ending. And the way the ending came to me was walking into the meeting at newline. With no idea, but all I could think of was Tibetans, and the Tibetans have this thing when the Dalai Lama dies, they have to find a new Dalai Lama. And the way they determine that is they take all the toys that were part of a Dali Lama's childhood, and they mix them up with all these other toys from other kids. And they go on a search that's led by psychics and people who have some insight. And they go to these new children and the one who picks all of his old toys. That's when they know who it is. And that, that lesson through the Dalai Lama was the one I walked into the meeting at newline with, and I sold it Michael Phillips was there he was done close encounters the third kinds and all these other wonderful films. And Michael got it. He just got it and said, yes, yes. And and somehow I then got the job of writing the movie. It was an eight year process, which

Alex Ferrari 53:42
Bob Shea, Bob Shea was, if I'm not mistaken, he was like, wanted it so bad. Like he really wanted to make it.

Bruce Joel Rubin 53:48
Yeah, he did. He directed it. He and I went to the same high school, which is kind of strange and interesting. But in the month before we were supposed to have this movie shot, he talked to Steve Jobs. And he said, Why is Pixar so successful? What is it about these movies are so successful? And and he said, we cut out everything that's not necessary. And Bob came to me and he said, Bruce, cut 30 pages. And I said, we're about to shoot this movie is, is locked in, we're going forward, cut it up, cut everything, it's not necessary. And he said, you know, he didn't say this. But clearly, I had a lot of Buddhist monks into interfering, if you will infiltrating the film. And I realized they're not going to survive. And I had to pull all of them out of the movie, all the scenes with them and 30 pages of stuff. And the movie came out. And I thought it was going to be so absent of what I had wanted it to be. And what I discovered is, if it's embedded in its core DNA, right, it doesn't matter what you pull out, it's still there. And I was so surprised by that, and so shocked that I I learned all these lessons. And so, you know, I'm not saying that it was right to cut all those pages, but the movie survived. It worked. It was a whole piece of cloth. And I was totally grateful for that.

Alex Ferrari 55:12
And I have to ask you, because you've had this, this effect on humanity with the work that you've done, because like you said earlier, your stories got out to millions, hundreds of millions of people around the world. What does it feel like for you as as a conduit for this information? How do you as your life's work as your life's work? How does that feel? Because you, you've impacted so many people with your work. And the one thing before you answer the one thing that I love about your stories, I've spoken to hundreds of screenwriters, Oscar winners, and starters, everybody. What I find really interesting about your journey as a writer, and as a human being as a soul, is that your work has a thread that connects all of them in how you can connect the last Mimsy to Jacob's Ladder. Is it valid, to say the least, works. But the thing is that you you had a very clear mission on what you were trying to do with your life with your career as a writer to help the world awaken a bit more. How does that feel? It was a was it a conscious effort? Or did you kind of just stumble upon it?

Bruce Joel Rubin 56:27
No, but the reward, the funny little rewards, one was deep impact, and trying to go off and inhibit a meteorite that's coming, or an asteroid to destroy the earth. And there were not a lot of people in this country who were thinking that was a real issue or a big problem, but it is a potential problem. And about two months ago, they actually sent a rocket off, and found that they could deflect a comet on its path to the earth. And I met with a lot of scientists and I met with a lot of congressmen after the film came out, trying to talk about this issue, because I said, and the movie said, this is a real issue. And so when I saw that comment, deflected, I thought, one tiny part of me has helped save, possibly the human race. I don't know. But that's a really tiny little sweet thing. And then I spent sent me an article just the other day out of nowhere, about this guy who's trying to use artificial intelligence to help people who have paralysis, total paralysis, to be able to move things with their mind. And he said the inspiration for him was when Sam wheat in Ghost, Penny up the door and caused it to float. He said, He saw that and that connected in his mind. And he has now created an AI program that is going to be able to is already helping people move things with their mind. And I went, wow. So little things like that. They don't I'm not walking around, carrying a you know, a big placard saying, Look what I did. Look what I did. I have no none of that at all. It's almost like a joke. I mean, I don't know if you this is about in July, the History Channel came out with something that someone sent me, which said, you know, the famous the most important thing that happened on this date in history. And the most important thing that happened on that date in history, which is the 13th of July 1990 was ghost opened and I'm gonna ghost go, that's the most important thing that happened. And I sent that to Lindsay Duran, who used to be the executive of Paramount and she said Murat sob died on that day. What do you mean, the ghost was the most important thing that happened on that day? And I look at it and in a way it's like it is like a laughable thing. I have no idea I don't own it. I don't care it's it was an interesting kind of wonderful ride and I'm grateful for the ride I would I would tell anyone in the world is open to losing their mind and their ego and everything else. If you want to journey into speaking to multiples of people and telling them something that might be worth saying one sentence, then that's that's it's worthwhile life.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:28
And where can people find out more about the work you're doing with your meditations that we didn't even touch on your photography and your meditation and what you teach? And also just to get access to your old scripts and things like that?

Bruce Joel Rubin 1:00:40
I think the scripts are online, I don't I have no idea. I see them every so often to come up to for sale, I don't know who's selling them. I have no idea. We've been teaching this meditation class, and I give talks that are on YouTube under my name, Bruce Joel Rubin. And there are 500 plus, now talk. So if anybody isn't totally bored already, with just what I've had to say, Here, you can check, you can check them out. The class I give is you have to be initiated into the actual practice, you can't just share it in general. So I don't and, you know, Rudy has to be one on one. And I try. And that's what I do. I try to share the practice one on one. But the lessons of that are all on talks, and I give after the classes and and I still teach them I've been teaching every Sunday for 50 50 years, or more and and they're just kind of what I'm learning week by week, you know, and I'm not trying to teach them as any ultimate anything, but they do, I think hope open minds and eyes a little bit to a way of looking that might be helpful.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:14
My friend, thank you so much for being on the show. It has been a pleasure and an honor talking to you and you're such an inspiration on multiple levels, not only in the filmmaking side, but on the spiritual side as well. I appreciate all the work you've done for humanity and for and for good storytelling, so I appreciate you my friend.

Bruce Joel Rubin 1:02:30
It's equal thank you so much.

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BPS 267: The BRUTAL & RAW Truth about Indie Filmmaking with Darious Britt

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Alex Ferrari 1:53
I like to welcome the show the legendary Darious Britt man How you doing brother?

Darious Britt 4:26
I'm doing all right man everyday is a hustle

Alex Ferrari 4:27
Everyday. Everyday we hustle baby everyday we're hustling. So man, we had the pleasure of finally meeting at the mammoth Film Festival this year. And where we were snowed in like the shining like a complete whiteout we were locked in like landlocked in a way that we couldn't get it we couldn't roads were like you hear about these things in the movies like The roads were shut down and the airport does not know that nothing's leaving or coming in. But I had never been in that situation. I think you have either.

Darious Britt 4:59
I have Man, I felt like a tourist in that, you know, like it was nice to visit and see that but to live there, I couldn't do it.

Alex Ferrari 5:06
No, absolutely, absolutely. That's insane. God bless the people who live up there. It's it's just it's crazy. But uh but we got a chance to meet and all that snowed in time actually just you and I sat by the roaring fire in our in our hotel and we would just sit and pontificate to two days straight. Today straight up, I was just sitting down like doing like, these deep sessions of discussing about the state of indie film and filmmakers and what we went through and all of this kind of craziness. And I was like, man, we should be recording this, like, why isn't this being recorded? So this is what this pod this is what this podcast and this interview is about. So kind of talk a little bit about what we talked about that and share it with our both our tribes, in many ways. So for people who don't know who you are, who are you, what do you do? And you know, how can get Just who are you?

Darious Britt 6:02
Yeah, so my name is darious Britt, I'm a filmmaker and youtuber act direct produce, right all that as well. And I run the differ darious YouTube channel right now we're, I think, last time I checked sitting at around 320,000 subscribers. And what I do on a channel is I basically empower filmmakers. So I've released features short films behind the scenes, videos, tips, tricks, vlogs about filmmaking. It's almost like a variety channel and the sorts geared towards addressing the problems and the concerns and things that filmmakers have in the journey and also sharing my journey as a filmmaker, cuz I'm still learning stuff, too.

Alex Ferrari 6:40
Yes. So yeah, man, all of the above. Now, it's funny man that you because we, when I was doing interviews at mammoth, and, and you were on the list, I'm like, Oh, I got to talk to the areas because I've known about you and I followed your stuff for a long time. Just because you know, you you stand out your your, your technique in the way your flavor of how you give out the information definitely sticks out.

Darious Britt 7:04
And I've always been a fan of yours. I know about YouTube, because I was watching the indie film hustle. I was listening to indie film hustle like way back when? Before you did this is Meg.

Alex Ferrari 7:16
You are old school man.

Darious Britt 7:18
Yeah, listening to your stuff, man. So when I saw your name pop up when I got an email saying, you know, would you like to be? Or are you avails for an interview? And I was like, an interview as any film has. Oh, wait, my ears perked up like, no, this like really is even out here. Like what? It was like, obviously, it wasn't even a question, man. I was like, man, let's get on this. Let's talk about this.

Alex Ferrari 7:41
And then and that one, like 15 or 20 minute interview, whatever we did, then ended up being literally I'm not kidding, probably about 10 or 15 hours of talking.

Darious Britt 7:51
Yeah, the initial the initial interview we did I think was a 47 minutes,

Alex Ferrari 7:56
Or something like that.

Darious Britt 7:59
We're the same kind of elk in terms of our philosophies on how things should happen. And I think, you know, as you can, I'm surely attest to this. I feel like there's, there's two different types of people, there are people who they just kind of do, and they figure it out as they go. And then there are the people who have to have all of the pieces before they start. And sometimes you can flip, maybe you're the person who has to have all the pieces before you start. And then eventually, later on in life, you flip and you're like, you know what, I just got to do this. And sometimes it's the other way. But I think, you know, I, I've had journeys in my filmmaking experience or life where I just had to just do things and figure it out as I go. And, you know, I think I connected with you with your podcast, because you kind of call yourself on that. And it's like, hey, it took me 41 years to shoot my first feature, and a lot of it was fear. And you know, and I just had to at a certain point, it's like, I'm either gonna do it, or shut up,

Alex Ferrari 8:58
Right? Pretty much pretty much.

Darious Britt 9:01
Yeah, so yeah, man,

Alex Ferrari 9:03
That was it was it was always it was, yeah, it was interesting. When we saw each other, we're like, um, it's kind of like we've known each other for years, it was a real weird experience.

Darious Britt 9:11
It was work in the same space to be, you know, we both work in the online space. And I think that automatically, you inherit a sort of kinship with that, because it's a very different space than, you know, working in the classical Hollywood space, or even in some respects, like the indie film space, I think the online space, even though we have a lot to do with that, there are certain things that are different as well. You know,

Alex Ferrari 9:35
Like, what, what are the few of those things?

Darious Britt 9:38
You know, like, working with SEO, understanding how to cultivate an audience and that sometimes it's not about the project you're on, but it's about the micro content, and the value that you're giving people in between projects or in between jobs, as they say, whereas the classical Hollywood or even the indie film right is all about the project. You know, I

Alex Ferrari 10:00
One off a one off,

Darious Britt 10:01
I spent two years making this thing to three years. And then when it's done, here I am, here's my work, you know, you live and die by it, it takes off or it doesn't. But then you just disappear again, you know, there's not much of a footprint in terms of social media in terms of micro content. Whereas when you're working on the online space, it's the opposite, like your projects are important. But what's more important is your ability to brand and your ability to leverage micro content to build community around what you're doing. So that way, it offers you more relational value to your audience, but also in terms of the work that you're doing. It just offers you more opportunities.

Alex Ferrari 10:45
Now, so let's talk a little bit about your your rise in what you've done you you've been on YouTube now since what 20 2013 Yeah, 2013, right. So you've slipped you were there kind of before a lot of these guys were, you know, talking and doing their things, you know, like everybody now has a filmmaking channel, like everybody, I'm gonna teach you how to, you know, work with a DSLR camera. Here's how you can do B roll tips and five top five lenses, the best bang for your buck, and you know, all that kind of stuff. And you've been able to cultivate a fairly ravenous audience. You know, it's you're not you don't have four or 5 million in, but the audience which is still substantial, you still have over 300,000 subscribers onto your YouTube channel, but they're pretty ravenous, I noticed that they're very engaged. Can you give some tips and kind of understanding to people listening to how you build an audience and what it takes to maintain that because you've been doing it now? What, five years? So you've been doing it longer than I have? And, and you've been able to cultivate that and maintain it and grow it while you've been doing it? So what do you have to say?

Darious Britt 11:56
It feels weird, because it I've known you for a minute. So it When did you start?

Alex Ferrari 12:02
2015 2015 Oh, man, so Wow, okay, you already two years in started before I did it that way anyway. No, I didn't like life. But like, I was shooting I was. I was shooting. I was shooting while you were watching Saturday morning. cartoons, sir. But I just met indie film hustle. Yeah.

Darious Britt 12:23
So you know, man, that's a simple question. But it's a kind of a complicated answer, to be honest with you. Like, I'm still figuring out a lot of things. And I'm still learning things about, you know what I do even now, I think my idea of what it took to grow an audience when I first started is very different than what I think is required to grow an audience now. And I think, you know, to boil it down to something stupid, simple. It's basically value. The more value you offer, the more potential you have to grow an audience. But there's different types of value, there is the educational value, right? And then there's the entertainment value. There's the relational value, there's the what you represent value, there's inspiration. And I think, when you talk about creators online, whether it be podcasting, whether it be YouTube, there are certain thresholds of talent. And depending on where you are on that value scale will kind of ultimately dictate where you fall in those thresholds. And just for, you know, all intents and purposes, we'll just say there are three thresholds right now, right? threshold, one will take my niche, for example, or even years, to a certain extent, I'm threshold one is information. Right? If you've got the information, awesome, you pass the first threshold you made that may award you like, I don't know, 3000 subscribers on YouTube are three or four, the podcast was a little different, but that's the first threshold. But in order to get to the next threshold, you got to have more than just information because people in this day and age can get that information anywhere, really so many people doing the same thing. So the next threshold becomes execution. Okay, you can give me information, but how are your videos edited? How are they lit? What do they look like? How do you sound? Is the sound sound horrible? Do you sound like, you know, you're in the bottom of a submarine? Did you shoot it on a potato? You know, like, so that's like another threshold of value, right? So now you're like, Okay, I got the information. But I also got the execution like, Look, right, they sound professional, okay, boom, you cross another threshold of value. So maybe that gets you to the 10,000 mark or something. And then there is yet another threshold of personality and relatability. Are you somebody that people could see themselves getting a beer with? Or do you approach it with the classical horsemanship of I'm going to keep my hands in this little box right here and I'm going to talk like this and I'm going to and it feels good. Just like artificial instale, you know, like, if you pierce that second threshold, the value of being relatable and authentic as a person and not being afraid to be a person and basically just have personality, that's like a third, like threshold value that you cross. So then that may award you like 20. You know, it just keeps going up and up and up from there, you know, relational value, your ability to market yourself, your ability to think past your nose when making videos. Some people they have a lot to offer, but they don't study YouTube, right? So how are you going to be good at YouTube if you don't study YouTube. And that's another threshold of value, though. So you can have a lot of other things going for you. But if you don't understand the platform, you don't understand the kind of tropes and things that the community indulges. That's one less thing that you have to arm yourself with. And I find the people that are very successful on this platform, they just have lots of value to offer in different tiers. It's not just my information is the best. No, it's like, the information, the personality, it's like the the whole package, right?

Alex Ferrari 16:08
Yeah, I think I think you're absolutely right. I think information is just not enough anymore. I mean, when I showed up, I had arguably some different kind of information, because I was kind of talking about it from a very experienced, you know, very, a lot of the experience I dealt with. And you know, and there is not a lot of that information out there. If someone who's been doing it for 20 odd years, and like real, raw stuff. I'm assuming that's one of the reasons why you were, you know, drawn to my podcast, or like I was telling you how it is I'm like, Look, this is the way Oh, yeah, within 20 1020 minutes, you know, it's like, oh, yeah. So is. So I had, I appreciate that I had that. But it was not just about information, because at a certain point, that information will change. It's like, it's just not enough. It's not enough. And then even in the short time I've been doing indie film muscle that informs a lot of that information gets put out in other places, I still believe I saw very unique perspectives and very unique information. But I do combine it with presentation, how I put it out there authenticity, and character. And then

Darious Britt 17:12
It's not only the fact that information is not enough, it's it's worse than that. It's what good is the information if the people are gone before you get to the point?

Alex Ferrari 17:21

Darious Britt 17:22
I I'm a firm believer that as brands or online personalities, whatever our first responsibility is to entertain, period. Because if you can't keep their attention, they're not going to get to the value. Correct. You know, that's my my own opinion, though. I you asked 10 people, everybody's got their own, but I firmly believe your first priority is to entertain them first.

Alex Ferrari 17:49
There's no question, no question about it. I mean, and that's one of the reasons why I liked your channel. And what you do is because you are entertaining, there's no question about it, the way you presented the videos, the way you shot them, the editing style, there was an energy of kinetic energy to them. That was really nice. And also very unique in the space, I had not seen that approach. A lot of the other kinds of approaches are very well, this is a DSLR camera, and I have a DSLR camera now and you can put on a sigma and the sigma is for the best bang for your buck. And like you know, and then you come out like, what up everybody this is it's diaries. I'm Brittany Baba Baba, and you just like and you're cutting and it's like a fisheye lens. And it was just all this kind of information. But it's it's a good lesson for people listening to understand that. It is about presentation. It is about execution execution. And I have to use that word execution even put it like a real big exclamation point on that because it's really always about execution in movies in in a script like you can give a script of 15 directors it's about execution. How are you going to pull?

Darious Britt 19:00
Ideas are a dime a dozen execution is everything

Alex Ferrari 19:04
Now what? No, no, no. So what advice do you have for people who are stuck in this vicious circle or vicious hamster wheel of ideas like I have all the ideas in the world but I'm just a little too afraid to move forward on it or I'm going to make up excuses not to move forward with it. Like I need to read I need to read 8k to shoot my drama D that has shot basically in one room and I need this and I need that I need this actor I need that much money just for me to get up out of the bed in the morning. Those are all excuses. I did those excuses. That's just absolutely pure fear and experiences. Your pure fear is what that is. And you could call it whatever you want like that. I'll call I'll call shenanigans.

Darious Britt 19:54
Fear extract, you know, like, I got to default to something you said a number of times in your pocket. casts, stop throwing obstacles in front of yourself. Correct. And that's exactly what it is when you start to say, I can't make this idea unless x, that's an obstacle, because at the end of the day, you either want to do something or you don't. And that can take different shapes, right? Like, most of the time when we get into filmmaking, we want to make the films of our youth, right, like Jurassic Park, Star Wars, whatever, most of the time, because that's why we even thought that inspired us. That's the thing that gripped us, right. But the problem with that is, you know, there's a whole economics aspect of film that piggybacks on it's just like, great, do you have 234 or $500 million? You know, it's like, obviously, you don't, but it kind of goes back to the question of, you know, once you get past that, just making films of your youth and realize, wait, there's many different aspects to this. There's any film, there's short films, there's online making films for the online space, there's, you know, once you realize there's a whole bunch of different flavors, then you go back to that question of what is it you really want to do, if all you want to do is make your passion project, that script that you've had in your drawer that you've been working on for like five to seven years, and you're continuing to look for money from friends and family and everyone? If that's all that you want to do? Then you're a fundraiser, right? You're not a filmmaker, you know, like, because if you're a filmmaker, your urge to make films would override any one project. Yes, project. It's like, okay, I would love to do this thing. But I can't do this right now. So let me put that aside, and I want to make something I can do that you make something else, oh, this is great. But I can't do this one, either. You know what, I'd be happy just shooting a short, like, I just need to do it, I have to learn I, I am happy when I'm shooting. I don't care what it is, you know, I think that's the state you need to be that's the only way to, to not throw obstacles in front of yourself is to just like, if you want to make films, make films, but now, and I'm kind of avoiding this a little bit. But this kind of goes to the larger question of like, what is your real passion? And I find that, you know, maybe you can speak to this too. But I find that most of the time when I run into people not to dilute my first point, okay, most of the time when I run into people, and I hear a lot of obstacles are thrown in front of themselves. Usually they don't want it bad enough. Oh, absolutely. Usually they don't love it enough. It's it's conditional love. I'll say that. It's conditional love. It's kind of like having that girlfriend right where you're like, man, yeah, she's so cute. She's this 3624 30 you know, whatever, to measurements, you know what I mean? Like, yeah, like you I like you. I like you let her gain a couple of extra lbs is, you know, catch her in the morning time without makeup, you know, all these little things. And before you know it, that thing that you thought was love is just infatuation, right? It's just conditional at that point, right? Oh, I thought I really wanted this. But I only want it this way. If I can't have it this way, then I don't want to have it at all right? And I find that's what a lot of filmmakers have is, it's conditional love. It's like, Yes, I like film. As long as I'm only shooting on my idea, this way with this amount of money If I can't have it this way.

Alex Ferrari 23:34
I don't want to have it at all. It's almost like a comfort zone being spoiled mentality. In like, I need to have it my way and only my way. And if it doesn't fit within my little parameters that I've set, then I'm just going to make excuses or be Vader's be a bitter angry filmmaker. And like I think I told you and I say a lot. I'm like, we all know angry bitter filmmakers. And if and if we don't and if you don't know any angry bitter filmmakers, you are the angry bitter filmmaker that everybody knows. Because it's true. I was an angry bitter filmmaker you kidding me? But it's kind of like the Hey, I want to I want to look jacked up like the rock. But and but everyone look who doesn't want to have an A, like insane physical physique, you know, like you've just ripped up six pack, but buffed and all that kind of stuff. eight foot 12 a foot 12 whatever. Like, whatever you are, like, Who doesn't want that, but nobody's willing to put in that work that the rock does, like the rock works all the time. Like, I love when he says like, I don't have to get in shape for projects. I just stay in shape. It's just easier to do that. And I'm like, Man, that is, you know, for some guys get bought for the movie and then they drop and then they get bought on the job. He's like, Nah, man, I just stay all the time. That's who he is. And he's like, he's almost pushing 50 at this point. I think he's Look like it. No, it looks amazing. And he's the rock. Come on. He's the, you know the best. But the but that is that conditional thing that you're talking about, like, Oh, I want that, to be in the way that I want. And I don't want to put into work, I don't want to put in the work, I want it to be handed to me. And so many filmmakers, myself included, and I'm sure you did at one point in your career, not you, you were expecting, I deserve this. Or I'm entitled to this. And all of this kind of all this kind of stuff that goes in the mindset of a filmmakers like That's why, you know, when I do podcaster, you know, I talk about this kind of stuff. People were like, Man, you're like, inside my head. I'm like, Yeah, dude, because I'm inside my own head. These are all thoughts I've gone through. And if I haven't personally gone through them, I've literally talked to filmmakers sitting in my edit suite over the course of my career, who I talk to them about it, and I see what they're doing and how they do things. It's it's the mindset of filmmakers, and artists in general, the fight could be screenwriters, it could be creatives of any sort, is fascinating. Because a lot of times in this business, they just don't. They don't, they don't want to put in that work. They don't want to kind of get out of that comfort zone. And I did that for so I mean, I was 40. It was 4041 when I shot my first feature, because

Darious Britt 26:28
I think there's a trial by fire period that has to happen for you to figure out if it's for you. Oh, yeah, usually that involves getting slapped around a little bit. You know, like, I spent seven years on my first feature a lot of heartbreak, a lot of great moments, but a lot of low moments. And it was just a roller coaster ride, even on YouTube, it's been a rollercoaster ride to some extent in different areas, but you get slapped up a little bit. And your expectations get rattled of what you think you should deserve, or what you think is in the cards for you, or how fast you think whatever should come should come and then like it always gets tossed around. And that's kind of the the gauntlet that you have to go through to find out what what it is about what you're doing, you really love. And if you love it enough, because without the without that period, there's nothing to test your mettle to see if it's really for you are not. And if you get slapped around a little bit, and you go back to square one, and your responses, okay, well, the way I thought things were gonna happen, is not happening. But what are my options? If you, if you tell yourself, I can't do anything else, like, this is all I'm good at, this is all I want to do. I'm just gonna have to figure out how to make it work, then it's for you, because you're not going to stop at that point. But if you end up in that situation, and you say to yourself, you know, this is not how I thought it would work out. Oh, wow, the industry, the business side is very ugly. Whoa, do I really want to be a part of this, and this and this and this and all you see is negatives. And you say to yourself, you know, there's a couple of other things that you know, I wouldn't I wouldn't mind doing this over here, or this over here, then it's not for you. And that's okay. That's okay. But we have to be real with ourselves, you know, like, you have to be willing to take the bad with the good. And when all chips are down. Yes, I will go out now shoot a micro film with no expectations of getting into Sundance patients or launching a career no expectations of anything, right much making money off of it. But I will do it because I just want to get better. So I'm not going to spend any money on it. But I want to get better.

Alex Ferrari 28:58
Isn't that an amazing concept? Like, just like that is the way it should be. That's the way it should be like and so many so many filmmakers aren't that they just don't. They never get to that point because they're afraid I look I was I didn't want to make a first movie because I was like, I needed to be perfect. And because of that stupid perfectionism is ego. So because of that I it took me so long to finally get it out. And look what happened when I made the decision to make meg 30 days after I had the idea to make a movie. I was shooting a movie. Like I was just like, just that's the way I'm gonna roll and we're gonna shoot and we shot it in eight days and we just ran for it and I did everything I made mistakes I learned. I was the DP on it. I was everything, all the other hyphens that I did on it, but I mean, learn

Darious Britt 29:42
More in those 30 days, then I'm sure you've learned in I mean, because ya know, taking on an endeavor like that is like a film school unto itself. You know, like, you're just as much about yourself.

Alex Ferrari 29:53
Yep. As you are about what I'll tell you, but I'll tell you what, though for me, I just needed to prove to myself that I could do it. Because the theory was there like I'd been, I'd worked on 70 features in post production, I've directed commercials and music videos and short films. And I'd done all of that stuff. So I, in theory knew I could do it. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. In theory, like I've done this, I finished films for other filmmakers, I know I could finish it and post I'm not no doubt about that. I know I could shoot it. Because I've done that before. I know I've kept a cat. I knew all of it, in theory, but I had to prove to myself that I could slay the cracking. I can slay that crack and that I had created for myself. And once I did that, then all bets were off. And then my next film I shot in four days at Sundance, you know, like, because I was like, what, screw it. Yeah. And I'm like, Oh, I could do this. It's great. But I wouldn't have been able to do the second film. Without first go, I would have never tried to make ego and desire. Before I made Meg because I needed to test my mettle in mag and I was able to do it, and it ended up being really well. But proving to yourself that you can do it is also another big thing that a lot of people don't talk about.

Darious Britt 31:17
I think it's overlooked because we have this Cinderella mentality when it comes to like we want our first foray out of the gate to be the boom stars in the you know, like the fireworks crack. Yeah, the fireworks explode. The Cinderella like, we want people to just be like, You're a genius,

Alex Ferrari 31:38
Reservoir Dogs, Mariachi, Clerks.

Darious Britt 31:41
But none of those guys were overnights really, if you look at their stories, none of those guys were

Alex Ferrari 31:46
All of them have hard work. All of them had hard work, but their first feature was overnight. And but I always I was actually just saying this earlier today. Those guys did not start making their movie expecting that, you know, clerks when Kevin Smith made clerks, he did not even expect it to get anywhere. He wasn't expecting that thing to blow up in this day and age. No, it wouldn't. But at that moment in time, it worked. And same thing for mariachi I mean, Robert Rodriguez or Robert Rodriguez Rodriguez just wanted mariachi to go to the Mexican VHS market. Like he didn't even think of like what Sony Columbia Pictures What? And Reservoir Dogs just like a small little gangster movie that Darren Tina wrote like he was just he wasn't expecting it to completely shoot him up out of the world

Darious Britt 32:35
Correct me if I'm wrong, he went to the Sundance Institute and they hated the project.

Alex Ferrari 32:40
But he did get but he did get in no he did. He did do I have actually seen the footage of it. He did get into the lab and but uh, they didn't like it. They worked they worked. This is too much dialogue and all this and I think that's what the guy is known for. For crying, yappy yappy, all this yappy yappy

Darious Britt 32:59
Hey, getting slapped up, though, you know, you got to take your licks and get slapped. anything worth doing doesn't come easy.

Alex Ferrari 33:04

Darious Britt 33:06
Anything doesn't come easy. And I think that, you know, there's been several times in my journey, not only with the feature, but even on YouTube where things aren't looking good, bro. Looking good, man. Yeah, you're like, man, oh, you know, like,

Alex Ferrari 33:22
Why am I here?

Darious Britt 33:24
At this rate, how many years Am I looking at? To get where I'm trying to go? Oh, man, at least 15-20. Right. And that's not even talking about the monetary side, you're like, is this worth it? Or should I just stop and go get a job and Mickey D's right now? Yeah. You know, and it's like, you know, and it's these are hard discussions, though. These are hard conversations when when you're looking stats in the face, and you're having to say, Do I have what it takes? And the answer is, I don't know. Right? I've already given this thing my best shot. This is my best shot. I just gave it I don't have anything else to offer right now. Right? The marketplace is looking back at me and saying, nope. Yeah, bro. Like, you know, and the same with the streets want to see right now, you know, here like the streets. Let's see. You have to ask it. These are hard, hard conversations. And I I've had them at least three times, man where I'm like, Man,

Alex Ferrari 34:29
It's like, it's like,

Darious Britt 34:30
Yeah, it's like, if I keep doing it, there is no guarantee of success. There is no yellow brick road. There is no model to try that I know is gonna work. If I keep doing it. Now. It's only because I have some enjoyment out of it. That's it, because I can't expect to make a living out of it. I can't expect to have success out of it. So all I have left is you're doing it because you enjoy it and hopefully a couple of people find it useful. And that's it. You know what? Yeah. I'm gonna keep doing this. And I kept doing it. And then I started learning more and more as I went, and you keep learning and you keep learning and just one step at a time. And before you know it, you look back and like, Whoa, how did I get here? But it all starts with that. That moment where it's like, it doesn't look good, man. And, and I think when people hit that moment, and that that is the walk in the fire moment, that is the trial by fire the gauntlet, that's the moment where you decide if you love it enough, right there. And then if you don't, it's easy to turn away. It's so easy, because you're like, Man, look. No, I'm good. I'm gonna go over here, man. Like, this is ridiculous. But if you do love it, then you're like, Okay, well, I may not get the success that I thought I would. But I love it enough to be flexible. to just try other things and just keep learning hell out shoe commercials. I don't even like shooting commercials and dealing with clients is like, oh, but you know what? At least I'm around it.

Alex Ferrari 36:06
I'll do that. You know, I love you have to have man. And there's no question man, I actually had to, I've had that conversation with myself. So many times in my career, like after, you know, after my book, you know, that whole story came across, and I was like, Am I is this worth it? Like, you know, when you when you're devastated and broken, and, you know, selling comic books on eBay? Because you're hiding from the world? That is a moment in your life? where like, is this? Am I gonna come out of this? Like, how am I gonna eat it? Like, is this for me? But the question that the answer that always came back is like, what else are you gonna do? I was just gonna say that, like, Why, what else are you? What are you qualified to do? And like, and then that was the answer that always for me, I'm sure for you as well. For me, it was always like, Alright, sure what else you're going to do. But seven, and now it's going to be like, almost seven years ago, when my daughters were born. I, I had that question again. Because at that moment in my life, I was beat up by I was doing so many. I was doing way too many. Eric Robert movies in post. Let's just put it that way. You know, and like really low budget, Michael Madsen and Danny srei hoes, and I was dealing with these kind of unscrupulous deep distributors, and I had to go chase money and, and I was just doing a post on all this kind of stuff. And I just kind of was just so and this is like a year of this. And I was burnt. And then my daughters came. And I'm like, I don't know, ma'am, am I gonna keep doing this? And I asked the question. Well, I can't, I can't is this for me? Can I should I do something else? And what and for whatever reason, the universe said, Oh, yeah, you could do something else. Why don't you open up an olive oil and vinegar gourmet shop? That's oddly specific. Very, exactly. And I said, Yeah, I'll do that. And that was the universe going this month. You know, this, okay? Okay, you don't like what you're doing. I'm going to give you a little tip, I'm going to show you what you don't like to do. And I'm going to tie you up for three years in the least that you can't get out of. And, and that's what happened. And I it was the worst three years of my entire life. Maybe not the year of my gangster year, but other than the gangster years, or second worst three years of my life. And it was it was it taught me so when I came out with indie film, hustle, it came it out right at the tail end of when I was closing that business. So right, like they overlapped. Because I was already like, I gotta get out of this, I got to get out of this. But that taught me it's like sometimes when you're on your path, sometimes you have to take that detour to realize what your true calling is what your true mission is in life. And that's where I came back and I came back with a vengeance. You know, I came back hard, real quick. And it was it was you know, changed my trajectory in life but

Darious Britt 39:08
Doing you doing something you don't want to do. Just you running towards what you love to do, because I was in the Air Force for four years. The same thing jet mechanic. I don't even know why I picked that job till this day. Something about like, I should try something new. And

Alex Ferrari 39:23
I saw Top Gun I saw Top Gun and this is what happened.

Darious Britt 39:26
You don't pick a job based on like a hunch. You know, I should be more No, you don't. If you're going to do some Emmys. You need to have been working on cars and you need to know that you love it before you pick the job. And so I picked the job that I just hated. I love the people I was working with but I hated the job. So getting out you know, it's like this. It's like this soul deadening. Yes. Feeling where you're you're spending so much time on something you couldn't care less about it just like cripples you And it sends you running toward things that no matter how risky they are, it's better than that feeling you get when you're doing something that you know inside is not for you.

Alex Ferrari 40:11
Oh, preach brother preach. I'm sure people listening right now there's some chills going up people's spines in certain areas, you know, because they might be listening to this or watching this in that job. And I hope, I hope, look, I hope this, I hope this information, I hope this energy gets out to you, that if you are in that dead end job, and you're saying, oh, man, it's just because I have to pay, I have to pay the bills. You've got to figure something else out.

Darious Britt 40:37
You gotta you gotta I don't care if you're Carbonell 10 minutes, 20 minutes a day, you need to find some kind of time to start working toward your dreams. It's also your skill set.

Alex Ferrari 40:46
Yeah, you have to, you have to start a side hustle first. Like if your muscle for me was a side hustle at the beginning, I was doing posts in the day and an indie film hustle at night kind of thing. And then slowly but surely that side, hustle turned into the main hustle. And now it's the one thing I do. And same thing goes for you. You know, now you do the same thing with with your channel and your and I want to mention this before I forget, and I was having this conversation I don't remember with who might have been making. I was like 18 hours? It could have been.

Darious Britt 41:16
I could have been, um, we have to change our metrics for success. Yeah, it was really, yeah. It wasn't worth it. We have to change how we gauge success because I think that's an even bigger trap. Because with unrealistic expectations out of the gate, you're already hamstringing yourself for what's to come.

Alex Ferrari 41:38
But isn't that but but isn't that what the business is? And that's what the industry teaches. They teach the sizzle story. So yeah, that they all they do is sell the sizzle. And all they do is sell like film schools sell you on? You're going to be the next Spielberg, you're going to be the next Nolan. And the chances of that happening are so nil but that's okay. There's no Look, there's only so many guys, we're going to be able to how many? How many directors get the opportunity to direct the $200 million movie? Not many. I mean period like period in the history of film. How many directors got the opportunity? How many directors got to do a tentpole studio movie, or a big big budget, like how many of them are there, there's

Darious Britt 42:19
Your talk. You know, when you talk about Sundance, you talk about the you have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting into Sundance, but like sheer numbers, says how many they actually take Yeah, you have the better chance of winning the lottery. But that number, like how many directors actually get to play that in that ballgame? That number is less

Alex Ferrari 42:43
All come from the massive talking like an infant visible fraction of everybody who everyone who wants to be a filmmaker and everyone who wants to be a director,

Darious Britt 42:53
It's it's so that it's ridiculously you're I mean, you're talking about the cream of the cream of the cream of the cream of the cream. Yeah. Oh, and not even all those guys are good. It's just been able to leverage it. But I mean, that's like, it's almost like a pipe dream to a certain extent, you know

Alex Ferrari 43:13
But the thing is that what you're I think what we talked about was, and if you don't get there, that's okay. There's so many other ways to be fulfilled in the film industry, as a filmmaker, without having to go after that big dream. And with my story, I was chasing, I was raised in the 90s. I mean, I came up in the 90s when it was the what the just magical, early 90s for independent film, like every year that was a new Cinderella story. JOHN Singleton, you know, clerks, Tarantino, Rodriguez, SATA Berg, like every year there was, there was someone new emotion to it was just, it was a different world back then. So that mentality stuck with me where I had, like, I gotta have that moment for myself. That's why I got caught up with a mobster trying to make a movie because I'm like, this is my shot. This is my shot. This is my Rodriguez. This is my Singleton, you know, this is my eight, my baby. This is my shot, got one shot. But that was the thing. And I finally keep in my, in my elder years, as a 40. Now 44 year old man, as of this recording, I came to grips with what makes me happy. And I'm not, don't get me wrong. If I get a call from a studio tomorrow. I'll take that meeting. You know, I'll take that meeting. But at a certain point, look, is that really what I want anymore? A perfect story is Mark duplass. And the duplass brothers, they got called by Marvel to do a Marvel movie. And they turned it down, which goes against the EU came with it. They knew that like I'm gonna be locked up for three years on one project. I'm not gonna have the control about it and it's gonna be nothing but pressure. Sure, I'll get Money. Sure am, I open up other opportunities, but that's just not going to make me happy. And that was such an immense message to send out to the world, I believe, to the filmmaking world, because you're like, because everybody else Look, I would have taken it, I would have taken it. But that's not his definition of happiness. That's not this definition of fulfillment in the business. So you've got to figure out what that fulfillment is for you. And be okay with it not being like, it's like, I'm gonna play baseball. But if If I don't win a championship every year, it's not worth it. Like you can't think that way. Like

Darious Britt 45:37
It's my office also a sign of inexperience, it's a sign of naivety, because there's so many other things out there that you can do. But if you don't know about them, and even better yet, you don't know how you will feel about them. How can you make a judgement on something you don't know about? That's like having an assortment of 10 foods in front of you. The only thing you've had is a cheeseburger ice cream, you've got a well, you know all these other great foods pizza, but the only thing you've ever had is a cheeseburger. That's the only thing you've ever heard anybody talking about. Yeah. So you're like, well, I don't want ice cream. I mean, it's cheeseburger or bust. Right? What it's not like there's not enough bread, like it doesn't even look good. It's awful. If you never had it, like look at Pete looks awful.

Alex Ferrari 46:32
It does

Darious Britt 46:33
Not happen that no, it's cheeseburger. But it that's kind of what I liken it to is like, you don't know what other things one are, like, what's available to you and two, how you will feel about them. And three, the sustainability options to those things. You don't know enough about what's out there to make those snap decisions. So when I hear people say that and myself included when I was back in that mindset, it was all my equity, because I didn't know what I didn't know now I'm in a space kind of like you are it's like, you know, if Hollywood were to knock on my door tomorrow, sure. I would entertain it. Yeah, like, Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 47:08
Let's talk. I'll have a meeting. I'll take that meeting. just purely just purely for the stories alone.

Darious Britt 47:13
Yeah, I've had them before, actually. You know, that's a whole nother story. But yeah. But if it like circumstances different and all that, and they knock on the door, and I'm like, yeah, sure, let's talk. But in the back of my mind, though, I always have that walkaway, where it's like, Okay, if the terms aren't right, for me, though, I'm doing fine, where I where I am, I don't need you to make a living, I don't need you to make a way for me, I've already made my own way. And I can continue to make my own way. But we can do something together. And if it works, sure, but I don't have to jump on everything offered to me.

Alex Ferrari 47:52
Yeah, and I'll throw a recent story that's happening. I'm actually in talks with different distribution companies for my film on the corner of ego and desire, I've been blessed to have options. And there was one company I really liked, and they're, they're a good company and in and they had some really good opportunities for the film. But I walked away from the deal. I walked away from, you know, theatrical and other avenues because I was like, You know what, this just doesn't make sense for me. Like I, I need certain things to be in place for this, this deal to make sense to me. And I walked from the deal. Where as before, filmmakers are so desperate sometimes in the distribution game that they just jump on whatever anybody gives them. And I'm in a, I'm in a very, you know, wonderful position where I could just walk away from it, because I don't have $500,000 invested in that movie I made I made a ego and desire for like, I haven't, I've even said this, but I made that movie for about three grand, you know, so like, it didn't cost me anything to make that movie. So for me, I, that's a lean project. That's a lean as project Baby, you know. So, you know, I think there's like three to four grand total, like, including audio posts and everything. And you know, favors Don't forget, and deferred payments and other things like that. But overall, though, I pocket like three, four grand, so I don't really, I can just walk away because I was able to keep my overheads so low, that I have the power to just, you know what, I just put it up on ifH TV, or I just distributed myself, I could do that. But I'm working with another distributor and we're gonna put it out in other places. But the power to be able to walk away is huge is huge, especially when you're negotiating with somebody just like cuz I just don't like when someone sits down, negotiate with me on something like that. I'll be like, Look, dude, this is what I got. If you don't like it, I'm good, man. It's all good. No hard feelings. But I'm not I'm not your normal. I'm not your normal scenario. You know, I'm not an uneducated that guy. I'm not that dude. I'm not an uneducated guy who doesn't understand distribution and understand that. Not that not that this company, by the way, was trying to screw me or anything like that. It's just the deal was not structured in a way that it made sense for me. It was a good deal, but it just wasn't. It wasn't what I wanted. And, but that has a tremendous amount of power to just literally just go, that's not for me, I'm going to walk away. And if you can get to that place as a filmmaker, oh my god, that's an immense, beautiful, powerful place to be that you are in control of your own destiny. Oh, my God, that's,

Darious Britt 50:22
I think you can get that way you can you can achieve that. But it's only for the people who love it enough to be elastic. Yeah, not I did not get into film to become a film school. Just going to be honest with you. My idea in filmmaking wasn't let me make tip videos online. It took me a long time to grow toward that, you know, because my idea is like, I want to be the next Tarantino, I want to be the next you know, of course, I make my film, I make my art, I put it out there for people to enjoy it. That was my idea of a filmmaker, right? And it goes back to that having 10 foods in front of you, and all you had is a cheeseburger. All I ever had was a cheeseburger. That's all I thought about film was autour filmmaking, you know? And you know, you know, so my journey in YouTube kind of broadened my horizons a little bit. And that was like, hey, I need to promote this film. I need to get out there. this YouTube thing, I'm hearing stuff about it. I did a couple of weeks research and realize Whoa, there's people building huge followings. Why am I not heard of this? Boom, let me just jump in. And I wasn't precious about it at all. I was like, Well, I'm gonna be going to these film festivals, I'm doing a whole Film Fest run real soon, if I'm going to start, I have to start now. So that I can like capture the whole thing from start to finish. And I figured people would jump on the chance to see like, this is what happens after you make a film. You know, like, that was my whole pitch, unbeknownst to me, then that's not even a discoverable thing to start with. But anyways, you know, I just jumped in. And I wasn't precious about it. And I didn't think much of it. My whole thing was my film on sound, this YouTube thing, just a means to an end. But that was the best thing for me because it allowed me to just jump in, without thinking too much about it. Because I didn't. I mean, I cared but I didn't, you know, it's like it was just a means to an end for this other thing that I've spent all this money on all this time on. So it was the best thing for me allowed me to just jump in. And in doing so I got to Hey, what's this ice cream thing here? Like, let me take just a little

Alex Ferrari 52:25
Oh, that's not bad.

Darious Britt 52:26
That's not bad. What is that a candidates, okay, and there's this, this pepperoni thing. I don't mean that every time I see that. I don't want no parts of that. But you know, there's just a little piece of sauce on the table here. Let me just, oh, it's kind of like this. But let me take a cut. So by just jumping in, I got to kind of just bump into these other things. Sooner or later. It's like, Hey, you know that thing that I thought I would never do that. When I see other people doing it. I'm like, why would I do that? Like, that's just now it's not looking so bad. I tried it and it came back. And then I saw this other person eating it. And then he looked like he was having a good time. And then it's like, and it allowed me to grow beyond my preconceived idea of what film was in ways to do film and ways to still be involved in ways to give value and be a part of the community. It allowed me to grow into the tips thing, you know, it's like, then it's like, Hey, you know, and then I did my first tips video, and it struck like lightning. And then I see the people and they're like, Hey, we really enjoy what you did. And it was so clear, and I was having trouble with this. And you really help shine light on that. And then you get a feeling from that you're like, wow, this really made a difference in somebody's life. But then it's going back to that how can you value something you've never touched? or seen? How do you you don't even know what you're missing? So know what you're missing?

Alex Ferrari 53:54
I mean, I'll tell you from my my little story of that, which is it took me a little longer than you did. But I made my first short in 2005 and was called broken and I did that DVD that had like three and a half hours of making of all right, that whole thing and I sold 5000 copies of it. But afterwards, we had this conversation like man, if I would have just kept going on YouTube, well, I would have owned it, I would have owned the space. There was nobody on YouTube doing it in 2005. But my trailers and some of my behind the scenes are still up on YouTube from 2005, which is hilarious to watch now. But I said to myself, I'm not. I'm not a film school. I'm not that dude. Why? Because in my mind, I'm like, well, Spielberg doesn't do that work. Yeah, Spielberg doesn't do that. You know, Tarantino didn't do that, you know, all these all these, you know, Fincher is not that guy. Like, I'm like I can't do that. Is like that's the thing they see. This is how the ego works in your own mind is so brilliant, like you're having the conversation that you are even in the same sentence as these masters. who have been working at their craft for decades of their lives? Hundreds of 1000 that 10,000 hours, hundreds of 1000s of hours. But then because I didn't do that, and I started to go down another road, which is much more egocentric. I'm like, I'm the tour. By the way, my very first production company, a tour pictures, no joking. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, very first. Tour pictures. Look it up. Fantastic. Anyway, so I went off the road, and I went on this dark, you know, journey. And then all the way back 10 years, literally 10 years to the day later, I launched indie film, hustle, I went full circle went back to like, I'm gonna educate the grow into it, though, but it didn't take you 10 years to do that.

Darious Britt 55:50
But also social media, you know, wasn't around but we're also talking about a difference in time to shore 2005 is up Scott out of film school. So I was like, clawing at everything at this point, you know, just like ravenous, you know, like, so it's, it's a, I think, a little different in time, because YouTube wasn't what it was when I started and only I had a case studies to look at, whereas you did your thing. You didn't

Alex Ferrari 56:14
Nobodyknew that that thing was going to be what it was, it wasn't

Darious Britt 56:18
A thing. It's hindsight wasn't killing it yet. But I had people who actually pioneered and did some things. So then when I turned to look at it, I could be like, that guy right there. That's interesting. They crowdfunded an entire web series for how much money? Yeah, for what? Huh. But if that wasn't there, I would not have had the idea because I wouldn't have had the case studies to see myself. That's

Alex Ferrari 56:43
What I like. That's what I

Darious Britt 56:44
Didn't show there. Yeah, that wouldn't have been there. You didn't have that. So I think you give yourself more credit to look like have you seen that? Maybe would have been like, Well, you know, in two, I think another part of the discussion is, uh, it's not that we want to put ourselves on the same level as the greats. It's more like we don't want to ruin our chances of being one of the greats by doing something that could be perceived as less than do you are like that?

Alex Ferrari 57:17
Do you remember that? There was a moment in time where commercial directors were were looked at as videos and music video and commercial directors were looked on in Hollywood, like like literally pa like they were horrible filmmakers. Like that's not a real filmmaker. I remember Michael Bay story with bad boys. And and David Fincher his infamous alien three story of how he got all that stuff. And he got slapped around, he got slapped around, and Michael Bade literally had to pay $250,000 for a shot, because he wanted and I still remember the shot because I heard it in the commentary. I've never forgot it. There was a shot in bad boys where it's towards the end where the plane and there's an explosion out of the plane when they're all fighting. And the dude flies out of the plane into the camera, like literally flies out flying out. That was our that shot. That was a Michael Bay shot, and he paid $250,000 to keep the crew late to do that. And the next morning, so Jerry Bruckheimer would see it. He had the check that he wrote and put it up in front of the lens. So he knew everyone knew that he paid for that shot, right before they shot the shot. And of course, the rest is history, whether you like Michael or not, we can have a conversation about that later. But, but you got it but Anton Fuqua, Spike Jones, all this is amazing group that came out of the commercial world. They had if they played by their own rules, they weren't like, well, Spielberg did direct commercials. I'm like, No, but Ridley did, and really did. All right. And Tony did. And Tony did all right. They were following a different model like Ridley Scott and Tony Scott, were the first guys out the gate. You know, they were the first ones and their first movies weren't papapapa power, you know, they're great films, the hunger and the Shootist. They're both great films. But it took Ridley a few a minute or two to do alien and Blade Runner.

Darious Britt 59:11
But all of these greats we're talking about though, they they had to do something else before they could get absolutely, you know, they all had, you know, in with each generation, or I should say a couple generations, that thing changes, right? Yeah, commercials are not the best way anymore competitions too high. Just the whole landscapes, different music videos. That's a whole nother discussion. Like there was a point when that was like, I think the thing you know, and it's like, oh, that's your way in but then times change the economics change, the business changes. And now that window closes, but a group of guys got in from that window. Then there was a time when like Sundance was the way to get in. And then that's how you got the whole crew. The whole Sundance crew, you know, where it's like, there was a window where Sundance was just starting and it was in its little infancy and like It Wasn't this giant brand. And so they didn't have like the paralyzing number of films coming in, it was only like 200 400, whatever.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:07
So technology wasn't there either to do that at the time, yes, you had to shoot film. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Darious Britt 1:00:23
So your taxes were a lot higher. And then there was a group of people who got in that way. Boom. But look at that.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:30
Look at that. Look at the film, school generation. Look at Scorsese, and Spielberg and melius and Coppola and all that. That was a time. Yeah, they came through. The studio system was collapsing. And they had no and they gave basically the keys of the inmates run the asylum.

Darious Britt 1:00:45
Yeah, no, but they, but I'm spacing on his name right now. Where he was in Roger. Oh, Rob.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:53
Yeah, you're talking about the kids in the kitchen? Sure.

Darious Britt 1:00:56
Yeah. Yeah. Well, he just like notorious for just like we're spending next to nothing. And we're just cranking these out like a factory. Yeah. And so many filmmakers came through this Scorsese like they went through his film school. Oh, Roger Corman. Yeah. Roger Corman. But that was another time where Ron Howard, jack nicholson, what how many people were like, I don't like Roger Corman's movies. I don't want to do that. That's not film, but I'll do it. I'll learn on somebody else's dime. Sure. I got I got to shoot it for next to nothing. But at least I'm shooting right.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:28
I think so. Alright, so now we just discussed something I think is really interesting. We were talking about generational openings, like there's opportunities per generation. If if the studio system wasn't collapsing in the 70s, and EZ rider hadn't shown up to, you know, that cost $150,000 and made millions and millions 10s of millions of dollars. And the studio said, Wait a minute, we have no understanding what the audience wants anymore. Let's get these young. Yeah, we're out of touch. Let's get this Spielberg cat. And this Scorsese cat and this Coppola guy. And let's give them this. Give them the keys to the castle. That was a moment in time, then, like you said, then there was the 80s. Then there was a 90s. And it was the music video time. That was the 80s the music video and I flipped 80s 90s commercials, music videos wave where a whole bunch of music video directors came in. Yeah, yeah,

Darious Britt 1:02:18
there was the right doors closed, that era was over. And then another era opened up and then the Sundance thing where you start hearing a whole bunch of Cinderella stories, but it was all Sundance that was what early 90s.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:29
Early, early to mid 90s is where those that's when

Darious Britt 1:02:33
the music video stuff anymore, then it was all about like these fast story success stories. Kevin Smith, you know, in his Boom, boom, boom, boom. And now that window I feel is closing, I have the outliers that still come through every here and there. Like I'm sure there's still people who come through from the music video at the volume as when the window was hot and wide open.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:53
So my question to you is being a YouTuber. And, you know, what do you see? Where do you see what's the window right now, to get in?

Darious Britt 1:03:03
You know, that's a tricky question. Because I think we're in an interesting time now, where all of the other times the business model was the same. Because it was a

Alex Ferrari 1:03:19
DVD was a different thing in the 90s. But generally speaking,

Darious Britt 1:03:22
The foreign sales market, like things were up and down, but the way things happened was the same. And I think we're entering an interesting time now where the biggest kid on the block is in the studio's anymore. The biggest getting the clicks. I mean, you look at the you know, what the studio spent in 2015 or 16, like the total number they spent, like combined to make movies was like 2 billion. Combined, right? Yeah. And the total number of

Alex Ferrari 1:03:56
Projects and things. Yeah,

Darious Britt 1:03:58
Yeah. Now talking like the indie film space, guess how much money they spent combined, like cooking, including all the films that didn't make money to less than 2% make money or something. That's how much money they spent, how much? 2 billion guess how much money Netflix spent that same year, that would be six to 8 billion if

Alex Ferrari 1:04:19
I remember correctly. 11 billion. Look at that. Yeah,

Darious Britt 1:04:23
They spent 11 to produce content. That's what they spent these other G's. So like, that tells you so much about where the market is right now? Who's really minting the dollars? And what business models actually making sense. Right? Those aren't really the studio model has been throwing darts in the dark the whole time but because of the technology at the time and the internet and not being word is or not even being around up to a certain point, right. So it allowed for that business model to thrive off scarcity off of exclusivity, you know what I mean? But then it's As the internet opened up, and then better business models came along like Netflix data analytics. You can beat that. You can't beat that. So now, you know, Netflix doesn't have to throw darts in the dark, bro. No,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:14
They know exactly. They know exactly what people want to watch when they're watching how long they're watching it. We got stats, baby, we got stats,

Darious Britt 1:05:21
Yes, that's all the day or behavior patterns of all 44 million Harvey made 100 something million subscribers 146 or something million. We got data on all of them, all of them. It's just a matter of mix and match at that point. And we and then we also know how much to spend on it. Because we can they can afford to take a niche topic and say, Oh, yeah, well, we'll throw 10 million at that, you know, but they have the metrics to tell them what's worth putting a ton of money into. And what's not, where's the studios never had that. That's why every single time they come out, we're swinging for the fences every single time just because you can't capitalize on niche markets without data.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:06
Well, as of this recording that new Ben Affleck action movies coming out on Netflix forgot like a heist movie. It's it's 100 it has to be like at least 100 million plus movie easily. I still am fascinated with the Christmas movie. They just get the Kurt Russell Christmas movie. Did you see it on Netflix? But you saw promotions for Yeah, he's playing Santa and stuff. It was directed by Chris Columbus, Chris Columbus, who directed home alone. And the first to Harry Potter's, you know, among other things that he directed in his career. And I looked at that I was like, they're gonna make money off of that movie for decades, because every Christmas, my kids are gonna want to watch that movie now because we loved it. We must have seen it two or three times. When it came out. And I looked at I'm like that movie would have if it would have gone theatrical. Easy would have pulled over 200 million to $300 million. It's seasonal. But it's but

Darious Britt 1:07:01
But it was back to your question, though, about how things have changed, or about the business models changing the landscape. I think we're at a time now where I don't think it's fair to look at like the classical Hollywood model. As the Pinto ultimate. It's

Alex Ferrari 1:07:19
Not it's not anymore. It hasn't been it hasn't been for a while. No. It's just it. You know, the viewership in the Oscars every year is going down this year. So this year, so it's gonna be horrible. Oh,

Darious Britt 1:07:30
There's so many other things showing that the interest is kinda going, Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:37
But also the generational thing to man like, Oh, yeah, the millennials coming up and stuff. They're there. for your attention. They're also changing the way their value system is different. They're like, I don't want to work for a company for 30 years and get a gold watch and retire. That's not my dream. My dream is to go to Bali for two months out of the year, and then work from home. Like that's, and I don't need to make $5 million a year I'm good with making 100 grand a year, if that keeps me in the lifestyle that I like. Like that mentality is changing everything. So now viewership is like I need instant gratification. I need things that are catered to me, because I remember when I worked at the video store, in high school, I watched everything that came out every week, which was approximately three to four, maybe five movies a week, were being released, I still remember very clearly, I need multiple lifetimes to watch all the content that's being created just this year, just this year, let alone all the stuff that's been created and will continue to be combinate. There's entire series that I've never touched, or watched, but I know that are really good. So there's no lack of good content. Now, it's got to be curated niched content that I want to watch. That's why I opened up ifH. TV, you know, it's a niche able to thrive on the niche because of data. And to data driven decisions are everything we live in the age of data driven decisions, analytics, the people who are successful on YouTube.

Darious Britt 1:09:08
Show me someone who has over a million subscribers on YouTube that does not understand how to look at analytics. And also on that other hand, I can show you more examples. And I know of people who are not successful in YouTube. And they probably don't even know how to look at their analytics, because it tells you everything. It literally tells you everything you want to know how can people aren't clicking or how long they're clicking or what, what what you're losing them on. If you don't know how to look at your analytics. You're missing the boat. It's telling you right there. They don't have to. They don't have to comment in your comments and tell you why. Because I don't know what the ratio was the percentage but like it was like 99.7 or 99.9% of customers. If they're not happy with something, they just go they don't say anything, right? If you go to a shoe store and you have a shoe, a Nike shoe, you pull off the rack and you don't like it you don't go up To the teller and say, This is what I don't like about the show, you just don't buy it. Right? You just go. And that's the same thing for online, the only time you start getting into all the hate and all that is when you've actually gotten somewhere because now it's worth it. It's worth my time to tear you down now, because it gives me visibility. That's the only time you start to get that but if you haven't gotten anywhere yet, you even get haters, bro. They guys find your video and you're like, oh man is saying this the same with the street. The streets don't want this. What is it? This?

Alex Ferrari 1:10:31
You should get a T shirts. There's this recent one.

Darious Britt 1:10:36
If they don't like it, or if they don't believe in what you're saying, or if you know you get facts wrong, whatever. They don't say anything. They just go. I'm out of here. That's it, right? But your analytics tell you everything even when like people are like begging for feedback. Give me feedback. Give me feedback. How can I get better? It's so hard to get feedback, bro. It's all in your analytics, man. It's totally clear. 22nd 10 You said this one thing boom, huge drop. Let me go and see what the top Oh, wow. Why aren't they dropping from that? Let me Oh, quick google search. Oh, there's a whole fact I got wrong. No wonder. People are looking at me like I'm an idiot. You know? It's like it's all there.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:12
Do you think that filmmakers in moving forward because there's so many filmmakers, so many screenwriters, so many content creators coming out of film schools and coming into the into the marketplace now? Who have this old mentality, this mentality of the old way of doing things I would, the classic call is everything your worth for the dream that you throw you risk everything on the one movie, as opposed to you know, I always tell people like reach my house. Like if someone tells me like, I'm gonna give you a quarter million dollars to make a movie. I'm like, great, I'm gonna go make five movies. Like, that's my mentality. That's my mentality. I'm gonna diversify. So I have complete control of my creative output. And I nullify the risk. As in that's the business. That's a business model that can make sense that can roll. But if you roll it all on the one, and you're like, well, I need 250 to make this story play. I'm like, well, that is your first one. Don't do that, man. It doesn't make sense.

Darious Britt 1:12:11
It's like this. Okay, I want to start a business. We'll just put film on the table. For now. I want to start a business and selling olive oil and vinegar, let's say, Yeah, well, what do you know more about that? So I don't even know where to? Look? I mean, something like that, you know, it's like, I want to start a business. But in order to start this business, I need $500,000. Sure. So I have to go talk to lawyers, doctors, whoever I know. Yeah. What's the business plan? Sure. It convinced them of this new software that doesn't exist. Oh, and by the way, my experience with software is like this, right? very minimal. I just learned it last year, I just graduated,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:45
I watched some but every school I saw somebody code once.

Darious Britt 1:12:49
Yeah, I saw somebody code once. But I have to go talk people into giving me $500,000. Or you can just say, like, some pilot product or something that you have to actually get developed or you know, whatever. There's a difference between, there's a way to do it. And there's a way to do it, like going out and trying to convince people for $500,000 on a theory, because that's all your stuff is is a theory, if you have right? You don't know if it's going to work until it's in the marketplace, and then the market is going to decide there's so many films that people are like, yeah, everybody's gonna love it. You get it in the marketplace flops, then there's films that everybody's like, Why in the world that this thing take off? Everybody's got question marks, but the market wanted to see it. It's the same thing on YouTube. How many people do you see on YouTube doing so well? And you're like, what is it about? I don't get it like, but the market loves it. And then there is content and channels, that's like, Man, this is really good stuff. They really need more views. But the market doesn't think so. So you don't know what the marketplace wants you you will never know what the marketplace wants. Looking in from the outside. The only way is to actually have a product that you insert into the marketplace. And you see what it does. That's the only way to figure out and you collect data. So for that guy who has that $500,000 business plan for this theory, and he begs people for five years,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:09
not to say at least five year 10 year process, right? Yeah,

Darious Britt 1:14:11
maybe he gets it maybe he doesn't. But if he does get it, he you know, makes the product or whatever puts it in the marketplace and flops, guess what happens? You're back to square one only worse. You lost a whole lot of people money now. Now you're in

Alex Ferrari 1:14:23
jail, not literally and now it's not theory. They know. They know that you can't do it.

Darious Britt 1:14:27
Yeah. So but so that's one way to do it and it sucks because you're taking all the risk. There's nothing to ameliorate that. There's no insulators, there's no nothing it's pure war on adulterated risk, like milk of magnesia straight up extract, you're putting the pipe in the tree and that's straight saps coming out. Risk k the other way. This is a solid is like pouring, pumping through your veins just risk is what you want. I just

Alex Ferrari 1:14:58
want risk. It's like mines was like Coffee mine was like utter fear. And yours is like risk.

Darious Britt 1:15:04
Yeah, it's just it's just pure risk for risk sake.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:10
Because of the dream because of ego, because of the way that

Darious Britt 1:15:15
it thinks that it's always been done even though time and time again, it's not how it's always been done. That's just the way it's projected to think even in film. The other way is minimum viable product. The other way is lean projects, you know, just with business, they say, the lean startup, you can go and you can shop around an idea that you need $500,000 for, or you can start a lean business that you can start right now with something that you have access to. So if you're talking about creating software, and you have limited experience, Well, how about you shelf that now don't get rid of it, just shelf it for now. And think about another business model that you can start that you have access to that you could start with your own money. And that's how you got the guy who? Napster he started printing people CDs for them. That's all he did. You know, and they were like, Oh, you print CDs, and then a whole bunch of people started and then boom, huge business. You know, it's like starting with something accessible, that you don't have to go find money for the lean startup, because what happens you can get into it for no money. So what does that allow you to do? experiment or product? Boom, what is the market what is the market do does it like it does or not. And even if it doesn't like it right away, you can hit him again, you can Gatling gun things out and make tweaks and zero in on what the market wants to see. And then once you find it, you're done. You just rinse, wash, repeat and scale, but you have something that works. And that's the benefit of the lean startup. So if we take the business side off, and then we go back to film, it's the exact same thing. Only you replace a business plan with a pitch and a script, I'm gonna go and convince all my friends and family that give me $300,000. Because this is so good. It'll get into Sundance and Tribeca or whatever everybody's gonna love is gonna watch my filmmaking career, you want to be you know, it's like the same thing. You have the guy who has the expensive pitch, and he can spend five, seven years looking for money for that pitch. And then you have the guys who are like, you know what, I do have my expensive ideas, but I'm going to show them for now. Let me do a film idea that is accessible to me. I'm going to use resource filmmaking I'm going to work with what I have. I got my buddies pool over here that's empty. looks interesting. Let me put that in the feature. I've got this abandoned school bus over here. That's cool. Let me write that in the feature. I have one actor who's actually decent in a whole bunch of people who could not get away out of a paper wet paper bag. Okay, well, you're the star and the rest of you guys, I'm kind of cut all your roles down. And this guy who barely talks and looks crazy, I'm just gonna have you looking crazy in the corner. I'm gonna write everything toward what I have. And I'm gonna make something out of that. And guess what? Now I have MVP, minimum viable product. test that out in the marketplace, the market either wants to see it, or does it doesn't want to see it. Guess what, I

Alex Ferrari 1:18:00
can do that all day. It didn't give us anything correct. And it's like I said, if you if you're lucky enough to get a 200,200 $50,000, make 567 movies with that money. Yeah. And then I promise you on movie two or three, you figured out something, hopefully. But you're still just trying things out. And like I did with my first movie mag mag was made for about five or six grand. And then my second movie went lower, I went down to three or four grand. And I'm like, I could take risks I can enjoy I could see. And if the marketplace doesn't like it, it's not a loss. But if it meant something to me as an artist, all good. I'm creating art, I'm creating a product that I'm happy with. And I'm cool with. And if you don't, it doesn't have to make them $220 billion. If it made if I made a $4,000 movie, and it makes me 10 or 15 grand over the course of the next three years. That's a success. Wherever you look, that victory. Is that a is that a viable career path? Is that a viable business? Yes, if you're able to do do that four or five times a year, and then you also do other side hustles. And you also create other other avenues. Like you create a school about teaching you how to do that kind of film, something like what you do and what I do. We're now you're able to it's all all relative, you have to create ancillary products, you can create other things.

Darious Britt 1:19:20
It's all it's all leverage. And I think I think that for the people who are stuck in that, because the business world has the same problem. Yeah, they have the exact same problem where people have these pipe dreams and it's all about like, I can't do anything unless I have this. And it's like it goes back to that one most important question, really, for the same entrepreneur entrepreneurs and for the filmmakers, like if you're an entrepreneur at heart, and your goal is to own your own business in work for yourself. It doesn't matter how it comes to you. You're going to be open to trying a lot of different things because your main goal is to To be an entrepreneur and work for yourself, so you're not going to be so married to one idea that if you don't get that idea, well, I'm just going to keep trying until I start. It's like, Well, no, because that's not your goal, your goal is to work for yourself. So if you can't do this thing now, well, I'm going to look for something else that I actually can do, because I want to work for myself. That's my goal. So for those people who are shopping, those business plans around that are completely unrealistic theories. They're not really entrepreneurs at heart. No, they're not really, they are married to an idea. That's it. And if it works, or if it fails, that's it. And if it does fail, they usually don't have any other ideas. That's all they got one shot and they're like, Well, I didn't work out, okay, well, I'm just gonna do up do something else then. But for the entrepreneurs, there is no choice. And that's the same thing for the filmmakers. It's like you're either a filmmaker or you're not. If you're a filmmaker, then your goal is to make films period, you have to make them you must make them you have stories you want to tell you feel alive when you're on set, period, no ifs, ands or buts about it. So if you have a project, that's $500,000, and you can't shoot it right now, you're not going to spend five years looking for that money, you're gonna be like, well, that's great, but I need something. Let me figure something else out or something for fun to shoot. I just need something else to shoot. Because I'm not happy if I'm not shooting. That's what a filmmaker sounds like somebody who's just married to an idea. Oh, yeah, I'll spend the next I have friends that still doing this man. And it's like, bro, before I started YouTube, I'm not saying no name before I started YouTube, right? This guy went to film school graduated before me. He had this idea. And he's like, Yeah, I got this great ideas and passion, and it's gonna cost 300 some $1,000 to make cool, awesome. He graduates and I graduate. A year later, he goes off to Europe and does some more like film training or something. I forget which school he went to. I got out shot a feature. started a YouTube channel really grinded hard on that did the Film Fest circuit with the feature at the same time built the subscribers up to over 100,000 you know, may several short films, then drop that feature and then dropped another feature I released two features in one month, two feature films in one month. Ice has 300,000 subscribers. And then recently I had met up with this guy again, and he was doing different things. And we got grabbed a beer and we talked you know, I was like, yeah, so what's up? You know? This guy was selling the same ticket, man. The same ticket. He's like, bro, yeah, yeah, that idea. You know, I've been working on the script and everything. And you know, I was like, Why haven't you shot that yet? Well, you know, I'm, I want to I want to approach this like a real filmmaker. Like, this is a real this isn't this isn't I don't want no backyard filmmaking. Oh, this is a real film. I need at least $300,000. Man, I can't make it happen for less than $300,000. Man.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:03
And I know No, it's it's it's hurt. It hurts. It makes my ass pucker. I mean, it's

Darious Britt 1:23:07
just Oh, man, you will never make it. You have no track record? Who's gonna trust you with $300,000? And you have no track record? You have no work to show for

Alex Ferrari 1:23:17
yourself? Right? No, there's no question. I mean, you see it on Shark Tank every week. Every week you see it on Shark Tank. You see these entrepreneurs come in with these these insane ideas? Yeah. And then we have an evaluation of $25 million. You have $50 in sales. How can you in god's green, do that? But that but you're right there is such a mirror image with filmmakers and entrepreneurs because they have this. Because right now, it's extremely cool to be an entrepreneur. extremely cool to be a filmmaker, where they're both. Now, but both by the way, if you look back a generation or two, back, what were the two cool things to be a doctor and a lawyer? Oh, yeah. Remember, that was the thing like you gotta be a doctor or a lawyer or a programmer? I remember that one. No, but that no, but that was later. Oh, no. That was later I'm talking about like two generations back like, that's all you heard. You could be a doctor, lawyer, doctor, lawyer, doctor, lawyer. And nowadays,

Darious Britt 1:24:18
it wasn't an accountant to Yeah, or an accountant. Like, if you like, well, if you can't be a doctor, lawyer, I guess you'd be like, you handle money and the doctor or the lawyer and you're good. Yeah, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:25
And but now things are changing. Now. It's like the entrepreneur is a rock star. And the filmmaker is the rock star. And it's so funny. I think Gary Vee says it so clearly. He's like, I have actors. I have big huge movie stars, huge athletes, huge people in other industries in the all want to be entrepreneurs. They all want to own their own business. They all want to create their own brands. They all want to do that because that's that's the thing at this moment in time. It is to be that that thing and I don't think it's going away anytime soon, because it's good stuff. Freedom. It is a perception of freedom. I mean, even though sometimes you create a cage for yourself,

Darious Britt 1:25:05
even though it's not, because it's it's more work, but it is freedom if you love it, but if you don't really love it, you can create a cage for yourself really easy. I'm sure in YouTube that I mean, you've seen burnouts on YouTube. Oh, yeah. People that like got a big following. And they just felt like I have to keep doing this because this is what I paid for. But then they just have little burnouts. I think the problem with with YouTube is, it's still young yet. And it's not, it's actually not a problem. It's still young yet. And so we're seeing we've only had two real cycles to see what happens with these big brands and their life cycles. And what happens,

Alex Ferrari 1:25:41
like when are the Kardashians going to go away? I mean, seriously, man,

Darious Britt 1:25:44
they're hitting on so many value points. You know, I personally am not like a huge Kardashian fan. But when you talk about a brand like that, they've tapped into the untapped bubble. somehow, some way by accident, I'm sure sold their soul to the devil.

Alex Ferrari 1:25:59
They sold their soul to the devil

Darious Britt 1:26:01
tapped into the untapped bubble, like there's different arms of value that they offer. Like, I'm not saying you're gonna learn how to be a genius watching the show. I'm not saying that at all. But they do have different arms of value that they offer. Because you can't reach that level with only one prospect with only one value proposition. You have to have multiple, you have to be multiple things to multiple people, you have

Alex Ferrari 1:26:24
to have you so many offsprings, they have so many siblings and kids and like there's it there's something for everybody.

Darious Britt 1:26:30
Exactly. You have to be like when you talk about Oprah and all that, like Oprah means different things to different people, right. That's why she's Oprah. That's why her reach is so broad. to one person, she represents honesty and truth. And she gets the truth out of people to another person. She represents therapy and a counsel to another person who may have weight issues. Oprah is a representation of an escape, like this woman had the same issues I did. And she was able to accommodate another person, she's African American, and look at what she can do. And I'm black. And I can do it too. Like, you have to have different tiers of value to reach those levels. So that something like the Kardashians, they've managed to do it. They will forever be studied by marketers and people forever,

Alex Ferrari 1:27:15
you know, and they're still going stronger than ever. It's

Darious Britt 1:27:18
insane. Especially with the makeup. Oh, man, as soon as they hit the makeup market. Yeah, they're here to stay there. The makeup when we're

Alex Ferrari 1:27:28
talking about billion dollar brands here, like that's who they are, they're a billion dollar brand, whether you like them or not, you got to respect the hustle, man. I mean, yeah. gotta respect it,

Darious Britt 1:27:39
you have to respect it. And so we're finding on YouTube, though, I shouldn't say week, because it's more like, I don't have like a staff of people. We're all thinking about YouTube, you know, but I guess I say we in the sense of the community of YouTube, because, you know, I listen to other YouTubers, some bigger, some smaller, and you know, you hear other people's observations about it. And it kind of echoes the same thing. Like, if you have a brand that only has one value proposition, and it happens to be connected to like Zach Geist, right, like, one directions in and then you have this brand that pops up and he's like, I'm a one direction fan. And so I get all the girls who are One Direction fans, and they all follow me. And then, you know, I happen to be gay or whatever. So then they fall in love, whatever. But it's like, your only prop is this one thing. That's it? Everything gets old, bro. Every everything gets old man. So that lifecycle is about four years, cut first couple years, it's like skyrocket as a shooting star and it's like, Whoa, this dude's amazing. And he's so charming. He's so charismatic and Wow, cool. But the only value he offers is these confessional type storytime type watch BBQ watch me be like me, and you tune in for me, me, me, me cool. If every here and there. I talk about you. And I want you to be empowered by watching me. Yeah, cool, cool, cool. But it's all just confessional content. That's it. So the audience that rocks with you, they eventually grow up, right? And they go to college, and they get other priorities as kids, so they got to grow out of you. Right? Because you haven't changed, you're offering the same value, you're not growing up with them, your values not changing. So they outgrow you. And the new generation usually hates whatever the generation before them was into. There is rarely a time when there's a mutuality between what except you talk about Michael Jackson or the Beatles. Yeah, that crosses generations off. Sure. But you're also talking about unicorns

Alex Ferrari 1:29:35
very much, very much as though

Darious Britt 1:29:38
you're talking about unicorns, okay? Usually, the generation underneath doesn't like anything of the generation before. So the people who were rocking with you about growing you and the people underneath you are not going to mess with you. Anyway, so what happens

Alex Ferrari 1:29:52
we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now, back to the Yo, what do you but do you agree that if you're able to create evergreen content, that is something that is of value no matter what generation you're from, or where you come from, because there are brands out there that are based around inspiration, or let's go into the self help world like Gary Vee, I think is gonna be around for a while, you know? And that Gary Vee,

Darious Britt 1:30:28
it's not just evergreen. It's the execution. Yes. And I can make a tip video tomorrow, and I can say 100 filmmaking tips you must know before you die. And then the video could just be me sitting in a chair talking to a webcam. Here's 100 tips, monotone voice, whatever, it's evergreen. Sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:30:49
its execution, baby.

Darious Britt 1:30:50
Yeah, it's the execution. And within the execution, are those tears of value? Present? What's the charm? Do people see that they can get a beer with you? Is the information actually good? Do you have experience with that information? Are you just talking from somebody who's going it's okay, if you're just learning, but you have to be upfront about that don't talk about stuff you actually don't know about. because that'll get you to, but it's the execution within the execution. That's where you fall into the tears of value the thresholds. You know, like, there is vlogging on YouTube. And then there's Casey Neistat, if you read my mind. Yeah. Before there's books, there's the before Casey era, and then there's the after Casey era right before Casey vlogging was Hey, I go to the grocery store. I'm looking at an eggplant I'm crack a joke about it. And it's just very informal on getting it off. Casey tastes it and he introduces a whole cinematic drone shot cut, professional edit, just you know, trick animation, stop motion, this, you know, flip flop time lapse before you look at over here, look at the screen over completely changed vlogging. But it's not just because he was a good vlogger. He's also really charismatic. He's also very stylish, he also gives a lot back to the community. He also makes it a point to be a representative of the YouTube community talking about the biggest issues that affect the YouTube community. And he's a tech guy on top of that. So he's always talking about the latest tech. And he actually uses the latest tech in his vlogs unlike a lot of other tech people where they talk all this tech, but they don't use any of it. No, I'm just unboxing look at this great thing. It's so great. Look, I'm unboxing Okay, oh, here's the latest drone is unboxing coils, okay, but they but they don't use any of it. Casey actually uses it because he vlogs with it. So like when you start getting into the details, what do you find all of these tiers of value, so he can mean different things to different people. And that's why he's where he is. It's more than just stellar. vlogs

Alex Ferrari 1:32:50
are so how do you how do you translate that to a filmmaker, he has all this eldest all this value, because I've always said many ways to, for filmmakers to kind of add value is there's multiple ways of doing it with a film. So you do a film, you create ancillary products, you create online courses, I always use the vegan chef. Example. Like if you're making a romantic comedy about a vegan chef meeting a meat eater, and chaos ensues? Why film for printer? A film a printer? Exactly. But But let me ask you though, don't you think that? Oh, for sure. Moving forward? In the indie space, if you are not a film tour, or a filmmaker who's an entrepreneur, alas, you're not gonna make it. Right.

Darious Britt 1:33:34
Right, because you're gonna get in your own way. My opinion, or my my leaning is this, you know, first and foremost, you know, for the new filmmakers, your most important thing should be putting one foot in front of the other and changing your metric for success. First and foremost, your metric of success cannot be the red carpet or my name in the marquee dead. That has to stop immediately. You need to reevaluate your new metric of success should be what did I learn today? And what will I learn tomorrow? period? I don't mean how many podcasts? Can I listen to how many YouTube videos can I watch? No, pick your stuff up and go make stuff. That's the only way you're going to get it actually make things and do it lean. So that's number one. You have to reevaluate your metrics for success to lean projects. We got to cut all this mess out with like, we already talked about it going and looking for money and begging in this Kickstarter campaigns for your first short film. Why are we running Kickstarter campaigns for your first short film

Alex Ferrari 1:34:39
you need 50,000 for

Darious Britt 1:34:41
why, like you're just gonna make a whole bunch of mistakes that you could have made for free. You have to make the mistakes. There's no shortcut to experience. You have to make mistakes, period. You learn the most. So we need to we need to lean these projects out. We need to reevaluate how we Look at filmmaking when you say, Okay, my first five projects are not my career projects. These are skill building projects. So let me get a couple of friends, I'm going to shoot a scene beginning middle end, call it a short film, and work on tension, or work on whatever. Or maybe this is my first time messing with the camera. Let me just frame shots and work on camera angles and just just be in the space. But we have to shift gears away from this immediate career stuff to skill building. And what am I learning right now? And how do I keep this going, because when we're talking about all those tears of value, you don't get there. until you start with just learning your crap first, you know, and we can't hide behind our films anymore, we have to be in front of our films, we have to be brands now. Because right, your brand is going to outlast your work, your brand is going to go further than your work can ever go because the relationship that devalue the connection is deeper. And if you mess up on a film, you can fall back on your brand. Whereas if you don't have a brand, you know you go make a film, he spent three years on it, launch it out there, and it falls flat on his face. Well, if you don't have a brand, you don't have anything to fall back on it. That's just it, you just made something and it sucked and you can't you can't do anything else with that thing. It just doesn't go anywhere. But if you've got a brand, you can fall back and say, Hey, I made this film didn't work out. This is what I learned. This is what you can learn. Hey, by the way, let's all talk about how it sucked. I'll do a reaction video talking about how you know it's like, you can do more with it. And you'll get even more followers from that, you know, but

Alex Ferrari 1:36:32
no, without question and I'll use a not an indie example, but I'll use an example of a brand that we all know Spielberg right. So Spielberg is a is a brand all in itself, right. A huge brand, right. So he had made Sugarland Express, then Jaws, then close encounters, right. It hit hit hit. Sugarland was a small thing, but you know, jaws kind of knocked them out of the park and Close Encounters also as well. Then he made 1941, which was in how many people remember 1941. But he directed 1941, which was a huge bomb, his massive bomb on Spielberg's you know, resume. But what happened? I'm sorry, it was a black guy. It was a black guy, right? And all of a sudden, the Golden Boy wasn't so golden. But he had a brand. He fell back on that. Then what did you do right afterwards? Yeah, Raiders Lost Ark, and then et. And then the rest is as they say it continuously. Brands were

Darious Britt 1:37:30
built differently back then. And if you had the leverage of the media, you were in there. But now, because of the economics of the social media space. It's so noisy now because everyone can do it. So it's extremely noisy. So now you have to learn how to build a brand for yourself for cheap. Usually, that means leveraging micro content, because like what the days before, it's like, well, if you're in the studio system, you get in a movie or whatever. Alright, here's a press run, you're like, boom, everybody knows you like that.

Alex Ferrari 1:37:59
Right? Exactly. Yeah, it was a lot easier to make, it was easier. If you're within the studio system back then you could make a name for yourself very quickly,

Darious Britt 1:38:06
hit the talk show circuit, boom, you're in there, your job. And now that's different, though, it's totally different. The game has changed now. But it's it's changed for the better because now it's democratized it for everybody. But it also means more responsibility. So if you want to build the brand, you have to take that initiative to learn how to do it, and how to connect with people and how to get value, educate yourself back valued and to build. And also, like, to your point, also, with entrepreneurship, I think, whether you like it or not, that's where things are. Because in order to cut through that noise, nowadays, you need a few times at bat, we this whole one hit knock out of the park, and I got all this money. If you have a rich family great, but then there's so many stories of people who had means and they made a film and it didn't work. So you need more times at bat. And you need to give yourself time to learn your craft, and learn about yourself too. Like I've been in film for a while I've done a lot of different shorts, and I feel like I'm only really falling into what I understand to be my voice recently. You know, and sometimes your voice isn't so much of your style. Sometimes your voice is the things you choose not to do. Right times your voice is the way you choose not to shoot. But that informs the stories you like to tell like, you know, for instance, you know, I did on sound for seven years and I just poured my soul into that movie. And I expected it to be my flagship and all that is very successful, and it's all right, they're successful. But I mean, what I expected to happen did not happen,

Alex Ferrari 1:39:45
of course,

Darious Britt 1:39:46
and I think that experience affected my voice as a filmmaker. I appreciate the stories. I will always want to tell heartfelt stories that mean things to people yes. But do I want to spend a whole have money in seven years on something that I don't even know is going to get me to the next level? No. I mean, I've been shooting micro films and short films, I'm having more fun doing that than trying to shoot a feature. I can build a business around that. I can have fun and work with my friends doing that I can take more risks doing that, because when you're spending 20 3040 5060 $100,000 on a feature, you're gonna think about risks, man, no, this got to work, bro. I you know, but when you should have short with your friends, or you know, you shoot a short and you just spent $200, you can take risks, hey, I don't know if this person's good at acting, they might have to look I'm going for but you know what? Come on, man. Let's get this man, let's learn it. And I'm gonna learn a lot in the process. But you can take risks doing that, and I enjoy the freedom of leaner projects. I really do. And I think it's a man speaking to my voice now. It really has, I'm happy doing smaller projects, we're

Alex Ferrari 1:40:58
happy. I mean, we talked about this a bit too is like redefining what success is for you. And, and we both said the same thing, like you're happy doing small films, I am extremely happy, making my micro budget feature films, and building out my online business. And, and they feed into each other. And it's, I've never been happier in my life, professionally than I am now. Like, I don't even have to do post, thank God, and work with clients, if I don't want to, I could do whatever I want, whenever I want. And that kind of freedom is I can't I cannot tell you that. It's, it's it's just, you know, I get up in the morning, I jumped out of bed running back here to hang out with Yoda in the back, you know, and just chillin and just getting ready to do my day's work, man, because I love it. And then I'm like, you know, maybe I could go shoot a feature this next month. And, you know, I'm like I you know, pull five grand out and or I'll file pull 10 grand out and go make a movie. And that's, that's the freedom. And what do we want, as filmmakers we want that we want to be able to put food on our table. I don't care about having a Tesla, I don't care about having a big giant house on the top of the Hollywood Hills, I don't care about going to parties or having the latest gear or any of that stuff. I care about making art that's important to me, that I get and also providing value to the audience that I've cultivated. And if I could provide value and be of service that I'd audience while I'm able to be an artist, Jesus man, isn't that the dream?

Darious Britt 1:42:38
Yeah. Freedom, autonomy. And, and there's also a little bit of the Be careful what you wish for, too. As I think that, you know, you know, you've talked to producers and things as well as I, you know, you see people who are very successful in the industry, and you're like, oh, man, what must it be like, I don't I need to get to talk to them. You realize, man, there's so much fear. They have to deal with the industry and the people and the culture and, and it just oozes out of their body fear and you're like, wow, I don't think I want that. I don't think I want that at all like to be living in fear. It's like you've reached the status where you can raise, you know, so many hundreds of 1000s of dollars in any given time with your connects and all that. But there's a price that comes with that. It's not all roses and sunshine. Like there's another side to that, that I think people don't realize, until if they're fortunate enough to get there. Get there. And then I'm like, Whoa, this is not what I thought it would be. Oh, absolutely. Now all of a sudden, I want something else.

Alex Ferrari 1:43:41
Look, we're not saying that, you know, it's it's, it's it's okay to have dreams of being successful. And getting into that system and doing all that. To be aware, there's always more to and you also have to be balanced. It has to be balanced in your life. Like if you're working all the time, and you are married and you never see your kids and you never see your wife and your personal life is gone to crap and your body is horrible, because you don't have time to work out because you're chasing the dream and others. You have to have a holistic plan for your entire life. That includes mind, body, spirit, career, love, social, there's all these different areas of your life that you need to have balance on education, all these other things that make you a whole person. And so many people in our industry are so unbalanced. And so in one direction. So I know guys who are super rich, who are extremely successful in the business, but they're miserable efforts and like they just do not like they're angry, they're bitter, but they live in these huge houses drive all these cool cars, hang out with all this, you know the big celebrities and stuff but at the end of the day, they're miserable. They're alone. Yeah, if you are not fulfilled Yes, sure. You've made it in one spectrum. One pillar of your life. Yes, I am a filmmaker. I'm making million dollars a year doing filmmaking, and I work on set, I work on TV shows, I work on this or that blah, blah, blah. But the rest of my life is crap. So is that worth it? Like, what, that's a thing that no one talks about. And you really got to kind of understand that. If you don't have fulfillment in all avenues of your life, you are an unbalanced individual. And you will be unhappy. If you can never lock down a partner, in one way, shape, or form. Because you're always consumed with your work. You're going to live a lonely, miserable life, even if you're rich, famous, all that stuff. Why do you? Why do you think that we see all these crashes of all these people that we thought were completely successful. And then you see suicides, and you see drug overdoses, and you see all this stuff. Why because they're trying to cope with not being balanced in all aspects of their life. And it's, it's, it's brutal, I think, changing those dynamics of success really is the first key like, you know, what, I don't need a million dollars a year, I'm okay, I need enough to put food on my table and, and make and make my life comfortable.

Darious Britt 1:46:07
And I think the trick with that, though, is a, it takes you time to learn enough about yourself to learn what you actually need and what you don't. And I think it's up to thing, when you're starting out, you think that you have to have the big movie and the cloud. And don't you think that you have to have that to be happy as a filmmaker. But you don't know enough about what else there is out there or enough about yourself to make an educated guess of what you need. Because like, it's not until I've had the experience of making a movie and spending so much energy pouring my guts into this movie for years. But had it not been for that experience, I wouldn't have the reference point, to really appreciate how fun it is to just go shoot something and just focus on execution, not to worry about money, I don't have to worry about crew, I don't worry about all this other stuff, I can just take something really simple. And just focus on how can I execute this thing to the best of my ability. And because I don't have all this other stuff, I can just really get into the details in a way that you can't, when you have these big, ambitious films like The details get lost, unless you have a really good crew, or you've done it before, on tails Get lost. But also you're just trying to survive.

Alex Ferrari 1:47:29
But also, isn't it important to be self aware of where you strive? Because there are people that are directors are filmmakers who strive in high pressure high situation big budgets like there's Spielberg can go on to set with $200 million and not even blink, you know, even though but he's earned it exactly. So you have to also figure out where you were in the spectrum, if you will, do you thrive in? Do you thrive in a high pressure, big budget world? And I'm not even talking about that. Let's talk about the studios, let's talk about 5 million bucks. Let's talk about 3 million bucks. Let's talk about a million dollars, which is a lot of money can use thrive in that world? Or do you make more sense and thrive more in a $50,000 world? a 25,000 or $5,000 feature? Do you thrive in that world where you're going to be happier, you're going to be more content, you're going to be able to thrive? as a storyteller. As a filmmaker, these are questions that you need to ask. And it took me Look, here's much farther along than I am because I got about 10 years on you. And you've figured this stuff out. Now, at your age. I'm figuring it out when I'm in my mid 40s, like early to mid 40s. But I figured it out. Like I finally figured out what makes me happy. What makes me content with my career with my life. And I only found it, oddly enough, and I'm sure you feel the same way. I only found that answer by being of service to my community, to being of service to me, because by doing that, I discovered what I want and what I need. And it became a wonderful synergetic relationship with my audience and with with the people who who listen to my babblings and things like that. And I feel that, you know, I'm talking to you, I'm sure you feel the same way.

Darious Britt 1:49:19
I do. I've I found that. I forget what the quote is. But you know, the best way to help yourself is to help someone else somehow. But it was something I had to grow into because again, when I started it was the whole tips thing. I don't want to I didn't go to school. I didn't go to school to become a film school, you know, but it wasn't until I was in the community of YouTube enough to bump into a couple things. And yes, over here, you know, and then you you slowly kind of grow into certain things. And that's something that I had to grow into and then once I got into it and saw that how I was in Acting people's lives, then it's stuck with me, for sure. But I always had to remind myself like, what I really am after, because I think it's too easy to. And this is a trap you can fall into, it's easy to fall into what works, and then lose sight of what your heart really wants. And I think there are some people on YouTube where it's like, once they find that, and it goes back to what you're saying, what makes you happy. Some people on the community are like, Oh, hey, I fell into this, like, giving advice and reviews and help people out cool. I'm totally happy doing this boom till the cows come home. But for me, you know, once I got into it, it was exhilarating at first, but I got so far into it that I was getting away from shooting, right? You know, because it's like, yeah, I sit in my room or a studio or whatever, and make these tip videos. And then it became the grind of making the next tip video on the next tip video, the next tip video, and people want this tip. And that's it and this tip and that tip, and it's like, Okay, well, now you got a whole assortment of tip videos coming up. And then before you know, you're like, Man, what am I actually shot anything, and when am I gonna shoot something. And if I'm like, I'm so busy making video after video after video after video that I'm not getting a chance to work on what I want to work on, which is to become a better filmmaker. And ultimately, I can't give my audience the best value that I can give them if my journey has stopped, right? Because there's a limit to your knowledge. You know, like, I haven't worked with every camera. My experience with crews is somewhat limited. I mean, I've had my own crew from my feature. And I've worked with some crews and some capacities and other features. But there's a there's a cap, you know, so it's like, I want to give more, but I can't do that until I level up to but I can't level up if I'm so busy shelling out everything right now. It's like, so for me, I had to find that balance. And you know, that's why I've gotten into like the shoot, start to finish series and all that. And I've been happier doing that where I'm giving value and sharing value, but it's along with my journey and what I'm doing because at the end of the day, I can't stop being a filmmaker just because you want all the tips in the world. So you can be a filmmaker is like what about me

Alex Ferrari 1:52:08
There has to be a balance there has to be my wants to there has there has to be a balance without balance. So sir. So we are we are honing in in almost two hours now. As I knew we would, and for everyone listening if you're still listening. This is a small example of what Darrius and I did at the mammoth Film Festival. Two days we just talked and talk like Vega cancel, man, let's grab breakfast. Later. Yeah, it was it was actually really a lot of fun. And it was an absolute pleasure meeting you in person and finding like a brother from another mother in this business. So it was really, really great. Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. I'm sure you might know these now. All right, man, I'm ready to answer but go ahead on all right. So I we've talked about this at nauseam, so just make a quick answer. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break in the business today?

Darious Britt 1:53:09
Start small lean projects focus on what are you learning right now?

Alex Ferrari 1:53:14
Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact in your life or career? Hmm, film wise, the matter of the film wiser already kind of book? Oh, that's a tough one. There's a lot of them. For right now. I will say Judas Weston's directing actors. Definitely. That's a great book. I like that one. That's a very, very good book. What lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Darious Britt 1:53:42
You can't fake value. Their success is dependent on your value. And it's true across the board YouTube film. I think when people have the goods that shows and when you don't, or you're still working progress, it shows and it's okay to be a work in progress. But don't expect to own the farm when you're still a work in progress. You know, there's a reason why the people who hit especially on YouTube, the ones who just boom straight up to the top. But it's obvious when you look at their stuff. It's like whoa, they're hitting on so many tears man.

Alex Ferrari 1:54:20
Like Peter Mackinnon like Peter McKinnon and those guys,

Darious Britt 1:54:22
Very charismatic understands the filmmaking community. He's a student of YouTube. You can see it oozing out of his work that he understands YouTube itself as a platform, obviously good at photography. Very good at videography. Very stylish, also fashionable. Also what he represents because he's not coming in huge chains and you know, like, look at my suit. No, he's just a dude. And he dresses like just a dude. very relatable. Like he just checks a lot of boxes for a lot of different people.

Alex Ferrari 1:54:50
Three of your favorites. And three of your favorite films of all time, sir?

Darious Britt 1:54:54
Old Boy one I love chambo parks work then possession by with Sam Neill the guy from Jurassic Park session that is a transgressive film that got banned and a bunch of countries when it came out, but that was one of the films that made me want to make films and Star Wars.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:16
Sure. That's always that's always a good go to everybody who hasn't.

Darious Britt 1:55:20
I like like my end like entertainment type stuff too. Not everything's got to be a deep dive into like, existential whatever. I mean, I like

Alex Ferrari 1:55:30
Popcorn movies, man.

Darious Britt 1:55:32
Black Panther Black Panther.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:33
Yeah, man. That's uh i love Black Panther Do you think it's gonna win? Probably not.

Darious Britt 1:55:39
It might win something I don't know

Alex Ferrari 1:55:40
It was something it was something but

Darious Britt 1:55:42
It's not gonna go hand in that with the records they broke man

Alex Ferrari 1:55:45
No absolutely not man no it and where can people find you and your work sir

Darious Britt 1:55:51
d4darious YouTube /d4darious

Alex Ferrari 1:55:54
The D and the number four

Darious Britt 1:55:56
D the number 4 and then Darious even if you mispell it will pop up D4darious on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, everything is all D4darious.

Alex Ferrari 1:56:04
Brother, man, it has been an epic conversation. I know we can we can keep talking because I know. A week we could keep talking

Darious Britt 1:56:11
That's the tip of the iceberg. tip of the iceberg, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:56:16
I mean, I'm gonna call this the brutal and honest truth of independent filmmaking. That's what this got this episode is gonna be called something along those lines, because it's, there's a lot of great knowledge bombs in this episode

Darious Britt 1:56:27
Let's unpack but hopefully, you know, I want to leave people inspired, though. Yeah, man. You know, I know we did a lot of like, hard talk of like factual, realist type things. But at the end of the day, if you want it, it's out there for you. But you have to take it one step at a time. And be aggressive. You know, it's all about if you lay your head to bed at the end of any day. And you can't point to one thing you learned to help you get closer to your goal you failed.

Alex Ferrari 1:56:56
That's what it all comes down to Amen. There's no question and it's never been a better time to be a filmmaker than it is in today's world. Oh, yeah, opportunities are there, the technology is there and only getting better every day that goes by and cheaper and cheaper. But it's up to you to do the work to figure things out to educate yourself. And to get yourself out there and also be able to pivot from that ridiculous dream that they sold you Yeah, that they sold you back at film school. That there's only one way there's there's only cheeseburger and there

Darious Britt 1:57:32
You might be that lucky person out there where that is for you. Because sometimes it does happen. But I think you you're doing yourself a disservice if that's all you aspire to be because there's all different kinds of other flavors out there. You don't know what you don't know, as they say you reach for the stars just to fall into the clouds. And that's not so bad. It's true. Yeah, absolutely. Right now way more happier and freer where I'm at right now.

Alex Ferrari 1:57:58
Same here.

Darious Britt 1:57:59
But I wouldn't have got here had I not been reaching for something higher. And that may come later. I don't know. But right now, I'm happy.

Alex Ferrari 1:58:06
I'm good, man. I'm good to Brother man. Thank you again for sharing all your knowledge brother. I appreciate it. And we will we'll do a part two or three or four of this i'm sure in the next year or so

Darious Britt 1:58:16
Alright brother man.

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BPS 266: The Art of Making Horror Comedies with Damon Thomas

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Alex Ferrari 0:10
I'd like to welcome to the show, Damon Thomas. How you doing Damon?

Damon Thomas 0:26
Great, great bit tired. We had the screening last night the premiere, it was like 300 people at the Art fest. So it was a big night. Live Reactions like talking about it was a great night. I'm really pleased to be here.

Alex Ferrari 0:40
Great, my friend. Congratulations on your new film my best friend's actress exorcism, which is as insane as it sounds. Right. It's one of those titles like Sharknado like you know what you're gonna get?

Damon Thomas 0:56
I 100% agree with it. Like, as soon as I got sent that in my inbox, like in 2019. And it was like my best friend's exorcism. I thought this brilliant or, you know, you just can't wait to read it. And every moment since I got signed up to do it, where people say to me, Hey, what you're up to and I go, I'm doing my best friend's exorcism. People always smile. It's just, I mean, they go wow, really? And they go Yeah. I said, Well, you know, what is about

Alex Ferrari 1:26
It's about my best friend's exorcism. I mean, it's, it's, it's perfect. I mean, it's like jaw is like, you know what you're gonna get?

Damon Thomas 1:34
Wait. And yeah, so then you say is certainly at is great.

Alex Ferrari 1:42
You had me at hello. Hello. That's the brilliant part about it, too, as I was watching him just going. I love the 80s. I mean, everyone's doing 80s stuff now and Stranger Things is brought it back and made it cool. But for my generation, and I'm assuming yours as well, the 80s You know, is awesome.

Damon Thomas 2:03
So my first question is simpler times, right?

Alex Ferrari 2:06
Oh my gosh, can you America, simpler times when there was no Internet, there was no social media. I mean, there was you barely had remote controls on the television.

Damon Thomas 2:14
Right? I mean, I mean, when you think about you had to if you are going to meet someone you phoned, and if you had a dial up phone, you would

Alex Ferrari 2:24

Damon Thomas 2:24
He would slip on like the seven digit you go put the phone down, go start that whole thing again. And then you call your friend and say like, I meet you there, put the phone down, you go to that place. And if they weren't there, you were like, where are they? And then you'd have to find a phone box, call their house and go, do you know where they are? And they go where they left? 20 minutes?

Alex Ferrari 2:45
No, no, it's like yours last.

Damon Thomas 2:51
Oh, so you know, slight sort of off topic. But the feeling of boredom was something to behold back in the 80s. You know, what, if you have nothing to do, there wasn't that instant, kind of like dopamine hit off something new from you're like, oh, let's go down a rabbit hole down the internet now. And you would just use a stare and feel so bored. It was untrue. It was like a sort of sport. It was like, profound, bored.

Alex Ferrari 3:19
On you had three channels. And if nothing was on that you liked. You were pretty much done. Until you had a friend who had cable. Yeah, then you would go over and maybe get three more channels. And then you'd be if there's nothing there. You have to go outside and actually interact with other human beings. Scary territory.

Damon Thomas 3:35
Exactly. Or you had to like think of something to do didn't you had to go read a book? I get ya read. I mean, God read a book. I mean, wow. Anyway, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 3:47
it's just a bunch of now we just sound like two old farts talk

Damon Thomas 3:52
Said it

Alex Ferrari 3:54
Just two old farts talking about the old. Exactly, exactly. So my first question, sir, is how and why did you want to get into this insanity? That is the film business?

Damon Thomas 4:07
Oh, yeah. For me, it started when I watched Blade Runner in the cinema. Now, I just went, I need to be in that somewhere I need to be in that. I mean, even back then there was so little information about what that was working in the film industry. There was like we used to have this program that was just called film or whatever the year it was that Barry Norman used to present it was going to film 1985 or database two. And then you would just watch that and that was the only information and occasion you'd have an answer documentary. And that was nothing else. And then you might look up films in in encyclopedias, and now,

Alex Ferrari 4:46
We're dating ourselves so badly.

Damon Thomas 4:52
But the funny thing is my daughter that who's like 15 or takes me it was really interesting in that movie, they were like broke the fourth wall and you No, she's got her whole sorts of like terms of reference about filmmaking and everything is so amazing that you kind of got I just feeling we were just in the darkness in the wilderness. And so, so that I kind of got into documentaries. And then I kind of came, you know, I took me a long while to sort of find my roots into drama and started directing drama. But then, of course, I just always wanted to make the movie,

Alex Ferrari 5:29
Isn't it? Isn't it interesting, though, that I have kids as well, and they are, but you know, much more educated then. Because it's just so much more information about everything. Yeah. I mean, the you would get the occasional Star Wars making up or the Indiana Jones making and that was pretty much it. I mean, you didn't see anything else until in the later 80s. When, you know, then it started to become a little bit better than nine DVD commentaries and laser discs. Now really old commentaries on the laser, the criteria, laser distance, stuff like that,

Damon Thomas 5:58
Didn't you want it to hear like how he did stuff you? It was like, you know, behind the curtain, the The Wizard of Oz, it's like, how are they doing this stuff? How is it being made? How'd you do this? And whereas now they were, you can just go on YouTube and go, like, how do you do that, I'll just put it in, you know, and I'll find someone telling me how it's done. Or if someone would have made a film about it, it's, that is sort of great, because it opens it up to everybody in a way.

Alex Ferrari 6:24
But then then the bad thing is it opens it up to everybody. So now before you didn't have as much competition, like I always tell people like in the 80s, if you finished a film on 35, it was sold. Like you just good, bad. I mean, Toxic Avenger got theatrical release, like, it doesn't really matter. But now everybody's making a movie. And now it's about getting seen and all of that kind of stuff. But you were saying about your daughter knowing had the reference from references about that. The generation that's, that's now it is so educated in story. It is so difficult for the for us as filmmakers and storytellers. Because make something that's interesting that doesn't hasn't been done before. And every year that goes by, it's getting harder, and harder and harder to because, you know, things that worked in the 70s and 80s. Just don't they can't work and like I was showing, I think it was some kids were watching Rocky the other day, Rocky, Rocky, and they're like, because every because they've just seen every buddy rip off rocky. Yeah, for the last 4050 years. So it doesn't have the same umph to it as it used to. So it's how do you as a storyteller, kind of kind of deal with that? Because it is something very, very difficult things that Hitchcock never had to deal with weed.

Damon Thomas 7:47
I mean, I suppose every genre has tropes. So and the you know, the horror genre is a very broad church from slasher movies, to psychological horror, to sci fi horror, you know, to alien aliens knows amazing movies to kind of comedy horror. And so you either the, The Exorcist is sort of like the benchmark of like the hand. So Handbook of cartoons, you know, do you? Are you going to do the vault net? Are you going to do the, you know, are you going to do and, and how are you going to do it? And it's sort of interesting, because you're always going to disappoint someone, you're always going to someone's gonna go up. I wasn't scary. But the thing about it is I did it, what want the film to have this sort of tone that felt like an 80s movie. And then it kind of went into a completely new realm of like, oh, wait, you know, where did that come from? I wanted to stay within the same thing. So the exorcism for me was a great, I thought, can we pull off this thing where it's kind of scary and quite disturbing, but then it's funny. It's like, relieved by this real character of Christian lemma. And the thing is, because once you he's sort of desperate, but and, you know, when I when I first met Chris, we were talking about it rehearsing. I said, he's sort of a loser, but he's kind of a bit cocky. But he cocky or cocky loser? Yeah. And he does want this. He does want it really bad. So that when the demon shows himself and he just goes like, yes. Even a high five, she's totally chocolate sized. And for me, and it was great watching it last night, because people really enjoyed that moment, and really enjoyed Christian lemon. And I think actually, it's it showed me that there's kind of quite a nice group dynamic when you think you could really watch this movie with a group of friends. Oh, yeah. It's not like I don't think it's a sort of, well, you know, people will watch obviously watch your mobile device devices all the time, but it actually made me really think about that group experience of watching movies. You know, I went to the cinema As I see Thor and my son, you know, a week ago and now it's it is great being in the cinema, isn't it? There's something that is said. That's why I thought last night I thought it actually really helps when everyone's going through because like when, when the when there is she burns him address them. They all cheered last night. It was fantastic. Thank you not expecting it.

Alex Ferrari 10:27
But it's primal, theatrical experiences. It's a primal experience. And we're all around the fire. Yeah, it's a primal thing and group experiences of a story, where, you know, the core of all stories is basically to teach us not to be eaten by the tiger down the street. Yeah, you know, around around the corner. That was the point of stories around the campfire as they were, and then they evolved into morals and lessons and things. And now it's entertainment. Because we get a lot of the meat and potatoes from other other kinds of media. But it is, yeah, you're absolutely right, without question now.

Damon Thomas 10:58
But just also just to pick up on that point is, I think that even if you have never made a movie TV, and you know, but you've people sort of absorbed so much about, you sort of watch something you go, they're gonna get together, he's gonna die. He won't, you know, you just feel it right? If you feel that, you know it, because you know how these things work, you sort of said that when you get like, you know, say a series of severance or station 11, you're on TV, you let you go, I've got no idea where this is going. And they feel quite refreshing. And I wanted to do some things where you sort of felt I thought, it'd be funny if this felt like a movie that somebody thought they hadn't seen from the 80s. So have a bit of an 80s vibe. And but also, if you had an exorcist, it was just so unlike any excess, you've seen before, and, and to really get to make him so we I really set him up so that when he comes to the exorcism, you really enjoyed him. So that was the high fives that he's always doing. Up top, you know that stuff. But you know, he's cheesy, but you know, there were weightlifting, Christian evangelist, if you put it on YouTube, you can see these guys pumping iron for Jesus, and they exist that they were real, they were real people. So it's not far fetched. And he is a real person, he is like, totally believes that, you know, his purity. I mean, I even realized that he can't remember Gretchen's name. Yeah, it comes out in the middle of it. It goes, You know what, such a, it's so true. Because it's all about him.

Alex Ferrari 12:42
Obviously, obviously, you know, it's, it's brilliant. And you're right, it's so because we've just seen it so much. And we've seen it and we've seen it done well. And we've seen it some bad, you know, so like, if you're gonna see a shark, if you're gonna see a shark movie, and you've seen Jaws, it's gonna be tough for you to figure out a new way to do a sharp move, because it was done pretty much unanimously. The first exam the DHS is, it's the same thing. It's flawless.

Damon Thomas 13:10
I know some people then get disappointed if you don't do the things that have been done before. Because you're like, Well, what happened to that? Where's that? You know, and they go, but you're like, you were saying, how do you do different you're trying to find ways to either, like, reinvent the wheel, if it's already been filmed and done, like 1000 times. So you are, you're in kind of familiar territory, but you know, I did want to Yeah, as best as I best cuts just get that tone. Right. And, you know, if people you know, you can only do what you can do, you know, there's always

Alex Ferrari 13:44
Yeah, yeah, it Listen, it's we're in, we're in the world of everyone has an opinion. And everyone can express that opinion on Rotten Tomatoes, or on you know, mats and things like that, and social media. But at the end of the day, as a filmmaker, you just got to do what you got to do. One thing I love about about the movie is that you are able to balance humor and horror, which is not easy. It is not easy to do that as a filmmaker, as a storyteller, because I've seen really bad because if the balance is off, I've seen bad horror comedies, where if the balance is off, you know, like Evil Dead to an Army of Darkness. Like they'll those movies. You know what, Sam? Sam general, could do no harm. No wrong in my eyes. But yeah, but he's able to balance that and you were able to balance the horror and the comedy beautifully in this film. Oh, because it's not it's not easy. It's not easy.

Damon Thomas 14:35
Yeah, I mean, I think it comes from truce, I think. If your characters feel like the real article, even if they are heightened, I mean, we all we all know people that feel quite heightened type. So you're gonna meet people who are strong flavors, and they're real people. And Christian lemon is a strong flavor. And yeah, but as long as he's being truthful to that character in that sort of set of circumstances. And it's sort of balanced with, you know, Abby's kind of like sheer like, Oh my God. You know, it was one of the things I put in because he just sort of say actually is an exorcism. And it originally she, she went, Well, how do I do that? I just sort of I kind of said she would really go, well, it's not a normal thing. You know, generally, it's been fun but because it's an exorcism movie doesn't mean that everyone knows that, you know, an exorcism is something that is actually real. So so he talks about really patulous way, but he gets the job as an excellence as demon inside it, these these really patronizing to her. And I thought that's exactly what he would say, like, are you stupid?

Alex Ferrari 15:52
Come on, of course, it's just the team. Yeah.

Damon Thomas 15:55
So to your point is that if you have, it's like in killing Eve, I did a scene where Eve kills a guy with an axe, like being spurred on by Villanelle. But that's that scene is quite funny. Because the axe gets stuck in his back and says she can't pull it out. And so she's being shouted that, like, hits him again. She's saying I can't have access. And the guys go, Ah, it sounds kind of really disturbing. But it's funny because I think those things can sit right next to each other like, because the Coen brothers do it all the time. They kind of, you know, they put like, weight. And I think that it's it's a bit like when you go to a funeral that they're you feel like sometimes doing the other thing that you're not meant to like laughing, because it's the relief intention that you need, because of the emotional expectation. You're

Alex Ferrari 16:50
I'm sorry, I don't mean to trump your budget. Do you when you sell a funeral? Do you? I don't know if you saw this online somewhere, but some guy died. Okay, he died. And at his funeral, he put a speaker he had his family put a speaker inside of the inside of the casket. And as their as their this is part of his wishes, as it's being laid down. Like, hey, hey, no, no, no, no, no, I'm alive. I'm alive. And he's hitting and knocking and, and it's and people are pissing themselves. I mean, everyone's crying. But then everyone starts laughing because they know it's, what'd he do? I'm like, Oh, my God, that is so brilliant.

Damon Thomas 17:29
He's brilliant. He's fantastic. Isn't it as well for planning?

Alex Ferrari 17:34
That's, yeah, he I think he was sick and he was gonna die. I'm gonna do this. I'm going to do this, right. And my favorite tombstone ever is like I told you, I was ill.

Damon Thomas 17:44
That's brilliant. Very, very good.

Alex Ferrari 17:47
Now. So when you started your career, Damon, I'm assuming that the second you said, I'm going to be a director, that the trucks of money came in, all the doors came wide open and said, whatever you want to do, all you have is time and money.

Damon Thomas 18:01
Oh, my God, if only Yeah, I know. I've had it's a long journey. I did a degree at physics and I, of course,

Alex Ferrari 18:10
Prerequisite to be a filmmaker. Yeah,

Damon Thomas 18:13
I mean, I just got a job in, you know, I got a job in BBC News. And then I gave her up to go and work on an arts program and then gradually just did more and more documentaries that did drama documentaries with about Beethoven and other things. And then I got, yeah, just got a break. You know, someone actually approached me to do a drama documentary. And I said, why don't we just do a drama, and it was set in the Antarctic, and we had like 120,000 pounds. To make it said that I were filmed inside and out as an ice fridge. It was all set on one of Scott's Antarctic missions. So that said that their breath was all sort of

Alex Ferrari 18:54
Because there's no budget for VFX no budget for VFX.

Damon Thomas 18:57
Yeah. And we went we snowed up a studio. That was tiny. And yeah, it was. Yeah. So it started back then in 2006. So yeah, it's been a long road. You know, there's been a lot of us a lot of Miles.

Alex Ferrari 19:11
Miles on the tires, as they say. Yeah. So the question is, though, because a lot of filmmakers listening are going through these stages. And again, even in Oh, six. It was a different world than we are today. Like, you know, it's so much more difficult to get in now than it was in the early 2000s. How did you keep going? Is there any advice you can give to filmmakers? Right?

Damon Thomas 19:35
I mean, obviously, back then, it was a bit like if you wanted to make a record, you know, you you'd like you could you just couldn't afford to go into a recording studio, so they seemed very out touch beyond reach. I think the good thing about today is you can make a movie on your iPhone. And I think the thing what you learn by just doing it is sort of you know, How'd you make something that just kind of engages people? You know, and I think that that's the thing, if just start making stuff, even if it's you, you know, you and a friend do something about your life, suddenly, there's kind of like, you could be filming your own house when your garden or down the park or things that you kept. So they don't need huge production. So it sets something contemporary, and just start sort of just putting something together. Because the thing is, that's what people judge you about. They kind of look at you and see how do you well voice every last story? Can you do something funny? Can you make something? And, you know, it's amazing how you can engage people with something very small. It's like, Don't overreach. That's always the thing about filmmaking is, you know, don't just spend all your money on one shot and the rest of the film feels like it's no money.

Alex Ferrari 20:50
But Kubrick and Scorsese did it. Why can't I?

Damon Thomas 20:54
But, you know, I was reading gonna take because I love the shining.

Alex Ferrari 20:58
My favorite, one of my favorites,

Damon Thomas 21:00
Right! It's such an amazing film. And, you know, Jack Nicklaus axed 60 doors to get his Johnny. That's three. mean,

Alex Ferrari 21:14
I mean, you imagine, can you imagine taking one of the biggest movie stars in the world today? And you're not Stanley Kubrick and going, Yeah, or David Fincher at this point. And yeah, and just 66

Damon Thomas 21:29
Number 14. I like exhausted, like, axing costs,

Alex Ferrari 21:33
I think. I think I'm sorry, but I think Fincher on social network. When when I think Andrew Garfield had to smash the the, the laptop. Yeah. And they did like 40 of them had he had literally 40 laptops sitting down, because he knew it was good it because that's David Fincher.

Damon Thomas 21:54
Yeah, I mean, yeah, it's weird. We don't all have that. I mean, you know, his tutor, you could say he's right, because he turns out brilliant film, right? It his process network is, you know, that shining is a masterpiece. And they change, they change filmmaking daily, they change sorts of that, you know, when I, when I was doing killing Eve that I was quite influenced by, you know, Jack Torrance when he's sitting there, and the whole dance is going on behind it this whole I know, it's so like, at the edge of the world sort of madness. And so when I do killing him, I suggested that we do this, this kind of like afternoon tea dance. So you go into this environment and villain I was waiting there. And this is old fashioned music playing all these people just dancing. And it's like the edge of time. And I just, you get really influenced by, you know, but sorry, I was sort of digressing. I mean, in terms of filmmaking, you just have to do if the more you do, the more you sort of learn, because you sort of realize no sound is quite important, a good sound, you know, and it gets forgotten, you know, sound cooked, you know, to get great sound that you can actually use it because a lot of times we have to do re recording a lot of dialogue was it's like planes and all sorts of fridges on in the background. And, you know, someone just decides to sort of, you go to the quietest place in the world. And on that day, there's a guy getting his tree cut out. And there's like, you go over, you get like, people come over, go, can you not cut your trees? And he goes, No, I've paid for it. You know, you're like, oh, my gosh. But you know, it's all those. And you learn how I mean, you know, working as I started as a trainee news additive, you start realizing, Oh, you can cut that picture that picture, they sort of come together. Oh, yeah. How do you cut those? Oh, we actually need a cutaway on that, again, a detail shot because it's how it helps me tell that story. And you realize that sort of objects. If you see objects in someone's room, you can actually tell exactly who they are very quickly. And so art direction and all the bits you need, it's like a messy desk. It's interesting how some people do a messy desk, but it's sort of looks like a sort of presentation. It looks messy desks actually have smears on them and bits of crumbs. And it's all that kind of thing that you start to you become, you know, over the you just become super observant about things in a kind of really all the time, things that you sort of that make all the difference. Now, you may be watching it as a kind of year ago, like it doesn't feel right doesn't feel like a real thing. But you can't put your finger on why it doesn't feel real. It's a bit like doorframes. In a real house, they tend to have quite a lot of scuffs lower down. Because all the things have gone through them over time. If they look pristine, it looks like a new build. You know, it's sort of it's all those details that you start to get quite attuned to as a director when you start doing stuff. But you know, story is key, you know, what's the story? And is it engaging? It's sort of like you can dress things up with you can spend millions on effects, but they don't engage you about the human condition, then you ended up going, I don't care. You know, if you're going to see a film that was 100 million dollars, you saw that. Because we've seen everything go away.

Alex Ferrari 25:18
I mean, if Jurassic Park was just a bunch of dinosaurs walking around and be like, it'd be a documentary, you needed a story you needed to connect to those characters, you needed the magic that Spielberg brings in. Do you know On a sidenote, since you such as a Kubrick fan, do you know I'm sure you do though this but he, I think it was four Eyes Wide Shut, right. Had his assistant runner up for a year run around? Oh, no, not theaters? No, no, the the side tables of couples in a bed, and he just go into people's houses. It is take hundreds, hundreds of pictures of just how people kept the side tables at night. And he just used them as reference to build out his side tables for

Damon Thomas 26:05
And us who are things that

Alex Ferrari 26:09
You just get a bit but you're talking about someone who spent seven years prepping that movie. And it was great that he did but it was horrible that he did because we didn't get more Stanley Kubrick films, I wouldn't die. I would love to see what Stanley would do with today's technology. Can you imagine? Imagine?

Damon Thomas 26:25
I mean, you know, 2000 a while it's just it's so clever. And so, so interesting, you know, there was sort of being made in the late 60s. And it's kind of amazing, you sort of they are different times. And he was a particular, you know, very particular director. You know, I'm I'm also a big fan of like, really, Scott, you know, I think people people are still trying to make alien and Blade Runner. Yeah, they're still trying to make the air those are the benchmarks in the way that, you know, it's, you know, that sort of dirty future, like rain soaks, sort of the clash of kind of, like different cultures around the world, you know, that whole feeling? I, you know, it's it. Of course, they were, they were slightly you can feel it from the effects point of view, but they there's so the characters are so great. And they're stylization, mixed together, that kind of, you know, realization of is, you know, they had such an impact on me. And, yeah, it's why these, you know, you can still go back to this, but that's what I think about how many films you actually revisit, and we watch Apocalypse Now, you know, blew my mind when I watched it, I can still rewatch that film every single time because it's, you still see something new in it, and you just think it's so incredible. And, you know, and the conversation, you know, another amazing, amazing film, but also great, you know, surveillance, you know, I like I really liked that movie, the lives of others, which is another surveillance movie, you know, another brilliant film, because they're all about the human condition, but they just tell great stories really well told. And I think that that's what you're always trying to do. Whether we succeed.

Alex Ferrari 28:22
It's not easy. This is not easy, telling a good movie telling a good story. I mean, if you're a good storyteller, and even the best storytellers that we have in the film industry, they don't get it every time. There's very few that have impeccable photography, it's something else times,

Damon Thomas 28:39
Essentially. And the thing is, you know, nobody sets out to make a big pile of crap. You know, you've never noticed that says, you know, this year.

Alex Ferrari 28:48
I'm gonna, I'm gonna call me cat, I'm gonna make cat let's go make cat

Damon Thomas 28:52
40 million and then move on with me. Good. I read. It's just like, everyone he knows. It's it kind of, you know, it's a lot of people's lives, you know, spent dedicated to doing something. And that's why, of course, you know, I think it just takes a huge I think the thing about it is just not it's that thing. Again, I'm not overreaching? Does it feel right? It's just sitting right? You know, you have to constantly be your own worst critic guy, or is this crap? What is this, you know, you have to, and also you have to be able to work with people that you trust their opinion, so that when they go, that's why, you know, Robert Evans was such a great producer, because he was able to tell us some trouble if you become, you know, a celebrated director. You know, can you take criticism, because someone's hate give you a no go is any good, you know, and you go, right, actually, I think that's, and that's what I think sometimes does happen. I mean, look, you know, if if someone you know, you can make one shining in your life, you'd be happy with it.

Alex Ferrari 30:00
Oh my god. I wouldn't take any almost any movie out of out of Stanley's filmography and go. I'll take that one. You know, I'll take it all.

Damon Thomas 30:14
I mean, if and that's why these guys are amazing. And you just keep kind of going back on thing. Yeah, there's, there's no and that's why I kind of judge the film when I rewatch it. Right. It's it's like really disturbing. I don't want to rewatch it was definitely disturbing. But you know, it's funny how you can, if Jaws is on the show, watch a bit of Jaws, you know, when you just see it on a streaming platform you go, I'm gonna watch that tonight. We'll get back to it. Right you and kind of we, you know, because also these actors that are in there, you know, Dreyfus is so, so good, aren't they? There's such, the way that they inhabit those characters is,

Alex Ferrari 30:52
Is, is remarkable. Now, let me ask you, you know, as directors we there's always that day on set that we feel the entire world is coming down crashing around us. Generally, it's every day, that's everyday generally. But there's always the one

Damon Thomas 31:05
Offs in device device slowly.

Alex Ferrari 31:09
So so there's that one day, that's really bad. And you know, camera doesn't work last the location that guys cut into tree next door? What Yeah, what was that day for you on my best friend's exorcism? And how did you overcome it?

Damon Thomas 31:23
Ah, gosh, let me I'm trying to think of those days. Mistake 10. If we had like, a true chakra of a day on that, that's good. Yeah. Because the thing about it is doing it so long that you literally, it's like this sort of thing. When it comes, you just, you just let it, you sort of have to absorb it. And like I say filmmaking is like the same, but always different. Because of the actors and the team that you have. There's always that combination. And there's always something that will just go wrong. And you just have to, I think doing documentaries for years that allowed me to sort of pivot in a way of just going because I used to always turn up places like I've never been before. And they meet people film them, and they're going to film some shots. And you were just making up on literally, if you didn't get to Reki, because you couldn't sort of fly to America and meet the guy and go home again and go back and do you would just go and film them. And so you sort of so it's kind of like taught me that don't get too rigid. Apart from like, action sequences when you have to really plan on storyboards, and then pickoff shots, which takes a very, very long time. It's why like bond has like the main unit, and then it has the the action unit. They're running for like six months next to each other because of this so many shots. But I think that sort of doing documentary for so long. I just kind of if things sort of go wrong, I can just go well, let's try and do something else. It doesn't. For me, I kind of go, you know, and things just happen all the time, you know. And the classic one is you've got a driving sequence and you just go to the right just drive the car of them they go, I don't drive.

Alex Ferrari 33:22
I had fun on your headshot. But on your headshot, you say you ride horses, you play the guitar and you drive. That's when your special skills.

Damon Thomas 33:30
I always remember one guy said no, I spent the money on of dance lessons. I was you know, I literally just drive the car over here. It was like a really small oversight. And so we had to put him in the seat behind in the backseat and fill in such a way and just mine the steering wheel, but someone just drove in front of him but we got away with just that. It's just you just choose the camera angle. And just see just like that you just kind of go like, course no one's asked him if he arrives.

Alex Ferrari 34:04
But it's basically directing his compromise in so many ways. It's constantly compromising and pivoting and shifting. Because I don't know about you, I love to walk on set with and scare the hell out of my ad with like 150 shots on my shot list every day. And they're like, You are Yeah, we have eight hours. And I'm like I they're there in case things go well, I know I'm gonna shoot 20 of them. But

Damon Thomas 34:31
Exactly. And I think that is a sort of career of patience of just, I mean when you think about it as you're now it's that most of the day is spent lighting. Lighting is you know, lighting is key and makes everything look great. And you just so you know your block, size of your shots. You sit and then you start lighting. I mean They just spent a lot of time, right? And so it's like riding that wave of, oh, you know, waiting for last. But that's not the denigrating the director of photography, it's just like that is the life isn't it? So life off just kind of finding that in

Alex Ferrari 35:15
That it is then that inner Zen of place, you're like, Okay, we're ready, okay, three to how many two hours to 90 minutes, but it's gonna be two hours.

Damon Thomas 35:24
I mean, I'm the other interesting thing, I think, is that people who don't work in the industry often say, you know, when you work with actors, they go the other direction, they just do what you say, you can go. It doesn't quite work that way. Doesn't you know, that's not how it works. And they just don't understand that it's a very inexact. Science is really unique and special. And it's such a exposing amazing thing, that it's not just about you that you do that over there. It's not that it's a kind of proper creative relationship that you sort of embark on.

Alex Ferrari 36:01
Isn't it interesting that when when normies I call them normies people outside of the Carnival business that is our world, come on set. And they've only seen like, behind the scenes. Everything's edited. So like on set seems like it's, you're going fast. And they're sitting there like three hours later, they're sitting in the chair with with the headphones on for sound, and they're like, this is boring is crap. And like, is it like, on a mark on a Marvel movie? They'll spend, what, eight hours lighting for one shot? Yeah, because that's they have all the money.

Damon Thomas 36:37
In Bad Boy, just shoot two shots in a day. And just spend the whole morning just rehearsing, rehearsing a big shot that has a lot of moving parts. And that's what you do, you have to, if you're gonna shoot a shot, you got to shoot it well, or don't shoot it. This is the crazy thing sometimes about shooting is, don't shoot. That's another thing. That's another thing. I'd always say don't shoot. I'll say crap. But you know, don't shoot rubbish and shoots stuff. Because you're always going to look at later Oh, why didn't I just I knew, you know, I knew I

Alex Ferrari 37:14
I know.

Damon Thomas 37:17
And the thing about it is that's what you have to do as a director you have to go. It's not right, we need to, you know, it doesn't feel right. That's sometimes you set for a shot, and you have to have the competence. And it might have taken quite a long time to put the camera out there and the rigging or the guys the grips. And then you start looking at it. It's not right, we just actually need to be over here. And you have to have the confidence go strip it all out and have people around you that kind of out. Yes, you're making it. Yeah, we see it. And also don't get sort of that it also meant that you're doing something wrong sometimes like this, actually, you know.

Alex Ferrari 37:53
But that takes time to build up. Because when you're when you're first onset, you just don't want to look like you don't know what you're doing, of course, but as you get older and you've got more more shrapnel in you, you just go, guys, I made a mistake. Let's let's go over here. This is just not working. Let's say yeah, it's gonna take two hours. I'm sorry. Let's go.

Damon Thomas 38:12
Yeah. And you you're, you'll never regret it. Because you're, as you know, or just the footage that you get will be like you think thank God, thank God because you might as well choose something great. That took twice as long. I mean, it depends about obviously jeopardizing a location whenever you have to. That's why it's a sort of system of moving parts. You're always going, oh my god, can we, you know, we're only in here for one day, like the interior of the weird house, you know, there where it happens was actually there like the upstairs corridor. And this other building is sort of outside You'd never believe that we were that was the inside of the house. But we got real freedom to like smash it up inside. But we have such limited time in that.

Alex Ferrari 38:57
But is it but isn't it true, though, that you have to sit once in the edit room and go Why didn't I move the camera? Why did I accept that shot when I knew somebody was telling me? No, you've got to but you didn't have the balls or the confidence to change? Or? Yeah, you're in the edit and you're edit and you're in the edit room and you're like God I need either a guy God I gotta get saved somehow with this. Yeah, these are lessons you learn along the way and then eventually you just like I know I'll get the shots that I need. I gotta shoot that they ashtray why cuz I need a frickin cutaway?

Damon Thomas 39:35
Yeah. And it's just, yeah, yeah. That you have to rely on people around. You just have to rely a lot. But yeah, you. You sort of over the years, you're ill so you sort of see the problems coming. I think that's what happens. That's what I sort of say you sort of go, I know that we do this. That's not going to work probably because you've so been there like 10 times for sure. Thank you Get those of that and that kind of that. And that's why experience hadn't counts for a lot of question. I especially when you when you move and do different genres, occasionally you sort of come over here, you sort of think, well, I've done a shot like that I did a shot with someone underwater, I did that crash, I did someone leading over, you know, they just did it by putting your green spirit. And it's also knowing sometimes people can't, like, I just, I just did a thing about the Black Panthers in the early 70s. And we just needed someone that was on our Holland, I just saw sort of shape and a park with a pathway. I thought I'd be great. As soon as you put the car here, just put a green screen around, and everyone's sort of going, like, are you mad, you know, but we did it. Because I just knew it would work the shape. And I guess it felt like sort of lookout point that you could put a car on the head, you know, you just use like we did sort of, we had had to recreate the Mexican border. And we literally did it in like an Ikea car park. So you go on the tape record, you go. And it's just as concrete. And it was literally going I don't get it, I just don't see it. And you have to say, well, we put the all the crosses here, put the fence there, all the trucks here, we've put a lot of blocking load of big trucks on that size. And then it just sort of it's sort of you have to visualize it. I think that that becomes a thing as well that you start to visualize things within spaces. And I think that that is another thing you start to see. Because you start thinking, I do think and it's not all it depends what your life is directly about you. But I liked photography. So I liked it. Yeah, so you sort of like I like photographing, you know, you get quite into composition. And it's a bit like taking photos that people just, you know, when you think about it, like you always take a photo as sort of a shoulder highlight this is where you sort of get on the floor and you're like, oh, let's do that, you know, you're gonna lay on the floor, you're never gonna put the camera down there. But you have to start thinking about that when you start shooting as directors, you sort of think Well, where can the camera? Uh, how does it make me feel about what I'm looking at putting the camera in different positions, and that's another thing you start freeing ourselves up, about not just going here we are. But sometimes the symptoms sometimes the simplest things are just just as effective. That's the other thing. They just aren't just making things really flashy because in the end is the performance and the writing that are going to set it off.

Alex Ferrari 42:40
I mean you could look at some John Ford shots and you're just like well that's a masterpiece and they just have to just lock the camera off.

Damon Thomas 42:45
Yeah, and you know just lock it off look at just you know Yeah, and you know, that's a lot to do with location is that again just sort of going we've got to go all the way to this remote place will do that shot

Alex Ferrari 43:01
No no no IKEA IKEA and a green screen you got Lawrence of Arabia What are you talking about? If he would have had IKEA green screen we wouldn't even desert that's crazy.

Damon Thomas 43:17
He wouldn't be on Santa so much.

Alex Ferrari 43:19
It's so my last question to you sir is if you were able to go back in time and talk to your younger self is there one piece of advice you would give? Give him one piece of advice about your filmmaking journey like dude, you know, you really need to look out for this

Damon Thomas 43:34
I think is to do as much of it as you can sort of don't kind of just be waiting for the one moment that you feel is coming at a certain point in time just start shooting things just make a small film even when it's like you know drama set in your own house with your family you know, if you're just think of a story and also if it comes from you your own experience then it will be true Won't it so that if you if something has happened to you do you could do it and you'll be surprised at who can act sometimes as well you know you're and then by shooting sub two and keep it very small because do some of your very limited and just see if we can make narrative lasts for like two minutes or three minutes and put some music right then yeah, I think I think I obviously but then there was a source of it. We didn't have for you this technology whereas now you could just do it and I think that in a way we have too many tools. You know and

Alex Ferrari 44:38
And not enough story

Damon Thomas 44:40
Is true, though, isn't it? And so so kind of you you know what's the everything everywhere all at once that movie? Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 44:48

Damon Thomas 44:49
Ah, what amazing what an amazing kind of, but also very, very interesting about the human condition. Isn't it's all about what people beaten to each other. And what it's it's, I mean, people with Frankfurter fingers. I mean, it's

Alex Ferrari 45:08
When I had them on the show. I'm like, Dude hotdog fingers, guys seriously? And they're like, Yeah, we were we were high. So I said something. Because like, this is insane guys, this

Damon Thomas 45:22
That's what I love about that film is like, it's like we learn to express ourselves with our feet. And I think Jamie Jamie Lee Curtis is there and then this little foot just cut this out to her face. And so that's, I just thought, I think it's, it's not but it's true to them. It's very true. It's perfect as perfect. I thought that's really clever. And it's just funny, very funny and touching. And those guys go,

Alex Ferrari 45:49
Damon, I can keep talking to you for about another five, six hours about geeking out over. I mean, we could just start talking about Kubrick for an hour alone. There's can people where can people see your new film My best friend's exorcism?

Damon Thomas 46:00
It's on Amazon Prime video now. It's it's released today the 30th of September and yeah, so

Alex Ferrari 46:08
Perfect Halloween film. Perfect Halloween.

Damon Thomas 46:10
Yeah, well watch it. We're friends. Yes. Like my first ad Steve Hall. Fantastic guy. He's doing a party tonight. They're re re enacting one of the lemon brands steeds tonight with his friends. I just Yeah, fantastic. Yeah. Watch it with a group.

Alex Ferrari 46:30
My friend. Congratulations on the film and continued success with with I can't wait to see your next films coming out my friend. So I appreciate you my friend. Thank you again.

Damon Thomas 46:39
Thank you Alex. Thank you!

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BPS 265: Writing Your First Blockbuster with Paul Dudbridge

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Alex Ferrari 0:18
I'd like to welcome the show Paul Dudbridge. Brother, how you doing?

Paul Dudbridge 4:05
Hey, Alex. Awesome. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 4:07
How is the weather in the UK today? Sir? It's cold. It's very cold. Isn't unseasonably close. You guys are never cold, always sunny and very nice. Kinda like la but difference.

Paul Dudbridge 4:20
It's only January. It's got you know, they've got all the salt on the ground for stuff slipping over and stuff. So yeah, it's pretty. It's pretty cold out there.

Alex Ferrari 4:28
It's, uh, I want to I mean, it's cold here for us. We're like 40 degrees here. So I don't even know what that is Celsius because we're Americans. And that's what we do. But But for us, that's pretty cold, but I haven't seen snow since last Sundance. Oh, wow. Okay. For Well, a good year. I think so. Oh, really. So it's just cold. It's just cool. Oh, good, Lord. So thanks for being on the show. Man. I wanted to talk about a couple of books that you've written as well as your time in the business. So First off, how did you get into this crazy business?

Paul Dudbridge 5:03
Ah, well, I'm kind of got the classic story I, my dad bought a video camera when I was 11 to film sports days and holidays and all that. And my sister and a couple of mates have my report on this play in the back garden that my dad filmed it. And he kind of filmed it bless him. I don't know if he's ever gonna listen to this. But he filmed the wrong bit he filmed like the behind the scenes stuff of us preparing and not the actual stuff on stage as it were, and we and we were kind of like, I filmed it wrong, we should do another one. So we made a proper film. As you know, we kind of tried to do our own Deanna Jones. And that's where it started. And we couldn't edit everything was cut in camera. So when we stopped when we started the record button, that's the beginning of the shot when we hit the stop button, that was the end of the shot. So it was a nice discipline of what's the next shot going to be because we can't cut this. And we would even do our own music. I think we have Axel f from Beverly Hills Cop has like some theme music and stuff like that. And we had this like stereo off camera, playing the music and someone was hitting the play button while we were shooting the shot, and then they stop. And then obviously when you played it all back, the music would all be sort of stopping and starting and the law next door neighbor's lawn mower was kind of out because sometimes it was he was working. Sometimes it wasn't. And it was just his wonderful introduction to the into making films. And then from there each year, we kind of did a few different films. And then I went to college for a year we kind of I found editing equipment and and just went through there really and then eventually digital came in. But those early years are really quite good for me, I think because I've only shot on film once. But it was a real discipline. How How do you know what's your next shot, you just can't keep the camera running. How's it going especially even back in the day, when you're editing tape to tape, you had this master tape and if you made a film that was half hour long, you have to know how long your shots were. And even the only had two channels of audio. So we had one on dialogue one on music. And if we had any special effects like sound effects to pay in, we have to duplicate the the tracks across to the another tape and then bring it back in the player and copy it across again. The tapes were like fourth generation

Alex Ferrari 7:21
Nothing is more Nothing is more terrifying than being on a set with a film camera. And I was shooting a commercial. And I had to shoot out 120 frames a second. And the SAT I still remember the sound of the that the camera made. And it's just like an all you hear is dollar just dollars just cosmetic, but just cash flying out. And you're just praying that the film doesn't snap. Like, right this is this is this is what we did. But yeah, it was it was good times. It's good times. It's a good discipline. Yeah, it really is. It is an amazing discipline. I mean, I got my start in film, mostly. And shout out. That's all we had. So and then when I got into digital, it's like wonderful to let it roll and just just keep rolling. Just keep rolling, and it goes and but then when you get into posts, as I'm opposed guys just takes takes forever way cool that someone's got to find it. Oh, God, it becomes really, you gotta be a little bit more disciplined. So when I shoot now, I'm like, I don't know about you. But when I shoot, I'll cut. Yeah, I will, I won't let it keep going. Because you just kind of just run through all that crap. It's, it's, it's, it's crazy.

Paul Dudbridge 8:31
I think it also I mean, it is a good discipline to have. And I think that when I was cutting that, but I started editing, I always say to young student film directors, if you want to learn how to direct you need to know how to cut, because you need to know how the shots are going to come together. And we've all been there on sets before where you've got 10 shots to get the sun's going down, you can only get six. And you have to do the mental math in your head and go well, I could drop that shot, I could cut from that to that get around that. I could go straight that I need that shot to make the scene work, I could drop this one. And you can do that math because you know how to cut. And if you don't know how to cut, you're just gonna go, Well, I need to shoot everything, then you run over? Or you're second guessing yourself. So just just cutting, cutting, cutting because I know you know any if you're good editor, you're good director and I think that's the secret.

Alex Ferrari 9:23
No, I agree with you. I I started off as an editor. And it's helped me dramatically as a director because you just kind of know where to stop the cut. Because you're like, oh, you're kind of editing on set in your mind.

Paul Dudbridge 9:33
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And sometimes as a dp as well, I sometimes shoot for other directors. And if you're working for a director that knows editing, and I'd say to them you want to go again on that why and they're gonna be out of that. I'll be out of there by that I'll be on the single and they know where they're going to cut so we don't have to do the shot again. But if you're working with a slightly newer inexperienced director, they go Oh, do you think we should go again, I think we should do the wide again that two minute wide shot for another does take because they don't quite know how it's going to come together. And that's where you run over and things like that. So it's really good foundation I think anything.

Alex Ferrari 10:09
Yeah, absolutely. And before you had to, you know, find an avid system or find a flatbed to sneak in at night or in the early mornings or on weekends to practice on where now literally, you can edit on your phone. But or even, you know, get free software like resolve or Final Cut for like 200 bucks. I mean, it's ridiculous.

Paul Dudbridge 10:32
I love it. I think media first i think is free is a download,

Alex Ferrari 10:35
or they started getting they finally started giving something away for free at avid. Give me a break. Oh, no, no, don't get me started with avid please don't get me started with avid. I can't I just I just can't even with them. But anyway. What do you guys? That's a whole other episode for a whole other type. What do you guys, what do you edit on? avid? No, you're an avid and it's like, I have no problem with the tool. I have a problem with the way that companies run and they charge so much money and they just beat you down and all this and they doesn't play nicely with others. But I'm just gonna say, Would you agree with that with the visual effects and other things like that jumping? You know, yeah,

Paul Dudbridge 11:17
times the workflow isn't as smooth. I mean, obviously, if it's in Premiere, you can jump to After Effects and or resolve or Final Cut

Alex Ferrari 11:25
or something like that. But this conversation, you see, this is what happens with two directors, or to filmmakers who you know, who've been around the block a couple times, we just start chatting, it's gonna, it's gonna it's gonna derail a couple times, I'm sure. Alright, so let's talk about the first book you wrote, which is shooting better movies? How did that come to life? And what made you want to write that book?

Paul Dudbridge 11:49
Okay, well, I suppose there's two sort of strands to that question is one is how I came to write the book because about 15 years ago, I started teaching I there's a there was a television workshop here in the UK. And I started doing some sessions there teaching young students sort of between sort of 16 and 26, the beginnings of filmmaking. And off the back of that, I started doing some teaching at universities and other colleges. So I had this compilation of notes, handouts sessions, and I kind of was slowly beginning to understand how the information should be taught. Because it's okay to know it. But actually getting that across to someone that doesn't know it, and in a way that they can digest it easily is the secret. And I kind of asked over the years, I had all this information. And I thought, you know, I'm gonna write a book, I didn't know anything about publishing. I didn't know where to begin, but I thought, I'm just gonna write this thing on spec. So over about a year and a half, I just wrote this thing, and it's quite big. But at the back of the book, I wanted to have these interviews with people in the business camera systems, gaffers, directors, etc. And I knew just from big my time, professionally, I could contact people and say, Hey, would want to be interviewed for my book. But one of the things I really wanted was the Hollywood perspective. And about two years before that, I contacted a producer on Facebook called Pan dension, who was a writer producer, he went made one of the films, my favorite films growing up, which was Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves back in late 1991. I emailed pan, and just sometimes I said, Look, just to say, I love printing things. I use it in my teaching materials, because the you know, it's a good you know, it's got a bit whole end section with Robin Hood, when he's rescuing all his Merry Men at the end. And the way the director Kevin Reynolds shot, it isn't great sort of examples of orientation and things like that. Anyway, he got back to me, he was like, hey, awesome, nice to meet you. He's from the UK moved over to the states when he was younger. And that was it. And that was about two years ago. So anyway, when I came around to writing this book, I was like, You know what, I could email convention and he could be my interview for the Hollywood perspective for the back of my book. But and this is something that I tell students now when I'm talking about don't answer No, for the other person, which is I I was getting, I was scared about emailing him, because it's gonna say, No, get out of town what you're talking about. And it took me six weeks, I was thinking he's never going to reply. He's never gonna do it, even though I kind of had this contact with him. But that was two years ago. So anyway, I wasted six weeks and then one day I thought, you know what, I'm going to do it. So I came home and I emailed him and asked him if he would do the interview. I emailed him. I remember the timeline. I emailed him at two minutes past five. By 11 minutes past five, we had a date for the interview. And I wasted six weeks, right? And it took us like nine minutes, and he fought straight back. Hey, Paul. Sounds awesome. I call you Friday from LA. We're chat. Speak then. And I was like, that was a lesson for me. Forget the book. For a second, it was just a lesson in, you never know don't answer no for the other person because you know, that could be an actor you want to approach that could be a distributor that could be anything to try it anyway. So I interviewed pan, he was a lovely guy. He gave me loads of wisdom, and at the end of the interviews have, what's your plans for the books? And I said, I don't know, I might release it online, do an E book. And he said, Look, I wrote a book called riding alligator on screenwriting. You should speak to my publisher. And I was like, okay, and who's your publisher anyway, gave me the name of his publisher, which is Michael VC. And I've got nine of their books on my shelf. So I was like, Okay, anyway, about four months goes past, I finished the book, and I emailed Pentagon, like, I'm ready to email, the micro VC kind of have their details and it went from there. And then I got a phone call from Michael VC, the president of the publishing company. And he rang me to say, well, we like your book. Yeah, we'll take it.

Alex Ferrari 15:58
That's awesome. That's how the book got put in. That's, that's awesome.

Paul Dudbridge 16:03
But that was because I owe credit to pan. I mean, I've emailed him many times since for advice, and to congratulate him on staff and we've stayed in touch and he's just awesome. I owe to him.

Alex Ferrari 16:15
No, it's funny, because, you know, doing what I do now, you know, having interviews and requesting people like to come on, and some people come requests of me, but, you know, I'll go after big guests. And I'll just like, I, I've learned to just ask, yeah, you know, as long as you're providing some sort of value, and you're just not like an energy sucker, as I always call him like these people like, and he can you call up Steven Spielberg, for me? I know, you worked with them on this one movie, can you? You can't do that. But if you come from a really authentic, humble place, and just go, look, I need help, or I need this. I'm gonna say nine out of 10 times. Yeah, they if they have the time, or they'll make the time, it's pretty interesting. It's pretty interesting. So so that's how the book out into the world will let us talk a few things about our in the book, what are some common traits You see, in student films? And I have seen way too many student films in my day, including my own?

Paul Dudbridge 17:16
Well, yeah, there was a chapter at the back of the book, common traits. And I would say, I've been adding about 20. And now I would say, 19 of them, I've made myself in the mistakes I've made. And the common traits are like bad sound. You know, and even just like bad, you know, bad photography, overexposed, all that kind of stuff. And it's like, you don't need the big lighting kit, to worry, you know, to sort of solve that you could just move director foot to the left, so there are that light or whatever. And, and it's just the attention to detail a little bit like that on both those fronts. I see 239 widescreen. A lot.

Alex Ferrari 17:54
on an iPhone.

Paul Dudbridge 17:56
Yeah. And it's like, I can get that and and but you have to come out the wasp, or ratio from the point of view of the story, I think. Right. However, is I recently read an article American cinematographer, where they said back in like the early 90s, I think there was something like 75% of the films were shot 185 and 25%, were shot to 39 or something like that. And then now is the complete opposite. And you get romantic comedies shot to 39 every end. And there was a film I think, went to Sundance last year, and they literally said, We shot to 39 because we wanted to add that extra production value. Nothing to do with the story, nothing to do with any sort of narrative. It's just we did it because we people do associate it with higher production value. What was the other things like? Yeah, I mean, one thing that I did as a kid, we had shoes, we wouldn't make stories that were suitable for the age range that we were. So I had like my 16 year old schoolmates playing police detectives. Fortunately, we It was around the time when Tarantino was quite popular. Yeah, every suits, everything was swearing. Everything was after this

Alex Ferrari 19:10
blood everywhere, right?

Paul Dudbridge 19:11
Yeah, a lot of you were pointing and gun down the barrel thing. You know, it's funny now where you see I see even movies now. And I'm like, someone's left on the floor and put the gun down the barrel. And it's like, that was old heart in 91. You know what I mean? And it's like, you need to find a different way of doing that. Or, you know, holding that on the gun on the side. All that kind of stuff. So yeah, there's a few traits that you know, I was the other one, I suppose getting hung up on kit. As I speak to a lot of students and the first thing out of their mouth is we're shooting on the red. Yeah. I'm reading 4k. And you kind of go watch the story first. Because you shoot on the red if you want, but if you don't know where to put the camera, you don't get your coverage. It doesn't make any difference whatsoever. I know that somehow you're going to say, oh, you're in that league, you're quite established, you must be good if you shoot on the red and nothing against red. So it's those sorts of things that you kind of find cropping up. And, you know, I hold my hands up, I made half of those mistakes. No,

Alex Ferrari 20:17
no, no, without without question. And, I mean, I've done full podcast episodes on gear porn. And like, in the whole, like, you know, people obsessed with gear, and at the end of the day, like, I shot my latest feature, I shot on a on a pocket camera. 1080 P. Yeah. And it worked beautifully. And it looks stunning. And I didn't shoot it 239 though I could have because it was a very picturesque, you know, thing. But that's the other thing. You know, when you see it when you see a student film, or or an indie film, even, you know, when they're starting out where you see that 239 aspect ratio in there in a bedroom. There's no reason for that. Like, yeah, if you're out in the desert, or when you're in a jungle, and there's mountain ranges, and it's like this epic Vista. Yeah, I get it. I get it, but we're just shooting against the white wall.

Paul Dudbridge 21:14
Yeah, yeah. And I think it's the tail wagging the dog quite a lot there. And I think, you know, I speak to a lot of DPS and they talk about vintage glass and things like that. And, you know, you read interviews with like Roger Deakins, and he's talking about shooting on like Alexa, just on primes, just clear, brand new primes. And he said, he doesn't understand the notion of putting vintage lenses on a brand new 4k Alexa, it's like drinking champagne for a polystyrene beaker, you want to get the best image you can. And, and then if you want to do any effects in imposed or grade, and you want to do anything, you know, settle to the image you can, but you want to start with the best quality. So there's lots of, you know, points of view, and pros and cons to all of that. But getting hung up on gear is a big thing.

Alex Ferrari 22:02
I always use tangerine as a model, like, look what they did with an iPhone logo, Shaun Baker did with an iPhone and, and he just had a great story. I mean, the story was so well done and, and that the style of the film made sense. And, and he didn't lead with that. That's the other thing people don't understand. Like, no one knew that film was shot on an iPhone until the very end of the first screening where it said, oh, by the way, we shot this on an iPhone, where he could have easily led with that.

Paul Dudbridge 22:31
Yeah, but then it would have been a gimmick, wouldn't it? It would have been a Hey, look what I've done. And no one will be looking at the story.

Alex Ferrari 22:39
And it's a nice little bonus at the end, as opposed to leading with it. Which is one thing I always see filmmakers do now is like, well, I've made my movie for the cheapest. I made it for $5. I made it for. And you know what, when Robert Rodriguez did it in 91. With mariachi, I made a $7,000 feature film. That's because feature films, you could not make anything even remotely close for that budget. And by the way, I always tell people, the movie that you saw was not a $7,000 movie. That was a $1.5 million movie after they read it all the Yeah. All the sound the sound the loan was like a million because yeah, they had to reconstruct the entire soundtrack from scratch. They ADR the entire movie. But that's a whole other conversation. But but but that that kind of like I made this movie for like, you know, the cheapest thing ever. It does not hold weight anymore. I think that's another big trait that a lot of filmmakers think that they're like, Oh, I made this movie. I'm like, look how cool I am. I was able to do this. For $5. I'm like, that's great. What's the story? No one cares anymore. Would you agree?

Paul Dudbridge 23:44
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think it's just all comes back to story story story. And, you know, what's the message and I saw I saw a film recently a film festival. And technically, I have it was I think they did shorten the Alexa. It was gorgeous. The photography was gorgeous sound, it was basically a feature that you would see in the cinema, but a short form, great composition, great grading, etc, etc. But two things while I didn't know what was going on. And second, I was so bored. And it was just it was just one of those things where I'm going, you've got the skills, you've got the talent, you've got the gear, but what story are you telling? You know, I'm not engaged. You know, what's up with that? So I think it's important to look at story first and then, you know, I think people will be I think they get adjusted to the image quite quite easily. There's a good interview in one of Michael VCs books actually called cinematographer directors where dp john seal is talking with Roger Deakins. And Roger Deakins is all about prime lenses and he hates zooms and john seals a zoo. Man, he doesn't use primes. And it used to be back in the day that zooms would have lesser quality because there's a bit more class go through. And he was saying, but after about three or four seconds of looking at that opening image, the audience goes, Okay, that's the quality. What's the story, and they won't be at the 50 to 50 minutes and they won't be going all but look at that green or look at the let the quality is not great thing that becomes the norm, it becomes the standard. So it's not about whether it zooms or primes. It's about the story because the audience will get past the image

Alex Ferrari 25:34
very quick. Without without question, people will always forgive a bad image, but they will not forgive bad sound. Oh, no. Yeah, bad sound mean Blair Witch Project looks looks horrible. You know, paranormal activity was shot on like, you know, nanny cams. You know, what the sound was? Great. Yeah, without question. Now, can you give me some tips on directing actors? Because I think filmmakers in general, actors are like, they only they only focus on the gear they only focus on on lenses and light and all lights and all that kind of stuff. And they and they, and then if you're lucky, they follow up. So focus on story. Sure, but the actor is this kind of almost mythical thing for especially for for, you know, first time filmmakers and people starting out. They're very intimidated. They speak another language. I mean, they they speak and so I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

Paul Dudbridge 26:30
Also, well, first of all, I think, don't be frightened of it. I think it's, it's listen to them. Because I've seen a lot of a lot of directors on set talking at length to the actor on this is kind of as a kind of various layers here. One is telling them what they want. And then basically, you haven't given the actor the opportunity to present what they prepare, because you might spend 10 minutes saying, look, I want you to do this, this and this. And that was exactly what they were going to do. So you've now just killed 10 minutes. And also you haven't trusted the actor to go or this is what I've prepared. So take one should be will show me what you've got. And you've got a brilliant that shoot or tweak here and there. And intellectual chitchat as a big thing. Like, it should always be about what the behavior you want from the actor, not talking about what they had for breakfast, what the meaning of that tie is. And there's a wonderful quote that I used in my first book from a book called a sense of direction by a director called William ball. And he say to the actor, if they started getting into an intellectual discussion about what the character means by this and what that represents, just say to them, show me Show me what you mean. And that would probably stop the conversation, because there's no way of performing the actions saying the line that can demonstrate what they're saying, because it's all intellectual. There's no behavior component to that. So it all has to be about the behavior. What if there's a behavioral change behind your direction, then it's good direction. If your behavior doesn't change, then what are you talking about? and direction should be about 10 seconds long. If it's anything over 10 seconds, you've got a problem, because you need to talk at length, about something that should have been talked about in rehearsal should have been discussed on the phone before you went to sell whenever you have the chance to talk to the actor. So it's one of those things where you just need to nudge them either way. Rather than say, right, let's take this whole scene apart and the whole character apart and let's discuss, you know, you know, what's the scenes about and you're just wasting time you're wasting daylight, or film burning film? Whatever. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 28:54
no, I had the I had the pleasure to interview Robert Forster. Right. And he was in Tarantino's Jackie Brown among a billion other things he's done in his career. He's an amazing actor. And I at the time, I was just like, Can you give me the best direction Tarantino ever gave you? And he said, the best I've worked with a lot of directors Alex in the best direction I've ever heard was from Quentin. When he said to me, he would whisper it right before the tape. We were before yell action. He goes, make me believe it. Or not, that was it. That was it. That was it. I was like, wow, that's that's a really good. I mean, you really got to trust your actor everywhere. And of course, the caliber of actors he works with, you know, when Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are on set. He pretty much just, you know,

Paul Dudbridge 29:44
that? Yeah, I'd say I there's there was an example I had. I had an actress on our show that we did a couple of years ago. And what we had to do was she was looking at a clock that the clock is stopped and she she's wedging through these drawers in this kitchen, she looks up to see that the clock is stopped. As the actor, she saw that it stopped. And then she went back to her business. But the editor of me needed to be able to cut in on her closer to the shot of the clock. And she didn't hold that look at the clock long enough for me to cut in, she did it how she would do in real life. And for me to say, Can you look at the clock longer, suddenly would become quite statute would look up and a face would lock in place, it would be quite static, it wouldn't be flown with the character. So I said to her was just make sure that the clock is stopped. So then she looked up and she had to look at it in characters that were in the built in that into the motion of her actions of looking up, she she held the look long enough to go yes, that second hand isn't moving. Now I'll get back to my business and it was long enough. And it's an exercise in what they call not giving result direction, which is your actor just to get a result from them. So you know, and one of the things I say in in my book shooting about movies is to use action verbs because action verbs are a great tool for the actor. So you might say interrogate your daughter as to where she's been. You know why she's come home late. And it's an action verb does is a great tool because there's a connotation attached to that word. So when I say Harrogate, I think of police. And they would go, they would lock eye contact, they would be quite firm, they would be quite assertive. And what you can then do if the actor is giving it too much, and you want them to be a lesser intensity, you can say quiz your daughter about where she's been. Now quiz to me, I think of a pub quiz or a TV show where the questions are asked, which is not, there's not too much intensity to it. So then the performance is lessened without saying, talk quieter, look away at that line, etc. to be considered result direction.

Alex Ferrari 32:04
Yes. act like you're angry at your daughter for being late as opposed to that doesn't give you the same meats to play with as an actress like, interrogate?

Paul Dudbridge 32:13
Yeah, and it's about action verbs do is they give you that emotional core, you want the article and find, and they always say is that one verb and the act goes, I get it. And so so what I do when I go through a script is I might have two pages, and I'll say, what's the character doing that, for the first half of the page, they're trying to convince them to marry them or convince them to go away, then when they're not replying, or then they're not taking them up, then they sort of plead with them. So you find those two or three action verbs that might help when you're on set, and you need to direct the actor, you can just find that verb. And I and that keeps the direction short. So you're not trying to split it apart and talk at length.

Alex Ferrari 32:53
Now, this is a, this is a topic that I love always to asking directors specifically is one, how do you deal with a difficult actor, an actor who is not doing what you're doing what they want? Or if they're being disrespectful, or they're not just listening, and they're making the director look bad on set? And to how would you deal with that same situation with a crew member, like a dp who doesn't respect the director or, or art director or you know, or producer on set? That's just giving you headache? Because as first time directors Look, when I first came up, you know, I had these older crew members, you know, in I'm sure it's the same way in the UK as it is here, like, you know, seasoned guys and girls, they can smell you coming from a mile away. And actors are no no different. So they'll, they'll test you within the first five or 10 minutes. And they'll go, okay, he knows what he's doing, or Okay, she knows he knows what she's doing. How do you handle first the acting situation, and then also just with crew members, because I think that's super valuable, especially for young filmmakers coming up. Okay, first of all, I would probably say that I've had the privilege of working with a lot of good actors who aren't like that, and I'd normally and I can put it down to, if they're confident, and they know their stuff, they've got nothing to prove. So there's no ego, so therefore they don't, they're not difficult. If they're nervous about something, they're worried about that big emotional scene coming up, they don't they haven't really learned their lines, they're a little bit anxious about it, that will come out in one way or another, which is probably animosity towards you. And, and any of the good actors that I mean, good as in their performance. They're also the ones that turn up on time, carry the cases, make the coffee or whatever they you know, when they're not working, and there's a correlation there. There really is. And it's always the difficult ones. It's it's funny as those what they call the enemy of production, where there's always one person, whether it's an actor or crew member, who will derail your film unless you isolate them from a point of view. Work out who it is. And you need to pull them to one side offset and say, Is there something I can help you with what seems to be troubling you? Can we talk about? Is there anything I can do? You know, I'm sensing something but you're not happy? Can I help? And just bring it out out into the open sometimes, especially with crew members is that's the way to go. Because then they realize they've been rumbled pilling with the kindness and you're saying, hey, look, I'm letting you know that I've noticed your behavior. Hey, let's all get on what? What can I do to help you if there's something that you're not happy with? Let's talk and you've kind of they can't, in theory, then continue to be a jerk about it, because you've already pointed it out to call them out on it, call them out on it. With actors, I think it's again, I think, if we can find that thing that's troubling them, so you need to speak to them offset. And let them know that they can mention it. They're not you don't want to do it in front of the DP don't want to do it in front of another actor because they might be embarrassed or what's troubling them might be the person that's stood next to you. And just say, everything, all right, I'm sensing this thing. And again, once you've called them out, it's it's you know, you're you know, you want to make it, you're trying to make the film, the best it can be you need their help to do that. And it's just about getting them onside. And Failing that, if you know, you just want to get as much coverage as you can to try and cut it. It's a It's a sad thing. But it's one of those things where you need to say, Well, if they're not cooperating, how do we still make the scene work? And just work with them? I really do feel that I think I've had this experience. But do you feel that when actors feel that they're not safe, because it's our job to give them a safe space to play? If they feel unprotected, if they feel unsafe? Many of them will, some of them will just go introvert, but a lot of them will come out and will will create problems create havoc, because then at that point, they're in survival mode, because they're exposing themselves so much out there. That it's like, if this guy, or this girl does not have my back, I gotta take care of myself. So screw everything else. And that's when the problems start. Would you agree with that?

Paul Dudbridge 37:20
Yeah. I was just trying to think of something else. That is an example. Sorry, do just repeat that back to me again,

Alex Ferrari 37:30
that when actors are feeling that they're unsavable say, yeah,

Paul Dudbridge 37:35
yeah. Yeah, I think that's I've made that mistake before actually, where the actors very feeling very vulnerable. They've just given me the performance that I want. And what I've done is that I've, I've kind of got Oh, thank God, we've got the tape, right, let's move on. And I'm talking to the DP. But now I find the time to go up to the actor and go, that was awesome. This, that and the other you nailed it, did it? Is there another take? You want to try? You want to try a different way? Because obviously, that was the way that I asked you to do it. Is there another input? And they say, Oh, no, no, no, if you like that, that was fine. Rather, and, you know, they feel like they want to give it another go a different a different way. And there was a tip that I picked up from Spielberg actually where I was watching the extras on, Catch Me If You Can with the Caprio. And he's saying that they would do these tags the way that Spielberg wanted DiCaprio to do it. And at the end, probably just say, right, do just do another one, but go crazy. outrageous. Yep. And he would say that in the Edit nine times out of 10, they would use the outrageous take. Because there was no inhibitions, DiCaprio felt free. But it was just the fact that he had been listened to the actors need to know that they put their point of view of cross. And sometimes I've had suggestions from the actors that I want to go with. And I might make more of a thing of it to the crew that we're going with the actors suggestion, just so they go, Hey, everyone, This idea was from this actor, isn't it a great idea, we're now going to shoot it this way. And they kind of feel a little bit, hey, I've put some input in here and everyone knows it. And it's a little bit manipulative, but you are protecting them in and you're also backing them up really,

Alex Ferrari 39:23
it is so much about filmmaking is psychology, in how you produce it, how you find the money for it, how you actually shoot it, how you edit it, how you distribute it and also just the psychology of telling a story with subtext and and creating different you know, you know, things and all that kind of stuff when you're when you're doing stories. It's it's really interesting, and I think filmmakers really don't get that across they don't teach that in film school. That's psychology should be a prerequisite in any and all film schools would you agree on that?

Paul Dudbridge 39:58
It's like 50% of the SAT because You've got a psychology going on with the crew, you've got the actors with the director or the director and the execs. You've got. It's all it's all egos. Its has he or she had her input. You know, it's, I don't know, it's like, you know, it's the classic story of as well of like, the editor and the director leaving in shots that they know to be bad. overlong it's a new one, it goes up the chain to the producers in the exact Oh, yeah, they go don't like that shot, take it out. Good idea. Thank you very much, producer B, we're takeback Great example a great, you know, input, and then you take out the shot. And they everyone feels that they've been heard. And the danger comes is when you present someone with an edit, where it's in a really good place. And if they're insecure that they need to make changes, otherwise, they still haven't been heard. You're going to be damaging the movie. And then you're into a battle there. So you almost want to go, well, let's leave in that shot. That piece of information is redundant in that scene. So we'll leave that in. And then if no one picks up on it, you can take it out anyway.

Alex Ferrari 41:08
Right and that's that's a piece of advice as a as an editor for so many years, I would leave mistakes in. I would for the client, I would just leave in doing commercials or do music videos, I would leave a mistake like something so obvious. That'd be like, oh, it just it just so they have something to justify their job.

Paul Dudbridge 41:25
Yeah, yeah. You know, all credit to a producer. I think it was against bill Berkey. Sam Mendez was saying in an interview that when he showed Spielberg, American Beauty then one note from Spielberg well, who's the exact because it was the movie through DreamWorks. He said, Don't change the frame. Now caught the confidence from Spielberg. He could have said, Well, look, I wouldn't have done it this way. You want to tighten up that scene to that? But Spielberg had nothing to prove. He didn't need to show Sam Mendez how to make films. Yeah. Only night was don't change anything.

Alex Ferrari 42:00
Because he's Spielberg.

Paul Dudbridge 42:03
But also, it's like, I don't need to I don't need to show you that. I'm Spielberg. Yeah, I need to prove to you that I know my staff. And I think that's such a valuable thing. And if I if I come across crew members and producers especially, and I'm saying hey, I had nothing to add to that Skype call, I have nothing to amend. Because I think what it is, is it's in a good place right now. You know, that's, that's really good. Because then when they do have a note, you listen. And I've also like you how I'm sure we've all had the notes when somebody just say, Oh, it's a bit long. And you go Okay, well, is it long? And they go well, you know, just generally

Alex Ferrari 42:45
just cut off 10 minutes, I need you to cut off

Paul Dudbridge 42:48
a generic cattle. Here's my input, right? Because anything can be shortened. But if you said, You know what, at the end of season six, when he leaves the house, I thought, there's a couple of shots there that drags. And it's like, cool. That's that's probably a good point. Let's look at that. All right, but to say, oh, is a bit long? Or I don't know, it's just it's you kind of have to go What?

Alex Ferrari 43:10
You know, it doesn't feel right. Yeah. And it's like that. See, you know, that scene, I'm just not feeling the vibe of it. I'm not getting the emotion of it. I'm like, give me something else to work with here, man, please.

Paul Dudbridge 43:25
It's important, actually, Your feedback is a big thing. Yeah, if you've got edit, you need to find a select group of people that are filmmakers that have you they've got nothing to prove that you trust their feedback. And that they have a train die. It's really important, I think, to have a train dies a really good phrase. Because otherwise, you know, you're sending I've worked in the past, I've worked with producers that haven't produced material. And they're looking at the script. And they're saying, I think this and it's like, do you know what you haven't got enough experience to justify what you're saying? You're almost repeating something that you've heard. Christopher Nolan say you've just hearing you're just repeating something because you feel you need to give some input, but you haven't done enough to base that experience on anything. And you kind of need to I think it's important to be wary of those sorts of people and, and, and just firewall just find that group of filmmakers that no film, right. I can give you some good honest feedback. It's really important

Alex Ferrari 44:35
to the one group that I've put together and it seems to have worked for me on my features is I get a screenwriter, a cinematographer, a director, and a producer. And, and that really gives you a perspective because they'll all have an editor, excuse me and an editor. So they'll look at it from a completely different point of view each of them and really give you a good rounded you know, like the DP Be like, why did you shoot that like that you should have done this or that. I'm like, but does it work? Yes, but I would have done it this way. And then the Edit was like the editor would say something, or the screenwriter was, but it really does give you a really good well rounded feedback. So it does work that works for me, as opposed to just filmmakers are great. But when you have some, like people in their specific niches, it really does help. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Paul Dudbridge 45:35
Absolutely, I think that does that. That's totally, utterly true. And also, I think it's important not to go necessarily from the opinions of those who work on the film. Oh, God, no, no, no boss, is, you know, I remember giving feedback on a movie once this is about 10 years ago. And a friend of mine, we gave some feedback. And the composer is in the room. And he walked out halfway through our feedback. And he was saying, Don't listen to the same. They're going to ruin the movie. And I was like, Yeah, but do you know the story? So when you and I say, I think I said, it's in the book where it's almost like this jigsaw puzzle 50%, you have 50% of the information because you know the story. So when you watch the movie, which is the other 50%, it makes 100%. And the story makes sense to you. I've only got 50%, which is the film, I don't have the story, I wasn't privy to the production meetings about what this means and what this person's you know, what's the meaning behind that line and what this scene is, therefore, you were so you have that information when you watch the film, and it all makes sense. But I'm view it doesn't make sense. From my point of view. I don't know why that character is doing that. The editing suggests that he saw what she was doing, when actually they didn't. And it's important to find into to find those people that are filmmakers but necessarily weren't involved in the movie, because they've seen it so many times. They story.

Alex Ferrari 47:05
I would you and also I mean, I edit my stuff, I'm assuming you do as well. But sometimes, and I've gotten a little bit more disciplined over the years is that if you're on set, and it's took you five hours to shoot a shot, and you're in the edit, and you're like, but it's not working. And somebody and I did it when I was younger, I would let things sit because I'm like, but that shot cost me 10 grand, I can't, I can't. Yeah, I can't just cut that, to get someone else's perspective, who's not involved who wasn't there, and they could look at it and just go do the shots too long when you got to cut that. But it was the crane shot that I jumped off with a steady cam and then jumped on a helicopter was great. Like, yeah, but it doesn't do anything for the story you need to move on.

Paul Dudbridge 47:51
At that time, we made a sci fi movie last year, the year before. And we had a shot. It's now a movie was a webseries. But we have a shot in there, which is an a visual effects shot that took 18 months to hertz post. The post was quite a long schedule anyway. But we're doing from start to finish it was about 18 months. And it was a plane if the plane flew over camera, and then it continued to fly. The next shot was the plane coming to view and its wing with clip the side of this building. And this glass was falling down and stuff. And then we finally got it it was and there was in the background play. For those that no visual effects. We had a crash zoom. So the the CG plane had to also be strengthened size to match the plate. Anyway, we stuck it in the edit and we went No. It just didn't work. The previous shot of the plane flying over camera was the out that was the end. And then to cut back to this plane. And it was it was painful. Because we were like yeah, but it's took 18 months. X amount of dollars. But we just kind of and then I showed it to the sound mixer, because he had seen the rough cut and the new car. And he went Oh, you've chopped the second plane shot. And I went Yeah. And I was about to go into the story of why anyway, yeah. didn't need it. And he came in straightaway and said you hated me. Yeah, that's always a painful, like VFX guys just aged about 10 years because through.

Alex Ferrari 49:23
I've gone through that with my VFX guys as well my friend, which is a great segue to your new book that just came out or is coming out really soon as of this recording coming out very soon, called making your first blockbuster. Yeah, and first of all, how that's I haven't seen that before. I haven't seen a book with that kind of title before. So I'd love to know what it's about and what inspires you to write it.

Paul Dudbridge 49:48
Okay, well basically making your first blockbuster is obviously it's is a two prong Title One is whatever your blockbuster is, so you could make in your 50 million pound movie or you could be made In your, you know, $5,000 movie or whatever it might be is your blockbuster. But basically the way I pitched it to Michael VC was I want to write the book I wish I had when I was 18. And that refers to 90 writing, producing lighting and stuff like that. But the kind of things that we were doing were making movies when I was 18. We were making action films we were trying to do explosions was running around warehouses with blank firing guns. I was doing firecrackers on the wall trying to do that stuff. And I, you know, some of it works, some of it didn't. I shot things badly. I didn't get the coverage, all of that kind of stuff. So I pitched it to Michael. And I think I really loved the email, he gave them back to me because I've said, I pitched him. And the email came back about 20 minutes later and just said, I don't like it. I love it. Let's do it. I think the lover bit was about four lines down and I was like, ah, anyway, but it was I tell the story. One of the things I tell the story in the introduction where I was when I shot this movie, I was I was 18. And I wasn't driving yet I had a friend of mine, he was driving. So I'm passing my test. And we spent the day running around this warehouse with blank firing guns. And we would like fire off these blanks. And I had this I was the in the movie because that was my back in the day when I was I think I had this pbk strapped to my chest in his gun holster running around all the rest of the all day under my jacket. And then as we finish shooting, my mate turns to me and he says, Oh, you've been driving. I've been driving around for a bit. Can I get some petrol money? And I was like, Yeah, dude, fine. Pull over to this ATM and I grab some change. So I pulled over the ATM was out of order. Of course, I had to run into the bank. So went to the bank, got some cash out, ran back to the car, which is has his engine running outside the bank. And as I get back into the car is blank firing pbk falls out of my pocket. And I've just wrapped with a loaded blank firing pistol strapped on my chest and my heart just froze. And I was like, I don't see a way out of that. I mean, I would I would I would have to say to them, Look, I we're making a film. Here's the footage. But anyway, but

Alex Ferrari 52:24
you but you were just pulling money out like legally. Yeah, you didn't rob the bank. He just walked but it didn't look good from someone looking outside. Yeah, but I mean, if the gun had fell out as I run into the bank, right? And then I kind of picked it up early, but under my jacket, CCTV would have caught. But afterwards you see this?

Paul Dudbridge 52:46
I went why. Sure. But anyway, what happened? How How to fire store and use blank firing weapons is now a chapter in the book.

Alex Ferrari 52:58
Because I don't know what happened. Did

Paul Dudbridge 53:00
anything happen? Nothing happened apart from age a few years. I a, you know, it was just one of those things. But I don't know stuff like that. And you know, I used to put firecrackers inside my Millennium Falcon Star Wars toys and trying to blow them up and how to how to make effects and how to do stuff. And so it was just all that stuff that I was trying to do as a kid that I've kind of learned how to do professionally. So I thought I would now put it into a book.

Alex Ferrari 53:27
Now. Can you give us a few tips on getting high end visual effects on a budget? Because so many so many filmmakers always are asking, Well, I'm a VFX soup as well. So I've dealt with it with in specifically in the in the indie world. So I always get this comment, they will always be this. Okay, so this shot you remember this shot in Avengers and I say stop right there. Just stop. You're making a $20,000 feature film? Yeah, stop it. Any reference you gave me to Lord of the Rings, any references give me to the matrix or Marvel? Or any Disney like 200 million. Just stop, just stop because it's not gonna happen? Because it's just like, Can we get this thing with the statue of Lipnic? No, you can't? It's no, it's No. Yeah. So how can how can filmmakers get good visual effects for a budget, especially when they're trying to you know, make a blockbuster? Well, I

Paul Dudbridge 54:31
think I really promote the idea that I think all filmmakers and directors should study and know what can be done with visual effects because first of all, it can get you out the ship a little bit. It could be something you know, painting something out, or something that you don't it's something that you think could be quite expensive might not be. But I think the first thing that I say with with people do with visual effects is is kind of look around and see how the environment works. Look at light, look at the way our eyes You know, see things look at depth, look at shading, look at hazing and just get an understanding of that. But just knowing what can be done and what can't, using sort of CG, putting small elements of CG into a live action plate, it normally looks better than, you know, the like a linebacker like a CG plate. If you're trying to do too much CG in the shot, that's when it starts to look fake, because your eyes seeing what's of, you know, all of the CG kind of computer generated stuff. Bit of misdirection, you know, it depends on what's in the shots. But if the shots on for quite a long time, the eyes got time to look around the frame. But things have moved on quite a lot. Now, there's a lot of kind of, there's a couple of companies doing pre keyed, sort of visual effects, stuff like smoke and explosions and muzzle flashes and things like that. But one of the things that me and my visual effects guy do is we're trying, the best way to make visual effects look good is to take the perfection out. So say you've got muzzle flashes, and some some shell casings flying out at the top of a gun. you animate those shell casings coming out, but maybe you see the first one. But the second one is too blurry, and it's too fast. So and then you see the third one, you only just see the second, the fourth one, etc. But what most people do is because they're putting some kind of effect shot together, they want the audience to see every step every part of it, I want to see my work. So I want you to see all four of those shells. Clearly, because I want to show off what I've done. When actually, if that was shot live, you would only see, like I said the first one, the third one may be the fourth one, the fifth one would go in the crazy direction different to the others. So you know, it could be little bits of elements to take the perfection out. And then look at color correction look at lights and darks and shadows. And another good way of doing is adding depth. Anytime I do a visual effects shot, I like to add some foreground. Because it looks like the visual effects thing that you're putting in, it could be a dinosaur, it could be an explosion, it could be anything sits better in the shot, if it's obscured in some way by something else, rather being plunked on top. So I would shoot a separate element of a side of a car or a tree or a stand or something a sign. And I could literally then place that on top of the CG shot. And it would hopefully make the CG blend a bit better.

Alex Ferrari 57:42
I would also add to that if that if you can add visual effects to a practical shot already. Meaning like if you have a gun I did. I did. One of my short films had a lot of gunplay, and I had blowback on him. So I had all the airsoft guns. Sure, so I had blowback on them to give it some reason so that practical mixed with a muzzle flash. Yeah, yeah, some lighting effects really sells it. You know, like it's it to create only fire that CG is tough. Even at the largest levels. I still remember this one shot in the rock, when I remember that car chase in the rock where the hits the the the trolley and the trot and the trolleys shoots up that CG so fake, it still drives me mad. It's even difficult at that level. But if you have some fire to extend it, would you agree? Absolutely.

Paul Dudbridge 58:42
Yeah, you're basically augmenting what's already there. Another good. Another good tip is while the same sort of adding CG into the live action rather than the live action to the CG. But also, it's never just the explosion. Like if you put a fireball in a building or something, it's the effects of that. So the side of the wall will glow. There'll be a little bit of dust that will shoot out there be a little bit rubble. But when you see an explosion on film, your eye just sees the orange fireball, when actually what makes it real is the fact that you know that that car next to it glowed a little bit orange, there's a there's a dust cloud that very softly, very faintly came towards camera. And it's those little bits where the CG element has caused some kind of effect in the shot. Whether it's a shadow or something, and it's interactive, and it joins the whole lot together.

Alex Ferrari 59:44
Yeah, like we felt like reflections are huge. Yeah. So if you have a fake, you know, a matte painting, make sure it reflects properly on on a window or in a car window or in a mirror or even on like something that's metal. Just have it that those little touches are what sell a foundational

Paul Dudbridge 1:00:02
effect. And I think that's it, it's just making that those little bits is those little elements plus taking the perfection out my my visual effects artist, we did a shot on a show where we had to film in a, in a rearview mirror of a car. And because on our on the in the UK, we are filming on the right hand side was behind the driver's seat. We couldn't do that driving. So we did it stationary. And then we had to put in the shots of what the mirror is reflecting. If you had to cut the mirror and put the ground underneath, we jumped in the back seat and filmed outside of a moving car. So the angle is the same. But when we filmed out the reverse to the back of the car, to to place in that layer of what the there was reflecting in the in the mirror, what our my visual effects guy did, he took some dirt and grime and place that over the reflected shot. So if sold it like it was a dirty car mirror. And instead of just being as crystal clear image reflecting it reflected in the car window. It was actually the image was there underneath layers of Smudge and black splotches. And, you know, no one's gonna, no one's gonna see that. But this subconsciously the eye goes, That's real because I can see some dirt.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:21
Because that's what it would look like in real life. That's how it will look like. And also back, you know, like when Jurassic Park room and when Star Wars and those kind of movies came up people who are not savvy. I mean, my wife who's not in the business will call out that's a horrible comp. Like she will say, she'll be watching, she'll be watching a big television show, or she'll be watching a movie. And she's like, that was horribly, that's a horrible greensky. Is that a greensky? That's a horrible green screen. I'm like, Wow, you've been living with me way too long. But people are much more savvy than they used to be about. And even if they don't know the terminology, like that's a bad copper, that's a bad screenplay, a green screen, they would just go Hmm, that just doesn't look right. You know, as opposed to before anything was acceptable. Yeah.

Paul Dudbridge 1:02:09
Yeah. And I think I think that's I do mentioned this in the book, actually, that I think the secret also to doing visual effects stuff. And Jurassic Park, which you mentioned did so well with this, that all of the CG was shot from ground level. Right, because that was the character's point of view, looking up at the dinosaurs. Because at that time, ILM couldn't do the camera flying around everywhere, because they couldn't do that stuff yet. He came at it from a point of view of what does Sam Neill See? What does Jeff Goldblum See, cut forward 2005 with King Kong. And you've got Kong fighting the T rex and the cameras flying up above through their legs. And it's like, the kind of the golden rule is, if the camera couldn't do that, physically, the CG camera shouldn't do. Because that's one of those things where they go, yeah, I'm being drawn out of the movie that CG, rather than that looks real, because that's what the camera would see if it was shot for real on live. Right?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:09
It's especially in something that's so practical, like, the camera goes inside of cogs nose, and then comes out like it's like, that's probably not gonna fly. That being said, What an amazing fight sequence CG. CG was awesome. Oh my god, what an amazing that movie had obscene CG. But you know, when I was doing it, you know, and it's, it's Peter Jackson with all his toys.

Paul Dudbridge 1:03:36
Back to your first question about how do you make the real? How, ask the question, how would you do this? If it was if it was live? Yeah. And if we were filming that explosion, you're filming that car, you're filming that? Even if it was a spaceship landing and hovering above whatever the you know, the roadside. If that was live, what would you do I put the camera here. It would be handheld, I would do this, I would have these people in the foreground, I'd shoot over their shoulder, etc. Right? Have that shot, write down those elements break the shot down and go right we need a background play of the road side, we need the CG ship. We need the over the shoulders of these people. So that might have to be green screen. And then you can lay the comp up, and then you can make the work. And then you know, adding those extra bits like if it's handheld that looks kind of a little bit of the moment. And like I mentioned earlier where that plane coming over we actually had a crash zoom, which caused half the problem because the CG obviously has to track that little extra spark to say this was shot live because we only just managed to grab this shot. The camera was in too close and the cameraman had to zoom out really quickly because the action was happening for real and subconsciously that comes across the cells the visual effect.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:53
Now I somewhere in in one of your books. There was a chapter title and I had to had to call you on On this because I think it would be great. What are the three secrets of filmmaking? Okay, because I would love to know.

Paul Dudbridge 1:05:09
Okay, right. Well, I hate to disappoint them nothing particularly sexy.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:13
And that's good. People always caught up with like, Oh, look at the cool Alexa with the cook lenses is like, Look, dude, just, it's that's the sexy part of the filmmaking.

Paul Dudbridge 1:05:23
Well, anytime this has come out of my teaching really, and my working in my own experiences, and working with, you know, interviewing and speaking to a lot of colleagues and things like that. So, the first thing is, is to shoot as much as you can, like, grab a camera and shoot. I know, that's a cliche, because everyone says that, but I speak to student filmmakers, they're not filming enough. They're not filming, you know, I used to, I used to shoot, you know, I used to get my camera when I was like 1314. And just plan around my bedroom. I'd filmed posters, I've done my models, I've filmed the cat, and it would just be using the kit, you know, that pan is a bit jerky. Why is the autofocus doing that? Why is the outside looking blue now. All that kind of stuff. And I would shoot and this is a good example, I say to my students, I would film my cat walking through the house and it'd be a handheld low shot. And I would spin around in front of her and all this kind of stuff. And I would know how to move the camera without necessarily looking through the eyepiece, knowing what that I was getting the shot, cut forward 20 years and the director might go Can we get a low shot of the villains feet walking in the hotel? Oh, you gotta Yeah, cuz I shot my cat 20 years ago. And it's and it's just about filming as much as you can. And, you know, if you've got this short film idea that maybe, I mean, I know Rodriguez used to say this. But you know, say your parents own a flower shop. But that's not on Sunday, make a short film 10 minutes long about a flower shop. And you have two actors. And we're going to, we're going to film it is now early January, we're going to film it end of March. So we've got three months to write the script, find the actors, I'm going to make this movie by summer, it's going to be caught and it's going to be into festivals. And it's just people aren't making enough. And I think you need to know kit, you need to know focus, you need to know what storytelling is. and shooting helps you do that. The second thing is to read god, yes. I'm obviously coming from a point of view of being an author. It's kind of like, Summa, but

Alex Ferrari 1:07:27
but not just read, but just not read film books and screenwriting books read about life, about every genre in the world.

Paul Dudbridge 1:07:34
All of that. So I make a joke why I started reading when I was 25. properly. I was reading before that, just

Alex Ferrari 1:07:41
Me too. Me too. I didn't read a whole heck of a lot till I was like maybe late 20s.

Paul Dudbridge 1:07:47
No, I didn't read in school I didn't read. But then I started reading when I was 25. And I started reading psychology books, business books, filmmaking, spelling books, which you're going to come on to all this kind of stuff. But I would read you know, I'm self taught, I didn't go to film school. So I'm completely self taught, I found a cinematography book in a bookshop here. And I picked it up. And it was a lot to do with film and a lot to do with light meters. And I didn't know any of that stuff. But then I just bought more books, editing books, directing books, writing books, you know, the classics, Rodriguez's store, you know, story, all that stuff. And just read, read read. And it's funny, when I go to colleagues houses, I've got a few cameramen that I know are in their 60s and 70s. And you go to their study and what's behind the study, wall and wall of books, cinematography books, autobiographies, you know, script writing books, there's all there. And it's all that wealth of knowledge at your fingertips and no one buys the books to read and this is just a wasted resource. So that's what I push. And then the third thing is something called Get your shit together. Okay, which is basically get your shit together covers everything about you. So that's your timekeeping says, emails, dress and appearance, areas you need to improve on and things like that, because we talked about politics before but it's like, I'm not particularly strong. You know, my, my, my writing skills is got better recently obviously with the books but you know, my spelling Isn't that great? My grammar isn't that great. So when are bought books on grammar? You know how to write you know, you don't want to write that email to the publishing company or that dp you want to work with, and you listen to spelling errors, or you spell his name wrong. I've had that before. I've had writers write to me and they spelt the room project wrong. And it doesn't, it doesn't look good. It's not professional. It's not professional and timekeeping, turning up late and there's basically no excuse for anything. I had a student once who was coming to say we're shooting this short horror film, and we're filming at nine o'clock. On a Saturday morning, and she says, I've never seen this before. It's brilliant. She turned up on time. And then I found out she drove to set the day before. Just to find out where it was. Like, that's so simple. But I've had other students that are calling me at quarter past call time, quarter past nine going, my Sat Nav, my, you know, told me down the wrong road, I was stuck in traffic. I'm not where I am, I'm trying to direct and I'm and I've got a student on the phone. I'm trying to direct her as well or him. And that should have going, I'm going to find out where it is. I'm going to get up earlier and allow for the traffic. I mean, what other things as well as like, dress and appearance how you appear on set in our camera system once we're filming in a basement, July for about four people.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:57
or seven people in there. And the kids thinks he hasn't he hadn't showered. Yep. Yep, I've had I've been there. I've been there.

Paul Dudbridge 1:11:06
It's a focus puller. I'm right next to him. And then halfway through the day he goes, I'm just going to pop outside for a five

Alex Ferrari 1:11:13
minute bar. By the way, everyone talking effect is a cigarette, a cigarette.

Paul Dudbridge 1:11:19
And then he's breathing cigarette smoke on me. Oh, you know, he's it's all this kind of thing where you're going, dude, you're not helping yourself here? What's going on?

Alex Ferrari 1:11:27
I'll never hire that person again. Is he good? He might be fantastic. But he's thinks he thinks it's a camera isn't calibrated and TP coming up for an hour. So where can people find these resources, these amazing resources out there your books?

Paul Dudbridge 1:11:48
Amazon's the best place. Okay. Yeah. And I think in the States has Barnes and Noble. But

Alex Ferrari 1:11:55
anywhere books are sold pretty much Padme. Anywhere books are sold pretty much.

Paul Dudbridge 1:11:59
Yeah. Anywhere that books are sold. And I think it's just I don't know. I mean, I didn't do it. There's no sort of great deal of money involved. I just wanted to kind of give something back. And I think one of the best things I've ever had, I had to come off a plane once I turned my phone on. And there was a student in a place good. Burlington, New Jersey, yeah, found my book in a library. And she took a picture of it. And she tagged me in it. And she said, I've got this to read for the weekend. And I was just like, Oh my God, that's, that's amazing. I don't even know where that place is. I don't even know who you are. But she's got the book. Hopefully she gets something from it. That's great. Yeah. And it was also that was the biggest reward I've ever had.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:40
That's it is it's really it's it is really rewarding when you put out work, and it reaches people that you have no idea how it got there. And with this podcast, I mean, it goes around the world, and I get emails from countries that can't even pronounce. And it's wonderful that that the work that we do, and this interview will be listened to by by 1000s of people around the world that will I just it's fascinating to me. But the first thing is you just have to do the work. Get it out there. And the universe will take care of the rest.

Paul Dudbridge 1:13:14
Yes. But when it comes back and someone says, oh, I've now learned this, yes, because a podcast. I've now just made my film here, or I've now got this released. That's that you can't put a price on that. And anyone that's not done. It can't understand that very well. They haven't had that feeling of what that means when someone say hey, you know, I was thinking like giving up but then I read your thing, or, you know, I was insecure about which direction to go in. And then I heard your podcast and so and so. And it's just like there is no you can't put a price on that.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:47
You can't and I tell you once you feel it, it's addictive as hell. Yeah. It's like once you start you're just like I want to keep I like this feeling. I'm just gonna keep going down this road. So now I'm gonna ask you a quick a few quick questions. I asked all my guests. I'm kind of like a fire a rapid fire questions. So first thing that comes into your head. What advice would you give filmmakers wanting to break into the business today? We'll shoot as much as you can. Okay. My three secrets shooting read, shoot, read and in wash yourself. hygiene, hygiene, hygiene. Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?

Paul Dudbridge 1:14:29
I'll tell you there was two. Okay, I'd like to have to choose ones for related and one's not what I said I started reading when I was 25. My sister bought me a book called the road a road less traveled. Yeah, it's great book. It's awesome. And it was one of those things where every single page I was like, Oh my god, that was brilliant. Oh, yes.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:49
Oh, that's so crazy. That's amazing feeling when you read a book like that you're like, this author gets me I my mind is blown.

Paul Dudbridge 1:14:56
It was and literally I could sense offer with that. Book, my brain, my approach, my thinking just shifted. I saw things differently. I was what I could see objectively, I could see other people's opinions, he was just completely opened up. And like, I couldn't believe it. And then that led me on to read more psychology books. And obviously all that infers your writing and infers your directing of actors and what makes that performance work and all that kind of stuff, because you're understanding human nature and psychology. The other book was the classic ventures in the screen trade, Goldman, Goldman's book, and I had my college, my grant, who's a better mentor to me, and he was an older student, and he's a dude, you got to read this. And I read it, and I broke the back of the spine broke everything, so I just read it all the time. But it became such a Bible for me about what you know, is acceptable, what how you can approach things, what you know, just to understand, even just from a confidence point of view, just to hear an established writer, say, I struggle with this, or that I had a problem with the scene, or I could never crack this character or something, but just tools and approaches. And that was the beginning. That was the first film but that I got, which they then went right, what else do I need to buy? Who else who was this guy that wrote the book, watch his movies, you know? And then I bought all this other stuff as well. So those are the two books.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:23
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Paul Dudbridge 1:16:29
Okay, the who someone is, who they are, how they behave, that writing is on the wall extremely early. Trust that inner gut says, I don't think we're going to pull for you, I don't think you're going to deliver. I don't trust you. There's something about you, I can't quite put my finger on but, and in it nine and a half times out of 10. I've been right with that. And I've second guessed it, I've dismissed it. I've put it aside. And I've said that you know, even down to I've been on set on the first day and the producer and the makeup. People a bit late, and I'm so sorry, I'm stuck in traffic and Okay, cool. And we start the day late. They are stuck in traffic. And then the second day they're late, and then the third day they're late. And then the fifth day they're late. And you see that as a pattern. And it's like was it traffic? Or was it them? So that first I think Malcolm Gladwell because I like thin slicing equals It was like that first impression you get, and just to trust that trust that gut.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:35
And a more difficult question. Three of your favorite films of all time.

Paul Dudbridge 1:17:39
Okay. It's all they're all from. They're all from my childhood, I think. So the first one that really got me into movies, I think, probably be Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:53
Okay, yes. I saw that in the theater. It was so amazing.

Paul Dudbridge 1:17:59
I love the time. And I just couldn't articulate how it made me feel I look at the photos, I'd get the poster magazine. And I would look at the images and I'd be like, I can't take my eyes off these images. What is it about these images and now I look at it now and I know that it's there's a bit of diffusion. There's Amber, there's some amber backlights. It's the depth it's this is the colors is the textures, and all of that. And I remember as well, there was a little bit of the behind the scenes in the poster magazine where it say, Indiana Jones steps off of Venice harbor walks into the library. And we shot that in, in a studio in our street in London. So he goes from Venice to London, in a blink of an eye. And in my head. I was like what? How does that never that didn't How would that work though, because his costume would have to be exactly the same. Exactly. And my brain started to open up to the way that movies are made. Got it. And it was just one of those things where I'm like, I can't, you know, go past it. Back to the Future is probably another one.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:11
So good.

Paul Dudbridge 1:19:12
Because of I mean, I love the director Robert Zemeckis, but I remember watching it on like the 100th time or something. And he's racing towards the clock tower. I realized that my heart was racing. But I knew the ending.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:28
That's a good movie. That's a good movie.

Paul Dudbridge 1:19:31
So this, perhaps someone snuck in my bedroom, swap the copies over. So now they've replaced it with a version where he doesn't make it. How am I still? How am I still emotionally invested of the outcome

Alex Ferrari 1:19:44
Or crying, or crying at a scene or something like that, that you know what happened and then you know, it's coming.

Paul Dudbridge 1:19:50
Yeah. And it's like, how is that even possible? So Back to the Future was a big, you know, a big relief for me. What else is that? Well I suppose there is the classics I mean like Star Wars as well as suddenly because of you know, and then I'm going to go past the three here but there's things like Star Wars drastic Park and things like that where you kind of go wow. But I think another one for me actually was probably the Shawshank Redemption

Alex Ferrari 1:20:18
Oh, you were right. I was about to say and Shawshank.

Paul Dudbridge 1:20:22
I will tell you what, for sure saying we're talking about editing. I remember being in the cinema. Yeah, I watched it. And I looked at my watch, and there was only half an hour left. And I remember being upset.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:36
Yeah, and that's a perfect example of a movie that I've seen. I can't even tell you how many times I've seen that movie. Anytime it's on TV. I just sit there and watch it. We all know how it's gonna end. We all know what's happening. But yet, when it happens, it's just so beautiful. It's just one of those movies that is that movies is perfect of a movie, you know, up there with the Godfather or something like that. It's just like one of those films that just it's just perfection. The what what Darabont did, it's absolute perfection what he was able to accomplish? And about, by the way, where can people find you and the work that you're doing?

Paul Dudbridge 1:21:15
Okay, well, my website is pulled average.com. My Twitter handle is at Hanover pictures that spelled h a n o v e r p i c t u r e s. So yeah, that's Twitter and Instagram. I think Paul_dudbridge. But yeah, all those links should be on my website. Yeah, and the books are on Amazon. So that's where you can find my work.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:43
And Paul, I know we can talk for at least another two or three hours. comfortably, I can see that I've actually had to cut questions out because we just have such a great time talking. And there's so many great knowledge bombs that you were dropping in this episode. So I want to appreciate I want to thank you. And I appreciate you, you dropping all those knowledge bombs for the tribe today. So thanks again for your time, brother,

Paul Dudbridge 1:22:04
Alex, thanks for having me. It's been great.

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